Dear: Parenting 911
My husband and I both are active members of our communities’ youth outreach programs. One of which is a half way house / group home for displaced or abandoned youth. We have a secondary facility that has the goal of helping families through crisis and “hopefully” equipping them with the necessary skills, and basic needs — as well as all the assistance , and resources we can find them.
Well about a year ago, a drug addicted mother and her two very young children found themselves at our doorstep. Of course we DID NOT refuse them despite our lack of room. These two young “babies” then 4 and 5 had really been through it — more than most children EVER will see at that age. First we sought out drug treatment for the mom — counseling for the family unit — along with individual counseling for each of them.
As we have volunteer care-givers and around the clock monitors — due to the young ages of many of our children housed here — “Conner” and “Anna” were looked after by our staff, while mom sought help.
Sad to say but the day the mother was released from treatment she overdosed on heroin before making it back to our refuge. Part of our program requires that a parent leaving a child/children in our care for any length of time — sign a document giving our organization, or a specific person/ person’s temporary guardianship My husband Kurt and I were .the sole guardians of Conner and Anna .
After much debate, and discussion we decided to first foster the children in our home. The sad and alone babies that they were tugged at our heart-strings……….. So we legally adopted them.
It has been 13 months and though many positive steps forward have been made by the kids — they just don’t feel as though they are part of OUR FAMILY….. The memories and bond we share with our biological children, seems to bewilder and sadden our amazing additions. WE WANT THEM TO FEEL LIKE THEY BELONG… We are at a loss for ways to engage them. It truly is the missing link……. Can you help us figure out what to do next,any tips or ideas are welcome.
Sincerely: Watering down our coffee’s with teardrops
Dear: Teardrops just mean love…
First I commend you and your staff on such selfless endeavors — and true helping without expecting anything in return. You are the lighthouses keeping hope alive for so many lost and beaten souls. It is truly an incredible thing.
Also my condolences to the children as well as your family on the loss of a lost soul. By the same token congratulations on growing your family — and stepping up as you accepted a very difficult challenge. The road before you surely will not be easy, but I believe you DID save two “semi-lost” children from a system that can be very unforgiving — and at times cruel. Often where they go, is worse than where they were only compounding an already sad and difficult situation — as I’m sure you are aware.
This territory is very touchy pushing for something THEY as children of an addict have never experienced first hand — may just push them further into retreat. However doing nothing can do the same — with the extended consequences of more feelings of being unloved, misplaced, and confused.
On the very positive side they are very young still, and FAMILY is a concept not just told to them but shown. You and your husband’s actions EVERYDAY speak volumes about what a family means, is,and will be to and for them.
Perhaps a personalized book complete with names of them and all your family members will help. Sometimes a story in black and white when read as a family can help authenticate your situation and how they may feel.
I’m sure you have baby books and pictures galore of your children lining the walls of “YOUR NOW SHARED HOME” — you may not be able to get a portrait out of them just yet — but candid s printed and framed — will be a show of acceptance, and wekcome-ness. You may not realize that they are sensing your fears as well. Your confusion and awkwardness does not signify strength and family – And will not give them faith.
Since you have no REAL Memories made with them just yet START MAKING THEM. Start scrap-booking your outings a book for each child — pages telling why they are special and the milestones they reach. Documenting their achievements builds confidence, and trust. Have a specific day set aside once a week where you take each child out separately to find out his/ her likes and dislikes — as they are probably unaware, since no one has ever cared to find out.
Children of that age imitate, so always be the example you wish to see them exhibit. Show a trustworthy environment by building structure that alleviates stress, but builds trust. Again I am not a therapist and this is only my “OPINION” So please by all means seek out any resources available — AND USE THEM!!!!!
Above all else stop stressing what you’re doing wrong and focus on what each of you as a family unit are doing RIGHT.
I have no doubt that in no time these kids will be grateful and understanding of your love, and reciprocating, all while fully understanding the meaning of FAMILY………… Good Luck and Happy Memory Making.
Sincerely: Heather Cornell of Parenting 911