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Meet the Children

Fiona

It was all Fiona could do to get out of the house with both shoes on every morning. 

Her mom Tracy was at her absolute wit’s end. 

Fiona was angry and defiant. She lashed out at her mom over the smallest things. 

At just four years old, she was headed down a very dangerous path. 

Fiona had always been a little “off”. She did odd things as a baby like rubbing her head into the carpet until she had raw spots.

When she was a toddler, she bit other kids and threw tantrums, unlike anything you’ve ever seen. She stole food from the other kids in her daycare.

No one knew what was going on with her.

It wasn’t until Tracy decided to enroll Fiona at Thompson Child Development Center that their lives really took a turn for the better. 

Fiona was placed in a classroom with a small class size and a loving, compassionate teacher. It didn’t take long for Fiona to decide that she loved it there! She got the attention she needed to be able to focus and improve her behaviors.  

Her teachers helped her understand that biting wasn’t okay and that she needed to share with her friends. She learned her alphabet and her colors. Tracy didn’t think Fiona would be able to learn much of anything before kindergarten because her behaviors had been so bad.

But, Fiona got the help from her teachers, therapists, and friends that she needed to blossom. It was like magic! Her growth in two years was nothing short of transformational!

It’s your support that allows Thompson to help transform children like Fiona! Thank you!

Zach

Destructive.

That’s the word that kept coming up on just about every sheet of paper Thompson therapist Angela read in Zach’s case file.

Taken from his mother at age 4 after being found by a neighbor wandering the halls of his apartment building, Zach was severely malnourished and living in squalor. He was in foster care for 7 years (13 separate placements!) before arriving at Thompson’s residential treatment program.

And this wasn’t his first time in residential care either. He’d been previously placed at two other treatment facilities and it was Angela’s goal to make this one different. She knew his time at Thompson had to be successful for Zach to escape from the terrible path of his past. Angry, sad, frustrated, unmotivated. These are the words Angela uses to describe Zach during his first few weeks in therapy with her. It wasn’t until they were able to connect over their mutual love of sports that there was a breakthrough. With that connection, trust was soon born and Zach’s healing began.

Leaving for a group home after four months of successful treatment, Zach shared his feelings about Thompson in a letter. “I will be sad because I will miss the only people who have given hope to me.”

Thank you for giving Zach hope.

 

Kate

Abuse.

Only eight years old, Kate had experienced years of abuse and neglect by her biological parents. In addition to her personal trauma, she had seen the horrific physical and sexual abuse of an older half-sibling by her own mother.

After being removed from her home by DSS, Kate was placed in a loving foster home and soon adopted. During this time, Kate was referred to Thompson Outpatient Therapy Services. In her first few sessions with therapist Debra, Kate was afraid to talk about her abuse. She would cling to
her adoptive mother or burst into tears and hide under Debra’s desk.

Together, Debra and Kate developed a “relaxation box” with activities Kate could use when feeling anxious or experiencing a traumatic memory. Her box included: bubbles and a pinwheel to use for deep breathing; a copy of her favorite Bible story to read when feeling worried; and a pair of pompoms to get out any nervous energy.

Kate learned to recognize when she was having “warm fuzzy” thoughts and “cold prickly” thoughts. She learned how to stop the negative ones and turn them into positive thoughts. Soon, Debra didn’t see the scared little girl who had walked into her office five months before. Instead, she saw someone very brave and strong. At the end of her last therapy session, Kate and her adoptive mother cried. This time, they cried “happy tears” of gratitude for the progress Kate had made.

Thank you for giving Kate her courage back.

 

Tiffany

The good news is Tiffany is now 19 years old and in college majoring in music. The sad news is she had a tumultuous childhood that eventually brought her to Thompson’s Saint Peter’s Lane residential campus. Tiffany was only 11 years old when she arrived. She remained at Thompson for a full year. Her coping skills were nonexistent. She just couldn’t adjust to the fact that she did not know her father and didn’t have a father figure in her life. She was prone to violent rages.

