A look at our first few months with Tyler Alberto Guckenberger
It’s been the emphasis of the last couple of years to individualize care for each child. We’ve increased training and honed conversations, so we think in terms of people instead of programs. The big idea is to introduce kids to what they need for their continued growth and development. Never have we felt more convinced of this approach than in this latest season where it’s become very real in our home.
Todd and I adopted a twelve-year-old boy from Monterrey, Mexico, into our forever family this summer, and we’ve spent the last 100 days or so, introducing him to family life. We entered the courtroom as two pre-adoptive parents and one ward of the state. We walked out as a family. It’s taken extraordinary effort by all three of us to begin to ask what we need of each other and to believe in what God is building.
Connect Before We Correct
We are desperate for him to ‘catch up’, and traditional parenting skills are challenged as we love a child from a hurt place. We need to remember daily (or hourly) the Trauma Competent Care skills we’ve learned through the ministry as we lovingly try and ‘connect before we correct.‘
We’ve spent the summer talking to Tyler about our family life scripts, the phrases, and values that make us (and now him), a Guckenberger. We have learned over time how this provides a basis of understanding for the kids we work with, a common language with those who serve them, and a reinforcement of the most important messages.
We are trying to offer him more choices (Would you like to watch a movie or play outside?)
School has started now, and Tyler has joined a soccer team. He is learning about risk and reward and how to think as a team. Those lessons sit on top of our summer conversations about thinking as a family (and not just looking out for himself, a long and hard habit to break.)
We are trying to say ‘yes’ as often as possible, as that enhances our connection.
These are insights we’ve been trained in while working in the field, but living them out at home this season is reinforcing our conviction every child needs individual, holistic care and attention.
What he comments the most on is how many people are in his life: grandparents, siblings, teachers, friends, neighbors, youth pastors, coaches, and parents. He spent years without those key roles filled, and now they are all saying to him the same thing, “We see you. You are loved. You are delighted in.” In the same way, we want teams of people surrounding each child in the larger Back2Back community.
We invite you as a mission trip guest, child sponsor, ministry partner, prayer warrior, staff or stinter, volunteer, whomever you are, please come join a chorus of others who are saying to each individual child, “We see you. You are loved. You are delighted in.”