When this boy stopped going to school, his teacher stepped in at the right moment. A 24-year-old woman is making headlines as she proves to the world that you’re never too young or old to change lives. She went above and beyond the caretaker role as a teacher when she noticed one of her students suffering. The young boy, not even yet eight years old, had lived in over 10 foster cares and was on the lookout for the next one that could take him in. So his teacher decided that she couldn’t just abandon him to fend for himself.
However, her journey was met with its own obstacles. Meet William, a boy who is known that life can be cruel from a tender age. At just four years old, he’d experienced enough trauma to be diagnosed with PTSD. He was living from one foster home to another, never getting too comfortable because he was never able to call any of them home. At school, he needed extra guidance and worked one-on-one with a behavioral specialist named Paige, who could see his evident struggle.
She spent three hours a day focusing on him and noted that he was very isolated because he didn’t know coping skills. She told Good Morning America, “Since I was one-on-one with him, a lot of our time was spent working on coping skills, behavioral skills, talking about how we behave in school, those types of things.” At the time Paige Bramlett worked with William as his behavioral specialist, he was still just a kindergarten student with so much life yet to live. Even though he had experienced more than any boy his age ever should, Paige learned of the many homes William had to live in in just four years. Paige told their story on TikTok, where it had been gaining viral attention for its heartwarming progression.
The more Paige got to know William, the more she felt a calling to help him get through, but she had no idea how much of an impact she’d be making on his life. Paige explained that both her and William’s journeys completely changed when he stopped coming to school one day. “One day he didn’t show up to school, and he’d never missed a day. I ran into his caseworker collecting his things in the hallway. She told me they were looking for a forever home for him to be placed in.
So Paige, without hesitation, proceeded to introduce herself to the caseworker, then asked what she would have to do to be the forever home for William. Paige was only in her early 20s when she made the decision to adopt her student. Her friends and family warned her and told her that she was too young. They advised her that no one would want to date her and that she should wait until she was married. They thought she was being insane.
Yet Paige embraced the criticism and followed her calling. She knew that the good would balance out any risks and that at least she and the boy would always have each other. Paige’s strong stance came from her understanding of how badly William needed a safe home and how crucial it was for someone to step up. It was easy for everyone to justify why they couldn’t do it, but all it takes to save him is for someone to at least try. Plus, Paige didn’t rush the process.
She fostered him for a whole year before making it official. The day she finally adopted him, she shared, “Now he has adopted, loved, and chosen my son. We’re learning together every day.” What Paige understood, especially thanks to her line of work, was the detrimental effect of trauma on a child’s brain and the lifelong process of healing that they would require. She understood how the system worked and that it wasn’t always in favor of the child.
Advocating for all children in the foster system, she explains, “They don’t see the prolonging of cases that stay open for years, ignoring the voices of children. They don’t see the hundreds of messages and phone calls that are ignored by caseworkers or people who are in charge of the well-being of children. They don’t see the hurt. They don’t hear the cries and screams.” Paige also understands that not everyone can foster children and that it takes a lot of effort to actually make it work.
In one of her videos, she explains, “Foster care is so hard but worth it.” She describes many of the happy memories she and William can cherish together, from skiing to dancing, which makes the rewards so worth the work. Paige also had to adapt to being a mom to a seven-year-old while being so young herself. “It’s sometimes hard for me to say out loud, like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m a mom,’ but I’m so thankful for what I’ve been given and for how I’ve become a mom. You don’t expect it to happen so early, but I know it’s how it was chosen to be a mom.
It wasn’t easy for William to forget all his trauma and just move on. It took time for him to believe that he was actually finally safe and that he wouldn’t be made to leave again to another home. Because he’d been hurt many times, he was always scared that he would lose everything in a second. To manage his anxiety, Paige explains, “When I would say goodbye, I would tell him that I would see him tomorrow. He struggled with sleeping in nightmares, so I would tell him sweet dreams, and we worked on skills that would go beyond the classroom.
It was hard to get his head wrapped around feeling secure that he won’t have more changes. This is why William needed a permanent home so he could finally start healing and actually being a kid again.” Paige and William have enjoyed creating new memories and traditions that they could carry on in their newfound family. “We’re enjoying creating our own traditions in our own little home this year.” To show their support, their community even surprised them with a ten thousand dollar Christmas gift.
Everyone can help these children, even if they can’t foster or adopt themselves. Paige takes the time to share with her community all the ways they can make a difference, such as donating, getting involved, babysitting, advocating, preparing meals, and educating themselves on childhood trauma.