The Importance of Family
The word itself can evoke feeling of love, loyalty and unconditional acceptance. It is something that we often take for granted. We become frustrated with those who “care too much” and only want the best for us. At times, we take family for granted, assuming they will always be our biggest cheerleaders and forget to appreciate the little things they do to better out lives.
We forget there are people in our community who have never experienced a Sunday family dinner, family BBQs in the summer or the long and tedious road trips of our childhood. They missed out on the skating lessons, bedtime stories and trips to the beach.
When people miss out on these experiences, they long for that family connection. This can manifest itself in multiple ways: seeking father/mother figures in there partner, filling the void by self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, building their own “street family” by becoming gang involved and confusing boundaries with professional helpers.
This brings me to think of a young lady named Lacy and her journey to create her own sense of family.
Lacy entered the child welfare system at the age of 4 months. She was apprehended due to substance abuse issues in the home. Her mother had the option of leaving her father and keeping the 5 children. She opted to remain with the father, and all 5 children became permanent wards of Child and Family Services. Lacy was never adopted and she shuffled from care provider to care provider. She was living with FASD and significant mental health struggles, making it difficult for Child and Family Services to find her a stable home. She was eventually placed in a youth shelter until she reached the age of majority and was discharged to live independently.
Lacy began fantasizing about having a child at the age of 14. She would go for multiple pregnancy tests a month, convinced that she was pregnant and wanting nothing more than to have a family of her own. When this did not become a reality, she turned to drugs, unhealthy relationships, street family and gang involvement. She was also frequently self-harming in the form of cutting. She would refuse to address her psychiatric needs and was not in a healthy space. When she started receiving supports from Turning Leaf Community Support Services, she was deemed one of the highest-risk or highest-need participants in the program. She gravitated towards male supports and would behave in a very childlike way, speaking in a childlike voice and displaying behaviors similar to that of a 10-year-old girl. Lacy would seek approval from her professional supports in the way a child seeks approval from their parent.
Fast forward a few years, Lacy became pregnant. While there were serious concerns from all involved in her life due to the historical information, the pregnancy brought on a sense of maturity that had never been demonstrated by Lacy. She sought psychiatric care and become compliant with all of the medication recommendations. She researched parenting programs, enrolled and attended without external supports. She planned and ensured she would have what she would need for her child’s arrival. Ultimately, the child was apprehended at birth. We were sure this would send Lacy spiraling into a dark space, but she yet again surprised us with a new level of maturity. She maintained all visits she was permitted with the child and followed all direction provided by Child and Family Services. Lacy worked incredibly hard at learning everything she could about parenting and quickly became her own best advocate.
Over the next few years, Lacy’s family grew. Today, she has three children and is a proud mother. Although all three children are in care of Child and Family Services, she remains involved in their life and continues to try to work with Child and Family Services to be the best mother and as involved as possible. It has been such a pleasure to see Lacy grow as a woman and mature as a mother. I am privileged to have walked this journey with her. I was gifted with the opportunity to be the first visitor after each birth and hold each baby she delivered. While she has learned much from Turning Leaf Community Support Services and her talented support staff, we have all learned resilience, determination and courage from her.
Lacy is open to possibility and hope since becoming a mother and although she does not have her family in the conventional sense, to her, she has a family and that means that she finally has found love, loyalty and unconditional acceptance.
– Meaghan Granger, Community Support Clinical Case Manager
Please consider donating to Turning Leaf, so we can continue to help people like Lacy turn a new leaf.