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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 7B COMMUNITY PERSPECTIVE parents n lifelong diff e WHERE I .STAND WENDY WEIGHT HOME STUDY SPECIALIST MOUNTAIN CIRCLE FAMILY SERVICES "Jane" received a phone call out of the blue one evening. It was a voice that was somewhat familiar. A few moments of explanation and she understood that this was the call every foster parent (also referred to as "resource parent" to reflect the multi- faceted nature of this role), longs to hear. It was a pre- vious foster daughter calling to thank her for the positive impact she had on her life. "What you said to me changed my life." Not recall- ing the conversation, Jane asked what it was she said that was so helpful. "You said that I could do anything and not to let anybody tell me I can't. And then you told me I could be a nurse." This for- mer foster child was well on her way to. completing her nursing credentials and was feeling gratitude for the "someone" who believed in her. Jane says, "There is no better feeling than to know you've made a difference in someone's life." These kinds of contacts aren't unusual. Current foster parents "Kelly and Frank" have had approximately 40 children in their home over the last five years. They say many of their former foster children call to say hello or come to visit. Three of these children recently came to their home for Christmas and one called over the holidays to say she was just thinking of them and wanted to thank them for being there for her during a very difficult period of her life. "It is hard to tell exactly how big your impact on these children will be," says Mary Barry, program director for Mountain Circle Family Services Inc. and foster and adoptive parent with her husband David for nearly 10 years. "This is not a business in which you can measure outcomes. This is a business of human love and compas- sion. Every day that you love that child, that hopefully becomes part of the experi- ence they take with them, wherever they go." Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D., internationally recognized authority on the neurological effects of trauma on children, spoke in Susanville last spring to a sold-out auditorium of parents, foster parents and child welfare professionals. One of the main messages he wanted to impart to his audience was the miraculous impact that a healthy adult relationship has on healing the brains of children who've experienced trauma. He states, "It's remarkable how much you can heal a child if you are present, re- spectful, understanding and patient. It doesn't take a lot of psychological insight. You don't have to have the right words to say. You just have to be this loving presence." The need for quality foster ari.d adoptive parents is greater than ever. Demographics show a tremendous decrease in the number of healthy adults that are active in the lives of children in the last two decades. The average size of the American household is smaller than three people, the average classroom ratio is one teacher to 30 children and many children spend as many as six to seven hours a day engaged in television or other electronic media. All this adds up to a dramatic decrease in human-to-human interactions-- the most important factor necessary for healing in children who've experienced trauma. The good news, and the message of hope Perry brings to his audience, is that chil- dren can heal from trauma brought upon by chaos, neglect and/or abuse. "Chil- dren who come through traumatic experiences, if they have stable and nurtur- ing relationships, often sustain significant trauma, whereas children who experi- ence much less trauma, if they don't have relational contacts, they deteriorate and are less likely to estab- lish healthy relationships," .says Perry. Therefore, one caring adult in a child's life can make a monumental difference in their growth and healthy development Many people contemplate becoming foster~resource parents, but are concerned about the impact a foster child's presence will have on their home and family life. "What's important to under- stand," says Barry, who's eared for dozens of foster chil- dren in her home and who conducts many of the resource parent trainings for Mountain Circle foster families, "is that most of the time these chil- dren are trying so hard to make sense of their situation and often want and need the structure and redirection to get back on track. "They are good kids who've had some hard experiences. Their birth parents often bene- fit from the support and com- passion from foster parents which in turn helps in the healing of the whole family." Another foster parent, whom well refer to as "Susan," says, "I look at it as a privilege to have these children in my home. Yes, the majority of these kids have issues, but it's not their fault. They've been subject to abuse