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?
By Katie, adoptive parent
“Five minutes and then we are leaving.”
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
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
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
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.
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
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.