Let’s be honest. Sometimes, working at an emergency children’s shelter can be sad and disheartening…..sort of a ‘two steps forward, one (or two, or three) steps back kind of thing. I know that any of you who work with children will recognize the feeling. Luckily, there are many small successes along the way, and sometimes, a really big one!
Those of us who work at Austin’s House don’t take any credit for this really wonderful story, but we sure were glad we got to be a part of it. Two elementary school aged siblings came to stay with us after a particularly heartbreaking set of circumstances disrupted their foster care and potential adoptive placement. These kids had been back and forth between a biological parent and various foster homes for many years, but despite the hurt and loss they had endured, they remained upbeat, funny, challenging and loving. They knew their caseworker was looking for an adoptive home for them, but she told them to be patient because she was determined to find the perfect home. And they were patient beyond belief, despite all the normal anxiety and fear about such a big change in their lives. The months they waited to hear about an adoptive home also gave them time to begin to deal with the emotional reality of severing ties with their biological parent. Luckily, they had a very loving caseworker and therapist to help them begin this life long process.
In late summer, we heard that an adoptive home had been identified in another state. Later, the adoptive parents came for an extended visit to meet the children and help them learn about their new family, home and community. Photos and stories and laughter dominated, but the adults had some serious discussions too—about loss, and hurt and helping children finally, at long last, to feel truly secure. The Austin’s House staff fought off tears when we heard the parents, over and over, tell the children that they would be moving to their ‘forever’ home. No ifs, ands or buts. No trial period, or ‘we’ll see how it goes’, or having to hope that this family will really like you. I know this family doesn’t consider themselves heroes, but they are heroes to us.
Finally, after all the official t’s were crossed and i’s were dotted, I had the privilege of taking the children to the airport to make the long trip with their caseworker to their new home. I know this will be a long journey for the children and their new family, and perhaps one that will never really end. But who better to take this journey than these two wonderful children and their perfect, forever and ever family?