Kyle, four months shy of 18 years old, took one look at the brick house and the young couple welcoming him into their home and decided this time was going to be different.

He told his Dallas CASA volunteer Ashley that “it was a feeling I can’t describe.”

Kyle was home.

For Kyle, childhood had been a series of losses. His mother died, then his father was unable to parent due to a serious drug addiction. Kyle lived with his aunt for several years, but then she was diagnosed with brain and stomach cancer. Without options, his aunt brought him to the Child Protective Services office with a small suitcase.

Kyle, then 16, was faced with nowhere to go. Again.

CPS placed him in foster care, and a terrible cycle began: placement after placement, move after move, school after school. Apart from Ashley, Kyle didn’t know who he could rely on.

But with the Hanson family, things felt different from the start. Kyle felt comfortable. He trusted them. And they believed in him.
The Hansons, a couple in their late 20s, were motivated to foster a teenager because Mr. Hanson’s father had aged out of foster care and had shared the challenges of that experience. They knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but they wanted to provide a home and stability for Kyle.

From the start, they had daily “family time” to connect. Kyle told Ashley it was his first placement that did that and, to his surprise, he liked it. They said prayers before bed, and Kyle noted it helped him sleep. They worked diligently on their communication with one another. They found they liked playing long and complicated board games together.

The longer Kyle stayed in the placement, the more he opened up. During his time in foster care, he had become quiet, reserved and standoffish around adults. But Ashley found a chattier and happier Kyle at each visit. Kyle told Ashley he felt like he could breathe.

Kyle found he could be honest with the Hansons, even with the hard things. He told them he’d only earned 11 high school credits but hoped to graduate on time in only one more year. He needed 22 total credits to graduate high school. The Hansons were not bothered. They found him a credit recovery homeschool program that would allow him to work at his own pace. He took off, and his grades came up.

When Kyle turned 18 this fall, he could have left foster care. But after four happy months in the Hansons’ home, Kyle decided to stay in foster care. He liked the stability and the mutual respect they shared. The family went camping to celebrate and then surprised Kyle with a new puppy.

Then Kyle surprised the Hansons with something else: although he was now legally an adult, he asked if they would adopt him. Through hugs and tears of joy, they said yes.

In February, Kyle was adopted. He’s on track to graduate on time this spring, and he’s thinking about college. With a stable home life, he’s finally able to think clearly about what he wants.