Post Adoption Support

Post Adoption Support

Adoption affects adopted persons and families in many different ways over the course of their lifetime.  As result many adoptive families need information and support to manage challenges as they arise. Challenges may appear and reappear at different stages of life, even when their adoption is a positive experience.  We encourage families to seek assistance proactively when the first concern or questions arise.  Please note: there is no need for a family to feel ashamed or hesitant to request help… Just give yourself permission to learn & expand your skills!

Post-adoption services can help families with a range of challenges which may include:

  1. A parent struggling with how to explain adoption to a preschooler..or any aged child.
  2. A teenager struggling with their teenage identity, especially as it pertains to being an adopted child.  Identity development can be more complex for adopted children and teenagers.
  3. Identity development can be complicated if the child’s race or birth culture differs from that of the adoptive family.  Given the importance of maintaining a child’s birth heritage, parents may seek resources on this topic.
  4. Families of children who have experienced trauma, neglect, abuse, out-of-home care, or institutionalization may require more intensive services.
  5. All adopted children and youth, (even those adopted as infants) experience some level of grief and loss.  They may grieve as they come to understand their history and they may also struggle with feelings of abandonment.
  6. Any child or youth separated from birth parents has experienced a break in attachment, and may not have known consistent love and affection.  As result, they may have difficulty trusting and attaching to their new family.  These children may need help building healthy relationships.
  7. Open adoptions may lead to families and adopted children needing support in maintaining relationships with birth family members.
  8. Adoptive parents may experience grief and loss issues of their own, which may relate to infertility.  Emotions can be intensified by the reality of their adoption, especially if it doesn’t match what they expected it to be.
  9. At some point, many adoptees want to access birth information and/or reconnect with birth families.  While technology can accelerate a birth relative search, this faster pace can be emotionally overwhelming.  They also may not know where to begin their search.
  10. Children who were exposed prenatally to drugs and alcohol may have ongoing emotional, developmental, physical or behavioral difficulties.  These may vary from health issues, to developmental delays, to feeding, sleeping and attachment issues. Issues may arise at school requiring an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and a referral fro special services.

There are many tangible services available which can help with post-adoption challenges:

  1. Therapy/Counseling:  Professional help for concerns is always available to address any post-adoption challenge.  Proactive access can often prevent concerns from becoming serious problems.  For more information, contact the CHI office for insight and a referral.
  2. Support Groups:  Both Online and in-person groups are available.  Both offer parents and adoptees valuable opportunities to interact and share with others who may have had relevant experiences.  Parents can even start their own group as many post-adoption services were founded by concerned adoptive parents!
  3. Camps, picnics and other events:  Retreats and camps are available for members of adoptive families to connect with others like themselves.
  4. Educational resources:   Parents can access a workshop or conference, or an online resource to learn about the topics important to them, socialize with other families, and access adoption materials.  (many will be listed below).
  5. Financial assistance:  While most services are not free of charge, their may be assistance available for some adoptive families.  Many children adopted from public agencies qualify for adoption subsidy which can be used to pay for these services as spelled out in the adoption assistance agreement. Medicaid is available to meet a child’s special health, mental or emotional needs.  Your health insurance carrier may also offer benefits which can be used for post adoption services.  Some employers may provide benefits which will reimburse adoption related service fees.  Scholarships are often available to help with the cost of attending adoption conferences and seminars.
  6. Public adoption agencies (county or State offices) & many private adoption agencies may provide services which can benefit your family dynamic.

In addition to the specific services listed above, we’ve compiled a lengthy list of online resources – which can be accessed at any time & are listed below.  These may be especially helpful if your family is not living within this agency’s home state, which is California.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network was established to improve access to care, treatment, and services for traumatized children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events. The group offers a wealth of online trainings and informational links.

Child Welfare Information Gateway promotes the well-being of families by connecting the public to information, resources and tools covering topics on child welfare, child abuse & neglect, adoption and more.  Child Information Gateway provides access to information and resources to help protect and strengthen families.

TCU Institute of Child Development  Offers Trust Based Relationship Intervention (TBRI) DVD’s that families can order for themselves.

Empowered to Connect offers a faith based version of TBRI. Families can go onto the website, click resources & then on the righthand side there are many topics they can click & see a short video or write up on the subject.

Attachment Trauma Network promotes healing of traumatized children and their families through support, education and advocacy.

CASE -Center for Adoption Support & Education C.A.S.E. is the national leader in adoption-competent support with foster and adopted children and adults, their families and the network of professionals who assist them. With more than 17 years of adoption expertise and an extensive range of services, C.A.S.E. is empowering families in the adoption and foster care community to grow together and overcome challenges.  This is an excellent site that offers articles, trainings, and lots of resources for all members of an adoptive family.

REACH – Tulare County and REACH- Kings County  REACH, which stands for Resources, Education, Advocacy, Crisis Intervention and Hope was designed to support and enrich the lives of adopted children and families, as well as others who have been touched by adoption.   REACH services are family-centered and recognize the core issues of adoption. Services are designed to support and preserve all family relationships and maximize the child’s potential and full integration into a family. REACH services are provided at multiple locations throughout California to help families effectively prepare for the experience of adoption and to ensure families receive support at all stages of adoptive parenting. There are REACH programs in the following counties:  Contra Costa, San Benito, Solano, Kings, Mono, Madera, Mariposa, and Tulare.

