OHIO: Daniel* was angry and frustrated as a teenager, and his “story” was “there are no good people in my life.” He spent more than a year in foster care because everyone he knew was either in prison or suffering from mental health issues.
Daniel suffered from poor self-worth, and this negative view of himself caused him to resist an opportunity to be adopted by his foster family. It is a typical pattern for youth experiencing foster care to struggle with identity development; Daniel was no exception.
When a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids® (WWK) recruiter asked Daniel if he’d like to create his family tree, it was understandable why he dismissed the idea. Ignoring his lack of interest, his WWK recruiter began to build out his family tree.
Using Ancestry.com and the Connect Our Kids technology platform, his recruiter learned more about his family and discovered that Daniel had several distinguished ancestors, including a well-loved pastor and celebrated World War II nurse in his lineage.
When his recruiter shared this information with him, he couldn’t believe it and blurted out, “Wait, what? There are good people in my family?”
This realization that he had “good people in his family” shifted Daniel’s perspective about himself and his potential. His WWK recruiter said that his whole demeanor and self-identity had changed. In her experience, youth tend to have a renewed sense of self upon discovering that there’s much more to their family’s story outside the current tragedies that lead the child into the foster care system.
“I see a shift in these children right away,” Daniel’s WWK recruiter said. “They tend to sit up and smile a little more. They engage and start to ask questions and walk away differently from how they first approach us.”
Daniel’s family tree introduced him to extended family members. He was surprised to learn that he had a grandmother in the area, who now regularly picks him up for family gatherings. At these events, he engages with family members and hears stories that help him feel connected to his community.
His caseworker has observed a change in his demeanor since he learned about his family tree. His foster parents are interested in adopting him, and Daniel, who once resisted the idea, is now open to accepting their love. Daniel is beginning to heal and rebuild his sense of self-worth, knowing he comes from a good family.
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 Daniel? You can today by donating HERE.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.