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“I have been with Ms. Lewis since I was 13 years old. We’ve been through a lot together and she’s never given up on me. She’s my mother,” said Malik, who celebrated his adoption finalization in April. The first time that Malik stayed with Thomasina, it was only for a few weeks. Malik’s living situation changed based on kinship placements, which means living with a relative other than a biological parent. “No matter where he was placed, Thomasina was adamant about serving as a resource to Malik,” said HSVS Vice President of Foster Care Jennifer Glover. “I think that’s what influenced Malik to change his mind about adoption. Despite being older and not having a ‘picture perfect’ past, Ms. Lewis loved him and cared for him. It gave him hope.” Ms. Lewis was recognized as Parent of the Year at the 2016 Foster Care Appreciation Dinner. Everyone who has been involved in Malik’s life during his teen years knows that he’s gone through a lot. “We all have our stuff,” said the Honorable Susan Danoff, both congratulating Malik after overseeing the adoption finalization and trying to remind him that his struggles won’t define him. How does Malik want to define himself? In his new home and with support from his Mom, Malik wants to return to school or study for his GED. In the meantime, he wants to volunteer at the ASPCA and pursue a career working with animals.