New Training – Talking to Children About Adoption

Talking to Children About AdoptionEach child has a unique adoption story and a way of processing the emotions the come up when thinking about adoption. Some children ask questions early on while others seem to show little interest at all. Talking about adoption within your family can lay the foundation for children becoming comfortable with their own stories.

Presenter Jaclyn Skalnik will share talking points for families with children at different developmental stages, in various settings (school, in public, with extended family, etc.), how to address sensitive information, as well as helping children process having little to no information regarding their adoption. Topics will include: race and multi-racial families, abilities, birth histories, visiting birth-countries/cultures, blended families, and openness in adoption.

About the Trainer: Jaclyn Skalnik, founder of Adoption Wellness, is an adoption competent clinician as well as a transracial, internationally adopted person. Jaclyn earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin. She has assisted adoptive families throughout their adoption process for nearly two decades. She has presented at global conferences on matters concerning adoption and is passionate about counseling adopted persons and adoptive families seeking support. Jaclyn is a licensed and Certified Advanced Practice Social Worker (CAPSW), a trained Hague Accreditation reviewer for the Council on Accreditation, a member of the National Association of Social Workers, a World of Diversity trainer, adoptive family homeland journey social worker, and has facilitated international birth family searches and reunions. For more information, please visit

Talking to Children About Adoption
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
6-8 p.m.

$20/person or $80/agency group

Attend in person at the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families, 6682 W. Greenfield Avenue, Suite 310, Milwaukee, or attend via webinar

Register online, contact, or call 414-475-1246

World Wide Wednesday – October 22, 2014

It’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s happening the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

World Wide Wednesday

World Wide Wednesday – October 15, 2014

It’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s happening the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

World Wide Wednesday

World Wide Wednesday – October 8, 2014

It’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s happening the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

World Wide Wednesday

  • Unconditional love from foster parents: Tiffany and Ryan McDonald didn’t plan to take in teenagers when they became foster parents eight years ago. After all, they were only in their mid-20s. But after going through the foster care classes, the first phone call the Ivins couple received was about 12-year-old Rochelle Lane and 13-year-old Rosalee Hafen. Tiffany initially said, “no.” Her own children were significantly younger and she worried the older girls might be a bad influence. However, after thinking about the girls’ background stories and the trials they were facing in foster care, the McDonalds called back and said they would take in Rochelle and Rosalee.  Continue reading
  • Transracial Adoption and Foster Care: Many children in foster care are placed at some point — either for foster care or adoption — with a family that is of a different race. The Child Welfare Information Gateway has compiled multiple resources on transracial foster care and adoption that can be helpful to agencies as well as to families. The Gateway Web page on cross-cultural issues in foster care provides resources on issues of race and culture in out-of-home care, including parenting tips to enhance child development. Another Gateway website section contains materials on supporting transracial and transcultural adoptive families, including state and local examples and a collection of articles and publications designed for use by families.
  • Factsheet for Caregivers on Supporting Children with Histories of Complex Trauma: The National Child Traumatic Stress Network Complex Trauma Collaborative Group has released a new fact sheet targeted specifically at caregivers. It provides information to help them recognize the signs of complex trauma, offers recommendations for what the caregiver can do to help a child heal, and shares tips for self-care.
  • She Thought Her Foster Parents Were Kicking Her Out: For 19-year-old Meredith, life has been anything but easy. Tragedy after tragedy has made her move from home to home, and left her without any family at all. When she was 19, a mentor invited her to live with her family for 6 months to help her get on her feet. As the six month mark approached, a family meeting was called.

    Meredith no doubt expected the worst. Given her past, and the heartache she’d had to endure, who could blame her? But the unexpected news they gave her completely changed her life. Watch the inspirational video.

    Have news you’d like to share? Please post in our comments!

A Place in My Heart Conference: Beyond Consequences in the Classroom – A Trauma-Focused Approach

10645060_10152709946847370_9010443938430336081_nMany children, who may be doing well early on, can suddenly demonstrate negative and out-of-control behaviors once they start their academic careers. School environments present a tremendous challenge to many of our children due to the increase in social interactions and the demands placed on their focus, concentration, and performance.

This is especially true for children with any type of traumatic background, as they tend to have a high sensitivity to stress with high states of anxiety. They become easily over-stimulated and overwhelmed. They communicate these unsettling feeling states through acting out behaviors or by defiant and resistant behaviors.

If we punish children to behave or to motivate them, as we have traditionally done in our schools by taking away privileges, taking points off point charts, or giving detentions or suspensions, we simply create more stress for these children. The result is a child who continues to decompensate without a chance to recover.

