Love & Limits

Helping grandparents adopt after tragedy

The 2½-year-old girl survived a car crash that killed her little brother and sent her mother to prison for 10 years. Her father left town after that.

Life wasn’t stable before the accident – her parents had addictions and housing problems – but it was all Julia knew and loved, and it was one in one day. Family preservation specialist Sarah Braswell was called in to help her grandparents prepare to adopt.

“By this time, Julia was in kindergarten and her grandparents desperately wanted to raise her and keep her safe, but they were having trouble setting boundaries. She’d been through such a horrible, tragic experience and they didn’t want to say ‘no’ to her. They just lavished her. And while that may sound like an ideal way to live – like a fantasy – in reality children need stability, and stability requires structure and boundaries. The grandparents needed to be able to say, ‘We love you, but you’re the child and we’re the grownups. We’ll guide you in the correct direction.’

“So I worked with them to teach some basic parenting skills, like how to discipline and offer choices, and they were able to adopt Julia in August. This case really touched me because I stayed with my grandparents when I was her age. My situation was different – my sister was battling cancer, so my mom was at the hospital and my dad was working to pay the bills – but Grandma and Grandpa were my surrogate parents. “To be able to help these grandparents learn how to love Julia appropriately and create a relationship they can maintain through her life – that was a blessing.”

WHAT IS FAMILY PRESERVATION? One-on-one coaching for families to prevent or minimize foster care placements of their children

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