World Wide Wednesday, April 22, 2015

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

  • Is It Adoption, or Is It Life?Five of the country’s top adoption experts discuss adoption therapy and normal childhood development.
  • This edition of Adoption Triad focuses on Spanish resources for adoption. Throughout the years, the adoption field has worked diligently towards providing culturally relevant resources aimed at helping Hispanic families and the professionals who work with them. These Spanish resources can assist professionals with their work in recruiting, retaining, and supporting Spanish-speaking families for children and older youth in foster care who are awaiting adoption.
    1. Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway website to find Spanish resources that support professionals in their work with Spanish-speaking families and community members. A list of common child welfare terms translated into Spanish is also available.
    2. AdoptUSKids provides information and resources in Spanish on its website for families looking to find out more about who can adopt, how to adopt, post-adoption resources, and State adoption and foster care information.
    3. Child Welfare Information Gateway provides resources to assist professionals with culturally relevant issues they encounter while working with Hispanic families.
  • New Publication Suite for Parents: To help parents and caregivers of children and youth who have experienced maltreatment–from abuse and neglect to sexual abuse or other trauma–the Child Welfare Information Gateway created a series of factsheets for parents explaining how children are affected by maltreatment and how parents can help children recover.

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

Tip Sheet Tuesday: Working with Children Who Have Been Traumatized

As caregivers, we often care for kids who may have experienced the trauma of physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and domestic violence.

While experiencing or witnessing physical or sexual abuse is a common source of trauma for children, the emotional turmoil of being removed from their parental home is additionally traumatic and stressful. When we as caregivers, therapists, and school staff have an understanding of the trauma and its effect on learning and processing, children in our care have a better chance to overcome their past.

Working with Children Who Have Been TraumatizedRecognizing Symptoms
Emotional, behavioral, and physical delays may be noted in traumatized children. The brain development is altered, resulting in children having difficulty controlling emotions and behavior.

In reaction to chronic abuse, a hyper-arousal response in the brain may cause persistent stress. Abused and neglected children may become wired to experience the world as an uncaring place. They may recreate the traumatic event or experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Aggression
  • Withdrawal
  • Hyperactivity
  • Persistent levels of fear

You should contact a mental health professional if your children experience the following symptoms:

  • Flashbacks
  • Episodes of being easily startled
  • Emotional numbness
  • Episodes of a racing heart and sweating (unrelated to exercise)
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Finding a therapist that you and your children trust is imperative when working with kids who have PTSD and other trauma—as much for your own sake as for the sake of your children. Continue reading on our website.

Under the Umbrella: Wisconsin’s Waiting Children

When children enter foster care, their primary goal for permanency is reunification with a birth parent. When that goal is unattainable (for whatever reason) within a specified time frame, it becomes the state and/or local child welfare agency’s responsibility to look at alternative permanency options. Ideal alternatives to reunification include transfer of guardianship or adoption.

Currently, our Wisconsin Waiting Kids database displays images and profiles for only 19 children and youth who are in need of an adoptive family. This is just a small fraction of the actual number of children in Wisconsin who are waiting to be matched with their forever families.

Photo listing is simply one method social workers across the state use for the purposes of recruitment of families for an individual child. In recent years, photo listing a child on the Wisconsin Waiting Kids page has become under-utilized, as social workers have found success using other means to recruit adoptive families for waiting children. Please keep in mind that, while you may not see all of the children in need of a forever family on our website, others who are waiting share similar hopes of a family and similar obstacles to being matched with one.

In Wisconsin, many waiting children are school aged or older (4 years and older). Some are part of a sibling group and, if that’s the case, child welfare professionals do their best to keep the kids together unless there are extenuating circumstances (often safety related) that do not permit it. In general, a large majority of waiting children have been in foster care for extended periods of time and have experienced some form of abuse, neglect, and/or even abandonment that has left emotional and sometimes even physical scars. Past hurts, trauma, and feelings grief and loss are all things these kids are working to overcome.

