'Even though it happened to me, I still don't believe it'

SEATTLE - When you think about foster kids, what comes to mind?

The man you're about to meet in this story might change your opinion about kids who end up in foster care - kids who are just hoping that a kind, loving family will find them and give them a chance.

Meet Scott Carty, who nearly gave up hope early in his life.

What are the chances that four children, born to a loving mother, would lose her? And what are the chances, that another mother, another family, would find those four children and love them like their own?

Scott Carty knows exactly what those chances are. The second oldest in that brood of four, born to Shirley, a devoted single mom.

"She was very caring, very loving, always made us feel loved," Scott says.

But then ... Shirley got sick. The news was bad - cancer. And it didn't look good.

"Once she got cancer and was put in the hospital, us kids just went to different relatives," says Scott.

With their mom dying in the hospital, the four siblings were separated. Twelve-year-old Scott was shipped from one stop to another.

"I was living with my uncle. I went to live with my grandparents. Then I went to live with a lady my mom had met," he remembers.

Finally, out of options, and with Scott's grandparents unable to care for him, they turned him over to the state.

"So I went to the Youth Service Center as a ward of the state," he says.

For Scott, it was like being thrown in jail.

"It's got a gate, it's fenced, every door has a lock, your movements are tracked," he recalls.

Scott lived at the boys' home for three months before his case came up before a judge, who gave the boy devastating news.

"The judge basically said, 'There's nothing we can do for you. You're going to be here until you're 18," says Scott. "I was devastated. I was just so sad, depressed, whatever. I just could not stand the thought ..."

But as chance would have it, a Seattle Times reporter was in the courtroom that day - and happened to hear Scott's story.

"Unbeknownst to me, there was a reporter in the courtroom, and he wrote my story up. I have the article, by the way," he says, and tears come into his eyes with the memory.

The reporter wrote about this remarkable young boy in that week's Sunday paper. And just by chance, a family from Lake Sammamish read the article - and called Youth Services to ask about Scott.

"The social worker called and said, 'There's a couple that wants to know if you'll spend the weekend with them,'" Scott remembers.

Scott says he'll never forget the first weekend he spent visiting Louise and Wayne Carty.

"He pulled right up in front of Lake Sammamish. They lived on a lake, they had a boat - my prayers had been answered," he says. "I never came out of the water. I was in the water the whole weekend. They actually brought food down to the dock."

As the weekend drew to a close and Scott began to dread returning to the boy's home, the Cartys sat him down.

"'We'd like you to come and stay with us for as long as you'd like,' and I said, 'Absolutely, you know ...'" he remembers, tearing up at the thought.

One week later, Scott moved into the Cartys' home on Lake Sammamish. The only thing better than being adopted by the Cartys was what happened next.

When Louise and Wayne Carty discovered that Scott had other siblings still living in foster care, they adopted them, too. First came 8-year-old Randy, and soon after 10-year-old Candy.

"We all went down to the courthouse and were adopted, all on the same day," he says.

Scott's older sister Connie was living on her own by then, but she also became part of the Carty clan.

"To have your complete family as one unit - even though it happened to me, I still don't believe it, if that makes sense," says Scott.

It's been many years since Scott lived in that boys' home. Retired now after a stint in the Army and a long career at Boeing, he's been married to Denise for 31 years.

Together they, too, took in an older foster son, Sean. Scott now hopes that other families will just give foster kids a chance.

"Those kids that are sitting behind that fence - they look out here and see the rest of us. They're dying for that chance. ... Just give them a chance."

Scott wants people to know that families don't necessarily need to commit to "forever" with a foster child. He says even if you can just foster for six months, you can make a difference in that child's life.