This month's Guest Columnist is Pamla Manazer.
There are as many paths to instilling hope in the foster child or young adult as there are foster children and young adults. The challenge is identifying each one’s unique, “hope connection.” Being able to reinforce this foreign concept is a critical step in helping them find their previously silenced voice.
A safe relationship, anchored in this newly discovered hope, creates a secure jumping off point for future growth.
Being able to acknowledge what has happened to them, without propagating a victim mentality, is a pivotal skill. They’ve been surviving in a barely furnished world, populated mainly with helplessness, hopeless and pain. Among other things, this presents a perfect breeding ground for human trafficking. Being able to assess the depth of this breeding ground as soon as possible in our outreach process becomes key in any effort to break the cycle.
Hence, our ability to communicate HOPE and facilitate the process of instilling or possibly installing it, until it can take root and grow on its own, is most important.
Hope is an interesting word: Like many others it can be launched as a noun or a verb, each with their own definitions and synonyms.
As a noun, hope is identified as, “… a feeling of expectation or grounds for believing that something good may happen.” Synonyms include optimism faith and trust.
As a verb, hope translates into, “… wanting something to be the case for…longing for, dreaming of or wishing for.” Accordingly, it’s synonyms include the action words, plan, aim and intend.
One describes a feeling and the other is a call to action. Both understandably foreign to this group.
Knowing the subtle difference in its use as a verb or noun might hold the key to our ability to succeed or fail at unlocking the entrenched victim mentality.
The foster child’s inexperience with hope (as a noun) is due in part to there never having been a point of reference on which to hang its identity.
Perhaps in their past, there might have been a feeling of hope that things would get better or stop hurting or be less scary, but repeated failures of “hopes” coming to fruition will destroy any point of reference or recognition of that emotion. That missing emotion creates the vacuum of vulnerability that paves the way for human trafficking, in its many forms. Any possibility of eliciting a call to action of hoping, is equally absent.
When we are even slightly successful in sharing the shadow of HOPE, we pierce the vacuum that encourages lies to parade as truth and as the fresh air of possibility floods in, it brings with it, limitlessness positive scenarios of, “What if…?”
When we can combine the efforts of those who have a heart for the Foster Community with the unique wisdom that can only come from having lived in that world, we take the best steps toward identifying the path that can expose the existence of hope and the Foster Child’s God given right to it.
These children and young adults have been deprived of many, “things” and advantages. Of course, we want to surround them with creature comforts and nurturing custodial experiences. But until the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are replaced with a belief in Hope (the noun) and the ability to Hope (the verb) all our efforts will fall away from the wound like a well-intentioned band-aid whose stickiness has run its course. Sharing HOPE while providing HELP is an ideal combination.
The willingness to invest in training by the potential Foster Family and the heart of Hope that drives former Foster Youth to reach back and share the insights that must be understood and incorporated, have proven to be the most effective basis of true healing.
Once that Hope molecule has been transplanted into the void, a new breeding ground can be established where all the other missing elements can be planted, cultivated, and harvested.
The next steps will be exponentially easier to take. We are due for a growth spurt and HOPE you agree. Check back next month when we give you the 4-1-1 on the new law in California that “legalized” child prostitution.