The Haverty family started fostering because they had a strong, sustaining faith and they wanted to share it with children and families who were going through difficult times. They were confident – fortified by the prayers and support from their church family and friends and by the knowledge that they were already raising two kind and well-mannered children.
Soon after becoming licensed, the Havertys welcomed two beautiful little girls into their home. The girls seemed to fit into the family almost instantly. However, after just a few weeks, the “honeymoon” was over. The precious five-year-old who had seemed well-adjusted at first, now was screaming, throwing tantrums, hurting herself and others, and destroying the house using whatever she could find. There was an unfortunate incident involving scissors and bedroom curtains … and no one could ever quite explain a blue stain that mysteriously appeared in the middle of the hallway.
The Havertys were incredible people AND parents, but they realized that parenting children with serious trauma requires a different set of skills than the ones they had used with their biological children. Time outs and removing privileges worked with the children who were deeply connected to them because of their years together … but, with the children in foster care, those strategies created distrust and prompted a “fight, flight, or freeze reaction.” Children who have endured early childhood trauma at the hands of their biological parents have not learned life’s first lesson – parents can be trusted to love and take care of them.
The Havertys started attending trainings on Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) with AGAPE of North Alabama. Professionally trained AGAPE social workers taught them alternative methods of parenting that focused on attachment with the children and meeting the needs behind their behaviors. Simultaneously, AGAPE’s TBRI Practitioners met with the family in their home for family and individual therapy. Slowly, things started to change as they made progress toward creating rich, deep bonds with the new children in their home, which led to healing and an ability to trust for those little girls.
Using similar techniques, the Haverty family reached out to the foster girls’ biological family, with whom the girls eventually reunited. The Havertys shared the strategies of seeing the need behind a behavior and focusing on attachment with the biological parents and through this teaching/mentoring, the families to become close. The Haverty family was able to help the family reunify – the primary goal of all foster care situations – AND to share their faith with the girls in their home and with their biological parents, which fulfilled their personal purpose in entering foster care.
This story of a foster family’s desire to help children would not have been possible without the support and assistance of AGAPE of North Alabama, Inc. (CFC #39960) … and, as incredible as they are, AGAPE’s Social Workers would not have had the TBRI skills to help the Havertys if it weren’t for the generosity of our CFC partners. Gifts given through past CFCs have enabled AGAPE workers to gain new skills that they have been able to then share with our foster families. As this true life story illustrates, our foster families then use those skills with the foster children in their homes and even share those skills with the biological families of the foster children. By doing this, AGAPE of North Alabama is not just investing in REACTIVE INTERVENTION for today, but also in PROACTIVE PREVENTION for tomorrow.
Thank you for your support of AGAPE of North Alabama (CFC #39960).