International Icon Princess Sarah Culberson Reveals How Her Foster & Adoptive Parents Changed Her Life, Delivers an Inspiring Message to Trinity Youth Services’ Foster Parents and Foster Youth
16th of June 2021
Princess Sarah Culberson is an African princess whose inspiring life story has touched the lives of millions around the world. After learning about Trinity Youth Services’ mission to create better futures for foster youth, she sent a very motivational message for potential and current foster parents as well as foster youth, stating, “My foster parents made such a huge impact in my life.” To hear more of Princess Sarah’s message, watch the video below.
A renowned dancer, actress, philanthropist, educator, motivational speaker, and author, Princess Sarah was born in Morgantown, West Virginia, to an African father and a Caucasian mother. She was placed in foster care as an infant, and was adopted by a loving Caucasian family one year after her first birthday.
Princess Sarah’s adoptive family showered her with unconditional love and support throughout her childhood, and took a very active role in her life. According to Princess Sarah, “They were just extremely checked in, saw my skills and talents and supported those and with anything that was challenging to me, they helped me figure it out and supported me as well. They noticed that I was a great dancer, athlete, that I loved acting, singing, enjoyed performing etc., and loved and supported me.
“I didn’t like math, so my dad would help me for hours every week. They were so checked in as parents which was extraordinary. My mom wanted to make sure I didn’t always feel different, and so as a girl with all this afro hair, she learned how to braid, take care of my hair which was different, and she knew that was important for me as well. The actions they took spoke volumes. Even though elementary and middle school were not as diverse, the university where my dad was a professor was diverse with Dr. Hilluala from India, Professors from Thailand, which allowed me to be in contact with more diverse people, which I loved seeing as a child.”
According to Princess Sarah, some of the most important things her parents taught her were “to go after my dreams. My dad loved that I loved acting. His dream was to be a performer, and he’s a scientist. He’s a neuroanatomist who teaches doctors to save lives, but he’s always loved the arts. They took me to shows which inspired me and admired how dedicated I was. It meant so much to me that they saw it, supported, and helped me cultivate it as opposed to questioning if I was going to be able to make money off of it. I was also so respected, and in turn, respected them so much. I was taught through respect. I learned respect by example.”
Although she dearly loved her adopted family, Princess Sarah wanted to know about who she was and where she came from. With support from her adoptive parents, she found her birth father at the age of 28. In 2004, Princess Sarah and her adoptive parents traveled to Sierra Leone to meet her birth father and family. After meeting him and her African family, she learned that she was the child of a Paramount Chief, which gave her the official title of being an African Princess.
When visiting her father and her African family, Princess Sarah learned other essential information about her ancestry. “I’ve learned that I look like my grandmother, and I look like my father. I have his eyes. I’m also part of the Mende tribe, and I’m part of a history of leaders who are in my blood who propel me forward and ancestors who do the same. I’ve learned that to be a royal family in a developing country can be extremely challenging when there is great need, and it’s still important to move forward to be the best people we can be in order to help everyone.”
Meeting her biological father and family in Sierra Leone, and learning about her princess status gave Princess Sarah a new mission in life, and it changed her priorities.
According to Princess Sarah, “Many things that used to stress me out have no space anymore. The things we’re working on in Sierra Leone as a family, community, and country are so much bigger than my day-to-day issues that I feel propelled forward to handle our bigger goals to clean drinking water, solar lanterns, and sustainability in the country of Sierra Leone.”
Princess Sarah did not adopt the traditional meaning of being a princess. In fact, she has used her title to enhance the world around her, especially in Sierra Leone. According to Princess Sarah, “I wasn’t interested in embracing the title for how it’s meant in the world as a whole, specifically in America, but as I started to learn about the role inside of our community in Sierra Leone, and how Princess means responsibility to me, it’s shifted me to think about my priorities and responsibility and commitment that I have to our community and family in Sierra Leone.”
