Giving Older Foster Children a Family

by Kidsave International
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Giving Older Foster Children a Family
Giving Older Foster Children a Family
Giving Older Foster Children a Family

They both give foster youth the chance to meet someone they can learn to trust. Trust can be a scarce commodity among foster youth, and Kidsave’s monthly teen-friendly events in Los Angeles – from cooking and cake decorating to hiking and scavenger hunts – enable trust to blossom and grow. Here, they can have fun in a relaxed setting and spend time with adults who are interested in getting to know them, hosting them in their homes on weekends and helping them find permanent families. All the adults who participate in this program, Weekend Miracles, are volunteers who make a commitment to spend time with their host child twice each month for at least a year. Many families decide to adopt the child they host.

Just by doing ordinary things together -- walking, shopping, going to movies and sports events, even just reading and listening to music – bonds of trust can develop. The result? These young people have someone who cares about them; someone to confide in and help them plan their future. Someone who guides and corrects them, and gives them the kind of support one can only get from family. For these kids, it’s often a first.

 Relationships that began at Weekend Miracles events in 2017 have led to host family matches for 21 older foster youth (ages 9-17) in Los Angeles County. Several of the youth are in the process of being adopted by the adults they met through Weekend Miracles.

 Kidsave’s staff has trained child welfare professionals worldwide to implement Kidsave’s cornerstone program, the “family visit” model. As a result of this training, similar programs have recently been implemented in Adams County, Colorado and in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. For older kids who have moved from foster home to foster home, never connecting with a caring adult, Weekend Miracles is a life-changer.

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Andy, Trish and Celia
Andy, Trish and Celia

In December of 2015, Kidsave hosted an ugly sweater Weekend Miracles event giving older Los Angeles foster youth and families considering adoption the opportunity to meet each other.  Little did Celia, a child who had been in the foster care system for over 10 years, know that this event would be life-changing.

 For Andy and Trish this was their 10th Kidsave event and upon meeting Celia they both felt an immediate connection to her. They couldn’t wait for the next monthly Kidsave event with the hopes of spending more time with Celia and getting to know her better.

 For Trish and Andy, Kidsave was the perfect model for the sometimes difficult dance of getting to know the kids before taking that giant step of hosting or adoption.  “What we loved was getting to know the kids in a pressure-free, engaging environment at these monthly events. It helped us get to know Celia in a more natural way – the connection felt organic and developed without pressure,” said Trish. “We loved the fact that nothing was forced” added Andy. “The kids have as much say in who they connect with as the adults.”

 Six months after they’d met, in the summer of 2016, Celia moved in permanently with Andy and Trish. That Christmas, Celia wrote her first ever Christmas List and at the top of it was the wish to be adopted. We’re proud to say that early this December Celia’s wish came true as her adoption was finalized. “We are loving being first-time parents and watching Celia grow,” said Trish.  “Celia has made our house a home. She has made us a family. From the first weekend she stayed with us, it felt like a family and we are really looking forward to building our future together.”

 Trish and Andy have continued being part of the Kidsave family by being wonderful volunteers at Kidsave events, and Celia has also become a great Kidsave ambassador, volunteering at events and speaking to new families and kids about the program.

 Kidsave’s Weekend Miracles program has found families for 583 foster youth in Los Angeles County and Washington D.C. Kidsave trains government youth services and social workers on its successful Family Visit Model to find loving, forever families for foster youth.

Celia, happy to have a family that loves her!
Celia, happy to have a family that loves her!
Celia is officially adopted!
Celia is officially adopted!

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Rodney, Kaprea and Marie
Rodney, Kaprea and Marie

In 2008, when Rodney and Marie met Kaprea, a California foster youth, they considered adopting her but couldn't because they did not live in her county. A year later, they learned about Kidsave and its “Weekend Miracles” program. Weekend Miracles enables foster youth and potential parents to meet and get to know each other through twice-monthly visits. Maria and Rodney nearly fainted when they learned that Kaprea was in this program – and they could join it and get to know her!

They signed up, and within weeks met Kaprea again.Rodney said it “felt like a first date – with a county social worker as a chaperone!”  Kaprea was shy but she engaged in conversation. After their second meeting, she hugged Maria. On their third meeting, they introduced her to their teenage daughter and the two girls clicked right away.

Marie, Rodney and their daughter quickly became Kaprea’s Weekend Miracles host family, and they soon realized they wanted to make her part of their family permanently. Kaprea liked them, but was cautious about getting too close because she was worried about leaving her friends in Los Angeles.

Over the summer, she visted for a week, and the all took a trip to San Francisco. Kaprea asked if she could spend more weekends with Rodney and Marie, and began to make friends in their neighborhood.  After seven months, she decided that she was ready to be adopted, and in 2009 she moved in. Her adoption was finalized in 2011. Today, six  years later, Kaprea is very close to her family, spends a lot of time with them and says she feels lucky to have them. She is self-supporting and happy -- with a young son.  Thanks to Kidsave and the Weekend Miracles Program, Kaprea  has the guidance, support, and stability every young person deserves.

Kaprea is one of more than 250 youth who have participated in Weekend Miracles program, and 75% have been matched for adoption, guardianship or committed mentoring since 2006 .It can take months for foster youth to trust when they have often been let down by adults, but this Weekend Miracles model -- the "slow dance" -- works! 

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Sari, Eunice and "Pinky"
Sari, Eunice and "Pinky"

Do you remember the house you grew up in? Eunice doesn't. She lived in 27 foster homes before she was 12 years old.  "All the foster homes felt exactly the same," she said. "The thing about living in foster care is that you never know when someone will give up on you but you know they will, and so you don't trust anyone." 

By the time Eunice was ten she was considered unadoptable because she'd been in so many homes. But that changed when she got into the Kidsave Weekend Miracles program and met Sari. “Meeting Sari changed everything for me. Kidsave matched us for hosting, and we spent every weekend together. She called all the time, talked to my teachers, she cared about me – just me!  For the first time in my life, I felt special.

“I remember my first visit to her house. It felt like a home. My room, my bed, my own bathroom. We ate out and went to see “Wicked” -- my first time to the theatre.  Sari showed me a whole new world -- one I’d never knew existed.” By spring she was no longer “Sari”. She was Mom. “I remember feeling safe, and that I could trust her.

“Because I had moved so many times, I was way behind in school, but between my mom, the tutor and great teachers I moved up to honors classes in two years. It helped knowing that my mom believed I could do it -- and that she promised me a dog if I made the honor roll.” 

Eunice plans to study criminology, become a lawyer and work with foster kids to make sure they have someone in their life they can trust, someone who is there for them no matter what. She wants to do what Kidsave and her mom have done for her -- give foster kids the chance for a good future.

 

 

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Kidsave International

Location: Culver City, CA - USA
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Twitter: @Kidsave_Intl
Project Leader:
Lauren Gordon
Culver City, CA United States
$11,592 raised of $25,000 goal
 
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