The importance of keeping siblings together

‘If these children are not separated, they will inevitably end up in a sexual relationship with each other,’ the psychologist said, ‘I can guarantee it.’

I was flabbergasted, struck dumb momentarily. The children in question were aged four and five at this time. Rose and Alfie, brother and sister, had come to us as an emergency placement eighteen months before. The sexualised behaviour which they displayed towards each other and towards other children and adults was a real worry. Severe sexual abuse had been happening on a regular basis within their birth family home, and unsurprisingly, it had a knock on effect on the children’s relationships.

The psychologist who made this announcement had called me to a meeting with her colleagues and a barrage of social workers. I thought it was to list the support and services which were going to be offered to us and the children. How wrong I was.

‘But they’re so young,’ I said, my voice faltering under the gaze of the combined professionals present.

‘Yes, but they’ve already been groomed – hard wired really, to respond to each other in a sexual way,’ the psychologist replied, looking sympathetic.

‘But therapy, surely can change that…?’ I asked hopefully.

‘Not the hard wiring. We can re-educate the children and try to explain why its wrong to behave this way, but it will always be there, just under the surface, waiting for the right, or wrong moment to rear its head again.’

I thought about the incidents where I had walked in on Rose and Alfie and found them behaving inappropriately with each other. It had been hard to see, and even harder to talk about with the children. My vocabulary just wasn’t up to explaining what was wrong with their actions. They didn’t understand what I meant by ‘wrong’ or ‘not normal’ or ‘inappropriate’. I usually ended up by lamely telling them ‘In this family, we don’t behave like that.’ Which statement just seemed to confirm to Rose how weird we really were.

I was brought sharply back into the room by the realisation that the children’s social worker, new to the placement, was expressing her view. ‘You know Rose has passed the magic window of adoption opportunity now – she’s nearly six. Whereas Alfie is still four and he’s such a little charmer – he’s highly adoptable.’

I was trying to compute what the social worker was actually suggesting when it finally sank in – she was backing up the psychologist in pushing for separation. My heart started to beat a little faster in anticipation of an argument. I hate confrontation but when it comes to fighting a child’s corner, I can weigh in with the best of them.

‘Yes, we really have to consider whether or not it is right to consign Alfie to long term foster care just because Rose is unadoptable,’ One of the social work managers spoke up.

‘Alfie is so cute……I could see him fitting into any family really well,’ this was Shell, an assistant social worker. ‘Whereas Rose….she’s that bit older, that bit more damaged and difficult.’ Shell smiled at me, but I couldn’t return the grin. My mind was working overtime.

‘Well maybe then, we should think about advertising Alfie on his own?’ the social work manager said, ‘Just to see what the response is.’

‘Hang on a minute,’ I leaned forward, folding my arms and grabbing onto my elbows in an effort to exert some self control. I didn’t want to start showing my anger and waving my hands around like a crazy woman. I already had an embarrassing track record of doing that.

‘In the last eighteen months, these children have lost -‘ I unfolded my arms without meaning to, an automatic desire to visibly count off the items on my list. ‘Let’s see – they’ve lost their baby sister – killed in front of them. They’ve lost their parents – however much we feel that’s a good thing, it’s still a loss. They’ve also lost all other extended family, plus the actual home they lived in. They’ve had to lose pretty much every value and behaviour they’d been brought up to see as normal. They’ve lost everything. The only thing that they have left is each other.’ I took a breath. ‘You can’t separate them. It will be the final straw. They’ve survived horrific abuse and neglect because they had each other. To rip them apart now is to destroy them.’

There was a long silence round the table. The children’s social worker smiled at me reassuringly, ‘It’s just an idea at the moment, one of many that we are considering,’ she said, ‘And we all want what’s best for the children. I could see Rose really blossoming on her own, not having to be ‘mum’ to Alfie, having that one-to-one attention. And Alfie – he needs a different role model, a healthy one.’

‘I’m sure Grace that you wouldn’t want Rose to be dealing with an incestuous pregnancy at fourteen, would you?’ the psychologist chipped in. ‘That might seem far-fetched, but believe me it’s not.’

‘So, say Rose and Alfie stayed in long term foster care, with two carers in a healthy relationship as their role models, and with daily support and encouragement, are you suggesting that they would still end up sleeping together – that there’s no hope?’ I directed my question back at the psychologist.

