Please don’t take my sunshine away

“From the first day I received foster care placement of my son, then three months old, I sang him ‘You are My Sunshine’ constantly. But I always skipped over the ‘Please don’t take my sunshine sunshineaway’ part. I’d fallen in love with him the moment our eyes met, and the thought of letting him go was devastating. But it wasn’t about me. And for his sake, I wished for a happy healthy reunification. But it just wasn’t meant to be. A couple of years passed and I was asked if I’d be willing to adopt. A couple more years passed, and we had an adoption date. I remember every detail of that day. He wore little cuffed corduroys, an oxford shirt, and suede wingtips. I remember family and friends with balloons and cameras at the ready. I remember the judge letting him bang the gavel to finalize his own adoption.

“I remember walking out of Children’s Court on what should have been the happiest day of my life feeling the most unexpected profound sadness.

“How could everyone around us be celebrating? Didn’t they understand the depth of his loss? He no longer “legally” had siblings. His ties to his birth family have been severed. What must they be feeling today? And who could possibly understand the grief I’m feeling?”

Post Adoption Depression. Surely such a thing can’t exist for new adoptive parents? The sadnessfinalization of an adoption is the happy ending to what has often been a lengthy, nerve-wracking, emotional roller coaster ride. What possible reason could there be to be depressed when it finally ends?

There are a number of reasons that new parents might experience post-adoption depression, including:

  • Adoption may highlight unresolved fertility issues
  • You may not feel an immediate bond with your child, as you expected
  • The reality of parenting may not match expectations as you’d imagined them
  • You’ve experienced a major life change that requires an adjustment period
  • You may have a relationship with the birth family and cannot help but feel for their loss, even if they have voluntarily relinquished parental rights

Many new adoptive parents might feel reluctant to reach out for help, because most have spent a great deal of time and energy convincing their adoption worker what a great home they can provide for a child. A big step in coping with post-adoption depression is knowing you are not alone and seeking out help. Parenting is hard, for ANY parent. It rarely comes as “naturally” as we imagine it would, for both mothers and fathers.

Some Suggestions for How to Feel Better

  • Connect with a local adoption support group
  • Reach out to a therapist who specializes in adoption issues
  • Ask your case worker for information regarding post-adoption resources
  • Check out online adoption forums, groups, and chat boards
  • Join a weekly play group with other adoptive families

Please know that you don’t have to go through your journey along. The Coalition for Children, Youth & Families is here to help and support you and your whole family. For more information on post-adoption and other resources, please contact us.

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Tip Sheet Tuesday: Reaching Your Boiling Point

178856933.jpgWe all have a boiling point. Some of us reach it faster than others and some may take a very long time to reach it. Part of the battle is recognizing when you are getting to your boiling point and knowing what to do to stop it and recover.

Emotional Flooding
The term for this reaction is called emotional flooding—when you are so overwhelmed with emotion that you are out of control. In this state, our bodies revert to a “fight or flight response.” This is our bodies’ safety system for reacting to danger and emotional flooding.

When we are in a “fight or flight response,” our bodies begin to release large amounts of adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormone). Our heart rate increases while our blood flow starts to move to the major muscle groups of the body.

This is also the time in which brain function leaves the frontal lobe (where logic is stored) and moves to the brain centers (where instinct and survival skills are held). So, when we are experiencing emotional flooding it is virtually impossible to think clearly or hear the other person. We are only reacting and trying to survive.

Here are some signs to help you recognize when you (and others) are flooded:

  • You feel overwhelmed by your emotions.
  • You feel like you are going to “lose it” and start yelling.
  • You are crying and feel out of control.
  • You would “rather be anywhere on the planet” other than in the same room with the other person.
  • You desperately want the talking to stop.
  • You really want to leave the situation.
  • You are so upset that you “can’t stand to listen to one more word.”
  • Continue reading on our website

World Wide Wednesday, February 11, 2015

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

  • Complex Trauma: Facts for Caregivers. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network published a factsheet for parents and caregivers that defines complex trauma and its signs and symptoms, explains its effects, and provides recommendations for how parents can help their children build resilience and recover. The factsheet offers information about traumatic reminders— everyday incidents (sounds, smells, feelings) that cause a child to relive a traumatic event from his or her past. These triggers can cause overreactive behavior, intense anxiety, distraction and lack of focus, and other negative outcomes. Complex trauma can create irrational thinking and inaccurate perceptions related to the child’s relationship with a caregiver. Because caregivers can also experience feelings of frustration and helplessness, the factsheet outlines coping strategies and provides information on self-care.
  • Parenting Coach.  The Parenting Coach tool from Understood.org offers over 300 practical tips for parents. Parents can utilize this tool by visiting the link below and selecting their child’s age and one of the following challenges listed below. Select the challenge:
    • Transitioning From Task to Task
    • Getting Organized & Managing Time
    • Managing ADD/ADHD
    • Sticking With It & Not Giving Up Easily
    • Building Independence
    • Handling Frustration
    • Dealing with Anxiety & Fear
    • Taking Risks
    • Making Friends
    • Interacting with Kids
    • Interacting with Adults
    • Fitting In
    • Using Social Media & Technology
    • Problem Solving
    • Improving Self-Esteem
  • New Adoption PSAs. The Ad Council and Adopt US Kids are celebrating with two commercials the tenth anniversary of their joint campaign, started in 2004 to encourage adoption of kids in foster care. Both ads carry the tagline “You don’t have to be perfect to be a parent,” first used in 2011, but this time there’s the addition of two 1970s-style moustachioed crooners who narrate the tales of parenting mishaps in song.
  • Going to see Paddington? Check out the Adoption at the Movies review first.

