While growing up, I think I had an above-average level of exposure to the foster care system. I had close family members and multiple friends who fostered and/or adopted kids. Also, two of my best friends in high school had been in foster care.
I once worked with a youth who had been in the same foster home for about two years. By the time I joined the youth’s team, he was tired of being in his foster home and wanted to be reunited with his family. For those of us who got the honor of meeting this young man, we got to experience his joy and humor--he was a very happy young person to interact with. When I met him he’d already waited a long time and had done a lot of work to reunify with his family.
David really wanted to be a good father, and provide for his family in all the ways his own father had not. Unfortunately, having experienced trauma growing up, David had mental health issues he didn’t know how to deal with and he turned to alcohol as a means to cope. When his two children, Molly and Manny, were very young, David’s struggles with alcoholism affected his ability to provide them a stable home and impacted his relationship with their mother, Ana, in very unhealthy ways. On all fronts, David and his family were in crisis.
“Family of origin” is just a fancy way of talking about the family that you grew up in. For a large portion of us, a “family of origin” means our biological mother, father, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and the like. If you will indulge me for a moment, I would like for you to take a moment and reflect on your family of origin. When I reflect on mine, I have memories of my dad’s humor, my mother’s cooking, family traditions, fighting with my brothers, feeling scared, feeling happy, feeling loved, feeling lonely, and the list goes on.
Let us imagine for a moment, that your lifelong dream has been to help medically fragile children. You earned an advanced degree and you were lucky enough to get a job at a specialized Children’s Hospital. The pay was decent and the work, while challenging, was very rewarding. After several years, you were keenly aware of two things: one, you never receive a pay increase, and two, the needs of the children being served were becoming much greater. However, you continue steadfastly because of your heartfelt dedication to young lives in need of healing.