Thursday, June 14, 2012

Advice for Foster Care Alumni When Working With Teens

Nine times out of ten, when I volunteer my time as a foster care alumna to reach out to teens and young adults of today, they are incredibly receptive.

But not always.

And why on earth should I expect them to be?

I still remember being that 14 year-old in an all-girls group home, pissed off and bored out of my mind, and not hesitating to "smart off" to staff members. I was in pain, and sometimes it felt better if the people around me felt some of the hurt, too.

I also remember that, at age 15 and 16, I "tested" the very staff members that I respected the most - because I wanted to see if they would still care..

So, after a challenging experience on Monday, I've been mulling it over and have come to the following conclusion as a Life Lesson:

Always remember who you are, and where you came from -- it keeps you humble and makes you strong. And hopefully, it will also give you compassion and patience for others... Because you once were where they are now -- and really, at that time, did you need one more person to judge you? 

Maybe what you really needed at that time was someone who was willing to: 

  • Look below the surface 
  • See beyond the tough shell you created in order to protect yourself 
  • Ignore the smart-aleck remarks that came so easily and freely at the time 
  • And, just for once, UNCONDITIONALLY love you

I am willing to live up to this charge, with no illusions that doing so will always be fun...

Friday, June 01, 2012

Kudos to NACAC

Kudos to the NACAC Board of Directors for passing a position statement identifying services and supports that should be provided to youth at risk of aging out of care and those who do leave care without a permanent family.