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NEVADA: J.D.* grew up in a highly unsafe environment and entered the foster care system at 12. He experienced childhood neglect and poverty and witnessed parental physical and sexual violence as well as alcohol and drug abuse.

Even though J.D.’s childhood experience was far from ideal, he ran away multiple times to look for his parents. These unsuccessful attempts to locate them caused a lack of stability and deepened his childhood trauma.

J.D. has been bounced around in 13 foster care settings, including group homes, institutions, and emergency homeless shelters. His Youth Connections Advocate from a local nonprofit began searching for any family connections using the Connect Our Kids technology platform. She used only a single name of an aunt from his case file. Past attempts to locate her were unsuccessful due to outdated contact information, but the advocate quickly identified her and several other family members and began engagement activities.

J.D. recalls his relationship with his aunt as the most significant one before foster care. She lived with his family briefly and witnessed his living situation. Then she offered to become a foster parent or adopt him, but his parents would not accept her offer.

J.D. worked with a therapist on his feelings of abandonment. He began to understand that he had not been raised in a safe environment and that his aunt had done her best to intervene. J.D. started writing letters to his aunt, and their relationship grew over time. This connection helped build enough resiliency for J.D. to accept reunification with her.

Remarkably, J.D. maintains a jovial and charismatic spirit despite these challenges. He is excited to go to college and travel the world.

These connections matter. To help more children in foster care like J.D., please consider donating HERE.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.