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Adoptive family adapts to ‘new normal’ during the holidays

Adoptive mother Patti Lingle says it’s important to keep structure during the holidays because that time of the year can be a trauma-trigger for children coming out of foster care.
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 5:16 PM EST
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The holidays are now over and many people are back to a regular schedule, but for adoptive and foster families, the normal day-to-day routine never stopped.

Brian and Patti Lingle have been fostering Jaxon since he was a baby. They have four biological kids of their own but couldn’t resist adding one more to the family. They adopted Jaxon in October 2021.

“We’ve had Jaxon since he was six months old. Parental rights were terminated and we just couldn’t see him going anywhere else,” Patti said.

Jaxon was brought into the foster system because of parental drug abuse and neglect.

“The first six months of his life were chaotic and disruptive,” Patti said.

Although he is the newest addition to their family, with such an unsettling past, Brian and Patti had to adjust to Jaxon’s world.

“He didn’t experience the holidays so much with his biological parents, but with us here, we have just learned how to adapt to his learned behaviors,” Patti said.

Instead of spending the holidays at relatives’ houses, or going to parties or Christmas concerts, the festive season looks a little different for the Lingles.

“We just keep it really low-key. We don’t go a lot of places. We don’t visit a lot of people. We typically stay home,” Patti said.

For the family, it’s the most important time to keep their everyday standard routine within the household.

“Bedtime is at 7:30,” Patti said. “So no matter where we are, if it’s getting close to that time, we’re coming home. Sometimes people don’t understand that we have to get home, because if we don’t it’s going to be a meltdown.”

Patti said it’s best this way because the holidays can be trauma-triggers for children coming out of foster care.

“With kids who thrive on structure because they haven’t had a lot of structure and now they’ve got it, to disrupt that is sometimes a real struggle for them,” Patti said.

As you might imagine, maintaining that structure can require a lot of attention, which can sometimes weigh down on the Lingles’ biological children. However, Patti said they keep the door open just in case her kids need a little extra TLC.

“We’ve just kind of told them if you need one on one time, if you want to do something special, let us know,” Patti said.

Both Brian and Patti have a background in social work. For any couple that wants to foster children, Brian said it’s best to be very knowledgeable about trauma.

“Learn about trauma on children and their behaviors and that’ll help broaden your expectations,” Brian said.

Patti added to, also, have a reliable support group.

“When you are struggling, you have those people that you can turn to that understand what you’re going through and what the child is experiencing,” Patti said.

If you want to become licensed to be a foster parent, you can contact Foster Care Navigators at 1-855-MICHKIDS. From there you will be connected with an experienced foster parent who can walk you through the process.

If anyone wants to adopt from foster care, they can go to the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange website www.mare.org. On this website, there are photos and biographies of youth awaiting adoptive homes.

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