‘I’m afraid so,’ she said gently, folding her hands into a prayer-like gesture and resting her chin on them.

‘Well I can’t accept that,’ I shook my head, ‘I have to believe there is a chance to change that future and to keep the children together.’

‘Nobody is going to adopt Rose and Alfie together,’ the social work manager said grimly, ‘So do we sacrifice the happiness and security of both children or do we salvage the chance of permanence and a normal family life for one of them?’

‘They could have a happy, normal life together in a long term foster placement,’ I was quietly seething now. Adoption is  a fantastic option for some children, but it annoyed me that fostering was seen as second best, a poor substitute for real happiness and belonging.

‘Permanence is what we look for, it’s the gold standard,’ the manager said, giving me a hard stare. It was obvious his mind was made up and I hoped he wasn’t just calculating the money saved if Alfie was adopted.

The meeting left me feeling anxious and depressed. The more people I spoke to about the possibility of separation, the more my feelings seemed justified. There was my friend Sally whose sister had died when both girls were teenagers. The loss had shaped her life and choices, and still sat heavily with her every day. The head teacher at Rose’s school (and Alfie’s pre-school) was incandescent at the suggestion that the children would be without each other. She wrote a powerful four page letter to the local authority detailing the strengths of the children’s bond, their need to be close to each other, the love and support they provided for each other. The children’s respite carers also wrote to the local authority strongly condemning the idea of separation.

A few weeks later, we heard from Rose and Alfie’s social worker that the children would be put up for adoption together.

‘We’ve decided it would be too damaging to separate them. They need each other, and we recognise that,’ she said.

We all breathed a huge sigh of relief. In my heart I knew the children needed to be together. Life was going to be tough enough for Rose and Alfie, even if adopters were found, but at least they would face the challenges as siblings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The importance of keeping siblings together

Foster carers’ birth children

Our daughter Amelia was so excited when we talked to her about fostering. She was desperate for a brother or sister and delighted at the thought of ready made siblings arriving in the house.

We all went on an introduction to fostering weekend, sat through various training sessions and assessments with all the other prospective foster carers and their families. At the end of the weekend, as we were preparing to leave, Amelia turned to us, mystified and asked, ‘Where are the children then?’

Her face fell when we explained that foster children weren’t just handed to us at the end of the training – we would have to wait for the right placement and the right match for us as a family.

And so we waited……all foster carers get pretty good at waiting. Emails arrived, sometimes every day, laying out the details of each new child or sibling group or mother and baby who needed placing.

We said yes to two Afghan refugee teenagers, who spoke no English, had never attended school, needed to be fed a halal diet and taken to worship regularly at the mosque. We were turned down when someone better suited to the boys’ needs was found.

We said yes to a severely disabled boy with Prader Willi syndrome, who ate gravel and made deafening air raid siren noises at random moments throughout the day. Again, someone more experienced was chosen.

Finally, after turning down a young Vietnamese lad, fresh out of prison and being hunted by the Triad gang he had formerly been a member of, we said yes to Ruby, a pregnant mum and her 9 month old son.

Amelia was deeply disappointed by 18 year old Ruby, who came from a family where children were, at best, ignored, at worst, abused and neglected. In the three months that Ruby stayed with us, I think she spoke five words to Amelia. She wasn’t cruel to her, she simply saw no reason to acknowledge her existence or needs.

‘This is not what I thought fostering would be like,’ Amelia said to me tearfully one day, half way through the placement.

‘Me either,’ I thought to myself, while giving her a hug. Ruby’s second baby was born with Downs syndrome and she was nowhere near coping with motherhood. The stress of filling the maternal gap for the babies, while guiding Ruby towards better parenting and fielding the in-fighting of her dysfunctional family was taking a huge toll on me.

I reassured Amelia that in six weeks’ time, Ruby and the children would be leaving. To Amelia, who was seven years old, six weeks seemed as long as a life time, but she stuck it out.

It wasn’t all bad. There was a beautiful moment just after the birth of Ruby’s baby when Amelia explained to me in a voice hushed with pride that Ruby had asked her to choose a name for the newborn. When Ruby left, she gave Amelia a hug and called her a ‘doughnut’ – a term of affection she only applied to people she really liked.

