A Child Learns to Live with Separation and Loss

little girl with long brown hair and bangs smiles, showing missing teethReese was separated from her five brothers and sisters when she was five years old. They were all placed in different foster homes because their biological parents abused them. Their parents also struggled with alcohol problems and had been charged with domestic violence multiple times.

Reese lived apart from her siblings for an entire year before reuniting with them at Thornwell. The children were happy to be together again, but they all struggled with anger issues. In fact, all of the children misbehaved when they first arrived at Thornwell.

Reese often screamed, threw objects, and rolled on the floor crying at the end of her monthly visits with her parents. Seeing her parents walk away was more than she could handle.

Reese Finds Hope

At Thornwell, Reese received counseling to cope with being away from her parents and settling into her new life. Counseling helped Reese, and so did the structure she found at Thornwell. She was elected helper in her cottage, a coveted role that earned her privileges like a later bedtime and ice cream from Sonic.

As a cottage helper, Reese helped her family teachers and cottage mates clean their rooms and do other chores. Although she was negatively influenced by her older siblings, Reese was a positive influence on her younger siblings and cottage mates.

The days of Reese’s temper tantrums seemed to be over. Her duties as a cottage helper and participating in Learning to Use My Bible class helped her learn to control the anger she felt from being abused by her parents and then being taken away from them.

In her two years at Thornwell, Reese was finally able to enjoy being a kid: She especially liked riding her bike and skateboard. Climbing trees. Coloring. And making cards for her family teachers and cottage mates.

More Bad News

Right when it seemed that Reese’s life was on the mend, she and her siblings found out their mother’s and father’s parental rights had been terminated. The children were crushed. Reese had just gotten used to seeing her parents leave each month. Now she’d have to get used to never seeing them again.

Soon after, though, the kids heard potentially good news: A family offered to adopt all six of the children. But the adoption fell through. Reese and her siblings rebelled against the adoptive parents like they had rebelled against their family teachers at Thornwell.

A Wise Eight-Year-Old

The failed adoption was yet another traumatic experience for Reese. When she returned to Thornwell, Reese demanded that she didn’t want to be adopted again and was afraid of ever leaving Thornwell. She’s happy at Thornwell and likes her teachers, classmates, and school. As you can imagine, moving from school to school and re-acclimating yourself is traumatic in itself.

Now eight, Reese still attends counseling sessions and is now open to the idea of being adopted. She hasn’t mentioned what she’s looking for in an adoptive family, but says she wishes that they have pets that she can care for.

 

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