Meeting a Birth Parent After 14 Years

For 10 years, Facebook has been connecting people: an old friend from elementary school, high school pals and fellow college alumni. Some people use it to be social but others, like Wesley C., have used it as a tool to find someone a bit more meaningful.

Seventeen-year-old Wesley had not seen his birth mother since he was a toddler, when he was placed in foster care. Before coming to UMFS in 2000, Wesley had been through more than 10 foster homes. He was then placed with a family for 10 years, which allowed him to experience stability and live a somewhat normal life. When his foster parents could no longer care for him because of failing health, he joined his current family in 2010. “Wes’ foster parents have been extremely supportive by providing so many opportunities for him to grow,” said UMFS Social Work Coordinator, Donna Jones. “They’ve been an awesome example of bridging the gap.”

In addition to Wesley’s foster family, he has a team of people supporting him: UMFS social workers, a Department of Social Services (DSS) case worker, a school social worker and the Director at KEYS Academy. As a boy who once lashed out by doing things like throwing desks, Wesley has come far. This year he finished senior English in one month at his alternative high school and completed an internship at a veterinary office in Fredericksburg. “English is my favorite subject,” Wesley said. “I like to write stories, songs and poems.” His life is going so well that his foster family has asked to adopt him. Though he felt good about the situation, there was still something missing. “Wes said he only wanted to be adopted if he was able to meet his birth mother,” Donna said. “The UMFS team did everything we could to try to connect them, but Wes is smart and he started making things happen on his own.”

With only his birth mother’s name, Wesley began scouring Facebook for anyone connected to her. Last year his search led him to ex-boyfriends and extended family members who were able give him more information about his mother. He would also find out that he has two younger half-sisters. Learning that his birth mother was incarcerated at the time, DSS went to speak with her about meeting Wesley. Upon her release, she was ready. Wanting to meet her on his own terms, Wesley had his foster family make arrangements with his therapist.

“I was most surprised by her personality and the way my [birth] mom looks,” Wesley said. “We look alike and we both love Dr. Pepper.” Overall, the meeting went well and they plan to see each other again. During their time together, Wesley’s birth mother told him he should go to college—and he plans to. “I’m not sure where to go or what to study yet, but I know I’m going to take some basic courses and find something I’m interested in,” Wesley said. “I just want to make money and have a good family—what more could someone want?”

Since meeting his birth mother, Wesley is more confident. He’s taken on leadership roles and refers to himself as “the face of foster care.” He’s very open with his friends about being in foster care and explains to them candidly what it means to him. “My friends are accepting of it, and I just tell them it means I don’t have a permanent home,” Wesley said. “And how my experience with UMFS has been good. It’s impossible not to have struggles when you are living like that, but they have helped me a lot.” Wesley is still on the fence about being adopted, but his foster family tells him that whether or not he is adopted, he can still take their last name and that he will always have a place with them. Now that’s one “status update” that should go viral.