At any given moment, someone has something to complain about. Helene Neuhaus probably has more than most, but that isn't the tack she takes.
"I'm under the Department of Children and Families care until August, when I go off to school. They're funding me to live in the group home here in Westport," said Neuhaus.
Neuhaus was not committed to the state's care. Life with her adoptive family was proving untenable, and instead of deciding to continue on that path she chose voluntarily to enter the group home.
"I'm in a good place and I have all of my goals worked out and am accomplishing them," she said. Chief among those goals: swimming.
Neuhaus, who graduated from Staples High School last week, was captain of her swim team. If anyone had doubts about her team pride, they were washed away when she tore open her graduation robe to as she crossed the stage, revealing her Staples swimsuit, emblazoned with a Superman-esque "S", underneath.
Though her classmates slowly learned of her situation, Neuhaus said she never felt awkward or out of place. "I think once people found out about me and the DCF placement, they were very accepting and supportive."
Moving forward, she is attending Central Connecticut State University on a full swimming scholarship. She dreams of one day competing in the Olympics. When she isn't in the pool, she'll be studying political science and criminology. "I always wanted to be a lawyer. I'm good at advocating for myself and I'd like to use that to help out others," said Neuhaus.
She doesn't lament that life didn't deal her the best hand right on the first draw. The things that challenge her also mold her. "I use it as more of a positive encouragement," she says. "My situation has helped me take charge of my life. If I am unhappy, I know I have the strength to change that."
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