MICHIGAN: Maria is a teenager who entered foster care as a baby. She never knew her father and was separated from her mother shortly after birth. Maria’s mother, Carmen, was a teenager when Maria was born. Initially, Maria and Carmen were slated to live together in the same foster home, but this plan was upended. Instead, under Carmen’s wishes, Maria was placed with her Great-Aunt Lupe.
Great-Aunt Lupe wanted to adopt Maria; however, the private agency handling the case thought she would be best served by a placement in a non-relative, two-parent home. A married couple adopted Maria, and her records were sealed. Maria lost access to information about her mother and great-aunt. All ties to her biological family were severed.
After more than a decade of raising her, Maria’s adoptive parents dissolved the adoption. They found it too difficult to handle the behaviors that stemmed from her childhood trauma. According to Kaylee, Maria’s Kinship Worker from the State of Michigan, dissolved adoptions for teens are not uncommon.
“I think education back maybe ten years ago wasn’t as good as it could have been. Obviously, we learn things every day. Back then, though, I think we didn’t prepare a lot of placements, that this kid [who] is cute and loving when they’re [age] two and [age] six…is going to be a grown adult-size at the age of 16, possibly much taller than you. And mental health issues are genetic. Trauma before the age of one will come up later. So, I don’t think we prepared foster adoptive parents enough. But we’re trying to change those things by trauma-informing potential parents now,” Kaylee said.
Upon Maria’s re-entry into the foster care system, she cycled through a series of foster homes in less than a month. Given her behavioral challenges and the shortage of foster homes requesting teenagers, finding another placement for Maria proved difficult. Her future looked bleak. When Kaylee dove into the newly unsealed case file, she discovered a Connect Our Kids People Search had already been completed for Maria. With the adoption dissolved, Kaylee could now contact relatives found using People Search. Within five phone calls, she had located Great-Aunt Lupe, Maria’s primary caretaker before her adoption. Kaylee also found her mother, Carmen, who is now in a better place than she was as a teenager.
After carefully considering all the options, Maria was placed with her Aunt Laura, her mother’s sister. Maria is rebuilding her relationship with her mother and great-aunt and meeting other biological relatives for the first time. Maria is happy in her new home, though understandably overwhelmed and a little apprehensive given the changes and time she has lost with her family. However, all of the women in Maria’s life are committed to raising and supporting her as she grows into adulthood.
Note: Names have been changed to protect privacy.
Connect Our Kids is a non-profit dedicated to leveraging technology to find families, build connections, and create a community for children in the foster care system. To help other children like Maria, please donate HERE.