As is often the case....this #Found story started with someone I know, my friend Sarah, tagging me to a post. One of the really wonderful things that occur in the cause of #TAKEN children is that people like Sarah are very aware of the grief of #FamilyOfOrigin and when they see a search post....they tag me.
In this case, that tag led us down a very interesting path.
Robin had made a post about her half brother. He had been #TAKEN from their mom around age nine. She gave me his birth information and clues she had gathered over the four years she had been searching for him.
I gave the information to Emily(the Houston Search Angel) and she spent hours following leads. We had an adopter’s first name, a town and the name of a high school....not much to go on....but Emily is a diligent and thorough researcher so I had hope. We talked, searched and exchanged thoughts on the possibilities but came up with nothing. It got late and we left off until later.
Something was telling me to not give up so I googled the town of Everson, #Washington and found its population to be about 2,500 people. Surely in a town of that size....someone would remember Thomas.
I made a post about Robin’s search and put it on our Facebook page, AmericasTakenChildren. Then I went to my Facebook search bar and typed in Everson, Washington and shared my post in messenger to teachers, business owners and public figures in the area. Then I went to bed.
When I woke up, the post had gone viral in and around Everson, shared over 250 times in just a few hours. People were commenting. “I knew him”, “he was my foster child”, and finally, “he was my foster child and I have stayed in touch with him, I left his phone number on the email provided on the post”!
I went to our email notifications and the foster mother had sent me his phone number AND Thomas himself had sent me an email inquiring after his sister and mother. I quickly messaged Robin and her mom and gave them his phone number.
Robin said, “I searched for four years and you found him in less than twenty-four hours”.
I believe we found him so quickly because of the size of the area we were searching and more importantly because of the willingness of the people in the Everson community to network my post with each other and share information on a kid they had known and cared about....and also the tenacity of a sister that would not stop looking for her brother.
I have learned that the familial bond is stronger than any separation and in Robin’s case that bond bore fruit.
Today they will meet for the first time in years. Thomas has not had an easy time of it....that much we know. On his own and homeless at points...he has struggled. Today he will hug his mom and sister for the first time in years.
There will be a lot of ground to cover, a lot of emotion for all involved but Robin is excited and hopeful.....and mom? Well mom is over the moon.
Robin’s search in her own words:
I was raised separately from my brother so that need for sibling contact was even stronger with us. He was living with Mom and I was living with my dad's mom. When my grandma felt I was old enough she began letting me spend Christmas and summer with my mom and brother. We were going to make it a tradition. Not long after and my brother was taken from my mother and our world was torn apart. I tried to find him when he was a minor and I was denied access and continuously treated as if I was a horrible person and should not be allowed to talk to my brother without them initiating it first , which was never the case. I thought of him all the time and quite honestly cried about it a lot. I would hold the only picture I had of him and I would just let it go, I missed my brother, and I wanted nothing more to be able to spend Christmas with him again. When I knew he was 18 years of age I made the assumption that he was no longer in the foster system and began looking for him. Somebody pointed me in the direction of an agency similar to America's taken but they unfortunately denied me. So it was back to square one and just me and Mom off of the little details we had. Sometimes I thought I would find leads just for it to be a dead end and another broken heart. Recently he turned 21 so I thought to myself maybe I'll have more luck with him being 21 just maybe somehow someone who knows him will see this or he will see this. I was planning on never giving up. Not long after one of my personal friends suggested Geri from America's taken. At first I was hesitant due to my past experiences of being turned down but I decided that it was better than not doing anything. So I communicated with Geri and the team got to work. Years of exhausting and heartbreaking searching and America's Taken found him in around 24 hours. I was on my way home from a doctor's appointment when I opened up my phone to read the words we found him. And I lost it. I began sobbing uncontrollably. It was over. We found him. And now we get to make new memories and begin to stengthen our bond again. Thank you America's Taken.