About a week ago, Nicole K., Foundations foster care case worker extraordinaire, was scrolling through the internet to relax (as we all do) and stumbled upon a link that caught her attention. She found herself nodding along as a person who works with foster children and their foster guardians on a day-to-day basis.
Inside a TODAY Show article written by Danielle Campoamor, Nicole discovered Sandra Bullock’s journey with foster parenting. “I knew she adopted kids,” said Nicole, “But I didn’t know she participated in foster care.” Campoamor’s article depicts the trauma often incurred by children and teens who’ve been cast into the foster care system. After being torn from root, foster youth often struggle with PTSD symptoms that can affect them physically, mentally, and emotionally. Bullock is known for being a person who protects her privacy and that of her family. However, in a recent interview, Bullock opened up about caring for traumatized children and the ups-and-downs of foster parenthood.
“I had my kids in my [walk-in] closet with their little beds because I was so afraid to not have them super close to me,” Bullock stated. “And I would walk in and I wouldn’t be able to find her. She’d be in the closet, with all her clothes on, she’d be on a book shelf, she’d be hiding and she’d always be ready to leave. She was always telling me she was leaving…She’d say, ‘I’m leaving you.’ And I’m like, ‘OK, I’m going to be right behind you. So just know that you can leave but I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.'” (note: Foundations does not approve of keeping children in closets. We are imagining, however, that Bullock has a large walk-in due to resources available to her.) Bullock noted that, in the beginning, she saw trauma triggers occurring on a daily basis, including hoarding food. It was always about survival. Thankfully, Laila’s tenacious spirit pushed her to overcome her PTSD triggers and grow.
We are sure foster parent love and consistency had something to do with the healing, too.
In response, Nicole noted, “There is always the possibility of a runaway, especially with traumatized children. Foundations provides plenty of trauma-informed training and preparation to parents in regard to behavioral and emotional issues found in foster youth. But you just can’t prepare for everything. Sometimes, you won’t know what to do until you’re in the moment. And sometimes, that means getting creative.” Perhaps, the walk-in closet and crafty nearness was Bullock’s attempt at creatively loving a traumatized Laila. An unusual way of letting her foster daughter know that she was nearby. Bullock’s use of clear communication and consistency is also of note. “You have to meet a client where they are at,” Nicole explained, “It’s important to empathize and attempt to see the world through their eyes when creating a loving solution. The foster youth don’t bend to your mold as a foster parent; rather, you mold to them.”
Perhaps, you find yourself rolling your eyes imagining the abundant resources Bullock may have on hand: money, staff, space, and more. But it’s important to note that her wealth and status did not protect her from big trauma responses and behavioral issues. This journey was no social media highlight reel. Bullock had to “take classes on how to parent a child dealing with trauma, and she had to be evaluated before being allowed to foster or adopt,” like any other foster parent. There were times, Bullock noted, that she wanted to give up. But she knew that her role as foster mother was important — a path for which she’d felt destined. The fortitude and love given has provided her with two healthy and well-aligned children. In turn, Bullock’s small family provides her with a sense of purpose and a depth of love she never knew possible.
It’s not riches that make Bullock a hero. It’s the love, care, and perseverance she enacted while loving a child through their trauma. And it might not have been perfect. But the determination to give a child a loving, secure home is priceless. Despite rocky roads and some uphill battles, becoming a foster parent is a gift.
Until Next Time,
Grants and Content Manager