Warm Fuzzies: Foster families worth extra efforts

By Teyha Tournier

foster2Imagine screaming, yelling and fighting to stay calm only to have the rug pulled out from under you. Imagine facing new people each and every day. Imagine making new footsteps in an unmarked territory. No, really, imagine that. Doesn’t sound like sunshine and butterflies, does it?

According to ChildrensRights.org, there are approximately 650,000 kids who spend time in foster care each year. This mean each kid is stepping into a new environment every single day.

When my little brother first officially joined the family, we rejoiced. It was like finding the missing puzzle piece to our family; he had finally found his way to his home. Little did we know, after so much change, every day wouldn’t be as perfect as adoption day.

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) affects infants by the lack of attachment to any specific caregiver, parent or guardian, and results in a inability for the child diagnosed to form normal, loving relationships with others.

I never would think that this would be the issue with my brother, Ty.

He is the kid who loves interacting at school, the kid who gives me an endless amount of hugs every day and the kid who makes sure every single family member of the house says goodnight, but we were all introduced to the idea of Ty having RAD only a few months ago.

It hurts me to know what my six year old brother has been through, that some stranger out there physically and emotionally abused him, that they are the reason h
e acts the way he does.

No one can come close to imagining the things he has seen, heard and experienced.

Ty arrived at our home on Dec. 4, 2013, and let me tell you, the first six months of fostering Tysean was absolutely terrifying and one of the hardest things to watch, feel and hear.

“We did not want to give up on Ty because if we did, then someone else might, and the cycle goes on. As a family we talked about the adoption process for Ty and if he was forever fit for our family,” Melanie Tournier, my and Ty’s mother, said.

Tournier said with the help of therapy, patience, a strong family, and friends, they got through it all.

“At the beginning it was very hard because his behaviors were out of control, and we were not sure how to handle his outrages, plus it was tearing our family apart,” Tournier said.

For days on end there would be tantrums, screaming, arguing until one day it just stopped. We would go back and forth for months. He would make good choices and be the kindest little boy, and then in a couple more months we would get right back to where we started.

Now things are getting easier. Ty still deals with his emotions differently, has anger and behavioral issues, but he is just like any other six year old on the playground.

“We were able to get things under control and show him the love he never knew,” Tournier said.

He still argues, still pushes buttons, but each day is just a step closer to where he needs to be. To be honest, at first, I didn’t want to adopt Ty. I thought he was hurting my family, but now I know you have to push through the hard times to get to the good, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

Since adopting Ty, my family and I had talked about the foster care system and what changes it needed to be better, and we’ve always wanted to help the kids that go through what my brother had encountered.

My little sister came up with a way to incorporate our experience into a way to help kids in the foster system.

She created “Furries For Fosters,” a nonprofit organization that takes new blankets and stuffed animals for donations to babies, kids and teenagers throughout the Cedar Valley foster care system.

Aaliyah wanted to be able to provide new stuffed animals and blankets to help comfort foster kids in their unknown environments.

“I am very proud of Aaliyah on taking the steps to start an organization for foster children. She has a heart of gold and has seen how her stuffed animals and blankets comforted children that we fostered.”

Furries For Fosters has been around for about a year and a half and has donated many stuffed animals, blankets and attended foster care events around the Cedar Valley.

“I think Ty is proud because he always wants to help organize the stuffed animals and blankets. He also wants to be a part of making the videos when Aaliyah puts her goals on Facebook, and I think one of these days we will make that happen.”

Aaliyah has delivered stuffed animals to Allen Child Protection Center, been featured in The Courier, raised $500 for foster kids who have graduated high school and received donations from people states away.

This month her goal is to receive a donation of 150 blankets, and she will continue to collect for the Foster Care Christmas Party on Dec. 13. Those who would like to donate should visit the Furries For Foster Facebook page.

Although every day is a new adventure in the Tournier house, I am very proud of where Ty is today and the accomplishments my family and I have made within the three years Ty has been with us.

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