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Tommy's Story

A Story of Resilience & Compassion



At five years old, Tommy suffered a loss that most adults are not even able to grapple with – the loss of a loved one in the hands of tragedy.


Tommy came into the care of Berkshire in the fall of 2020 following the sudden loss of his younger sister, Cara. He worked closely with his treatment team which consisted of a family specialist, various care managers, nurses, a dedicated director of clinical services, and last but certainly not least, his new foster parents - Shyanne and Matt.


Faced with adversity from the start, Tommy was struggling with severe posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and low self-esteem due to his history of abuse and neglect. On the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) scale, Tommy scored at the highest level. This scale is a tally of different types of abuse, neglect, and other adverse childhood experiences. The CDC describes that the higher your ACE score, the more susceptible a person is to experiencing future violence, victimization, perpetration, and lifelong health problems.


Even as a trauma-informed agency, we knew we had our work cut out for us. Over the course of the next two years, Tommy’s care team worked diligently to combat the effects of abuse and other challenges. He was shown compassion, encouragement, and love, he was given reminders of his self-worth and nurtured every step of the way.


Against all odds, Tommy was resilient. He began to express self-assurance, exclaiming statements like, “I can do this!” He was even learning to cope with the grief he suffered from the loss of his sister and would make assertions such as, “She’s with me everywhere I go.” Tommy has thrived, making enormous strides in his emotional growth as well as improving his speech. He is making friends in school, embracing his new foster cousins whom he has grown to adore, and fostering relationships with his role models. Not to mention, his grades have gotten much better.


Cristin O’Brien, clinical director at Berkshire said, “The reason Tommy is so successful now is because of them [his foster parents], their love and consistency with him, along with lots of patience.”


Tommy’s story gets even better because with the new year comes the announcement of his upcoming adoption. Shyanne and Matt showed Tommy the love, empathy, and compassion he needed to thrive and are over the moon to be adopting him this year. We’re excited to follow this family’s journey and see where it takes them!

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