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When Joy Came to Stay

Miss Orange County BlogSeven years ago, I never expected the life altering announcement my parents presented to me and my siblings: they were adding another foster child to our family of seven. Although there is an element of excitement with a new addition, this was not the case when thinking about the extra responsibilities that would be asked of me once this six-week-old arrived in our home. 

Upon picking her up from the Department of Human Services, she did not reflect a child coming out of a middle-class environment; rather, she looked more like a baby from a third world country.  She was swollen, had open sores, was unkempt, and most of all, displayed absolutely no emotion. Although my family tried to welcome her with unconditional love, she cried all day and night, many times to the point that her eyes could no longer produce tears.  My older brother, Jordan, and I didn’t want to be home because the screaming was too much for us to handle. My mom juggled a sixth month old, a two-year-old and a kindergartener all while trying to calm this new baby. Honestly, I am not sure how my parents managed to have my brother and I in traveling sports teams, three young children, and a baby who couldn’t seem to find contentment. 

My sister after we adopted her

My sister after we adopted her

One day, something finally clicked. My mom remembers that it was a Tuesday to a Wednesday. She just stopped crying and her eyes began to light up. The curling screams were replaced with fits of laughter; and where the seemingly burden of life once dominated her eyes, joy now fills her every move. This defining moment forever changed the climate of our home as her newly discovered joy pushed back the dark cloud of uncertainty that once shrouded her heart and ours.   When it came time to legally adopt my little sister, my parents reflected on that transformational day and appropriately gave her the name Kiana “JOY” Reed, for now joy fills her heart where it was once being filled with sorrow.  

Our story reminds me of another often told of a little girl seen throwing starfish back into the sea after they had washed onto the shore due to a large storm. There were thousands of starfish, and each time she walked up to one, she would pick it up and throw it back into the sea. After doing this for some time, an older man came and asked her, “Why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!” Upon hearing this, the little girl stooped down, picked up another starfish and threw it back into the sea saying, “I made a difference to that one.”

Miss Orange County BlogOften we are faced with extremely large problems, such as the more than 400,000 children in America’s foster care system, and focus on the seemingly insurmountable odds that stack against us when it comes to finding a solution.  Because we feel inadequate to being part of the solution, it is easy to abdicate responsibility to others who we feel have the capacity to find an answer to the problem.  We may even question why someone doesn’t do something about it without stopping for a moment to realize that we are “someone” who can absolutely make a difference.  Adopting my little sister may not seem like we made much of a difference when it comes to solving the overwhelming issues within the foster care system, but I am confident that it made a profound difference in the future of a child who may not have been born into our family, but was born for our family and discovered eternal joy as a result. 

Blessings,

Kyla Reed

Miss Orange County

 

Kyla’s College Visits

Kyla with her brother and friends on one of her college visits

Kyla with her brother and friends on one of her college visits

Hi everyone! Kyla here!

As I competed over the last few years, I accumulated quite a bit of scholarship money. It has helped me pay for my first two years of community college, and for this I am thankful. Over the last month, I have been visiting universities so that I can transfer in the fall. As I filled out applications and went in for interviews, I started to realize just how much scholarship money I have accumulated over the last three years! I am proud to say that I will be able to attend a four-year university with little to no tuition next year when I transfer.

I have also gained more than scholarships while competing in the Miss California Organization. When I arrived at my college visits, the receptionist in the admissions office informed my parents and me that I was scheduled to have an interview. So, I pretty much walked into a room right then and had a 10-15 minute interview. No nerves crept up, nor was I tongue tied for even a minute. I know this is because of the confidence that I have gained throughout my years competing in this organization. Not only was I able to breeze through the interview, I was able to walk around the campus and talk to pretty much everyone with confidence, something I wouldn’t have dreamed of being able to do even two years ago.

Thank you for all of your love and support!

Kyla

Miss California’s Outstanding Teen 2014

 

My Time at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen

After I won Miss California’s Outstanding Teen, I had about three weeks to prepare for the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition in Orlando. Those weeks leading up to Orlando were quite busy, full of trying on dresses and filling out paperwork. I was very anxious leading up to the pageant, but I was also extremely excited!

Upon arriving at the hotel, I was able to meet some of the girls at our AMAZING Tony Bowls photo shoot. It was so much fun to have our hair and makeup done, and dress up in some gorgeous dresses. Some thereafter, we had our first rehearsal, and that was the first time we were all together in one room! We all had an instant connection, and I was ready to begin the week!

After orientation that night, we said good-bye to our parents (and our phones) and we were off to our rooms to spend our first night with our roommates! I was a little… no… I was REALLY, REALLY nervous about my roommate, Megha from Kansas. I mean, I was spending a week rooming with someone I had never met before. I was worried we would not get along, but thankfully, it was just the opposite. We became great friends, and that made my week a whole lot easier. We helped each other get ready, made sure we were on time, and picked up anything the other needed.

In the days following, we went to many different events and many long hour rehearsals. Through it all, we became closer as friends, and it was long before we all started acting like sisters who have lived together their whole lives. The funny thing is, the reason we all became so close is because we didn’t have our phones. We had no access to the social world, and we had to make conversation. I am so glad that they took our phones because if they hadn’t, we wouldn’t be as close as we now are.

The prelims came and went fairly fast. I was extremely proud of each of my performances, including my private interview. I was so humbled to be able to stand on the stage with some of the most amazing, talented, beautiful, and kind teenagers in America. After the prelims, we are all so anxious for Saturday night, but we had to wait two whole days! On that Friday, we had no competition, so we went to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, and met some of the hardest working people I have ever met.

On Saturday, excitement (no not nerves) was high, and we could not wait to see who the new Miss America’s Outstanding Teen was. After the top 12 was announced, I was so excited to watch my friends compete! When it came down to it, I (along with everyone else) starting freaking out and crying when Olivia’s name was called. Olivia (Georgia) was and is one of the most down to earth, real, and inspirational people I have ever met in my entire life. She is going to be a rockin’ MAOT, and she will change the face of the organization in the best way.

So, after all of that, I am very excited to be back home in California, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of my year has in store for me.

Thank you all for your love and support!

Kyla