Trauma in foster kids is not something to fear

In three years, the Justice Family went from no kids to four

BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. – Many kids in foster care have gone though trauma. They've seen domestic violence or been hurt themselves, ripped away from their families and everything they know. But with the right support, these children take their trauma, process it and become transformed.

A warning, some of this story maybe hard to read.

In three years, Ashley and Brandon Justice went from having no children to four.

"These kids need families. They deserve to be in families. It's impossible for a child to function without stability, without permanence and without a family," said Ashley.

Ashley and Brandon Justice don't want people to fear the trauma foster kids can have.
Ashley and Brandon Justice don't want people to fear the trauma foster kids can have.

Their two oldest have been through trauma. They say 5-year old Austin was abused and neglected. At just two and half years old, he moved around a lot before finally living with them.

"It was very overwhelming. Austin had an extreme amount of self harming behaviors. He would chew his fingers until they were raw, he would dig out his skin. We literally would have to bandage his stomach because he would claw himself until he bled," said Ashley.

16-year old Anya was orphaned at birth. She spent eleven years in a Ukrainian orphanage.

"I was alone and I didn't get much attention. I didn't get much love," she said.

"That resulted in every form of abuse imaginable," said Ashley. "Trauma's a difficult thing to understand. It impacts every child differently. There is no standard equation that this in this happened this is going to be the outcome."

Now, years later both children are different thanks to a team of helpers.

"We had occupational therapy, physical therapy, we've had speech therapies," said Ashley.

Play therapy has changed how Austin deal with trauma from abuse and neglect.
Play therapy has changed how Austin deal with trauma from abuse and neglect.

Austin sees Robin Wiley, a licensed professional counselor, for play therapy. It's a chance for kids to take control. She says he played out a lot of conflict, aggression and battling.

"Makes me think did he see that, is that what he's seen or did he feel like he has to always battle against another?" said Wiley. "Through the play, they will tell you what they need and what they want. Their behavior is always trying to tell us something. We just have to be smart enough to figure it out because they're depending on us for that."

Now, more than a year later...

"His behavior is wonderful. He gets along well with other kids. Socially he does well, academically he does well," said Ashley.

The parents want everyone to know with the proper support, you can change children's lives and you don't have to be afraid of their past.

"You'll learn so much of that sort of on the fly and you just take things a day at a time or a moment at a time and you do the best you can with it," said Brandon Justice.

"You have to realize what your little part is in this big puzzle and then be able to do that part and do it well," said Ashley.

We asked Anya what it was like when she was adopted. She paused for a second, smiled and said "I felt happy. Having parents is a miracle."

When you foster to adopt, you're not alone. There are case workers, therapists and more to help you and the children. The Justice Family wants you to know, don't be afraid of these children. Give them a chance and they can change your life while you change theirs.

If you have questions about foster care/adoption, contact Cindy Davis at DePaul Community Resources at cdavis@depaulcr.org or 540.381.1848 x 4009 or online at www.depaulcr.org



Trauma and Foster Care

Ashley Justice wanted to adopt when she was just 12-years old after talking to her mom about children who didn't have parents. Now, years later she's gone from no kids to four in just three years. She is talking about her journey and why you shouldn't be afraid of kids that have trauma Monday on @WSLS 10 / WSLS.com. #30DaysofHope

Posted by Jenna Zibton WSLS 10 News on Thursday, November 8, 2018

There are more than 600 children who are ready for foster to adoption in Virginia. They are ready to find a permanent and loving forever family. 10 News is profiling one child who needs a home every day at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. in 30 Days of Hope. The children are all ages and races and were put into foster care due to no fault of their own.


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