When Khari Siegfried, Miss Pennsylvania, competes for the title of Miss United States this week, she’ll have the full support of her family–that is, both her adoptive and birth families.
The title holder, 26, reunited with her birth family when she won her crown at the Miss Pennsylvania pageant in March.
“My birth mother had me when she was 16, and I left the hospital as Jessica Lynn Bailey,” Siegfried said in a statement. “However, my mother soon realized she didn’t have the resources to raise me, and I was adopted and my name was changed to Khari Justine Siegfried.
“While I was out gown shopping to prepare for the Miss Pennsylvania pageant, my mom called me and said the agency that handled my adoption 26 years ago was looking to get in contact with me. I called the number, and soon found out that my birth mother had been looking to connect with me for the past six years.
“My birth family flew in to support me along with my adopted family, and from that point I knew it was my destiny to become Miss Pennsylvania United States 2014.”
As Siegfried compete for the national crown, her goal is to use her platform to share her story and spread a message on the importance of adoption. “I want to offer support and share my personal story with young mothers as they decide what to do if they don’t have the resources to raise a child,” Siegfried said. “As Miss Pennsylvania, I plan to travel the entire state and also serve as a national advocate for adoption to show that it can be a blessing.”