Recovering from childhood trauma is a long and hard climb. The path forward is never a straight line. There will be stumbles and detours. Progress requires perseverance, self-reconciliation, and the guidance of caring individuals who never give up on you.
David Taylor is now 16. He is a high-school sophomore in Livonia, where he lives with his adoptive mother, Elaine. In the last 20 years, Elaine has adopted 10 kids and fostered nearly 45, all of whom endured very difficult experiences before arriving at her doorstep. To help the kids cope and recover, they need intensive counseling and wraparound services, and Southwest Solutions has been providing those services over the years, including to the three boys Elaine is currently fostering.
Four years ago, when he was 12, David’s story was featured in a short film that premiered at a Southwest Solutions event called “Solutions at Sunrise.” The film is entitled “The Ground We Gain.” In it, David related how he, twin sister and little brother were removed from their biological mother’s home and placed with relatives when he was six years old. Because he missed his mother, he acted out and was severely punished. The relatives eventually placed David in foster care. Elaine then took him in and ultimately adopted him.
After the film played at Solutions at Sunrise, David spoke to the audience of nearly 1,000. He was poised and expressive. He thanked his team of counselors at Southwest Solutions, especially Margaret Jabboori, for helping him work through the sadness, anger and hurt from losing his biological family; and also helping him bond with his new family. David also thanked Elaine wholeheartedly.
“Mom, I want to thank you for giving me a home,” David said from the stage. “For adopting me. For taking care of me. And for giving me such a big family. I love being a part of it. I consider them all to be truly my family.”
Several months after Solutions at Sunrise, David suffered a psychological setback and acted out aggressively. At the same time, Elaine was dealing with the grief and despair caused by the tragic murders of her two birth sons and a grandson. She asked a friend on the east side of Detroit to house and care for David until he was ready to come home for good.
David’s agitation persisted. His counselor Margaret continued to see him at Elaine’s friend’s home and at Elaine’s home during his periodic visits.
“I was really struggling with behavioral problems,” David said. “I wouldn’t listen and I wasn’t respectful.”
After one particularly bad incident, David ran away from the east-side home. He hid in an abandoned house and slept there overnight, feeling both scared and defiant.
David was away from his family home for about three years.
“I knew that David was ready to return when we had a family counseling session with Margaret at home and David really opened up,” Elaine said. “He told the family that he was genuinely sorry for what he had done and that he missed his family so much. I think that David had to go through some really tough times and figure out how to forgive himself before he could ask others to forgive him.”
David has been home for four months now. He is doing well in school, getting A’s or B’s in all his classes. He is determined to go to college.
David is also active at New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church on the northwest side. It’s the church that Elaine attends and where one of her sisters is a minister and another is first lady. David and Elaine are helping to convert a space in the church into a storeroom that will provide clothing, shoes, hygiene kits, and other items to the homeless and individuals in need.
“I have a lot of hope in my life now because my mom and others helped me get through bad problems,” David said. “So I want to do whatever I can to help others do the same.”