After that, we had a short term emergency placement of a disabled boy, who we all fell in love with. Amelia grieved for him when he left, and still comes out with some of his catch phrases now. She found it hard to understand that one day he was in our house, our life and our family, and the next he was gone. No further contact was allowed, in order to give the long term placement a chance of success.

Then there was a pretty disastrous placement of a teenage girl, whose drug dealing armed robber boyfriend got out of prison just in time to start causing us grief. Amelia was fond of both the girl and her boyfriend, and we didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth.

Then there were a few different respite placements, which brought their own stresses and rewards. Amelia by this time was thoroughly disenchanted with fostering. We hadn’t had one placement which ticked her boxes.

Rose and Alfie arrived next. Another emergency placement, supposed to be three months long. It turned into a long term relationship for us all. Amelia finally had her friends, a brother and sister to play with, constant company, someone to share experiences with.

It wasn’t plain sailing. The children came from the worst background imaginable – and I know that sounds over dramatic, but it isn’t. They both had attachment disorders, Rose had an eating disorder, Alfie was dyspraxic and also appeared to be developing Multiple Personality Disorder (now called Dissociative Identity Disorder). Both children displayed highly sexualised behaviour towards us, other adults and other children. Including Amelia.

So, overnight, Amelia went from being an only child to sharing everything with two extremely demanding foster siblings. Her world was rocked by the strangeness of it all, by Alfie and Rose’s deep distrust of everyone, their inability to consider the feelings of others, their anxiety levels.

Amelia grew with the placement. There were times when she ranted and cried over it, telling us we had ruined her life by bringing Alfie and Rose into our family. She demanded we stop fostering, threatening to leave the house as soon as she legally could.

There were other times when Amelia felt she loved Rose and Alfie, that she never wanted them to leave, that she saw them 100% as her brother and sister. As she matured, Amelia was able to contextualise the children’s behaviours and transfer her anger onto the parents rather than Rose and Alfie themselves. She even composed a virtual hit list of all the family members who had abused or neglected the children, coming up with inventive ways in which to do them harm.

We moved on from there, I am glad to say. Amelia is my hero. She has been pivotal to the success of all our fostering experiences, and we’ve been very forward in making her aware of how grateful we are.

When my husband and I have been at our wits end, when we’ve felt we couldn’t carry on, Amelia has lifted our spirits, been brutally, wonderfully honest with us and eternally optimistic. She has grown into a deeply empathic and emotionally intelligent person.

There are many many Amelias out there, doing extraordinary things every day, and their contribution to fostering is immeasurable.

 

 

 

Foster carers’ birth children

The beauty of respite

Our social worker telephoned today with some bad news. It might not seem like much to non foster carers, but we found out that our regular respite carers are retiring. My heart sank into my boots. Respite is what has kept our current placement going – that and a ton of perseverance (or just plain stubbornness) on our part.

So far the children in placement with us have had three different sets of respite carers in just over six years. Its a big ask for them to learn to trust new people each time, but so far the experience has been hugely beneficial for everyone involved. Each new set of carers bring different skills, different values and different lifestyles, but they all add something to the children’s development and makeup.

When my husband and I decided we could commit to keeping the children long term, we met with social workers and psychologists to discuss what this might mean for us all. It was a huge decision for us, and one which we took at the same time as knowing we had to move 300 miles away for my husband’s new job. Taking the children with us to have an entirely fresh start just seemed right.

One of the first things the social worker said to us at the meeting was, ‘Long term fostering is the same as adoption, I hope you realise that?’ She followed this with, ‘And that means you can’t have any more respite….ever.’

As I absorbed this information and tried to arrange my thoughts into some kind of order, the attending psychologist added her opinion – ‘Yes, research has shown that respite is a disruptive influence for children in care. They need to feel they are a part of your family, and being sent away from home doesn’t sit well with that.’

Both the social worker and the psychologist then sat and stared at me silently for a while…..a long while. I often wondered if they practised this silent staring together, because they used it repeatedly at meetings. The worst occasion was when they tried, in a two pronged attack, to emotionally blackmail my husband and I into adopting the children. It didn’t work then, and it didn’t work this time, but it made me feel incredibly uncomfortable, like a selfish, inadequate failure.

