Filling Critical Need for Foster & Adoptive FamiliesBookmark this
It’s a rarely discussed secret in the adoption and foster community – not every “forever home” actually lasts forever. Unfortunately for all involved, sometimes the reality of dealing with the wounds and associated behaviors of an adopted or foster child becomes too much for a family to handle. Love alone is not always enough. Good intentions backfire, the adoption dissolves, the foster child is relinquished. Once again the least and lost are abandoned, re-traumatizing a child already scarred by abuse or neglect.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Chosen Care ministry was started a decade ago to throw a lifeline to adoptive, foster and kinship families to keep crisis from escalating.
“I was raised in a family that believed in giving back sacrificially to the community we lived in. I was fortunate to see the fruits of these labors grow from the seeds we planted as a family. Giving back, paying it forward, putting the needs of others before self are important things to do, not just to say.” John Raimondo, D.C. CEO Pulmonair
Chosen Care started out offering adoption assistance for families, but identified a much greater need. They noticed a disturbing trend of adoptive parents dissolving placements and foster parents quitting because they were unable to cope with their children’s behavior issues.
“We asked the hard question of how can we serve families better, because the current status is not ok,” said Founder and Executive Director Jenni Lord.
“No family who has utilized Chosen Care’s services for at least six months has quit their placement."
Lord grew up with a foster brother who was eventually adopted. She saw first hand how extraordinarily challenging it was to navigate through emotional pain tied to the past. She realized parents needed greater support to help children heal from the trauma of their previous family experience and interact in positive, healthy ways.
“Our objective is strengthening the families who say, ‘yes’ and helping children heal from trauma,” she said.
Trauma affects the brain neurologically and developmentally, Lord said, citing research being done by Dr. Karyn Purvis at Texas Christian University’s Institute of Child Development. Childhood trauma causes nerves in the brain to form damaged pathways. Because an abused child’s experience with relationships has not been healthy, their brain did not develop healthy connections.
A result: an over-the-top fight or flight response to a seemingly innocuous request. Bedtime, bath time, homework can spark a meltdown that does not respond to normal parenting practices.
“Traditional discipline is not effective and can actually be counter-productive with a traumatized child.” If a child has been harmed in relationship, they don’t know how to form a healthy, secure attachment,” Lord said. “Trust has been violated by the person who was supposed to love, support and care for them.”
Children who have been traumatized have damaged brains. But, the good news is the brain has plasticity. The past 15 years have seen great advancements in understanding the effect and healing of trauma in the brain, Lord added. With deliberation, new connections can be made in the brain. Evidenced based tools, techniques & curriculum are offered by by professionals at Chosen Care.
Families are referred to Chosen Care from other foster or adoptive parents, mental health professionals or child placing agencies. Chosen Care served 350 individuals in 2017, a number which grew to 800 in 2018. Despite being located in New Braunfels, they serve the San Antonio region and plan to open a San Antonio location in 2019. Some of the most difficult situations are kinship placements, where grandparents or other family members are unexpectedly called upon to take in relatives’ children.
“It’s just a knock on the door or a phone call saying, ‘we’re dropping them off tomorrow,’ with no understanding how trauma has affected the child and little resources. Ninety percent of the families that come to us are in crisis,” Lord said. “But we are here and ready to help prevent crisis from happening.”
Each family who comes to Chosen Care is assessed for trauma. The first goal is to understand the child’s story and what is going on, Lord said. Chosen Care’s licensed professionals create a customized Trauma Action Plan® and course of action to meet the needs of the home.
“Remembering that a united family is the basic unit of our society. Chosen Care is strengthening families and equipping them with the skill sets to help these innocent children heal from past neglect and abuse. This healing allows the children once destined for despair to have an opportunity to live a fruitful life and break the devastating cycles associated with being fatherless. I personally invite you to join our company in supporting the efforts of Chosen Care.” John Raimondo, D.C. CEO Pulmonair
A case manager intensively analyzes the complex issues and connects clients to resources necessary to address the holistic needs of the child and family. Is there an underlying marital issue? Are the biological kids struggling and need counseling? Is there a sensory processing disorder that would benefit from occupational therapy? Counseling alone is not sufficient in most cases. They also offer parent coaching, providing a mentor who has been there, understands and can specifically equip with the right tools and techniques to help them connect with their children. The Chosen Care website posts information as well as free monthly training webinars accessible to community members.
“The ultimate goal of this support is that child placement doesn’t break down. We want zero failed adoptions, zero failed placements,” Lord said. “We are trying to stop the bleeding people can’t see from the outside.”
In what she calls “The Chosen Effect,” in the last two years, no family who has utilized Chosen Care’s services for at least six months has dissolved their placement. She defines a “healed” family as one in which the child and the parent both have a secure, healthy attachment.
Compelled by Chosen Care’s story? Volunteer, give or contact them if you need help or know someone who does. Chosen Care will host a Child Trauma Workshop January 12, 2019, for families and child welfare professionals. Content includes: how a child heals from the heart, sensory processing issues, and how to strengthen your marriage in the midst of trauma.
All donations will be doubled through the end of the year. Let’s end the crisis of broken relationships in foster care families. Because a child can never have too many people to love them!
351 Main Plaza, New Braunfels, TX 78130
Be A Light.
Donate. Every dollar that comes into Chosen Care by the end of this year will be doubled! Prayerfully consider giving on an ongoing basis in 2019 as they open an office in San Antonio. Volunteer. Be a part of keeping a family together. Tell Your Church. Let the leadership of your church know about this amazing resource. Pray. That foster and adoptive parents will find the help they need at Chosen Care to heal and remain a family.
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