This teen’s adoption story will give you all the feels
After being in and out of the foster care system for more than a decade, 18-year-old Carson Petersen recently found his forever home after he was adopted by his foster parents, Tex and Renee Petersen, last month. This story will seriously give you all the feels, folks.
The California teen first entered the foster care system when he was just three-years-old after his mother died by suicide. He was placed in the care of his biological father when he was eight, but after being homeless for a several years, he was placed back in foster care at age 11.
After “going down the wrong path,” as he put it, Carson was placed with the Petersen family in 2014 and he said his life began to turn around. His grades improved, he quit smoking and drinking, and he started training to become a firefighter, which he hopes to do after he graduates next year.
Tex Petersen told Scary Mommy Carson was initially only supposed to be placed with the family for a few days, but at the end of the weekend, he asked if he could stay longer. The Petersens agreed and last December, he asked the couple to adopt him – something the couple was eager to do.
“They always called me son,” Carson Petersen told ABC News. “They introduced me as their son to everybody. They never said ‘foster son,’ which was pretty awesome to feel wanted and appreciated.” Tex told us he has never liked the term “foster son” because it implies “lesser than,” and it’s critically important to treat foster children equal to biological children in the family.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, however. Family life is messy sometimes, and there can be unique challenges for children who are in foster care. Carson said he would shut down, and put up a wall so no one could hurt him. But the Petersens didn’t stop loving on him and supporting him through the challenges.
Tex told us he remembers the moment he finally broke through Carson’s wall — when he told Carson he wouldn’t give up on him because he was worth it. It isn’t saying “I love you” that’s important, Tex said, but rather, showing that love by letting a child know they are worth every second of our time.
“I put them through hell, and we just never gave up on each other,” Carson told The Fresno Bee.
“I will never forget the day when he brought home his first ‘A’ the very first freshman year in high school and he actually passed all his classes,” Tex Petersen told us. “Seeing him taste success for the very first time was like seeing a kid lick a lollipop for the first time and say ‘I like that.’ We as parents need to show them that we believe in them so that they can buy in and believe in themselves.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) July 18, 2017
“The main thing was that he [knew] that this was his home and that if he ever wanted us to adopt him, that it was something we would do,” Tex Petersen told ABC News. “For me, I really don’t feel much different. I’ve always looked at him as my son.”
Carson’s adoption isn’t just cause for celebration because he has found his home and family, but it’s also rather rare for someone his age to be adopted. According to The Fresno Bee, Carson is the first adult in foster care to be adopted this year in Fresno County. Throughout the entire state of California, only 15 of the 12,025 adults in foster care were adopted last year.
Of the adoption day, Carson told ABC News, “It was emotional. I teared up a little bit because I was happy that I could let go of my past and start forward from that day, until now.”
Carson has long since felt like a member of the Petersen family, even if it just became official last month. He told ABC News he recently changed his last name to Petersen, and also got matching tattoos – Roman numerals with the date of June 24, 2014, when Carson first came into the family — with his 18-year-old brother Hunter, the Petersens’ biological son, as a sign of their connection. Along with the Roman numerals, on Hunter’s arm is the image of a bow, and on Carson’s arm, an arrow. They told the Fresno Bee that, “together, the images are meant to symbolize Hunter helping his brother launch successfully into his future.”
Seriously, can someone pass the tissues, please?
The Petersen clan also includes four-year-old Kaylynn and two-year-old Joshua, who were both also adopted by the Petersens. They said they are incredibly grateful to A Ray of Hope, which is operated by Valley Teen Ranch and helped facilitate the placement.
“I know a lot of kids in foster homes, including my [biological] brother, and they’re losing hope,” Carson Petersen said. “Most of them want to quit. Some of them want to commit suicide, and I strongly encourage them to keep fighting. You just got to have your faith and keep holding on to what you believe in.”