Dave Thomas Foundation  Access the link for a guide to Strengthen your Forever Family:  A step-by-Step guide to Post-Adoption.  This free resource booklet includes information for parents about the types of resources available after adoptions have been finalized. Topics include how to select and locate providers, what to do if your community doesn’t have resources available, and recommendations of other national non-profits that can help.

NACAC North American Council on Adoptable Children is an organization that offers numerous articles designed to help families who have adopted children with special needs.

PACT, an Adoption Alliance, was begun by two adoptive parents in 1991.  Pact has developed a range of services that can connect you to other families like your own.

CWLA Child Welfare League of America is the oldest national organization serving vulnerable children, youth, and their families. CLWA provides trainings, consultations, and a variety of conferences including teleconferences found at the link.

Voice for Adoption is a national organization that works to make a difference in the lives of children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted and the families who adopt children from foster care

Adoption Learning Partners provides educational adoption resources for adopted individuals, parents, families, and professionals through web-based and interactive courses. Adoption Learning Partners offers courses for families parenting adopted children to learn how to sort through issues and learn new skills. Courses address topics like talking to your child about adoption, helping your child cope with feelings of grief and loss, and answering questions about your child’s heritage and background with sensitivity and respect.

Evan B. Donaldson Institute is a non-profit organization that dedicates itself to adoption by improving the current policies and practices of adoption. Through a wealth of publications, the Institute seeks to end negative stereotypes and misinformation about adoption by providing an accurate picture of its rewards, as well as its challenges.  Search by topic to locate resources you may need.

Adoptive Families Magazine is an excellent magazine with well-written articles for all adoptive parents.

What have we missed? Please add any resources you have found to be helpful to your family in the comments.

 

Ask the Author: A discussion of “Finding Pony” by Kara Lucas, MSW

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Many of our CHI families will smile if you check out this book cover closely. If the author was your former social worker – you can now claim to know a famous author!

The lovely Kara Lucas, MSW, has written a fiction novel, Finding Pony, Kara Author Pictures 027which has proven to be quite the page turner!  You might not be aware, but several of our CHI social workers are quite bookworm-ish ~ and therefore several of us obtained a copy upon the debut.  As an agency, we have always loved to review books that may have an impact on our adoptive families.

Briefly, Finding Pony is a Young Adult fiction novel about a boy trying to find his sister in foster care.  Obviously, that subject matter is important to the hearts of CHI!  Although Kara is no longer a social worker for CHI ~ she has graciously agreed to do an “Ask The Author” piece for us.  Please enjoy that interview below.

Also, in the spirit of creating Adoption Awareness during the month
of November, Kara has graciously gifted CHI with a book to give away.  Please visit our Facebook page and follow the instructions there, to be entered to win!  (Kara also mentions that there will be a give-away on Goodreads during the month of November!)

Here are the questions we supplied Kara and we thank her immensely for sharing her writing talents with us via her new book & also in each of her answers below.

CHI:  I love how you titled each chapter. The titles drew me in and kept me reading (“Just one more chapter before bed..,” I thought. Well… until I read the next title & was sucked in further!)

The titles contributed to the pace of the novel, which is swift and full of angst and tension. I bet a true foster care experience would “feel” similarly paced, by those experiencing it. Although your novel is fiction, the thoughts and feelings struck me as highly realistic. How did you wrap your head around what Pony and Jesse might be feeling and thinking?

Kara:  Thank you very much Stacy for your kind compliments. I wanted the book to be a fast, quick read that got people staying up to read it, so I am very glad that I accomplished my intended goal!

Yes, I wanted Finding Pony to be realistic. I knew I wanted to write about kids experiencing the foster care system because I have witnessed what they go through, first hand. When I was researching other fiction books in the genre, I felt that many of the books available for teens weren’t realistic enough–they seemed to me to be too sugar-coated, or too loaded with inaccuracy. I wanted something real, that (in a fictional way) reflected my observations as a social worker.

I really tried to put myself in Jesse’s head when I was writing. I have three teenagers myself right now, so it is easy to write angst when you are around it a lot! Also, back in college, I worked at a group home for juvenile violent offenders. That experience–one of my earliest in the social work arena–taught me a lot about human nature. One truth that really struck me about working in that group home is that, at the end of the day, most of those boys were just kids who were in bad circumstances, making bad choices. Despite their crimes, I liked many of them quite a bit, and saw their humanity and inherent goodness. So, to speak to your comment about the book being realistic, I think that my experiences in social work gave me an advantage, for sure. As far as wrapping my head around the characters, I think that is just the fun of writing–immersing yourself in that person’s skin, and imagining what they might do.

CHI:  Those considering a fost/adoption may be frightened after reading this fiction. What advice would you offer a Prospective Adoptive Parent who hasn’t read your book, but would like to? What words would you express to a family who has read it and might be jumping to the conclusion that this fictional story may be the “reality” of their future experiences?

