Long-lost Families Help Children Find Roots and Stability

More than anything, T.J. wished for a family of his own.

Abandoned at birth, the 11-year-old had never known anything but a long succession of foster placements, and had never been able to settle into a permanent home with family members he could love and know forever.  T.J.’s story came to the attention of Kinship Center’s new ‘Family Finding’ program, an innovative service acquired as a result of the recent merger with Canyon Acres.

Family Finding staff conducted an extensive search and discovered a maternal aunt, a grandmother, and then more than 30 more family members around the country who were anxious to meet the boy. A visit was arranged over T.J.’s birthday weekend, and the boy was greeted with tears of joy from a family who had never known about this young relative. T.J. is in the process of being adopted by his aunt, and he looks forward to having a “forever family” at last.

Family Finding uses sophisticated relative searching techniques to locate long-lost family members for children who have been in the child welfare system for many years. Restoring a youth to his or her roots provides a new sense of identity and belonging, and helps the healing process for a child who has lived with severe trauma. The Family Finding program is usually able to identify and locate dozens of family members throughout the United States for a child or teen living in the limbo of public foster care.

Once these relatives are located, Kinship Center helps engage them with the child and supports the family-building and strengthening process. As a result, children who have grown up believing they had no family are discovering their roots, experiencing new connections, and building trust in the prospect of lifelong family love and support.

Caption: Children who grow to adulthood without the security of a permanent family overwhelmingly become society’s statistics in terms of homelessness, unemployment, criminal behavior and mental health problems. Kinship Center’s Family Finding breaks this cycle for youngsters like Ricky, who has found a “forever family,” shown here.

Since its inception, Family Finding staff have worked with more than 300 youth and have located 3,816 family members. More than 100 of the children have been officially adopted by a family member; the others are maintaining strong, close ties.



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