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/.
Cheyenne may be a petite girl, but don't underestimate her or treat her like a baby. Her compact body holds a huge spirit and intellect. Her body also packs many uncommon abilities, like creativity, humor, and saying exactly what she thinks. She told us about some of her favorite things:
"I like doing ceramics, painting, coloring, arts and crafts and reading. I like to color with my foster sister. My favorite colors are yellow and purple.
I love to jump on the tramp with the sprinklers underneath. I like swimming and I'm a good runner. I like riding bikes and scooters, going fishing, going to the cabin, playing board games and cards. I like to play with the dogs. And I love babies! I love playing with iPads too!
I was in a special school, a Gateway school. If you have trouble paying attention you can go to a booth in the back. Or you can raise your hand and ask for a break and go on a little swing that they push you around. I am really getting back to normal. I may be in a normal classroom soon, because I'm doing so much better. I really like my teacher that I've had for two years. He is very cool. He doesn't yell at me, he is kind and he plays games with me. I hope I have him next year."
Cheyenne's current foster mom, Helen said, "We're a jokey family and I think Cheyenne loves to joke and laugh. She has the greatest belly laugh ever! She has just blossomed in the past year. She was a very serious girl when she first came to us. She had great reason to be serious, but she's lightened up a lot. We tease and joke and she teases back. Laughing is good medicine.
I think that she is quite driven. When there's something she wants to accomplish, she works very hard at it. We got some math pages that help her bridge from 4th grade to 5th during the summer and some of it is very hard. But she will work really hard until she figures it out."
On the subject of Cheyenne's future, Helen said, "I think she's going to be a very functioning full adult. She needs a lot of support. There will some hard days, weeks and months ahead as she is figuring it all out." She added, "Every day needs to be a new day...a clean slate. When I tuck her in at night, I remind her that tomorrow is a new day. I think with a family that will give her that, she is going to be just fine."
Cheyenne has a really kind heart. Each of the adults in her life has mentioned how hard she works to manage her feelings. Even though she struggles with strong emotions because of what she's been through, she is a loving girl. She responds positively to patience, acceptance and nurturing.
Her adoption team hopes her adoptive folks will have these important qualities:
1. Don't take things personally when Cheyenne's feelings overflow. Show constant empathy, emotional safety and find the right moments to help identify strong feelings that precede behaviors. You are modeling the self-calming and self-control that Cheyenne is trying to develop.
2. Find a "toolbox" of compassionate and creative parenting approaches that help work beyond a trauma history. Taking breaks will be important. And working as a parental team, if you are a couple.
3. Have an extensive support system. That should include friends and family who will be positive, helpful and encouraging when you are feeling discouraged.
4. Seek out "love and logic" type training, support groups and good books about strengthening attachment and bonding. Always be learning about how to give Cheyenne the healing relationship she needs.
5. Accept that Cheyenne has work to do that may affect each developmental stage she passes through. Focus on positive reassuring messages that give her the security she needs to process the past and move into the future. "No matter what you do, I'm not going anywhere and I will always love you."
Cheyenne's caseworker has known her for several years. She calls Cheyenne her "little ray of sunshine"--usually happy and full of energy. "Cheyenne is small but mighty. She's been through a lot and she is a pistol--up for anything. She loves to try new things. She has a big personality; smart, quick, a good sense of humor. She will stand up for herself--not always in an effective way, but she's learning how to get her needs met without meltdowns.
Families who might want to adopt Cheyenne need to be realistic and able to access community services. They also need to know that she is not the sum of her challenging behaviors. She has so many charming qualities that balance that out."
Cheyenne could be in just about any parental situation--a couple or single parent--but probably not in a large family in which she has to compete for attention with younger children. Because of growth, development and ADHD challenges, she will need counseling, medication management and other professional services.
If your commitment and your support network are solid, this child will amaze you with her tremendous ability to tackle those challenges and prevail.
Portrait by Barb from Barb Bergeson Studio Gallery
To find out more about Cheyenne, 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: 30488.
|Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544