NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– It is an unnatural disaster. About 4,000 kids in the state don’t have a permanent place to call home.
According to caseworkers it can be particularly difficult for older kids to find a home, but one New Haven couple says that’s exactly who they wanted to adopt.
Just like all parents Pierre Morton and Michael Giuliano love to gush about their kids.
“I’ll walk in the door, put my bags down and he’ll go ‘Daddy’s Home!’ and he’ll run. Now, this is a 16-year-old boy. I think it’s adorable,” said Morton.
It look them a long time to get to this place. First, Morton had to meet Giuliano. Online dating connected them. Morton new it was real when he watched Giuliano teach.
Morton said, “I want a family. I’ve always wanted a family and when I saw him interact with the kids I thought this is the man.”
“One of the strongest things, core values we shared was we both wanted to have a family,” said Giuliano.
So, they started taking foster classes at the Boys and Girls Village in Milford. They opened their home to little ones at first and realized it wasn’t for them. About two years ago, two teens walked into the door, about two weeks apart.
Giuliano said, “It broke my heart. No one cares about these teenagers. They’re the ones who fall through the system.”
It’s not always easy for them. Morton recalls when his son got upset over taking his medication and ran-away.
“In a snowstorm, by himself and I thought I can’t believe this kid just left,” said Morton. “When we found him no one had ever gone to look for him. He’s runaway before, but they just let him go. We went and looked for him,” said Morton.
“Many of our teens have been with us a long time,” said Administrator with Department of Children and Families, Linda Dixon. “Our children are survivors of sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect.”
Scattered throughout the state about 4,000 live in foster care and about 2,000 of them are between the ages of 13 and 21.
Dixon says there are two reasons why older children and young adults are their care. First off, At 12-years-old kids have the right to deny adoption in the state.
“By the time we find a family for them sometimes they don’t want to go and they say no right away and that’s really their way of saying they don’t want to be hurt again,” said Dixon.
She says through therapy some children change their minds. Secondly , a program unique to the state gives teens an incentive to stay in the system. If a foster teen gets into college the state will pay up to the cost of in-state tuition.
Dixon said, “We’re one of the very few jurisdictions that offer that. So, they will choose to stay with us but that elevates our numbers of older youth with us.”
Morton and Giuliano said they’re ready to adopt their teens and they’ve already started the process. They say their soon-to-be-sons are gifts who have made them better men and together an even more loving family.
Morton said, “I’ve seen in Michael a strength that has grown in him because he’s had to be strong with these teenagers and I’ve grown to be able to listen. to be softer.”
Giuliano said, “You learn what the real word of unselfishness is.”
DCF reports in the past 5 years they’ve reduced the number of all kids in their care. Right now they’ve got about 3,000 homes that have opened their doors to the 4,000 kids in the state. They’re always looking for new parents willing to open up their hearts and home.
May is Foster Care Awareness month.
To begin the process of becoming a foster parent you can call 1-888-KID-HERO.