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

World Wide Wednesday, February 4, 2015

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

  •  Foster Care: Loving a Child that Might Leave.
  • New Resources for Prospective Parents with Disabilities Posted on AdoptUSKids Website. A new section on the AdoptUSKids website provides resources for prospective parents with disabilities and features the story of a Colorado woman who adopted four children and is an advocate for parents with disabilities. Visit this new section
  • 101 Ways to Get Involved in Foster Care. For lovers of lists who also have an interest in foster care, this is my “Ultimate List of Opportunities” to get involved in helping vulnerable children and families, Connie Hayek writes. They are separated by general categories, but as you no doubt will notice, there is some overlap. Some suggestions may not apply to your community or your life circumstances. The good news is that with 101 included, you are sure to find something that fits.
  • 20 Ways to Prevent Child Abuse. Unrealistic expectations of parenthood, differences between what we want and what we actually have, a strained relationship with our marriage partner, too much to do and too little time, financial problems, drug abuse, alcoholism, and a history of being abused as a child are examples of problems that can cause parents to take out anger and frustration on their children. Even very loving parents can lose control to the point of child abuse. Here are some actions you can take to help children and their parents.

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

World Wide Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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

World Wide Wednesday

  • The Child I Didn’t Adopt: It was something about the phrasing that got to me. Something about the cadence of his words, the staccato of his speech. “Nobody loves me. Not even my mother who gave birth to me.” It is an odd turn of  phrase, isn’t it? Not even my mother who gave birth to me.  Continue reading
  • The 5 Best Strategies for Preventing Misbehavior: Unfortunately, a two year old’s frontal cortex is still developing the ability to control his
    emotions and behavior. That means they throw food, break things, have meltdowns, bite when they’re mad, and scribble on the furniture. In other words, they act like two year olds.

    But since the brain is still developing through the teen years, kids of all ages sometimes lack the rational control to behave as we’d like. Sometimes even 15 year olds act like 2 year olds!  Continue reading

  • New Website – Advocates for Families First: Enhancing Support and Advocacy for Children in Kinship, Foster, Adoptive Families: The mission of Advocates for Families First is to build a unified national movement in support of kinship, foster, and adoptive families who care for children and youth, promote their healing, and help them thrive. We envision a world where children and youth who need out of home care have a family – kinship, foster, or adoptive – who can most effectively help them thrive, meet their needs and assist them in becoming successful adults.
  • Infographic: The Truth about ACEs: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is part of a growing network of leaders working to increase awareness and understanding of the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the need to develop effective innovative interventions. Learn more about ACEs and share the infographic with others.

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

World Wide Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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

World Wide Wednesday

  • 8 Phrases Foster and Adopted Children Need to Hear: We’ve all seen Tarzan – the orphaned child raised by apes who spends his whole childhood thinking he’s an ape only to discover that he’s a man. As the movie unfolds we watch him suffer loss, rejection, fear, friendship, hope and love. Through his ups and downs we feel the tension of being caught between a world in which you do not fit but feel you belong and a world in which you do belong but don’t fit. Continue reading
  • Mental Health Problems of the Children in Foster Care: Many children in the US foster care system have experienced trauma that can result in a diagnosable mental health disorder or symptoms that mimic one. This handout from Baylor College of Medicine, provides guidance to foster parents on how to prepare for doctor visits, recommends questions to ask the doctor, explains informed consent, and describes the steps the doctor will take in diagnosing and treating the child.
  • For teachers and school administrators: With another school year well underway, it is important for teachers and school administrators to understand the impact of trauma, abuse, neglect, and other risk factors in a child’s history that can affect his or her ability to learn and feel safe and connected in the classroom. In the September 2014 issue of NCFA’s Adoption Advocate, co-authors Casey Call, Karyn Purvis, Sheri R. Parris, and David Cross share the results from different schools employing Trust-Based Relationship Intervention® (TBRI®), and emphasize the power of safe, nurturing relationships in the classroom—particularly for children in from “hard places.”
  • Foster care homes needed for children of all ages: In Wisconsin, there were 137 children in foster care in Wood County in 2013; currently, in Portage County, 58 children are being served in 41 licensed foster homes. More than 5,100 foster homes in Wisconsin care for almost 8,000 foster children each year, according to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. “Given the quantity of families needing support services, our foster parents are at capacity,” said Danita Docka, the foster care coordinator for Portage County. Continue reading

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