EL CENTRO â€” Amaris Ministries hosted a first ever â€œHelping Kids from Hard Placesâ€ conference at Christ Community Church in El Centro. The event took place Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day and featured Debra and Alan Jones, international speakers and parent trainers specializing in at-risk children.
â€œAnyone can come from a hard place,â€ Debra Jones told the room.Â â€œA hard place can come from an orphanage, jumping from foster home to foster home, abuse, neglect, or even something as simple as a difficult or stressful pregnancy,â€ she said.
Debra and Alan told the story of the personal journey they embarked on after adopting their son, Dane, from Romania. They felt â€œoverwhelmed and ill-equipped to manage the maladaptive behaviors of (their son),â€ both asserted. Through â€œa rich partnershipâ€ with researchers at the TCU Institute of Child Development, the Jonesâ€™ found â€œlife-changing answers.â€
Now, Debra, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education and a Masters in Education, teaches a model of parenting at the Institute called â€œ Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI).â€ Both Jonesâ€™ travel and speak, training on this model internationally through PACT, Parenting Adoptees Can Trust â€“ an organization they started in 2007.
The Jonesâ€™ own personal experience combined with the extensive professional research of the TCU Child Development Institute has opened their eyes to the neurological and emotional abnormalities that occur in children who have come from â€œa hard place.â€
â€œThe more we can get the word about this TBRI model, the better we will be as a whole,â€ Debra said.
The founder of Amaris Ministries, Valley native, Nicole Rothfleisch, was impacted by this teaching after attending a conference in Orange County where the Jonesâ€™ spoke.
â€œI just knew that we needed this in the Imperial Valley,â€ Rothfleisch said. â€œI talked to them at that conference and said, â€˜Weâ€™ve gotta get you down here. Whatâ€™s it going to take.â€™â€
Rothfleisch connected to the Jonesâ€™ teaching and related to the method they taught because of her own journey and her husband, Ryan’s, with their adopted daughter, Amaris.
â€œI felt like I had become my childâ€™s adversary instead of her advocate,â€ she stated.
â€œIâ€™ve been on a learning journey,â€ Rothfleisch said. â€œThrough the trust-based parenting model Iâ€™m learning the right ways and we are making so much progress,â€ she praised.
Amaris Ministries focuses on recruiting, training, and supporting foster and adoptive families. Their vision is to start classes and support groups for these families, Rothfleisch said.
â€œAll foster and adoptive kids, even if theyâ€™re adopted from birth, are a â€˜kid from a hard place,â€™ and they need this kind of parenting style,â€ she said.
â€œThe traditional (parenting) methods are not bringing about this relational connection that God desires,â€ Rothfleisch said. â€œI really felt the need to bring this here because itâ€™s the best parenting and relationship model I have found.â€
Annette Rea also spoke with her husband at the conference, sharing their own story of parenting three biological children and five adoptive children.
â€œWe have a need in our community,â€ she said. â€œThese kids come into our homes with serious issues.â€
â€œWe need these resources and tools and this support system to be able to help,â€ she said. â€œThis training for us was instrumental, because we didnâ€™t know what the answers were.â€
â€œIt completely answered questions we had,â€ she continued. â€œ(As adoptive parents) we are no experts. This gave answers.â€
Debra and Alan are staying in the Valley for a total of 10 days. After completing the conference, they will be doing 3-day in-home interventions with two different Amaris Ministries families.
Rothfleisch stated, â€œOur hope is to continue what they started here with small group studies, checking out resources from our Amaris Ministries library, and Lord willing, even bringing them back someday.â€
â€œIf our families, churches, school teachers, social workers, coaches, and ministries would learn to implement these strategies, I am confident we would bring healing to our community and help stop the destructive cycles so there wouldnâ€™t be as much of a need for foster care,â€ she concluded.[envira-gallery id=”57395″]