World Wide Wednesday – December 9, 2015

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

  • 5 things you need to survive as a foster parent
    In truth, though, taking in children from foster care into your house can certainly be a challenge. Behavioral issues, learning disabilities, emotional trials; all can be exhausting and trying for a foster parent. Yet, what many foster parents often overlook is the risk factor that goes along with taking a foster child into a home. As a foster parent, you become vulnerable to many possibilities, and it is important that you protect yourself and your family from the possible implications and investigations. Just as important is making sure you do not become overly exhausted and even burned out.
  • Focus on the Figures: Long Stays in Foster Care
    The U.S. foster care system is structured to provide temporary, safe living arrangements and therapeutic services for children who cannot remain safely at home due to child maltreatment or for children whose parents are unable to provide adequate care. The aim, at all times, is to either reunify children with their parents or secure another source of permanency with other family or through adoption.

    Too often this goal is not achieved. Instead, many children spend years in foster homes or group homes, often moving multiple times.

    Many such youths – about 10 percent nationwide — will “age out” of foster care and into adulthood. A high percentage of these youth experience inadequate housing, low educational and career attainment, early parenthood, substance abuse, physical and mental health problems, and involvement with the criminal justice system.

  • When Sad Looks Mad
    Many times, children from hard places tend to act mad, when that is not what they are feeling at all. Why is that? The answers are really quite obvious when we remember where they came from.
  • Letting Her Go: Chinese Birth Parent Search and Reunions
    The first study on this topic provides fascinating insights about adoptees’ and parents’ motivations to search, search methods used, the initial reunion, and ongoing contact.

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.

World Wide Wednesday – December 2, 2015

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

  • And Then There Were Five: The Aftermath of a Failed Adoption. “There are no more boxing gloves in the basement. His bedroom walls are bare and his bed is stripped down to nothing. All of his Rubik’s cubes and puzzles are gone. I can’t even find one bottle of Gatorade left in the refrigerator. It’s official. No more 17-year-old. Marcus is gone. We’ve only got 5 little chickens left.”
  • 5 Reasons Why I’m Not Quitting as a Foster Parent. We might not be able to remember every stressful episode of our childhood. But the emotional upheaval we experience as kids — whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the chronic stress of economic insecurity, or social interactions that leave us tearful or anxious — may have a lifelong impact on our health.
  • Giving Until It Hurts – The Joy and Sorrow of Foster Parenting:
    “This past March marked 16 years as foster parents for Kerri and Steve Campbell-Graham. Over that period of time, the Campbell-Graham family has welcomed 20 children into their home. One of those children was Kylie, a 21-month-old raised as one of their own for two years. She had contact with her father, a relationship nurtured during her time living with the Campbell-Grahams. There was even talk of adopting Kylie until a judge ordered her returned to her father’s care.”

  • Video: Open Adoptee Experiences: In this video created by Open Adoption & Family Services, teen and young adult adoptees who grew up knowing their birth parents share their thoughts and experiences.

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.

Tip Sheet Tuesday: Celebrating the Holidays with the Children You Foster

Tip Sheet Tuesday: Celebrating the Holidays with the Children You FosterConflicting loyalties and lost dreams often make the holidays a difficult time for children in foster care. Just as studies show that holidays are stressful times for most of us, these reactions are compounded for youth placed in your home. Here are some suggestions for the holidays.

How can my family make it easier for the children in foster care while they are in our home?

  • Talk about the season ahead of time. Talk about how your family celebrates the holidays. Tell children which of the traditional holidays your house recognizes. Is it Thanksgiving? St. Nick’s Day? Kwanzaa? Hanukah? Christmas? New Year? Or all of the above? Talking about the holidays gives children time to anticipate the upcoming activities and ask questions.
  • Help children in foster care imagine what to expect in your home. Much of what we assume to be commonplace can be new to the children you foster.
  • Share the religious meanings the holidays may have for your family. Talk about your family’s specific customs and activities.
  • Use this time of sharing to learn especially about the religious beliefs, customs, and activities of the children you foster. Try to incorporate at least some of their traditions into your traditions.
  • Some parents try to keep the holidays low key in order to help minimize some of the stress.
  • Continue reading

Under the Umbrella: Holiday Triggers

Have you ever experienced a sight, sound, or smell that instantly brought on a memory of past experience? For example, the smell of a cooking ham or turkey can Under the Umbrella: Holiday Triggersinstantly bring back memories of a past family meal during the holidays. What you experience might even go beyond a mere memory; you might actually find yourself experiencing some intense emotions that are associated with that memory. This particular phenomenon is known as a trigger and, with all of the dazzling sights, sounds, smells, and activities associated with the holiday season, this time of year is filled with them.
For many people, the holiday season is filled with sensory triggers that will evoke positive memories of family and togetherness. However, for a child who has been separated from her family of origin, either through foster care or adoption, the holidays may trigger traumatic memories and negative emotions. Families who are caring for these children might feel confused about why the child in their care is showing signs of depression, defiance, or even angry outbursts during a normally happy time of year.
When a child enters foster care, or joins a family through adoption, she has already experienced a series of losses, and the holidays can be a difficult reminder of these losses. She might be thinking of former foster families or brothers and sisters, birth parents, or other birth relatives with whom she celebrated the holidays before. In HiResaddition, she might also be feeling the loss of particular holiday traditions and rituals that were important to her family of origin. A part of her may even feel that she is betraying her birth family by participating in your family’s celebrations. The holiday season may also remind her of past trauma, and the circumstances that led her to your family.  All of these swirling emotions and conflicting feelings may look like outbursts, tantrums, and depression in children.
If you are noticing some changes in the behavior of the children in your care, please keep in mind how the holiday atmosphere may be triggering the complex emotions and feelings described above. Take time to talk with the child about how she is feeling. It might also be helpful to look at your family’s traditions and see how you might incorporate some elements that hold a special meaning for the child you are caring for. Many foster and adoptive parents see this time of year as an opportunity to extend invitations to members of the child’s birth family, including them in the season’s celebration through exchanging gifts, cards, and photos. These are just a few ideas that may make the transition trough the holiday season a smoother one for children who have experienced similar losses and trauma.
The holiday season can be a joyous time, but also a stressful one for many families. This is particularly true for the child in your life who may be reminded of the various losses and traumatic memories associated with the foster care and adoption experience. By understanding the role triggers play in a child’s mood and behavior, families and caregivers can work to make sure this holiday season is a bright success. Please remember that all of us at the Coalition are here to support you in your foster and adoptive journey.

