Foster Care, Trauma & Faith: A Local Woman Pays It Forward - New York News

Foster Care, Trauma & Faith: A Local Woman Pays It Forward

Foster Care, Trauma & Faith: A Local Woman Pays It Forward

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Abuse, neglect, mental illness, trauma: these words describe the early lives of therapeutic foster children - now in treatment through the  Alexander Youth  Network.  Their early lives - before treatment - were topsy turvy.

George Montgomery, an expert in therapeutic care at the  Alexander Youth Network, says therapy works.  "They are here working with children who are similar to them, who have similar needs to them. They are working with staff who've been trained, who have been educated."

Andrene Johnson is a therapeutic foster mom.  She has fostered more than two dozen foster children in eight years through the Alexander Youth Network.  Andrene also understands – more than most – the difficult journey therapeutic foster children face.

“I had a child, product of an incest.  My child passed away.  It was a doctor who asked me who was the father, and I told him, and he called DSS, and I went into foster care. For Andrene, the twenty-sixth foster home was the charm.  “I met a very special woman named Josephine...  I always tell my kids and I've said it for years, foster care saved my life.  I just know, it was something she gave me.  She loved me.  It was a connection.  She's been with me all these years, and she didn't have to.”

Now, Andrene Johnson pays it forward by serving as a dedicated and relentless, caring and spiritually centered foster mom.  She has fostered kids of all different cultural backgrounds and religious perspectives.  Yet, Andrene believes in the power of faith.  She considers foster care a spiritual calling.

“You have to believe in something higher than yourself, whatever that is, whatever name you give it -   you hold it dear and you get passionate about it.  You hold it dear and it helps you do good work.”

The Alexander Youth Network is not a religious organization. Instead, at the Charlotte facility, kids  go to school,  receive treatment and improve - over time -  before returning to their families.  Rev. George Montgomery a therapeutic expert at the Alexander Youth Network says spiritual shifts can happen here.

“Due to trauma, the brain has what we call insults or cracks in it, based upon when the trauma occurred.  Montgomery adds that “in dealing with brain trauma, repetitive actions, are something that's very key to help stabilize children, things such as swimming - we have an on campus swimming pool, drumming, playing basketball.  We have an inside gym and an outside basketball court.   You're doing the same thing over and over.  It helps to stimulate and calm the brain and promote healing.”

In 2008, Neuroscientists from Columbia University and the University of Missouri asserted a theory about a spiritual section of the brain.  They argued that the right parietal lobe is the site where spiritual activity can be detected.  Now those Neuroscientists believe spiritual activity may not exist in one distinct location, but they suggest it might be scattered throughout different sections of the brain.

As for Andrene, she is a success story - former military and college graduate - and she attributes some of that success to faith.   Johnson is now back in touch with her biological family, rebuilding relationships.  She encourages others to consider the spiritual power of foster care.  “Opening your heart and home to  complete strangers is the most important thing you can do.”

You may contact the Alexander Youth Network directly if you would like to become a therapeutic foster parent:

http://www.alexanderyouthnetwork.org/page.aspx?pid=357

855-362-8470

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