We are often asked to share success stories about the work we do here at The Settlement Home. There are so many successes that range from small victories like teaching a child to do her own laundry to major triumphs like finding a forever home for a child. Recently, we received an update from one of our foster and adoptive families that reminds us of the steady success and progress we make each day in healing the lives of children.
When interviewing new foster and adoptive parents, it falls to the organization to make an assessment as to what expectations a potential family might have of children being placed in their home. Most of the time, a parent will smile and emphatically answer that they have no expectations, and see themselves as being flexible, patient, and willing to weather the changes that parenting children from hard places will bring. Our families are indeed flexible and patient, though most are not yet able to really grasp what it will look like when children are in their home. Families are often called to bend in ways they do not anticipate.
This past fall, Angie and Ricardo Bare accepted placement of three foster children, ages 8, 6 and 4, into their home. The children arrived as an emergency placement, which means that the state’s placement unit contacts the Foster and Adoption Team asking to secure placement immediately. This often means placement in the middle of the workday or in the middle of the night. The Bares, parents already to a 12 year old daughter and 10 year old son, felt ready for these children. They completed 40 hours of pre-service training focused heavily on trauma-informed care. They also completed 10 hours of “on the job training” with current foster and adoptive parents. They had space in their home, space in their hearts, and by all accounts, were prepared. The sibling group of two girls and a boy with histories of witnessing domestic violence and drug use came to live with the Bare family, and the Bares began their process of growing, bending and adapting.
Holidays for foster children are often the first time they have experienced a safe family setting. They also bring memories of holidays going without and family members who are not present. While the Bares felt prepared going into their first holiday season as foster parents, they admit that secretly, their vision was that the holidays would be the same as before, only with more children. Their expectations were quickly met with the reality of trauma histories, and their plans were quickly overrun with potty-training regression, children avoiding family events, meltdowns, and feelings of loneliness in a house that is usually brimming with love and laughter. The Bares found that they needed to shift the expectations that they did not know they had.
Over time, the children have adjusted. Angie and Ricardo live on 30 acres and have sheep and chickens on their land. The children love helping with chores and they even argue over which one gets to help pen the sheep at the end of the day!
Recently, Angie got in touch to say that Ricardo had been traveling for work the previous week. Historically, the children had a hard time feeling like their needs were being met with just one parent at home, manifesting as angry, hurtful behavior towards Angie and their siblings. However, Angie was delighted to report that while they had late nights, birthday parties, and unpredictable schedules, their children all navigated their relationships with each other, asked for what they needed, and treated each other with kindness.
Angie sent a note of thanks to the Foster and Adoption Team that said, “These. Are. Completely. Different. Children. I’m blown away by what 6 short months can do! Thank you guys (for the millionth time!) for providing us the support and training to love these precious kids well!! I can’t imagine doing it any other way!”
The Bares are in awe of the growth of these children in the past six months. They also see in themselves that their ability to grow with their children has made all of the difference in changing each of their lives in remarkable ways. This is one of many success stories we see every day, which I’m pleased to know and share with our community of supporters. Thank you for all that you do to make this work possible. It matters.
~Darcie DeShazo, Executive Director