Newly retired Mike was just getting used to the idea of a slower paced life, and Carrie was excited to start working at a new job. They had just committed to being live-in caregivers for Carrie’s aging parents and were settling into their new routine. Suddenly, Mike and Carrie found their entire world turned upside down when their two grandsons, Jack and Michael, arrived into their home. The boys came to them after enduring neglect and abuse, and Mike and Carrie immediately made room in their lives for Jack and Michael to stay with them.
As seasoned parents with adult children, Mike and Carrie were surprised to find themselves struggling to get through simple daily activities such as eating meals together as a family. Jack and Michael had never sat at a table with their food or used high chairs or bibs, and meals often felt like chaos. Additionally, the trauma that the boys had suffered made it difficult for the family to establish a loving, trusting bond. “We couldn’t cuddle with Michael. It was so hard.” A discussion about their concerns with their family pediatrician led to a referral for early childhood intervention at HopeSparks, where they were connected with the Children’s Developmental Services program.
Home-based Infant Mental Health and Early Childhood Education services gave Carrie and Mike the specialized tools they would need to effectively parent survivors of trauma. They practiced strategies for playing appropriately with toys, sitting nicely in a shopping cart, eating an entire meal at the table, and attending church together. Mike and Carrie were thrilled that the boys were able to enjoy the HopeSparks children’s holiday party with the support of the early intervention team. “How else could we have done this for them? They took care of us there. They’ve not only been there for the boys, they’ve been there for us. If we didn’t have them, we don’t know where we’d be.”
Today, Jack and Michael are eating meals at the table with their family and seeking comfort and hugs from Mike and Carrie, and they can even participate in special family activities, like their church Halloween party. Mike and Carrie also started attending the Kinship Caregiver Support Group at HopeSparks and have enjoyed connecting with other grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. With the support of the team at HopeSparks, Mike, Carrie, Jack, and Michael are stronger than ever. “When we first got the boys, it was so much work. Now we have joy.”