MONTREAL, CANADA (KTRK) -- A Montreal father was surprised to learn he owed thousands of dollars in retroactive parental fees after he reunited with his long-lost daughter, now 18 years old.
CTV's Aphrodite Salas reports Dean Harper tracked down his daughter, Athena, after more than a decade apart, only to find out she'd spent her high school years living in a foster home.
Harper says administrators at Batshaw Youth and Family Centers never reached out to him as her biological father, despite having all of his contact information on file. Then, when he found her himself, the foster home sent him a "parental contributions" bill for $7,800.
"I don't understand how they could have my daughter, know who I am, not look for me, then send me a bill once I find her," Harper told Canada's CTV.
Athena has since moved in with her father and the two are catching up on lost time, but they still want to know why Batshaw didn't reunite them sooner.
"I was very upset because they had my name on file. They knew who I was," Harper said.
Batshaw told Harper they didn't contact him because they didn't have his birthday on file, he said.
Father and daughter were originally separated 16 years ago, when Athena and her mother moved.
"She moved and I couldn't find her anymore," Harper said. "I just didn't know where she was, and I searched for 16 years."
Harper found his daughter through some Internet sleuthing on Facebook and Google. He spotted her in a video on Facebook, then used Google Street View to determine the location where the video was shot.
After three years of pouring over the video clues, he figured out where Athena worked and paid her a visit.
"My heart was pounding like you wouldn't believe. I thought for sure Athena could hear my heart pounding," he said. "And I said, 'My name is Dean Harper... I'm your father.'"
Athena says everything "clicked" at that moment.
"Every piece of the puzzle just went together," she said.
Athena is now living with her father and getting to know her two half-brothers. She says she is "super thankful" for everything Batshaw did to take care of her, but she doesn't like that the foster home sent her father a bill.
Batshaw issued a statement in response.
"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," spokesperson Claire Roy said. "These efforts are always based on children's needs."
Harper says he plans to fight the fees and is considering legal action against Batshaw Social Services for not contacting him about his daughter.
Father reunites with daughter, gets $7,800 bill