World Wide Wednesday – February 10, 2016

iStock_000003621765_LargeIt’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s news in the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

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

Inclusion in this post does not imply an endorsement by the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. The Coalition is not responsible for the content of these resources.

When It’s Not Going So Well

All parents have dreams for their children and are capable of influencing the person that their child becomes. It can be devastating when the dreams that you have for your children cannot be fully realized and the circumstances are beyond your control.

Parenting is not an easy job, but adopting a child often adds another level of challenges. Sometimes children who have been adopted have experienced trauma because of abuse and neglect, multiple placements, or have spent time in an institutionalized care setting.

Tip Sheet Tuesday: When It's Not Going So WellThe sum of those experiences can lead to challenges down the road that no parent could ever truly anticipate. If can feel like your world is being turned upside down. Adoptive parents are certainly not the only ones who experience these feelings. But it can feel like there is more pressure on you and that you are held to higher expectations as an adoptive parent.

While you were going through the process of adopting, you had to prove yourself over and over again. First, that you were safe and capable to parent, and then that you and your family would be a good match for your child. Hopes were high and the anticipation of being approved for adoption and growing your family was exciting. When you child is finally in your home and part of your family, it’s such a relief to start to create normalcy for the family.

Families may spend months in the honeymoon period, during which it may feel as if the transition is progressing well. So, it can be surprising to be met with additional hurdles to overcome even several years later, especially when these challenges need to be met outside of your home.

What Can You Do?
Call early and often! When you need help, reach out. When agency staff approved your home study, they didn’t expect you to have all the answers and be able to take care of anything that comes up without assistance. Reaching out for help early on will allow you and your child to take advantage of the most opportunities available to you. Take advantage of the Post Adoption Resource Center in your area. For a list of centers, visit our website, postadoptccyf.org. 

If you are working with a therapist or another service provider and there doesn’t seem to be improvement, trust your instincts. Don’t be afraid to ask your therapist for a referral to another provider who has a different style or who uses different techniques.

Continue reading for more tips and additional resources.

Please don’t take my sunshine away

“From the first day I received foster care placement of my son, then three months old, I sang him ‘You are My Sunshine’ constantly. But I always skipped over the ‘Please don’t take my sunshine sunshineaway’ part. I’d fallen in love with him the moment our eyes met, and the thought of letting him go was devastating. But it wasn’t about me. And for his sake, I wished for a happy healthy reunification. But it just wasn’t meant to be. A couple of years passed and I was asked if I’d be willing to adopt. A couple more years passed, and we had an adoption date. I remember every detail of that day. He wore little cuffed corduroys, an oxford shirt, and suede wingtips. I remember family and friends with balloons and cameras at the ready. I remember the judge letting him bang the gavel to finalize his own adoption.

“I remember walking out of Children’s Court on what should have been the happiest day of my life feeling the most unexpected profound sadness.

“How could everyone around us be celebrating? Didn’t they understand the depth of his loss? He no longer “legally” had siblings. His ties to his birth family have been severed. What must they be feeling today? And who could possibly understand the grief I’m feeling?”

Post Adoption Depression. Surely such a thing can’t exist for new adoptive parents? The sadnessfinalization of an adoption is the happy ending to what has often been a lengthy, nerve-wracking, emotional roller coaster ride. What possible reason could there be to be depressed when it finally ends?

There are a number of reasons that new parents might experience post-adoption depression, including:

  • Adoption may highlight unresolved fertility issues
  • You may not feel an immediate bond with your child, as you expected
  • The reality of parenting may not match expectations as you’d imagined them
  • You’ve experienced a major life change that requires an adjustment period
  • You may have a relationship with the birth family and cannot help but feel for their loss, even if they have voluntarily relinquished parental rights

Many new adoptive parents might feel reluctant to reach out for help, because most have spent a great deal of time and energy convincing their adoption worker what a great home they can provide for a child. A big step in coping with post-adoption depression is knowing you are not alone and seeking out help. Parenting is hard, for ANY parent. It rarely comes as “naturally” as we imagine it would, for both mothers and fathers.

Some Suggestions for How to Feel Better

  • Connect with a local adoption support group
  • Reach out to a therapist who specializes in adoption issues
  • Ask your case worker for information regarding post-adoption resources
  • Check out online adoption forums, groups, and chat boards
  • Join a weekly play group with other adoptive families

Please know that you don’t have to go through your journey along. The Coalition for Children, Youth & Families is here to help and support you and your whole family. For more information on post-adoption and other resources, please contact us.

Exploring Culture

In the world of adoption and foster care, we often talk about transracial exploringcultureand transcultural families; those families made up of members representing different ethnic groups or racial backgrounds. But, in truth, while many adoptive families are transracial, all families are transcultural. Even in families where there is no history of foster care or adoption, no two individuals are identical (not even “identical” twins!).
There may be overlap, at times, in the way family members think about or respond to something, or how they identify themselves (e.g., “We’re Smiths!”), but each person’s individuality sets them apart.

