Michelle and her husband Dan became foster parents years ago. They adopted two children who are now adults. In October 2013, they began fostering with Chambliss Center for Children. Since fostering with Chambliss, they have had two placements which both turned into adoptions. They have also provided respite care on numerous occasions.
Children who enter the foster care system have experienced trauma. Some more severe than others. Michelle and Dan foster because they want to help these children who have had significant hurtful experiences developresiliency and hope for their future.
Michelle has a Master’s Degree in Social Work. She is certified to teach PATH (Parents As Tender Healers), the foster parent training curriculum. Because of her education and experience fostering, we asked her to share her thoughts on trauma and resiliency.
Children coming into foster care need parents who are willing to learn about how to effectively parent a child who has experienced trauma and loss. Trauma may take many forms, including neglect, abuse, abandonment, violence between caregivers, natural disasters and accidents.
A child who has experienced trauma is always "on alert". Their behaviors are a direct response to this. As a foster parent, we are blessed with the opportunity to not only work with the child, but to also work with the birth families. These families are broken (or maybe cracked). They need our support and encouragement as well. Many of the birth parents have themselves experienced trauma and do not have the skills of how to help their children as they cannot help themselves.
It is important to learn about how "triggers" can affect a child's response to what we might see as a normal event or even just a mild irritant.
As a foster parent, if we are open and willing to change and learn and grow in regards to how we interact with and parent the children in our care, they WILL grow, blossom and become adults who are empathetic and positive contributing adults in our community.
One of the best ways to strengthen and provide a safer community is to take responsibility in the outcomes. Our children are our outcomes.
Click the following link to learn more about Parenting After Trauma:
Children come to us with a tremendous amount of resiliency. They are able to overcome the trauma they have experienced. They can become even stronger for it. For a very realistic depiction of trauma and resiliency, watch the movie, "ReMoved". It demonstrates the many aspects of what a foster child experiences and how they can heal. They show the trauma, triggers, the resilience and hope of a girl, Zoe, and the foster mom.
“ReMoved” Part 1 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOeQUwdAjE0
“ReMoved” Part 2 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1fGmEa6WnY
If a child has hope, they have resiliency and a future. We as foster parents have the opportunity and privilege of further developing resiliency and hope for a child and their future.
If we as members of our community are not willing to reach out to the children and families in need, our community will not flourish and grow. Our community will become riddled with hopelessness, violence and other poor outcomes. We cannot say, "Someone else will do it". Those "Someone elses" are already doing it and we need help! We need more "Someone elses". We need people to invest in their future.
There are many ways to assist in foster care. Not only being a foster parent, but there is a need for churches and communities to surround and support foster parents. If you would like to learn more about fostering or how you can help, please contact us at 423-693-2580 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.