Although it may sometimes be hard to detect, these children often have on a suit of armor and are ready for battle-even in the calmest of environments. They are often guarded and may present as “challenging,” for lack of a better word. Nonetheless, every single one of these children still need and share similar wishes to be matched with a permanent family. They wish for a family to belong to and one or more adults who will be committed to them, who will believe in them and accept them as is, and who they can look to for support, love, and guidance.

If you have the patience, perseverance, flexibility and willingness to adapt your home to fit a child’s needs, and are ready to make a lifetime commitment by opening up your heart and your home to a waiting child, we encourage you to continue learning more about adopting from foster care by checking out the links below, visiting our website, and/or contacting us via phone at 1-800-762-8063 or email at info@coalitionforcyf.org. Remember, we are here for you every step of the way.

Featured Tip Sheets

Under the Umbrella is the weekly enewsletter from the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. If you would like to sign up to receive this newsletter in your in-box, please do so here.

World Wide Wednesday, April 15, 2015

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

  • Kinship Caregiving – Challenges and Resources: A publication by Generations United discusses the difficulties that kinship caregivers face. One of those difficulties is establishing legal relationships between the caregiver and the child. An absence of that legal relationship adds challenges to kinship care and contributes to the inability to obtain financial assistance, health insurance, affordable housing, etc. Read about children raised by Grandfamilies and Kinship Care, their unique challenges, and what communities can do to support these families.
  • In Foster Care, Treating the Trigger: Research suggests that abuse, abandonment and neglect can change the way a child’s brain develops. Doctors are now treating some of New York City’s most vulnerable children for PTSD.
  • Foster parents must be involved in school to help kids succeed: For children in foster care to succeed in school, foster parents must lead the charge and blaze a path as an advocate, fighting for a child’s every chance. In truth, it is likely that foster students will have no other person fighting for them, since a caseworker’s workload is overwhelming, and teachers may be too busy to reach out with information or may not have the necessary information about a child’s needs.Therefore, it is up to foster parents to be proactive in a child’s life at school. Foster parents need to become as involved as possible. The more active parents are in school and activities, the more likely children will succeed.
  • N.E.W. Mental Health ConnectionA new group in the Fox Valley (WI). A group of individuals and organizations working collaboratively to improve mental health services in Northeast Wisconsin. Primary goals of the group are to:
    • Strengthen 24/7 crisis response, bringing law enforcement, crisis services, emergency departments, and mental health providers together to get people to the right level of care at the time they need it.
    • Implement a “No Wrong Door” system, to ensure that individuals needing help do not get bounced around between agencies or, worse yet, fall through the cracks completely.
    • Support primary care providers, by developing training and support to assist them in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses.
    • Support school-based mental health, to strengthen mental health response systems in schools, support connections with service providers, minimize duplication of efforts, and secure adequate funding.

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

Tip Sheet Tuesday – Final Preparations: Getting Yourself & Your Child Ready for Adoption Finalization

Many parents eagerly await their child’s adoption day for months or even years. For other families, their child has been living Adoption request - approvedin their home or a part of the family for a long time, and the adoption day has been anticipated for some time. No matter your adoption journey, it can be helpful to know what to expect and how to prepare as a family to celebrate this monumental occasion.

What to Expect on Adoption Finalization Day
An adoption finalization takes place in a courthouse and provides adoptive parent(s) with permanent, legal custody of a child. While every situation is different, most adoption finalization hearings are brief (about 5-10 minutes) and typically involve the adoptive parent(s), the child who is to be adopted, the child’s social worker, an attorney, the judge, and possibly other professionals. Family and friends are usually allowed in the courtroom as well, and can be a great help in providing emotional support and documenting the day with photos or videos of the hearing.

During an adoption finalization hearing, the judge may ask questions such as, “Why do you want to adopt?” or “What are you planning to do to care for this child?” These kind of questions are meant to ensure that your home is a safe and loving place for the child, and that you understand that adoption is a lifelong commitment. In addition to the formal legal proceedings, many judges will also take a photo with your family or let your child sit in their chair and bang the gavel on their adoption finalization day; however, you may need to ask ahead of time if any of these options are possibilities. These little extra special touches can add a great memory to an already exciting day.