and neglect and have to deal with the effects of it. You just don't give.up on them." It's also important to under- stand, as foster parents, you're not doing it alone. As a Moun- tain Circle foster parent, you receive personalized, m- depth training on how to respond to the manifestations of abuse such as attachment disorder, depression, PTSD symptoms and sexual bound- aries. You are also backed by a Mountain Circle social worker as well as a 24-hour on-call service. Additionally, you are part of an extensive treatment team, which in- cludes members representing various agencies such as Mental Health Services, Child Protective Services, CASA and school representa- tives, to name a few. Another common concern some people have about be- coming a resource family is: What happens if I get too attached to the child and then they go back to their birth family? Resource parent "Helen" says, "I look at it this way. Yes, I'm going to fall in love with this child, I'm going to treat them like they're my own, and yes I'm going to cry when they leave, but at least for the time whenthey're in our home, we're able to give them love and our hope is that they'll keep a little bit of that with them when they gO," It can be somewhat chal- lenging to support reunifica- tion and there are'plenty of stories to illustrate this, but when it's done well and right, it is something to be celebrated. Kelly says the very foster child who called during the holidays to thank her for helping her through a hard period was her most successful reunification story. "This child was into Gothic dress. All her writings and artwork reflected a darkness and anger, and she was hard to reach," says Kelly. Kelly and Frank noticed, despite the dark emotions behind her art, that she was quite talented. Kelly arranged for her to have one-on-one lessons with an artist friend of hers. Soon, her drawings began to trans- form to reflect hope, and as they did her outward appear- ance began to change. She became more confident and better able to constructively express her feelings. She continues to use art in her current life. While this was taking place, Kelly and Frank, by choice, met this foster child's birth father and were able to make a positive impact on the chal- lenging relationship between the father and daughter. When the reunification of this family took place, it was a very joyful occasion for all. "Today," says Kelly, "they're doing really well. She calls me and they send lots of pictures." On the occasion that parental rights are terminated due to failure of the parent to comply with their court man- dated case plan, and after the possibility of placement with a birth relative has been exhausted, the foster/resource family may have the opportu- nity to permanently adopt the child or children. "The goal for all foster children is always reunification or place- ment with relatives. However, when this cannot happen, it is a beautiful thing to see a child matched with the right adop- tive family when all attempts for reunification have failed," says Barry. Mountain Circle is a licensed adoption agency and has been assisting in adoptions for over 12 years. No doubt being a foster/ resource parent may be the hardest thing you've ever done, but when asked if it's worth it, most answer with a resounding "Yes!" What are their reasons? It's those little reassurances that what they're doing makes all the difference in the life of a child. "When I get those texts and messages of gratitude it makes all the tough times disappear," says Kelly. If you have ever considered becoming a foster/resource or adoptive parent, but are left with questions regarding what it takes to serve in this capacity, you are not alone. Mountain Circle will walk you through an orientation process where all of your questions will be answered. There are also a variety of roles that one can serve to make a difference in a child's life. Mountain Circle is in need of foster/resource homes, emergency placement homes, adoptive homes and transitional housing place- ments for teenagers who are nearing emancipation. Con- tact Mountain Circle Family Services at 832-9683, 257-7407, 284-7007 or mbarry@ mountaincircle.org. Bring in the new year with a commitment to give back to children and families who need your love, support and guidance! i Guidelines for Letters All letters must contain an ad- dress and a phone number. We publish only one letter per week, per person and only one letter per person, per month regarding the same subject. We do not publish third-party, anonymous, or open letters. Letters must be limited to a maximum of 300 words. The editor will cut any letter in excess of 300 words. The deadline is Friday at 3 p.m. (Deadlines may change due to holidays.) Letters may be taken to any of Feather Publishing's offices, sent via fax to 283-3952, or e-mailed to mail@plumasnews.com. Grateful Injustice, unfairness