NUMBER 514 • 26 MAY • TIES THAT BIND
As practitioners, I think we can often underestimate the impact we have on the lives of the young people in our care. Discharge can bring an end to a significant part of a person’s reality. One young woman made it a habit to bring her growing family by my home every Halloween for several years. Each passing Halloween, they would arrive, another year older, one year with a new addition, and we would catch up on all the news. Many are simply going about their business when we meet. I have had conversations at bus stops, on buses and in local businesses with past youth in care. Typically, on a first meeting, they thank me with an apologetic “sorry for what I put you through.” The laughs usually follow as their in-care antics are often very memorable. Common ground It’s remarkable to me how quickly one reaches back and finds the common ground to ask after parents, goals and so forth. Often, there are children to meet. Sometimes, there are stories of graduate school, the first home, revenue property and so forth. For the most part, it is welcome news they share, most having gone on to live normal lives, some employing traditions they learned in care and all appreciative. There have been a few unique meetings as well. The Internet brought one Grandmother back into my life quite innocently a few years back. An ‘are you?’ letter arrived and an e-mail dialogue was soon initiated. Once the catching up was done these ended until one day an urgent message arrived.
The woman had been contacted by an adoption search service and was in a panic that a reunion was being forced upon her. Over the course of a day and several sessions we discussed the pros and cons of it all and she finally made the decision to go ahead. The reunion was ultimately made and a surrendered person, quite happy with her life experience, expanded her circle to include her natural family. Actual visits followed. Another unique meeting arose when I moved to work in a new program. I recognized but could not quite place a young person in my immediate care. Later, it came to light that I had worked with this young person’s mother. The day came when we were to meet on a routine home visit and the mother along with a friend who had also been in residence all those years ago, greeted me with hugs and kisses, totally grossing out the younger girls in the home. There were many social occasions to follow linking me in with an entire network of people from that era. As I had been at the birth of the young person involved, I realized I had kind of become a grandparent CYC of sorts. She has since gone on to establish her own family.
Goodwin, G. (2003). Ties that bind. Relational Child and Youth Care Practice. Vol.16 No.2. pp 72-73