Adoption is not easy, especially when a foster child is older. It can be tough for both the child and adoptive family to adjust. But through our partnership with the Arkansas Department of Human Services, it is the best option for children left behind.

Tonight -— we share 12-year-old Alex's story who is working literally tonight to create a new life for himself, hoping a family will bring him home.

"So you start on the canvas by sketching what you see," artist Holly Tilley teaches.

Tilley is giving young Alex a private painting tutorial.

"Do u know the color wheel?" she asks.

Alex does know what it is. He loves to draw and create. This day, at the Art Group Gallery in west Little Rock, he is painting a pumpkin.

"You have a really good eye for mixing color," Tilley tells him.

First, it’s getting the right shade of orange. Alex sketches quietly to start. Then, hangs the canvas and picks up his brush.

“I was thinking like a brownish on the top of the skin and green down here, like right here?" Alex asks Tilley.
Art, Alex shares, is the one thing he can do to create something new. Not just on paper or with paint, but for himself.

"When I draw, I feel like I'm re-making a person,” he says. “First you make the head, then you make the body, then you make the legs, then you make the arms, and it feels like I'm re-making myself. Sometimes I draw the background, and I make it like my own story.”

The background of Alex’s real-life story is dark. Years ago, he was adopted, but in 2015, that adoption failed. Now he is back in foster care, once again hoping for a family.

"A mom and a dad and probably a brother and sister,” Alex says. “I've never had a sister before."

"Start right there and come down,” Tilley says, as she guides him with the paintbrush.

“Yes ma’am," he says.

His manners on-point, Alex knows what he likes and has ideas about his future.

“Draw, play football, read, play video games,” he says. “I'm not decided yet, but what I'm thinking so far is a video game designer and probably just drawing.”

Just for today, though, one step at a time, mixing color, putting the finishing touches on his pumpkin, asking Holly Tilley to sign his name for him.

"Voila!" he exclaims. "Nice! She helped me through it, and when I asked something wrong, she told me how to do it, and it was pretty good. I would say, ‘thank you for doing it with me, and you were really nice and you're a really good painter.’ And it was my first time painting with somebody that good!"

Huge thanks to Holly Tilley for sharing her talents with Alex and to the Art Group gallery for having Alex.

If you'd like to know about Alex or any child we've featured in this segment, head to the Arkansas Department of Human Services heart gallery. There are no costs associated with adopting a child in state foster care.