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A Kids Future Vs. Your Own Needs

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This will be a hard post for me as I want to let my friends here know why I haven't been very active here but can't give out confidential information, as I want you all to know something of what has been going on. I'm not going to go into detail as they are confidential with a foster kid living with us.

He's in trouble over some of the things that he has been doing, some of which are against the law. We had a major confrontation this morning. I was robbed last night. Of course, we called the sheriff . Many things came out of that. David, my partner, is a life couch and had a consulting firm for his practice. He was in high form this morning when we talked to our foster son. He was involved.

New Mexico Protective Services wanted to fry this kid. But something amazing happened this morning, I think he saw that we are on his side, no matter what he had done, and his trust in us became evident when he opened up and talked to us about what he had been doing. at considerable length. This was a first. He's still trying to fit in, and he's only been with us for 5 months.

I'm not ready to give up on this kid. BTW, he's 15. I wont, because even if he doesn't realize it, he has worth.

I guess I could go on and on about what has happened, but what I want to relate is what David had said in his blog tonight. It speaks for itself. Kids are our priority.

"Distractions, Priorities and Hard Choices

I have been working on a major grant application for the past few weeks and not getting very far. I have been distracted by drama on all sides. The major drama has been “kid drama”.

All I will say is the “kid drama” was serious, more serious than we realized. The good news is we seem to have arrived at a turning point. The next few days will be critical in this turning out positively. This brings me to priorities.

Several important commitments are due in these same critical few days, what should the priority be? All of the choices are important, some to the centers project, the community and to the kiddo. What trumps what?

Not long ago I would have said the community and/or center trump everything; I would have been wrong. The centers project is already having an impact on the GLBTQ community and will continue whether the current grant application is finished or not. A young person’s future is at a critical point and in need of support. I have asked funders what one youth’s life is worth in terms of investment when seeking funding for Rainbow Youth in fairness I have to ask myself the same question.

The response I am looking for from funders is tens of thousands of dollars, when in fact there is no cost too great. The hard choice I made was to cancel a trip to Los Angeles related to the centers and pass on the grant because the time needs to be spent on supporting the kiddo.

Whether folks think I made the right choice or not, I believe I have. Part of leadership is making potentially unpopular choices and standing by them. I often don’t take ownership of my leadership because I’m an introvert and not completely comfortable in the leadership roles I find myself. In this case I am comfortable and totally own this as a leadership decision."

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I for one think you not only made the right decision, I think you made the only possible decision. If you two didn't make that, then you shouldn't be fostering kids. You are, and you showed your priorities. Not doing that doesn't bear thinking about.

Congratulations, Richard, and tell David congratulations to him, too. It's up to the kid now. I hope he doesn't let you or himself down. With kids, you just never know.


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Sometimes the path to greatest good is the one of least harm, but it is necessary to balance that with compassion for the suffering of others, (including oneself. )

I agree with Cole, that you made the only possible decision.


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I totally agree with your decision, Richard. We, as a society, can do much in putting together organizations for the common good. But raising a young person to be a caring, contributing member of society must be done one child at a time.


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I’ll never forget a conversation I had at fourteen with my parents when my Dad said something to me that I’ll never forget and will pass on to Mark, JC and any other kids we have: “We are all either the beneficiaries or victims of choices we make in our lives. It’s our place, as parents, to offer unconditional love to our children but unconditional love does not mean unconditional approval or unconditional acceptance of the choices you make. You, your brother and sister will always have our love, no matter what, but will not always have our approval of your choices. The greatest lesson we, as parents, can teach you is that you must accept the consequences of the decisions you have made. Those consequences may also affect our lives but will never affect our love for the three of you.”

I don’t envy you and David, Richard. You’re at a defining moment with this boy but also with your younger foster son and don’t think for a moment that he isn’t watching and learning about how you respond to the older boy’s dilemma. If Carl sees you standing by the fifteen year old out of love, he’ll feel reassured of your love for him also. It’s important for both boys to see and feel the love that you show but also see that you don’t condone the actions of the fifteen year old.

Good Luck!


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Richard and David, you did the right thing. People come first, and that's the decision you made with this foster kid – you put him first, probably the first time in his life that anyone did that for him.

Colin :icon_geek:

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Quote Colin Kelly. "...probably the first time in his life that anyone did that for him." Sorry, I haven;t learned how to be a nerd yet,

Colin, I think you hit the nail. We are the 23rd home he has been in since he was 3 years old, some of which I don't think were good foster homes. He has been let down and even abandoned by adults his whole life. His sense of self worth is ZERO.

