OHIO: Haley* wants to be a regular kid. She doesn’t want to live in facilities with residential staff or go to court because of her family’s problems. Instead, she wants to make friends, have sleepovers, get a driver’s license, and play sports at school without waiting for court approval. Haley wants to live the same kind of life that kids outside of foster care live. Haley longs for normalcy.
Unfortunately, Haley’s life has been anything but ordinary. Her parents have been largely absent, and the relatives who raised her have jeopardized her safety. Since then, she has lived in over a dozen foster homes and residential facilities.
Haley was living in a residential facility with around-the-clock staff when she met with her Wendy’s Wonderful Kids® (WWK) recruiter, who asked her if there was anyone who was a positive influence in her life. Haley mentioned a basketball coach she knew years ago whom she liked, but she couldn’t remember the school, only the town.
By entering a full name and location into our People Search tool, Haley’s WWK recruiter could instantly track down this basketball coach. When he was reached, he was surprised to hear Haley was still in foster care after all this time.
“I can’t believe no one has adopted her. She’s such a great kid,” he said.
After county clearance, Haley’s basketball coach started making phone calls and visits. He would drive several hours roundtrip every other weekend to visit Haley at her residential center. When she moved out of the facility, the basketball coach continued seeing Haley and became qualified as a foster/adoptive parent. Haley moved in with her former basketball coach last year, and the adoption was finalized this year.
At the adoption hearing, the basketball coach’s family and Haley’s siblings were there, along with the people she connected with in her past, county caseworkers, and her WWK recruiter. Everyone was dressed up and gathered in a courtroom. There were a lot of hugs and tears because Haley had been in the system for so long. When the judge asked Haley if this was what she wanted, she said it was.
“Yes, your honor. I don’t ever have to move again. I don’t have to worry about having a family. I don’t have to worry about anything. I can finally be a kid now.”
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. Want to help more children like Haley? You can today by donating HERE.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.