Understanding the World of a Child

A Profile of Ms. Nyiemah Twyman, BA

A specialist in adoption and foster care at Spaulding for Children, Nyiemah Twyman personally knows what life is like for the children on her caseload. When she was younger, Ms. Twyman had been in foster care.

That life experience helped drive Ms. Twyman to do all she can to help children in need of a loving family and a permanent home at Spaulding. She also serves today as a counselor at Vista Maria, where she helps adolescent girls develop the characteristics needed to overcome difficult circumstances. In both positions, she helps youngsters develop critical skills they will need as adults.

“For the older children, especially – those who may have been waiting what seems a long time for a home – it helps to know there are people who have gone through a similar thing.”

In her professional work, Ms. Twyman helps children who may be temporary wards of the court and children who may be permanently separated from their parents due to abuse or neglect. Ms. Twyman serves as a case manager and advocate, helping find what each child on her caseload needs from getting enrolled in school, to tutoring services, to counseling and guidance, and to medical and dental care.

Children in foster care or awaiting adoption may not see or understand the big picture.  However, empathy, compassion and kindness are human characteristics that are developed through contact with caring adults.

“I do know what to look for in children and families,” Ms. Twyman said. “That is, I want to make sure children are safe, know they are loved, and have what they need to thrive in the home.”

Her professional goals include helping children on her caseload to understand that their lives, too can be what they want. The secret is helping them understand how their lives in the present will help make their dreams for the future come true. By helping children develop characteristics, including self-confidence and the commitment to school work, they are doing what they need to build a happy and successful life as adults.

“Stay in school,” Ms. Twyman said. “Believe in yourself. And recognize that others really want to help you.”

Ms. Twyman’s initial goal in attending college was to become a neo-natal nurse. Soon, she discovered a passion for psychology and criminal justice. She discovered how she could serve all three through social work. So, after graduating from Olivet College in 2011, she embarked on a career as a counselor, providing guidance to young people in danger of embarking on – or continuing on – the wrong path in life.

“One girl said to me she was ‘not pretty, like other girls,’” Ms. Twyman said. “I asked her to look in the mirror and tell me, what do you see? She said her hair is different. I wanted her to find something she liked, so I reminded her that her hair is just one part of her being, and that is, she is a beautiful person. She started to understand how she could find the positive in the other aspects of her appearance.”

“She also learned that to become the person you want to be is not just what you see on the outside. One can be the prettiest girl in school, but still have a terrible attitude towards others, an inner anger that doesn’t match appearance.”

“So, I helped her understand that the person you really are comes from inside you. The secret is helping her discover how she – and every other child – is a special person and is meant to be loved and treasured. From there, she discovered that she can counteract another person’s shortcoming through kindness and by giving of one’s inner self.”

“The young girl took these ideas to heart. Now she helps others understand how to endure doubts and misunderstandings by sharing her example.

In her career at Spaulding for Children, Ms. Twyman has witnessed the great impact one caring person can make on the life of a child.

“For those who adopt a child, please be very instrumental in your children’s lives,” Ms. Twyman said. “Teach them what they need to know. Pay attention to what they are doing. Don’t fret the smaller things, those which are not going to hurt them. And when your child says something is occurring, believe them.”

“Second, if you are not in a position to adopt, please be a foster parent if you are interested. You have a story to tell, so you can help a child. And don’t be afraid of teen-agers. They really are just big babies, who may not have gotten the love, attention and positive direction we all need.”

Ms. Twyman remembers. Every day now, she works to help others in her care discover the lesson.