How Our Dream Began

Today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. It’s a touchstone moment in history and I have no doubt that you know at least a part of that iconic speech that was made in 1963.

The Coalition was born of a dream, as well: the dream of foster and adoptive parents that we all could do better for our children, youth, and families. A dream that those who are currently in foster care would find permanence, safety, and stability. A dream that we would no longer see children suffer from abuse or neglect. A dream that all our children will be successful in their futures.

How the dream began

Our dream came to life in August 1982. That’s when the Coalition for Children in Families, Inc. came into existence, made up of groups of parents and professionals from across the state, with the primary mission of lobbying for and implementing a full service adoption exchange for Wisconsin. One of the first orders of business was to create a new exchange book. The Coalition called it, “Lives Full of Beautiful Promise.” It was published in October of 1982.

Our first logo.

Our first logo.

At the same time, Coalition members were lobbying at state legislative hearings – more needed to be done and funding was needed to do it. Thanks to the diligent efforts of many individuals, a line item was added to the state budget mandating an adoption exchange. In August of 1984, the Coalition for Children in Families, Inc., who had been awarded the contract for this service, published the first issue of the new Wisconsin Adoption Exchange book. At the time, it was a binder filled with stories and photos of children waiting for families. A limited number of binders were available at adoption agency offices and libraries across the state. Today you know this as the ADOPT! magazine.

The most eloquent advocate

So many people were involved in the creation and continuation of the Coalition, from the birth of the idea that sparked our organization, to the continued work that we do every day. Perhaps one of our very finest and most eloquent advocates was an 18-month-old little girl, Annie.

Annie was the first child listed in “Lives Full of Beautiful Promise.” Our efforts helped Annie find a family and then she continued to help us. In April of 1983, the Committee on Children and Human Development met to hear testimony on Bill A-152 that would mandate the existence of funding for an adoption information exchange in Wisconsin. Advocates spoke first, using statistics and examples, the boring things that legislators must listen to daily.

Then Trilogy Anderson stepped up to the microphone holding 18-month-old Annie in her arms. She talked about the real problems and the real joys that her new daughter brought into her life and her family.

While she talked, all eyes were on Annie. They could see the oxygen tanks she needed to breathe and a tube directly into her stomach that she needed to eat. They noticed that her blue eyes didn’t look back at them and that, tucked into the top of her diaper bag, was a stethoscope. But they could not help but also see that, in her mother’s arms, in her own permanent family, she was the most beautiful, most valued and most loved baby girl in the world.

Without a word, Annie told them, and they agreed. Thirty years later, they still agree. And we have been honored and blessed to be a part of so many children’s, youth’s, and family’s lives. Thank you for being on this journey with us. Thank you for making our dream become a reality every day. Thank you for helping the dreams of so many come true.

World Wide Wednesday – August 28, 2013

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

  • By popular demand, the Center for Adoption Education and Support (C.A.S.E.) has made three of their most popular webinars available on-demand.
  • Foster mom, Betsy DuKatz, shares a post encouraging readers that You’re More Prepared to be a Foster Parent than you Think.
  • Learn more about how you can help your child have a Trauma Informed Classroom now that school is about to start once more.
  • This report from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential is a resource for case workers, foster parents, and other individuals in the child welfare sector to help youth in care avoid unplanned pregnancy and parenthood. This report combines messages directly from youth in foster care in Georgia with national research to provide insight and advice to adults working in the child welfare sector.

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

Open call for bloggers

This past May, we filled the blog with stories to celebrate National Foster Care Month. We had a wonderful number of guest bloggers who shared very moving and personal experiences, and also some different perspectives from authors connected to the world of foster care. We’d like to feature similar stories this November in honor of National Adoption Month.

Image courtesy Milky Way Photography

Image courtesy Milky Way Photography

Now that the kids are (or are just about!) back in school, I’m looking for bloggers to participate in this project. I’m open to ideas for topics and posts, but here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Do you have a story about how you met or came to know us here at the Coalition? Or perhaps how we have helped you and your family?
  • Would you like to share about how you celebrate birth parents and birth family members, especially around the holidays?
  • Has your family adopted a child or children from a culture other than your own? Maybe you’d like to write about how you honor that culture and what new cultural celebrations you have folded into your family.
  • Are you an adoptee who would like to share your personal perspective?
  • Have you made an adoption plan for your child?

Our May series was a great success and I can’t wait to hear from families and individuals to help celebrate National Adoption Month 2013!

How to participate:

  • If you’d like to take part and share a blog post, simply leave a comment on this blog post or send an email to jczaplewski@coalitionforcyf.org.
  • Let me know your name and where you are from (just the state is fine!).
  • All posts should be sent to me at the email address above no later than October 15, 2013.
  • Photos are always welcome, as long as any children photographed are either birth children of your family or children who have been legally adopted and whose adoption has been finalized. For confidentiality reasons, we cannot include any images of children in your home who you may be fostering or whose adoptions have not yet been finalized.
  • If you would like to share your story and have your name(s) or any other identifying information or details changed, we can definitely accommodate those requests.
  • Please be advised that we may make editorial changes to your submission.

