The voice on the other end of the phone stops me cold.

“Leda, you can’t adopt a thirteen-year-old,” she says, knowing about my small kids who fill my days to bursting.

“I know,” I say, “But he’s such a fantastic kid. I worry about his chances of being adopted.”

I’m talking to my best friend, who used to work for DCF. I just finished my meeting with Seth, and I’m gushing. “He was so warm, and kind, and so interested in me, in making sure I was comfortable.”

Text by Leda Eizenberg.

More info: ashiaray.com

Enduring Hope – This 13-year-old’s search for an adoptive family is hindered by three myths

That a teenage boy who’s faced so many challenges remains so open and thoughtful strikes me as nothing short of a miracle

And a miracle isn’t just what Seth and his future family needs, it’s what they deserve. He’s a teenager, a boy, and he’s on the autism spectrum – three things which cause potential families to overlook him. But they’re the three things that make him so extraordinary, and such a wonderful son – if you see in him what I did.

Every child deserves a loving and stable family, of course

But in the hour we spent together, it became clear how much a family would thrive with the love and certainty that only Seth could bring to them. Part of it is that he struggles to connect with people at adoption parties – he’s happy in his foster placement, and it’s easier for him to connect with people one-on-one or in a small group. But mostly, he’s afraid of getting his hopes up.

Seth moves like a puppy, with floppy, oversized feet

As a newly-minted thirteen-year-old, Seth is taller than both me and Kelsey, but his height is a new thing for him. He has the soft the face and voice of a little boy and his cheeks apple-up as he flashes me a smile. I stretch out my hand to shake his, then remember that thirteen-year-olds don’t usually shake hands. But he grips my hand and shakes it with a quick nod and another bright and fleeting grin.

I compliment his Edelman jersey, and we talk through the Patriots

He patiently forgives my lack of knowledge, and shows himself to be an eager teacher, helping me understand the dynamics of the team this year. While he’s clearly unhappy about their season-opening loss, there’s a cheerful if cautious optimism to his opinions on the rest of the season. I inwardly marvel that a child who’s clearly experienced a great deal of loss truly still believes that things will work out.

His boyish voice gains momentum as he offers his opinion on the big Celtics trade

He’s sad to see Isaiah Thomas go, particularly given his emotional connection to the city, but is willing to trust in the wisdom of Danny Ainge. This genuine compassion is the type of thing someone who misunderstands autism might be surprised to hear, but it clearly demonstrates Seth’s empathy and understanding of the emotional nature of the trade.

The more time I spend with Seth, I see how truly unfair his adoption challenge is

I want to have the same optimism about Seth’s future—he’s such a loving and thoughtful kid—but I know the odds are stacked against a thirteen-year-old in need of adoption far more than against any sports team.

The vulnerability and uncertainty of putting himself out there and asking for a new family is really too much to ask of any child, especially one who has endured loss and heartbreak before

Factoring in that with a complex family history, Seth finds uncertainty even more stressful. I understand why we can’t talk about adoption, even if it’s what he desperately needs. What he needs most is people who not only love and understand and appreciate him, but who also consider him wholly theirs.

Seth is shy but proud as he recounts some of his stories, and Kelsey later sends me the link

Their humor is exactly what I’d expect from a clever kid his age, but I’m struck too by his optimism, by the way everything works out in the end, and how our hero doesn’t just catch the bad guys (or girls), but helps them become better.

His interest in showing me around strikes me as particularly thoughtful

As we sit on a bench in the gym, a basketball flies past us and out the door. Seth springs up and grabs it for the kids who’ve lost it, tossing it back with a friendly smile. Again, his anticipation of others’ needs and comfort impresses me.

And now Seth needs us to do that for him

We need to think of his needs: for love, stability, a family, and a home. What I hope for more than anything this holiday season is that we can show Seth that his optimism is warranted. Even if you’re not prepared to adopt Seth, you can still do something to help him, and kids just like him, find their way home. Share Seth’s story so it’s more likely to reach his forever family. How wide this article spreads depends on your willingness to speak up and share it.