Trauma often does its greatest harm when it occurs during the impressionable stages of our youth. Losing one's parents, moving from different schools, living in an unstable environment - all of these are issues that can break into a child's world and cause difficulties well into adulthood.
What can we do? What has research shown to be the current best practices? What is the science behind this aspect of foster care, and how does it relate to our faith?
I was honored to be a part of a panel to address these questions. The purpose of this discussion hosted by Imago Dei in Portland, Oregon, was to inform and hopefully encourage discussion for those who are already part of the foster care system and want to learn more, as well as churches and communities seeking to build greater networks of support and communication.
Dr. Robert Potter introduces the panel discussion by speaking to the impact of trauma on moral development, in particular with children. The trauma experienced by children in the foster care system can greatly impact their moral reasoning and behaviors. When approached by the challenges the world presents, a moral response asks: “What’s going on here, what ought we to care about, and what should we do about it?” In regards parenting a child who has been traumatized, the different perspectives of parent and child as to "what is really going on?" and "what is the most important thing to care about?" will definitely affect what should be done in response.
Panelists include: Dr. Robert Potter (M.D., Ph.D.) former chair of bio-ethics at Oregon Health and Sciences University; Reverend Doctor Chris Haughee (Evangelical Covenant Church, chaplain of Intermountain Residential in Helena, Montana); Mike Pinkerton (part of the foster care system at Imago Dei PDX Church), and two mothers of beautiful foster children who share a part of their story and experience, Jillana Goble and Kat Bonham (i.e. the true experts!). The panel was moderated by Dr. Paul Louis Metzger, the director of New Wine, New Wineskins (Ph.D., King's College, London).