Oftentimes, children impacted by foster care struggle to cope with the trauma that comes from being separated from their families. For these kids, their entire life has been turned upside down, leaving them feeling stressed and anxious. Almost immediately, they must adapt to living in a house that smells different, eating food that tastes unusual, and sleeping in an unfamiliar room. They don’t know when they will see their parents again and have no control over what’s happening. This disruption often causes serious setbacks to their social lives, education, health, and well-being.
Jeremy* came into the care of Daniel* and Leilani* when he was a young child. Like many other kids his age, Jeremy has a love for sports and enjoys playing soccer with his peers. When he first started playing, he had an especially hard time losing or making mistakes. He would get frustrated and express his emotions through big behaviors – like stomping on the ground and throwing tantrums. Jeremy needed someone to help teach him how to feel in control of his body and express his feelings in a healthy way.
Daniel and Leilani were eager to support Jeremy. They received coaching from their Amara social worker on how to navigate caregiving to a child in foster care and absorbed helpful advice from other foster caregivers through Amara’s Support Group. Daniel and Leilani became better equipped to help Jeremy move through his distress in a healthy way.
After weeks of encouraging Jeremy to take a few seconds to inhale, wait, and then take a few seconds to exhale, Daniel started noticing Jeremy managing intense feelings in a new way on the soccer field.
“He would start taking deep breaths,” said Daniel.
Little by little, Jeremy’s anger on the field was reduced, and he could focus more on having fun and practicing positive sportsmanship.
“We could see he was slowly growing. He saw a kid get knocked down and went to help him up. We’re so proud of his progress and you can tell he’s proud of himself too,” said Daniel.
Daniel and Leilani know for Jeremy, learning how to feel safe in his body and expressing himself in healthy ways is a journey he will be on for a while and that is okay.
“Making mistakes and learning from those mistakes in a safe place is what childhood and family are for. As adults, we don’t stop making mistakes either but hopefully, we learn it is okay to make them,” said Leilani.
Jeremy’s journey of growth, including his education, has continued in many ways while with his foster family. In school, Jeremy had trouble reading, but Daniel and Leilani were able to get him involved in a reading group that served as another supportive environment where he felt safe and excited to engage with stories.
“It’s such a magical moment when a kid transitions from non-reader to reader. He’s reading so much now, we’re so happy for him,” said Leilani.
Amara foster families provide stability and support to kids in foster care by helping them learn skills that improve communication, build connections, increase their self-confidence, and realize their potential.
We’re grateful for people like Daniel and Leilani for stepping forward to care for kids and fill the gaps in the under-resourced child welfare system. And we’re here to support and empower them, and the kids in their care, on their foster care journeys.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.