YUMA, Ariz. - We continue our "Found Families" series today by taking a look at life after being in the foster care system. We met a couple who actually met as they were aging out of the system. Here is their story.
"A lot of people think foster kid means you're from broken homes or you weren't treated right by your parents it's not always from broken homes or being a bad kid," Alex Aguilar, who was in foster care said.
For Aguilar, it was the sudden death of his mother that led him to the foster care system. He was just 15 years old.
Right away, workers and staff members offered an abundance of assistance to help Alex process the tragedy.
"It can be overwhelming for some people because they just went through a trauma but it's really important that they do that because we don't want the kids to go down the wrong path," Aguilar said.
After being in the system for four years Aguilar met his now girlfriend, Giselle.
"It was kind of random, we met through the system," he said. "Basically, every month we meet with our case worker and she gives us checks and goes over how we are doing at life and she did both of us at the same time and after that we kind of started talking … started going out, going to the movies, going to dinner, stuff like that and it took off from there," he said.
The two have now been dating for six months and say they're happy they found each other.
"She was like me," he said. "And she was in the system and it was really easy for us to understand each other and communicate and just really get each other's past," he added.
As it came closer to aging out of the system, Aguilar says caseworkers helped them make the transition as easy as possible.
"There's something called the Independent Living Program which is something you do before you are 18 where you meet with a mentor and they help you with financials, budgeting, looking for scholarships, everything you need," he explained.
"Once you complete that program, after you graduate they send you support financially every month until you are 21," he said.
After you turn 21, you are officially out of the system and on your own.
So now what does the future hold for the two?
She wants to finish her CNA and I'm looking for a career change, maybe something where I can give back to the people who have help me and am able to help other foster kids out," he said.
"Together we really just want to move forward and get out of this apartment and get a home and eventually have kids and just grow old and be happy," he added.
The future seems bright for the two and Aguilar credits his late mother as his greatest motivation in life.
"Me wanting to do good for myself and to make my mom proud and know that I'm going to be successful and it's really just been me thats motivated myself to do better and go in the right direction," he said.
Alex and Giselle are just two of the hundreds of teenagers that enter the system at an older age. In Yuma there are 130 of them. In our final part to this foster care series, we share how to get involved in the foster care system as a parent.