It has been nearly 20 years since Blossom Faufata and her husband became licensed therapeutic foster parents for Catholic Charities Hawai‘i.
Providing a home for a child in need was natural in many ways for the Faufatas, who were already committed to improving their community, raising their children with high moral standards and living the ideals of their Christian faith.
The couple’s faith and the stable foundation of their family provided reassurances that they could succeed in being foster parents. However, the sheer difficulty of the task ahead and the remarkable ways that they would grow to meet these challenges were a learning experience for the entire family.
The Faufatas have learned the art of balancing structure with unconditional acceptance. When children walk into the Faufata home, the rules are clearly defined and the children are immediately treated with dignity, respect and kindness. They are taken care of and they implicitly understand that the adults behind the wheel know which direction they are headed. They are immediately made to feel accepted regardless of their background or their history.
In general, the children who qualify for therapeutic foster homes have repeatedly experienced failure in their own homes, the legal system, their communities and the foster care system. Consequently, when a child is overwhelmed with grief, confusion and distrust, they often resort to stealing, lying and temper tantrums. The Faufatas counter this behavior by teaching the children to manage their frustration.
For example, CCH once assigned the family a 6-year-old child whose tantrums had nearly shut down a school. The child’s anger was so intense that hospitalization was a very real possibility. Both parents worked tirelessly with him and taught him how to listen, how to express himself, and how to stop and think before reacting to a situation.
The Faufatas taught that child—and all youth whom they foster – to talk about their fears and problems so that they can learn to make good choices. They help the children to believe in themselves, and they give the children the gift of a childhood.
When youth in Catholic Charities Hawai‘i’s therapeutic foster care program make mistakes – either big or small – they are taught to learn from their mistakes and to forgive others. Most importantly, they are taught how to be a part of a family.
The following spring, that same child was practically brimming with enthusiasm. Healthy and happy, he was learning in school. The Faufata family had given him back his childhood and had given him enough of a foundation so that he had a fighting chance of finding a permanent home.
For those of us who work with those dealing with childhood trauma, we are grateful for the love and guidance provided by the Faufata family. We all have much to learn about compassion, dignity, excellence and social justice through what the Faufatas give each day to children in need.