At 17 years old… Carolyn knows the chances of her finding a forever family are slim. Much like Alex, who told us at 17 that he hoped he found a family because was about to hit the “18 mark,” Carolyn is realistic about what her future may hold. But we also think of Alex because he was adopted the same week he turned 18; his dad saw a news segment and contacted us to find out if he could become Alex’s mentor.  We know that sometimes family emerges where we least expect it, and so we’re not giving up hope or slowing down on our efforts to find Carolyn a family to call her own.

At 17 years old… Carolyn has never had a birthday party. She’ll tell everyone that she really wants a surprise birthday party, because a surprise party means that she’s got people who love her, who have invested their time and energy without her even knowing it, to make sure she feels loved and celebrated. “Maybe I wake up and there’s a whole party already planned for me. Something like that would be the best birthday party ever.” (She also hopes that her surprise birthday party includes an Oreo cookie ice cream cake and a favorite meal of spaghetti & extra meatballs.)

“I know I’m one of the most caring people you could ever meet.”

At 17 years old… Carolyn knows she’s kind, sweet, loyal, trustworthy, playful, loving, and a good friend. Everyone needs “someone that’s good at listening,” and to her friends, that someone is Carolyn.

When her friends are having a tough day, Carolyn tries to help reframe their thoughts with positive conversations and encouraging words. Her favorite part of being a student leader in the art club at school is encouraging other students to remember that there’s creativity in everyone. 

Her love of art extends to crafts too, from yarn bracelets to chalk drawings to custom photo frames: “it doesn’t really matter what type – I’ll do them all. I love crafts! That’s just me.” Chalk drawings are especially fun: you can get some neat results by blending colors together, spraying it with water, or using masking tape to create a mosaic effect.

At 17 years old… Carolyn knows that there is beauty and peace to be found in nature. Outside is one of her favorite places to be. Exploring nature is comforting to Carolyn – to see hundred-year-old trees and know they represent stability, longevity, perseverance through stormy days. Plus, she gets really excited when she figures out which trees are around her, and what their scientific names are.

“Being around my friends, and family if I do have one in the future, will make me happy. I hope to be around them whenever I can.”

At 17 years old… Most teens are at the point where they want their family around less, so they can exercise all that independence they’ve longed for. Not Carolyn. She hasn’t had the benefit of the “overprotective” parent who sets an early curfew, or the opportunity to learn about healthy relationships and communication from a family. So rather than “fly the coop” like a lot of teens, Carolyn wants to stick around a bit, and a family that will stick it out with her. More than a place to live, Carolyn wants connection – built over time, cultivated by doing what you say you’ll do, not putting conditions on love or belonging.

“Family is someone who’s there to care for you, love you, be there in your hard times. Someone you can rely on.”

At 17 years old… Carolyn is pretty self-aware. 

“I want a family to know that I’m kind, & that I’ve had a really rough childhood up to this point, but that I want to have really great remaining years of my childhood.”

At 17 years old… it may take Carolyn some time to fully settle into a forever home. After all, it’s not something she’s had before, and new things are scary to trust. She’ll need patient parents who understand that trust takes time, especially for a child whose experience so far is that many adults aren’t all that trustworthy. A single parent or couple doesn’t matter to Carolyn as much as you might think. What’s important to her: You should be able to delight in her successes and support her when she stumbles. You should know that healing requires more than love and a “can do” attitude (but those are a good foundation). You should know that even when she tests your limits, she would never choose to be without you. She just wants to know you’d never choose to be without her either.

At 17 years old… it still would be best for Carolyn to be the youngest in a home so that she receives the attention and support she needs. A family with adult children who don’t live at home would be ideal. If she could pick, she’d want parents who are crafty – doesn’t matter what craft, since she likes them all! – and who will take an interest in the things that she enjoys. She likes structure – not something many 17 year olds are asking for these days! – so a family with a daily routine that’s pretty consistent is a must. Carolyn is proud of the work she has done to improve her coping skills, and needs a family that will celebrate her steps forward while patiently encouraging her to continue her progress.

At 17 years old… Carolyn is pretty close to “aging out” of the foster care system. But she doesn’t want to, and she doesn’t have to. Carolyn longs to be adopted and to have a place to belong. She deserves to have a family to claim as her own. If you think you might be the right family for Carolyn, please visit her profile and submit an inquiry. If you know someone else who might be a good fit, please share this with them. Together, let’s keep Carolyn’s story from being that she aged out of foster care…but rather that she aged into a family.

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