Alberto’s best friend’s name is Oscar. They met in class after Alberto entered foster care and changed schools. He was neglected and abused in his biological home and mistreated in foster homes since then.

“Oscar came home from school one day very worried about his friend,” said Alba, Oscar’s mother. “He asked me what a foster home is and said Alberto was very unhappy in his. He begged me to adopt him.”

After a few days of Oscar reminding Alba how much he has always wanted a brother, she followed up to ensure that Alberto was safe.

“I had a feeling Oscar was right about this one, and he was,” Alba said. “I had never been a foster parent before, but God put it on my heart to become one for Alberto’s sake. I’m so grateful for Gail’s support these last few months.”

Gail is a family intervention specialist for Youth Villages’ Intercept intensive in-home services program. She met with Alba’s family each week to help with Alberto’s transition into the home.

“Alberto is smart and sweet, but he was defiant at times,” Alba said. “I needed help keeping his behavior in check while reassuring him that he is loved and wanted in our home.”

Gail used Collaborative Problem Solving to address Alberto’s behavior. CPS helps families work through challenges while building positive and empathetic relationships through conversation.

“Before, if a kid bullied Alberto, he hit him,” Gail said. “If he was dared to do something dangerous, he did it without thinking twice. But we talked it out. He told me he didn’t want to cause trouble, he just didn’t consider the consequences of his actions.”

Alberto recognized his need to say no to peers when they egg him on. He practiced at home with Gail and the family by role-playing situations. Gail taught him positive coping skills to use in heated moments, like stepping away and taking time by himself.

“Gail’s thoughtful approach to our CPS conversations helped Alberto feel comfortable and understood during therapy,” Alba said. “She gained his trust and helped me do the same.”

About a month ago, Alberto was punched in the eye by a bully at school. Instead of retaliating, he walked away, told the principal and talked to Alba and Oscar about it when he got home.

Alba and the boys spend as much quality time together as possible. They have candid talks about rules and expectations in the home and Alberto has become more open about his past. They just moved into a new house, where Alberto has his own room. The family has decided to begin the official adoption process.

“I am so proud of this family’s commitment to each other,” Gail said. “Thanks to Alba and Oscar, Alberto has a loving mother and a best friend for a brother. I couldn’t be happier for him.”