The story below was written by Emily Cavender, a Lead Foster/Adoptive Case Manager at KVC West Virginia where she supports foster parents, youth in foster care, and adoptive parents. Emily submitted this story as part of KVC’s Annual Story Contest to share about the time she made a positive impact on a mother working to reunify with her baby after foster care and how this mother made an impact on Emily’s life, too.
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I like to believe I’ve made a positive impact on most of the people I’ve met. However, I never dreamed I’d be a part of such a heartwarming story during my first year with KVC. When I first joined the KVC team, I had little to no experience with the foster care system. But I jumped right in and one of my very first cases involved a biological mother running out of time to reunify with her baby girl. Since I’d never worked with a biological family in this capacity before, I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect.
While setting up visitation for this mother and her infant, our first call ended abruptly when the mother said, “Don’t jerk me around,” and hung up. After that, I felt a little nervous but I pressed forward and prepared for the visits. The first few weeks of visitation felt uncomfortable, for both me and the mother I’m sure. It was obvious the mother didn’t have much confidence in herself. I could see no one had ever given her the chance to prove herself and usually expected her to fail. She kept apologizing and making excuses for how she parented like she expected me to use her mistakes against her.
At first, I was silent. I said nothing and only responded with awkward smiles and nervous laughs. But week after week, I saw her try more and more. I began to see her potential. I saw the natural instincts of a good mother hidden beneath years of bad luck and her own admitted mistakes.
So, I answered her questions, provided updates on what the foster family was doing for her growing baby, and gave guidance in small tasks, like how to put in a car seat. This mother’s progress continued and hit a big milestone when we started doing visits in her home instead of inside the KVC office. I watched the bond between mother and daughter grow and deepen. I witnessed a house turn into a home and a group of strangers become family.
Right before that fateful hearing where a judge said “You deserve this,” and baby went home, this mother told me,
“You’re the first person to ever give me a chance. You’re the first provider to believe in me.”
She also told me that I had become a vital part of her family’s journey. This mother said she couldn’t believe she ever told me not to jerk her around. Honestly, I’m not sure whose positive impact was greater, the impact I had on them or the impact they had on me. Either way, I’m sure we’ll never forget the difference we made in each other’s lives.
Want to join Emily in helping mothers, fathers and caregivers safely reunify with their children? Join our team! We’re hiring throughout the state. Visit our careers page to learn about our current open positions!