We have recently had a new child join our family. Steve, who turns fourteen the end of this month, came knocking on our door one day looking for help. He had heard about us through the grapevine. The process of adding a new child to our home is a pretty big decision, and one we try not to make lightly. Kids come to us from a variety of avenues. Some kids are referred to us from the Child Welfare System, the Court System, Churches, or other community organization, or like Steve, they find us on their own. With referrals from other organizations we often get a little bit more background history, but with kids that come to us from the street, we have to go on what they tell us. Florimon, is one of our staff, his main responsibilities include serving as our liaison between the official Child Welfare agency and the other organizations working in that area, working with the court system to get legal guardianship type paperwork for our kids, and trying to verify the story and needs of the kids that come to us. He has worked in both Haiti and Jimaní in Child Welfare for several years, and has a large network of contacts to help him work with these kids. With the information he gathers we try to quickly determine if a child simply needs to get back to their family or if they need to stay with us.
There are a lot of things we have to consider when bringing a new kid into our family with safety being a priority. We have to consider where the rest of the kids are both behaviorally and emotionally. We have to think about whether or not we have the staffing in place to provide the necessary supervision an increase in the number of kids. We have to think about our emotional ability to care for an additional child. Sometimes, like with Steve, he came to us, but we needed additional time before we could take him in. It took us about a week to get to where we felt like we were ready. Part of that was due to the fact that we had recently taken in a kid that had come to us from Santo Domingo. It was pretty tumultuous and a difficult transition for him and us, and in the end he decided to go back to Santo Domingo. I wanted to have a time to debrief with the kids about the rough month we had had, but also remind them that our family’s mission is to be a family for those that need one. We sat down and talked about what it felt like when a new kid came in, and I asked if they remembered how they felt their first day. We talked about what they can do to help a new kid transition into our family, and we also talked about things that are not helpful. Herby, got to the heart of what I wanted to sink in when he said, if we didn’t take in new kids then he wouldn’t have a place, and he knew there were kids that needed us.
We continuously pray for God’s wisdom in these decisions as we try to balance so many different issues. Steve has been with us just over a week now, and it is a relatively smooth transition as he adjusts to living with so many people, as he learns the rules of the house, and adjusts to our daily schedule. He has had some minor issues in getting along with some of the other kids, but overall it has been very positive.