NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Fourteen-year-old Hayden doesn’t even remember a time when he didn’t live in foster care. He made a rocking motion with his hands when he shared how he’s lived in the state’s care since he was a baby.
“It’s been up and down,” he continued, “I just want a permanent home.”
Hayden talks with his hands a lot. He was born with hearing loss so he can be a little difficult to understand, but overall is pretty easy to communicate with. “I can kind of read lips, I can kind of hear, I can do a little bit of sign language,” Hayden said.
Project Zero‘s Tiphanie Gurwell said, “He’s a great communicator for a kid that can’t hear as well. And he doesn’t always have to read your lips.”
Typically he wears hearing aids to enhance his hearing ability. Because he isn’t fluent in sign language, it’s become a future goal for him.” I want to help people with disability and sign language. I want to be a teacher on sign language,” said Hayden.
While some can become a bit reclusive as a result of their disabilities, that’s not the case for Hayden. When KNWA met up with him in the Fayetteville Public Library‘s new teaching kitchen, he was full of questions. Like, what was he supposed to say on camera? And why was he going to be featured on the news? He soon realized that he’d be the one asked the questions. But first, brownies.
Hayden loves to bake, so when he found out he’d be whipping up a batch of chocolate chip-filled brownies with Gurwell, he was elated. Though, he scoffed at the fact he’d be pouring the brownie mix into a muffin pan (for the sake of saving baking time).
As he threw all the ingredients into his mixing bowl he had a very serious look on his face. He wasn’t wearing his glasses because he’d broken them a few days before so it was tough for him to fully read the instructions on the back of the brownie box, but with Gruwell’s help he made due.
“I know a lot about baking,” he remarked.
While the brownies baked, KNWA asked Hayden what kind of family he envisions for himself. He said he wants a Christian family that likes to cook a lot. He described a good family as, “love, respect and kindness, all those important things.”
Gurwell said, “he’s pretty open. He just wants permanency. He just wants a forever family.”
Patience is also important to him. Especially when someone isn’t understanding what he’s saying, or vice versa. “They need to be very patient with me. Sometimes I get frustrated and stuff.” In his eyes, a family that will slow down and actually work to understand him will be vital in helping establish a bond.
Because his younger brother has already been adopted by a family, he’d also like parents who allow him to maintain their relationship. That means he’ll need to be adopted by a family that plans to stay in Arkansas.
“I asked him if he has like a specific location that he wants to live. He said he doesn’t care where he goes in Arkansas as long as it’s in Arkansas because this is his home,” said Gurwell.
In addition to spending time cooking and baking, he likes to read and play video games. Hayden’s eligible for adoption through DCFS. If you’re interested in learning more about him, visit Project Zero’s website.