Bailey Hughes Interview

We asked Bailey Hughes, Family Ambassador and Board of Directors member for Center for Child Counseling, to talk to us about her journey in becoming a die-hard advocate for children with trauma after fostering more than 20 children and adopting 3 of them.

Your journey began in the school system. As a teacher, what did you see families struggle with most?
Working in a low-income school with 98% free and reduced lunch students and predominantly immigrant families I watched them struggle to meet the needs of all their children. These migrant families work long, hard hours and the older brothers and sisters typically are the ones raising their younger siblings. They struggle to focus on schoolwork when their basic needs were a daily struggle. These parents deeply cared for their children, they wanted what was best, but they also had to spend countless hours a day trying to provide for them. When you are struggling to make ends meet you are not thinking about a child's schoolwork or academics or emotional needs; you are focused on just surviving.

What inspired you to open your home to foster more than 20 children, and ultimately adopt 3 of them?
My husband and I struggled to get pregnant and ultimately infertility led us to fostering. We began fostering, like many do, with a focus on adoption and thinking only of our own family, but man did that change quickly. Our focus stopped becoming about how we could find a child for our family and turned into how we could be a safe place for a child in need. Over the course of 5 years we welcomed 23 children into our home. Some of them stayed for 24 hours, some of them stayed forever. To be honest, watching these children’s stories and lives change in a split second allowed me to learn how to stand in the trenches of grief and trauma with someone and fight for their safety and security. It wasn't easy, and it still isn't, but I am so thankful we naively walked into the world of fostering and adoption because it forever changed the lives of my husband and me.

Our family dynamic now consists of four beautiful children. Our son Jude who is almost 3. We adopted him when he was 7 months old after fostering him from birth. Aria and Asia came to our home when they were 4 and 2 and were adopted a year ago after we fostered them for almost 3 years. We are in the process of adopting our foster son who is 6 months old and has been with us since he was discharged from the NICU. We will finally be closing our home to fostering after over 5 years, and while it is bittersweet, I am so looking forward to being able to step into the world of advocacy for not only my own children, but for so many others who are struggling in our community.

How did Center for Child Counseling make a difference in your family?
Walking into a child's trauma is about the hardest thing you can do as a parent. When we faced the deep trauma of our girls, I was in over my head. Our first encounter with play therapy was with Center for Child Counseling (CFCC) and a very, very special therapist named Eunice. She taught me everything I ever could know about trauma, parenting children from hard places, how to seek out resources, and just how to help my children work through the struggles of their past. Eunice spent one and a half years with our daughter and poured into her life and our life as a family. Without her I would not know how to parent the way I do today. CFCC provides more than just therapy for the child; they provide healing for the entire family.

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about Center for Child Counseling?
Honestly? I wish everyone could meet Renée. Until recently I never even knew who the leader and dream-starter of this organization was. I thought it was just another large government-run agency and didn't realize it was Renée’s baby that she had birthed after years of fighting to get children the help they need. I am so inspired by her advocacy for children, her ability to make CFCC the best it possibly can be, and her desire to just help families in need. Renée and her team are changing the community and that is not an easy feat.

We love your t-shirt, Advocate like a Mother. What can we all do to be better advocates for children?
I remember seeing this shirt from "The Littlest Warrior Apparel" and immediately adding it to my online cart. When I put it on and wore it to my first medical appointment with my medically fragile son, I couldn't help but feel empowered. It was like I was putting on my armor for the battles I was about to fight. I have fought a lot of battles as a mother, and continue to, but I know that I must because honestly, this is what I was created for — being the voice for someone who doesn't have a voice of their own. Just remember to never be afraid to speak up; you know your child better than anyone. Trust that "mom gut," because I PROMISE you that intuition will never lead you astray. And don't give up. It's not easy raising children in general, but add medical, emotional, behavioral, or mental health difficulties and it is a whole other beast. Remember you were created for this. You’re strong enough. We have to be.

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