He frustrates me beyond measure, but I can't give up on this kid. He has worth. He's so intelligent that he scares me sometimes, but he's used that to understand the system and is doing what he can to survive on his our,

The concept of "family" is so foreign to him where everyone comes together. We will continue we make him be a part of us,

Colin, I know what you've experienced.


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Some years ago, I had a number of 'work experience' young people sent to me over a period time. These were kids from 18 to 25 who had proved themselves to be unemployable and their work for the unemployment benefit meant they were obliged to attend a work place and experience the job (in my case, a cinema projectionist) if they were to receive the benefit. Nearly all of these young people had been rejected by the system, their families and themselves.

There was no way I was going to add to that list, so I told each one, (their was only ever one person at time,) that they could sit and read a book if they wanted, or if they wanted to I would show them the work. I left them free to decide what they wanted. I made it clear I would sign their attendance form, regardless.

With the most reticent guys it only took a day or so before they inevitably asked something along the lines of, "Why do you do that?" After that they wanted to know more and became interested in learning at least the basics of the work.

One fellow, about 20 years old, had obviously been very badly treated. His home life was non-existent. He'd been expelled from several schools, got mixed up with the drug crowd and god knows what else, but it was obvious that he was frightened and had all but given up on life. For this guy, having someone tell him that he wasn't going to be forced to adhere to the obnoxious system of conditional benefit for work, was an enigma that left him perplexed. What was he doing there if not being forced to abide by the rules?

After nearly a week, I had begun to think that he would just sit on the stool and watch me work. Then one day I was struggling with lifting a full 6000 foot spool of film onto the projector, when his empathy took a turn for the better and he asked if he could help. I thanked him and let him lift the spool onto the machine. After this he announced he'd do what ever I asked him to do, except clean the viewing porthole glass windows, and yes, he actually said, "I don't do windows." I stifled my laugh, and told him, "Well if their dirty, the picture won't get on the screen."

He contemplated what I said and replied, "I hadn't thought of that." Over the next three weeks he made a real effort to understand the work. I didn't push him at all. I provided him with anecdotes of some of the characters I had worked with over the years, and this he found instructive as well as amusing. He went from strength to strength, learning the work and wanting to know more and more. He laughed and joked in a way that told me he hadn't had so much fun for a long time. Then he stopped coming to work.

About a week after he stopped coming, I got a phone call from him. He wanted to apologise for not coming in. He wouldn't go into details, but something had happened in his family that meant he had to go back to his home state. He admitted that he had 'fucked up big time,' and he would not be back. He was very apologetic and asked me not to think badly of him as I was the only person he had known who had treated him like an equal. My heart went out to him. He then told me his past had caught up with him and he had to do right thing, whatever that meant, he wouldn't divulge anything more. He thanked me again and then ended the call.

I tried to find out out if he was all right but the job placement people had strict privacy rules and all they would say was that he was okay.

I tell this story for the single reason of showing that sometimes all you can do is hope that someone in your charge, manages to survive.

The technique of not using authority is not always the right one for all situations. In the position I found myself with these young people, I found that never exerting personal authority was what encouraged them to contribute to their work appreciation. Obviously it isn't appropriate in every situation, but I wanted to share the idea that sometimes, you have to wait for people to want to do something for themselves, and that's not always easy or rewarding. These young people had been rejected, manipulated and brow beaten by authority figues without offering the one thing they needed, understanding of their low self esteem.

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It is amazing what can happen if even one person cares about you, unconditionally, even if and when you screw up. It is also amazing what can happen when no one seems to care. It is vital, life-giving and life-changing, to have someone in your corner. It can be life-threatening or life-stifling not to have that.

Every single one of us screws up. Even the best of us screw up something sooner or later. Sometimes major. Or sometimes, we're just accident-prone or not so great with people or things. It happens. We still have to get up and keep going.

We may do everything we can, and yet we can't get everything right all the time. We'll miss something. Or we'll screw up. It does no good to beat yourself up about it.

We may give our heart and soul to some project or some person, and that may still end badly. It doesn't mean it's our fault. It doesn't mean it's someone else's fault. It may just not be. -- It is very, very hard, when you wake up and realize that all that work you did, all that you cared about, a person or a group or a project, just...didn't turn out, or ended. (If someone you love dies, then what, for instance?) (If you give a major portion of yourself to a relationship, and that relationship ends, then what?) (If a job ends which you have loved, then what?) -- These are very real questions. They happen and they hurt. -- Well, that person who died couldn't live forever and neither can we. That relationship that ended was good while it lasted. There are other people out there to care about. That job? There are lots of jobs and lots of things that need doing and need caring about. Pick one. Pick several. Don't give up.

