By Erin Dye
It is difficult to describe residential life at Adriel and our youth to who have never spent significant time in such a program. Often we get questions of “where do youth come from?” “Why are they there?” “Do they not have family?” These inquiries certainly play a role in our youth’s identity, but these details paint a small picture of our youths’ journeys. We can safely say our youth have experienced grief, low self-worth, and abandonment.
To answer some of those basic questions, for the most part, our youth have county guardianship, which means their families are no longer legal guardians due to an unfit environment. Youth also come to us on probation from some trouble they may have gotten into. We do have sad stories of unfair treatment and experiences no child should endure. We can hold these things in balance as we work with them to be the best person they can be and know how they deserve to be treated without letting the past define them.
With this reality, our youth have so much to offer. One example is peer-to-peer encouragement and moments of articulating and giving hope in times of struggle. Our youth share regularly at our campus worship service something they’ve worked on to present to their peers to encourage them. This is such a positive outlet for expressing their experiences as a way to connect with one another. Included here is a creative poem written by one of our youth to express her sadness and shared with her peers so that they may know they’re not alone in their feelings of loss.
We are all broken people searching for reconciliation with the Lord, others, and ourselves. Understanding the example of our youth gives hope for us all. What an incredible opportunity our youth, who have endured so much, have to share with others of us trudging through turmoil, striving for inner peace. They probably don’t even know the path they’re setting; the fight is just everyday life for them! I often come back to what I find most rejuvenating about working with this population — their genuineness. The pain is real, but so are the concern and mindfulness of others.. Their open hearts swelling with faith amaze me and should inspire us all. As you read the included note a youth shared with his family and peers at his baptism, may you connect with the spark of a burning faith!
Adriel is a social service agency for children that serves the whole child with foster care, independent living, adoption, residential treatment and a variety of family preservation programs. Agency offices are in West Liberty, Archbold, Dublin and Toledo.