For 10 years, Tony and his two half-siblings were moved from foster home to foster home. Efforts to reconnect with his parents failed. Eventually, a biological father took one sibling back, and the other ran away to family out-of-state. Tony felt truly abandoned.
Tony was in danger of being sent to a group home, so the Department of Social Services (DSS) referred him to the Family Finding program at Uplift Family Services in hopes of finding him a permanent home with a family.
The Family Finding team and DSS began an intensive search. Soon, they were able to identify a great-aunt of Tony’s who was part of a family cluster living just 30 minutes from him. Aunt Maria knew exactly who Tony was when the Family Finding team first contacted her. The family had been under the mistaken impression that he had been adopted years before.
She helped identify other aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, nieces and nephews, all of whom lived nearby. Phone calls with Tony started the connection process. Once it was established that a relationship with this branch of Tony’s family would be a safe, positive situation, a visit was arranged.
Upon arrival, the 15-year-old was enveloped by aunts, cousins and uncles. One cousin said, “We wanted him to feel and know that he was a part of our family.”
“Tony’s connection with his family was instant,” said Adriana Gonzales, Tony’s Family Finding specialist. “Everyone felt the love and warmth. It was as if he had always known them.”
His Aunt Joana expressed a desire to give Tony a home—his first permanent home in more than a decade.
“When I saw him, I saw a boy who needed to be loved. I felt a connection with him and wanted to help,” she said. Joana started the process of being approved for relative placement including weekend visits and a longer 10-day stay during Tony’s spring break from school.
Now DSS and a family court judge have granted approval for Tony to get his permanent family. Once final arrangements are worked out, Tony can go home.
Interested in becoming a foster parent? Read more.