*Molly was a baby we worked with in 2013. She was admitted to hospital, and then put in to foster care at the age of only 7 months old, after shocking physical abuse. Her hospital records showed she had multiple bruises, cigarette burns, and a fracture in her wrist that had not been treated. She was also severely underweight and malnourished.
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When she arrived at her new foster home, Molly would not make eye contact, was behind on all major social development milestones and recoiled from any sort of touch. Molly showed signs of fear and terror during simple tasks like bathing and nappy changes. Other important experiences for babies – like play and interacting with other people – were beyond Molly’s ability to cope with. After several weeks of failing to achieve any progress, an educator from Baby in Mind was called by Molly’s case worker to support her new foster parents in working through Molly’s trauma.
Initially, we worked very slowly. Using what is called a ‘cue-based’ approach, we were able to help her foster parents understand Molly’s body language and her signs of fear. Gradually, by following Molly’s lead, she became comfortable and accepting of sitting on the same bed as her foster mother. From there, we used cue-based infant massage to gradually introduce Molly to gentle touch, progressing to helping Molly feel comfortable with healthy and respectful physical touch and contact from her foster parents.
From that point, Molly began to develop rapidly and caught up on most of her developmental milestones and experiences: playing, laughing, growing and getting in to the occasional bit of mischief! Molly is now almost four years old, and this year is so excited to be starting pre-school. Yes – she still has some physical scars, which are fading with time. And she still feels overwhelmed and shy in large groups. But other than this, Molly shows no obvious signs of her early trauma. She is a playful, bright and extremely creative little girl who loves ballet. All of her health and psychologist assessments show no cause for concern, and – best of all – she has two permanent foster parents who she knows keep her safe and love her.
Project Molly is our current fundraising campaign. Studies show that even though they don’t have a conscious memory of their abuse, babies in these circumstances experience terrible long-term outcomes affecting their education, mental health and even their relationships with adults. Studies also show that – even in the worst case scenarios – early interventions such as these can reverse and even prevent these long-term effects of early trauma.
100% of your donation will go to providing this service to another 300 children who are in the same situation today, that Molly was in almost four years ago. We can reach so many, with so little, because we use the funding to provide these skills to a community worker who is already working with babies at risk of abuse and involved in the foster care system. If you elect, we will also send you regular updates on the project you have supported.
Please consider helping us reach more children like Molly. This is the time it matters most and when we can have the greatest impact before problems become entrenched.
(*Please note: for confidentiality reasons, and to avoid exploitation of children in the name of ‘fundraising’, we use different names as well as stock photography for illustration only. However all details of Molly’s case are real and are used with consent of her parents).