Two young siblings who were separated during childhood and placed within the Oklahoma foster care system have finally been reunited after 40 years.
Their heartwarming reunion began in rural Oklahoma 1984. 5-year old Kitt Wakely and her little sister Tasha were forcibly removed by the state after family, friends, and neighbors reported severe child abuse and emotional trauma taking place within the home.
“Even at that young age, we had to have each other to get through it,” Kitt said. “It was haunting, horrific times.” Together, they survived unspeakable abuse.
Their ordeal, although painful, would eventually become even more distressing, moving from one foster home to another. Their only stability as a family was having one another to lean on.
“We relied on each other during those times,” Kitt said.
After 3-years of not finding a permanent home that would take the two children, Foster Care decided to separate them.
“I just remember they packed her stuff in a grocery bag, you know the typical paper bag, and I just remember her crying, me crying, they took her out the door. So, to this day, I hate the rustling paper sack,” Kitt recalled, his face cringing.
Within a matter of months 8-year old Kitt was adopted by Jack and Linda Wakeley. A few months after Kitt’s adoption, 7-year old Tasha also found a new permanent home, along with a new last name.
Tasha was never far from Kitt’s mind. He continued to wonder as the years passed by what his sister was up too. Was she married? Did she have children?
Thinking back on it, Kitt said, “On a regular basis, she was on my mind, where’s she at, what’s she doing?”
Kitt’s life also changed dramatically from those traumatic days of constant abuse, as he went on to follow his passion for music. He was just 16-years old when he heard himself on a local Oklahoma City radio station.
“It was a song called ‘Here We Are’ … and when you’re in high school and you hear your stuff on the radio, you just think, ‘oh, wow, I’m about to be famous.’ Little did I know? So, that was my first experience, and it was just kind of the aphrodisiac, if you will, to move forward,” he recalled.
Years passed, and Kitt Wakeley continued his dream of making music. Today, the Oklahoma composer, producer, and musician has reached the pinnacle of success as a performing artist, with a number of classical hits. His most recognizable is “Symphony of Sinners and Saints”, which rose to number 1 on Billboard’s Classical and Classical Crossover charts.
Even with all his successes and achievements, that nagging, never ending quest to find his sister was never very far from his mind.
“Not having your sister that you’ve looked for, for so long, there is a void, there is this loose end in life,” he said.
Thankfully, the world had changed since the 1980’s, and Kitt was convinced that the internet would eventually link the brother and sister back together again.
He was right. Out of the blue Kitt received a Facebook message from a woman named Tasha Henderson.
“When you get this message, ‘I’m your sister.” Kitt was a bit skeptical at first, stating, “I didn’t believe her.”
That’s because Kitt had forgotten one very important detail about his half-sister.
“You’re African American and I’m white, so we probably should start there on whether you’re telling me the truth or not. And she said, ‘No, I’m biracial.’ So, I would ask her questions and she knew the answers to the questions that no one else did, there was no DNA test necessary, there was no background check necessary, there was no way anyone else would know the details but my sister.”
Tasha found Kitt through Ancestry.com, and once she saw the smile that she’d held onto for more than four decades, she just knew.
“I looked him up on Facebook and I knew it was my brother,” Henderson said, smiling. Ironically, both brother and sister lived just one mile apart from each other.