and dishonesty exist in the world. Some of our troops have fought abroad and returned -horde. They need our help and compassion. They need jobs or educational opportu- nities. Our military troops have fought to establish democratic governments in other countries. Education is the foundation of a successful democratic government. Now is the time to support all of our troops foreign and domestic by defending our Constitution and Bill of Rights in a positive way. We in Plumas County can be grateful that the Occupy movement in Quincy is not trying to shut down or dis- rupt our fragile businesses. We can be grateful for our Board of Supervisors who are doing everything in their power to help save the busi- nesses in Greenville. We can be grateful for John Shee- han's accomplishments as the executive director of Plumas Corporation. We can be grateful to our community college that is involved in serving our higher educa- tional needs. We can be grateful for the organizations and volunteers that serve those in need. These are positive ways. Our elected officials are the decision makers. The Green- ville community took their grievances to the right place. If we want change then we LETTERS to the EDITOR. the people have to take our say we can't afford not to. concerns out of the streets, Wilson led the council to the coffee houses and Inter- vote on what he knew was net to those that have th'e a contentious issue; he dis- power and responsibility to regarded the concerns of represent us. hundreds of citizens, kept My New Year's resolution qualified voters out of the is to do what I can do for process, and decided that he my community.and country was the one that knew best. with gratitude as the compen- He ignored his constituency, sation for what my family the very people who elected and country have done for him. me. We have communities This is not a personal that can attract venture capi, issue. I've known Dan for talism to start businesses if we years. Our daughters grew can change our thinking that up together; we coached they are the enemy. We need soccer together. I have our decision makers to put always held Dan in high our money where it belongs, esteem. But Portola is my Invest in Plumas. County home and my home is threat- with your money or time. ened. My life, along with the Larry F. Douglas lives of my neighbors, hangs Portolain the balance. We've already lost so much; I cannot stand Debate aside and allow his actions to Now that the required sig- go unchallenged. He did the natures have been certified, wrong thing. I'm sure he there will soon be a special believes he did it for the right election to recall Mayor Dan reasons, but it was still the Wilson. I'm sure there will be wrong thing to do. Dan could numerous letters to this have avoided this all had he paper, both for and against agreed to hold off on imple- the recall. In fairness to menting the rate hikes until Mayor Wilson, and so the the people were satisfied that voters will fully understand alt options were explored and why the recall committee be- the rate report fully under- lieyes he should be removed stood. But he flat-out refused. from office, I would like to tt was Dan who refused to propose a good old-fashioned compromise, and that's no "Lincoln-Douglas" debate, way to tuna government at That would allow Mayor any level. Wilson to state his caseWill recalling Dan Wilson and would also allow ourfix everything? No, but it's a committee to present their start. It's a message to the case as well. council to become more As this is my idea, I would proactive, to be leaders and propose that I be allowed to seek solutions; to listen to argue the recall side of the what the people are telling debate. I would also propose them; to do what the people that the owner of this news- ask of them. We don't have paper act as the moderator. It the luxury of continuing would seem to me that if the business as usual, and we mayor really thinks he has cannot wait another summer been acting in good faith, and to make a change. We're for the people of Portola, he drowning now. Ten grand is a should jump on this offer. I spit in the bucket compared hope to hear from the mayor to the true costs the people of soon. Portola face. B.J. Pea?son Jeanne Rowden Dansby Portola Portola 'True costs' Boiling oil Folks have expressed con- My fellow Americans and cern over the $10,000 price myself have for a long time tag for the recall of (Portola guarded with passion the Mayor) Dan Wilson. Some right of citizens to free say the price for a recall is speech and to the press to too high; we can't afford it. I print what it wants. The only caveat has been, basically, impact and net energy hacking at branches rather don't holler fire in a movie savings. The writer corn- than getting at the root of theater unless there is a fire. plained of a delayed decision problems. Many of the social