World Wide Wednesday, November 25, 2015

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

  • New foster care app educates caregivers and youth: The new “FOCUS on Foster Families” app provides resources and information to foster caregivers and youth in care. Hundreds of video resources feature foster care alumni and parents sharing advice. Read more in The Chronicle of Social Change.
  • Blog Post: Every Corner of My Life – “Being a birth mother is such an incredible gift. It is part of my story, and whether people realize it or not, it reaches into every corner of my life.” Read the full post

  • Many Kinds of Love: My excitement over the prospect of meeting my birth mother does not detract from or negate my love for my adoptive parents.
  • Everything You Need to Know about Scholarships and Foster Adoption: Some programs and scholarships aimed at helping foster care alumni afford a college education.

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.

World Wide Wednesday, November 18, 2015

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

  • Siblings: The Ties that Bind – International adoption can sometimes cause siblings to be separated when they are unable to be placed together.  For many children, the relationship a child has with his or her sibling(s) is the longest sustained relationship they have had in their life, often beyond that with their biological parents.  Therefore, being separated from this important person can be truly devastating to a child and he or she may experience fear, grief, loss, isolation, and depression. Continue reading

  • As the First Wave of China Adoptees returns to re-connect, this 5-Part Series, To Connect and Be Loved, is a touching testimonial of what is to come:

    “I’m worried that I lack the right words to adequately convey the way I felt about living and working with these children in China.” Juliet shared about the the combined experience that was at once wonderful, fulfilling, exciting, funny, frightening and, sometimes, heartbreaking. “Before I even left, I was vowing to come back”

    Read her 5 Part Series

  • Six Children’s Books that Use Psychological Techniques to Help Kids: Currently Amazon’s number one best-selling book, The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, isn’t popular because of its riveting plot or gorgeous illustrations. Parents are buying the self-published book from Swedish author and psychologist Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin because it promises to use “psychological techniques” to help children fall asleep. These six children’s books all use well-established psychological methods, from cognitive behavioral therapy to deep breathing, to help children deal with a variety of issues. Continue Reading

  • Blog Post: Sharing the Seasons – “At this time last year, Mike and I were making the final decision to pursue adoption through the foster care system. I remember the way we figuratively stamped the decision we’d been dancing around for months with a final, “let’s do it,” as we drove across our state, brushstrokes of red, orange and yellow zipping past us.” Continue reading

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.

World Wide Wednesday – November 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:

  • Supporting Youth in Foster Care in Making Healthy Choices: A Guide for Caregivers and Caseworkers on Trauma, Treatment, and Psychotropic Medications. This guide from the Children’s Bureau is intended to help caseworkers, foster parents, or other caring adults learn about trauma experienced by youth in foster care and treatment options, including approaches other than psychotropic medication. The guide presents strategies for seeking help for youth, identifying appropriate treatment, and supporting youth in making decisions about their mental health. The guide is also available in Spanish here.
  • FOCUS on Foster Families is a free mobile app designed to support foster youth and their caregivers. Through candid video interviews and online tools, FOCUS on Foster Families helps users improve their skills related to communication, emotional regulation, problem solving, and goal setting.

    FOCUS On Foster Families brings FOCUS Family Resilience Training skills to families where they live, work and play. FOCUS is a program that teaches families to use five related skills to build on strengths and overcome challenges. These skills are problem-solving, goal setting, communication, emotional regulation and managing trauma and stress reminders.

  • National Postsecondary Support Map. This map from Fostering Success Michigan provides links and information on state tuition waivers, statewide education support programs, and 4-year campus-based support programs for students who experience foster care.
  • The video, How to Make a Bully (From Scratch), appropriately explains bullying as one of the most misunderstood crises of our time. It takes us on an eye opening journey from infancy, highlighting a variety of circumstances within a child’s life that contribute to a bully or victim life-path. Explaining how the bully and victim’s fate can be rerouted through connection, understanding and love, it’s a video all parents and educators should take the time to watch.

    These additional five intervention videos provide the skills you need to see the road signs and correct the course:

    Bullying Road Sign #1: Ages Birth to 3, Difficult Temperament
    Bullying Road Sign #2: Ages 3 to 5, Difficulty Playing with Friends
    Bullying Road Sign #3: Ages 5 to 8, Difficulty with Relationships
    Bullying Road Sign #4: Ages 8 to 12, Social Exclusion and “I Don’t Care” Language
    Bullying Road Sign #5: Ages 12 to 18, The Brain’s Empathy System if Offline

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.