INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A formerly homeless man has been reunited with his long-lost family, weeks after being featured in a story on WISH-TV.
Eion Cooper, 21, was featured on Oct. 3 in a story about Outreach Inc., a non-profit that equips and empowers homeless teens and provides them stability as they transition into adulthood.
Cooper’s mother died in 1998 when he was 5 years old. After briefly being taken care of by an aunt, Cooper became a ward of the state.
“The only thing I really do remember is being through group homes and guardian homes and orphanages,” says Cooper.
Cooper was adopted at age 7 by a family in Kirkland, Indiana, and it was the last time he saw his two older brothers and older sister. He admitted to feeling pushed out of the home of his adopted parents, so when he turned 18 he came back to Indianapolis looking for his two brothers and one sister, and became homeless.
“We’ve been looking for each other, but I kind of gave up looking because I couldn’t find any lead or any source as to where they would be,” says Cooper.
But when the story aired on WISH-TV featuring Outreach, Inc., Cooper’s brother Latroy Whitley, 32, was watching.
“Me and my wife were eating dinner and I said ‘Hey! That’s my brother I haven’t seen him in so long!’” says Whitley. ”Being able to see him on the news and know where he was — it was overwhelming for me.”
Whitley called Outreach Inc., trying to reconnect with his brother. Cooper’s case manager, Anthony Dumas coordinated a phone call.
“My case manager Mr. Dumas came to me out of nowhere and said ‘do you know a guy named Latroy or a woman named Latasha?’ I said ‘well, I’ve got a brother named Latroy and sister named Latasha.'”
The first time Whitley and Cooper spoke on the phone, Whitley admits he was nervous.
“I was asking questions, but at the same time, I was excited — like this was a piece of me that had been missing all my life,” says Whitley.
The family invited Eion to their Thanksgiving celebrations where he met extended family for the first time and reconnected with his sister Latasha.
“I learned I have a lot more in common with my siblings than I thought I would,” says Cooper. “Like, my sister and I are both addicted to Facebook.”
Cooper and Whitley are spending Christmas Eve together and intend to spend Christmas day with the rest of the family.
“I never [stopped looking],” says Whitley. “I never did.”