NICU Nurses Notices Teen Mother Visiting Her Premature Triplets By Herself Everyday — So She Decides To Adopt All 4 Of Them

They have changed each other's lives for the better.

NICU nurse, teenage mother, triplets GoFundMe / Instagram 

A NICU nurse could not help but notice a young mother of premature triplets often visiting her babies in the hospital by herself.

Curious about her home life and wanting to extend her support, the nurse began talking more and more with the teenager, and they grew closer and closer. Eventually, they became a family that neither of them ever would have imagined.

NICU nurse Katrina Mullen befriended a 14-year-old mother of triplets, Shariya Small, while her babies were patients in the NICU.

After Small gave birth to her triplets at 26 weeks gestation at Community Hospital North in Indianapolis, they spent over five months in the NICU. It was there she met NICU nurse, Katrina Mullen, and the two began getting to know each other.


However, Mullen could not help but notice that Small was often by herself when she visited. “She’d be there alone for days at a time sitting at her babies’ bedside,” Mullen told Today. She began to grow concerned about the teenager’s home life and support system, but Mullen never pressed for details and figured that Small would eventually open up with time.

RELATED: Man Surprises His Stepdad With The Ultimate Father's Day Gift — Adoption Papers


The two soon grew closer and taught each other useful skills they did not know much about. Mullen taught Small everything she needed to know about newborn care for her triplets, Serenitee, Samurai, and Sarayah. Small taught Mullen how to use TikTok.

Eventually, Mullen disclosed to Small that she, too, became pregnant as a teen and placed her baby boy up for adoption. This appeared to strengthen the bond between them. “Something shifted after I told her that I was a teen mom,” Mullen said. “That’s when we really developed trust.”

Small felt as if others were judging her for being a teenage mother, and Mullen assured her that she never once judged her.

Before the triplets were discharged from the NICU, Mullen gave Small her cell phone number. “I said, ‘If you need anything, you just call me. If you need to talk, or you have a question, I’m here,'” she added.


RELATED: A Couple Believed They Were Adopting Twin Girls After Struggling To Have Kids But The Birth Mom Was Never Pregnant

Small began texting and FaceTiming Mullen regularly after bringing her babies home.

“I’d help her when she was crying and overwhelmed. I couldn’t fix it, but I would listen and support her and be like, ‘You can do this,’” Mullen said. However, the constant calls sparked concern about the teenager’s home life.

“I was becoming increasingly concerned about her support system. I couldn't figure out why she was calling me so often,” Mullen admits.

On her day off, Mullen drove over to Small’s home address to check on her and the babies. It was then Mullen discovered the harsh reality of the environment they were living in.


RELATED: A Woman Who Was 'Rehomed' By Her Adoptive Family After 5 Years Says It Was The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Her

Mullen realized that Small was living in a cramped space with her babies all sleeping in one playpen.

Small had been sleeping on a couch next to the playpen. Mullen also noticed that Small’s son, Samari, appeared “extremely skinny” and was covered in eczema. Small explained that Samari’s pediatrician had switched his formula, but the baby boy was still losing weight and throwing up.

Samari was admitted to a nearby hospital, where he was diagnosed with “failure to thrive,” a term used to describe infants who struggle to grow and develop normally. The Department of Social Services, a department in local councils that ensure that young people are safe, looked after, and are not suffering from abuse or neglect, was notified about Samari’s diagnosis, and Small and her babies were removed from the home.


RELATED: Parents Surprise Their Older Kids After An Unexpected Call Led To Them Getting A New Baby Girl

Shortly after, Mullen received a life-changing call from the Department of Social Services. “She goes, ‘Shariya said she’d like to come live with you. Would you be willing?’” she shared.

Although Mullen already had three kids at home and was a mother of two others, she did not hesitate to welcome Small and her babies with open arms.

“I knew it would be impossible to find a foster home that would take all four of them. No one was going to take a teen mom and her preemie triplets,” Mullen said. “I just kept thinking, ‘I have to do this.' I knew Shariya was intelligent and resilient and she just needed a safe place to put her roots. I knew it would be hard, but we'd figure it out."


Mullen took several classes to become a certified foster parent and fostered them for 668 days. During that time, Small graduated from high school and began touring colleges to pursue a career in social work.

She also dedicated herself over time to being a devoted mother raising her three children. “In the beginning, it was me pretty much doing everything for the babies and her observing and participating when she felt confident,” Mullen said. “And now she’s in charge.”

RELATED: Dad Says He's Been Raising His Son From Birth But Had To Legally Adopt Him From A Couple That Isn't Biologically Related To The Baby


Mullen eventually officially adopted Small and her children into her family.

Small and her babies continued to be a part of Mullen’s family even after she was done fostering them. On February 6, 2023, Mullen officially adopted Small, who is now 17 years old.

Mullen revealed that she is “so proud” to be Small’s mother. “She just amazes me every day. When she’s frustrated with the babies, she never raises her voice. She’s just blossoming into this incredible woman,” Mullen revealed. “Has it been easy? No! She pushes limits just like any other teenager. But I love her. I'm her mom — and I'm never going anywhere."

Mullen also happily adds that the triplets are growing every day, and can now count to 20 and are learning new words in both English and Spanish. They also call their grandmother “LaLa.”

Additionally, Mullen launched a GoFundMe page to offer financial support for Small and the triplets. The donations will go toward Small’s college fund and a car for her and the kids. The page has raised over $100,000, surpassing the original $20,000.


RELATED: Woman Who Was Set To Adopt Faces Backlash For 'Goodbye' Post After Birth Mom Decides To Keep Her Baby

Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.