It was an afternoon in the fall of 2012, and I was driving to Jefferson. The 2-year-old boy we’ll call John was sitting calmly in the rear seat. From the side window, he was watching the changing colors of the leaves. While driving I took a small census on his placement, and I realized this one would be his third since his birth into this world. It made me think about the word permanency, which I have learned through my work in child welfare, is a miracle word.
This is the word that provides family, future and stability to children. It’s not only a permanent roof over their head, moreover it’s a life with trust, safety, sense of love and belonging, connection, hope and meaning in a child’s life. It’s not a word about a child living without a family or with too many different families. Think of a child who stays with different people at different time periods and the doubt and confusion they bear before they can start calling someone “Daddy” or “Mummy.”
I thought about the lives of two different children, Layla and Mohammed, who brought so much joy into my life when Layla found permanency through an adoptive resource and Mohammed found permanency through reunification with his biological family. However, there are many children still out there who have not found their permanent homes when reunification is no longer an option, because it is not in their best interest.
Our car approached the foster home for John, with the whole family waiting outside on the driveway to welcome the little guest. The two little children approached my car to take a look at the little one through the side window. I saw their excitement turned to smiles. The family volunteered to take all his belongings out of the car. After everything was completed, I left the home with so much joy.
Slow music was playing on my car radio. While I soothed myself, his innocent face flashed through my mind. I asked myself, what does permanency mean to John? Maybe a permanent home where he could live a stable life and which could create a sense of belonging and love. Not having to live with many different people, and being able to have his own room and closet. Being able to trust somebody and call them “Daddy” and “Mummy. Not being bound to carry fear and hopelessness in his life. Having an identity and no confusion about where he belongs in this whole wide world.
I have seen John thriving in that home throughout the years. He has been stabilized, and he learned how to speak. I saw him growing as a boy. He started learning how to ride a bike and play T-ball. He showed me his crafts, toys and projects from school and Sunday school. He was very much attached to his caregivers and his foster siblings.
At SaintA, we work with families to reunite them with their children after the parents become stable and protective. Unfortunately, there are cases in which we are not able to reunify children with their biological family due to several reasons. In those cases, we need to find different forms of permanency through guardianship, adoption, etc.
While I compile this present story on a cold day in December of 2014, John is awaiting his life’s greatest gift, in this happiest of seasons. John is about to be adopted by his foster family, on the 23rd of December.
Permanency becomes a miracle in children’s lives when biological parents learn to protect them, relatives welcome them, non-relatives show care and love for them, and more homes open doors to them in the community. It reminds me of baby Jesus, who was born in a manger because houses were not open for them on that cold December night.
That miracle word “permanency” does wonders in children’s lives, and when someone opens their doors to them, it means joy beyond any words can describe.
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