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Understanding the Permanency Process

Family Holding Hands


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A Former Foster Youth Speaks....

photo of young man

“I grew up my whole life in foster care. I personally would have done anything to be adopted. There’s a misconception out there that turning 18 frees you from all need for a family. Just because you are suddenly able to vote and give blood without a permission slip from your parents does not mean you don’t need parents or family to call your own.”

This is one of many statements foster children make about their need for permanency and what it means to them. Take a moment to reflect on this statement before moving on.

Permanency - What does it mean?

Permanency is an enduring family relationship that:

Jennifer's Story

Photo of Jennifer

“My name is Jennifer. I am sixteen years old. I went into foster care when I was a baby and then I went back home when I was 5. In second grade my mom sent me to live with my grandmother. My grandmother died the next year and I went back home. At age 9, I returned to foster care. I lived with two families and then an adoptive family. But the adoptive family decided they didn’t want me. I lived with several families after that.

They put me in a group home six months ago. I am getting out of here and can you believe this? They’re looking for another family for me. I’m thinking it might have made more sense if somebody had done more when I was a little kid.

I don’t know when I realized that I was different from other kids. It feels like something I always new. Like I was born with it. That there was something bad about me. I don’t hate my parents but I don’t think they should have been parents.

One of my foster moms told me I was a drug baby. This may be true. I know they put me into foster care because no one was taking care of me when I was growing up. I can’t remember a lot. But I felt emptiness and hurt for many years. I couldn’t be filled up. I needed my mom. I needed for the confusion to end.” “I needed to feel like someone cared about me. When I was little and would see my mom I didn’t know what to do. I don’t remember a lot about my foster parents. All of this is sort a blur. What did I need? I needed for the hurt inside of me to go away. That’s all I could think about.”



Jennifer experienced multiple moves and multiple separations. Her attachment needs were clearly not met. Jennifer may have long-term difficulties as a result of the impermanence she experienced in her life.



Note from DeeDee: Possible activity? Could change above narrative into an activity like this one: If you want to do that, please give me the supporting data (possible strategies, etc.)
Here is the training blurb as stated in the curriculum:
Trainer note: Following the reading of the story divide the group into small groups (or pairs) and pass out the story and activity. The activity should take no longer than 10 minutes. The reporting back is going from one group (pair) to another have them report out what Jennifer needed and allow any discussion.
Trainer states: I’m going to divide you in small groups (or pairs) now and pass out to you a copy of Jennifer’s story and an activity that goes along with it. As you see in the activity Jennifer’s statements regarding attachment are listed and then there’s a space to indicate what Jennifer needed as a child that would have supported positive attachment. Please comment on each one of the statements in your group (or pairs). Go ahead and do that now. Now I’d like to have each group (pair) report out on each one of Jennifer’s statements until we’ve gone over them all. Jennifer experienced multiple moves; her attachment needs were clearly not met. She experienced multiple separations. Jennifer is going to have long-term difficulties as a result of the impermanence she experienced.


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