First Impressions and the Child’s Life History

How to look past the Life HIstory in foster care to see the child as he/she really is

Sonia Billadeau April 11, 2014
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5787631086_26bf7a9fba[1]Do you remember when you made your very first impression on a job, or with a friend, or maybe even meeting your significant other? I remember when I was seven my family moved, and I had to go to a new school. My mom pulled up to the school, and it seemed so much larger than my last school that I attended. The halls seemed wider and it felt like there were more classes. I walked into my new classroom, and there was a new teacher that I had to get used to along with 30 new kids staring back at me. I wasn’t so much concerned about making friends since I was a shy kid that only had a few friends and was very selective about them.

I remember feeling overwhelmed because everything was new to me. I wondered a lot of things like, if the teacher was going like me? Is she going to be a mean teacher? Are we going to have a lot of homework? I just had to wait and see. Days past and I began to settle in and learn things about my teacher and my new class. This happened a few times in my life where I had to switch schools in the middle of the year and had to readjust. Although it was sometimes tough to leave your friends and your teachers that you liked, I took comfort in knowing that my mom along with my sisters and brothers were always there for me.  I knew that while I may have a tough day at school, I could come home and everything would be okay.

s had to make first impressions. The difference is because my daughter was in foster care, everyone that she came in contact with already thought they knew her. These people were given her life history and a psychological report so they were able to judge her even though they had never met her. Could you imagine how that would feel? Can you imagine walking into a job interview where your old employers had already given them information about how you were when you worked for them? Could you imagine them knowing your whole life history, your ups and downs, your medical history, what you were like as a child, information on your parents? That would be so invasive.

That is what happens every day to kids in foster care, and the longer they are in there the more information they compile on them. People use this information to determine the type of kid they have placed in their home or classroom instead of looking at the kid that is present in front of them. I’m sure you would not want to be judged by the lowest point in your life, so naturally I feel that it is unfair to judge a kid by the lowest point in theirs.

When I was adopting my daughter, I did get her child life history to read, but I didn’t assume that all the things I read were true. I moved forward with her being placed in our home and decided that I should see for myself. Most of the things that were in her report as negative behavior were not seen by us. Now I’m not saying that this happens all the time, but a lot of what is written is perception by another person. I certainly do feel like there’s a place for the child life history and it helps you have insight into the child’s life, which is valuable; however, I  encourage anyone who is looking to adopt from foster care to not solely judge the child by what you read, and do not allow others like teachers to judge your child by their past.  You might be pleasantly surprised at who the child really is versus who you were made to believe they were!

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Sonia Billadeau


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