While at Thompson, she learned how to deal with her emotions by using her “coping corner,” containing a bean bag chair that was all hers. But what she also enjoyed was having her own room, bed and bathroom. This, to her, was a real luxury.

It took a long time for Tiffany to deal with her hurt and abandonment, but she did. She eventually left Thompson and stayed with a foster family until she could be reunited with her mother.

Recently, she found Thompson on Facebook and wrote a letter sharing some of her fondest memories of her stay at Saint Peter’s Lane. This was the first real home that provided the love and security she so desperately wanted and needed. She finally had people around her who truly cared and she told us she “is grateful for every moment of her stay.”

She will never forget Thompson and Thompson will never forget her!

 

Malik

Malik carried a very painful history with him when he came to the Thompson Family Services Center last year. His biological mother was addicted to drugs and sold her body to support her habit. There was domestic violence and physical abuse in the family so she and Malik, age 9, frequently lived in homeless shelters and often had little to eat. Shortly before Malik and his siblings began therapy at Thompson they were taken into DSS custody after a social worker learned they had been sexually abused.  They were placed in the care of a relative and soon after his biological mother died of a drug overdose.

Some might wrongly assume that a child couldn’t recover from this kind of complex trauma. But because of the incredible support that Thompson receives, our staff was able to surround Malik with love, kindness, support, and compassion. Then the story took a wonderful turn.

As Malik slowly began to respond to his therapy, Thompson therapists recognized his love of dance and believed he had a natural talent. To encourage his growth, staff let him put on an impromptu show for them. Heads turned. Applause flowed. Malik had found a comfortable place to express himself and develop confidence. Soon after his performance, Thompson staff found a scholarship program through a local ballet company where Malik auditioned and was awarded a scholarship!

Two weeks ago Malik and his sister were adopted. The Thompson staff had a celebration in the office and were able to watch a video of Malik’s first dance recital with the ballet company. “It brought tears to my eyes when I saw this little boy in the middle of a huge stage pick up a little ballerina and spin her up in the air while the audience cheered for him,” said therapist Katherine. “It is these kinds of moments that remind me of the incredible power of love to bring change and healing.”

Thank you for helping us give children like Malik a chance to flourish and recapture their lives.

 

Martin

“I would like my son to come home, but he frightens me.”

As 14-year-old Martin was being discharged from an NC psychiatric treatment facility, his mother was worried. Martin was still unable to handle his frustrations and frequently lashed out both verbally and physically. And while he was away he’d had a growth spurt and was now taller and heavier than she so controlling him would be difficult.

His mom immediately sought help from Thompson’s Outpatient Wraparound Department. Here she found partners and coaches who were ready to help Martin transition back to his home.

During his initial evaluation, it was determined that Martin had a significant mental challenge and as a result, his behavior was more like a first grader than a middle schooler. The wraparound team knew this would present a challenge as his neighborhood school had already indicated they were not equipped to handle him.

Eventually, the wraparound team found Martin a special school where they decided to try something different.  Instead of placing him in a class of children his own age where he became angry with disruptive tantrums, they placed him in a class with first graders.  Suddenly he became calm and actually started to enjoy school.  And the children accepted him with open arms.

Meanwhile, Thompson had assigned him a volunteer “youth partner”, whom he called his new friend, and they started meeting twice a week to ease his transition back to school. Sometimes they would just sit and talk, other times they would play sports, but most of all they would cook. Martin knew his mother enjoyed whatever he cooked for her, even if it was just hot dogs.

So Martin and his youth partner decided to create a cookbook for his mom. He cut pictures out of magazines and pasted them in a book. Then his new friend would write the recipes as he dictated them to her. His mom now has a cookbook that tells her how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, soup and of course, hot dogs.

Finally, after a year of working with the Wraparound Team, Martin was ready to be discharged from Thompson’s care.  His tantrums had lessened and he had adjusted well to his new school. This meant he had to say goodbye to his new friend who he had relied upon to help him through his difficult transition.

