Finding a sister after years in foster care

on 14 July 2016

 “We didn’t know where you were or how to contact you. We didn’t know what had happened or that you were in foster care. We’re so sorry,” said Alisa’s family repeatedly.

Turning Points for Children case worker Ariel Ressler Macneill describes Alisa as sharp-witted, someone who knew what she wanted. After nearly eight years of moving between foster and group homes, she simply wanted a place to go during day visits.

Alisa was less than hopeful on finding any of her relatives. Alisa told Ariel she thought that Family Finding was “just another program,” especially after being in and out of foster and group homes for eight years. The sixteen-year old didn’t think the program could help her find who she was looking for.

Family Finding isn’t just another program. It connects youth in the foster care system to family members they may have lost contact with over the years. Turning Points is the only provider of this program in Philadelphia.

Ariel carefully explained the process to Alisa. Family Finding would begin a search for any of her relatives. The process usually takes about three months, but Turning Points usually finds people in the first month or so. As luck would have it, Alisa’s older sister Jenny was in the process of becoming a foster parent in Philadelphia and quickly responded. 

Jenny remembered Alisa from when she was little. Their father had since passed away and their family had lost connection with Alisa. When Alisa heard the news, she was calm but Ariel could tell she was overcome with joy.

Jenny drove two hours to visit Alisa and said, “we didn’t know where you were or how to contact you. We didn’t know what had happened or that you were in foster care. We’re so sorry.” The sisters went shopping and exchanged stories. Jenny even gave Alisa a cell phone to keep in touch.

Alisa now says Family Finding “helped bring my family together, and being with your family feels really good.”