Out in the Open

She adopted her brother, and went from sister to 'Mommy'

Nikkya Hargrove’s mother struggled with drug addiction while she was growing up. When her mother died when Nikkya was in her mid-twenties due to heart problems, Nikkya decided to adopt her newborn baby brother.
Nikkya Hargrove (left) (holding Lera De Silva), Jonathan De Silva (hugging moms), Dinushka De Silva (right) (holding Aviah De Silva) (Courtesy of Nikkya Hargrove)

Nikkya Hargrove is no stranger to caregiving.

Growing up, her mother was in and out of prison and struggled with drug addiction. 

So when her mother told her she was pregnant, Nikkya knew she was going to have to help her mother out in taking care of her newborn baby brother.

But when her brother was only four-months-old, their mother died suddenly from heart issues, and Nikkya had to make a life-changing decision.

Would she put her brother in foster care and continue to be his sister, or would she adopt him and become his mother?

"He never felt like a brother to me and from that very moment that I held him in the hospital, I knew that it was he and I in this sort of journey together," says Nikkya.

"When I got that phone call, that you know she was on her way to the hospital and I needed to meet the ambulance there, um, I knew that it was Jonathan and I who needed to be mother and son moving forward."

Jonathan knows that he and Nikkya share a biological mother. The way Nikkya explains it to him is, "He has an 'angel mommy' who wasn't able to take care of him, but even before he was born he was placed in my heart, and he's my son.  
Left to right: Dinushka De Silva, Jonathan De Silva and Nikkya Hargrove (Courtesy of Nikkya Hargrove)

"He has never called me sister and we don't have that kind of relationship."

Nikkya was able to take on this new role in her life quickly.

But she had just finished college, and was about to go to medical school. 

"It was tough. You know, it was, I was 24. I was 24 when he was born, I had just graduated from College. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and here I have a newborn baby.

"I did a lot of thinking and a lot of changing of how I viewed my future to be post-graduation because now I had someone else to think of other than myself."

But to Nikkya, the decision was one she would make all over again.

"I took him as my son because I wanted to give him a chance. His only other option was foster care, um, and I did not want that for him. And I could not have lived with myself if I chose to let him stay in the hospital and go to foster care."

But does she have any regrets?

Only when she wants to sleep in.

"At 24 I should have been partying all night and drinking until I felt sick and instead I was, you know, mixing Enfamil bottles and going to the baby store and picking out clothes. And , I would  have loved to have things be different, and have my Mom be responsible. But I would not have changed my decision to step up when I needed to and take on the responsibility of giving him a sense of normalcy."