Sadness overwhelmed him, but the team knew Martin was ready to move on with his new life. So, ever so slowly, Thompson backed off until one day Martin agreed that he was ready to let go.

Today, he still attends school with the younger children and is happy to do so. And he still cooks for his mother – especially hot dogs.

Thank you for making it possible for Thompson to help transform the lives of children like Martin!

 

Trevor

Trevor’s story is a very personal one for former Thompson staff member Jane Weaver. She shares her heartfelt tale of a sweet new friend below.

Trevor arrived at Thompson’s Saint Peter’s Lane campus in July of 2016. At 8 years old, he’d seen and experienced far too much for his young life.

He’s a slight little boy with rounded shoulders, dark soulful eyes, his hair in a buzz cut and eyes always cast down towards the ground. He rarely, if ever, smiles and speaks in a voice that can barely be heard.

I have lunch with him about once or twice a week. He loves tacos but hates refried beans. Bananas are his favorite fruit. I love the Patriots. He hates them.

When I first met him, he barely made eye contact and wouldn’t allow me to touch him. I quickly realized he wasn’t used to affection and I backed off to give him space. He seemed satisfied with that.

By Halloween, I noticed that he was starting to enjoy the company of the other boys and he even seemed excited about dressing up. The children paraded through the halls of our administration building on Saint Peter’s Lane. When he came down the hall, I heard, “Miss Jane look at me!” When I looked, there was Trevor smiling like never before. My heart melted.

We continued our lunches together. Sometimes he would come to visit the development department with a mentor from his cottage. He would always stop in my office to say hello. Then one day, much to my surprise, he walked towards me and gave me a big hug. “Hi, Miss Jane” was all he said. He took my breath away.

Now he stops in my office regularly to get candy, but always remembers he must take enough to share with the others in the cottage – even his mentors. He told me, “We can’t forget them”.

I share this with you because Trevor will soon be leaving us. He told me at lunch recently, “Miss Jane, I have people.” When I asked what that meant, he told me Thompson found a foster family for him and he will be leaving soon. My heart burst for this serious little boy. Again, he said in his quiet little voice, almost a whisper, “I have a family Miss Jane”.

I will miss this little man. I will cry when I say goodbye to him, but I know it’s for the best. We want him to have a full life. He deserves it. They all do.

Thank you for giving Trevor his happy ending!

 

Clay

Born to a drug-addicted mother, Clay seemed doomed from the start.

For the first 12 years of his life, he was abused and neglected and lived in a constant state of fear and sadness. Clay slept with a knife under his bed “just in case”. He was skin and bones because the food in his house was scarce. When there was food, he gathered as much as he could and hid it in his closet. Clay rarely attended school.

Clay came to Thompson after his mother abandoned him and although he was an angry, lonely boy, he still dreamed of a happy home and family to love him. To help deal with the trauma he’d endured, Clay spent a short time in Thompson’s Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility. When he was ready to leave, Thompson Foster Care staff found a loving family that wanted to take care of Clay and help him find his forever home.

Clay’s transition into foster care was rough. He’d sneak into the kitchen during the night and steal food to hide in his bedroom. He was stealing trinkets from around the house and keeping them hidden in his room. He was urinating on the floor of his bedroom at night in an attempt to keep himself safe. He told his foster parents that was how he kept strangers out of his bedroom when he lived with his mom and even though he knew no one was going to hurt him now, he couldn’t stop.

Fear consumed Clay’s life, but with the constant support of his foster family and Thompson staff, he began to learn to trust and open up. They helped him work through his trauma and ease the pain of his past. He even started to enjoy school.

After several months in foster care, a miracle happened for Clay. A family wanted to adopt him!

Everyone agreed that Clay was ready. He was ecstatic to begin a new life.

Today, Clay is a happy, typical teenager who loves soccer, being a Boy Scout and camping with his family. He’s making good grades and can’t wait to get his braces off. His adoptive father pushes him to be the best he can be and it’s working.

