Submitted by Bethany Barnes, KVC Intensive In-Home Therapist. In this story, Bethany recounts how a daughter and father’s resilience led to a safe reunification after needing foster care.
I was sitting with a 7-year-old girl who had been in foster care for three years, trying to reassure her things would be OK while I was waiting to take her to a new foster home. As I tried to put her in the car, I knew the emotional pain she was going through was unimaginable. I held her while she screamed, “I don’t want to go!” Struggling to buckle her in to her booster seat, I reassured her things would be OK.
I encouraged her foster parents and everyone within her circle to be open-minded and show unconditional love to this little girl. She knew this living situation wasn’t permanent, and the unpredictability of her day-to-day life understandably led to some behavior issues. I pleaded with everyone to not label her as a behavioral problem, to be responsive to her needs and to not get upset with her when her behavior didn’t match expectations.
After about 6 months of providing her support, she was finally 10 days from being safely reunited with her father. To paint a picture for you, she had had four birthdays in foster care, four Christmases, four Thanksgivings, four Easters and three summer vacations. She moved home in April, and we were all ecstatic. After a few months, my visits were filled with giggles and smiles instead of tantrums and sadness. Watching her snuggle up to her father and see her peaceful facial expression made every second worth it.
She recently started at a new school, and my last visit with her included her cleaning out her cat’s litter box and her telling me all about the responsibilities of being a pet owner. This was fantastic since there were times before she was reunited with her father that she didn’t even want to brush her teeth or be in the bathroom by herself. One time I saw her dad anxiously looking through her school folder, making sure all the homework was turned in, only for her to say, “Daddy, I already turned it in. You worry too much!” I cried after these visits with her because I was in awe of her and her father.
Through it all, she gained a foster family that is a second family to her in addition to being reunited with her father.
With the help of my aftercare team which provides intensive in-home services after a child in foster care safely returns home, we were able to quickly engage the girl and her father in therapy and resolve any remaining issues they were experiencing. They regularly turned to KVC for support, and despite the many struggles they faced, they consistently brought hope and positive attitudes to the table. After many years, this father and daughter were safely reunited.