Neglected during his first few years of his life, Ryan* experienced significant trauma that would affect him for years to come. He and his two siblings experienced unimaginable maltreatment and neglect at the hands of their biological parents. They were removed from their parents and placed in a foster care family. Everything seemed to be going so well, the foster parents decided to adopt the sibling group.

As many kids who experience childhood trauma do, Ryan began to act out. The dark curly-haired five year-old became physically aggressive to his new parents. He was disruptive at home and in school. His new family didn’t know what to do, Ryan’s older sister and brother were much easier to handle. The adoptive family, unable to manage his behaviors, signed custody of Ryan back to the state. This time Ryan didn’t just lose another set of parents; he lost his siblings, the only family he had through his difficult short life.

Over five years, Ryan was bounced through several residential programs and group homes. He was placed on multiple psychotropic medications which left him irritable, groggy and apathetic. School was difficult for him academically and behaviorally. His self esteem and spunk suffered.

At barely the age of 10, Ryan had moved more than seven times, had lost two sets of parents, and was separated from his siblings. There was finally a light for him though when he was referred to The Home for Little Wanderers Intensive Foster Care (IFC) program. The Home’s IFC connects specially trained foster care parents with children that face challenges including emotional, behavioral, and/or developmental needs. Our organization provides professional training, 24-hour clinical staff support services, and a monthly support group, among many other services.

In his new foster home with Ted and Deb*, two loving and well trained adults, Ryan began to thrive. He was taken off all of his psychotropic medications and was freed of their debilitating side effects. Thanks to the dedication of his foster parents and Ryan’s own perseverance, his aggressiveness and oppositional behavior was managed to the point he no longer acted out. Less burdened by his trauma, Ryan was able to show his fun side.

Now, Ryan is 17, a senior in high school, and has formed positive and lasting relationships with Ted and Deb. Academically, school is still a struggle for him due to his learning disabilities but he works with an educational advocate to ensure his senior year goes smoothly. He spent his summer working as a junior coach at his community basketball camp where the kids loved and respected his skills on the court. The foster family has transitioned into his pre-adoptive family. “We hope to finalize Ryan’s adoption in 2015,” shared Deb, “even though we already consider ourselves a forever family.”