Continue reading on our website.

Under the Umbrella: Supporting a Child’s Journey from Foster Care to Adoption

On the surface, it may not seem like a big change when a foster family decides to adopt a child who has been in their care for some time. But there are often many unforeseen changes that come with this milestone for children who are being adopted.

For a child, adoption can sometimes bring mixed feelings and uncertainty. You may discover that he is harboring feelings of guilt for what he perceives as leaving his family behind as he joins another. He might not be forthcoming about this, so setting a nonjudgmental tone and asking open-ended questions can help him to open up. Validate that it’s okay for him to love two families and that he doesn’t need to choose anyone above anyone else.

Making your parent/child relationship “official” might also mean that formal visitation with biological family members will end. The child may not understand such an abrupt change in her routine. She may fear that she will never see her biological family members again. Whether this becomes the case or not, it’s best to talk with her and be honest about it so she can better understand and accept the reasons for changes like this.

This transition can also stir up questions about identity. You can help him explore the grander meaning of being adopted by developing a life book with him. It is a great way to spend special time with him and gain insights into how he’s processing his journey.

The best way to guide your whole family through these changes is with sensitivity and empathy. Don’t take it personally if the child is having any difficulty with this transition. Help her work through her feelings by acknowledging her grief and being with her in her pain. Check in with her teachers and other important adults in her life who can also be a support for her to talk to. Be there with her in her excitement, as well. You can brainstorm ideas for how she would like to celebrate her adoption day, or share her exciting news with her classmates. Each child is unique in how they cope through life transitions like this. Listen to her voice and cater your support to her needs and wishes.

Finally, please know that we are here to help. By suggesting relevant books, offering celebration ideas, helping to ease your fears about having difficult conversations with your child, and more – we’re waiting for your call. You can reach us at 414-475-1246, 1-800-762-8063, or via email, info@coalitionforcyf.org.

Featured Tip Sheets

Under the Umbrella is the weekly enewsletter from the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. If you would like to sign up to receive this newsletter in your in-box, please do so here.

World Wide Wednesday, April 8, 2015

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

  • Join the Honorary National Walk Me Home Event: This year the National Foster Parent Association will walk in honor of the young men and women from foster, adoptive, and kinship families who are or have served in our armed forces. Each year, hundreds of youth from foster, adoptive, and kinship families enter military service. In addition, many of the caregivers are also serving in our country’s military. We walk this year in honor or memory of those individuals who put country over self. This year’s Walk Me Home event will be hosted along the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia one of our country’s largest military seaports. We are proud to announce our Walk will be opened by a U.S. Marine Color Guard and a military choir. Walkers will be provided arm bands to write the name of the military personnel who they are honoring as they walk. At the turning point of the walk will be provided a water station and at the finish line a Walker’s Soiree for refreshments. If you have never walked in a Walk Me Home event, we hope you will choose this year as your inaugural walk to honor our military and to increase support of YOUR National Foster Parent Association as we strive to ensure the national voice of foster parents is heard in the halls of our Congress and state legislatures. If you have walked in our walk events in the past, this will be one walk you will not want to miss. Let us show our strength and support in our numbers. You may create a team of walkers or walk on your own. The process is simple. Log on here to get started.

  • From the article, Life as a foster family: “I’ll never forget the day I came home, aged seven, to find two boys I’d never seen before playing with my toys. I’m sorry to say that my first reaction was to run upstairs, shut myself in my room and refuse to come out until they’d left.So it wasn’t the easiest start to our life as a foster family.

    Many of the 80 or so foster children who would follow and share our home over the next 30 years had been damaged by chaotic, difficult backgrounds. Their behavior could be extremely challenging.” (Continue reading)

  • She’s Leaving Home: My daughter came home from China yesterday. How is she already going off to college?
    by Peggy Lee Scott

  • From Adoption at the Movies: Six Good Movies for Kids Under 8.

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