First in a series of blog posts highlighting recent high school grads and rising high school seniors who are going to change the world.
Meet the McDermott triplets.
The trio. The sisters. The three.
Alayna, Madeline and Corina McDermott entered the world together. They can finish each other’s sentences, and often do.
This past year, as juniors at Lincoln-Way West High School, they took the ACT exam. Alayna scored a perfect 36. Madeline and Corina were a near-perfect 35.
An amazing feat, for sure. The sisters were featured in local newspapers and even on Chicago’s WMAQ-TV here.
But even more impressive than their heads for academics are their hearts for each other and others.
All three girls remain active in their New Lenox Girl Scout troop, and hope to earn their Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can receive, by completing a multi-faceted service project in her community, before graduation next spring. It would be a culmination of years spent in the service of others.
All three girls have both donated their hair to charities (Madeline, every two and half years since the first grade) - Locks of Love and “Wigs for Kids,” organization that makes wigs for cancer patients.
Corina has made winter hats and with her sisters, passed them out to homeless people in downtown Chicago, and all three have also collected toiletries and other basic necessities for people in Haiti, which earned the triplets their Girl Scout Silver Award. They have also for the past few years volunteered to help with fundraisers that benefit foster kids.
“We use each other to do better, Alayna said. “We want to work on things together; we use each other to thrive.”
“We’re going to get farther if we work as a team.”
The McDermott team started its expansion to six children when the triplets were just young girls.
Parents Holly and Paul began fostering children when the triplets were in first grade. They met and fell in love with Wyatt, who came to their home as a foster child at 10 months old, and soon after adopted him. In 2006, the family began sponsoring a Kenyan child through their church, Parkview Christian. In 2013, Holly traveled to Africa to meet him, and she was profoundly impacted by the mothers and children she encountered on the trip. When she returned home, Holly and Paul began researching international adoption. Though circumstances did not allow them to adopt a child from Africa, they were able to adopt in Haiti, and after three years of the adoption process, on May 6, 2017, the family welcomed Garry, now 14, and his sister Beatrice, 10 into their family.
Garry and Beatrice adapted quickly to life as McDermotts. While sitting around the dinner table on this particular evening, the six children joked around, making gentle fun of each other much like any other biological siblings.
Alayna reminisced about running up the stairs crying when she found out that Wyatt – a boy – was joining their family of girls. She didn’t want a brother. However, the girls very quickly learned to enjoy being big sisters to the “chubby, adorable” blond-haired boy who was now a member of their family.
When Garry and Beatrice arrived, it was a bigger change, Alayna said. Because their new siblings came from their own background, language and culture, there was more to adapt to.
“It took more time and more effort, but it’s worked pretty well,” Alayna said.
“Now it’s like I couldn’t imagine life without them,” Madeline added. “I’ve gotten so used to the chaos of this family.”
Along with the chaos came some valuable life lessons learned.
“There’s a lot about sympathy, and looking at stuff from the other person’s point of view, Corina said. “You can’t get frustrated when they don’t understand what’s going on because of their culture or language. You have to be patient and caring and gentle with them as they try to adapt, because I can’t imagine how hard it was for them.”
“Patience and responsibility would be the first things,” Alayna said. “Culturally, our area is so not diverse and having siblings of color and seeing how other people react to that – good and bad – has been very interesting.”
“It opens you up to a little bit more of the world.”
The world will be a better place with the McDermott trio in it.
Alayna hopes to pursue Biomechanical Engineering. Madeline is passionate about Environmental Engineering, and veering a little bit more to the opposite side of her brain, Corina is thinking either psychology or fashion design.
“This morning we were talking with our teacher about how to make things more environmentally sustainable,” Alayna said. “We were talking about different companies that have made products without plastic containers, biodegradable pencils and things like that, are really interesting.”
“I would like to create more sustainable practices,” said Madeline. “I am very interested in trying to protect our environment and create less waste and find ways to produce and have the comfort we have now without creating such a harmful effect.”
I just wrote a six-page paper on how we need to start fixing the environment, she said.
“Why I am specifically interested in biomechanical engineering specifically to create prosthetics and different tools for people who have different handicaps or disabilities.,” Alayna said. “I am a leader in gym with the adaptive class, and it is so much fun. I love the kids so much.”
“We have some friends that are missing limbs, and seeing what they struggle with, and how different things have impacted their lives so severely, and just trying to facilitate that so everyone can have a little bit of a better shot, or just make it easier for people that are born some disadvantages, since I have been so blessed.”
Because mental health has affected so many people around me that I am really close to, I really want to help people with mental health in a lot of different ways,” Corina said. “I want to help lessen the stigma against getting help and speaking about mental health. I want to find ways to make it less expensive. I also want to work with confidence in making people know that it doesn’t matter what their gender is, or their race, or their background or their social standing or their wealth.”
“Everyone is amazing and beautiful and smart and wonderful in their own way. I want to help people know that they are worth everything and more.”
This would make any parent proud, and Paul and Holly are no exception.
“We always told them to be Kingdom-minded,” Paul said. “We try to live by faith. Being foster parents is a step in faith, and we try to follow those promptings.”
“If we can instill that in our children, and they’re going to go out and try to conquer the world and do some good along the way in that faith, that’s really important to us,” he said.
“We need this next generation to solve some problems that our generation created,” Paul added. “I’m very proud they are strong women.”
“Solve some problems for us. Fearlessly.”
“They teach us all the time; and not just educational facts,” Holly said. “But they also set an example for us as to what it means to be a person of integrity.”
“I’m confident they will be able to go into the world being able do that.”