Dawn's Story: When Fawns Come From An Abusive Foster Home

One sibling group was moved to me from a different foster home. The woman in the foster home said the kids were 'uncontrollable', 'out of hand', and 'she couldn't wait to see them leave'. Everyone I spoke to let me know that there were some serious issues that these children carried with them. These three kids were my first ever placement. When they arrived on my doorstep, they were scared TO DEATH. Silent. Barely said a word. We had small snacks and they went to bed crying for about a month after coming into my home. But slowly, they began to open up. And when they began to talk- the secrets that spilled from their lips would haunt me for a long time. In their last foster home they had been abused. They were forced to walk home, on muddy roads, in tennis shoes in the middle of winter (which in Alaska is just asking for frost-bitten toes). When they got home, if their pants were muddy they weren't allowed to change and were forced to wash dishes as a consequence. The youngest girl was repeatedly 'swung around' (in the way her siblings described it) by an older man in the house. They would cry and try to stop him, but if they cried he'd just swing her harder. He wouldn't stop until she stopped crying out.

These three kids didn't have a single problem in my home. In fact they amazed everyone (their school counselor, their case worker, their birth mother) with their turnaround. Which quickly lead me to pointing the finger at the other foster parents. The root of the childrens 'problems' was their environment, NOT themselves.

I shared this particular story, because I want foster parents to be aware that a lot of their kids problems can be reversed with some love and patience. OF COURSE the children are going to act out if they've been taught to fear 'foster parents'. OF COURSE they're going to have issues if they came from an abusive home. Remind yourself of that before you judge. My kids had been notorious for running away, vandalizing public buildings, acting out in school, and not listening to their past foster parents. Every. Single. One of those issues disappeared when they arrived in my home. You want to know why? They had no reason to run away- and they knew that. They weren't angry anymore, so they didn't need to vandalize things. Things were okay at home, finally, and that calm attitude leaked over into their school attitude. And they listened to me, because for the first time in a long time, they respected the person who was caring for them (and I respected them back in return). Don't judge a book by its cover, and don't judge a foster child by their case studies and paperwork. Kids can surprise you, and all kids really need is a reason to be good, and the good in them will start shining through.

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