Serena Hanson - When Foster Care Goes Right
A Victim of Childhood Physical & Sexual Abuse - A Survivor of Foster Care - A Wife - A Mother -
A College Graduate - A Licensed Social Worker - A Christ-follower, and An Advocate.
A glimpse into the story...
Born in the late 1970s to a young married couple, hopeful and looking forward to a future. Joined by a brother in the early 1980s. Parents who owned and operated a business and provided for the family. For most, these are the makings of a good story.
For this family, however, life would take a different turn.
Alcoholism. Financial stressors. Domestic violence. Sexual and Physical Abuse. Secrets. Adultery. Fear. A lack of family connections.
May 1990 - 12 years old. Fear of an early and unwanted pregnancy leads a young girl to disclose her deepest, darkest secret to a friend. Phone calls were made and the social workers came. Questions were asked.
A ball was in motion.
Serena entered into the foster care system as she finished her 6th grade school year. She would spend the next two weeks with a family member, before moving to a children's home. After a few months, Serena would move into the first of her 3 foster home placements. Two residential group homes, another stay at the children's home, and, finally, an apartment of her own would be her story for the next 6 years. Many years of therapy and survivors groups would leave questions of how much healing had taken place. Sporadic visits with her mother over the years were always clouded by the expectation to "forgive and forget". Serena was not allowed to see her little brother after she was removed but was always concerned about him, knowing he had remained with their parents, and knowing what life he must be living.
Serena was not your stereotypical foster child. She enjoyed learning and fully invested herself in school, earning good grades in school. Yes, Serena had her moments of teenage attitudes and poor choices, but was never violent or aggressive, was not sexually active, was not using drugs or alcohol, and was not taking psychotropic medications. Serena was most definitely not the "squeaky wheel". It was easy to forget her. It was easy to focus attention on those cases which required more from those charged with making decisions.
As Serena reached the age of 18, she was ready to be on her own, and felt ready. Serena made the decision with her last foster family to make preparations of transition into independent living. Serena would move into her own apartment during the winter break of her senior year in high school and would work 2 part time jobs while finishing the school year. Serena would immediately begin pursuing a college degree and recognized her future could hold something more than her past.
Serena's story is definitely a roller coaster ride through life...and her life isn't over. With her husband and four children, she is finding new adventures every day and is enjoying a life of love, stability, safety, and success. Serena encourages others to seek out the plan over their life and to look for the opportunities to turn challenges into triumphs!
Are you scheduling an event and need a phenomenal speaker to engage your audience? Do you need a great written piece for your magazine or newsletter? Are you searching for a workshop presenter who can develop a workshop specific to your organization's needs?
Serena Hanson is determined to be an example of the positive outcomes when foster care is done right. She speaks directly to professionals, foster and adoptive parents, and court professionals serving the children, youth, and families touched by the "system".
Serena is committed to being an example of overcoming adversity and finding lifetime success and happiness.
Serena also shares her story of salvation from a painful life story with faith-based groups of all denominations, hoping to encourage others to find hope.