Adriana came to the Austin Children’s Shelter as a 17-year-old, pregnant and with a toddler in tow. She and her siblings had been taken into the care of the State because of ongoing neglect in their home. From her life thus far Adriana had learned to survive by trusting no one – the adults in her life couldn’t be trusted to care for her – much less help her learn to care for her children. One of our most important goals has been to help this teenager grow in her confidence as a mother and to do so has required that a bond of trust be built between Adriana and ACS Youth Care Workers.
Adriana brought a lifetime of mistrust and shattered hopes with her when she came to the Shelter.
She consistently avoided personal interactions and became defensive when offered support of any kind. In some ways, she was like a phantom in the house, drifting in and straight to her room. When Adriana’s second child was born, the added stress became immediately evident. She would swing the full spectrum of emotions; from trying to do everything on her own to becoming overwhelmed and wanting the shelter youth care workers to care for her children full time.
“Adriana’s circumstance led to an opportunity for us to step in and teach her how to juggle the responsibilities of motherhood, school and life as a teen,” said her ACS Case Manager Amanda Moreno. For several months, the youth care workers spent one-on-one time with Adriana, teaching basic positive child care and guiding her day to day. Together, they established boundaries and expectations regarding care for her children and created daily routines that fostered a sense of normalcy, moments of calm, and nurturing interactions.
Helping Adriana see her way through a stressful time, and helping her set the rules for her own children, slowly built her trust of staff while also building confidence in her abilities as a mother. Recently, Adriana established a time out structure for her two-year-old child, wrote it on the white board, and asked staff to follow it. This simple act demonstrated her new confidence in her own capabilities as a mom and her belief in cottage staff as her partners.
Now, having learned to trust and to manage her time, she is often seen around the cottage giggling with the other mothers, playing on the floor with her daughters, or reading a book for her toddler while rocking her infant. Her youth care workers continue to be there for her as a sounding board and to provide advice and support.