What I wanted to say was something dynamic and attention grabbing, like –  ‘We’ve had respite for the last two years. We haven’t used it very often and we’ve made sure it was an exciting, fun and positive experience each time. The children love going to their respite carers – the rules are easier, the boundaries are looser, they get spoilt. It’s a bit like going to stay with a doting grandparent. We get a rest, the children see it as a holiday – it’s a win-win situation.’

Instead of which, I found myself fighting back tears, and blurting out – ‘They haven’t got any easier you know,’.

I was met with unfriendly looks. And more silence.

‘I mean, they’re still extremely challenging children to care for,’ I carried on. ‘We will need the occasional break, just to recharge our batteries.’

The social worker shook her head, raised her eyebrows and said, ‘If you feel that you can’t cope then I’m afraid we’ll have to review the future of the placement.’

‘I can cope,’ I snapped back, ‘If I have respite. Surely the odd bit of time away from us (we were allocated around 14 nights a year in total at this point) is better than them having to up sticks and live somewhere else entirely.’

‘It just won’t work in the long term,’ the social worker replied, ‘At least, we as a local authority don’t believe it will.’

I could feel the tears brimming in my eyes again, my cheeks reddening as I contemplated having to say goodbye to these children. The feeling of loss, even this tiny foretaste of it, was devastating.

The silence had descended again, and I could feel the weight of everybody’s stares on me like a physical pressure. I had to be brutally and completely honest.

‘I can’t continue the placement without respite,’ I said, slowly, picking each word carefully, trying to avoid a knee-jerk blurt which I would later regret. ‘I know, in my heart, that I would not withstand the stress, and things would end badly.’ The social worker was regarding me with a frown, her pen poised above her notepad. ‘I don’t want to get to that point, where the children have to leave in some kind of chaotic meltdown.’

‘I get the feeling the children are being labelled,’ the psychologist now said, as if I hadn’t just spoken some of the hardest words I had ever uttered. ‘And I don’t know if that’s helpful. I mean, which particular behaviours do you find so difficult?’

Now I was angry. The red mist descended.

‘Well, there’s the hypervigilance. The constant surveillance, the following me around the house, the eavesdropping, the intrusion into my personal space. There’s the highly sexualised behvaiours, the suggestive comments, the explicit approaches, to myself, my husband, our daughter and our friends and family. There’s the shoplifting, the stealing and the lying. There’s the issues with over eating, the issues with toileting, the controlling behaviours, the tantrums and the defiance…….’ I stopped to draw breath.

‘I don’t see any of these behaviours when I’m with the children,’ the social worker said, ‘They’re no trouble at all.’

‘Well, with respect, you see them once a month and you take them out to McDonald’s for half an hour,’ I replied, ‘Not much time to start showing any challenging behaviour.’

Another awkward silence fell. The social worker finally broke it.

‘If you really mean what you’ve said, then I need to take this information back to my manager and we’ll have to make a decision about whether or not to move the children,’ she started tidying her notes and pen into her bag. I felt sick, anxiety and anger battling for control inside me.

‘When will you be able to tell us?’ I asked, nervously. ‘We are moving house in around six weeks’ time. I’ve just heard that the children have places at the local school – everything is kind of in place for their new life.’

‘We’ll let you know, as soon as we can,’ the social worker replied. ‘I mean, if the placement’s ending anyway, it doesn’t really matter whether that happens after the move or before it.’

I was momentarily flabbergasted into silence. This woman’s lack of empathy was breathtaking.

‘So, you want us to tell the children they’re moving house with us, potentially move them half way across the country and then – then – after settling into the new house and the new school, they might be told they’re not staying?’

‘I don’t think it matters where they are when they’re told,’ she responded, pulling on her coat and standing up.

I felt I had nothing more to say to this woman. How could I communicate with someone who believed that uprooting children from their home (for a second traumatic time) wouldn’t really matter, in the grand scheme of things.

They made us wait for three months. We decided to stop thinking and worrying about it. We moved house, the children started school, we began to put our roots down.

Occasionally the subject would resurface in conversation between my husband and I.

‘I’ll take them to court,’ he would say, ‘I don’t know how we’ll afford it, but I’ll do it. Or I’ll go to the papers.’

Eventually the children’s social worker visited us, sat down and explained that, after much discussion, the local authority had decided we could have respite. She said it as if she was offering us the crown jewels, or as if we were a special case. I thanked her politely for letting us know, and in my head I called her some unpleasant names.

