headshotWhen Shelby Jenkins was only months old, her birth mother left her at a caretaker’s house — and never returned.

Luckily, after more than a year in the foster care system, Jenkins found herself adopted by two loving parents. Despite her rocky start in life, Jenkins became a skilled dancer, graduated from high school and college and even cinched a Miss Texas US International title. Today, she’s teamed up with Adoption Share and Adoption is Beautiful as an adoption ambassador, sharing her story across the country and spreading awareness about the realities of adoption.

“I wanted a platform that I can relate to and I can speak to kids that are in the foster system or are adopted,” she said. “After 16 years of my life, that’s when I decided to come out and say, ‘I’m adopted.’”

Because, you see, Jenkins didn’t know she was adopted until 10 years after the fact — and she spent the majority of her teenage years keeping it a secret from everyone she knew. You can read about what happened when she finally started telling her adoption story and how it’s impacting her work today on Considering Adoption.