News correspondent Gloria Campos took on ABC’s weekly feature “Wednesday’s Child” in 1989. Over the next 25 years, she shared the stories of children in foster care with America’s viewers in hopes of finding these children homes.
Over the years she has featured 350 children, and three quarters of them have found adoptive homes.
In 2007, she met Ke’onte when he was just 8 years old.
“Treat people the way you want to be treated,” Ke’onte said, sharing what he’d learned about the Golden Rule, and demonstrating his skills in karate.
Campos featured him on a segment of “Wednesday’s Child,” and afterwards, Ke’onte, like many of the children Campos featured, got the news he would be adopted.
But the adoption fell through, and both Campos and Ke’onte were deeply saddened.
She resolved to help him have a second chance, and in 2009, she featured Ke’onte’s story again.
“I have been moved to three different homes and the adoption didn’t go really well,” Ke’onte said at the time.
But Carol and Scott Cook saw this segment, and knew right away he belonged in their family.
“He just spoke to us through the video,” Scott said.
Carol was immensely grateful that this segment brought Ke’onte into their lives. “But also, you’ve touched millions because they were able to hear him talk about his story,” she added.
Ke’onte’s time in foster care had been a nightmare, as his parents learned after the fact.
The Cooks adopted Ke’onte and brought him into their home, but after a couple of days they realized something was completely wrong.
Carol would open Ke’onte’s door to find him barely conscious and walking in circles non-stop.
It turned out that during his stay in foster care, he was wrongly prescribed a handful of drugs he did not need.
In 2011, the federal government came out with a report that found children in foster care were 13 times more likely to be on anti-psychotics and anti-depressants than other children — and many times these children were wrongly diagnosed.
Ke’onte was one of these children, and he testified before Congress and told his story.
When Ke’onte first entered foster care, he threw tantrums and was inaccurately diagnosed as bipolar and having ADHD.
He was sent to the mental hospital three times during his time in foster care, and each time he would have more meds to add to the ones he was already supposed to take. They made him feel irritable, gave him stomach aches, and affected his appetite.
But now in his new home, he is thriving.
Since joining the Cook family, Ke’onte has had therapy and moved off all medication. He plays clarinet, dances, hikes, and is a runner.
“I want to say to her [Campos] thank you so much, because you’ve made my life worthwhile and you’ve helped me become the person I am right now,” Ke’onte said at age 14.
WFAA anchor Campos had been sitting in the studio as the evening news brought on a segment about Ke’onte’s amazing adoption story.
“Oh he’s an amazing boy, so smart, John,” Campos commented to her co-host. “It broke my heart when that first adoption did not go through.”
“And he’s with the right family at last, at last,” she said.
She had no idea that Ke’onte was sneaking up behind her as she said those words.
“Oh my gosh!” she said as he gave her a surprise hug. But then she turned around and looked at his face, and she just couldn’t keep the tears in.
“I can’t believe it’s you!” she said.
“Thanks so much, Ms. Campos,” Ke’onte said.
“I’m so happy that you’re happy,” Campos said.
Watch the emotional reunion below:
Photo credit: YouTube Screenshot | USA TODAY.