Six years on, and we’ve been lucky enough to meet some fantastic respite carers – people willing to meet the challenges of children with attachment disorders, eating disorders, gender identity issues and sexualised behaviours.

Now we have to go on a search for the next set of respite carers. It’s going to be hard for the children to learn to rub along with new people – again. But, hard as it may be, each new relationship they begin and build with caring, understanding people helps them to change their negative world view and expectations. Another set of people to learn to trust – yes, but another set of people who don’t abuse and neglect them in the way their parents did.

Respite helps us to rise to the challenge of caring for the children long term. It allows us time with our own child. It is often a time of reflection, sometimes a chance to let our hair down. It is a precious thing, and something every foster carer should have access to.

 

 

The beauty of respite

The worst things people have said to me about fostering

Thought I should write something shorter and snappier today.

I was struck by the thought that so many helpful professionals have made pronouncements about the children we have fostered, I wanted to share some of them.

I know they mean well, (at least, I think they do) but sometimes people should really think before they speak……..

At a placement breakdown meeting : Social worker: “We thought she was unfosterable. You were her last chance and we didn’t hold out any hope for success. That assault on the policeman (which we hadn’t been told about) was probably a warning sign. That and the nude pictures she was posting online (which they also hadn’t told us about). God knows where she’ll go from here.”

Therapist : “If these children (very young brother and sister) aren’t separated soon, they will definitely end up in a sexual relationship with each other as soon as they hit puberty.” (They weren’t separated and they didn’t end up together sexually.)

Social worker : “You mustn’t allow this child to think of his mother as a monster. She’s not a bad person, just a person who has done some bad things.”

Therapist : “This little boy has Multiple Personality Disorder,and these other characters will always be a part of his life.” (Wrong, on both counts).

Social worker, who saw the very traumatised children in question four times a year and took them to KFC or Macdonalds every time for about 30 minutes. “They’re no trouble are they?”

Therapist, on hearing we were moving to a small village with two of our foster children : “Don’t tell anybody in the village anything about these children. You will be alienated and excluded by everyone if you do.” (We told the people who needed to know, and we and the children were treated with the utmost kindness and understanding.”

Social worker, on hearing that my husband and I had offered to keep two of our foster children on a long term basis.  “You can never have respite again.” Thanks, just what we needed to be told at the moment of making such a huge committment. She caved in a few months later, and the kids had wonderful experiences with their amazing respite carers.

There are many more ‘helpful’ comments from experts which I could quote……maybe this could become a regular post. It’s good to vent.

The worst things people have said to me about fostering

A sudden rush of sympathy

So this week I have been digging up photos of one of our foster children’s birth family. Not something I relish, knowing what I do about these people.

Our foster daughter, Esme* is about to embark on some Life Story Work – a way for her to process what has happened to her and to help her understand why she is in care. It takes the form of regular sessions where Esme looks at photos of both her foster family and her birth family, and discusses her feelings and memories. Her support worker will then try to unravel some of the confusion which reigns in Esme’s head. Confusion which still leads her to state that the abuse which happened to her was ‘no big deal’.

The photos were buried deep in the back of a filing cabinet, and in some long forgotten files on the computer. I opened them up and was immediately catapulted back into the horror of Esme’s first year with us, when she was still having contact with her parents. The chaos, the defiant, oppositional behaviour, the constant sexual approaches. That year pushed me and my husband to the edge of our sanity and nearly the end of our marriage. I have tried to compartmentalise these memories, and, with time, I have been mostly successful.

Seeing the photos whipped away all the protective layers I had put in place in my head. There was Esme’s mum again, in one shot posing and smiling on the beach, in another sticking her tongue out at the camera, in the next she was cuddling one of her many babies, then unwrapping Christmas presents with Esme. Esme herself stares vacantly out of the pictures, her eyes ringed with dark circles, her mouth pinched, her hair hanging in greasy clumps. She looks anxious and unkempt.

You have to understand, well, actually you can’t understand how much time I have given over to hating Esme’s mum and step dad. I don’t like to admit it, even to myself. It’s not something I’m proud of, and it is a pointless exercise, as my husband often reminds me.

