Carlos and his sister Eve grew up in the desert. Their biological mother was homeless and their father unknown. Eve cared for Carlos in the way that his mother did not – providing food, warmth during the cold desert nights and at times protection from predatory people who they came across in their travels. Carlos and Eve’s mother was involved in a cult-like group that was abusive both emotionally and physically to both she and her children. Eve tried her best to protect her little brother from the abuse. Sadly, she received no protection from it and suffered abuse from fellow cult members. Both she and her brother were finally rescued at the emergency room when Carlos was badly burned and their mother was forced to seek medical care. Carlos and Eve made their way to Tennessee to stay with relatives who quickly realized they did not have the capacity to care for the two of them. Both of the siblings were bounced back and forth from numerous foster homes – unfortunately some of the homes were abusive. Thankfully both Carlos and Eve were able to stay together and finally things began to look up.
The day they visited with their forever family was supposed to be another normal transition from foster home to foster home. They had their big black garbage bags packed once again, expecting to only be there for a short while. Normally when Eve and Carlos both began to feel comfortable in a foster home they would be ousted to another stranger’s house. When their adoptive parents first laid eyes on the siblings they tell me they knew it was meant to be. Carlos and Eve’s new foster parents had been looking for a child to call their own. They had been foster parents through a local agency for a few months but were really looking to adopt and provide permanence. They say that when they heard Carlos and Eve’s story and met the two kids they instantly fell in love. The siblings moved into their home. There were many issues that came up during this time and with the help of family and individual therapy the family was able to come to the conclusion that adoption was the right answer for everyone. Carlos and Eve now joke with me that they even favor their adoptive parent’s appearance and no one would ever guess they were adopted unless they choose to share the information. Both siblings take great pride in the fact that they were chosen by their parents – and consider this to be a special and unique part of their identities.
Several years have passed and Carlos and Eve are now teenagers expecting to graduate from high school very soon. Their father recently told me that Eve wrecked her new car (which she had been anxiously awaiting after getting her license) into a neighbor’s mailbox. Their dad joked that they were going to take things a little slower and give her more time to practice driving. He then said something very enlightening – he was happy and a bit relieved that Eve had the chance to have driving mishaps as a teenager. Her dad said he was happy that she gets a chance to make “normal” teenage mistakes and as scary as driving can be – it made his heart swell with pride to know that Eve was growing up into a strong, confident young woman.
The road has not been easy for Carlos and Eve. The ASAP program has provided them with intensive trauma-focused therapy as well as family sessions that have helped to improve communication, attachment and empathic understanding. I can also say that I am so thankful to this family for adopting these two amazing kids. They have been through a great deal of trauma at a young age but they are both incredibly resilient. I know there will be more bumps in the road just as there are for any of us but at least they know they have unpacked their bags for the last time in a place where they can safely grow up – even if they damage a few mailboxes in the process.