Kaiser Algebra I teacher Meagan O’Neill has recently grown her ohana. In December, O’Neill adopted four children: Manju, Sanjay, Poonam, and Manisha. The children, biological siblings, are from Kanpur, in Northeast India, about four hours away from the well-known Taj Mahal.
O’Neill has always wanted to adopt and never felt the desire to have biological children. “It’s hard to explain…my heart just felt pulled to adopting children,” she said. This feeling and the resulting search led O’Neill and her husband to the four kids, first meeting them on Christmas Day 2019. Despite her desire to adopt them immediately, they wouldn’t become a family until much later due to endless paperwork, court processes, immigration, and more. Although they were apart, O’Neill and the children were able to keep in contact and see each other’s faces through regular video calls on WhatsApp. At one point, O’neill went to India herself. “We had to take two plane rides: one from India to New York, which was 16 hours, and New York to Hawaii, another 11 hours,” she said. After the long journey, they were finally able to come together and celebrate their first Christmas as a family. Looking back to that time, O’neill laughed; “there were a lot of challenges and difficulties.” O’Neill and her husband were able to surpass all of these struggles by maintaining hope, patience, and trust.
O’Neill took the last semester of the 2020-2021 school year off to spend time with her kids, helping them with online schooling and getting to know them better. The family is still adjusting to each other, especially since her newly adopted children are not fluent in English. To overcome the challenges of the language barrier, O’Neill patiently works with the siblings to share languages, and she has begun a flourishing relationship.
O’Neill’s warm personality as a mother extends into her teaching at Kaiser. She’s known to be kindhearted by the student body, and genuinely cares about those who surround her, no matter the context. O’Neill shows strength and compassion in and out of her job, and will never give up her care for children.