NICU Nurse Adopts Teen Mother With No Support System Who Had Triplets


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Una publicación compartida por Katrina Mullen (@kat_mullen23)

Nurses are everyday superheroes who work long hours to tend to their patients and bring them back to health. But one nurse from Indiana named Katrina Mullen went the extra mile to help a patient at her hospital. After meeting a 14-year-old who had given birth to triplets but seemed to have no one around to support her, Mullen decided to offer her a helping hand that would change both of their lives forever.

Mullen has worked as a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse for over 20 years. Over time, she has seen several new moms from all walks of life. That's why she grew increasingly concerned when she met Shariya Small, an 8th grader who spent days on end sitting alone by her triplets' bedside at the NICU. The babies had to spend five months at the Community Hospital North NICU in Indianapolis since they had been born at 26 weeks gestation in 2020.

Since the teen didn't feel comfortable enough to share details about her personal life with the nurse yet, Mullen was left to wonder why Small never had some backup or at least a packed lunch. After teaching the teenager about newborn care, the nurse eventually shared with Small that she had a son when she was just 16 years old, which she had to put up for adoption. “Something shifted after I told her that I was a teen mom,” Mullen told Today. “That’s when we really developed trust.”

Concerned for her wellbeing after her discharge, as she still didn't have any information about Small's family, the nurse gave the teen her phone number and told her to reach out should she need any kind of help. “I said, ‘If you need anything, you just call me. If you need to talk, or you have a question, I’m here,” Mullen recalls. The teen took up the offer, and reached out to the nurse when she felt overwhelmed. “I was becoming increasingly concerned about her support system,” the nurse admits. “I couldn't figure out why she was calling me so often.”

After paying her a visit on her day off, Mullen realized the babies were living in a less than ideal setting, while Small didn't even have a proper bed. The conditions even landed one of the babies in the hospital, which led to Department of Social Services to intercede. “The caseworker said that Shariya and her babies were being removed from their home,” Mullen says. “And then she goes, ‘Shariya said she’d like to come live with you. Would you be willing?’” Mullen took the situation into consideration and agreed. “I knew it would be impossible to find a foster home that would take all four of them,” she predicted. “No one was going to take a teen mom and her preemie triplets…I just kept thinking, ‘I have to do this.'” Mullen adds, “I knew it would be hard, but we'd figure it out.”

Mullen, a single mother of five with three children still living at home, wasn't a certified foster parent then, but sprang into action and took all the classes while friends and relatives donated cribs, strollers, and clothes. All the while, Small went back to alternative high school, where she graduated with an A- average. Now 17, she is touring nearby colleges and hopes to become a social worker.

Living under Mullen's care, the teen has not only been able to flourish as a devoted mother, but also to work on her own wellbeing through therapy. “She just amazes me every day,” the nurse says of Smalls. “When she’s frustrated with the babies, she never raises her voice. She’s just blossoming into this incredible woman.” While at first Mullen did most of the caring for the babies, the teenager is now confident enough to be in charge. “I’ll watch them if she wants to go hang out with her friends and stuff that teenagers do. But I’m just her backup.”

After fostering Small and her triplets for 668 days, she officially adopted the teenager last February. “I’m so proud to be Shariya’s mom,” Mullen said. “Has it been easy? No! She pushes limits just like any other teenager, but I love her. I'm her mom—and I'm never going anywhere.”

Since raising three babies is no small feat, Mullen has set up a GoFundMe to help “build a financial cushion” for Small and the triplets. The campaign has already surpassed its original target of $20,000.

Nurse Katrina Mullen met teen mom Shariya Small while she took care of her premie triplets at an Indianapolis NICU. Concerned for her wellbeing, she offered her some help.


Ver esta publicación en Instagram


Una publicación compartida por Katrina Mullen (@kat_mullen23)

After learning about the conditions they were living in and fearing no foster parent would take all four of them, she decided to welcome Small and her babies into her home.


Ver esta publicación en Instagram


Una publicación compartida por Katrina Mullen (@kat_mullen23)

After fostering Small and her triplets for 668 days, she officially adopted the teenager last February.


Ver esta publicación en Instagram


Una publicación compartida por Katrina Mullen (@kat_mullen23)

Katrina Mullen: Instagram
h/t: [Today]

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Regina Sienra

Regina Sienra is a Staff Writer at My Modern Met. Based in Mexico City, Mexico, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications with specialization in Journalism from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has 10+ years’ experience in Digital Media, writing for outlets in both English and Spanish. Her love for the creative arts—especially music and film—drives her forward every day.
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