In 1994, my best friend and I founded Families Like Ours, a family social and networking group. We'd just had sons, born 4 weeks apart, and we hoped to meet other LGBTQ+ families like ours. Our first meeting of five families and our infants occurred in our tiny San Francisco living room, and soon grew to hundreds of families, many who remain close today. Under new leadership, the group evolved into the still-thriving non-profit, Our Families Coalition. Nearly 27 years later, and with the blessing of my courageous son, I founded Kids Like Ours.
"I've always struggled with being neurologically atypical on many levels, including mental illness and addiction in later years. But as a kid I think there were so many behaviors and byproducts of me being on the spectrum, that presented as mental illness, so it was treated with detrimental approaches. Stigma and shame are why society hasn't adapted to the point where kids and families can address and healthily cope with this array of complex issues." - Jack Moore
The Mission of Kids Like Ours is two fold:
First: To share my personal story with professionals and students in mental health, social work, education and law enforcement, with the goal of reducing harm and informing their family engagement practices to improve mental health outcomes and well-being in the communities they serve.
Kids Like Ours was born out of my deep desire to SPEAK to inform and transform the systems that surround families impacted by mental illness and trauma, using a cultural lens, including addressing the impact of institutionalized racism and community violence specifically in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities. As a white, educated woman, I begin by acknowledging my privilege. With the dozens of police encounters he had, I don't believe that my son would be alive today if he was BIPOC. These systems include: Police and courts, hospitals and clinics, mental health, social welfare, and schools. In sharing my personal stories, I provide examples of when these systems have both helped and harmed my family, as well as the families I have served in the course of my 20 year child welfare career.
Second: Alleviate the profound suffering and isolation experienced by caregivers of children who have experienced trauma which is negatively impacting their life, or who have mental illness.
Kids Like Ours was born out of my deep desire to LISTEN to families from all walks of life, and to share my experience, strength and hope. I know the feeling of being judged by mental health professionals and police, of feeling isolated from family who distance themselves (and their children) from you, the pain of your child being jailed rather than hospitalized for their mental illness, and of blaming yourself for your decisions and your counter-productive coping mechanisms. I also know the unconditional love and pride you feel for your child, all you are doing every day to persist and to advocate for your child in bureaucratic and inadequate systems. I also know how strong you are, and how much you could benefit from non-judgmental support from someone who’s walked in your shoes. (I couldn't have survived the parenting years without my village of trusted friends, mental health professionals, teachers, doctors and yes, even our local police).
As a parent or caregiver, only you can do this hard thing, but you can’t do it alone.