Editor's Note: Window on the Clearwater has joined the Wednesday's Child network to help spread the word about children that are waiting for families to give them the loving care that they need. Each Wednesday we will profile a different child. For more information about Wednesday's Child and how you can be involved check the web site at: http://www.idahowednesdayschild.org/.
"I like Star Wars! And playing with light sabers! My favorite is Luke Skywalker. And I like riding my scooter in the front yard and sometimes inside.
I play guns outside and I go camping. I have treasures. I keep them on my bookshelf."
Kaleb's broad grin, when he shares it, is enchanting, and so is his generous nature. When anyone comes to visit him at his group home, he hands each person one of his toys and shows how to re-purpose it into a gun, complete with his own sound effects. Then he says, "Come see our back yard."
When you step through that back door, you are entering Kaleb's enchanted world of campfires, caves and carnivores. You will be his side-kick, hunting for food--usually with a gun. But he will tell you, "No pointing guns at people." This boy knows the rules. In his world, guns are for protection or they are a food-gathering tool. In Kaleb's world of fantasy, most of the time he is in charge. Perhaps that's because so much of his early life and trauma left him desperate for safety, control and dependable food.
Despite the hard things Kaleb experienced, he is a very loving boy, willing to give his trust almost too readily.
Kaleb has lived in a group home for youth with cognitive and emotional challenges for the past year and a half. Watching him interact with staff illuminates many of the skills and traits this child needs in a permanent family. Before entering a new place, his counselor asks Kaleb to put his listening ears on. She prepares him to listen to instructions and not to touch things until someone gives permission. Throughout the bowling activity at Pinz, Kaleb received gentle prompts reminding him of rules or to slow down. Redirection when he becomes fixed on something he wants to do, helps him wait until others are ready to help him.
Kaleb's cognitive and developmental delays may be hereditary, as well as from early childhood neglect. Caregivers must often interact with Kaleb on a level that's a couple of years younger than actual age. Moments of preparation and close supervision help Kaleb stay calm and find successes in everyday tasks, as well as with unfamiliar activities.
Kaleb has made amazing progress in the time he's been in State custody. A foster dad who knew Kaleb when he was very young, describes how dramatic that progress has been. "When he came to us, you couldn't understand his speech. At age four, he didn't understand his colors or letters or numbers. When we gave him a toy, he didn't know what to do with it. He didn't seem to have imagination to play on his own. He couldn't sleep through the night and he wanted to play or eat at 4:30 in the morning. He rushed through meals, not knowing when he was full. He would eat until he made himself sick."
Watching Kaleb bowl--carefully waiting until the pins are cleared from the alley--shows he's learning to wait for the right moment, despite his obvious tendency to rush into things. He was also able to monitor when his two pieces of pizza felt just right. His obvious enjoyment of everything that happened during his Wednesday's Child adventure at Pinz Bowling Center warmed the hearts of the adults who designed the day just for him.
Impulsiveness and distractions can challenge completion of everyday tasks, at times, but Kaleb is learning reliable routines. He is thriving at his group home. Just one year ago, when Kaleb became frustrated, a tantrum could shut down any outing. He is now more able to venture with trusted adults into new environments and situations.
Although Kaleb functions well in familiar places and with known routines, his adoptive family needs to have an understanding of a "fight, freeze or flight" autonomic system that is essentially misfiring. Many triggers are known, but some seem to come out of the blue. His family must understand these moments as self-control storms or as big emotions Kaleb is gradually learning to process in different ways. And he is doing it so well!
Kaleb's adoption team offers these suggestions about the type of family Kaleb needs:
Kaleb's adoption team would like to hear from a stable couple with no other children or much older children who can share a large portion of both parents' attention. Experience with emotionally and behaviorally challenged children would be a plus, as would an understanding of IEP educational goals.
For the right couple, Kaleb offers loving ways and affection that is given so exuberantly! Seeing and discovering the world through this boy's eyes will make every day an absolute adventure. Kaleb's casework team prefers adoption as the most stable option for his future but might consider a guardianship arrangement with the right family.
Portrait by Barb from Barb Bergeson Studio Gallery
To find out more about Kaleb, adoption or becoming a foster parent, email the Idaho CareLine (Please include your zip code and city.) or call 1-800-926-2588. You may be asked to provide this reference number: 30496.
|Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544