Dean Harper: Dad Spends 16 Years Looking For Daughter Taken By Mother, Gets Hit With $7,800 Foster Bill When He Finds Her

Nathan Francis

Dean Harper spent the last 16 years looking for his daughter Athena Glusing, who had been taken away by her mother as an infant, but the Montreal man didn't quite have the happy ending he expected after finally locating the teen.

Harper said he lost track of his daughter after breaking up with the girl's mother, who left without letting him know where they would be. He has been searching for his daughter for the last 16 years and was finally able to track her down through social media.

Harper said he decided to go to his daughter's job, saying it was nerve-wracking revealing his identity.

"My heart was pounding like you wouldn't believe. I thought for sure Athena could hear my heart pounding. I said, 'Can I tell you something?' She said, 'sure.' She had a beaming smile on her face and I said, 'My name is Dean Harper.' 'And that's supposed to mean?' She didn't even know who I was. I said, 'I'm your father,'" Harper told CTV News Montreal.

But what should have been a happy reunion quickly turned into a headache for Dean Harper. He learned that the girl's mother had given her up, sending Athena into foster care.

And it got even worse. When Batshaw Social Services found out that Dean Harper was Athena's father, they sent him a $7,800 bill for parental services.

Harper said he is angry about the situation, including the fact that social services knew about him the whole time but didn't tell him once his daughter was placed up for adoption.

"I was very upset because they had my name on file. They knew who I was and I asked them, 'Why didn't you look for me when you got my daughter?' They said, 'Well we didn't have your birth date,'" said Harper.

The story is reminiscent of another father on a mission to find a lost child. Army veteran Allen Thomas has been making a public plea for help to find the twins he left in Korea while stationed there in the 1960s, one that's not getting national attention.

Thomas said he lost contact with the children after being transferred to Vietnam. The relationship with his wife soon fell apart, and she wouldn't let hm bring the twins with him when he returned to America. Thomas continued to pay child and spousal support through the Army until the mother moved without providing any contact information.

But the pair still found their way to the United States. The mother later put the kids up for adoption, around the same time Thomas was released from the Army, and they eventually ended up in the U.S. Thomas is now trying to seek them out and calling on the internet for help.

The Montreal father has a slightly better ending to his story. He is back with Athena now, who said she is thrilled to be back with her family after having an upbringing she said was "really not a childhood that a child should go through." Dean Harper has also contacted a lawyer and said he plans to take legal action against Batshaw Social Services for not notifying him when his daughter was placed into the foster system.

[Image via CTV News]