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

lgbtq facebook banner with logo on top

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.

Continue reading

Learning About Diligent Recruitment and the NRCDR During National Foster Care Month

By Britton Slagle, Grant and Staff Writer

What is diligent recruitment, and who is the NRCDR?

Diligent recruitment is a comprehensive, multi-faceted systematic approach to recruiting, developing, supporting, and retaining a pool of resource families who can meet the needs of children and youth in foster care.  The implementation of comprehensive diligent recruitment programs can improve placement stability and permanency outcomes for children.

The National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment (NRCDR) works to assist States, Tribes, and Territories in developing and implementing data-informed diligent recruitment programs in order to achieve improved outcomes. They provide free technical assistance, resources, and other support to help child welfare systems recruit, develop, and support foster, adoptive, and kinship families.  NRCDR supports States, Tribes, and Territories with:

  • Developing and implementing comprehensive, data-driven recruitment plans
  • Improving retention of foster, adoptive, and kinship families
  • Learning about effective recruitment, development, and support strategies
  • Partnering with community stakeholders and private provider agencies to strengthen recruitment and retention efforts

What is the connection between NRCDR and The Adoption Exchange? Continue reading

The 5 Essential Traits of GREAT Volunteers

By Jen Padgett, Events & Volunteer Coordinator

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a great volunteer?

I have been volunteering off and on with different organizations for almost twenty years, and I’ve never once wondered if I was a great volunteer. It was not until I became a Volunteer Coordinator that I began to see the difference between good volunteers and great volunteers.

Perhaps you are like me and you just assumed that all volunteers who show up are great volunteers!

Over the last ten months of working with the volunteers at The Adoption Exchange, there are five traits that stand out among our great volunteers.

Continue reading

Guest Blog Post: Angel’s Story

By Angel, Age 14

Angel 2017

Hi, my name is Angel; I’m 14, and I was adopted. Throughout my childhood, I was beaten, forced to take cold showers, and mistreated. Then I was in different foster homes for almost six years, and I just felt unwelcomed. I wasn’t happy during holidays or even my birthday, and I felt like I didn’t get a lot of love. The only people who cared about me were my caseworkers Jeanna and Chelsea. In school I wasn’t very popular and was bullied because of my looks; but I said to myself, “It’s just one bully, okay, brush it off.” Then it just got worse and worse. By age ten I was bullied a lot by people calling me ugly, fat, four-eyes, etc.

Then one day Jeanna and Chelsea came to my foster house and said, “Angel, there’s a family who wants to adopt you.” I felt so happy that I cried. It was amazing that some family out there wanted to adopt me. I thought I was never going to be adopted, but my prayers came true, and I was going to have a forever home! A home where a family inside waited for my arrival. A family that is waiting to see me and say, “Yep, she’s the one!”

Listen up people; if you think there is no hope for you in the future, you’re wrong. There is hope. Just believe me. Believe in yourself. Don’t worry about the future or the past, think about the present and be the best person you can be. There is a family waiting for you. Now let me tell you what a family is – a family is when you are loved, cared for, and adored. Families spend time together and so much more.

Adoption. It’s a strong word that has a deep meaning for me. Adoption is when you give a child in foster care a new chance at life, a new chance to be who they want to be, a chance to someday inspire other people. Everybody has a story. It might be a good or bad one, you never know. Don’t ever judge a book by its cover because you don’t know a person’s story or history. I was twelve when I was adopted by a wonderful family. My family is awesome – I now have four older brothers and a biological sister who was adopted by another family. We still keep in touch, and I love her very much. So give these kids a chance. You might be surprised at what a difference you make in their lives and yours!