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Learning, growing together: After time in foster care, daughter and mother build trusting relationship

May 21, 2010

Youth Villages Family Counselor Alexa Roney, left, with Angela, Jennifer and Gabriel. Angela, center, spent a year in foster care before being reunited with her mother. Both Angela and her mother had to learn how to communicate with each other as well as establishing productive schedules and behavior. They recently discharged from in-home services.

Family is tough.

Years ago, Angela’s parents divorced and her father re-married.

There was a lot of conflict and strife throughout the process, and it affected Angela in many ways. She was depressed, she ran away from home and she hurt herself. She spent a year in foster care. Upon discharge, she decided to live with her biological mother.

Jennifer, Angela’s mother, is proud of her daughter. She should be. A sophomore in high school, Angela is doing well and in some honors classes. She plays on the soccer team and is a squad leader in her school’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. But Angela hadn’t lived with her mother for some time.

“At first, it was a big adjustment,” Jennifer said. “I wanted to give her everything, but that wasn’t reasonable.”

Youth Villages Family Counselor Alexa Roney worked with Angela on communication skills, making good choices and anger management. She worked with Jennifer on parenting skills and offered support. She worked with both on establishing self-confidence and trust.

“Jennifer needed to implement structure and establish safe boundaries,” Roney said. “Each of them has an extensive history, and they found a way to communicate without pushing one another’s buttons.”

Angela has been with her mother since August. One morning an argument between mother and daughter about something unimportant escalated into almost shouting, and Angela began to panic. Jennifer was able to comfort Angela and diminish her heightened anxiety because of the argument. She reminded her daughter that her mother was there.

Today, Angela is thriving. She’ll be going to her school’s prom this spring as well as a formal military ball.

“I’m growing and developing into my own person,” Angela said. “I’m becoming more self-confident and I’m able to make good choices.”

Her troop of friends frequently visits her home, and Jennifer is getting accustomed to cooking and helping out. But Angela also helps out with chores around the house. She helps care for Gabby, 5, her younger sister.

“We’re both learning and growing together,” Jennifer said. “I’m thankful for Alexa’s help. I’m happy Angela has come home.”

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