NEVADA: By the time Dakota* was one, his parents had abandoned him because they were tired of raising him. His stepfather emotionally abused him, and by age 11, his grandparents told him to sell drugs. Dakota lived in multiple foster care homes and institutions and was withdrawn and isolated.
When a Youth Connections Advocate from a local nonprofit took over the responsibility of finding a connection for Dakota, she had very little background information. Dakota’s biological father’s family ignored all previous efforts for reunification. His mother’s side of the family responded with aggressive threats.
Without cooperation from Dakota’s immediate family, his advocate relied on the Connect Our Kids technology platform to find meaningful relationships. Initial research did not include his stepfather’s family, but his advocate identified Dakota’s step-grandmother and a step-aunt as options dwindled. They both felt a significant loss when they lost touch with him, and his step-aunt shared that she had once offered to be his guardian.
Dakota resisted when his advocate suggested reuniting with his stepfather’s family. He felt betrayed and refused to speak with them, but she persisted. It took more than six months of letters and care packages, but eventually, Dakota agreed to phone calls. One week before his 18th birthday, Dakota decided to meet them for lunch. This lunch date rekindled their relationship, and their bond grew.
Dakota has a full-time job and a girlfriend. He keeps in contact with his step-aunt and step-grandmother, and their relationship continues to grow.
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 Dakota? You can today by donating HERE.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.