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A Very Brave Boy in Wisconsin Foster Care

Jamal is a 10-year-old boy in Wisconsin foster care. He has been living with a CCR foster family for about a year. He and his little sister are doing well and developing solid relationships with the foster parents. Jamal was crushed that he did not see his mom over Christmas. He believes his mom is mad at him because of their conversation the week before. Here is a summary of what happened.

Being a foster parent means developing solid and unique bonds with children.

Jamal was disappointed that his mom didn't show up for their Christmas visit. He is afraid that she doesn't want to see him anymore because of something he told her. She blamed missing the visit on the weather, but Jamal is convinced his mom is mad at him. Jamal states his mom has a history of lying and not telling the truth. When she gets caught lying, she speaks more lies. When she is mad, she ignores people.

During the past year, Jamal has developed powerful feelings for his foster parents. He thought about talking to his mom about his feelings for a long time. He found the courage to tell his mom he wanted to be adopted by his foster family during a visit before Christmas. He told his mom that he believes he is in a better place with his new foster family and feels strongly his mom is not physically or emotionally able to care for him. What a brave, insightful young man! 

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Kids in foster care are often stuck in the middle.

Jamal said his mom listened and didn’t get mad right away, but she was sad, cried, and hoped he would want to come home.

Jamal shared what he liked about being part of his foster family and compared that to life when he lived with his mom. He remembers not having much food and spending most of the time indoors. He said he didn't like living in a dirty house or staying up late. Several times, he fell asleep at school because he was so tired. Jamal also told his mom that he didn't understand why his mom and older sister were always locked in their bedrooms. He doesn't know what they were doing, but sometimes they didn't come out until the next day. As a result, he and his little sister didn't get to eat or brush their teeth.

He is very happy in his foster home because he gets to eat dinner every day, takes long showers, and doesn't get hit with things by his foster parents when they are mad.

Jamal reported to his case manager that his mom would spank him with different objects. In addition, he was told to lie if a man came to visit because the social worker didn't want the kids to see them. He spoke about having difficulty understanding why his mom falls asleep in the middle of talking, which she continues to do during their weekly contact.  He added that if he and his sister needed anything, his Grandma usually took care of it and not his mother. So much expression from such a young boy!

Foster children can experience an entirely new way of life.

In comparison, Jamal reported that his foster parents are nice and want him to do well in school and have schedules for eating and sleeping. He understands that discipline and rules are necessary for teaching him good behavior and that discipline is always done with love. He says he usually gets in trouble when he doesn't listen or fights with his sister, but his foster mom doesn't hit him. He likes going to church and feels connected to the entire foster family. He also likes how the family laughs and plays with him and his sister.

Recently, Jamal's case manager explained how family case decisions are made. He had questions about who would decide who he gets to live with. At ten years old, he clearly understands that considering permanency is complicated. He knows that his mom has requirements for successful reunification, which is different from just wanting him and his sister back. His case manager continues to be impressed by the boy's maturity and resilience.

Jamal said he felt good after telling his mom his feelings, and he feels ready to speak to the court, too, if he has a chance. He was glad his mom wasn't too mad at him, but he felt terrible that she was sad. The case manager explained the role of a GAL, Guardian ad Litem, to Jamal and how it would be beneficial to have a conversation with her ahead of the next hearing. He said that he would still like to have his mom and the rest of his family a part of his life, but he doesn’t want to go back to living with his mom and wants to stay where he is.

Foster mom was surprised by the conversation.

When Susan (foster mom) learned what Jamal told his mother, she was surprised. Susan was unaware that Jamal planned to speak with his mom about being adopted. She knew it had been on his mind for a while but thought it was too early to talk about it with her. Susan planned to follow up and talk with him to process how he felt. She added that it would be beneficial for Jamal to get therapy again. Susan also said Jamal doesn’t talk about his previous foster care experiences, but the GAL has commented that he seems much happier in their home than in past homes.

Susan received information that Jamal's mother has not yet completed her task to enroll Jamal in therapy and that now he may be put on a waitlist. The provider attempted to reach his mom by phone and sent paperwork two weeks ago with no return contact. Lack of response from the kid's mom is a continued problem.

Jamal's mother asked if the Christmas get-together could be rescheduled, but the foster family could not accommodate the request but suggested an alternative date in January. Jamal's older sister stopped by the house briefly after Christmas for about 15 minutes. The quick visit went well. The rescheduled January date did not occur because Jamal's mom reported having car trouble. She again asked Susan if another date could be arranged. Susan was hesitant because she didn't want her to be a "no show" again. They decided to wait until the next scheduled family visit to celebrate Christmas. Jamal questioned his mom's reason for canceling and said, "she always tells people she has car trouble."

Foster kids must know it is okay to talk about their feelings.

Jamal is anxious to see his mom in person to ensure that she isn't mad about him wanting to be adopted. He told his case manager that he was afraid she didn't want to see him anymore because of what he said. He said sometimes he wishes he didn't tell her. The case manager reassured him that his mom loves him very much and that it was ok to talk about our feelings.

Jamal has regularly scheduled meetings each week with his mentor. He will start karate in February, and it will run two nights a week for six weeks. He is looking forward to the class. Susan continues to work with Jamal on smooth morning routines. She also encourages Jamal to resist feeling that he is his sister's caretaker. This has been difficult for Jamal, but progress is being made.

Jamal is looking forward to the next scheduled visit with his mom and hopes she doesn't cancel or not show up again.

There are hundreds of Wisconsin children like Jamal who need loving foster parents. Qualify to become a foster parent and change a child's life like Jamal.



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