A Letter Leads to a Long Lost Relative

COLORADO: Shane* loves to ride his bike and is fascinated by mechanical things, especially trucks. Even though he has a lot of energy and can be very silly, he has difficulty connecting at a deep level and struggles to maintain stable relationships.

Shane’s parents could not properly care for him, and they lost their house when they could not pay their rent. They struggled with addiction and eventually homelessness. Shane, who was neglected, eventually wound up living in multiple foster homes during his many years in the foster care system.

Shane’s youth advocate worked for more than two years to find a permanent home for him. Sifting through paper county records, she could not identify extended family members. However, she found multiple contacts with the Connect Our Kids technology platform, with phone numbers, emails, and physical addresses. When phone calls and emails went unanswered, she began to mail letters.

One letter reached a second cousin, Cheryl, who remembered when Shane had lived with her family more than ten years ago. Cheryl was devastated when she learned what had happened to him. Now a mother herself, she was grateful to be reconnected with Shane and is committed to remaining in his life. For his 13th birthday, she brought together a supportive extended family to make introductions and celebrate. Shane and his family are now focusing on rebuilding their relationships.

Shane continues to live with a supportive foster family and is becoming more focused and engaged with their consistent guidance and expectations. His foster family recognizes his interest and aptitude in mechanics, and he is learning new skills while doing home projects with his foster dad. The family also facilitates frequent phone calls to his birth family and encourages visits.

Connections are not always easily made, but they can be life-changing. Child welfare professionals and advocates who perform family search and engagement activities are like detectives; they leave no stone unturned. When asked about skills required for success, Shane’s child advocate responded with one word: “Patience.”

These connections matter. Want to help more children in foster care? You can help today by donating HERE.

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