UMOJA: A Black Heritage Experience

UMOJA’s co-founder, Julie Ryno, posted this note on the UMOJA website:

When my husband and I were preparing to adopt, we had a wonderful social worker that helped us understand that adopting a child from a different culture wasn’t about what we would accept. It was about what we could offer. We learned that loving our child meant more than providing a happy home, it meant that we had to help them develop a sense of pride in their birth culture. So began our journey to Umoja.

Nine years ago, I, along with Dr. Bola Delano-Oriaran began to explore what we could offer as a heritage camp for families that looked like mine. My husband and I have two beautiful 417727_10150593215058244_1041150641_nAfrican American children. We are white. We knew that Umoja (Swahili for Unity) has to help the entire family, not just the children. So Dr. Delano and I planned programming for the entire family. Parents and children have age appropriate sessions that cover everything from how to deal with racism to celebrating the music of Africa. From the start our goal has been to give our families tools that they can incorporate into their daily lives.

One of the biggest blessings has been the friendships that have blossomed between children and families of Umoja. We have many families that have returned annually. I delight in the children’s anticipation as they wait for their Umoja friends from year’s past to arrive. Please consider joining us this year and having create some special moments for you and your children.

Take a few minutes and check out our video links. We are very proud of our teens and the video they put together two years ago. Check out our facebook page. If you have any questions, after browsing the web site, please feel free to contact me directly ( I hope you and your family with join us for this special weekend.

This year’s UMOJA is October 17-19 and will be held at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, WI. You can find more information about the weekend’s activities, schedules, directions, registration information and more on the UMOJA website.


Upcoming Training: Should I Be Concerned? Sexual Behavior in Children & Youth

200355237-001Has your child has started to exhibit some sexual behavior? You may be asking yourself if this is typical development or something more. This topic can be tough for some parents and this training will provide practical input for caregivers with concerns about the sexualized behaviors of children in their care, including ideas on how to respond.  This training will help parents and caregivers to learn what they can do to promote a child’s healthy sexual development.

The Rainbow Project, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization, providing services to children and families experiencing stress related to, but not limited to, the effects of:

  • Trauma (resulting from physical, sexual and emotional maltreatment, and other sources)
  • Neglect
  • Attachment issues (parent/caregiver and child relationship)
  • Witness to domestic violence
  • Other biological and environmental stressors

About the Trainers

Sharyl Kato, MS, LPC, is the Director of and a Child/Adult & Family Therapist with the Rainbow Project,Inc.  Ms. Kato also works with The UW Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, and is a Clinical Adjunct Professor with the Dept. of Psychiatry. Ms. Kato specializes in areas of prevention, early intervention, crisis support, and treatment of childhood/family trauma, including child abuse, neglect, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, community violence, grief/loss, and natural disasters.

Darren LeCount, LCSW, is the Clinical Manager & a Child & Adult Family Psychotherapist at the Rainbow Project, Inc., in Madison, Wisconsin.  His professional background includes assessment, treatment, follow-up, and crisis intervention services with children, adolescents, and adult consumers impacted by trauma and other stressors.  He has experience working in psychiatric hospital, residential treatment, respite, foster care, and outpatient settings.  In addition to individual, group, and family therapy, he has provided training, consultation, case coordination, and advocacy to caregivers and professionals from various disciplines (medical, legal, educational, child protection).

Registration Information

Thursday, October 9, 2014

6-8 p.m.

$80/agency group

Attend in person at The Rainbow Project Inc. (831 E Washington Avenue, Madison, WI) or attend via webinar

Register online or contact or call 414-475-1245 (1-800-762-8063)

World Wide Wednesday – September 24, 2014

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



World Wide Wednesday – September 17, 2014

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


  • Adoption Assistance for Children Adopted from Foster Care: Describes how adoption assistance in the form of subsidies may help make adoption possible for families considering adopting a child from foster care. Also check out the Adoption Assistance by State page, too.
  • How Child Neglect Harms the Brain: Experts have long known that neglect and abuse in early life increase the risk of psychological problems, such as depression and anxiety, but now neuroscientists are explaining why. They’re showing how early maltreatment wreaks havoc on the developing brain.
  • Share this free book with your child’s teachers: This booklet was developed to provide educators with information about issues that impact foster and adoptive youth, the effects those issues might have on classroom learning and how educators can assist and advocate for these students.
  • Health Issues for Judges to Consider for Children in Foster Care: This resource from the AAP provides an overview of important health issues for children and youth in foster care. It includes downloadable, age-appropriate forms that can be shared with case workers and/or caregivers to obtain, record, and track relevant health information (physical, mental, developmental, behavioral, and dental) for a child in foster care in the hopes of obtaining improved outcomes.

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


World Wide Wednesday – September 10, 2014

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


  • Essay: There’s more than enough love in America to solve the foster care crisis.

  • Parenting a Child Who Has Been Sexually Abused: This factsheet discusses how foster and adoptive parents can help children and adolescents who have experienced sexual abuse. It provides basic information about sexual abuse and links to other information so that parents can educate themselves about the topic. The factsheet suggests ways to establish guidelines for safety and privacy in the family, and it offers suggestions about when to seek professional help and where to find such help.
  • Kid Hero blog post: Foster Care – It’s a Challenge Worth Taking.
  • Intercounty Adoption: Where Do I Start?: This factsheet provides an overview of the intercountry adoption process. Depending on your State, your adoption services provider, and the country from which you adopt, the steps in this adoption process may vary and may change over time. For example, some families will first select an adoption services provider; others will choose a country first. Meeting the legal requirements and then bringing your child home and adjusting to your new family are all covered in this factsheet.

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


World Wide Wednesday, September 3, 2014

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


  • Complex Trauma – Facts for Caregivers: The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) Complex Trauma Collaborative Group has developed this new factsheet designed specifically for caregivers, which provides information on how a caregiver can support a child with a complex trauma history. It presents information that can help a caregiver understand complex trauma and recognize the signs and symptoms of complex trauma in their child. It also offers recommendations for what the caregiver can do to help their child heal, as well as tips for self care.
  • From the Kid Hero Blog: 5 Changes I Made to Save My Foster Parent Sanity.

  • It’s back to school time! The Iowa Foster & Adoptive Parents Association (IFAPA) has dedicated an entire issue of their Weekly Word newsletter to helping parents get prepared for the upcoming school year. Don’t have a school-aged child? The issue also contains excellent resources for those parenting children ages birth to five.
  • Curious about some new releases at the movie theater and how they relate to adoption? Check out some adoption movie guides for films including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Hundred-Foot Journey.

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