If you have questions about participating, just send me an email at jczaplewski@coalitionforcyf.org.

“Saving JED”

I was reading the August 26 issue of PEOPLE magazine last night and came across a story titled “Saving Jed.” The teaser text read:Jed

“Horribly abused as a child, the trouble teen had no hope of finding a home – until Billy Maddalon and Brooks Shelley vowed to make him their son.”

It’s a short story, but a moving one. There is also a story on the NBC affiliate web page from Charlotte, NC. Did anyone else see and read the story? What are your thoughts?

World Wide Wednesday – August 21, 2013

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

  • Stepparent adoption is governed by State law. Most States make the adoption process a little easier for stepparents, but requirements for home studies, criminal background checks, and procedures for obtaining consent of the noncustodial parent vary widely by State. This factsheet from the Child Welfare Information Gateway offers general information about legal issues to consider and steps to take when adopting a stepchild.
  • The Adoption at the Movies blog checks out Despicable Me 2 – Gru as a Surprisingly Good Adoptive Dad.
  • Stories from LGBTQ Youth in Care – Various LGBTQ youth share their personal stories about their identities, backgrounds, and families, in Represent Magazine.
  • The Success Beyond 18 campaign isn’t just about engaging states in sustainable reforms for youth aging out of foster care: it’s also about engaging the youth themselves in that process. Two of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative’s Youth Fellows —- youth in or alumni of the foster care system who advise the campaign on best approaches to reforms —- shared their stories:

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

World Wide Wednesday – August 14, 2013

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

  • Children coming from situations of trauma, abuse, or neglect often experience the loss of their “voice” — their ability to voice their needs in a healthy way and trust that they will be met. Interventions for children from the “hard places” must include restoring voice, which in turn encourages trust, healing, and attachment. In the July 2013 issue of NCFA’s Adoption Advocate, Drs. Karyn Purvis and David Cross explore what the loss of voice means for children, and how appropriate interventions and therapies can allow them  to give voice to their needs and experience healing within a safe, nurturing family. The article includes a brief list of recommended skills and strategies for parents and caregivers.  Click here to view the web version.
  • Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration Toolkit by Sesame Street  The incarceration of a loved one can be very overwhelming for both children and caregivers. It can bring about big changes and transitions. Sesame Street is tackling the topic of parental incarceration with this new toolkit. This toolkit package, which consists of stories, tips, and  activities for caregivers and kids, is designed to act as an educational outreach initiative for families with children (ages 3 – 8) who are coping with a parent’s incarceration.

  • Child Welfare Information Gateway updates Out-of-Home Care Web SectionPresents a redesigned web section and includes four new subsections on Foster Care, Group and Residential Care, Family Finding/Recruiting and Retaining Resource Families, and Resources for Kinship Caregivers and Foster Families.

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

World Wide Wednesday – August 7, 2013

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

  • Movies with an adoption theme can have a big impact on adopted children and teens. The “Reel” Family Movie Reviews video series is a project created by Ellen Singer, C.A.S.E. Therapist/Educator/adoptive parent, and Christin Green, C.A.S.E. Development Associate/adoptee, to provide parents with information on movies with adoption themes.
  • This factsheet provides a brief overview of the child welfare system and its purposes and functions. Child welfare systems typically receive and investigate reports of possible child abuse and neglect; provide services to families that need assistance in the protection and care of their children; arrange for children to live with kin or with foster families when they are not safe at home; and arrange for reunification, adoption, or other permanent family connections for children leaving foster care. A flowchart illustrates how cases may move through the child welfare system.

  • This factsheet was written for foster parents to help them learn about LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) youth in the child welfare system, the unique risks they face, and the important role that foster parents can play in reducing those risks. The factsheet outlines specific actions that foster parents can take to create a welcoming home for all youth in their care and to promote youths’ health and well-being in the community. Also included are links to many resources for more information and support.
  • This Child Welfare Trauma Training Toolkit (CW TTT) was developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), in collaboration with the Rady Children’s Hospital, Chadwick Center for Children and Families, the Child and Family Policy Institute of California (CFPIC), the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC), and the California Institute for Mental Health (CIMH).  It is designed to teach child welfare workers basic knowledge, skills, and values about working with children in the child welfare system who have experienced traumatic events.  The CW TTT teaches strategies for using trauma-informed child welfare practice to enhance the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families who are involved in the child welfare system.  The second edition of the toolkit consists of a trainer’s guide, slidekit, participant manual, and supplemental handouts.  Registration on the NCTSN Learning Center for Child and Adolescent Trauma website is required to access this toolkit.

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