DALLAS — It's hard to get teenagers to open up sometimes, especially about things that are hard to talk about. But Braden wore his heart on his sleeve for WFAA's interview.
He isn't afraid to be real and honest. The power of his smile has helped him overcome the sadness of being in foster care.
"It's been rough. It's had its ups and downs, but it builds my character as to who I really am," Braden said. "I've learned a lot of things from it."
One thing Braden's learned is how important it has become to take pictures, especially of nature. He said nature feels like home.
"I love taking photography. It's one of my favorite pastimes. Makes me feel calm. Relaxed," he said.
With the help of photographer Donna Dunlap, Braden sharpened his skills. She gave him a private lesson and taught him all about visual storytelling.
Braden felt special. He loved having attention.
"I want to be loved," he said.
Three years in foster care have taken a toll on Braden.
He said the worst part is, "Being alone. I've been alone for a while. It's tough."
Braden wants to find a forever family before he ages out of foster care when he turns 18 later this year.
"That's always what I really wanted. Just to be with a family that's loving and caring. Missing out on that, turning into an adult. It doesn't make me feel whole."
Braden shared his intimate emotions openly and honestly. He wants to be adopted.
"Just so I can have a supportive environment around me other than another boy's home," he said.
During Wednesday's private photography lesson, Dunlap had a big surprise planned for Braden. She gave him a professional camera.
"I'm gonna [sic] give you this camera," Dunlap told Braden.
"This is the camera I learned on, and I am happy to give you this camera for you to learn on," she told him warmly.
"I'm feeling really happy. I've never had a camera this nice." said Braden.
The kind gesture moved him.
He also got straight to work taking pictures of the water, trees, and even of the photographer whose kindness reminded Braden that everything's going to be okay.
"Everyone together in harmony. No sad faces. Everyone is there having fun. That's my portrait of a family," he said.
For more information on Braden, send all approved home studies to LaQueena Warren at LaQueena.Warren@dfps.texas.gov. Remember to include Braden's name within the subject line.
If you're not licensed, please visit adoptchildren.org to find out more information on how to become licensed to foster and/or adopt or contact LaQueena Warren at 817-304-1272.