As many of you know, I am a foster parent. David and I have taken in kids that need help and try to make a difference in their lives. Below is a blog entry, Julian I, that I had made on AD back in June of last year. This is to help you know about Julian, a troubled kid. Following that is my blog entry as of today, Julian II.
Julian I (June 6, 2012)
I've always tried to keep you all up to date with what is happening with our foster boys, but Julian has been difficult so I have held off until I could try to put it all together. He came to us on Halloween morning at around 10:30 am.
Julian was removed from our home this morning.
I guess that needs some explanation.
Julian is 15 years old now and this is the 23rd home that he has been in since he was 2 years old. He has no concept of what family is all about. We tried to show him that, but he never connected...until lately. I don't feel that I should go into his behaviors, but I will say that the sheriff has been involved numerous times. What I do see is a kid that needs guidance, but at his age, he's reluctant. Hell, in his mind, every adult in his life has abandoned him, so it's been a struggle.
It was the state's decision to remove him because they felt that he needed a higher level of care. He tried to commit suicide a few weeks ago. Don't try to tell me that that wasn't traumatic on David and I. We've gotten to love this kid.
I took him to a psychiatrist after that incident, and the psychiatrists recommendation was also for a higher level of care. He is depressed. My partner, David, has been taking meds for depression for years and is well aware of the symptoms. But Julian refuses to take any meds because his appointed attorney has told him that as he's over 14, he can refuse..which he does.
We saw an opening in Julian that his case worker and probation office never saw. They assumed that he was a bad kid and treated him as such. We saw something different. Their approach was to give him consequences for his behavior...only. They wanted to see outcome from Julian based on fear. We believe in a nurturing approach where the out come is based on not fear of doing something wrong but to instill in him that the outcome is what he wants to do, not out of fear. We saw a breaking of his shell over the last month or so. He cried for the first time in front of me this morning when he realized that he had to leave.
I fear for him now. The group home or shelter home that he's going to now will destroy everything that David and I have built over the last 7 months. They're going to dictate his schedule without giving him the chance to be a kid and learn how to dictate himself.
I must agree, however, that he needs a higher level of care. We'd take him back when he's released.
Julian II (January 13, 2013)
I learned at young age that life can have some twists that you don’t foresee. From my last blog entry in June 2012, you learned that our foster boy, Julian, was taken from our home because his behaviors required a higher level of care that wasn’t available in a regular foster home setting. He was put in a group home with other delinquent boys, I have sense learned that the term “delinquent” is a legal definition assigned by the courts to describe a boy’s behavior.
Julian could not follow their rules either and wanted to get out of that house as soon as he could. Because of that he was transferred to the county juvenile detention center and spent the next month or so in Jail. He was given an option to return to the group home, but refused rather to spend his time in jail.
He was eventually transferred to an adolescent residential treatment facility for boys in Albuquerque, where he has been for the past 6 months.
What a kid, huh? Trust and respect are very conditional qualities. They need to be earned, and he has earned neither from David nor I. But love is unconditional. It’s not earned; it’s just given. David and I love this kid and grieve for his future. I told his therapist and Julian that we would take him back if his behaviors changed for the better, his outlook for his future started looking upward, he was making strides to accomplish what he wanted to do with his life, and that he would start to love himself.
Since my first conversation with his therapist in Albuquerque, we’ve continued to talk almost on a weekly basis. She lets me know how he’s doing, but more importantly to gather background information as to my thoughts on why he has been acting the way he has.
She initially wanted to keep him there until possibly May of 2013, but on December 1st she informed me that he has changed so much that she wants to release him before Christmas.
Now, I don’t believe that people can fundamentally change. They are so engrained with their past experiences that fundamental changes are not possible. Oh, they may change their outward actions and make you think that they have changed, but it’s really accepting the way of normal action whether they believe them or not. Getting used to acting out normally over a long period of time will eventually become part of who they are strictly by reputation and then become a part of their past experiences.
Okay, David and I had doubts. We had only heard his therapist telling us over the phone how he has changed. I said I believe her, but I needed to see it for myself (and I’m NOT from Missouri). He turned 16 on November 23, 2012, and David, Ray (our other foster boy (10 years old)) and I drove up to Albuquerque and took him to lunch for a birthday present. But more importantly, I wanted to see him and how he had changed.
OMG. I think they killed off the old Julian and replaced him with someone else, even though he looked like the old Julian. We saw a kid that for the first time was able to interact with us and be a part of the conversation. Ray has looked up to him as a big brother, and he engaged Ray in conversation as if they were actual siblings. He talked about his plans for his future, something that he never thought he had before…a future. Many other clues as to his this change would be novel length, but to say that I was completely surprised is an understatement.
We had Julian here in Las Cruces for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Again it was another surprise. Last year at Christmas, he dished up his plate for dinner and then went to his room to eat…alone. This year he was a part of our family.
Julian came down to be with us this weekend on another pass from where he was living. We had made the decision that we would take him back. It was also heartwarming to hear from his therapist that Julian idolized us and would go to no other home.
Julian has changed, but his change is not in his behaviors. His change is in an increased sense of self-worth which then changes his behaviors. He was now starting to believe that he meant something to this world. Don’t get me wrong though. He’s still 16 years old with all of the uncertainties of growing up, but he is now approaching the more normal level of fear of uncertainties.
Julian will transition back to our home on January 26th, and we feel that we have our son back. Those of you that are parents will know how David and I feel right now.
We can all make a difference in the lives of young people that will lead this country into further greatness, but much more importantly, lead young people into the greatness that is their destiny.