April 14, 2014 12:00 PM

ARA & ROBERT HUNT

Rockwall, Texas

For most of his young life, family occasions had been lonely ones for the boy once named Seth. A foster child who bounced in and out of temporary homes before aging out of the system, he spent many a holiday in his room, left out by the “real family” and wishing for things other kids take for granted: a pencil sharpener, a new pair of shoes, a hug. “Families were for other people,” he recalls thinking. “I had a lot of tears.” But six months ago everything changed when Ara and Robert Hunt welcomed the young man, now 19, into their hearts and home—and, amazingly, reunited him with Shyann, 12, the biological sister he never knew. Now he has a new life, and in a few months, when his adoption as an adult is complete, a new name: Logan Hunt. “Finding Logan,” says Robert, “was meant to be.”

For the Hunts, building their family has gone hand in hand with helping kids in need. They met at a party 17 years ago: Ara had a son from a prior relationship; Robert was divorced with three kids of his own. After marrying, they decided to become foster parents, taking in more than 30 children over the years and ultimately adopting three. The first was Shyann, a dark-eyed infant removed from her troubled biological mother when she was just days old. “It was love at first sight,” says Ara, 42. As they raised her, the Hunts had no idea Shyann’s biological brother Seth was struggling after being removed from an adoptive home full of problems. Aging out on his 18th birthday, he tried to make it on his own, working at a fast-food restaurant and laying tiles. But he ended up sleeping in his car while attending high school. “He called me to say he was homeless,” recalls Virginia Barrett, his court-appointed special advocate. “He was such a sweet boy, and I was the only adult who had been with him since childhood.” After finding him a temporary apartment, Barrett looked into his case files, discovered Shyann and contacted the Hunts. They weren’t receptive. “When it comes to my family, I’m very protective,” says Robert, 56, a business owner. “We didn’t know what this young man wanted.”

Then, two months later, Robert saw a TV news segment on a former foster teen who had been living out of his car; it was Seth. “I was just knocked down,” Robert says. “I saw good character in him. All he wanted was a family.” The Hunts started to text with the young man and invited him to stay with them while he was recuperating from an accident. “He walked in the door,” Robert says, “and he was one of us.” His arrival was especially poignant for Shyann, a shy sixth grader who loves to paint her nails and read. “I just hugged him and held him,” she says. “I cried. It was God’s time to bring him home.” Says Logan: “She looked so much like me. I had this instant connection.”

Now Logan is getting used to being included. Ara and Robert had to coax him out of his room at Christmas to join in the family’s – his family’s – celebration. He got his first pencil sharpener along with new sneakers and cowboy boots. He can’t wait to see his new name on his high school diploma when he graduates in June. “Mom,” he says of Ara, “has a loving way about her. Dad is the way a dad is supposed to be. I feel wanted. I feel loved. I am Logan Hunt. The name makes me proud.”

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