A boy that was bounced from foster home to foster home is now reunited with the family he thought he lost forever and a new program is helping kids like him get out of the system and back with family.
The unique reunion effort called Extreme Recruitment is used to find homes for kids that are struggling in foster care. Private investigators use CSI-like techniques to find biological relatives that were once unknown to the foster care system.
Eugene Baker is a man on a mission. His mission started with a photograph, a picture of a boy whose face he knew well. The boy's face cannot be shown because he is currently in the foster care system.
"I showed it (the picture) to my daughter and the rest of my family and I knew Demaje needed to come home," Baker, Demaje's uncle, said.
"The photograph connected with the right person," John Ecklund, a private investigator with the Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association, said.
For months, Ecklund sent the boy's picture to every Eugene Baker he could find. His goal was to find the uncle of 10-year-old Demaje. He used databases available to private investigators, therapists and medical professionals.
"I'd rather just live with my real family because I have to move from foster home to foster home over and over again and it's starting to get old," Demaje said.
When Demaje was about 5, his mother moved from California to Missouri. Once in Kansas City, she dropped him off at a residential care facility, saying she couldn't care for him anymore.
The program Extreme Recruitment fights for children like Demaje.
"(It's for those) who have been labeled hard to adopt or hard to place," MFCAA VP of Programs and Personnel Jennifer Johnson said.
For the kids that fit into that category, the best place for them is often with a biological family member the state once overlooked or never knew about.
"Family is less likely to give up on family," Johnson said.
Baker said he is not ready to give up on the nephew he had also been searching for.
"Nobody gives you that sincere hug like family. I thought ‘gosh, how cool for Demaje.' He gets to have that warm embrace," Baker said.
Baker and Demaje were recently reunited in person after about six years. Their heartwarming embrace will be shown for the first time in public at the 2012 Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association Gala that will be held Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at the InterContinental on the Plaza.
Demaje's uncle is hoping to permanently reunite him with his family in California. Extreme Recruitment has 19 open cases like Demaje's and they hope to double that number during their second year.
For more information on the Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association Forever Families Gala, click here.
The video used in Emily Rittman's story was provided by Local Investment Commission or LINC. The organization can be contacted by clicking here.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Tuesday, June 18 2013 9:23 AM EDT2013-06-18 13:23:30 GMT
A 5-year-old girl set up a lemonade stand across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church compound, and now the group is targeting her. Jayden Sink raised nearly $200 on Friday while she sold lemonadeMore >
A 5-year-old girl set up a lemonade stand across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church compound, and now the group is targeting her.More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 6:38 PM EDT2013-06-18 22:38:56 GMT
A convicted Kansas City terrorist was part of a foiled plot to bomb Wall Street, a deputy FBI director told members of Congress Tuesday.Deputy FBI Director Sean Joyce testified Tuesday that the KansasMore >
A convicted Kansas City terrorist was part of a foiled plot to bomb Wall Street, a deputy FBI director told members of Congress Tuesday.More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 4:02 PM EDT2013-06-18 20:02:57 GMT
Police are investigating a protest at Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's home as he said Monday he is prepared to use lethal force if necessary.The KCK Police Department issued a statement MondayMore >
Police are investigating a protest at Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's home as he said Monday he is prepared to use lethal force if necessary.More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 2:30 PM EDT2013-06-18 18:30:12 GMT
The Kansas City Zoo's rock star is sick, so he's getting some TLC behind the scenes."Nikita is a bit under the weather so he's resting in his behind-the-scenes bedroom," said Julie Neemeyer, spokeswomanMore >
The Kansas City Zoo's rock star is sick, so Nikita is getting some TLC behind the scenes. The polar bear apparently has a tummy bug. More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 8:31 PM EDT2013-06-19 00:31:54 GMT
Thieves stole the National Trails Museum's iconic statute over the weekend, and replacing it would cost an estimated $75,000.Museum officials believe copper thieves sought the 6-foot tall bronze statute,More >
Thieves stole the National Trails Museum's iconic statue over the weekend, and replacing it would cost an estimated $75,000.More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 7:47 AM EDT2013-06-18 11:47:53 GMT
Firefighters faced an unexpected danger after flames caused ammunition to go off inside a home that caught fire. Crews were called just before 2 a.m. Tuesday to a home in the 8800 block of WestbrookeMore >
Firefighters faced an unexpected danger after flames caused ammunition to go off inside a home that caught fire.More >