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Boys Town North Florida Helps Family Come Together Again

Keeping a child safe ​sometimes requires adults to make tough decisions, decisions that can have unexpected and negative consequences later.

That was the situation Mary faced when she decided to tell her niece, Sophie, that she had raised her since she was an infant.

Sophie was in middle school when she learned about her upbringing. When Sophie was born, her mother wasn’t prepared to take on the responsibilities of caring for a child, and the best option was to have Mary care for the then-nine-month-old girl. Over the years, the arrangement became permanent, and Mary cared for her niece as if she were her own child.

Unfortunately, Sophie reacted to her aunt’s news with feelings of anger and confusion. She began to act out aggressively, getting into fights at school, running away, using marijuana and stealing. Mary tried to discipline her niece but nothing she did seemed to have any effect on Sophie’s troubling behavior.

Frustrated by Sophie’s behavior, and with no support or resources to turn to, Mary began to use physical discipline. This eventually led to Sophie fighting back and being arrested for assaulting Mary.

The incident turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It drew attention from the authorities to the troubles Mary and Sophie were having, and resulted in a referral to Boys Town services. Sophie was placed in a Boys Town Family Home and Mary began receiving much-needed support from a Boys Town Family Consultant.

For a while, Sophie continued to carry her anger with her as she adjusted to living with her new Boys Town family, made up of several other girls and headed by a married couple called Family-Teachers ®. She got into physical and verbal altercations with her housemates, and continued to struggle with the feelings that learning about her past had stirred up.

But Sophie wanted to change her behaviors. And as her Family-Teachers consistently taught her new skills and showed understanding and compassion, she began to realize there was a better way to handle things. She began to practice the anger-control strategies she was learning, walking away when someone said something she didn’t like. She also began asking for “calm down time” when she felt herself getting angry. Sophie’s progress also could be seen in her schoolwork, where her grades improved and she participated in sports. Most importantly, her overall demeanor and attitude took a turn for the better, and she had more days where smiles and a positive mood were the norm.

Throughout her Boys Town stay, Sophie kept in contact with Mary. Sophie and Mary began meeting for visits, and their relationship grew stronger.

Six months after entering her Boys Town Family Home, Sophie returned to Mary’s care. Six months later, Mary adopted Sophie as her daughter.

Family turmoil and troubles can come from anywhere, and if left unattended, can tear a family apart.

With Boys Town’s help, Sophie and Mary found a way to rebuild their family and rekindle their loving relationship.

The stories provided about the children and families in our care are real. In some cases, names may be changed and details altered to protect their privacy and therapeutic interests.