All children placed with foster carers or adoptive parents have, to varying degrees, experienced loss and trauma. Those who have suffered neglect and abuse in their formative years are often confused about their past. They tend to hold themselves responsible for their ill treatment, have low self-esteem and a deep sense of shame. Metaphorical stories that mirror aspects of children’s life may access these unconscious feelings and can help them to challenge and reframe their limiting inner beliefs.
'The Precious Rose Bush’ is a simple example of a therapeutic story. It was inspired by a child’s painting of a rose bush and is loosely based on her life story. It is a ‘Once upon a time…and they all lived happily ever after’ tale, and it may have particular resonance for some children who are in long-term foster placements or adoptive families, especially for children separated from siblings.
The little rose is neglected, then carefully transplanted and nurtured by the gardener. When it is strong enough, the gardener gives the plant to someone he really trusts, someone who not only loves roses, but also knows how to look after them. With love, care, attention and understanding the rose bush eventually thrives.
This familiar, tried and tested formula can be seen in folklore, fairy tales, fables and bible stories. Such stories can be read and enjoyed at face value, but they also contain simple, yet powerful, subliminal messages. The underlying message of ‘The Precious Rose Bush’ is one of hope and a positive future.