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Coming Together for Sam: FGDM (FGC) Helps a Family Find a Solution of Its Own

January 20, 2010

During the past year, Sam started using drugs and alcohol, hanging
out with fellow “users” in school and buying and selling marijuana. He
had trouble sharing his feelings, had problems with self-esteem and,
according to his father, started making rash decisions and looking for
instant gratification. “My son is a good, bright kid,” said Sam’s
father. “He is very talented. The stuff he got involved with was really
stupid.” Sam’s actions ultimately led to his involvement in a car
accident and arrest on DWI (driving while intoxicated) charges related
to marijuana use.

The family was shaken and alarmed. Sam was placed in juvenile
detention and later put on probation. During his court hearing, at the
request of his probation officer, Steve Lowery, the judge ordered an
FGDM conference. The objective of the conference was to identify a safe
and appropriate plan to keep Sam sober while still living within the
community and to prevent out-of-home placement.

Lowery was firm with Sam in explaining why he felt the process
beneficial and necessary, telling him, “You’re at the point now where
unless you think about seriously committing to asking for help, going
through a process like an FGDM, you’re probably looking at court
placement in a program for the next nine to 12 months.”

“But why an FGDM?” the Gordons asked. “How can this help our son and our family?”

….The Gordon’s FGDM conference began as the group shared food
together. The ritual helped the family put their own stamp on the
conference, as food is very important to them as a gesture of caring.
Then Sam’s uncle opened the FGDM with a prayer, another way the family
made the FGDM their own. Sam, though nervous, read a letter expressing
his appreciation to everyone for taking time from a holiday weekend to
come together for him. Asking for their help, Sam was met with a
roomful of supportive voices telling him how much they loved him and
how they would do whatever was needed to keep him sober, safe and out
of the “system.” Glenna Bonargo and the other professionals answered
the family group’s questions about available services and legal issues
before leaving the room.

Two hours of private family time followed. By the end, the group had
come up with a very detailed plan, which the family felt they really
“owned” because they had devised it themselves. The family decided to
get together once a month to review Sam’s progress, by phone, email,
face to face, or via Skype (internet video telephone). They also
recommended daily phone check-ins by Sam’s friends to reinforce the
sense of support. Sam’s uncle, a very strong voice in the family,
volunteered to collaborate with the family to ensure that they followed
the plan.

….Today, several months after the conference, Sam and the rest of the
extended Gordon family remain positively affected by this restorative
process. Said Sam’s father Bob: “I encourage everyone to try this
process. Have an open mind about how an FGDM can benefit your kid and
your family. Our plan calls for us to get together once a month. Sure
it’s for Sam, but it’s also helping the whole family remain close and

Read the full article.



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