Sadly, this is not Topher's first time around the block when it comes to being fostered. He's told me several times about his former foster family, where he lived for a year about 8 years ago. He tells stories about his foster-parents and their kids often. It worries me sometimes that his favorite memories are about his foster family. I've never heard a cute story or a fun story about living with his mom. So, with nothing but a picture of his foster-brother, a misspelled name, and a phone number, I set out to find these people who had made such a difference in my son's life.
The first thing I tried was the phone number. Unfortunately, it's been disconnected. Next I tried googling the misspelled name (I didn't know it was misspelled). I got results in Albany, NY with that spelling, as well as Texas ... not really useful. After several click-through's, failed searches, and more, I finally stumbled across a two year old pdf copy of a 4H newsletter that listed his foster-dad and his foster-sister. I sent Topher a copy of the picture in the newsletter and got an enthusiastic "Yes, that's him, how did you get that picture?!?!?"
Armed with the correct spelling now, as well as his foster-sister's name, I did more searching. I sent email to the 4H club, found his foster-sister on Facebook and tried to friend her. Then came the waiting game.
Two days passed.
Then: his foster-sister sent me an email back saying she was passing the information on to her dad. I got an email back from the 4H that afternoon with a current phone number. I called and left a message.
More time passed.
Last Friday, on the way home, I got a call from his foster-dad. We made arrangements for Sunday afternoon. Two out of three of their adult children made it to visit with Topher. I have never in the 18 months I've known him seen Topher smile so much.
They talked about old times. They talked about what happend to pets I'd never met, horses Topher remembered, and more. They walked through the house (they still live in the same place) so Topher could see how it had changed. They discussed how tall he was (he's now taller than his foster mom). They told embarassing stories, laughed, and had an overall great time.
I was a bit of an outsider, not being part of that family, not sharing that history, but they invited me in as much as they could knowing that I was now important to the young man they had such an influence on so many years ago. When we finally left, we traded phone numbers and promised to keep in touch. After all, we're connected now. Connected because we all care for this young man, and all want the best for him.
If nothing else, Topher now has an updated picture of his brother ...
... brothers are forever ...
It's feels like such a small thing ... but if it helps Topher survive the hard times now and the hard ones ahead, it was worth the effort.