In the early 1990s, though I was living in the U.S., I spent much of my time in Mexico doing international marketing. Much of my work relied upon my ability to identify and track down important yet relatively obscure government officials in Mexico. People pointed out that I had a special talent for locating people, and my successful sleuthing prompted a few associates to ask me to locate relatives with whom they had lost touch. Before I knew it, I was getting calls from strangers asking for help in locating a family member, which led me to launch the company that would grow into the non-profit organization, Find Families In Mexico (FFIM).
I started specializing in locating relatives, often mothers and fathers living in Mexico whose children were stuck in the U.S. foster care system. At the other end of this situation, many of these kids, now adults and aged out of the system, were desperately looking for family members. Through my organization, I have been able to help more than 7,000 families in the U.S. and countries such as Germany, the U.K. and Australia be reunited with family members in Mexico.
My work with foster children came more from being pulled to it rather than waking up one day and saying, “I want to save foster children.” I was inspired to take this work to a much higher level years ago because of a phone call from the leading expert on U.S. family finding. He shared how horrific the situation is for foster children and that he felt I had a special gift to solve many of these cases so that thousands more children could be placed with relatives.
I have worked with foster care agencies across the country to identify and locate family members living in Mexico and Latin America of children in U.S. foster care. Make no mistake: only a handful of the foster child cases we have handled during the last 20 years have involved children who crossed over from the outside the U.S. Virtually all cases that foster youth agencies bring to FFIM involve U.S.-born children of at least one U.S.-born parent. Our success internationally often leads case workers back to relatives in the U.S. that their agency either never knew about or was unable to locate. Yet no matter how a child ends up in foster care, our goal is to get these children out of the system as fast as possible.
Richard’s Vision For The Future
I’m most excited about our position in the industry where we are working with the leading non-foster children profits who are marketing our services. As part of this outreach to foster care agencies, I am a monthly columnist with Foster Focus Magazine, the only monthly national magazine on foster care.
We are also approaching foundations for grants so we can take on even more cases, and we (finally) have a couple of corporate sponsors who are giving us donations on a continuous basis. Our goal is to be the dominant charity for family finding in Mexico and Latin America. We’re close to being this entity. Now the focus will be on growing the organization so that we are handling hundreds of cases annually.