Ir is also possible to do everything you know how to do right, and someone else may screw it up, or may not care that you did right. Well, if you did right, then you aren't the one with the problem. (Besides dealing with the crap the other person's trying to hand you.) You don't have to accept someone else's baloney. Do what's best anyway and don't put up with nonsense. If someone is actively trying to mess with your life, don't give them the chance to. Move on. There are better people out there. You are important too. Find those other people who do support you instead of tear you down. Find the people who are real friends.

If you get the sense I'm trying to tell myself some of this...I am. Life has not been so great lately. I am trying to remind myself to keep my eyes on the prize, to keep on and to find what's ahead (and who's in that future). But it is not easy, lately. -- You notice, though, that I am still going. Slowly, some days, but I'm trying.

What does that have to do with a foster kid who's been in and out so much that nothing seems dependable, not even himself, and who is not sure what is worth it or how to survive, or maybe if it's worth surviving?

OK, it's likely he's in trouble for what he did. Well, OK, but he's 15. He can do things differently and make a better life for himself, especially with people who care who are there for him. Yes, he may have to work to dig out of that hole. But he won't be in that hole forever. Life can get better. Fine, but what if he messes up on something? He himself may do fine, and something else may come along that messes things up. It happens. We deal with it. We have to. OK, so if a guy screws up again, at least he is trying to change. That is what matters.

I don't know how good my advice is these days. I look around sometimes and wonder how things got to this point and how I'm going to get to some better point, with people in my life I can depend on when it gets tough.

Yes, there are times life sucks. But instead of giving up, it's important, urgent, to keep going, to find those people who care and are there for you, and to build on all that. When you screw up or when life, well, screws you over, to be blunt, it is important to remember that is temporary.

Just one more person who cares, one more smile or hug, one more success at something that matters, can do a world of good. I guess that's the only real advice I know.

Richard and Dave and family (yes, family) both foster kids -- I hope things keep improving for you guys. At 15, there is so much of life ahead, and there are at least three years to learn and change and start making a better life, including people who care, such as a potential brother and dads. I don't think you can give up on a young guy at 15, even for big screwups (juvenile hall type screwups).

I'll go one better on that; no, two. I know one guy who was an "emancipated minor." His home life was so spectacularly bad that he was out on his own and got court emancipation to be treated as an independent person responsible for himself, while under 18. (As in, abusive father, other things going on.) He graduated high school, served some time in the military, and went on to various jobs. He now has a wife and adopted her child, and he's been married before that. He is a friend. Another friend is an ex-con. He did something really spectacularly not brilliant as a young guy, over 18, I think. He did time. Because of that prison record, not may people want to hire him. But he has had several decent jobs and a long marriage, and he is, bottom line, a decent guy, a better friend than some other people with spotless records. He gives a damn. What I'm saying is, both those guys did not have the greatest times as young guys, before or after 18. Yet I count them as truer friends than some others I've known far longer. (I owe one of them a call, too.)

And...one other item. One of my classmates did something not so brilliant while still in high school. On campus, in fact. It was public and became more public. He committed suicide because of it. What he did, the particular actions, did not directly hurt anyone. It wasn't the right time and place. It was deeply personal. He killed himself out of shame or out of whatever people made of it. -- I said when I found out that what he'd done wasn't worth killing himself for. It may not have been the best choice in the world, right time or place, but suicide was not the answer for it. It was not that bad a thing, period. -- He was an ordinary guy. The world didn't get to know what Steve would've been like at 18 or at my age now. Screwing up, even one worthy of time in juvenile hall, or whatever it might be that a 15 year old screws up, is no reason not to be alive and get the chance to see what that 15 year old is like at 18 or at my age or older. I wish I'd known Steve better and had the chance to talk to him. But at 17, no one would ever get that chance in this life again, just because he did something wrong and then killed himself. -- Please note: I do not fault a person for attempting or committing suicide. The people that love that person may not know the risk is there. The person may believe there is no other option. (I have felt that way before, so I get it.) -- But I would rather that person is around to have friends and live life. Dying over it isn't the best choice. There are other, better choices.

Sure, life isn't perfect. We aren't perfect. There are screwups, some of them are major. What is important isn't the screwups, so much as what we do with them. I'd much rather see a kid get a chance to get out of a cycle of bad crap happening in his life and into a better situation in life where he has people who care and will help out.

I wish I had the right advice to give, but all I have is that wish for better for somebody. Yes, there really are people in this world who care and who aren't just saying they care. It takes some doing to find them, but they are there. Be one of those people.

I feel inadequate to give any real advice. I just want it to get better. Sometimes, all we need is someone who gives a damn. Keep smiling.

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