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John and Anne Smith were fading fast. A young couple in their early twenties, they had signed on to do foster care because they wanted to open their home to hurting children. Having never had children, they prepared for their inevitable placement by reading books and going through foster parent training with their placing agency. However,  nothing they did could have prepared them for Jessica and Amber.

The girls were 7 and 8 and already in their second placement after an unsuccessful reunification with their mother. Suffering from severe neglect and being witness to traumatic events, the girls struggled with a host of challenging emotional behaviors, as well as basic hygiene and toileting. The Smiths were daily experiencing rage from the girls, physical aggression toward them, thrown objects, and general defiance verbally. It was exhausting. They asked, “how could we not have anticipated this?”

Then, COVID-19 hit. The girls were now without their familiar school environment and friends, and in-person birth parent visits were suspended. The behaviors escalated with the chaos. John and Anne were at a crossroads. Not wanting to give up on the placement, they heard about Chosen through their agency and decided to pursue parent coaching to try to make the placement work.

Each session, they enthusiastically consumed as much information as they could. They learned about the brain differences the girls were dealing with as a result of severe neglect, and how the girls could only heal in the context of a relationship. Slowly but surely over the course of the program, attachment has begun to take place in the Smith home. Because John and Anne knew the source of the girls’ behavior, they have learned to connect with them before correcting challenging behaviors. Trust is forming and growing as the Smiths invest time in attachment-rich interactions they learned through coaching.

Recently, John and Anne shared that when they were tucking-in Jessica one night, she had wanted to talk about when they first arrived in the home. Jessica said, “When we got here, we didn’t like you.  We were afraid to be here.” John asked how Jessica felt now. Jessica answered, “We like you now and we aren’t scared anymore.”

The girls are learning that safe adults listen to them. They are experiencing trust and safety in a way they’ve never experienced. The difference is remarkable.  The Smiths have already shared their experience at Chosen with other friends who foster in hopes that they will seek help as well.


ChosenChosen helps children heal from trauma by strengthening their families. They serve foster, kinship, adoptive and reunified families. Children who have been harmed in relationship can only heal in relationship. Chosen’s holistic approach addresses children’s mental and behavioral health needs, as well as caregiver and sibling needs. They are relentlessly committed to doing whatever it takes to set children on a path of healing.

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