Clay never thought he could be as happy as he is now. He is blossoming into a fine young man.

Thank you for helping Clay find his happy ending.

 

Michelle

Sheena, Michelle’s therapist, teared up when she started sharing Michelle’s story.

Michelle was taken from her home at just five years old and had a long history of abuse and neglect. When her parents emotionally abandoned her at just a few years old, she was left feeling unworthy.

She arrived at Thompson scared and with no clue about her future—no idea of what was next. Over the years she‘d been placed in several foster care homes, but her destructive behaviors had gotten her into trouble time and time again.

Michelle had experienced unimaginable pain and suffering that no young child should have to endure … causing her to act out and rebel. Wherever she went, she lashed out to the point that no one could handle her and sent her away.

Sheena has remarkable skill at being able to step into her client’s shoes. She works hard to learn how to reach them. With Michelle, this skill served her very well. Michelle began to trust her.

“Michelle really stands out to me because she is so resilient. She has moved from town to town. From home to home. From social worker to social worker … and yet she is still upbeat. She is still bubbly.”

Michelle has every reason to be a terror and to take her past out on everyone around her. But she doesn’t. She deserves credit for that. She is the epitome of resilience.

Michelle was recently discharged from Thompson’s residential program, a changed person. She has learned the skills she needs to cope with her past trauma and is looking forward to her life, excited about what her future will bring.

Thank you for restoring hope for Michelle!

 

Gabriel

Gabriel came to Thompson a broken child.

For years, he’d suffered emotional and physical abuse from his mom…because he was different.

He didn’t act like the other boys his age. He liked to play with dolls instead of trucks. He didn’t want to play basketball, he wanted to sew. His mom didn’t approve of him and she beat him whenever she saw him doing something “girly.” She called him names at least once a day and isolated him from other kids. She was embarrassed by him and always let him know it.

Gabriel didn’t understand why his mom treated him this way. He didn’t think there was anything wrong with the way he was. He was confused by her actions and terrified of what she might do next.

He was scared to be himself.

When Gabriel turned 12, he decided to retaliate. He went after his mom with a baseball bat.

One could say this incident didn’t end well, but his mom survived and Gabriel was brought into Thompson’s Psychiatric Residential treatment program. It was the best ending Gabriel could’ve hoped for. It was really just the beginning.

Thanks to you, Gabriel was able to heal.

During his time at Thompson, Gabriel was embraced by staff and taught to stand tall and proud of who he is. The support he received from everyone around him was immeasurable. For the first time in his life, he felt loved. He felt accepted. He felt whole.

Thompson staff worked hard to change Gabriel’s mantra from “I’m not good enough” to “I’m more than good enough”! And he began to shine.

Gabriel was a changed person when he discharged from residential treatment a year later. He transitioned into a Thompson foster family and felt immediate acceptance and love.

His future is bright, thanks to your incredible support of Thompson’s mission to build family by being family!

 

Jordan

When Jordan arrived at Saint Peter’s Lane, her head was covered in bald spots.

She had dark circles under her eyes.

It was clear that this 9-year-old girl was completely lost.

At a very young age, Jordan was brutally abused by her father and became terrified of men. Shortly after her abuse began, she started hearing voices. Then she started bullying other kids. Her behaviors were erratic and Jordan was living in constant fear.

When she came to Thompson at 9 years old,  Jordan’s therapist quickly discovered that she was “stuck” at about 5 years old. This was when her trauma first happened.

In therapy, Jordan spoke often about thinking a “monster” was coming for her. She was always referring to her dad.

She pulled chunks of her hair out when she felt overwhelmed with fear. Something had to give before Jordan went completely bald.

Sheena, Jordan’s therapist encouraged her to journal. Together, they discovered this helped her with the constant anxiety and fear. Sheena taught Jordan new mindfulness skills to help her build up her stress tolerance.

In just a few weeks, Jordan was already beginning to release her fears and allow others to help her heal. A real transformation was beginning.

