Katlin: 30 Days of Hope

The 17-year-old wants a family to call her own and help her reach her full potential

A 17-year-old who is hardworking and empathetic. That’s Katlin.

ROANOKE, Va.There are more than 700 children who are ready for adoption in Virginia. They are ready to find a permanent and loving forever family. 10 News is profiling one child who needs a home every day during the hours of 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. in 30 Days of Hope. The children are all ages and races and were put into foster care due to no fault of their own. 2022 marks the sixth year 10 News is doing this series.


A 17-year-old who is hardworking and empathetic, that’s Katlin.

“She’s really, really good at making people feel welcome and calm. She is very, very helpful. She will do anything to help around the house,” said Barbie Merlette, who works for Russell County Department of Social Services as a family services specialist.

Every child deserves to feel safe and loved. But many teens are in danger of aging out of foster care without a family.

Katlin said if she could have any wish in the world, her wish would be to always be happy.

“Things like friendship, relationships with some people, dogs, pets, everything,” make the teen happy.

She loves horses and says they’re great during therapy.

“I like to play with them, cuddle them and like sit with them, do whatever,” she said. “I like to color I like to draw. I like to paint. I like to walk. I like to ride bikes. I like to swim.”

We visited the Science Museum of Western Virginia and saw just how curious she can be too!

“She likes just to look at different things and learn about them and she loves to go to school. She is excited about school. We don’t get that very often,” said Merlette.

Katlin said her favorite subject in school is math because “it makes me smart.”

“Katlin is one of my favorite people in the whole world. She’s just a really kind and loving spirit,” said Merlette.

The teen said her friends would describe her as nice, kind and lovely.

“I like to play bowling. I like to do soccer, basketball, football, baseball, softball,” said Katlin.

The teen wants to be a pediatrician because she likes kids. She has also expressed interest in becoming a teacher when she grows up because she likes to help others so much.

“She especially is really great with younger kids and she has this empathy for people that comes across really quickly once you get to know her. She’s awesome with pets and we always have a great time when we go out together,” said Merlette. “She’s just one of the most loving people and she just wants to be loved and part of a family. And it’s really important to her and she’s very very loyal. I think that’s the most important thing I want people to know.”

If she could have any kind of family she wants, she says she would want “A lovely family that takes care of me, loves me and does a lot of things for me.”

The teen would want to play games and go out to eat as a family. She loves Chinese food, especially teriyaki steak and chicken. Her favorite books are those about horses. Her dream is to go to the beach and to Disney. She loves doing crafts too!

Katlin loves to joke around and have fun. She has an infectious laugh and enjoys being around others.

Katlin has autism and Merlette says the family would need to understand trauma-informed care and children with special needs, as she’s just learning about autism.


If you have questions about Katlin or foster care/adoption, contact VDSS Division of Family Services Adoption Recruitment Coordinator, at adoptioninquiries@dss.virginia.gov.

To see other 30 Days of Hope stories visit us here.

We also have a list of frequently asked questions about foster care and adoption including the qualifications, cost, and training required in this link.


About the Author:

You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m. She also leads our monthly Solutionaries Series, where we highlight the creative thinkers and doers working to make the world a better place.