World Wide Wednesday – February 17, 2016

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

  • Understanding the Costs of Adoption
    For many families, the financial aspect of preparation is the most daunting. Adoption often comes at a significant cost. Prospective parents field questions from family and friends who wonder “Why is adoption so expensive?”

  • Preparing for your taxes
    Information for foster, adoptive, and kinship families
  • The State of Grandfamilies in America
    This report
    from Generations United identifies key state laws and policies specifically designed to address barriers and better support grandparents and other relatives raising children.
  • International Adoption Myths

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.

How do I choose an adoption agency?

Congratulations! You have made the decision to build your family through adoption. The first step in your adoption journey is to choose an agency. You may be thinking that you want an agency that is licensed by the state, honest, and ethical.

chooseanagencyYou may also want to work with staff who is compassionate, patient, efficient, and available when you need them. It’s a good idea to call a few different adoption agencies to see which one is the best fit for you and your family. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Researching an Agency
Gather as much information as possible about adoption in Wisconsin, adoption agencies, and state requirements. Ask questions like:

  • What agencies offer the kind of programs you are looking for?
  • Is the agency licensed by the state?
  • Is the license current?
  • When did the licensing board last visit the agency?
  • Are there any current or unresolved complaints against the agency?
  • You can find these answers by contacting the Department of Children & Families at 608-267-3905or at

Networking and Support Groups
You also might try networking with adoptive parent support groups to find out about the agencies they went to and ask for recommendations. (For a list of support groups, check out the resource section at the end of this tip sheet.)

Support groups and adoption classes are also helpful throughout the whole adoption process, because there is only so much information you can get from agency staff and websites. The real learning comes when you can combine that information with forming relationships with others who are taking the same journey that you are.

Elizabeth Ghilardi, a Wisconsin adoptive parent says, “In the course of our adoption process, we went through 13 weeks of preparation classes; something we initially were not looking forward to, but turned out to be wonderful.”

She goes on to say, “We have kept in touch with many of the families and have gatherings on a regular basis. We have developed an unbelievable support network that is invaluable to our family and the children. Among us, we’ve adopted a total of eight children, with several more pending.”

Once you’ve narrowed down the search for an adoption agency, set up an introductory meeting so you can ask more detailed questions.

Continue reading the tip sheet.

Domestic, international, or special needs?

Families choose adoption for a variety of reasons and there are a lot of decisions to be made throughout the entire process. One of the first choices to make, is the type of adoption you would like to pursue and what your first steps would be after deciding.

TypesOfAdoptionCCYFBelow are the three most common types of adoptions and an explanation of what the initial or next step might look like for each one:

  • A domestic infant adoption takes placewhen a birth mother and/or birth father have individually or jointly made an adoption plan for their child. Often, birth parents will be able to work with a private adoption agency and get to choose the family they wish to have adopt their child. Other times, the agency will do the matching when a birth parent has elected not to be a part of the family selection process.

    First steps: In Wisconsin, families wanting to pursue a domestic infant adoption would first be required to select a private adoption agency licensed by the State of Wisconsin to complete their adoption home study.

  • An international adoption is when a couple or individual from the United States adopts a child from another country. Each country has its own rules for whether they will allow single people, unmarried couples, people of a certain age, etc. to adopt.

    First steps: In Wisconsin, families wanting to pursue an international adoption would first be required to select a private adoption agency licensed by the State of Wisconsin that is able to complete your international adoption home study and be your placing agency or able to work with a placing agency of your choice. (Please note that some private adoption agencies will be able to both complete your home study and be your placing agency, while others will only be able to complete your home study and work with your selected placing agency, based on the country you wish to adopt from.)

  • Special needs adoption, also known as adoption of a child from foster care, is when a family adopts a child who is in foster care and who cannot be successfully reunited with his or her birth family for a number of reasons.

    First steps: For Wisconsin families who have decided to adopt a child who is in foster care in Wisconsin, your first step would be to contact the regional Department of Children and Families office for your county and register to attend a mandatory two-hour informational meeting with the State Special Needs Adoption Program.

    For Wisconsin families who wish to adopt a child who is in foster care in a state other than Wisconsin, your first step would be to connect with a private adoption agency licensed by the State of Wisconsin to complete your adoption home study.

There are several other types of adoption not mentioned above, including, but not limited to, independent adoptions, relative adoptions, stepparent adoptions, and adult adoptions.

For more information about adoption in general, please contact us and ask to speak with a Resource Specialist. You can call us at 1-800-762-8063, locally at 414-475-1246, or reach us via email at In addition, you can also gather more information from our website, where you can download an informational packet on a specific type of adoption.

Coordinating Culture & Care


When a child enters out-of-home care, there are so many questions and so many things on the to-do list. Ensuring that the child is safe, that he or she has the clothing and hygiene products that are needed, and adjusting to a routine take precedence for all involved. However, understanding the culture a child in foster care is coming from when he or she is placed with a foster parent, is an integral part of welcoming that child into your care, making him or her feel safe, and helping lay the foundation of a successful transition.

Illustration of a cute city on the riverIn each of our family lives, there are likely hundreds of little habits or rituals that occur every day without us even thinking about it; they are what make up our family’s “cultural norm.” Children who come into foster care have these same kind of customs, routines, and traditions that were part of the cultural norm in their family of origin. Now, having arrived in your home and with your family, they are faced with having to learn a whole new family culture and figuring out how they fit into it.

Getting to know more about a new child’s culture can help you, as a foster parent, understand the child much better. While you learn about and work in ways to honor the child’s experiences, preferences, and routines, you can also teach him or her about your home, your own family’s culture, the values that are important to you, and the customs you honor. You might ask questions such as:

  • “How does your family celebrate holidays/birthdays?”
  • “How are household chores done at your home?”
  • “What is your favorite dinner?”
  • “What is your bedtime routine like?”

Like in all things that are new or unfamiliar, a new living situation takes time for all to adjust. As foster parents, we know you try very hard to be welcoming and comforting, with a goal of helping children and youth new to your homes make successful transitions. By being flexible and adjusting the culture of your home to accommodate some aspects of the child’s culture, you can give the children or youth in your care time to figure out his or her new surroundings, as well as reduce any possible cultural conflicts.


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, 

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.