After 5 months, Jordan told Sheena she felt like a new person. She had been working so hard during this time and according to Sheena, had shed quite a few tears!  Just before she left, Jordan told Sheena, “I just want to be loved and not worry anymore about the stuff that happened to me before. I want to trust the world again.”

Thank you for helping bring Jordan back to life!

 

Amelia

The holidays have always been miserable for Amelia.

No one ever cared enough about her to make sure Christmas was special for her.

Until she came to Thompson.

Sixteen-year-old Amelia came into Thompson Connect at the beginning of December, where she would live for at least a month. She didn’t know where she’d go once she left, but she knew for sure that she’d be here for Christmas. She was so upset. Another miserable Christmas, she thought.

Her holidays had always been so disappointing. Whether she was in foster care somewhere, in the hospital, or at home with her mom, no one ever made the holidays special for her. She felt so sad, year after year.

One afternoon, while talking with one of her staff at the cottage, she expressed how awful her holidays had always been. She shared that one year for Christmas she got a bunch of Barbie dolls in a shoebox that had dirt in their hair. Some years she got nothing at all. She never ate a big meal with her family or shared in any family traditions. She rolled her eyes and tried to act like it didn’t bother her, but you could tell she was really hurting.

Later that day, her staff told her about a place on campus where generous people had donated gifts for the children in Thompson’s care. She offered to take Amelia there and let her pick out some items to help make her Christmas a little more special.

Amelia had a hard time understanding what she was saying! This was a concept that was foreign to her, but she agreed to go.

When they arrived, Amelia’s jaw hit the floor. She was shocked at the number of items that were there. Her staff scooted her along to pick something out and she returned with one small item. “That’s great,” her staff said, “but pick a few more!” Amelia said, “but, are you sure?” “Absolutely, there are plenty of things to choose from! Pick out several things you like. You deserve it!”

Amelia looked around again and came back with just two more small items. She looked timidly up at her staff and said, “this should be good”.

Amelia’s staff had to encourage her one more time to choose several more items that she wanted because they were donated with children just like her in mind. She hesitated but chose a few more things. When she handed the items to her staff, she nervously asked if they thought it might be possible for someone to wrap them for her and put them under the tree in the cottage. She said she couldn’t remember the last time she got to open a wrapped gift on Christmas morning. The answer to that was, of course, a resounding yes!

On Christmas morning, Amelia felt the joy of opening gifts wrapped for her under the tree. She spent her morning watching Christmas movies. Later in the afternoon, a wonderful volunteer came to help the girls prepare and enjoy a delicious meal.

Your generosity, your support, and your compassionate care of the children and families we serve make a difference.

For the first time in her life, Amelia had a wonderful Christmas, thanks to YOU.

 

Trinity

Trinity was a broken child.

Her earliest memory is waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of breaking glass.

When she ran out of her bedroom to see what was happening, she saw her father at the top of the stairs and her mother, in a ball, at the bottom.

Just a little girl, she had no idea what to do. Her dad terrified her. She always knew that eventually, he’d take his anger out on her too, just like he did her mom.

Sure enough, he began abusing her at just 6 years old. He’d knock her into walls, slap her or punch her if she said or did something he didn’t like. After her mom went to sleep at night, he’d sneak into Trinity’s bedroom and lay down next to her. She never felt safe.

After about a year of abuse, Trinity told a neighbor how scared she was of her dad. Her neighbor called Child Protective Services and they came to take Trinity away. She was relieved, but so nervous at the same time. She had no idea where she’d go and she didn’t want to leave her mom. She felt like she needed to stay to protect her.

Fortunately, Trinity found her way into a Thompson foster home. She had a mom, a dad, two older sisters, a dog, a cat, and a bird. She was happy and felt safe.

Trinity’s new foster parents took such wonderful care of her. They put her into a really good school, signed her up for ballet classes, and when she celebrated her 8th birthday, threw her the best party ever.

She’d never been happier. Trinity finally understood what the love of a family felt like.

Trinity’s story is only possible because of YOU!

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