Although Princess Sarah was able to reconnect with her biological father and family, she understands the pain that some adopted children may feel when they aren’t able to have a relationship with their biological families. Her message to youth is, “Placing your child in another family is extremely challenging for birth parents, and even though it can make you feel unwanted maybe, actually it’s a selfless act that can give you to a family who can take care of you and give you what you need. I wasn’t able to meet my birth mother, but I know she is still a part of me. She passed away before I had the chance to meet her. Your birth parents are a part of you, and they’re guiding you along your journey whether you know it or not or ever need them. You’re not alone.”
When asked what the most important needs adoptive children have, and how can their adoptive parents best support them, Princess Sarah suggests that the most important things are “LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Support, guidance, and safety. Knowing that you’re there and cared about. Often, adopted children think that they’re not wanted, or something’s wrong with them, and that can make them feel like they’re not enough. Take the time to remind them that they’re enough, amazing people, and just reminding them of that can make a huge difference.”
For parents who may want to raise biracial children, Princess Sarah provides this advice: “Have people in your community who are also biracial so the children can see themselves represented, and have people of color in your community as well. When and if your child chooses to find their biological family, some day, try your best to do work on yourself to be ok with that, and please be open to that journey with them. They only want to find a deeper meaning to themselves and it’s not meant to hurt you, even if it might feel like it.”
A published author who’s featured in the LA Times, Chicago Tribune, BBC radio, NPR, “Oprah and Friends” radio show, and in magazines such as Reader’s Digest, Newsweek, People, and Glamour, Princess Sarah has also appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, Inside Edition, and more.
Her memoir, A Princess Found: A Journey Through Adoption, War, and Forgiveness, contains a profound message that readers can apply to their lives. According to Princess Sarah, the main message she wants readers to learn is, “Don’t let anger and fear stop you from going after what you want. It’s so much easier to hold onto that anger, and when I let go standing in a raw and fearful place then stepped into being courageous, loving and open, I received a lot more information that helped me understand who I am. Facing that fear and stepping into it really helped me find my purpose. And sometimes, we don’t even know how those things will show up when we’re afraid, but there can be so much beauty on the other side.”
Princess Sarah is the co-founder of the nonprofit, Sierra Leone Rising to support rebuilding education, public health, and female empowerment in Sierra Leone. According to Princess Sarah, “People can donate to sierraleonerising.org, other organizations doing work in Sierra Leone to help the country move forward after an 11-year Blood Diamond War & multiple pandemics. It takes a period of time to rebuild after all of that to restore the community, donate to organizations that you feel are good and do work in Sierra Leone,” she says.
“In Sierra Leone, we’re building a number of wells to help people in the provinces receive access to clean drinking water sources, supplying sanitary pads to women and girls to combat period poverty, and distributing solar lanterns to supply families with sustainable light sources.”
In addition to her work in Sierra Leone, Princess Sarah is also currently working on a film with Disney and Stephanie Elaine (The First African-American Woman to Co-Produce the 2020 Oscars), an animation with singer-songwriter, producer and entrepreneur Randy Jackson, a Roblox game with Melon Development, and a TV series with Good Story Entertainment.
If you want to foster or adopt a child, please call or text Eve Powers at 310-291-3889 to learn more about how you can qualify to become a resource parent. To get started online, click here!
Eve Powers, Foster Care Marketing Specialist
Eve has a strong commitment to helping foster youth and their families thrive and live successful lives. A former foster youth, Eve obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Communications from California State University, San Bernardino, and is a certified Holistic Life Coach, motivational writer, self-help author and celebrity interviewer. Beyond the Trinity Youth Services blog, Eve’s articles can be found in numerous platforms including Foster Focus Magazine, Heart & Soul Magazine, BET Centric and Huffington Post. A passionate advocate for the LGBTQ community, Eve continues to educate, support and mentor foster youth throughout Southern California.