Because of all this, my sister and I spent years in the system moving around a dozen times, living with strangers, in institutions, and one time in a homeless shelter.
How would my life be different if Connect Our Kids existed back when I was in foster care? I've thought about this a million times since our co-founder contacted me to learn about my foster care experience.
Today, I am the Outreach Coordinator for Connect Our Kids. My favorite responsibility is to interview social workers, family recruiters, and CASA volunteers who have used our technology to find relatives of the children in their care.
As I speak with these dedicated child welfare professionals on how our tech tools help locate and engage the extended family, I can’t help but think about my own foster care story.
While moving from placement-to-placement, I knew I had family “out there, somewhere” but I didn’t know where they were exactly. The technology just wasn’t there to connect me and my sister to our family. Years later, after I emancipated without a permanent family, I discovered an aunt in Hawaii using Ancestry.com. I didn’t even know who this aunt was but I just had to connect with her. When I told her that I was once in foster care she said that had she been notified, she would have taken responsibility for me and my dear sister.
I’ll never forget that feeling I had when my aunt responded that way. It was like a punch in the gut.
While it was tragic that I didn’t get to live with my aunt in Hawaii, or with any other relatives for that matter, the good news is that now we have the technology to make those life-changing connections. It feels really good to be helping child welfare professionals across the country as they use Connect Our Kids' free tech tools daily to ensure that not one more child grows up without a forever family and support system in place.
Connections matter. I know this from experience and it is a privilege to be a part of a team whose mission is to connect every vulnerable child to a permanent family and supportive connections.
You can help make more life-changing connections by donating here today.
Written by Georgette, the Outreach Coordinator for Connect Our Kids. You can read more about her experience in foster care in her Op-ed for the San Diego Union-Tribune.