Forever Family introduces you to Colby!
(WBTV) - We had the privilege to spend not just a handful of hours with Colby but we were able to enjoy the whole day with him. We picked him up on the way and dropped him off after filming, spending several hours all together in the car. On filming days I like to learn about our children by observing them in group settings and speaking with their social workers. Instead I was able to learn about him through conversations where he spoke candidly about what he wants in a family. Colby started the day sharing about the group home he resides in and spoke about the staff with such a gentle empathy. We ended the day watching his face light up when we pulled in the parking lot and he saw the van from their home there waiting.
Colby connects and engages with his group home staff like his family. When I let that sink in, how much he values the group home staff, how close he is relationally with them, I am encouraged and heartbroken all at once. I am encouraged because even though he is being raised by revolving staff, he has connected and built good relationships with them. Colby was able to tell us about the staff, their preferences, their personalities and the connections he has built. Colby has been in numerous homes, and while in the foster care realm, that could translate to difficulty with attachments. But for this young man that did not seem to be the case. He has found a sense of peace and belonging in his group home which is something to be admired.
While it is admirable on his part, it also brings tears to my eyes. The thought that so many of our children are being raised in group homes across the state is heartbreaking. This is not because there are not WONDERFUL group homes with dedicated staff who deserve complete respect for the hard work that they do every day. However, I do believe that EVERY child deserves to be in the context of family. Each one of us should have at least one dedicated parent whose purpose is to love and nurture us. I do not believe we should be cared for and raised by staff who are not always present. We belong in a home; we belong within the context of a family who look out for our well-being.
My heart breaks when I hear Colby talk about the staff who work on weekends, who help him with homework, who make the best dinners, and who he is more comfortable talking to (each of these were different people). Colby is an incredible young man who has made the best of his situation in an imperfect foster care system filled with group homes and residential facilities. However, Colby deserves is to have a mama to help with homework, make his favorite dinner, and consistently be the one he goes to when he needs to talk.
Colby does not belong in a group home, he belongs with a forever family.
This article was written by Ashley McKinley. the Program Development Director and North Carolina Forever Families Coordinator with Seven Homes Inc.
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