Teen heading toward graduation after finding perfect fit in foster family

This weekend, countless high school seniors will cross the stage and graduate.

Gabe Vazquez, a Chicago area teen, never imagined he would hear his name called.

Gabe was shuffled around from foster home to foster home throughout his childhood.

By the age of 12, he contemplated living on the street, thinking it would be a better alternative to what he knew so far.

"It was pretty hard,” he says.  “Like a trucker - go to one place, drop your stuff and then move onto the next place."

What Gabe didn't know what that his fifth place would be his last.

“It's always been my passion to give someone a home,” Lynn Whiddon says.  "I saw his picture on the website and I thought he would be a good fit. That's how it began."

Gabe arrived at Lynn’s seven years ago this April.

"I figured I was going to leave right away, so I started breaking stuff and calling the police. I thought they'd get to the place where they had enough of it.  They didn't and they kept on helping me."

“My heart was always like, ‘I'm going to love this child no matter what.  He's going to be my son!" Lynn says.

Mario Hardiman from Youth Outreach Services says it wasn't so instant for Gabe or any of the kids they place. Their trust is fragile.

"I'm able to communicate with them on a different level. I get where they come from. I understand," Mario says.

Through counseling, perseverance and a lot of time, Gabe and his new foster family started to feel more like a real family.

“They love him like he's their own son and he loves them like a real family,” Mario says.  “We’d love to see that all the time, but it's rare.”

Gabe had only been living with the Whiddons for three months when he attended his first graduation at age 12.  On Sunday, he will be graduating from Elk Grover High School.

"No one in  my family did it and I feel like I put in the effort to accomplish something they didn't,” Gabe says.  "(The Whiddons) taught me you can do better."