Permanency Tip of the Week: Reciprocity in the Permanency Relationship
In a mature and healthy permanent relationship, reciprocity is a critical aspect that provides the glue to help the relationship weather life’s roller coaster. For children, irrespective of their life history, reciprocity is something that must be repeatedly modeled by the adult for the child to learn, practice and master this skill. When evaluating the relationship history for many of our Youth, particularly those in out of home care, the experience of reciprocity may be a very foreign phenomenon to them. This may result in our Youth struggle, even more, to learn, practice and master this skill at all phases of our relationship with them. As mentioned in the previous series of tips on the Four Concepts of Youth Engagement with Permanency, we will need to be prepared to experience “unbalance” in our relationships for a longer period. This patience is critically important and if exercised, will greatly enhance the likelihood that our Youth will achieve the desired Permanency.
Permanency Success Story of the Week: Couple Adopts Three Sisters Out of Foster Care System
WSET – Virginia – There are 5,000 children in foster care here in Virginia wishing for a forever home. One Huddleston couple made three little girl’s, currently living in the system, dreams come true. This year Ellie, Miranda, and Sadie got a forever home and Lauren Newman became the mother she always wanted to be…
“So we started Foster Care two-and-a-half years ago,” Newman said. “We got Sadie here first, she was four-months-old, when the case went to adoption, her two older sisters needed an adoptive home as well…”But according to the girls, she’s more than a mother or teacher, she’s their hero. “They’ve just been there for us. They basically saved us,” Ellie explained. “If they didn’t adopt us, then we would keep on going to different houses probably.”
“Literally these kids did not ask for this life so if we can give them a better life we are going to do it,” Newman said. Adopting three little girls isn’t something the Newmans feel is heroic. “It’s just something that I feel like God wanted us to do,” Newman said.
Permanency Related Articles:
Maintaining Connections: The Values Behind Family Engagement Practices Within the Child Welfare System
EPIC ‘Ohana – In 2009, the Federal Children’s Bureau awarded the State of Hawai‘i Department of Human Services (DHS), along with 12 other national sites, a three-year grant under the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. The purpose of the grant was to further the intention of the law and to conduct studies to determine the efficacy of family engagement. (By family engagement we mean reconnecting immediate and extended family to their kin in foster care, and including them in the decision-making process related to the placement and care of the children.) The Hawai‘i DHS contracted with EPIC ‘Ohana, Inc. (EPIC) to implement the study and provide the services. A final report of that work is available online. (Follow the link to HI: State of Hawai‘i Department of Human Services Family Connection Grant Summary) …
This manual is written for lay people who are interested in family engagement work, direct service providers, program managers, and administrators who wish to implement family engagement programs and strive to ensure the provision of quality services. In our work with families, we have learned that using language that is accessible and straightforward is not only respectful, it is essential. In honoring that valuable lesson, this manual is written in an informal voice with as little academic or professional jargon as possible.
CCTASI at Northwestern University – Remembering Trauma is a short film (16 minutes) that highlights the story of a traumatized youth from early childhood to older adolescence illustrating his trauma reactions and interactions with various service providers (including probation officer, school counselor, and therapist). This product was created in order to support the critical importance of using a trauma lens in our work within child-serving systems and the potentially detrimental impact of not incorporating a trauma framework. We believe this resource can serve as a powerful educational and awareness-raising tool.
“Remembering Trauma Part 2” incorporates scenes from the narrative Part 1 film, with poignant commentary from real-world professionals who work across child-serving settings, including school, juvenile justice, and mental health.
US News and World Report – In early June, my daughter’s birth mother “M” came to spend a week with us in our home. We kept counting the firsts as they piled up – M’s first airplane ride, M’s first time on a bike in 30 years, M’s first train ride – but the one that hit me the hardest was M’s first time tucking our daughter into bed. Almost 15 years old, my daughter had never slept in the same house as her birth mom until this visit…For the first time, our daughter had the experience of being familiar to someone. She glowed every time her birth mom exclaimed how much she was like her biological brother and sister. It’s something that most people take for granted, the innate connection among biological relatives that emerges starting at birth. In interviewing hundreds of adult adoptees from closed adoptions over the years, I’ve heard over and over again how much they yearn to know who they look like, who they act like.
For everything we can give our oldest daughter, we can’t give her the experience of recognizing her biological traits in us. And it matters to her, even if she didn’t know she was missing it…One way to ease your child’s fear is to talk openly about it. Validate the child’s feelings: “It is understandable that you feel this way; it is not uncommon for children who were adopted to have these worries.” Yet also reassure the child that fearing something does not mean it has to come true: “We absolutely love you as much as we love your sibling(s), and nothing will ever change that. We can be different from each other and share the same love.”
In the hard moments and in the good times, it is always helpful to tell our children, “My love for you is always here. It isn’t based on whether or not you look like me or share my skills; it isn’t determined by your behavior. I won’t love you more if you achieve great successes, and I won’t love you less if you make big mistakes. We are your parents, and that means you get all our love, all the time. You may wonder sometimes if you belong, because you feel different from us. It’s OK to talk about it, and yes, you do belong.”
KCUR 89.3 – Wichita, KS – Teenage girls aging out of foster care in Kansas will soon have a new place to stay and learn the basics of living independently — with the help of some nuns. St. Francis Community Services, one of the state’s two foster care contractors, is taking over the former convent of the Sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph in Wichita to house foster care, refugee and behavioral health programs…The Sisters offered their space to St. Francis about a year ago after they moved to a new building on the same property. Catholic Charities Wichita, which had also rented space in the building, also prepared to relocate…
St. Francis plans to open 14 beds to girls in February. The space will be licensed as a youth residential center, meaning it will provide behavioral health services and 24-hour supervision. Youth residential centers separate kids by gender. With the sisters around to act as mentors, Blythe said it made sense to make the facility girls-only.
Most of the girls will be 17 to 18, and St. Francis is expecting stays of roughly nine months to a year, Bryant said. Blythe said the new youth center will indirectly help ease the problem of kids sleeping in St. Francis offices. Teenagers are some of the hardest kids to place in foster homes, and are more likely to end up sleeping in offices. Offering beds for 14 teenage girls will free up 14 beds for older kids within the existing system, hopefully taking them out of short-term placements.
AdoptUSKids – it is important to ensure that families have the support they need to care for children who have been traumatized and are vulnerable. Many States, Tribes, and Territories have invested time and energy in improving outcomes for children and youth in adoption, foster care, and kinship care by supporting them and their families. We hope this guide has informed you and encouraged you to believe that implementing support services in your community is both necessary and possible.
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Take care and keep up the Permanency work – Our children, youth, young adults, families, and communities are depending on it!