SAN ANTONIO – Sitting at a table topped with a bucket of colored pencils and dried paint splatter from other young artists, Neil sticks with a plain Number 2 pencil.
It’s easier to practice his techniques with, he says.
“When I was 8, I started drawing my own designs,” Neil said. “When it was Christmas time, I was so excited to get me a sketchbook.”
Neil makes time to draw every day. We met Neil in a place where he could do just that- at the San Anto Cultural Arts Center on the West Side.
Some days, he says, art is a way to escape painful memories from his past, specifically of his biological father.
“I don’t know - just that he didn’t care,” Neil said. “He always hated me.”
Living in foster care is “going pretty good" for Neil, but he hopes one day he can find a permanent place to call home.
Meanwhile, he worries about his three sisters, who are also in foster care in New York, last he heard.
“They love me very much,” he said. “They always give me hugs every time we come home from school. They always cared about me."
When he thinks about being adopted, Neil especially wants a mom.
“I don’t want a dad or anything, because it reminds me of what my parents have done,” he said.
But, having a father figure in his life is something he loves.
That’s what Mr. Jason, his Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, is to him.
When we spent time drawing together, Neil drew 'I love Mr. Jason’ along with a picture of The Flash logo and a stick man dunking a basketball.
Neil’s requirements for a mother are pretty simple.
“Just play with me and be kind,” he said. “I want to teach her how I draw. I want to draw her a heart so she can see how much I love her.”
Neil hopes love is in his future, and learning.
He says maybe one day he’ll learn how to be a mechanic.
“I know how to fix up bikes. I want to see if I can build cars or something,” Neil said.
He says there’s something tangible about seeing a job well done when it comes to cars.
“I want to know how hard I’ve worked," said Neil.
If you would like more information about Neil or how to foster or adopt, click here.