The Messenger, March 4, 2011, Ron Bertsch

Eight year old Brian spoke to his therapist the other day, saying he did not think anyone loved him and no one would even care if he died. He is a smart little fellow, but sad because his life has not been very stable. He witnessed terrible domestic violence between his mother and father. Twice he watched his mom try to commit suicide. She struggles with sobriety and depression herself. His dad abuses drugs and alcohol and has a long laundry list of criminal convictions to his name. One can imagine the neglect Brian and his two brothers suffered in this environment.

These boys entered the foster care system when their mom slammed the car into a tree after drinking under the influence. Luckily they were not seriously injured. Some time has lapsed since that scary day, and the goal for Brian and his brothers is no longer reunification but adoption. Although they are in a safer place, the grief is still strong for these boys.

DCCH Center for Children and Families is proud to be the agency working with these boys and their foster family. The only happier thing would have been if the birth parents could have reached a state of sobriety, made the necessary changes in their lives and regained custody of their boys.

DCCH is desperate for more good foster parents to serve children like Brian and his brothers. Adoptive families have been answering the call but we need more foster parents. Believe it or not, there are stories of reunification success that would shock, because some parents with similar backgrounds have overcome a life of addiction, depression and worse to make a good life for themselves and their children. The system needs more foster parents willing to take in siblings groups and older children and allow time for parents to get the help to at least try to make good.

As the therapist tried to help Brian express his emotions, a real break through came in their treatment. His brothers offered some brotherly assistance. They piped up and told him that they did love him and would miss him if he were not there. Little Brian seemed shocked, as his older brothers were not always the kindest to him. They were imitating some of the same physical violence they witnessed growing up. Older children usually eat first and the most, at the expense of younger children when basic survival instincts come out when forced to live in a neglectful home. Brian’s older brothers were consumed with their own worries and struggles. Little Brian had no idea they cared.

Manners are being taught and learned in their new home. Kindness is modeled now and expected from the boys. Rarely are the fists and mean words flung at each other anymore. They are learning to stick up for one another and even offer assistance to one another in studying and doing homework.

The oldest brother, now turning 14, said that he hopes he can be adopted by his current foster family. He says, “a real father is one who will stick with you no matter what and teach you things.” He says he found this in his current foster father. He loves the times he and his new dad have alone together to just talk.

The foster mom helps explain to the boys that most people can make babies but they can’t all be good parents. She hopes that they will someday fully understand and accept that their biological parents did love them but just could not take care of them the way they needed.

If you or someone you know thinks they might have the calling to become a foster or adoptive parent, please contact the Children’s Home at 859-331-2040.