Kara:  Finding Pony is a young adult fiction novel–emphasis on the fiction part! As a writer, I wanted to write something fast and dramatic. As a social worker, I wanted the authenticity to be there, as well. Jesse’s inner struggle is, I hope, very real. Other issues: siblings getting separated in foster care, parents who are drug users, kids getting molested in foster care, sexual trafficking (the Indian’s story)–any social worker will tell you that yes, sadly, these things do happen.

But as a work of fiction, the drama is definitely exaggerated. I would want to remind any prospective adoptive parents that, no, teenage kids in foster care do not typically try to kidnap their siblings! In fact, I have never seen it happen, ever, nor with birth parents. A common question prospective adoptive or foster parents often have had for me is this: will the birth parents search for the children? Will they come to my home? I have actually never seen that happen in a non-relative adoption.

The thing about kids in foster care, teens included, is at the end of the day, they are just kids. I have seen some kids in adoptive homes transition extremely well, despite their issues, and others really struggle. It just depends on the individual child, & the individual family. However, I have always been so impressed with adoptive homes, including some of my beloved former Chrysalis House families, by their ability to just deeply be there with a child who is hurting, and really be successful in creative a nurturing, safe environment in which that child can blossom, and ultimately heal from their former traumas. Do you need to be a perfect parent? Absolutely not. Do you need to have a lot of love, compassion, and understanding? Yes, yes, and yes.

Parenting any child, whether biological or through adoption, takes a lot of love, and courage. As they say, parenting is not for sissies! I would advise any prospective adoptive parent, as I did with my Chrysalis families and I do with my current Aspira families, is to ask a lot of questions during the certification process. Meet with other foster families and adoptive families. Read a lot of memoirs on adoption and foster care– & Pick your social worker’s brain. Educate yourself on some of the issues surrounding kids who have been in the foster care system, as much as you can. In Finding Pony, the main character Jesse struggles with, among other things, PTSD as a result of being molested in a foster home when he was a child. This is a very real issue some of these kids face.
CHI:  Jesse and Pony have very different emotional reactions to their removal and adjust to their new life at very different paces. Do you feel this is typical of youth coming into care and dependent on age, maturity and former familial roles? Why do you feel Jesse and Pony adjusted in their individually unique ways?

Kara: I do feel it is typical. I have seen kids respond in a full spectrum of behaviors to how they initially adjust to life in their adoptive home, as I am sure you have as well. Again, I think a good yardstick is to view each child as an individual and meet them where they are at. I think anyone will attest to the fact that young children are very resilient, which is why many families will often be drawn to adopting younger children. However, younger children can struggle with trauma, and attachment issues as well, even when adopted at a very young age. Paradoxically, and perhaps incidentally, some of the easiest transitions during the adoption process happened with adopted teenagers. It all depends on the child, their background, the home, everything.

I think in Jesse’s situation, he struggled a lot with his identity. He felt rejected by his birth mother, and had conflicting feelings about being the primary caretaker for his sister, Pony. He was older and had a more realistic view of his world. He knew it was a rough place. He was perhaps more apprehensive and jaded about foster care than Pony, who bonded quite easily with her new adoptive parents, because he had had a previous bad experience in foster care. So when he encounters the DeLeons, he doesn’t trust them at first, and assumes that they will eventually hurt him, and give up on him, which has been his experience all of his life. Unfortunately I see this all the time with kids in care.

Pony, I saw as a little girl, who never really had a mother fussing over her, nurturing her. She had Jesse, but not that traditional functional family unit. Despite her love for her birth brother and mother, I really saw Pony as a little girl just soaking up the love, the attention of her adoptive parents, which ultimately facilitated her bond with them.

CHI:  What are the best fictional books you would most recommend to Prospective Adoptive Parents on the topic of fost/adoption? Did any of these books have any impact on your writing of Finding Pony?

Kara:  I don’t really have a favorite YA out there that addresses kids in foster care. Maybe that’s why I wrote this book. <grin> I keep looking, though.

Some pretty good titles for the teen market are: The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson (older, a classic), Right Behind You by Gail Giles, After by Amy Efaw, Sweet Hearts by Sarah Zarr, Returnable Girl, Hope in Patience (The Patience series, by Beth Faulbaum does not deal with foster care but sexual abuse), The Shadow Society by Marie Rutoski, One for the Murphy’s by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, The Genius Squad by Catherine Jinks, The Guardian by Joyce Sweeney, and Throwaway Girl by Kristine Scarrow. None of these books influenced the writing of Finding Pony, really, because the story came from inside of myself. When I started writing the book, though, I did my research. It was comforting to know that yes, there are teen books out there that deal with these issues!

If I was a prospective adoptive parent, though, I think I would stay away from the fiction books, for now, because it might distort your reality of what actually happens. I would recommend prospective adoptive parents to stick to memoirs and books on attachment, parenting, and learning what makes an adoption successful. 

CHI:  What message would you most like to give children in care who might read your story? Why would you advise that they read your book & why? What age range would you recommend the novel for & why?

Kara:  I think I would want the kids to read my story who have been through foster care, or are in foster care, to get this message: I see you. What you have been through is tough, and hard, and I am blown away by your courage. Keep fighting for happiness, because you deserve it.

