The Adoption Exchange is Changing the Future for Children in Foster Care

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At The Adoption Exchange, we believe that finding a loving, supportive, and permanent adoptive family for a vulnerable at-risk child is one of the most important and urgent needs in our community right now. Every child should have a family.

At The Adoption Exchange, we know that through intensive, child-focused recruitment and evidence-informed family support services, we can break the cycle of abuse and neglect and change a child from a statistic to a success story.

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JB’s Story

There are a few mantras The Adoption Exchange recites often. Two of those sayings – “unadoptable is unacceptable” and “no child is too old for a family” – are exemplified through JB’s story.

JB entered the Utah foster care system at age nine and was initially placed together with his older brother. Unfortunately, the first placement decided not to adopt the boys and they were eventually separated. This meant another move and another loss for JB. He continued enduring hardship as he experienced many more moves and a total of eight different placements. JB lived in homes with multiple families who stated they would adopt him, but never followed through.    Continue reading

End the Wait

By Janine Castillo, Intensive Recruiter

Two years ago, I showed a 12-year-old girl in foster care, Tiana, a picture of her biological father and asked her what questions she had about her birth family.  She responded, “What color are my mom’s eyes?”  In that moment, I didn’t have an answer and neither did anyone on her team of professionals, who are responsible for ensuring her care, safety, and services in foster care.

When she asked that question, the culmination of our two years together hit me.  Her experience without safe and healthy parents is directly linked to her daily interactions.  The reason why she soaks up one-on-one time with adults or falls asleep like a baby when a caregiver sings to her is because of her desire for nurturing and affection.  Developmental milestones were denied to her at a young age, as she entered the foster care system at three years old and grew up in treatment centers not experiencing a “typical” family structure.  How could she talk about a future with a new family when she remembers so little of her own story?

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Guest Blog Post: One Adoptive Family’s Story

By Katie, adoptive parent

“Five minutes and then we are leaving.”

“Okay, mom!”

It seems like a typical conversation between parent and child, but to our family, those words reflect so much more.  We are a family formed both through birth and adoption.  In 2005, we had two biological children and adopted a little baby boy from Ethiopia.  Over the next four years, we added one more son through birth and three more sons and a daughter from Ethiopia.  In 2013, we decided to pursue an adoption through foster care.

We were quickly matched with a three-year-old boy and his two-year-old sister.  Within three months of learning about them, they were in our home, and then the true work of becoming a family began.  Our newest additions were traumatized by their difficult pasts and scared of their future with the group of strangers that were to be their family.  As we navigated through the tangible things like doctor’s appointments, school meetings, and food preferences, we also focused on the intangible; safety, comfort, and love. Continue reading

Guest Blog Post: Addressing Difficult Behaviors

By Denise Rice, LCSW, ACSW, LAC

What are Behaviors?
All behavior meets a need and has a function. Let me say that again, there is a function and a purpose to every behavior! A behavior is an external expression (communication) of our internal emotions. Sometimes, we as adults forget that how we behave is our way of communicating how we feel, just as it is for our kids. It is how we often communicate our emotions, positive or negative. When children experience trauma, their most pressing need is survival. Many behaviors we would label as “bad,” “maladaptive,” or “inappropriate” were necessary at one point for the child’s survival; and let’s be honest, our children and teens are master survivors.

We need to reframe our thinking about behavior. Especially when it comes to understanding trauma. If you want to really practice a trauma sensitive or trauma responsive type of parenting it is critical that you see the behavior of your child or teen through a trauma informed lens. Rather than seeing the behavior as negative and hostile, we need to see it as a highly functional survival skill that kept our kids alive in their previous environments and now that behavior isn’t working as well in the current situation. What parents and caregivers are tasked with is how to decipher the message underneath the child’s behavior. What is your child telling you they need through their behavior?

If hiding, stealing, or stashing food away was the only way your child ate when their parent went on a drug or alcohol bender, that behavior has become a survival skill. However, if the same child is hiding, stealing, and hoarding food under their bed and in their closet in your home that same survival skill is now described as “inappropriate” or “disruptive.” This behavior is getting in the way of this child being successful in a different situation or connecting with you because it drives you crazy and is considered “disrespectful;” but, these behaviors that kept your kids alive before, will not simply disappear after a few days, weeks, or sometimes months or years after being placed in your home.

Keep reminding yourself that often the behavior isn’t about you. It may feel like the behavior is aimed at you, but remember that the child is behaving the only way they know how, and when our brains are stressed, we regress. We regress to previous behaviors that may have disappeared for some time. I know that it is extremely difficult to not take some of the behaviors personally. Especially if you are not taking care of yourself and your own stress is impacting the healing relationship with your child. Continue reading

HRC Honors The Adoption Exchange as a Leader in Supporting and Serving LGBTQ Families

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The Adoption Exchange is honored to have received the All Children – All Families Seal of Recognition from the Human Rights Campaign. We are proud to be recognized for our commitment to support and serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) children, youth, and families. This organization-wide policy applies to The Adoption Exchange’s work across the U.S. including our seven member states: Colorado, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Continue reading

A Whirlwind of Change and Possibilities: Embracing the Adoption Journey

By Ben Lusz, Director of Events and Volunteers

The world is your oyster, enjoy the possibilities.

Matt and I were in our late 20s and invited to a wedding. It gave Matt an opportunity to meet my childhood friends, and for me to catch up on their travels and see who was building a family. The nuptials happened, and everyone moved onto the important part…the reception. During this reception, instead of joining our friends on the dance floor doing the chicken dance, we found ourselves hanging out with their children. Then that moment happened when Matt I looked at each other and decided our life of freedom and no children may not be our long-term plan…parenthood was on the way; we were expecting.

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