Two Strangers Learning How To Live Together
Meghan had become a licensed foster parent and found herself in a common foster parent situation.
As soon as Paul was dropped off at her home one evening by the Department of Social Services, Meghan looked at the child now in her care and set about trying to figure out how best to care for him. She had little idea of who he was or from whence he came. The child appeared distant and non-responsive as he tried to understand his new world.
As Meghan described the situation, “It was two strangers learning how to live together.” Within the first few days, Meghan had some heart-to-heart conversations with Paul where she acknowledged they were both grappling with a very difficult situation. “This is a hard time for both of us. We are both getting to know each other. We are going to work through our challenges, but I need your help. I need to know what you are comfortable with, or not comfortable with.”
This courageous, honest, vulnerable conversation set the stage for the relationship to begin to grow. Paul saw Meghan’s sincerity and responded with helpful personal information.
Prior to accepting Paul, Meghan learned that he had severe academic deficiencies and would need extra help. It was precisely Meghan’s experience as a special education teacher that enabled her to devise creative solutions to help Paul become rapidly successful.
“I believe in setting the bar high. As a teacher, I want the children to live independent, successful lives. If we think they can’t do something, they won’t, but if we assume they can, they will.”
Because Paul has a considerable learning disability and is reading significantly below his grade level, Meghan has been very creative in offering him support to be successful. She created a visual list to help him prepare for each day properly and even took pictures of the washing machine’s correct settings, so he could do the weekly wash. Meghan was also sure to have Paul placed in a specialized reading group to help him learn to read at his grade level.
When Meghan met the family court judge to inform about Paul’s progress, the judge was stunned.
The judge said, “I am sorry, but everything I have heard about this child during his many years in the system is that he would never be able to live on his own or hold employment.” Meghan laughed inwardly. She was proud of how far she and Paul had come in only six months. What was supposed to only be a four-day crisis placement has now become a potential adoption.
Paul and Meghan have bonded. Paul knows he has his own cheerleader who will provide him whatever resources he needs to eventually live independently. Knowing he is loved and accepted for who he is and gaining the courage to thrive, Paul has blossomed in her care. He holds himself differently and looks people in the eyes when he speaks to them. The rapid change in Paul suggests that with Meghan’s continued support, the gaps in his early years will be filled with everything he needs to be successful as he pursues his own dreams.