Millie* knew how turbulent life could be. At only 10, she and her younger brother, Theo, were placed in foster care after their older sister, who they had been living with, dropped them off at a friend’s house and never returned. Millie’s father had passed away years earlier and she had never met her mom, so in care, Millie started to panic that she’d never see any of her family again. Growing more fearful and untrusting while in care, Millie’s emotions started coming out as anger, often misdirected at Theo or her foster parents. Millie also became more secretive, hiding food, shoplifting and getting into trouble at school. Her fears were quickly taking over her life.
To develop a plan for Millie and Theo, their team reached out to their mother. Having been unwillingly separated from her children, Millie’s mom expressed a strong desire to reunify with them. While reunification could not be immediate for many reasons, the family did start with Wraparound services so they could tackle some of the obstacles that lay before them; namely, Millie’s fears and all of the trauma they had each experienced. Initial team meetings were difficult—Millie’s untrust made her reluctant to participate, and her mom felt unworthy of the second chance she was being given. To help build their relationship, the family engaged in family therapy sessions, and Millie was matched with an individual therapist. Building trust and positive communication between them all was essential.
No Wraparound family gets an instant fix. The siblings and their mom had a lot of challenges facing them outside of just their emotional ones. The family needed affordable housing and reliable transportation, Millie and Theo both needed help in school, and their mom needed to learn how to be a more responsible and present parent. All of these issues required time and a lot of patience—more than what the family always wanted to give. But their team continued to be a positive force for them, pushing them forward by celebrating their successes, listening when things went sideways, and encouraging them when things felt overwhelming. It took everyone being hopeful and helpful for the family to finally realize their goal of reunification.
Millie and Theo no longer live in fear of the unknown, and their mother no longer doubts her ability to care for them. They are a family, living under one roof and thriving. They faced their challenges head on, and grew stronger and more resilient for it.
*Names are fictitious to protect the identity of the families we serve.