Social worker Connie Going had already tried twice to place Taylor Diaz with a family, and both times they brought the boy back. Although Going had always believed there was a home for him somewhere, she refused to send him to another.
Going had a simple philosophy when it came to her career in social work. “Every child is adoptable. There’s a family for every child,” she told CBS News. The 50-year-old had proven it by placing more than 1,000 children with families in Tampa Bay, Florida.
It would seem, then, that Going was the perfect person to handle Diaz’s case. In 2003 the young boy and his sisters needed foster care, left behind by their parents, who were both addicted to drugs.
A local news station stepped in to help the trio find a forever home by featuring them on a broadcast segment. Soon, they were all adopted by the same family, but Diaz’s new parents didn’t keep him for long.
Instead, they felt that Diaz had issues with anger, so they kept his siblings and brought him back. From there, he re-entered the system, shuttling through group homes and foster parents. Eventually, Going matched him with another family, who would take him long term.
But Diaz’s new family didn’t stick around for long either. They, too, said the boy had struggled to control his anger, a fact that he recognized. “I was just so mad because I thought that they weren’t going to keep me,” he said.
He went on to say that he had lashed out as a way to test his adoptive parents. But this didn’t work – and Diaz knew when he reflected back. “It was always somewhat my fault, but I didn’t realize that when I was growing up,” he said.
Going, of course, understood the boy’s actions – his years of neglect had left him emotionally scarred. The social worker said, “When you feel you’re not lovable, and you’re up against someone loving you, that’s a pretty scary thing.”
No matter how deeply she understood Diaz’s behavior, the fact remained that he was once again back in her office in need of a foster or forever family. This time, though, Going gave up on the search.
It wasn’t because the social worker felt as though she could no longer help him. Instead, she found herself feeling horribly for Diaz – her stomach ached as she imagined his situation and his state of mind.
“All I could think about was how he was feeling and how he was blaming himself again,” Going said. That emotion led her to stop having Diaz as her client, because she had come up with an even better solution for them both.
Going could no longer be Diaz’s social worker because she could do so much more as his parent. After searching far and wide for the right person to fill that role, she realized, “That was me.”
Ten years after entering the system with his siblings, Diaz finally had his forever home. Going and her two biological daughters welcomed him right into the fold. At first, though, his old habits reared their head.
Fortunately, Going knew what to expect after serving as her son’s social worker for a decade. “He’d go, ‘I’m leaving. I hate this,’” she revealed. “And I’d be like, ‘I’m not sending you away, Taylor.’ And he would look over at me, take his backpack off and head back in.”
By September of 2013, a few months after his adoption was finalized, Diaz’s outbursts had subsided. Not only that, he felt like he was truly part of the family. “I’m like, yeah, this is where I belong,” he said.
And for the first time since he’d entered the foster care system, Diaz was able to express himself, knowing that his parent would always be there. “She knows my worst side, and she still cares about me and still loves me,” he said.
Since then, Diaz – who has since changed his last name to Going – graduated from high school in the spring of 2018. He then joined the Army, although he shared in a Facebook status that he was considering becoming a police officer instead.
As for the Going family matriarch, she made headlines again in 2013, when she served as a caseworker for 15-year-old Davion Only. The orphaned teenager famously went to church to ask the congregation for what he wanted most – a family.
As his caseworker, Going likely fielded some of the tens of thousands of calls that came through inquiring about Only after his plea went viral. One year later, he was placed with a family in Ohio who wanted to adopt him, but they weren’t the right match for the teenager.
Little did he know, he’d soon find his family in a woman he’d known all along – his social worker. Only asked Going to adopt him and officially became Davion Only-Going in April of 2015. His mom told People magazine, “He always felt like my child, but we finally made it official. We’re so excited.”