A boy with a common name but an uncommon story

27 Mar

This is my first post on the Public Allies Blog and I’m beyond excited to be able to share my thoughts and experiences on a blog with so many other fantastic Allies! I hope everyone can learn and enjoy the stories and experience what I will share.

I’m placed at Devereux Florida, which is a case management organization in Orlando. Basically we deal with the dependency system and serve children in foster care. The dependency system can be complicated and scary so I plan on writing another post about that because knowledge is power and more people should understand what foster care really is. But now on to the story of a boy who has grown very close to my heart in a very short period of time. His name is John and he’s been in foster care for the past 12 years of his life. He’s 17 now and his mother and father have both died and he lives in a group home with dozens of other kids. He’s been in over 13 placements and over 15 schools. He’s never slept in the same bed for more than a few years. He’s a constant traveler and not by choice.

My job title at Devereux is a Family Finder Coordinator. In a nutshell I work with our children and teens to build connections with their family members they lost touch with when they were removed, siblings they’ve never met, foster parents they miss and friends whose numbers they don’t have. It’s my job is make them feel like they aren’t alone on an island and help introduce them to people who will be forever connections. Along the way I read all of their files (John has over 20), put a list together of all the schools they’ve been to and places they’ve lived. This information is many times forgotten by children in foster care who carry their memories in trash bags when they go from place to place. Pictures are forgotten and people come and go far too often.

When I heard John had been in care for so long I immediately started putting together a family information folder for him. I found pictures, death certificates, birth certificates and I complied them all together to give to John. It was only the second time I met him and I was so nervous that he would blow me off, or be upset that I knew so many personal things about him. Too many people had let him down and I wanted his trust. His reaction was the exact opposite of what I feared. When I handed him the folder of his life, and the photo album he carefully looked over everything. He smiled and said “Wow, me and my siblings are all around the same age.” He looked at me and smiled and said “I didn’t know that”. I will never forget that moment. I couldn’t believe he didn’t know how old his own siblings were but his world is a fast one, and things didn’t stick long so I simply smiled back. He looked me in the eyes and said thank you. It was the greatest feeling in the world.

I don’t know what John’s story will turn out like, but I know that because of my work as an Ally he has a better sense of who he is and how he fits into this world.

This is John and me before his first big trip on a plane for his spring break!


5 Responses to “A boy with a common name but an uncommon story”

  1. aleciadistin March 27, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    Anna the world needs more people like you!

    • Anna D. March 28, 2012 at 11:54 am #

      Thanks Alecia, the world needs more like you as well, you are one of the most determined people I have ever met!

  2. Kaleena March 27, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    Welcome Anna! I cannot imagine what it would be like to be in John’s shoes. Being required to move around so often and not being connected with your own siblings must be terribly difficult. What you are doing is very commendable. I am sure there are a great deal of surprises and lessons you pick up on the way while working at Devereux Florida while also giving back to the youth you work with.

    A fellow PA Blogger,

  3. Anna D. March 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    Thank you so much Kaleena! I’m excited to be on the blog with you all and sharing what I’ve learned. It’s definitely been and adventure this year and I’m learning so much. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Maria Petrakos July 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    Anna, this is the sweetest story! John looks so at ease with you in the photo. I’m glad you know the good work you do is recognized by those who benefit most from it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: