Ten-year-old Samantha* came to live with her dad in Ohio five years ago, after being removed from her mother’s care by a children services agency in her home state of Vermont. With a complicated history of sexual abuse and the painful experience of being separated from her mom, it was important and necessary that Samantha receive trauma-informed counseling and ongoing support. Without this, her problems and pain would only continue to multiply.

As she grew older, Dad struggled to manage the behaviors and emotional challenges of caring for his daughter, so he sent her to live with his mother, Grandma Nelly. This was another loss of connection and trust for Samantha. And unfortunately, this arrangement only lasted lasted eight months, because Samantha still wasn’t receiving the professional help she needed to cope with a lifetime of loss and trauma.

Survivors of child sexual abuse often act out their pain in ways that may be destructive and harmful to both themselves and others, and when Samantha was removed from Grandma Nelly’s home, it seemed as if no one could see the good in her.

Thankfully, the county’s dedicated 30 Days to Family® Ohio caseworker, Michael, was determined that Samantha’s stay in foster care would be a short one. On day one of his assignment, Michael met with Dad, who quickly revealed that he had an estranged older daughter, Connie, who was Samantha’s half-sister. The family had only learned of Connie’s existence two years ago, and the relationship was distant and strained. Dad couldn’t provide a working phone number or any contact information.

Later that week, when Michael met with Samantha, she immediately said “I know all about Connie. I’m friends with her on Facebook.” The 30 Days to Family® Ohio case worker reached out to Connie via social media that same day. Within five minutes, Connie replied and called the agency, saying “She’s my sister. Of course, I will take her. What do I have to do to have her?” 

A relative home study and initial visit were immediately scheduled, and within two weeks Samantha was adjusting to a new, welcoming family home with four siblings. One anticipated challenge was that because of her abuse history, Samantha really needed a private bedroom, but Connie and her fiance quickly made arrangements to provide her with everything she needed – including an experienced counselor. In addition, because Connie’s home is nearby, Samantha will be able to maintain a relationship with her birth father, while staying in the same school and community. From start to finish, the family placement took 22 the days, and back up family member support was also identified through Mom’s extended family out of state.

Not only did Michael find Samantha a safe, loving home and the professional help she needs to begin healing, he also found her a trusted, stable adult who truly wants to be in her life. Instead of feeling like a burden to family members who weren’t equipped to provide for her complex needs, she is now a blessing to her sister — giving Connie a connection to her paternal birth family in a way that would never have been possible before.

*name and other identifying details have been changed