Sunday, January 19, 2014

To the End of June

Happy New Year!

I would like to start the year by recommending a book: To the End of June by Cris Beam (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013). This is a book about the foster care system, told both through carefully researched facts and information and through the stories of the children and families who make up the system. Amazon describes it as: “Who are the children of foster care? What, as a country, do we owe them? Cris Beam, a foster mother herself, spent five years immersed in the world of foster care, looking into these questions and tracing firsthand stories. The result is To the End of June, an unforgettable portrait that takes us deep inside the lives of foster children at the critical points in their search for a stable, loving family. Focusing intensely on a few foster families who are deeply invested in the system’s success, To the End of June is essential for humanizing and challenging a broken system, while at the same time it is a tribute to resiliency and offers hope for real change.”

It is hard to use ones’ free time to read a book about work that is this intense. However, this book demonstrates in a deep way how the behavior of our kids makes complete sense given their experience. And it also shows how the trauma histories of the birth parents results in the children entering foster care. The deep tie between parents and children, no matter how much pain and disappointment there has been, is explored.

The book shows clearly how every child needs a permanent connection, no matter how old they are. One story focuses on a family who adopts older, aging out youth, and provides them with the support they need for the transition to adulthood.

Another aspect that becomes clear is how ultra-sensitive our kids are to even the faintest whiff of potential rejection, and how they immediately withdraw and reject the parent as soon as they conclude that rejection is coming. Rejection feels like the most likely outcome to them, and they don’t want to stick around to experience it.

The book also contains a lot of information that would be helpful in funding applications, as it clearly documents the connection between failed foster care and other expensive societal problems such as homelessness and crime.

I highly recommend this book.

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