I would hope that kids who have been through foster care will maybe perhaps recognize pieces of themselves in this story. Pieces of their own life. I have been fortunate to have heard from some kids–a few adopted, some in a group home–who really loved Jesse’s story because it reminded them so much of themselves. Hearing their positive feedback was worth the world to me. And for other kids, like perhaps kids like my biological kids, I would love for them to realize that everyone out there has something they are going through that’s tough. That kid walking down the hall that scowled at you? He may have not eaten today. That girl that dresses provocatively? She might be getting molested right now. My favorite quote, one which I always try and remember is “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.”

I wrote this book aimed for the YA market, for kids ranging in age from 13 and up. That being said, there is s colorful language, and mature themes that are depicted (drug usage, molestation, sexual trafficking), so please read before if you are conservative in what your child reads. I have allowed my 13 year old to read Finding Pony and she loved it.

CHI:  You are an amazing advocate for foster care and adoption. Why did you choose this field to dedicate your life’s work to? What advice would you impart to a fledgling social worker considering an entrance into our field?

Kara:  Thank you for saying that, but really this book is just my small way of trying to point some light on these kids! I think I chose social work as a career because I always had a heart for people who struggled in the world. I think all social workers have huge hearts! I don’t like seeing people lonely, or without love. When I worked in CPS, I would see kids at the very beginning of their journey through foster care. The great thing about adoption is that I get to see kids at the end of their journey, with their forever family.

I would tell a brand new social worker to learn from older social workers, never stop the education process, and most of all, be tolerant, curious, and come from a place of love. I feel it is important to have profound respect for everyone you are dealing with: the children, the birth parents, foster/adoptive parents. When I was a brand new social worker, I was so clueless. I was 22, had never been a parent, and didn’t really know a thing about child development at the time. And here I was expected to counsel these parents on how to raise their children! Looking back, I knew so little, and made a lot of mistakes. But because I stayed open-minded, and tried to leave my judgement at the door, I got through it. And became better in the process.

CHI:  You include facts about foster care at the end of the novel. The numbers are staggering. You also include resources and suggestions of how readers can help at-risk children, of which I’d like to add ‘volunteering’ to the list. [The gift of time to a group home or county agency can have profound impact (although requires a clearance process)]. Are there other things that… after printing… you might wish you’d added to the lists, storyline, etc.?

Kara:  I keep wondering how best we can help. I lie awake at night sometimes and think about it. What can we do? The obvious solution is for more amazing families to step up to the challenge and become adoptive parents. We need more mentor programs. Older children and teens need more encouragement in the education process. Another issue which was touched upon in Finding Pony with Walter Blackfoot was the sad statistic of former foster teens ending up in the human trafficking industry. I am just starting to learn more about this issue and it is heartbreaking that these kids, who have been victimized their whole lives, will continue to be victimized as adults in this way.

In closing, from Kara:  Thank you so much, Stacy, and my former Chrysalis House family! I would love it if everyone checked out my website at karalucasauthor.com. For more suggestions on books to read about social work and adoption related issues, check out my Goodreads pages: child welfare issues and social work. I also have some great articles on the Foster Care Books and Social Work page on my Pinterest Page. And if you had any great book ideas to share, I would love to hear them. Have a great fall!

Dear Readers… Feel free to a leave a question for Kara in the comments!

Not Our Plan: A fost/adopt story

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November was National Adoption Awareness Month, and belatedly we are presenting the Grand Finale of our guest stories. Our sincerest thanks to the families who put their lives into words in order to bring awareness to this wonderful work we do.

Below, please enjoy the story of a family’s: Fost/Adoption.  In the event you wish to discuss our Fost/Adopt program, please contact the office at 559.229.9862.

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Since the day we got married, we’ve always wanted to have a family of our own. To have a little one, or three, to love; to pass down our family traditions; to teach him, her, or them our values, morals, and faith.

We had a plan. For many years we had “tried” with no success. Though we were happy being just the two of us, like so many others, we felt something was missing. We hoped that someday our dream of becoming parents would come true. We tried many things, including fertility treatments and even some unorthodox forms of treatments that we won’t get into here. We planned that someday, it would happen. Through tests, we found we were both able to have children, so we just kept at it. We believed God would let us get pregnant, he had to, we knew he would, and there was no way that God would not extend our family. We knew we could count on God to give us what we wanted. That was our plan.

So often, we became obsessed with trying to make our dreams come true that we forgot that the best, and most important, thing to do is to put it all in God’s hands. After all, His plan is always better. It’s the one that always comes to fruition.

So here we are, our 4th and 5th times being 29 years old (yep, going to stay 29 forever) and still no children. We were beginning to believe that God wanted us to be modern day Abraham and Sarah (see Genesis 17-21). We stopped trying. We told people we guessed it was not God’s plan for us to have children. We gave it to Him. It was out of our hands. We were hurt. We were scared. We had no idea what was coming, right around the corner, just out of sight. His plan. It ambushed us. Like a thief in the night.

