A Poem: The Foster Adolescent

Thoughtful stressed man with a mess in his head

By Cynthia Henderson, PhD, LICSW, LCSW-C

I am caught between leaving childhood, some of the benefits that it brought or benefits taken away

In route to adulthood, am I ready, my brain is still processing the shift and feeling it has gone astray

So many things I may never see again, so many places I dreamed of, will they ever materialize

My nights feeling abandoned, my world has been traumatized and my eyes puffy from my frequent cries

But some realized I am a process, my life is a process, my brain development is a process

You took the time to rescue and to help me untangle this emotional mess

You saw my anger but realized that it was not all about you

You saw my confusion and understood that I honestly, did not know what decisions to make and had no clue of what to do

You removed my labels of “bad Kid” or kid at-risk, and kid destined to fail, damaged and lost

You became the worker, the social worker who refused to be seized by documents and constrained by cost

You dared to learn what the development speed of the processing in my brain would take

You viewed my process as an opportunity to slow down, and think, and adjust to my growth, and consider my emotional ache

You used my processing time to help me heal and to shift the direction that my life was as it headed in deep depression

I used my amygdala, the emotional part of my brain that perpetrates impulses, instinctive behavior, and aggression

You took the time to realize that I was dealing with the impact of loss and trauma in my adolescent seasons

Please remember that if treated properly, I will one day get through this process and share my process reasons

Thank you for Caring

Cynthia Henderson is senior practice associate in child welfare at NASW and Project Coordinator Phase One of  the Integrating Adolescent Brain Development Into Child Welfare Practice with Older Youth initiative.

 

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