For sixteen years, Dean Harper searched for the daughter that disappeared from his life when she was only two years old. Now that they’ve reconnected, he has some serious questions for the organization that cared for her.

Screen Shot/KTRK News

As the Stir recounts, Dean Harper last saw his daughter Athena when she was only two— right before Athena’s mother disappeared with the girl. Harper spent the next sixteen years trying to track down the missing girl, finally finding her through some online sleuthing.

As KTRK News reports, their first meeting was at Athena’s workplace, and Harper was more than a little nervous.

“My heart was pounding like you wouldn’t believe. I thought for sure Athena could hear my heart pounding,” Harper told CTV News. “And I said, ‘My name is Dean Harper… I’m your father.’”

Athena says that meeting her father was like seeing puzzle pieces fall into place. She soon moved in with Harper and the two are catching up on lost time. She’s happy to have a family and two new brothers in her life.

Screen Shot/KTRK News

Harper, however, wasn’t happy to learn what had happened to his daughter during their many years apart. It turns out that Athena had been in foster care since she was twelve years old. The Batshaw Youth and Family Center never contacted him about his daughter – despite the fact that they had his information on file as the biological father.

What’s more, once Harper had found Athena, the foster home billed him $7,800 for his parental contribution to her care.

Screen Shot/KTRK News

Contacted by CTV News, the Batshaw Center issued a statement:

In all situations, social workers make regular attempts to locate parents, in the province of Quebec, across Canada, and any other countries, even in prisons,” said Claire Roy, a Batshaw spokesperson. “These efforts are always based on children’s needs.

While Athena is thankful to her foster home, she objects to their billing her father. Harper told reporters that he plans to fight the bill and is pondering legal action over their failure to contact him with information about his daughter.

Despite the bill, both Harper and Athena are happy to have found each other, and are catching up on lost time.

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