31 Days, 31 Stories

For the past two years, the Portrait of an Adoption blog has been putting together and hosting a big event every November in honor of National Adoption Month. The “30 Adoption Portraits” event features posts from many different authors, sharing a variety of points of view, thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It’s beautiful, moving, and inspiring to read, and I really hope there’ll be a 30 Adoption Portraits 2013.

However, as far as I’m aware, there’s no such event for May – National Foster Care Month. Well, I’d like to change that. But I’ll need your help.

The Strengthening Families Changing Lives blog will host, but we need your voices. Your stories. Your experiences.

Whether you are a current or former foster youth, a foster family, a professional working in child welfare, a foster care expert, or someone in a related position, I’d love to hear from you. The topic and length of the piece are up to you – it’s your story and your words.

I’m very excited to say that Dr. John DeGarmo has already agreed to write a post for us. Leave a comment on this post, or send me an email (jczaplewski@wiadopt.org) and tell me what you’d like to write about and I’ll assign you a date. We need a significant number of contributors to make this work, so I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

How to Talk to Your Kids about Adoption

Think about your life story. Where you were born, your childhood, the friends and family who were there along your journey. It’s probably a story that you’re quite familiar with. You know the ins and outs and you’ve told it in varying degrees of detail many times throughout your life. But what if your life story was something of a mystery? What if the same family wasn’t always there; the caregivers changed and the homes were never the same and friends came and went as you moved or changed schools — or even moved to a whole new country.

Everyone’s life story is unique in some way and each story is valuable. Helping kids learn, understand, and talk about their life story and adoption is an important part of being an adoptive parent.

We know that a lot of people have questions about adoption – adults and children alike. And we know that kids get asked these questions; other kids are asking, or teachers, family friends, or even strangers. So, how do you help prepare your child?

The Adoption Magazine blog has a great post about this topic. We also have a tip sheet about this topic: Empowering Your Children to Share their Adoption Story.

Depending on the age of your child or children, you can use books or even movies to help talk about adoption. We have tip sheets about Adoption Focused Books and Adoption in the Media that you might find helpful. And you can also refer to the posts at the Adoption at the Movies blog.

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For even more help and advice – for both parents and children – we are hosting a W.I.S.E. Up! the World about Adoption one-day conference in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, April 13. While parents participate in a workshop that gives them an in-depth look at what children understand, think, and feel about adoption as they grow, children will learn the W.I.S.E. Up! tool and how that tool can empower them to handle questions and comments about adoption.

How have you tackled the topic of adoption in your family and with your children? Please share your stories, thoughts, and experiences in the comments and feel free to link up other blog posts about this topic there, as well.


How ARW Saved My Day

Thank you to mom, Niki M., for sharing this post with us!

My husband and I were about to become forever parents to our two foster kids!  We were thrilled. There was so much excitement in our house as we counted down to adoption day. Our children attended a pre-school and we realized that other children may question why their last names changed. I needed a way to introduce adoption to three-year-olds in a way they would understand. I decided I would visit Barnes and Noble.

At the time, there were so many things on my plate, that I didn’t get to the book store until the week before adoption. Surely, I thought, that would not be an issue. Barnes & Noble is so large; I never doubted that they would have an appropriate book in stock. After visiting three different locations that day, along with one stop at Half Price Books, I came up empty handed. All of the children’s adoption books were about adopting an infant! This would not help my son and daughter’s classmates understand our situation. And now I no longer had time to order a book online. What could I do?

Then I thought about Adoption Resources of Wisconsin. I learned about the organization when they visited our final adoption class. The arw-chairoffice was also conveniently located close to my home. I knew they had a library where you could reserve books online and have them sent to you. I called to see if I would be able to stop in the office and view the library myself, since the adoption was only days away. While I was there, I was blown away by the various books they offered! I was able to find the perfect book for my kids: Susan and Gordon Adopt a Baby (a Sesame Street book). Although the word “baby” is in the title, the child in the book is not an infant. He is a toddler and he comes to Sesame Street to live with Susan and Gordon forever.

The day after adoption day, my children brought cookies to their class, along with the book. The other kids learned what adoption was in simple terms from the Sesame Street characters and were able to celebrate our family’s wonderful day.

Adoption Resources of Wisconsin has many adoption resources. Whether you are adopting through foster care, adopting domestically, traveling internationally to adopt a baby, etc., Adoption Resources of Wisconsin has great information ready for you. You do not have to visit their office. They have tip sheets and documents on their website. You can also view their library online and they will mail materials directly to you! If you prefer to talk to someone, give them a call and they will happily take the time to listen to you and help find answers to any of your questions. Thank you, Adoption Resources of Wisconsin!

We’re happy we were able to help Niki and her family celebrate their very special day! They have remained connected to ARW since they finalized the adoptions of their children. Our thanks to Niki for sharing her story – and for giving such a lovely testimonial about our programs, services, and resources for families.