Permanency Tip of the Week: Abnormal Behavior ~ Normal Reaction to an Abnormal Reality
How often do we observe the response of one of our Youth and think “Why in the world is he/she responding in that manner?” Whenever we have that reaction, it is important for us to pause and explore the world from the perspective of our Youth and think of how this response might be connected to a trauma trigger. When we view the world through a trauma-informed lens, we are more likely to: 1) Respond with care and compassion (as opposed to anger and resentment); 2) Respond in a trauma informed manner, which is likely to be more effective and better received by our Youth; 4) Help our Youth to make more sense of their world and their reactions it; and, 5) Strengthen our relationship with our Youth. Let’s all try to pause more often and view our world, and that of our Youth, through a trauma-informed lens.
Permanency Success Story of the Week: LOVE HAS NO BOUNDARIES
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption – Kathryn Connors and her husband, John Amy, of Ontario, have adopted three children from foster care: Serenity, Malakai (Kai) and Abigail. Serenity and Kai, who are biological siblings, were adopted through the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program. Kathryn works for Adopt4Life, which seeks to build a community of support for adoptive parents to help children reach their full potential.
Adoption has opened our lives to welcome many amazing experiences. We have learned so much about life, love and family. After dealing with years of infertility and loss, my husband, John, and I planned to pursue adoption of a healthy newborn or toddler. Little did we know that the world had a different plan for us. We attended our first Adoption Resource Exchange in Ontario soon after we were approved to be adoptive parents. That’s where a cute, little blonde-haired girl named Serenity caught our eye. Her profile indicated that she had significant and complex support needs. Words such as “unknown,” “deaf/blind,” “non-verbal” and “wheelchair” sparked fear in John and me.
We spoke with Serenity’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids adoption recruiter, Darcy Thachuk, who helped us get a better sense of her strengths and needs. We realized that despite her challenges, Serenity just needed a family who would love and care for her. Soon after, we discovered that Serenity had a little brother, Kai, who was also looking for a forever family. We knew that these children were meant to be together. The sibling bond that Serenity and Kai have is indescribable. He takes his role as a brother very seriously and ensures that she is included in all that we do.
Meeting our children for the first time is a moment that will be etched in our brains for the rest of our lives. Serenity was no longer a stranger in a photo. She became our loving, spunky little girl. Our life was filled with a lot of questions when we adopted. Would our daughter talk or walk? Serenity can not only walk, but she recently completed a 7K run with the support of her dad. She can use sign language, pictures and gestures to communicate. She recognizes people around her, loves swimming and anything Disney. Through her gains, her unwavering determination, and her resiliency, Serenity is a constant source of inspiration and strength.
Permanency Related Articles:
Faribault.com (Minnesota) – In 2015, the Minnesota Legislature passed laws to strengthen the state’s foster care system, emphasizing intervention and prevention efforts that might allow children from troubled homes to keep living with their parents. Similarly, early last year, President Donald Trump signed a federal law that also emphasizes the prevention of family separation through mental health care, parenting programs and substance abuse treatment for parents. Public officials who work in foster care say it’s the right path to take – though one that many are still trying to navigate.
“We have gotten the message that the answer (to fewer foster care cases) is prevention,” said Nikki Farago, the assistant commissioner of Children and Family Services at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. “But once a child is placed into foster care, that is a deep-end system. When there is lots of trauma, reunification (of child and parents) is not a simple endeavor.” The movement to reduce out-of-home placements, or limit the time children live in foster homes, has been complicated in many parts of Minnesota by another issue that is sending more children into the system: an epidemic of opioid and methamphetamine abuse.
AdoptUSKids – Thursday, October 10, 2:00–3:30 p.m.(EST). Join us for this year’s National Adoption Month webinar, a collaboration of AdoptUSKids and Child Welfare Information Gateway, on behalf of the Children’s Bureau. This year, the National Adoption Month initiative will focus on the thousands of teenagers and young adults in foster care who still need a loving, permanent family and a place to call home. The theme for the 2019 initiative is Youth Voices: Why Family Matters.
The webinar will: 1) Highlight the importance of permanency for older youth; 2) Share information from Children’s Bureau grantees that can help professionals engage effectively with youth on planning for adoption; 3) Let participants hear insights from youth and young adults about the importance of engaging with youth, listening to youth voices, and exploring why family matters to them; 4) Provide information about resources and materials that can support your efforts in achieving adoption for older youth.
Boys Town – Cherish Nunnally was born addicted to heroin. The state of California took her from her parents shortly after her birth and she spent 19 years in the foster care system. After an attempt at reunification with her mother when she was 16, Cherish was placed in a Boys Town emergency group home in Los Angeles. Cherish says the time she spent in that Boys Town home changed her life. And, it inspired her to find that music could help her find her “Safe Place…”
I use my voice to bring awareness to foster care and at-risk teens. “Safe Place” is a song I’ve dedicated to all advocates of the foster care system. It is about creating a safe place and environment for kids to be loved and feel safe in a judgment-free zone. Giving kids a place to heal and accept love and give it in return without conditions. I hope to inspire more to speak up and share their truth. Shared stories save lives. I want all kids to know they are never alone.
Abbie Goldberg – Whereas adoption was once a private affair cloaked in secrecy and sealed records, adoptions in the US today are increasingly open – that is, birth and adoptive families meet and become acquainted before the adoption and remain in contact once it is complete. Experts agree that open adoption comes with many benefits for both birth families and adoptive families and their children, but what does it actually look like for families experiencing it, and what can we learn from those experiences?
Open Adoption and Diverse Families reveals the strengths, vulnerabilities, daily struggles and triumphs of adoptive families today. Drawing on extensive interviews with lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parents, many of whom adopted transracially, psychologist Abbie Goldberg confronts the extraordinary questions that open adoption poses: How do adoptive parents feel about openness when they first learn about it, and why do their feelings change over time? How does contact unfold and evolve as a child grows? What types of boundary challenges arise between adoptive and birth family members, particularly in the age of social media and networking? How do adoptive parents talk about adoption with their children, and how does this vary depending on level and type of contact with birth families? Confronting head-on difficult subjects such as birth parents’ mental illness and racial differences between birth and adoptive families, Open Adoption and Diverse Families chronicles the decisions and dynamics that adoptive parents sign up for when they pursue option adoption, and is a must-read for all families pursuing or experiencing this exceptional approach to building a family.
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) – When Carlos first came to live with us he was about 16. A friend of my son’s, he had a long history of family and housing instability and had been recently kicked out by his mom. As his informal host, I thought I did everything “right.” We already had a strong relationship; I met with his mom, laid out house rules and talked about his plans for the future. What I didn’t take into account was the influence of all the systemic factors he battled on a daily basis. As a black woman, I understood the impact of racism, poverty and the other oppressions Carlos had to navigate. Understanding alone doesn’t prevent us from experiencing harm…
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Dr. Greg Manning