One day, the husband’s sister sat us down, along with his mother and grandmother and gave us some very great, life-changing news. We learned she was pregnant and that she wanted us to adopt the child. We were thrilled and knew that this must be what God wanted us to do. We accepted. Our new plan, this time, involved God through prayer. Lots of prayer.

We attempted to figure out which forms were needed to be filled out and filed with which department. We ended up frustrated; heard the stories about how long the adoption paperwork would take to get through “the system”; began to see the red tape involved with an adoption. In August of 2013, we decided to go ahead and try an adoption agency and the best part of our brains (that would be the wife) found and brought to the OTHER part of our brains (the husband) information on several agencies. She had heard of one, in particular, that had been recommended by a close family friend and therefore we decided to contact them. That was our first time dealing with Chrysalis House, Inc., but it would not be our last.

 

Being that this was middle to late August, and the mother of our nephew was due in late September or early October, they motivated us to fast track the paperwork and made sure we had everything set for the home study report. By very early October, we had the paper work completed and the home study done. Our nephew was born just a few days later. Yay! Finally, we were parents. We were presented with “our son” immediately after he was born. We were allowed to name him, and knew just what to name him, since one of our older nephews from a different sister (-in-law) had given him a name early on in the pregnancy. We took him home the next day.

The hours became days, the days turned into weeks. The birth mother had a lot of contact with us and the baby. She was at our home just about every day since we brought him home. We saw it coming. Knew it was going to happen. Others kept telling us it would happen. But how can you even come close to being prepared for WHEN it happens? Four weeks to the day after his birth, the birth-mother had decided that she wanted him back.

Giving him back was surprisingly, both the easiest thing to do – as well as the hardest thing we’d ever done. The easiest since we saw her attachment and the heartbreak she went through to give him to us in the first place. The hardest, since it was now our hearts that were more than broken. They were shattered. Our world turned upside down. It was devastation we had never known before.

The other part of our brain (husband) was surprisingly the strong one in this time. He was the one who grew the most attached to the nephew. He was home every day of the 4 weeks with our nephew. He was the one who was there when the birth-mother decided to take him. He was the one who wanted to stop her from taking him, but knew there was nothing within his power to stop it. He let the infant go to his birth-mother, knowing that although the baby was not going to be his son, it would still be our nephew. We would still watch him grow up into a young man. Somehow that made it better, and at the same time, much worse. How could we see the baby, the one we thought would be ours, grow up in front of our eyes, and not feel hurt? Not experience the same pain of him being taken from us all over again, every single time we would see him as he got older? Knowing what we went through to keep him, and still lost him? Even to this day, it brings tears to our eyes thinking about it. Our other part of our brain (husband) was the one who gave our sister (-in-law) the forgiveness first. Although she never asked for it, (or at least not at the time) he forgave her and asked God to help him to follow through with the forgiveness. It was the day after his sister (-in-law) made her decision to keep the baby. A lot of people couldn’t believe that he had forgiven her so quickly, so completely. But after he forgave her, he did just that. He kept in contact with her, on the phone, via text message, on one of those social networking websites, and in person, once or twice. His heartbreak was complete, and so was his forgiveness. It took a little bit longer (but not too much longer), for his BETTER half to give that same forgiveness, but once she was there, we knew we were ready to attempt adoption one more time. We knew what it was to go through the worst & we were stronger for it. But we also knew one more chance at adoption meant one more chance at breaking our hearts. We prayed.

About 2½ months went by before we were ready to journey forward with another attempt. This time it was not going to be a relative adoption. We contacted our social worker from Chrysalis House, Inc. and we went over the types of adoptions we could do. Less than a week later, we received a call about a newborn who was needing a home. By the time we contacted them back, another family had been chosen for the newborn. Another couple of days passed and we received information that a placement worker from another county had requested more information on us. Our complete documentation was sent to the placement worker by C.H.I. and we crossed our fingers. The next day our social worker contacted us and asked if we wanted to meet with the child. We, of course, said yes and scheduled an appointment for one week later. That was one of the longest weeks in the history of the world….or for us, anyway.

We were instructed to bring a car-seat, diaper bag, etc., just in case. We made the couple-of-hours journey to meet the child. Since almost none of this adoption journey had gone our way and we’d had only heartbreak, we decided to not get our hopes up… less they be dashed, once again. Of course, how could we not have a little hope? We arrived a few minutes early and met with our social worker. Walking in together, our anticipation grew. We first met with the placement worker who was the one who had originally requested our complete information. She was seemingly pleasant and walked us through the child’s detailed, but short, history. The child was only 1 day shy of 4 months old, yet he had already been through quite a rough time. He was born prematurely and drug exposed and had some residual and noticeable side-effects, that still presented themselves from time to time. We were accepting of his special needs and vowed to love him just the same. We found out that his birth-mother was killed in a violent, intentional way and that his biological father was unknown. Of course, we were scared that if the father was “unknown,” he could eventually come and claim him before the adoption was finalized. The birth-mother’s family could also file the intent-to-adopt paperwork, and potentially receive custody after placement. So many what-ifs were in the way… and yet we still hadn’t even met the baby.

A few more minutes went by and a couple walk in with HIM. We were presented with the baby and our two halves became just two thirds. We knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that this very handsome little angel staring right at us, with a beady little grin on his large, round, perfect face, was God’s gift to us. For even though we had our doubts, God did not.

