CALIFORNIA: When Raven was in preschool, she entered the foster care system with her two older brothers. They had been neglected and exposed to domestic violence. Because Raven’s parents were not able to provide contact information for relatives and no foster homes were available to take in a trio of children, social services had no choice but to separate the siblings.
Raven had spent the past seven years living in one home with her foster mother, Teyana, and maintained regular contact with her brothers. When Teyana was approached about legal guardianship or adoption, she declined. She had been through legal guardianship and adoption with a previous foster child and did not receive the support she needed. Teyana did not feel she could make a permanent, legal commitment to preteen Raven without certain foster care services in place to help her.
Family Builders by Adoption, a Bay Area nonprofit focusing on permanency, took charge of Raven’s case. Janaé, a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids® (WWK) recruiter Permanency Social Worker, began searching for biological family members. Raven’s father could not offer relative referrals to Janaé.
After being met with dead ends and roadblocks, this past spring Janaé was introduced to Connect Our Kids software tools. Using our People Search tool, she immediately found maternal uncles, cousins, and a grandaunt. She contacted each of them to ask for a permanent placement or support for Raven. The family members had been aware of the two older brothers but were surprised to learn of Raven’s existence. Janaé shared the contact information with the brothers’ caseworkers. The relatives wished to reconnect with the boys, but none were interested in caring for Raven.
After striking out with biological family members, Janaé decided to “think outside the box.” She refused to give up. She carefully examined the support map (similar to a family tree) she created for Raven using Family Connections. Though other search engines were helpful, the Connect Our Kids tool’s visual organization was critical. Janaé noticed a cluster of staff members from one afterschool program appeared on the support map. She wondered if she could find a potential permanent connection there.
Janaé ultimately found Michelle, a counselor at the afterschool program who had formed a natural bond with Raven over the years. Michelle had known Raven was in foster care but was unaware of the details. Once the information was fully disclosed, she took action. She did not think it was fair for Raven to be in the system long-term without a legal commitment. Michelle wanted Raven to have a permanent home and was willing to take the necessary steps to provide her with permanency.
Michelle is currently undergoing the Foster Family Agency (FFA) process. She is respectfully and slowly bringing Raven into her home with as little disruption to Raven as possible. She understands that it will take time to adjust and is sensitive to the fact that Raven will be leaving a foster home that has provided her with stability for many years. Michelle is determined to provide her with a forever home at last. Raven is apprehensive but open to this transition into permanency.
In regards to Michelle, Raven said, “I know her…so it’s okay.”
Janaé is thrilled to have found Michelle and credits Family Connections for helping her find a permanent, loving home for Raven.
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 support connection-finding for children like Raven, donate HERE and help write a brighter ending for others.