Seven years ago, the first group of vulnerable children arrived at a partnering home in Monterrey, Mexico. Among those children was a five-year old girl assigned to her sixth children’s home placement. Camila* was filled with fear. She’d been left with her ailing father before transitioning to a Back2Back-partnering home.
“She was so tiny when she arrived,” shared Lisa Bursey, Back2Back staff. “She was wafer thin, beautiful, and very mild-mannered, until she got angry.”
In Camila’s fear, when anger arose, tantrums were her coping mechanism. She would tear things off the walls, make messes, and become inconsolable. The staff put their trauma competent care training to use, teaching Camila how to self-regulate, helping her understand she was among safe adults. “We would sit with her following a tantrum, talking softly in efforts to soothe her; she would get herself so worked up, she’d fall asleep,” Lisa shared. The staff’s consistent guidance in self-regulation allowed Camila to realize she could go to her caregivers when anger arose.
“We started noticing her going to caregivers and saying, ‘I’m feeling angry, can you pray with me?’” shared Rick Bursey, Back2Back staff. When she first moved in, she was having two tantrums a week, but once she started asking for prayer and seeking help, they decreased to two times a month. Staff were encouraged to see her growth, but shortly after arriving, she was removed from the home and taken to one closer to her ill father, so they could be together.
“We were devastated,” shared Rick and Lisa. “We’d seen so much growth and were saddened that she wouldn’t be with us to continue healing and growing.”
Lisa and Rick checked on Camila over the years to come, praying on her behalf and asking God to intercede whenever and wherever He could for the growing girl. Then two months ago, they received a call.
Mexican Children’s Service (the DIF) called with a placement. “She’s a twelve-year old girl; she was in foster care, then back in children’s homes – this will be her 12th placement,” they shared. “Also, you know her – it’s Camila.”
The once mild-mannered, waif-thin little girl came back a rebellious teenager with the same beautiful face, and staff’s goals were the same – help her heal, give her tools to self-regulate and the confidence to use her voice. The time between leaving the partnering home and returning were years filled with pain, abuse, and neglect.
“In many ways, we saw how what happened to her hardened her, but we also saw she found her own power to say, ‘this isn’t okay; I’ve had enough,’” shared the Burseys. “We get six more years with her in our care. She seems content now, but we know there are still hurdles to jump and valleys we will have to assist her through, but we are ready.”
Camila’s story isn’t an easy one. And the Burseys have cared for many children over the years with similar hurts and traumas, but they know one thing to be true – they are partnering with a God who does not leave anyone behind; they are providing care for a teen who never stopped being pursued by Jesus. This is the power of holistic care and steadfast prayer – He doesn’t ever stop, and He won’t – until every child knows they are loved and they are His.