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Serenity: Wednesday's Child

By By Jay Hildebrandt, Local News 8 Anchor
Published On: Nov 15 2013 03:35:52 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 15 2013 04:55:29 PM CST

Sweet 9-year-old awaits adoption.

Serenity is very bright, fun, loving and affectionate. (She gives the world’s greatest hugs!). She really enjoys cuddling and reading books with her caregivers. She is a cutie with large, expressive eyes and a bright smile, adults are drawn to her.

Serenity loves music and dancing. Having the radio on while running errands helps to keep her upbeat and if she gets frustrated, the music helps her regroup. Serenity enjoys being outdoors where she loves to explore and play in the dirt.

Favorite toys are her dolls, moon sand, and all kinds of sensory playthings (which also tend to calm her). Serenity enjoys swimming and playing ball with friends. She has fun, too, doing arts and crafts, and drawing. While Serenity tends to be gentle with babies and toddlers, she doesn’t want them stealing, what she thinks, is her share of attention. Now in fourth grade, Serenity is very bright and loves to read. Academically, she is at grade level in all areas, and with the help of a 504 Plan she is learning to redirect her behavior and to be more productive. She is also working on building her social skills with peers and older kids.

Legally free, Serenity came into foster care in 2010 with her older brother, Aster. Family recruitment includes both children. Because of the children's different individual needs, however, it has been determined that separate adoptive placements may also be an option. Due to the children's sibling bonds, if separate adoptive families are identified, the children should have regular opportunities for contact with one another. Both children should have the opportunity to remain connected to paternal grandparents who were caregivers for Aster and Serenity in the past. Serenity’s social worker is looking for an adoptive family with a good repertoire of behavioral tools and strategies to enhance parenting, and a very good grasp of how severe anxiety and other residual effects of past trauma affect a child’s social and behavioral development.

Serenity has good self awareness and is able to talk about her feelings of anxiety and frustration. When anxious or frustrated Serenity can have outbursts, although these outbursts are rare and can easily deescalate. Knowing ahead of time the kinds of consequences that may be imposed for specific misbehavior helps her to be more accepting of them.

It is very important that Serenity be held personally responsible for her actions. Serenity is making a lot of progress in learning how to be aware of and in touch with her feelings and to recognize her mood swings and approaching anger so that she can ask for help when she feels she is going to get out of control. It will be important for her adoptive parents to be aware of the triggers and signifiers of these escalations and to use coping skills to calm her as the onset of these episodes are recognizable and Serenity is able to de-escalate easily with support from her caregiver. She is also working to increase her social skills to reduce tattling and bossiness. It takes her time to adjust to new people in the home, and she tends to act out until she is comfortable. Her foster mom gets good results often by gently reminding Serenity to use her coping skills (e.g., deep breathing, short directives, writing her feelings down, and envisioning a happy place).

Serenity also responds to hugs from caregivers when she’s getting anxious. Redirection, too, is one of the best tools to help keep her moods level and reduce the giggly excitability. When she starts getting wound up, her foster mom has her practice tummy breathing to calm her. Her foster mom has also found that it’s best to implement consequences once Serenity has calmed down.

Counseling and medication therapy are in place for Serenity. For the foreseeable future, she is going to need to have such supports as she learns to integrate effective coping skills, social skills, and frustration tolerance.

Serenity’s social worker wants to hear from couples and single moms who can provide the high level of structure and stability Serenity needs. Having a stay at home parent will be important, too, at least for a few years. It would be very helpful for Serenity to be the only child in the family, but she could also do really well in a family with much older siblings and with family pets. Being adopted by a rural family could be a big boon for Serenity, as she loves caring for animals, such as chickens, horses, and dogs. Serenity needs lots of opportunities to grow and thrive. Families interested in Serenity individually and both Serenity and her brother, Aster, are encouraged to inquire.

This child is enrolled in the Northwest Adoption Exchange - Special Recruitment Project. To speak with the recruiter for this child, call (206) 441-6822.

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