(Note: Names in stories have been changed to protect confidentiality)
iStockphoto.com Image is for illustrative purposes only. Persons depicted are models.
Some children move you in remarkable ways. They can get into your heart, amuse you and cause you to care more deeply than you expected. Annie is such a child. She is creative, friendly, and ever cheerful, yet struggles with Asperger’s Syndrome; a syndrome that can create problems with social interactions. Her challenges include difficulty with friendships and relating to others. She has a rich fantasy life where there is often a thin line between the real and the pretend. Annie obsesses on one topic, such as dinosaur facts or math computations, while being unable to track on everyday activities.
Annie lived in a chaotic and neglectful environment for her first few years of life. Annie came to Intensive Children’s Services a virtual orphan; her father was absent and her mother suffering with her own mental health problems. Following several regular foster home placements and a failed adoption, Annie came to ICS at age 10 to receive treatment.
Her Specialized Family Care foster parents provided a competent and fearless structure that Annie so desperately needed to make sense of her world, and was embraced by caring and committed hearts. Soon Annie was so much a part of this extraordinary family that they made plans to adopt her. Now, Annie who has struggled so much with belonging, has a community and a family where she will always have a place to call home.
Simone Weil said "To be Rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human Soul.” Annie now has roots from which to grow.
John’s early life was one of divorce and emotional, physical and sexual abuse. At the age of eight, John was removed from his parents’ home. For years, he was moved between foster homes, group homes and residential programs. Frequent uprooting and few moments of stability had left little hope for a young boy to discover his inner strength and potential. John had learned to cope by acting out his past hurt, anger and confusion. He had few social skills, limited communication skills and was struggling with depression. He had difficulty trusting and bonding with others. In turn, many people had difficulty trusting him. John needed hope, guidance, a place to heal and feel safe.
John entered the Intensive Children’s Services program at age 16, still struggling with many emotional behavioral problems. How do you work with a youth whose life experiences have taught him no one is to be trusted? His foster family built back that trust by empathizing with the road John has been on while helping to guide him onto a different path. His foster family created a supportive environment that was accepting of John and modeled for him what it meant to belong in a family.
Nearly a year later, John has a new chapter in his story. He possesses a new assurance, and values who he has become as an individual. He is active in sports, excels in school making the Honor Roll and he is setting goals to attend college.John is learning to be part of a community and of a family, and is discovering that his story need not define him. Through his self-determination and his foster parents’ support, John has become an empathetic and sincere young man working hard toward his new goals.