"Mary saw something in me that no one else was willing to see"
“Scared and confused, I waited in the orphanage for my father to come back for me, but he never came," explained Lily, a twenty-two-year-old youth who traveled from China to the US when she was twelve years old. “I can talk about it now with you, but it was a huge emotional deal, it took me years to feel wanted."
Lily was adopted through an international adoption arrangement, but unfortunately, her adoptive parents were not prepared to meet her individualized needs and she came into DCF care.
“I can look back on those times now and understand why they let me go," Lily explained. “They didn’t have experience with kids my age and had no idea what pain I was carrying. Thankfully, Mary Urban, a middle school math teacher, saw something in me that no one else was willing to see."
Mary first met Lily in a Mathematics lab at the high school. She understood how delicate Lily’s foster care placement had become so it was no surprise when she received an inter-office email through the board of education, asking all staff to consider being a permanent placement for this young adolescent. School administration understood the importance of Lily staying connected to the school and collaborated with the Department to assist in finding Lily a family to she could stay within her local community.
Later that evening, Mary spoke with her husband about Lily and felt called to learn more about the requirements needed to care for her. She remembers attending an open house session the next day and stayed long after the meeting to talk about becoming a kinship placement for Lily. “I knew what she needed was a permanent family, this wasn’t a temporary place to stay," Mary explained. She was more than willing to meet Lily where she was at, and she took the steps to do so. Mary ran the idea about being a forever family for Lily by her adult children and had all hands on deck.
Mary and her family became licensed by a therapeutic foster care agency, Institute for Professional Practice (IPP). She explained that IPP and DCF provided “remarkable” support, adding that they were always readily available and responsive when she needed them. Michael AuYang who worked with Lily and the Urban’s through IPP said, “I truly don’t know a better definition of “family." Lily was naturally considered an 'Urban' the moment she was placed at the home and underneath all the fear, the mistrust, and the rebellion, Lily wanted and considered herself an 'Urban.' I think we often forget the importance of foster caretakers’ resilience. Resilience is the capacity to recover from compressive stress, 'pull up the boot strap' and continue to do what needs to be done and the Urbans did just that.”
This love and stability gave Lily room to begin healing.
The Urbans exemplify the true nature of kinship care by welcoming Lily into their home. Lily was able to soar because of the trust she had in Mary and her family and because of the feelings of identity and belonging she felt. “The Urbans' true commitment and attention was exactly what Lily needed in a family," explained Lily's Social Worker Adrian Perez.
Being placed and cared for by an adult who not only knew Lily’s story but, who had come to know Lily personally, seemed like the most perfect plan for her. “My trust issues took a real long time. Things got better because of the Urbans and my commitment to therapy," explained Lily. With the Urbans, Lily said that she was able to express her feelings, share her fears. She felt safe and heard. “I consider the Urbans my family, my home," she added. It is because of the Urbans' commitment to Lily and their willingness to work through her challenges that Lily has been able to achieve success in so many ways.
“I have been honored to work with Lily and her foster parents and watch the many gains she has made. I am confident that she will continue to grow," explained Social Worker Perez.
What is the outcome?
Lily is a Bentley University graduate who received a $160 thousand dollar 4-year academic scholarship and achieved a bachelor's degree this spring in Corporate Finance & Accounting. During her last semester, Lily transitioned into adulthood, gaining independence by living in her own apartment while working with the CHAP program and completing a virtual internship.
Lily recently moved to Boston this fall to begin her career at a well-known accounting firm in the Boston suburbs.
“If it wasn’t for DCF, I really don’t know where I would be. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today. DCF made my life better and now it’s my turn to make my family proud of me," Lily stated.