From what we had heard, we would likely have to meet with the child approximately 3 times before we would be able to take him home to live with us. We were expecting that and it came as a shock, even though we knew it was a possibility, when the foster parents who brought him in to us said goodbyes to him and left the room.

We have stayed friends with this family throughout the adoption and they’ve told us that when they dropped him off that day, they knew by how we looked at him and him at us, that we were meant for each other. Both of our families accepted him wholeheartedly, as if he was ours, biologically. He does, after all, look 100% like his new mommy and acts 100% like his new daddy. Many times, people have gone so far to say that even though he looks like mommy, he has his daddy’s genes.

Now, I could say the story ends there, but as with all adoptions, the story is still in the beginning. This was one of the longest 6 months we’d have to endure. Early into the placement, the birth-mother’s parents had filed paperwork stating their intention of adopting him. Our hearts sank and we ALMOST wanted to sever the bond that had formed. But the bond was, of course, too strong and it wasn’t his fault anyway. We couldn’t have broken it if we wanted it. We were completely his. The next few weeks went by and we were told that his grandparents had withdrew their petition. Wow. We don’t know why they did it, but they did. The bond was too strong to let him go, but we had prayed that if the day came where we would, that He would give us the strength, because at that time, we could not see being able to. Our love of this child, our son, was too strong.

Several more months went by, and the 6 month mark came along, and we waved to it as it went by. We were dreary of the waiting and filled with anticipation of the finalization hearing in front of the judge. What if the judge says no? What if the father found out and filed before he was legally, and permanently, ours? What if…? What if…? Once again…We had our doubts, again. Of course we trusted in God, for He knows His plan. But we aren’t God and don’t “know” with complete certainty what His plan had in store for us. We felt that our son was ours forever, and we did put our trust in Him. Even with our trust in God’s hands, we still had the recent pain of loss from the year before, and it tore at us.

The hearing day came, and the “husband” ended up being ill. He got up several times during the night to hug the porcelain throne. We originally thought it was from him being nervous or just stress, but it ended up being a bug that several others in our families had been sharing. We still packed what was required and made the couple-of-hours journey, once again, to the same area that we first met our son, even passing by the same building. We were scheduled to be there at 1 PM and arrived a few minutes early. Several families, both large and small, went in before us to see the judge. Most came out crying with sadness, or fear, and only one (or maybe two) with tears of joy. This scared us, of course. We didn’t know their situations and we could only make up the reasons why they were crying. Were they here for the same reasons we were, but for a different child? Were any of them here for the SAME child? We were getting scared. Once our name was called, you know, an eternity later, we entered into the courtroom with all of our families in tow. We had several members from both sides of our families in our entourage. We also had our son’s county social workers and our social worker from Chrysalis House, Inc. with us.

The judge very pleasantly made the session very short and sweet. She said she didn’t get to do this very often and didn’t see a reason to not to grant the adoption. She officially supported the adoption. We thought from then on that our son, this blessed little angel, was ours. Boy were we WRONG!

It’s been a little over a month since the finalization hearing. We have found in that short period of time that he is not ours. Not by a long shot. We are HIS!

We didn’t know what God’s plan had in store for us or we would have let Him lead us much sooner. But of course, even that wasn’t part of God’s plan. God made us ready when He knew our son would need us. The previous foster parents were great, showed him the love we couldn’t show him yet due to our loss, and when all of us were ready, God brought our families together and introduced our son to us at the perfect time in all of our lives.

When our first adoption failed, we realized we needed time with just the two of us in order to heal. To allow us to get to a place that we would and could risk another adoption. We had to realize that they were NOT there for us, but we were there for them. We had to be wholeheartedly into it for them. There would be pain, but with God, we could endure. We learned how to trust Him. We thought we knew how, before our first attempt. We were ignorant.

We found that not only did we need time to heal from our loss before being able to open up and accept a new child, but the foster family, that had him from birth, was being healed through the first four months of his life from a loss of their own.

Something to add about God’s great plan, we have come to realize that we would not have even started the adoption journey without the husband’s sister providing us with the push we needed in order to get our foster care licensing done which made us eligible to adopt. Yes, we went through some of the most terrible pain we had ever imagined, but we made it through. Without that pain, we would not have been in the place where we could legally adopt our son. His placement worker would not have seen our information, and he would not have been placed with us. We would have never had known him.

In our journey, God used Chrysalis House, Inc. to help us through the process and to help us maintain our sanity. We cannot thank everyone enough who was involved with the adoption, especially God! We learned it was Not Our Plan that was the best, but God’s Plan. Within this plan, every “i” was dotted and every “t” crossed. It is perfect and complete.

On waiting for the right match: A Fost/Adoption Story

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November is National Adoption Awareness Month. In the spirit of bringing awareness to adoption, our agency mission and the successes of families we serve — we hope to fill our blog with guest stories throughout this month. Chrysalis House, Inc. believes in the power of sharing experiences and in learning from the stories of others. We present this series, realizing the words might be the insight that an adoptive family, adoptee or birthparent is searching the internet for! Our sincerest thanks to the families who have put their lives into words.

