A Wedding Day Kinship Placement
Chris and Carolyn Scott became kinship foster parents on their wedding day!
Yes, they did and here is their story……
Chris has a passion for working with adolescents and young adults. In 2019, he was a part-time employee at The Bridge group home while developing his non-profit organization, Sun Scholars Inc.
He first met an adolescent named Kayla during an intake at the program and questioned why she was not in a foster home given the way she interacted with others and her abilities. Chris saw a lot more potential in Kayla than he believed others did.
"There was no reason why she needed to be here," Chris remembers thinking to himself. "She got the short end of the stick."
Kayla remembers her early interactions with Chris with equal admiration. "I was excited when he came on the shift," Kayla stated. "Chris always told us we could do anything we can put our minds to."
Chris would talk to the residents about his background and would interact with them as they cooked and took part in other activities.
"Wow, I want to be just like him," Kayla remembers thinking.
After employment at the agency ended, Chris and Carolyn maintained contact with Kayla who eventually was placed into a foster home. They tutored her ahead of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), would talk on the phone and kept the lines of communication open.
Kayla's foster home placement "was not the right fit" according to her. "I felt misplaced and did not belong." As the possibility of Kayla returning to a previous foster home or group home became evident, Chris and Carolyn were made aware of the predicament and contemplated how they could further support her.
Chris himself grew up in foster care, was adopted and experienced placement disruption. He could relate to what Kayla was going through.
"No way was this how someone should spend Senior year in high school," Chris recalls thinking about Kayla having uncertainly about her future.
Chris sought the advice of a trusted friend, Lisa Driscoll, who helped him explore all options.
"You can always come live with me and Carolyn," he told Kayla.
"I was a bit nervous at first," Carolyn recalls when she initially thought about opening their home. "Chris lives this," she stated in reference to Chris' background and his daily work. "How do we manage each other? What would be the impact on our relationship?" were thoughts that entered her mind.
"We were definitely all in because we wanted to help Kayla."
The couple eventually decided to open their home.
"I'm on board," Kayla remembers Chris telling her. "I was excited and like now I will be with a family."
The night before Chris and Carolyn's wedding, Kayla moved in her belongings.
On their wedding day, the couple officially welcomed 17-year-old Kayla into their home. "I felt like I was part of a family," Kayla stated. "This was a great start."
For the next year, Kayla, Carolyn, and Chris made a great team with Kayla feeling like she could "be myself" around them.
It is understood that initially upon placement, Kayla was somewhat guarded. "You let us know what you are comfortable with," Chris recalls telling her and empowering her to take the lead. "You can achieve greatness in your youth."
Kayla had the support of her kinship family, past foster home, and her birth family to reach her fullest potential. Chris and Carolyn met Kayla's birth parents and relatives.
"We were always there as a protective factor," stated Chris as he remembers the many milestone events such as the Homecoming dance and Prom that Kayla and the family experienced together. They were present on awards night when Kayla received scholarships for track as she was the "fastest girl" in New Britain High School while also playing basketball, soccer, and tennis.
Kayla's overall goal is to live independently. As the next natural step in her progression, Kayla moved from the kinship home after a year and is now receiving support from Lisa Inc. as she resides in a supervised studio apartment with 24/7 staff support. Within the next year, she hopes to have her own apartment.
Chris and Carolyn are right there supporting her.
Kayla recently finished her freshmen year at UCONN in Hartford where she is a Sociology Major with a Minor in Biology. She aspires to become either an FBI agent or Lawyer. This summer she will spend three weeks studying abroad in Spain.
Kayla works two jobs, enjoys hip hop music and dance, bought her own car, and paid off her credit card.
She has a clear message for others about the youth involved with the Department. "We are not who we are on paper or what people say about us," she emphatically stated.
"See them for who they are."
Her message directly to other youth in care is also quite clear. "Utilize DCF until you are out," she articulated.
What is next for Chris and Carolyn?
Carolyn is a mechanical engineer working in the aerospace and defense industry. Chris has fully developed his non-profit and is the Executive Director and Founder of Sun Scholars Inc. He also recently completed graduate school at Harvard University with a master's in liberal arts in Government Extension Studies.
Of course, they just saw Taylor Swift in concert!
The couple would like to adopt a child in a couple of years.
What would they say about their kinship experience?
"Despite all of the nervousness and trepidation, this was probably the most rewarding thing I have done," Carolyn stated. "It was very rewarding to see Kayla grow into the person she is and celebrate her accomplishments with her."
"It was a joy to play a part in her journey," stated Chris. "Her independence has grown tremendously," he further added.
"We found her, and she found us."