This full day training for parents and professionals will present a regulatory and relationship-based model for working with such children in the classroom (from kindergarten to 12th grade). This training will link together sound neurological research with negative acting out behaviors in order to give participants a new understanding as to “why children do the things they do.” Practical and easy to implement solutions will be given to help these students reach their full academic potential, while simultaneously improving their social and emotional intelligence in the classroom.

About the Trainer

Heather T. Forbes, LCSW is the owner of the Beyond Consequences Institute. Forbes has worked in the field of trauma and healing since 1999. She is an internationally published author on the topics of raising children with difficult and severe behaviors, the impact of trauma on the developing child, adoptive motherhood, and self-development. Coming from a family of educators, Forbes has a heart for children in the classroom and for finding ways to teach the child that seems “unteachable.” Her signature style is to bridge the gap between scientific research and real-life application to equip parents, educators, and therapists with practical and effective tools. Much of her experience and insight on understanding trauma, disruptive behaviors, and adoption-related issues comes from her direct mothering experience of her two adopted children.

Registration Information

Saturday, November 8, 2014

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Glacier Canyon Lodge at the Wilderness (45 Hillman Road, Wisconsin Dells, WI)

$45/person or $80/twosome
$50/child welfare staff member

Register online or call 414-475-1246 (1-800-762-8063) for more information

World Wide Wednesday – October 1, 2014

It’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s happening the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

World Wide Wednesday

  • NCFA Releases  Adoption Advocate  No. 75 | Creating Trauma-Informed Classrooms: With another school year beginning, it is important for teachers and school administrators to understand the impact of trauma, abuse, neglect, and other risk factors in a child’s history that can affect his or her ability to learn and feel safe and connected in the classroom. In the September 2014 issue of NCFA’s Adoption Advocate , co-authors Casey Call, Karyn Purvis, Sheri R. Parris, and David Cross share the results from different schools employing Trust-Based Relationship Intervention® (TBRI®), and emphasize the power of safe, nurturing relationships in the classroom—particularly for children from “hard places.” Download the PDF of  Adoption Advocate  No. 75 or  view the web version.
  • Adoptive Parents Sought for Survey about Open Adoption: Researchers at the University of Missouri are interested in learning more about open adoptions. Specifically, this study hopes to reveal how adoptive parents communicate with and about birth parents in open adoption. Participation in the study will help adoption scholars and practitioners support individuals involved in open adoptions. Results will also be shared with participants.

    If you are an adoptive parent over the age of 18 with a child in an open adoption, please support this research by completing the survey at the  link below. Participation takes about 30 minutes. Contact Dr. Colleen Colaner at with questions. Complete the survey

  • Before You Reach the End of Your Rope . . . 5 Things Foster/Adoptive Parents Shouldn’t Do
  • 6 Struggles Every Foster Parent Faces

    Have news you’d like to share? Please post in our comments!


UMOJA: A Black Heritage Experience

UMOJA’s co-founder, Julie Ryno, posted this note on the UMOJA website:

When my husband and I were preparing to adopt, we had a wonderful social worker that helped us understand that adopting a child from a different culture wasn’t about what we would accept. It was about what we could offer. We learned that loving our child meant more than providing a happy home, it meant that we had to help them develop a sense of pride in their birth culture. So began our journey to Umoja.

Nine years ago, I, along with Dr. Bola Delano-Oriaran began to explore what we could offer as a heritage camp for families that looked like mine. My husband and I have two beautiful 417727_10150593215058244_1041150641_nAfrican American children. We are white. We knew that Umoja (Swahili for Unity) has to help the entire family, not just the children. So Dr. Delano and I planned programming for the entire family. Parents and children have age appropriate sessions that cover everything from how to deal with racism to celebrating the music of Africa. From the start our goal has been to give our families tools that they can incorporate into their daily lives.

One of the biggest blessings has been the friendships that have blossomed between children and families of Umoja. We have many families that have returned annually. I delight in the children’s anticipation as they wait for their Umoja friends from year’s past to arrive. Please consider joining us this year and having create some special moments for you and your children.

Take a few minutes and check out our video links. We are very proud of our teens and the video they put together two years ago. Check out our facebook page. If you have any questions, after browsing the web site, please feel free to contact me directly ( I hope you and your family with join us for this special weekend.

This year’s UMOJA is October 17-19 and will be held at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, WI. You can find more information about the weekend’s activities, schedules, directions, registration information and more on the UMOJA website.