For families who have adopted, the cultural differences are sometimes subtle, as in the case of a family who has adopted a child of the same race as their own. While they may share the same race, there are often differences in socioeconomic status, ethnic background, or customs and traditions. In other families, those differences may be more apparent, say, for example, when a family has adopted a child of a race or ethnic group that is visibly different from their own. While race, heritage, and ethnicity are all components of culture, there is much more to the definition of culture.

Culture is something that is crafted by and comprised of people. A nation can have a culture, as can a religious group, a business, or a family. Culture can include language, food, art, gender identity, and sexual orientation, among other things. It is the structure that forms how a particular group of people behave or live.

With a definition so broad, it is safe to conclude that culture is all around us. It is in the way we speak, how we approach adversity or happiness, and it helps to define the way we carry ourselves day in and day out. Culture can look different depending on where we are and who we are with. Cultural differences are not always tangible, but they can be. And there may be times when we need to step back to explore how we can understand and embrace differences between our own culture and the culture of another.

So, where do you begin to explore culture with your own children and family members? While there is truly no “right answer,” it’s often recommended to introduce the topic as soon as possible. There are so many points of exploration when it comes to culture, you will likely spend a great deal of time exploring together as a family, in addition to the time you each may spend individually. You could use a variety of methods to explore culture, both your family’s as well as others, including books, movies, food, discussion, visiting familiar spaces and places, creating new traditions, or recreating and incorporating celebrations of other traditions
and holidays.

In the pages of this issue of Partners, we hope you’ll find stories and ideas that will help you and your family begin to explore more about your own cultural roots – as individuals, and as a family unit. Together you can all learn to embrace your individuality, your family culture, and the cultures of others. Be prepared to be surprised, inspired, and to let your
children and family lead and teach you new things. Just as, in the words of Ghandi, “a nation’s culture resides in the hearts and soul of its people,” so does a family’s culture reside in the hearts and souls of each family member – birth, foster, or adopted.

 

World Wide Wednesday – February 3, 2016

iStock_000003621765_LargeIt’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s news in the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

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

Inclusion in this post does not imply an endorsement by the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. The Coalition is not responsible for the content of these resources.

Tip Sheet Tuesday: Adoption Has No Age Limits

Think back to when you were 18, 21, 40. Were your parents there for you? Were you able to handle everything you needed when you moved out? Or did you still come home to do laundry, check out the refrigerator and bug your younger siblings? Were your parents at your wedding? Did you make vacation plans around your parents’ holiday celebrations? Did your need for a family ever go away?

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In Wisconsin, adoptions can occur at any age. There are many reasons why adoptions are finalized for adults, but one of the primary reasons is that being adopted creates a life-long connection for the adult adoptee.

Dustin Bronsdon, who was adopted as an adult, says “Family has always been important to me, and just because I turned 18, didn’t mean that I don’t still have a big need to belong.”

He laughs and says, “My fiancée wasn’t too thrilled to see that I had found the Bronsdon family crest and had it tattooed on my shoulder. But that’s how much being part of a family means to me.”

He goes on to say that “Being adopted lets you feel part of something—something real. It gives you an identity that was missing before.”

There are generally three main reasons for adult adoptions:

  • Formalizing a child-parent relationship so the family truly feels like they belong together.
  • Inheritance rights—especially in cases of trust funds and beneficiaries where “relatives” or “children” are only mentioned generally—not by a specific name.
  • Perpetual care for someone who has cognitive delays or other disabilities.
  • Continue reading

Never Too Old: Adult Adoption

When most people think about adoption, they often picture a baby, an infant, or a toddler. But did you know that it is possible to not only adopt older children and teenagers, but even an adult? Wisconsin allows for an adoption to occur at any age, whether the “child” is 1, 19, or 59!

Mother and daughter

There are many reasons why someone over the age of 18 may be interested in being adopted. For starters, hundreds of youth age out of the foster care system every year in Wisconsin alone. Many of these youth spend a good amount of time in one or more foster homes and develop close relationships with these families. As a result, some young adults are eventually adopted by their former foster parents, or other adults that they felt connected to. Adult adoptions may also occur when a stepparent wishes to adopt a stepchild over the age of 18, or when an adult is estranged from their biological parents, but has developed a parent-child relationship with another adult(s) that they wish to legally recognize.

In order for an adult adoption to occur in Wisconsin, a Petition for Adoption form needs to be completed and a court date is then scheduled. The adoptee and the prospective adoptive parent(s) must consent to the adoption, and the court must feel that the adoption is in the best interest of all involved. If so, the adoption will be granted and the adoptee is issued a new birth certificate. Finalizing an adult adoption severs the legal relationship between that person and their biological parent(s). Adult adoptions do not require a home study, background checks, or, for that matter, any involvement from social services. In a sense, adult adoptions can be fairly quick and easy to complete.

The benefits of adoption for an adult are often similar to what adoption brings to children: stability, a feeling of belonging, and a loving family. Another reason some families chose to complete an adult adoption is so that the adoptee can more easily access the family’s financial assets, property, or other inheritance rights. No matter the reason for the adoption, no one is ever too old to need or want a family.

Do you know anyone that would benefit from learning more about adult adoption? You can contact the Coalition for Children, Youth and Families at (414) 475-1246 for more information on adult adoption or other types of adoption; we are dedicated to helping find permanence and stability and for ALL children and families.