Kathryn Harkenrider has found happiness after overcoming a difficult young life through adoption. She now works at the Wells Institute, where she sometimes performs routine wellness exams. She is shown with Paula Wells, owner. CONTRIBUTED

After adoption, local woman finds happier life

As a child, Kathryn Mccuistion Harkender said she grew up in a difficult environment as the only biracial child out of six siblings with a white mother.

“According to my adoption records, my African-American father was killed when I was just 6 weeks old,” she said.

Now she is married and resides in Kettering with the couple’s three children — daughter Rylee, 12 and sons Liam, 8, and Eli, 6. She wants her story to serve as an example of how adoption can be a transformative experience for children who come from difficult backgrounds.

Harkender looks back to when she went into foster care at 8 years old and was adopted when 11 years old. She said her mother had to handle a majority of the care for her six children and she was in sometimes-unfortunate relationships. Eventually, the children were removed from the home, she said.

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“The day the Children Services and the cops came, my sisters kicked and screamed but I happily walked out of that house,” she said.

Harkender met her adoptive parents, Mark and Christina Mccuistion, at an adoption picnic held through Montgomery County Children Services.

“I knew the day I met them they were the ones,” she said. “They were told by my case manager due to me being biracial and healthy physically and mentally it would be near to impossible to get me. I truly believe God had this plan all along.”

In 2005, when Harkender was 17, she joined the Army.

“My parents had to sign a waiver for me to join,” she said. “I knew I wanted to honor our country. I also knew I could get help with college. I was assigned to a medical unit. I was honorably discharged from the Army in 2013.”

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“I put myself through nursing school and in December 2017 earned my master’s and became a family nurse practitioner.”

Harkender now works at Family Health Center in Springboro, where she does primary care. She works at Wells Institute and Brookdale Hospice.

She coaches peewee cheerleading at Kettering schools.

Harkender’s adoptive parents reside in Troy, where she was raised. She also stays in contact with her adoptive parents’ biological daughter, Randi.

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Harkender also keeps in touch with a few of her biological siblings through Facebook; but she has never found her youngest brother.

“I want others to know that foster care adoption can turn into a beautiful thing,” she said. “Because of my placement from Montgomery County Children Services, I was able to live a healthy safe life.”

Contact contributing writer: shirl54bel@gmail.com