Adopting a child is a fantastic reason to celebrate. It’s the culmination of an often difficult journey – one fraught with uncertainty, insecurity and frustration for parent and child alike. And while adoption signifies the end of that journey, it also signifies the beginning of another, where coming to terms with a difficult past can be just as difficult as the past itself. Thanks to post-adoption services, you and your adopted child won’t have to go it alone.
Many of the challenges associated with fostering can linger long after you’ve adopted. Adopted children all across the nation can grapple with trust issues, attachment, identity formation, getting used to new family dynamics and maintaining birth family connections. Difficulties that result from earlier experiences may be fresh in their minds as well – effects of early childhood trauma and developmental delays, to name a few. Those looking to better understand common post-adoption problems can get help on this federal website. Continue reading
Kinship care is more widespread now than ever, but the challenges facing kinship families are just as varied as they always were. With the rise in the number of extended family members caring for their relatives and close friends comes an increase in the amount of services needed to help these families succeed. It’s never easy helping a child overcome a history of abuse or neglect, but thanks to the new national focus on kinship care, no kinship family has to do it alone.
The focus on kinship care is the result of the Fostering Connections Act of 2011, which stressed the importance of maintaining family connections for children who’d endured abuse or neglect. Since its passage, thousands of American families who’d never asked to be involved in relative care found themselves on the receiving end of phone calls from Child Protective Services. Continue reading
Social media is just about everywhere. It’s in most ads, the products you buy, your TV screen, your computer – it’s even in your pocket. For those looking to link up with friends, relatives and peers, this is fantastic news. Connections are made easier than ever and long distance bonds aren’t as fragile as they were in the past. But for foster parents, who are first and foremost in charge of protecting their children from harm and providing for their basic needs, social media can present a difficult challenge.
On the one hand we can see that anonymity protects foster children from harm and that social media compromises anonymity. On the other, we understand that socializing is a basic need and that social media has become an integral part of how children and teens socialize. So how’s a foster parent to walk this fine line? With delicate, well-informed steps and with the child’s safety always in mind.
Foster Teens and Social Media: What Are the Upsides?
Socializing is indeed a basic need, and social media is a powerful tool that addresses this need. It can help a foster youth maintain connections to the friends and role models she makes as she moves through placements or returns to her biological parents’ care. It can lessen the pain of separation from siblings who may have been placed elsewhere.
Foster children and the parents who support them are our neighbors and friends. It’s interesting, then, that some of us think of foster children as delinquents and foster parents as people who care less about children and more about the check that comes with them every month. Many of us also mistakenly feel that the state agencies that pair vulnerable children with their forever families are, for one reason or another, not as reliable as private domestic adoption agencies. If you’re considering adoption, it’s important to put these and other misconceptions behind you so you can make an informed decision that meets the needs of your family and your community.
According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System (AFCARS), there are more than 100,000 foster children across the US who are currently waiting to be adopted. More than 1,000 of those children are waiting to be adopted right here in New Jersey. Each one has a face, a name and a history of abuse and neglect. Each one deserves a chance at a promising future and a welcoming home just like any other child. Foster care adoption is often their best chance.
Adoption from Foster Care and Private Domestic Adoption: Why Don’t More People Adopt From Foster Care?
Regrettably, many of these children’s stories go untold, and many of the stories that are told go unheard. These children’s lack of exposure to the public eye leaves about 60 percent of people underestimating the number of foster children awaiting adoption and another 50 percent assuming incorrectly that these children landed in foster care because of delinquency. These misconceptions correlate with another set of numbers: in 2013, 92,000 of the more than 400,000 children in foster care had case plans that aimed at adoption. Yet only about 50,000 of those children exited foster care after being adopted.
A bonding assessment is a study that determines how a foster child has bonded with his foster or birth parents. It hinges upon a central question: if the child was removed from the current placement situation, would his overall well being be improved, hindered or unlikely to change at all?
The answer to this question is determined by a child psychologist. During the bonding assessment, she studies the child’s behavior as well as his interaction with the foster or biological parent and other members of the household. While the psychologist may also interview members of the family together or in subgroups, she is most interested in the child’s behavior.
Each child psychologist may handle a bonding assessment differently, but there are many key components of a child-parent relationship that most evaluators across the nation tend to look for. These include but are not limited to:
- The frequency and nature of touching between a parent and child
- Comfort and guidance seeking behavior by the child
- The parent’s ability to respond effectively to the child’s needs
- Whether the child seems upset if separation occurs during the session
While most of her peers were worrying about earning a place on the soccer team, making new friends and passing the next algebra test, Kristine Gunningham was facing far bigger obstacles.
First, her parents separated. It was difficult for Kristine to come to terms with the idea that her mother and father might never be together again. But what happened next was still more traumatizing.
“Shortly after my parents separated my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer.” Kristine said.
Nothing could be more devastating for a 14-year-old girl. Continue reading