We are still seeking & accepting submissions through the month of November! Please send your submissions to stacy@chrysalishouse.com. Below, please enjoy the story of a family’s: Fost/Adoption.

In the event you wish to discuss our Fost/Adopt program, please contact the office at 559.229.9862.

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In 2011, after several miscarriages and having participated in two Ukranian orphan hosting programs, my husband and I decided that we were ready to enter the noble world of adoption. At the time, we had 3 biological children ages 11, 9 and 5.

We chose Chrysalis House as our fost/adopt agency and began our home study process. What an exciting time of anticipation this was for our family! We complied with all of the foster regulations of having first-aid kits and extinguishers on-site, completed our class hours, chose our parameters (for us it was a Caucasian or Hispanic male, 5 or under), and poured over all of the books about adoption that would make us an instant success in parenting a hurt child (I fail to mention that I skipped a few lines in these books, because I was certain that our family was unique from all others and these wouldn’t pertain to us!) Additionally, I was just sure we would be placed within a few weeks of our home study completion….certainly the county social workers would see what a wonderful family we were!

Well, weeks turned to months as our social worker would send us bios every so often, which we would submit our home study on, and I would begin romanticizing about how each child might fit into our family. I believe this is a bit like “nesting,” for prospective adoptive mothers. I was beginning to get restless with all of the waiting. And then we received, “the call,” that we had been chosen for a young boy from a nearby county – who was being taken from a fost/adopt placement that was not working out. We couldn’t have been more thrilled. I remember the day we met him at the park. As he walked up the path with his social worker I remember quite clearly my heart dropping and thinking to myself ever so clearly, “This is not my child!” I played it off to nerves and we sat down and chatted with the social worker and the former foster parents as the kids played. According to the foster parents, the young boy had some anger issues (nothing we couldn’t fix with a little love! Yes, I’m being facetious) and the county social worker seemed eager to place (looking back I see this was a potential red flag). We headed home and for four long days I felt restless and uneasy about the placement. My husband assured me that everything would be fine. Besides, our biological kids liked him… How could I not go along with it? We decided to meet one more time at the park prior to the placement. It was during this second visit that the boy began verbalizing some startling threats…and he was only five. I called Chrysalis House upon returning home and let them know we couldn’t move forward with this match. In short, I came to realize that when county social workers say that a child has anger issues, they might not be referring to a child chucking the leftover bowl of Cheerios onto the floor. Not surprisingly, God used this experience to settle me down and to wait for Him to bring the right child to us.

Close to one year after we had begun the process, I was approached by our Children’s Ministry Director at our church. She asked where we were at with the fost/adoption and asked if we had considered the **** children, who were being brought by their foster grandma each Sunday. “Of course not,” I chuckled, “There’s five of them!” “Just pray about it,” she responded, with a big grin.

And so we did. And God placed it on our hearts that this was what He would have in store for us.

Monday morning I contacted our social worker at Chrysalis house and told her what I knew about the children who were ages 2 to 10 (which wasn’t much information – because foster care has strict rules about privacy). Megan searched the system to no avail. Two weeks passed and our social worker, Kara, called me excitedly, “We found them! They just came up in the system!”

County social workers can be very protective of “their kids,” and rightly so. Kara recognized this and tread lightly as we underwent submitting our home study, proving that we were capable of caring for this many children, and the like. We encountered many roadblocks, but were encouraged and supported by Chrysalis House the entire way (even if they thought we were nutty). The county required that we do a three-month transition time with the children. At the time I saw it as a “cruel & unusual punishment,” but it truly was a perfect plan for allowing the foster kids to get used to the idea of a new home and for us to recover after the long weekends.

It has been two years since the children’s placement in our home and one year since we finalized their adoption. Gone are the days of three therapy sessions a week, standoffs in the bathroom because someone wouldn’t brush their teeth, hours of sitting at the dinner table because another would not eat what was made, or a single child crying fifteen times every day and “stalking” me because they are sure I was going to leave them like everyone else had. (and admittedly, I came to realize that those issues I so arrogantly read about — DID actually pertain me!)

We are not the parents we used to be. We have had to learn to set boundaries and stand behind our words (yes still means yes, but no, no longer means maybe). We have chosen to homeschool the children and we have seen a tremendous improvement in behaviors. The children in our family have blended beautifully and get along quite well. Our adopted children continue to learn how to engage in healthy relationships, regulate their behaviors, work hard and make good personal choices.

We are immensely humbled that God would think that we were worthy of raising eight children. Some days we fail miserably as parents. I have seen sides of myself that I did not know existed prior to adoption: Embarrassing, immature, prideful, and angry sides. Thankfully there is refinement and grace for all of us. We now recognize our home as our missions field and each day we are doing the Lord’s work. And it is hard work. I never imagined I’d have to drive an institution type van, invite people into my dusty floored home, or tell my children to stop calling me Mom because I’d heard it too many times that day. But honestly, the blessings are immeasurable and we know that as long as we are in God’s will, he can make good of all things! (even my poor mommy moments). We wouldn’t change our journey for anything.

