Faces of Foster Care: Hunter and Ray

Caucasian pre-teen boy wears a black hoodie sweatshirt and smiles shyly at the camera.

By: Courtney Edge-Mattos

It was his “Second Act.”  Ray’s son was an adult and had moved out.  His business was steady and thriving and when he came home, the house was quiet.  He remembered the joy of taking his son camping, going to family picnics, and attending sporting events.  Every day he passed by the empty bedroom and felt a void.  One day, an ad highlighting the need for foster parents caught his eye. Ray filled out the short form and within less than a day, was talking about foster care with a Homefinder.

The process took months, but his home opened around Thanksgiving.  A few child profiles were presented to him, but none seemed like a fit…Until Hunter.

Hunter was quiet, shy, and did all he could to disappear.  He wore hoodies that swallowed him whole and hid his face from the world.  He liked anime and dogs.  He had an older brother who had “aged out” of DCF, but kept in contact with him regularly.  His mother was inconsistent.  His father's whereabouts were unknown.

Ray still isn’t sure what it was about Hunter’s profile, but something told him he could have an impact on this preteen.  He said yes.  They had a first meeting, then a second.  He visited Hunter at his group home and took him out in the community.  He brought him home for an afternoon so Hunter could meet Midnight, his Cocker Spaniel, and check out his room.

Like a turtle, Hunter poked his head a little more out of his hood.  He began to make slow and steady eye contact.  Speaking haltingly at first, he started to talk.  After almost two months of visits, Hunter told his social worker he was ready to move in with Ray.

It isn’t perfect.  They have moments of disagreements.  Ray initially gave in to every request and soon found he was spending lots of money as Hunter asked for the latest gaming systems and electronics.  Ray had to re-learn to set limits and say no.  Hunter had to learn that just because Ray said no, it didn’t mean he was being rejected. 

Hunter has traveled to five states with Ray so far.  They’ve gone to amusement parks, family reunions, local cultural events, and restaurants.  They’ve attended JRI family events.  Ray has shared his love of dancing with Hunter, who grimaces and smacks his forehead with classic teenage embarrassment, but then grins and laughs at Ray’s moves (which are really good, by the way!).  Hunter has taught Ray how to play different video games and brought him up to date with current slang.  Ray’s easy going, joking personality has helped Hunter relax, feel safe, and start to find his footing.

For every Hunter out there, we need a Ray.  There are children across the Commonwealth waiting in group homes and shelters for the right adult to step into their lives.  They are waiting to relax their shoulders, to exhale, and to start to smile again.  If you could be that person for a child or youth in foster care, please apply today.



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Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.