ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — A reality he doesn’t have to escape from, that’s the kind of life 14-year-old Michael is searching for.

The middle schooler is in eighth grade and has lived in foster care since 2018.

In his roughly five years in the state’s care, he’s moved around to live with several different families, and he has also been placed in group homes. Despite all the moving around, foster care has been a safe space for him.

“I didn’t know that being in foster care would be such a good thing for me because I was honestly really scared when I first got in here. Now, it just feels like I’m home,” he said.

While he’s content with how his life is right now, Michael knows his current circumstances aren’t permanent. The teenager is eligible for adoption through the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services.

While he wasn’t comfortable sharing why he entered the foster care system, his adoption specialist Abigail Hutchins said, “Michael’s been through a lot. He’s been very resilient through it all.”

She described him as a really cool kid who is very affectionate and caring. She said, “He’s got a really big sense of humor. He can take sarcasm really well and communicates that way.”

Her description proved to be true when KNWA met with Michael at Arkadia Retrocade in Fayetteville to talk with him about what he wants for his future.

Michael is a big gamer, so he was excited to see all the retro games that he’d get to play. When asked what his favorite game is he said with wide eyes, “I mean, I do like Mario, but there’s just too much.”

He quickly shared how much he knows about the coding that goes into creating games and how they are a good distraction for him.

“It’s just hard out in the real world. I don’t really socialize that much,” Michael said.

When he’s playing a game, he said he feels like he’s “just somewhere else and not even here.” He continued, “the outer world is just blank and gone and I’m just too focused.”

Hutchins pointed to his unstable childhood as a reason he gravitates toward games.

“Video games have been something really consistent in his life where nothing else really has been,” she said. “No matter where he goes, he can always use that escape to play on his device.”

Michael doesn’t want to always have to unplug from life, though. He wants to be adopted by a family that’s on his level.

“He would be an amazing addition to any family because he’s already loved by so many people, but he just needs that final piece. Knowing that he’s always going to have a home to come back to,” Hutchins said.

He said he’s looking for a family that’ll give him love because, “without it, I’m just empty.”

Michael also said he’d like a family that travels because he has always wanted to go to Japan since he also loves anime.

Learn more about Michael and other teens, kids and sibling groups who’re eligible for adoption through foster care in Arkansas on Project Zero’s website.