For those looking to move forward in adoption I highly recommend reaching out now and getting involved in a support group. City Without Orphans offers many additional resources in the valley, in addition to those classes offered through Chrysalis House. If you are in a marriage, analyze it honestly – is it solid? Marriages often crumble under the pressures of adoption. If you are a believer, guard your bible time. It will be taken from you. Seek respite and renewal. Having something to look forward to and then allowing yourself to be refreshed – is critical to proper parenting. Every adoption journey is unique and yours will be no different. Many blessings!

A Happy Family Built by Fost/Adoption

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November is National Adoption Awareness Month. In the spirit of bringing awareness to adoption, our agency mission and the successes of families we serve — we hope to fill our blog with guest stories throughout this month. Chrysalis House, Inc. believes in the power of sharing experiences and in learning from the stories of others. We present this series, realizing the words might be the insight that an adoptive family, adoptee or birthparent is searching the internet for! Our sincerest thanks to the families who have put their lives into words.

We are still seeking & accepting submissions through the month of November! Please send your submissions to stacy@chrysalishouse.com. Below, please enjoy the story of a family’s: Fost/Adoption.

In the event you wish to discuss our Fost/Adopt program, please contact the office at 559.229.9862. ****************************************************************

My husband and I took quite awhile to get through the home study process, about 2 years from start to finish because of having to work around my husband’s military deployments and having to start over and renew things …once or twice. Needless to say, we were very eager to finally get our little one (who we’d been wondering about and visualizing for all this time) once we finally did get our home study done.

We had been in the waiting/matching stage for about six months, looking at profiles and waiting to hear back with our fingers crossed, but none of them were meant to be with us. We had been feeling like we were so ready and wondering what the Universe was waiting for, but it turned out to be the perfect timing. We got an email via Ashley, from a social worker in Santa Cruz County who had seen our home study and was interested in us for a little 6 year old girl who needed to be re-homed from her current foster family, whom were relatives.  We were asked whether we wanted to submit for her and make a fairly quick decision.

We got very little information on her (first name, ethnicity, no health or developmental issues), but from what we saw we didn’t have any concerns with her, so we said we wanted to submit. We heard back from the social worker that there was one other family she was looking at, and that she wanted to meet with both of us in a few weeks. We had never gotten as far as being asked to attend a disclosure before, so we were hopeful that we had a good chance of being chosen for this girl, but tried not to get too excited as we waited for this meeting. (Although I do recall us saying to each other on the way there “Let’s go get us a kid!”).

We met with the social worker and her CASA worker and learned as much about this girl as they were able to tell us. L was 6, removed from her birth parents for neglect reasons, and had been in a couple of foster homes over the last two years. The current home was meant to be permanent, but just wasn’t working out. The social worker made it very clear that she didn’t want to move her again, so if we said yes, we had to be serious about it. She also shared that she had ruled out the other family we had heard she was considering, and that made us sit up and say “wait, does that mean that if we want her, we get her?” We were in a shocked state from that point -until it had finally happened!

From everything the social worker told us, she seemed perfect for us and there were no issues she told us about that made us have any doubts about her. She made us think it over for 24 hours before we gave a definite answer, but of course we said yes– she was everything we’d been hoping for! We didn’t tell anyone at that point, because we wanted to meet her first so we had more to tell our family. In one week a meeting was set for a meeting at a park.  We were so nervous and excited as we saw her climb out of her Aunt and Uncle’s car and we locked eyes for the first time.

She was so adorable and it was love at first sight! At that point she didn’t know that she was going to be leaving her current home or that we were going to be her parents, so we were introduced as friends of the social worker by our first names. She seemed to warm up to us though and she made us run all over the park with her – she had so much energy! With the foster parents we arranged to come a few days later to spend a little time with her alone (we worked on her homework with her and took her to Burger King for dinner after).  Our next step was to spend the weekend in their town with her, which was a 2 hour drive away from where we lived. We had a mid-week visit with her after that, then we brought her to our house for the weekend, then another mid-week visit before we got to bring her home for good.

It was about 3 weeks from the time we knew we were matched with her – until she came home with us, which were incredibly crazy and busy (between working, getting her room ready for her, and getting to know her)! We were so thrilled to finally bring her home with us for good in late October. Over the next few months we discovered what it was like to hit the ground running as brand new parents with a 6 year old, and discovering all the ways we needed to nurture her unique needs as a result of her past. It was definitely a learning process, and still is. We had the holidays together (We loved seeing the look on her face on Christmas morning and tried to establish family traditions as well as honoring some of her own from past Christmases she remembered).

There had been some question of whether we would be able to finalize the adoption at exactly 6 months as her birth parents were appealing their rights being terminated, but come April of the next year, the legal process for the appeal concluded and we were asked to come up and sign all the paperwork for finalization to be submitted in May. It was looking like there wasn’t going to be an open court date in May, but we got a last minute opening on May 30th.

On that day we all got dressed up and dragged some close friends and family along, and we had a touching, personal ceremony conducted by the judge who had been overseeing her case all along, and L became legally and forever part of our family! It was an amazing day and we took a picnic to the beach with everyone, after the ceremony.

We are all so thrilled and we love her with all of our hearts. We are a very happy family!