LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Nearly three thousand of the five thousand children in the Virginia Foster Care System are over the age of ten. Many of them are teenagers who expect to age out of the foster care system without a family. Chara was one of those teens, until this year, when he was unexpectedly given the gift of a forever family.
Chara Hegedus. The name has a nice ring to it. The last name is fairly new to Chara. But, when you ask him about it?
“It’s not that much of a crazy thing for me,” he says. “I’ve had four last names at this point.”
Chara is now 17 years old, but he’s had quite the journey to find his family.
“Most teenagers age out of the system so it was definitely unexpected,” he says.
He was only 16 years old when he met Kaylah and Will Hegedus.
“I figured it would just be similar to all the other homes I’ve been in you know and just a temporary stay thing. certainly not anything permanent,” recalls Chara.
He was wrong.
“What ended up happening was over the course of several months, he just clicked really well with the family,” says Will. “He started to grow attached to the other kids in our home like our baby.”
It was a new experience for Chara and Kaylah and Will, who had only started fostering during the pandemic.
“You know, we were six months into marriage and then had to just jump into being a mom to three, almost-four-year-old,” says Kaylah, “So you know that’s not even long enough to you know be pregnant and have a baby.”
But with the help of “Extra Special Parents“, they had the training and support to take in at least five foster kids since 2020.
“The agency is not just gonna call you one day and say here’s a kid will be over there soon like you get a background on each kid, as much of a background as they can give you, and then you have the opportunity to say yes, or no like if you feel like it’s going to be a fit for you or not,” says Kaylah.
Now Will and Kaylah have a child of their own, Joel.
“I don’t really see them too different, just another kid we need to take care of, grow, and everything,” chuckles Kaylah.“ And the other kids have been very welcoming of our youngest, our biological son,” says Will. “They don’t seem to view him differently or feel that he has a different place in the family or that he’s more valued than they are”
Chara has definitely taken on the role of big brother to Joel.
So the Hegedus family couldn’t wait to make it official but told him the decision was his.
“He sat there and he was quiet for probably like 20-30 seconds, was just petting the cat, clearly like [a] “teenager” uncomfortable showing emotion, and then he’s like yeah I want it yeah,” recalls Kaylah. “And then because he’s a 17-year-old boy we couldn’t be like [mimics screaming] inside screaming.”
“Not something I was expecting or really even believing could happen but I am happy about it, it’s a happy surprise,” says Chara.
Now, Chara is getting the chance to live a life of opportunity.
“I’ll probably go to college next year, I mean definitely will,” he says. “I wasn’t sure if it would be possible just due to a lot of reasons. I wanted to, just wasn’t sure if I would be able to. Now I can.”
In fact, he plans to start with community college and transfer. It’s all possible because Will and Kaylah took a chance on him.
Will and Kaylah plan to adopt two more of their foster children by the end of the summer, making them a family of six!
If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent, Extra Special Parent can help.