Talented teenager needs forever family

By Gillian Sheridan gsheridan@cbs19.tv

Elijah is excited about his visit to Mundt Music in Tyler.

While walking in the door I asked him, "So how long have you been playing the piano?"

He replied, "About two years."

He is musically inclined and self-taught.

"I play by hear," he said, running his fingers over the keyboard.

I asked him, "What was the first thing you played on the piano?" He quickly responded, "Beethoven!"

This 15-year-old is also described as athletic, happy and just a good kid with a huge heart and an even bigger smile.

"He's really well-mannered and respectful. He likes church. He is kind of a class clown. He's funny and he likes to make people laugh," his caseworker, April Braugh, said.

"It's easy making friends. I just be myself," exclaimed Elijah. Elijah also enjoys playing the drums, which was easy to see as he picked up a pair of sticks and gave us a cadence on the snare drum. "It just makes me feel good and it just calms me down."

This young man has spent the past eight years in foster care.

"I just want to have a family, that's it," he said. "It just means I would have someone to care for me."

But his past makes him somewhat afraid of the future.

"It comes with the territory whenever you are a male teenager," Ms. Braugh said. "You kind of want to keep people at a distance emotionally because they may hurt you if you allow them to get too close."

Elijah tries to remain positive, but sometimes struggles with sadness.

"Whenever he does something wrong, it reinforces that feeling of, ‘I'm no good 'cause I messed up again,'" Ms. Braugh said. "But that's why it's so important that he has people in his life that are going to be there for him and speak the truth that his worth isn't just his behavior — That they will love him beyond his inadequate protective abilities."

His dream is to help other people by becoming a firefighter. "I just want to save people and go into fires," he said.

Elijah is very caring and protective of people close to him, and quality time with loved ones is important to him.

"He values the special things with people," Ms. Braugh said. "A family would really be able to attach to something like that if they were also like-minded."

This teenager needs encouragement and acceptance, but most of all unconditional love from a family who won't give up on him.

"It has to be a tenacious type person that believes whenever they take a child into their home, that that's their child," Ms. Braugh said.

"They need the mentality that, ‘I want you, no matter what behavior,' and it's hard to love kids that way, but that's the kind of person that they need — that they deserve!" she said. "I think if he can take the guard down with a family, then he'll be a joy to have, to call him your son."

He leaves the music store, feeling proud about his musical abilities, but longs to have a family to share them with and, for the first time in his life, have a true sense of belonging.


To learn more about Elijah, join Gillian Sheridan for her Children Are A Gift report, Tuesday night on CBS 19 News at 10. You can also find information on www.cbs19.tv or www.tylerpaper.com. To inquire about an East Texas foster child waiting to be adopted call 903-533-4242 or email gsheridan@cbs19.tv.





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