When we think of the holiday season, many of us smile at the thought of spending time with family and friends, eating big meals, exchanging gifts, continuing family traditions and making new memories.

For many of the families at The Guidance Center, the holidays can also bring on difficult feelings, such as worry and disappointment due to not being able to provide gifts for their children. That is where The Guidance Center’s Adopt-A-Family Program comes in!

As a therapist in our Long Beach Outpatient Program, I work with many families who would be more than deserving of adoption over the holidays. These families are hardworking, dedicated, loving and would be positively impacted by gift donations this season.

Over the years, I have submitted multiple families to the program and they all have shared the joy these donations brought to their children and themselves. Last year, my 6-year-old client and his adoptive parents were beneficiaries of the Adopt-A-Family Program. Thomas came to The Guidance Center due to a history of abuse and neglect by his biological parents. As a result, Thomas was placed with his adoptive parents at 3 months old.

At 2 years old, Thomas was faced with shocking news when he was diagnosed with cancer. To fight the cancer, Thomas was required to live in a hospital for 2 years. Thomas’ cancer fight became his family’s focus. As you can imagine, this was a very trying time. Like other challenges this family has faced, they approached Thomas’ cancer diagnosis as a family unit who never gave up. His parents’ main goal was to make his childhood “as normal as possible”. Thankfully, Thomas went into remission and his parents were so thankful for his return home.

Even though Thomas continued to face medical challenges and constant doctor’s appointments, he was one of the happiest, loving and lively children I had ever met. Due to his medical needs, Thomas’ parents were not able to work and were financially strained.

When I brought up the Adopt-A-Family Program to Thomas’ parents, his mom became tearful and shared that all they wanted for their son was to have a happy Christmas and to forget about their son’s medical challenges. It would truly bring joy for them during this time as they had just received news that Thomas was no longer in remission and his cancer had come back with a vengeance.

A giving donor generously donated multiple gifts, household items, toiletries and gift cards to Thomas’ family. Being a part of the program gave this family hope and happiness during the holiday season. Thomas drew pictures for the donor family months after the donations were given, which shows the lasting impact becoming a donor can have on an accepting family.

Thomas suffered a stroke to his right side on Christmas Eve and continues to have seizures on a daily basis. He is a fighter.

His mom shares what the program means to her: “Adopt-A-Family program does bring joy, hope and happiness to each child and family. Some families live on a day-to-day basis with their child without means. To have this program implemented during the holidays is truly a blessing.”

Please consider adopting one of our many deserving families this holiday season, thank you for your consideration!

To join our Adopt-A-Family program and bring hope to a family like Thomas’ this year, visit bit.ly/TGCAdopt2018.

Jessica Price, LCSW is a Clinical Therapist in The Guidance Center’s Long Beach Outpatient Program, where she helps guide children and families struggling with mental health conditions or abuse toward positive and productive futures. She is especially passionate about working with teenagers and adults in the CalWorks program. Before joining The Guidance Center team in 2014, Price worked with teenage girls in a high acuity residential treatment center at Crittenton Services for Children and Families. Price earned a Master’s Degree in Social Works from Arizona State University.