A Home for the Holidays
Children in foster care will not be home for the holidays
As the holidays draw near, we might start thinking about gatherings with family, festive dinners, and an overwhelming sense of joy. We are also reminded that not everyone has a place for the holidays, especially children in foster care. Children like Skylar*.
Skylar was the youngest of five siblings. All of them were sold to human traffickers and sexually exploited for profit. When Skylar was two years old, the police rescued the children and placed them into protective care. Child Protective Services found a home for Skylar and her youngest sister, wanting to keep at least some of the siblings together. Unfortunately, the placement didn’t last, and the two sisters were separated.
As a result of the trauma she’d been through, Skylar kept to herself, was defiant, and often experienced extreme anger. She also had difficulty bonding to the many families who tried to open their hearts and homes to her. In all, Skylar was moved 12 times in five years. She was finally referred to Stanford Sierra Youth & Families when she was seven years old. It was then that Carrie, a social worker with Stanford Sierra, first started meeting with Skylar.
Instead of rushing her into another placement that might not last, Carrie took the time to gain Skylar’s trust and to provide her with the therapeutic support she needed to process her trauma. At first, Skylar didn’t talk much. When she did, she insisted she wanted nothing to do with a family. Over the course of several months, Skylar started to open up about what she’d been through and where she might like to be.
In the meantime, Aaron and Kaitlyn Reed* approached Stanford Sierra. The Reeds have two kids of their own and had fostered several other children over the years. Now they wanted to adopt. In coordination with a county social worker, Carrie arranged weekly visitations between Skylar, the Reeds, and Reed’s son and daughter. For nearly five months of play dates, Carrie never mentioned adoption to Skylar. It was Skylar who eventually brought it up, “Sometimes I think I’d like to live with them forever,” Skylar confided in Carrie one day, “like a family.”
Before moving in with the Reeds, Skylar was failing school. She couldn’t read or do math. Carrie helped the Reeds work with Skylar’s teachers on an individualized education plan, and before long Skylar was on track with her peers and had developed a passion for reading. Skylar is nine years old now, and her adoption has been finalized. The team at Stanford Sierra continues to provide Skylar and her family with post-adoption support, helping them cultivate their strengths and resilience. With the unconditional love and commitment of her forever family, Skylar now has the opportunity for a brighter future.
*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.