Permanency Tip of the Week: What Motivates Our Youth in Foster Care? – Part 2
Before we can effectively partner with our Youth, we first need to identify what implicit biases/conclusions that we may hold. These can a powerful influence when we consider how would we answer the following question: What do We Hope Motivates Our Foster Youth? 1) Doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. 2) Doing well in school to become the best version of themselves. 3) Living in a family with positive relationships to enjoy the fruits of the human experience. 4) Graduating from high school to earn the diploma and move on to college/trade school. 5) Securing a good job/career to be successful and thrive in life. 6) Secure safe and stable housing.
Next week, we will talk about what actually motivates our Youth in Foster Care.
Permanency Success Story of the Week: He was About to Age Out of the Foster Care System. Then an Anchorage Woman Read a Facebook Post that Changed Their Lives
Anchorage Daily News (Alaska) – In a downtown Anchorage courtroom last Tuesday afternoon, a judge declared Andrea Conter and Mitchell Hershey mother and son. It was an unusual adoption: Hershey was a week away from turning 21 and has been in Alaska’s foster care system for more than half his life. Conter is a 53-year-old bookstore manager who had barely considered motherhood until two years ago, when a Facebook post about a college-aged boy who needed a home changed both of their lives.
In the fall of 2017, Conter, who is single, took in Hershey as a foster son. Gradually, the two decided they wanted to take the legal steps necessary to become a family forever. The adoption ceremony happened just one week before Hershey would have “aged out” of Alaska’s foster system for good. In the courtroom, a social worker asked Hershey to explain why he wanted to go forward with the adoption. “I just want a parent, for once in my life,” he said… “The need for a family is always,” she said. “It doesn’t end at 18, 19, 20. It’s forever.” But some teenagers give up on the goal of an adoptive family. “A lot of teens get the idea that they are unadoptable and stop searching for a family,” she said…
To both of them, coming together as a family feels meant to be. “The universe set this up,” is how Conter puts it. For Hershey, it feels like he finally has a mom. People have even pointed out that they look alike. “We were talking about reincarnation or something like that,” Hershey said. “She said, I honestly think you and me were family in a past life.”
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My Name is Haley Radke and I’m adopted. I despise small talk. I think it’s because I’m an introvert (INFJ and Enneagram 2 here). Instead, I crave meaningful conversations about deep topics. I’m insatiably curious, I’m a community-builder and connector, and I buy way more Kleenex than the average human (I’m a crier; it’s just who I am).
After years of being an avid podcast listener, I searched for a podcast about the adoption experience. Everything I found was for adoptive parents. Excuse me? What about adopted people? Here we are… all grown up, and we have some thoughts. Just because you “know someone who’s adopted” doesn’t mean you actually know intimately their true feelings about their experience. But trust me. If you’re adopted – you KNOW. Even with loving and kind adoptive parents, I always felt unworthy; like I didn’t really belong. After all, if my own birthmother didn’t want me, there must be something wrong with me.
Now I am making the podcast I needed to hear when I was feeling alone and like the only one in the world struggling with the grief of losing my biological family.
Topeka (KS) Capital Journal – By Tina Carter’s estimate, she has taken in more than 100 foster children over the past two decades, starting when she lived in the Denver suburb of Aurora, Colo. “I’ve been a foster care provider for 22 years,” Carter said earlier this week. “I didn’t go out to be a foster parent. I was a youth worker, and one of the girls in our church got put in a shelter. I went and got her, and it snowballed after that. It just kept coming.”
Carter said as she took children into her home, she became concerned about the well-being of the girls who aged out of the foster care system once they reached age 18. Many, she said, had no family support and were faced with the challenges of living on their own at a young age. Carter, 57, said she launched a nonprofit called You Can Begin Again in 2010 while she was still living in Colorado. The objective was to provide a residential living facility for young women ages 18 to 25 who had been in foster care but were now out on their own.
Leaders of You Can Begin Again, which Carter said is a faith-based organization, would work with the young women, helping them learn how to find jobs, budget their money and become self-sufficient before being able to set out on their own. In the process, she said, the program can help young women avoid becoming homeless, victims of human trafficking or incarcerated after being caught stealing things like food from stores…
A Fostered Life – While it’s not a foster parent’s responsibility to ensure that their foster child’s parent succeeds, it’s important to note that loving your foster child well means loving their parents too. In this video, I shared five tips for supporting your foster child’s parents. I encourage you to watch the video because I went into detail on each point, but in summary, they are: 1) Show up for visits. 2) Start and maintain a visitation journal. 3) Let your foster child know it’s OK to talk about their parents (and always stay positive!). 4) Communicate with the parents about relevant appointments. 5) Pray for them.
In case it doesn’t go without saying, it is not always possible or wise to do these things. If a child is in care because her parent was abusive, or if your child is part of a rare case in which it would be dangerous for you to interact with their parents, obviously you would not do numbers 1, 2, or 4 above. But you can (and should) still do numbers 3 and 5!
Child Trends – During the transition from adolescence to adulthood, youth achieve important developmental milestones, such as learning decision-making and coping skills and becoming more independent. Older youth often rely on family and other supportive adults to help them during this transition by providing guidance as well as a financial and emotional safety net. However, these supports are often unavailable to older youth who are leaving the foster care system. Older youth who age out of foster care are at increased risk for several adverse adult outcomes, including homelessness, high unemployment rates, low educational attainment, and early or unintended pregnancies. Extended foster care is one tool to lessen these risks by providing older youth with the opportunity to receive services and establish permanent connections with supportive adults prior to leaving the foster care system. While most states offer some version of extended foster care, utilization among older youth remains low across the country.
Key findings: 1) Extended foster care is associated with better young adult; 2) Even a small dose of extended foster care is associated with better outcomes. 3) Extended foster care is associated with receipt of independent living services. 4) Permanency rates have remained largely stable after the implementation of extended foster care. 5) Older youth’s reasons for entering care differ from those of their younger peers. 6) Older youth in care spend more time in foster care than their younger peers.
Huffington Post – I think about my dad and my father a lot. As a transracially adopted person I think about the man who raised me along with my mom, and I think about the man who made it possible for me to be born. These thoughts greatly intensify, naturally, around Father’s Day. At some point in my younger years, I became very aware of my race and the differences that existed even between me and those closest to me: I was brown and my family was white. I also became aware that my biological mother was white, which meant my brownness came from my biological father. This fact made the non-existent relationship with my biological father even more complicated.
So I did what any child does when she is trying to figure out her world. I made up a story. My story involved a biological mother, Elizabeth Montgomery from Bewitched, and a biological father, Harry Belafonte. Harry and Elizabeth were too busy in Hollywood to keep me. All this seemed a reasonable (and entirely possible) explanation to me, so I went about my childhood suppressing the unanswered questions swirling inside me with my imaginative narrative.
As I made my way into and through adolescence, Father’s Day became an even more powerful and confusing time for me. I was certainly inspired to celebrate my dad and did just that along with my sister and brothers. He was the hardest-working man I knew, had superhuman strength (kind of like Paul Bunyan) and could do magical things like stack wood perfectly and make a rock wall with precision. He was worthy of celebration! At some point, though, in the lead-up to Father’s Day, on the day of or in the days that directly followed, the questions would come…
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Dr. Greg Manning