I feel this paper violated on the Keystone XL pipeline; and economic evils that we the public trust when it energy independence being hack at today are really only hollered "fire" at Corey's his concern, symptoms or "branches" of Auto Repair. I don't knowOn Dec. 31, 2011, the Sacto the real evil, which is the Jim Corey. Fact is: I thought Bee carried an AP article unfair influence of money. "Corey" was his first name. with the following: In the Although he does not say it He has diagnosed cars forfirst 10 months of 2011, the specifically, he echoes the old me (I own a shop in Beck-United States became a net adage that money is the root wourth), smogged many of fuels exporter for the first ofallevil. my customers' cars and time since 1949; oil com- Essentially, he believes repaired many that were panies shipped more gasoline that the American people technically over my head.and other fuels overseashave lost their immediate All to the satisfaction of my tl/an we consumed. Analysts c6ntact with the congress- customers and myself, said it's driven by profitseek- men they have sent to Wash- On, the other hand, the Buo ing. In dollars, finished petro- ington to represent them. reau of Automotive Repair has leum products will become Instead of listening to those been a consumer-confidence- our top export in 2011. who elected them, our destroying, shop-terrorizing Independence from OPEC officials are listening to the government bureaucracy isn't a government policy lobbyists who represent the that has taken millions bf objective or a business goal deep-pocketed, powerful and dollars from consumers, di- by the oil majors. This may wealthy corporations. rectly and indirectly, since result from three administra- Sen. Dole once said that its inception, which by the tions being led by oil men those who contribute to one's way was intended to rid my and the Capitol being campaign expect favors in industry of deceitful prac- prowled by fossil lobbyist return. This attitude (though tices byshadymechanics, who in some cases write realistic under present con- BAR is now the sole ownerlegislation for Congress. Is ditions) puts the special of deceitful practices, not it any wonder Keystone's a interests of the wealthy mechanics, biggie? Canada and the oil corporations before the needs Why did you destroy ihis giants profit, while we accept of the people. man's business with prema- a short-term jobs bump in Lessig's book, '?Republic, ture accusations from theexchange for the risk ofLost," invokes John Milton's BAR? ruptures; and a city with cosmic epic, "Paradise Lost." Who do you know better, the dirtiest air gets dirtier In answer toalady's question the guy down the street who by refining the crude, then as to what the Founding fixes cars, or the bureaucrat exporting it. Fathers had wrought, Ben who is trying to get him?The Alaskan Pipeline wasFranklin said, "a republic, Who would you trust with a battle in the mid-'70s, madam, if you can keep it." your money with your Approval was held until a Obviously, Lessig feels we business? Shame on you! mandate that all of it would have not kept it. I'm not writing to you cometoU.S, refineries. Inhis If the government were because I want or need press, last week in office in 1993, to fund all elections and elim- and while your action regard- Bush the Elder struck that inate all contributions, our ing this situation stinks, I'll down -- and some crude officials could concentrate on reserve a final opinfon until exports now go to Asia. the needs of the people and after the BAR inquisition. No one can stop, tax, tariff not the selfish ends of special In the meantime, why don't or keep us from renewable interests. you throw Corey in a vat of resources that will remain At the urging of others, boiling oil and see if he floats, free, in perpetuity. That is, John Milton wrote "Paradise EdLaurie unless all advantage goes to Regained." Can we make it Portola Big Fossil, who buys enough possible for Lessig to write political influence to insist "Republic, Regained"? 'Boondoggle' that renewable energy is SalvatoreCatalano I agree with a writer from simply not viable. Taylorsville last week that the Solyndra BiUMartin case was an ideologically Quincy Authoritarianism driven, politically patronized I was delighted to read Igor boondoggle. Getting to the root , Birman's essay in the Jan. 4 But funding went to dozens An interesting lecture edition of this paper. I very of other firms that continue by Lawrence Lessig was much share his alarm over producing/installing renew- forwarded to some of us. His the trend toward authoritari- able equipment. That money firm grasp of the present anism in this country, as re- (with Solyndra's) was spent American situation is sober- vealed in the recent National inside our borders, so there ing and enlightening. was positive economic He uses Thoreau's image of See Letters, page 88