The Foster Care staff of Good Shepherd helped Martin* succeed in finding a permanent home after a try-try-again effort. The result carries with it a real unexpected blessing.
The documentary film Place to Place tells the compelling story of two young people in the foster care system who move from foster home to foster home or back out on the streets until they “age out” – the term used to describe when a foster youth is no longer legally a ward of the state, usually 21 years old. Sometimes aging out may be unavoidable, but finding a permanent home as soon as possible for a foster child is the preferred solution.
Martin came to Good Shepherd when he was twelve. Prior to that, he had been placed with a foster family for several years before that arrangement was disrupted. The Taylors* loved Martin, but could not continue to provide for him. Martin was fortunate to be placed with a foster father almost right away until that situation was also disrupted after two years. There were several reasons contributing to the failure of both placements, but perhaps the most challenging was that Martin was delayed in his development to the extent that some behavior was more like a five-year old. The developmental work needed would try the patience of any child and any family.
“It was obvious to us that Martin needed a family environment that would give him the stability and constant care he needed to prevent a revolving-door kind of life.” Mary Thome, Director of Foster Care, said. “He needed a permanent home.” Mary explained that the second part of the Good Shepherd mission statement is to keep families connected, so they started by meeting with Martin’s grandparents, the Edmonds* from his second foster placement, who had expressed their concern for him.
The road to permanency takes a lot of work by a lot of people- a team. Martin’s case manager saw to Martin’s well-being. Our educational coordinator helped develop his education plan. Our foster family counselor helped Martin’s grandparents with training to get their foster family license. Other Good Shepherd professional staff stayed in touch with the Taylors who want to continue as a Good Shepherd foster family. No one on the team worked harder than Martin who approaches every task with an open heart and a positive attitude.
The Edmonds became Martin’s guardians and welcomed him into their home earlier this year. They continue to work with the Good Shepherd team. And the unexpected blessing? The Edmonds take Martin to the Taylors to go to church on Sundays. “We do celebrate permanency at Good Shepherd.” Mary said. “As simple as it sounds, there is nothing that can take the place of a family.”