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Trauma-Informed Aunt Takes in Niece with Long Foster Care History

VIRGINIA: Stephanie* entered foster care with her sister because of their mother’s abuse and father’s absence. In the beginning, the girls were placed together. Their foster family eventually adopted Stephanie’s sister, but not Stephanie—her needs were too great to remain in the home. However, this family supported Stephanie and maintained the connection with her sister.

Since the separation, Stephanie has been moved over a dozen times, living in different homes and residential facilities that specialize in managing challenging trauma-induced behaviors.

When Stephanie’s case was sent to C2Adopt, a Virginia-licensed nonprofit offering training, education, placement, and support services, Alicia, a C2Adopt Adoption Social Worker, started looking for her family. Alicia had already been using Connect Our Kids for all the kids on her caseload—and experiencing a lot of success.

Alicia used the first and last names of Stephanie’s father, mother, and grandmother in Family Connections and then ran a People Search on each person, gathering more relatives and their contact information. From there, she looked up each relative on Facebook. Through this process, Alicia identified a maternal aunt, a paternal aunt, and several mothers of Stephanie’s half-siblings. Stephanie’s father was also helpful in generating names for Alicia.

After the initial search and engagement, Alicia held a big family meeting with the people she found on Connect Our Kids to decide who would best fit Stephanie. One of her aunts works in mental health and fully understands Stephanie’s unique needs. She was chosen to take care of Stephanie. While our tools helped, Stephanie’s reunion with her relatives is due to the excellent work of Alicia and C2Adopt.

Stephanie is currently in the process of being placed with her paternal aunt. When Alicia disclosed Stephanie’s long history of behavior and being moved around, her aunt understood. She told Alicia, “It makes total sense why she acted the way she did, considering what she’s been through. Also, her dad acted like that too when he was younger.”

Alicia has her fingers crossed that this will be Stephanie’s final placement, as this little girl has been through so much already. She said, “Stephanie’s aunt is great. She told our agency that no matter what, they would be sticking together.”

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

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