Social worker finds home (in her heart) for troubled foster child

(CBS News) SAINT PETERSBURG, Fla. -- From all four walls, success smiles down on 50-year old social worker Connie Going. She has helped match more than 1,000 Tampa Bay area foster kids with adoptive parents.

Connie Going
Connie Going CBS News

"Every child is adoptable," Connie said. "There's a family for every child."

Connie said it's her job to find out who that family is. But when she gets a kid like Taylor?

Connie's heavy sigh punctuates a ten-year struggle over this kid -- for ten years Connie tried to help Taylor get adopted -- to no avail.

"It was always somewhat my fault, but I didn't realize that, you know, when I was growing up," Taylor said.

Neglected by drug-addicted parents, Taylor and his two sisters entered the foster system in 2003. Footage from a local news segment was aimed at trying to find the siblings an adoptive family. And eventually they were adopted -- someone took all 3 -- but then gave Taylor back, saying he had anger issues.

Taylor CBS News

After that Taylor cycled in and out of more than a dozen foster and group homes. Connie did eventually find him another family but not long after, they returned him too -- same reason.

"I was just so mad because I thought that they weren't going to keep me," Taylor said. "I was just trying to test them."

"When you feel you're not lovable and you're up against someone loving you, that's a pretty scary thing," Connie said.

Throughout the whole process, Connie never gave up believing there was someone out there for Taylor -- someone who could see his potential and help him realize it. But after that second family returned him, she stopped looking.

Connie, who has two grown children, welcomed Taylor into her family with open arms.
Connie welcomed Taylor into her family with open arms. CBS News

"All I could think about was how he was feeling and how he was blaming himself, again," Connie said.

Connie says she felt so bad for Taylor she got this ache, this physical ache in her stomach. But it was a pain that came with an epiphany. She says she realized, right then and there, she couldn't be his case worker anymore.

The next day she made arrangements to drop him as a client, and take him on as a son.

Connie had looked all over for somebody to parent him. "And that was me," she said

Their adoption was finalized earlier this summer. Connie, who's divorced with two biological children, welcomed her first boy with open arms. Of course, Taylor still had his anger issues. The mirror in his bedroom didn't break itself, but most of the madness has stopped as of a few weeks ago -- after Taylor told Connie he was running away from home.

Taylor and Connie
Taylor and Connie CBS News

"He'd go, 'I'm leaving. I hate this,'" Connie said. "And I'd be like, 'I'm not sending you away Taylor.' And he would look over at me, take his backpack off and head back in."

"And I'm like, yeah, this is where I belong," Taylor said. "She knows my worst side, and she still cares about me and still loves me."

Sounds like someone's adopted a new attitude.

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  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.