Here are three very different resources for training, sharing or just for yourself. One is a video, one a scholarly book filled with stories, and one a novel. Each will deepen your experience of the realities of foster care.

ReMoved

ReMovedThe moving new video ReMoved is available at: http://fstoppers.com/removed-an-incredible-film-by-nathanael-matanick

It is about a young girl’s journey into and through foster care. It is $25 to purchase for training use. I have now used it in quite a few training settings. Here are some discussion questions I have used:

  1. When Zoe was living with her family what was one of her sources of satisfaction?
  2. What did you notice during the scene when the police came?
  3. Why did Zoe throw the record player over the fence?
  4. What do you notice about Zoe’s feelings management skills: feelings management, sense of worthiness, and inner connection?
  5. What happened when Zoe’s foster mother gave her the dress?
  6. What did Zoe think when she saw her foster mother on the phone? What did you think?
  7. What did Zoe’s foster mother give her that helped her heal?

Or just watch the video to develop your own understanding and compassion.

To the End of June

To The End of Juneby Cris Beam (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013). This is a book about the foster care system, told both through carefully researched facts and information and through the stories of the children and families who make up the system. Amazon describes it as: “Who are the children of foster care? What, as a country, do we owe them? Cris Beam, a foster mother herself, spent five years immersed in the world of foster care, looking into these questions and tracing firsthand stories. The result is To the End of June, an unforgettable portrait that takes us deep inside the lives of foster children at the critical points in their search for a stable, loving family. Focusing intensely on a few foster families who are deeply invested in the system’s success, To the End of June is essential for humanizing and challenging a broken system, while at the same time it is a tribute to resiliency and offers hope for real change.”

It is hard to use ones’ free time to read a book about work that is this intense. However, this book demonstrates in a deep way how the behavior of our kids makes complete sense given their experience. And it also shows how the trauma histories of the birth parents results in the children entering foster care. The deep tie between parents and children, no matter how much pain and disappointment there has been, is explored.

The book shows clearly how every child needs a permanent connection, no matter how old they are. One story focuses on a family who adopts older, aging out youth, and provides them with the support they need for the transition to adulthood.

Another aspect that becomes clear is how ultra-sensitive our kids are to even the faintest whiff of potential rejection, and how they immediately withdraw and reject the parent as soon as they conclude that rejection is coming. Rejection feels like the most likely outcome to them, and they don’t want to stick around to experience it.

The book also contains a lot of information that would be helpful in funding applications, as it clearly documents the connection between failed foster care and other expensive societal problems such as homelessness and crime.

The Language of Flowers

Language of Flowersby Vanessa Diffenbach (Ballantine Books 2011)

This is a novel about Victoria, a young woman who grew up in the foster care system and is now trying to forge her own life. From her foster mother she has learned the Victorian language of flowers, with which different flowers express different messages. When she begins to work at a flower shop, the possibility of healing exists. We feel acutely that Victoria is not only certain that people will hurt her. She knows that she will hurt them, because she feels so deeply her own unworthiness. Therefore, if she cares for them, she should stay away from them. This book too teaches us in a deep emotional way that our kids’ behavior make sense and are totally understandable if you look inside their lives. And, it is a wonderful engrossing story, and it might make you cry.

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