Early on in their marriage, Jenna and Sam knew they wanted to adopt a child. For over six years they discussed the idea, until one day in September 2018 the Lord made it apparent that it was time to pursue their dream of adding one more child to their family of five.
After contacting agencies and ultimately coordinating with CPS, Jenna and Sam completed their foster training and received their adoption license. They sought to foster then adopt a boy between the ages of 9-17, as they knew that children in this demographic often languish or age out of the system.
For months, they searched for a son to join their family, trying to remain positive as they encountered numerous barriers, from unsuccessful conversations to unreturned calls.
Finally , they found 12-year-old Jason*. Jason had been involved with CPS since he was just a year old, and he had a long file detailing his history in the system. For weeks, Jenna and Sam stayed up late into the nights reading the file, often splitting sections between each other and discussing them. Once they made it through the entire file, they felt prepared to meet Jason.
After one nerve-wracking introductory meeting, the family hosted Jason for three overnight weekend stays. Although he was guarded at first, he began to warm up to the family and connect with the couple’s three biological children. The family was optimistic, and in April 2019, Jason officially moved in.
Jenna and Sam were familiar with the trauma Jason had endured throughout his childhood, so they sought a partner for this journey that could help them focus on helping Jason heal from his past and navigate his emotions. In October 2019, the day before Jason’s adoption was finalized, the family began working with Chosen.
With Chosen, Jenna and Sam had honest conversations about Jason’s past, their concerns about his behavior, and ways his past trauma could impact his actions moving forward. They were also able to talk about their most pressing concern—school.
They knew Jason was smart, but his academic abilities were severely delayed. When the time came for Jason to interview at the school his siblings attend, he was denied due to his poor academic history and his disinterest in improvement. He had to enroll at a different school, away from his siblings.
When schools closed in March 2020, Jenna unenrolled Jason and started homeschooling him, along with helping the other three children complete virtual school. This gave her a front row seat to Jason’s academic struggles. He was reading at a 2nd grade level and was currently in the 5th grade. He still showed no interest in improving.
She set a goal to catch him up to grade level by the start of school in August 2020, but every step toward that goal was a struggle. Jason’s belief in himself had been destroyed from his past trauma. He often became frustrated and avoided making any effort. The situation escalated to the point that Jason threatened to run away.
Jenna turned to Chosen for help. With the support of their care manager, she was able to create and implement a plan that made homeschooling successful, including creating firm schedules and infusing humor into lessons.
She and Jason worked diligently, even through the summer, on spelling lists, comprehension, and close reading. By building up his confidence, using humor, and ensuring he never felt judged, Jason began to make progress.
As the 2020-2021 school year approached, Jason interviewed at his siblings’ school once again. This time, the principal noticed a complete shift in his demeanor and abilities, and he was accepted. As the semester drew on, Jenna continued to work with Jason to make progress. When the Fall 2020 semester came to a close, Jason’s report card came in—he made the A/B Honor Roll.
This academic progress is creating positive change in other areas of Jason’s life as well—his overall confidence is improving, his behavior has changed, he is connecting with his siblings in ways he never has before. Perhaps most importantly, he is now beginning to envision a bright future for himself.
Now that he is on track with school, Jenna and Sam are focusing on helping Jason continue to heal emotionally. As a family, they are working to address his memories and to recognize that sometimes present-day situations can trigger negative emotions that are tied to those memories.
Chosen continues to walk with Jenna and Sam on this journey of helping Jason heal. The journey is not yet over, but communication, fun, and trust are improving. The relationships in this family are deepening every day.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy