Angela had been in foster care her entire life. Removed from her mother at birth, she lived in a series of foster homes and was cut off from any extended family she might have known. She was supported, yet so alone. At the holidays in particular she wondered what it would be like to be with her own family.
By the time Angela was 16, she was unlike most other youth in the system. She learned to advocate for her own needs. What she wanted most was to find her family.
Now almost 18, Angela was on the verge of becoming another foster care statistic – she truly would be on her own, aging out without support or significant lifetime connections. So she asked for help from Linda Librizzi, head of the Family Finding program of Uplift Family Services.
Family Finding helps reconnect children with safe, healthy families. Using Internet search technology and dogged perseverance, the program locates biological family members for children who believe they have no one.
Determined to make a connection, Angela would regularly call Linda for updates and progress. After a lifetime apart, she was tenacious and wanted to find her family through any means.
Angela provided what little information she did have on family members. Eventually Linda found AJ, an aunt on her mother’s side, and after a thorough check to ensure the potential relationship would be a safe one for Angela, a meeting was arranged.
Through AJ, Linda learned that Angela’s mother was in jail, but her mother could not, or would not, respond. AJ also had information that soon revealed Angela had two older sisters, so Linda searched further. Her sister Paulina responded immediately. She did, indeed, want to have contact with Angela. She sent photos of herself, her young daughter and her adoptive family. Soon, they spoke by phone. Angela, a child who didn’t often smile or show outward signs of happiness, beamed while talking to her sister.
Later Paulina called to say that her own adoptive mother, Joy, a certified foster parent, wanted to meet Angela and consider taking Angela in as her own. Angela so wanted this to happen that she even offered to get a job to help offset the expense of raising her. Within a month, Angela moved to Joy’s home, with Paulina living nearby. Finally Angela was connected – she loved being a sister and an aunt. She soon started making up school work and playing on two sports teams. When asked how happy she was on a scale of 1 to 10, she enthusiastically responded, “100!”
Angela’s search didn’t end there. She and Paulina wanted to find their older sister, Christina. Linda again began searching and found Christina living nearby.
Eventually, all three met. They were nervous at first but soon were all crying with joy and sharing information about interests, talents, and their individual histories. They agreed that this would mark their first day together as a family. Thanksgiving was approaching, and they made plans to spend part of that day together.
For the first time in her life, Angela felt truly loved and cared for. She began to excel in school and do “regular teenager stuff.” Then on Thanksgiving morning, surrounded by her sisters and her niece, Angela finally shared a holiday with her own family.
About Family Finding
The Family Finding program at Uplift Family Services reconnects children with safe, healthy family members and speeds their recovery from emotional trauma. Using Internet search technology, biological family members can be found for foster children who have been told for years that they have no one. Once identified, the agency works with family members to establish nurturing relationships and explore ways to find a “forever home” for the child.