Currently there are 400,000 children in foster care, with 100,000 of those kids waiting to be adopted. A majority of the children waiting are age 10 and over. When a child reaches the age of 10, they are about 50% less likely to be adopted. Luckily, for this 18 year old in California, he finally has a family to call his own. Below is the story of Carson, who entered the Peterson's home at age 15, and after 15 years in the foster system was adopted into the Petersen family. 

                                                                                                       
 
 
After more than a decade in the foster care system, Carson Petersen finally found a home—and a family—to call his own.
 
The 18-year-old was adopted by Tex and Renee Petersen on June 30 at a courthouse in Fresno, California. The adoption comes three years after the Petersens first welcomed Carson into their home, during a stay that was originally supposed to only last a weekend. Last month’s adoption ceremony brought an end to a turbulent journey for Carson, who has experienced tragedy and disappointment all throughout his young life.
 
Carson was just 3 years old when he entered the foster care system after his mother committed suicide. His biological father was arrested when Carson was 11 after authorities discovered he was homeless, abusive and using drugs, according to the Fresno Bee. During the next few years, he would be passed to 10 different families before he met the Petersens in 2014. The stay was meant to be temporary while social workers looked for another foster family, but Carson felt something special about the family. They, too, felt something special about him.
 
"I was a little nervous about asking if I could stay because I didn’t know what they were going to say,” Carson tells PEOPLE. “But they said yes to me, and they didn’t hesitate.”
 
Three years later right around Christmas, Carson texted the family as he sat in his high school biotech class and asked if they would officially adopt him. Again, the family didn’t hesitate to tell him yes. “It was finally a chance for me to let go of my past, to start anew, a new me,” Carson says of his adoption. “It was really eye-opening to see how many people care for me and love me, and it made me emotional.”
 
But if you ask Tex, making the adoption official didn’t change things much. Carson was always his son, on paper or not.
 
“Nothing really resonated any different,” Tex tells PEOPLE, as he begins to let out a bellowing laugh. “The only difference is now he’s legally bound to the inheritance of my underwear drawer!”
 
Tex and Renee have one biological son, 18-year-old Hunter, but have always wanted more children. Since Renee has diabetes, having a baby naturally was a risk. Adoption became a real option for the couple when a representative from Valley Teen Ranch, an adoption agency in Fresno, visited their church about five years ago to explain the foster system.
 
“My wife and I just looked at each other, then looked to the heavens and back at each other, and we knew right then that adoption was something we would be into,” Tex says. “We can’t give much, but we can give our love and God’s love to them.”
 
Along with Carson, they have adopted two other children: 4-year-old Kaylynn and 2-year-old Joshua. Tex says that becoming parents to foster children has brought new meaning to their lives, and he hopes that others who hear about their family may be inspired to adopt. He adds that Carson has a biological brother who is still in the foster care system.
 
“The next thing time you walk down your hallway, take all your pictures off the wall,” Tex says. “The next time you walk down it, you’ll look at those empty walls without your pictures—the pictures signifying that you belong there—and that’s how these kids feel.”
 
Carson will be a senior next year and is training to become a firefighter, something he was inspired to do after firefighters helped him when his home burned down as a child. “Now I’m going down the right path,” he says of the support his family has given him.
 
“The world needs to come together to realize one thing,” Tex says. “Love is the common denominator, and that’s what we need to be giving these kids.”
 
Original article can be found, here. Photo: Tex Petersen

Project Wait No Longer focuses on placing children like Carson who are waiting for adoption with loving, stable, forever families. If you or someone you know is interested in older child adoption, please contact Alex Williams, PWNL Outreach Coordinator, at awilliams@barkerfoundation.org or call 301-664-9664