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'This Is Us' brings awareness to need for foster families in the Roanoke Valley

ROANOKE, Va. – This season on NBC’s hit show "This Is Us," one storyline involves two main characters deciding to become foster parents to a teenage girl. 

In the Roanoke Valley, there are many teens in need of a home.

A success story is 14-year-old Ezekiel Benson, who was recently adopted by Johnny and Jeanette Taylor. The Taylors have been foster parents to several children over 18 years.

“We can’t save all the kids, but we can save some”, said Johnny Taylor. 

Jeanette Taylor said there was something about Ezekiel that made him different.

“When I adopted him, I saw something in him and all he needed was a chance,” Jeanette Taylor said.

DePaul Community Resources, a nonprofit that specializes in connecting teens to families in our region, brought the Taylors and Ezekiel together.

Melissa Cook, the adoptive lead for DePaul, said about 50 percent of children in need of placement in their program teenagers. 

“At this time, our number of homes are limited to be able to provide placement for those children,” said Cook. “It is a need in the Valley and they tend to be forgotten.”

"This Is Us" shows this exact scenario with Deja, a teenage girl who was placed in the care of Randall and Beth Pearson. After initially struggling with the change, Deja is able to find her way. 

Benson says that taking in teens will leave an impact on them for a lifetime.

“Teens have not felt the real feeling of having a real family,” said Benson. “At the teen stage it is hard to build a relationship with someone you don't know.”