I have recently returned to southern Oregon, a place I call home. I encounter many memories of families I have worked with here, their children and their parents. I am reminded of a true story that happened to me, which in my career is very unique and highly affirming.
Back in the early 2000's, I had the opportunity to work in the southern Oregon schools as a "Level 7" Case Manager. My caseload was made up of children who needed a little additional coaching support but weren't being seen by school counselors or involved with DHS or the local youth authorities. These parameters opened a broad swath of children to assist. In one school in the northern part of the county, I worked with a teen who was struggling a bit between school and home. He had no significant issues, more of a cultural difficulty between the two worlds and expectations his parents had. He was a charming young man, with light in his eyes and a quick smile. We would meet a few times only but in these sessions he explored some deep issues and I like to think he was comforted by my presence.
Flash forward about 13 years. I'm doing attachment work with adoptive families throughout the region of northern California. I was assigned to a family who lived in a tourist town, with a lake as its centerpiece. I meet the family and am struck immediately by the father. I hadn't put it together-or maybe just hadn't remembered- the father's name, but upon seeing him it all came back. This was the quick smiling boy I had met a few times in the Rogue Valley some 13 years before. He was now an adoptive father living in this small community in the far northern reaches of California. Somehow, some way, his family had come to me to assist them in creating an attachment based intervention system for their adoptive child who had some challenges.
This experience takes my breath away to this day. Rarely in this field of work do we get to see successes of our clients and their families. We do this work as an avocation-we are drawn to it. We do the work and let go of the outcome and just hope that the youth and their family made it through the tough part. But this experience reaffirms my faith in this work.