Eager to Go, Eager to Stay

Two teenage girls upset sitting togetherChange is scary!!!  Even when that change appears to be for the better, change is still scary.  For the children of Boys and Girls Homes change has been a constant part of their life.

Our CEO often says, we are the next best option to a real home for children who are victims of abuse and neglect. One of our main goals for children who arrive in our care is to help them heal from trauma and prepare them for a forever home. Most of our children do not stay with us until they are ready for independence. Many children, in concert with their social workers, are able to find a forever home at some point in their care with us. That may be a foster-to-adopt family, parents who have made the necessary life changes or close relatives who are approved for custody.

You would think that finding a forever home would be the most exciting thing to happen for the young people on our campus, but is it?  

I recently witnessed the transition of two girls from B&GH care to their forever home. It was not as smooth as you and I would have expected.    

At Boys and Girls Homes, many children, like these two sisters, enjoy the comfort of consistent and loving care. Despite how teenagers may act and display a confident “know it all” syndrome, young people need routines, consistent boundaries, accomplishable tasks, responsibility and healthy activities.  At B&GH that is what they get. 

In the beginning, many of our youth will rebel at these new boundaries, but over time they begin to take assurance and comfort from the consistency. From time to time they may again test the boundaries, but with steady guidance they understand someone cares for them and most importantly about them.

When they are finally ready to transition, and a family is identified for them, they are very excited, but they are also scared of the change. This results in emotions that rise and fall daily just as reliably as the oceans tides. The result can be joy and anticipation or pouting and anger; and that is all before lunch. Some youth may even try to misbehave to sabotage the departure. But this is “normal” behavior for youth who have not learned to process their feelings and emotions. 

Fortunately for these children and B&GH, our experienced staff know this is part of the transition process and we can once again guide them through this roller coaster of emotions. Like the two young ladies who recently left us, in the end they excitedly made the transition to a new life. It will not be all smooth sailing as they test the boundaries of this new relationship and family, but with the emotional intelligence they have gained at B&GH, they are much better prepared to weather the storms and find brighter days ahead.

If you want to be part of the Brighter Future for children please donate to Boys and Girls Homes today.

Mike Garrell is the Director of Development for Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina. 

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