This has been a week filled with many emotions. On Wednesday of this week I had an opportunity to visit with a friend at a Christmas party who was a previous foster parent at the agency where I worked. In fact, I personally conducted her initial foster home study and was subsequently responsible for placing two sisters in her home. Though the girls were in her home for only a period of several months, she has been actively involved in their lives in a supportive kind of way ever since that time.
So how many years ago did that placement take place? I don’t have a good frame of reference other than remembering the office where I worked at the time. I was still in the administrative building at Texas Baptist Children’s Home. If I’ve connected the dots correctly in my head, that had to have been approximately twelve-to-thirteen years ago. Actually, it could have been longer ago than that. Time has a way of flying by more quickly than one can imagine. Could that be possible?
The friend and previous foster parent mentioned that the older of the two girls graduated with honors from Rice University in Houston earlier this year. She is now in graduate school at Rice. Wow! Could that really be possible? Her younger sister is also equally gifted and talented. I said to the previous foster mom, please tell them I said hello and then dismissively added: “Forget that, they wouldn’t remember me anyway.” She replied with a smile: “I will tell them you said hello. They do remember you.”
Whether they remember me or not, I have the joy of knowing their lives have been enriched by the foster mom who took them under her wing and subsequently has offered them a lifetime of nurture and on-going support. I’d call it a WIN/WIN for everyone involved.
On Friday evening the General and I attended a high school graduation at Miracle Farm, the boys ranch program where I also had the privilege of being affiliated in my work. One of the graduates from the charter school serving Miracle Farm was a young man who has come light-years since his initial placement six years ago. In fact, I would have said six years ago that barring a miracle, he’d never make it through high school. Actually, that isn’t exactly true. What I really thought is that he’d never make it through the school year without a miracle. His need was immediate and it was desperate.
He is the grandson of an extended family member and I was fairly insistent that the grandson’s ability to flourish was significantly compromised because of a history of mistreatment and unmet needs by the single parent home in which previously resided prior to being placed temporarily in his grandfather’s home.
Kids from hard places are not on a level playing field with kids that come from family environments where nurture and support are second nature to the parent. Sadly, this young man was not gifted with that kind of beginning. Consequently, to say that he had lots of catching up to do is an understatement.
Because of my familiarity with Miracle Farm, I saw the resource as not only being his best option, it was in reality his only viable option. Gratefully, the staff at Miracle Farm opted to take a chance with the boy because they thought his succeeding in the program at his level of functioning at the time of placement was minimal at best.
It was a long shot, but it couldn’t have worked out better. The investment made in the young man’s life is one that will forever impact his success and ability to embrace a future filled with promise and hope. I was so proud of him as he received his high school diploma and I was equally proud of Miracle Farm. With the Lord’s help they were true to the name “Miracle Farm”.
The strength of any program lies in the professionalism, skillset, personality and commitment of those who serve at every level. However, there is no role more important than that of the front line staff that serve as house-parents. They figuratively are responsible for providing around the clock supervision, nurture, structure and support. They have the day-to-day responsibility for ensuring the child’s needs are met.
I sat teary-eyed when the new high school graduate publically thanked Mr. Chris and Mrs. Rhenda for being the father and mother he never had. Wow! In so many respects they provided the on-going unconditional love and support that he had never before experienced. That kind of support enabled him to move beyond what had been to a place where he could begin to envision what could be.
The road to healing for kids from hard places is wrought with difficulties. It takes teamwork and open communication at every level. There is a need for counseling and on-going support, teaching staff that understand the impact of trauma and previous life experiences and how they impact learning, the provision of opportunities for normalization and the awareness of God’s love and providential care through it all.
Miracle Farm does an exceptional job at every juncture in anticipating the host of landmines that could serve as negative triggers for boys from hard places and they proactively provide a culture of safety or circle of care to help with the process.
Perhaps one of their greatest strengths is the realization that without God’s intervention there subsequently is little they can do that makes much of a difference. Perhaps that’s how they live-up to the name Miracle Farm. They live with a sense of dependency on God. After all, only God can orchestrate the transformation that needs to occur and he does that again and again and again.
All My Best!