This time, as I scanned the photos again, I allowed myself time to relax, step away from the judgemental, hateful me and see Esme’s mum from an objective point of view. (OK, not fully objective, but I’m trying.) I set aside my disgust, my horror and fury. I saw a very young mum with her children. A mum who was struggling to live on benefits and had been evicted from five different properties due to non payment of rent and anti-social behaviour. I saw a mum who comes from a  family where inter-generational incest is the norm. Where boundaries and positive role models don’t exist. Where mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters, grandparents, uncles and aunts are all intertwined in a chaotic sexual melting pot. Where everyone lives in close proximity to each other and keeps to the family code of silence – about what happens behind closed doors.

For the first time, I felt a rush of sympathy for Esme’s mum, despite the fact that she had horribly abused Esme and her brothers. I’ve had years of social workers telling me that Esme’s mum is a victim too. I guess if I am going to support Esme effectively through this difficult work, I have to cast off the hate and find some acceptance within myself of her family.

So that when she wants to look through those pictures and talk about her mum and her siblings and her step dad, I can do so without anger. If I want Esme to understand and then forgive, I have to do those things too. Somehow.

 

 

 

*not her real name

A sudden rush of sympathy

Betrayal – Rose & Alfie’s story

A little excerpt from my book, the first in a trilogy. I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, the book is available on Amazon.

‘Well, hello,’ I said, bending down a little to them, ‘I’m Grace and you must be Rose and Alfie. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you two so much.’
Alfie was like a doll, tiny for two and a half, closer to the size of a one-year-old. He wore faded blue jogging bottoms and an oversized grey T-shirt, which hung at a crazy angle to just above his knees, the hem trailing a long zigzag of cotton thread. His shoes were cracked and worn, turning up at the toes. Everything about his clothing spoke of an indifference to how he looked. In contrast, his white-blonde hair had been carefully shaved into sharp tramlines at the sides. He didn’t look or smile at me, instead his fists went into his mouth and he stared down at the floor.
Rose did look at me, but was unsmiling, her eyes huge in her pale, heart-shaped face. A widow’s peak framed her elfin features and small pursed mouth, which seemed to suggest disapproval. She too was small for her age, with incredibly thick hair, the same white-blonde colour, which fell to the middle of her back and was arranged in a complicated French plait. Despite having a daughter, I was hopeless at dressing girls’ hair and I thought, sadly, that Rose’s hair would never look this good again while she stayed under our roof.

 

Here’s the link.

 

Betrayal – Rose & Alfie’s story

Hypervigilance

This week has been tough. One of our foster children has admitted to her therapist that she has inappropriate feelings towards a young boy who lives, not just in our village but on our street. I now have to consider his safety as well as the safety of our children. I can feel my protective abilities being stretched to capacity again. I have to watch our foster daughter’s every move, eavesdrop on her conversations, rifle through her diary when she’s out, monitor her friendships and maintain the firm family boundaries.

I have become as hypervigilant as the children we foster, and I hate it, it doesn’t sit well with me. I am a pretty laid back person by nature, but circumstance is forcing me into super control mode. I am jumpy, irritable, anxious and emotional. Not a good foundation for parenting, and not a state in which I can remain for long without total burnout.

Somehow I have to accept what has happened, reinforce the rules to our foster daughter in a nurturing way and learn how to relax again.

The root of success for me is remembering that I can only do my best, I can’t change what has happened to any of these children, I need to love them and continue to provide a safe and stable home for them.

A therapist once told me that what foster carers are doing is trying to teach children in placement a second language. Their first language was whatever their birth family taught them – this could be abuse, neglect, violence, abandonment.

Imagine being born into a household where you are treated as a sexual object while still in nappies, or used a punch bag for adults’ frustrations or you are simply ignored, left to your own devices. If this is their first language, it’s no wonder children in care struggle to comprehend what we want and expect from them.

So, this week I have been sitting down with our foster daughter and going over the same old safeguarding rules that we have been trying to teach her for the last six years. She pays lip service to everything, but I get the feeling she still thinks we’ve got it wrong. The worst thing about that is that she leaves the house every day and seems to immediately slip back into old behaviours and ways of managing people and life. Ways which place her and others at risk.

Our foster daughter lived with her birth parents for four years. Four years of chaos, hunger, abuse and fear. Her first language.

Our language, of acceptance, love, safety and empathy is battling to gain a foothold in this child. We will keep on pushing it and pushing it and hopefully one day this young lady will become fluent.

 

Hypervigilance