fbpx

National Adoption Month 2020

November is National Adoption Month

November is Adoption Awareness Month. You may be surprised to learn that although no more than 2% of Americans are adopted, over 1/3 of Americans have considered adopting a child. Whether you’ve thought about adopting a child, have been personally affected by adoption or are simply interested in the topic, November is the perfect time to learn more.

Common Misconceptions About Adoption

There are many misconceptions about what adoption is really like. Below, you’ll find a few common misunderstandings about the process.

Adopted children are not wanted by their birth parents.

The idea that when a parent places a child up for adoption they are giving up, or giving up on, their child is simply not true. Placing a child up for adoption is a show of unconditional love by the child’s birth parents. They want to provide a better life for their child than they are currently able to offer, and even though the decision is painful, they make the sacrifice to create a happy, healthy future for their child.

Adopted children shouldn’t be told they are adopted.

In an interview with CBS news, Adam Pertman, author of “American Adoption,” said, “My favorite story is of a social worker friend who was asked by a couple, whom she handed a brand-new baby, and they whispered to her, ‘When do we tell her she’s adopted?’ Why are they whispering in front of a five-day-old baby is another question. My friend says to them, ‘On the way out.’ And that is the right answer. We keep secrets of things we are ashamed of and embarrassed about. We should never be ashamed of our children or our families.”

In the 1970s, most parents didn’t tell their adopted child about their family history. However, some research has shown that after a certain age, finding this information can have an adverse impact on a person’s mental health. A study conducted in 2019 found those in the earliest age group of adoption discovery, birth to 2 years of age, reported both the least distress and the highest level of life satisfaction.

If you’re unsure of when or whether to tell your adopted child they are adopted, speaking with an adoption counselor can help. Contact One Hope United for more information.

Infants are the largest group of children waiting to be adopted.

The average age of a child waiting to be adopted is 7.7 years old, and 29% of them will spend at least three years in foster care. In certain states, including Illinois, adoptive parents must first become licensed as foster care parents, and foster a child for at least 6 months before adopting them. While there are many infants in need of loving homes, older children in foster care are in the same position.

When parents adopt a youth in care through a One Hope United program, they work closely with a Case Manager to ensure all needs of the child in care are met prior to adoption completion. Parents who adopt through an OHU program report finding fulfillment from growing their families and providing unconditional love, safety and security. A parent who adopted through a One Hope United program in our Florida region shared this quote:

“We met our son at a One Hope United teen match event, and there was an almost instant bond. We decided to adopt him. Not every day was easy at first, but we were able to build a loving home based on mutual respect and empathy. Now, he’s getting ready for his senior year at the University of Miami. We’re so proud of all he has accomplished.”

Benefits of Adoption

“I would say being an adoptive father has made me a more empathetic and thoughtful person. I raised a beautiful young woman, and as a result, I am a more insightful, understanding, and well-rounded.” – Jim Webster, Data Analyst, One Hope United

Adoption benefits families just as much as adopted children. Adoption allows thousands of loving couples to become parents each year. And children who gain a sibling through adoption add a loving family member to grow and learn with throughout their lives.

And, of course, children who are adopted benefit from finding their forever home. Dittrich also shared, “Most children that find their forever home blossom into thriving young adults and can demonstrate that love to their children, thus creating a beautiful cycle of acceptance, understanding and love.” In fact, a report titled Adoption USA found that 85 percent of children who are adopted are in excellent or very good health, and that adopted children were less likely to live in households below the poverty threshold.

How to Celebrate National Adoption Month

Re-telling your child’s adoption story to them and reflecting on favorite family memories are two great ways to celebrate National Adoption Month. You can also spread awareness through social media, find community events in your area, and educate friends and family members about adoption. If you are interested in adopting, contact One Hope United. You can also learn more about adopting through a One Hope United program here.

NATIONAL ADOPTION MONTH SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLKIT

Pathfinders Helps Preschooler Heal From Exposure To Domestic Abuse

Innovative therapeutic program helps preschool children cope with difficult emotions and lead more positive lives.

When Lucy*, 5, first arrived at One Hope United’s Elgin Child & Family Resource Center, she was extremely sensitive to loud noises, covering her ears and experiencing severe anxiety whenever another child would cry out—which, at a child care center, can be often. When she was frustrated or experienced even the slightest discipline, “she would scream at the top of her lungs, as if she were afraid for her life,” pounding on the wall and stomping her feet, her mother, Krista*, explains. “I knew right away I needed help.”

Lucy’s behavior was related to traumas she had experienced as a very young child. She witnessed physical abuse by her biological father toward her mother, and while he never physically harmed Lucy, when she would have tantrums as a 2- and 3-year-old, hewould rush toward her with raised fists in an attempt to make herto stop. “She went through a lot,” Krista says.

While those traumas were fortunately in the past, their effects were disrupting Lucy’s education and potentially that of her classmates. In addition, adverse childhood experiences can have long-term effects on children’s health, behavior, and life potential. It’s for children like Lucy that One Hope United began Pathfinders, a unique program that combines aspects of our family counseling programs with our early childhood education centers to help children cope with negative emotions and adopt healthier behaviors.

Pathfinders therapist Tara Cassidy says the program is a collaboration with the child, their family, and their teacher.

Sometimes it’s the teacher who notices an issue and alerts Tara, who will then engage the child’s family to offer support, which is covered through private insurance or Medicaid. She will observe and engage with the child in the classroom, with their family, and in individual sessions, and craft a treatment plan that often involves the family due to the child’s young age. The evidence-based treatment is called Attachment, Self-Regulation, and Competency.

One boy who was predisposed to depression learned deep breathing and created a book of coping skills. “On one page he put all the things that he liked to do, so if he was feeling down, he could just go in his book and see, ‘I could go ride my bike,I could go take a walk,’ things that would help him get out of a low mood,” Tara says.

Another child who struggled with tantrums learned to express her emotions and tell her loved ones why she was upset. Her coping skills included coloring and walking the dog—a therapy dog that was part of her treatment. Tara also taught her family to recognize when the girl needed help and step in with an activity. “Because they’re so young, sometimes they don’t just say, ‘I need to go use a coping skill,’” she says.

It’s important to make the sessions and treatment fun so the kids will want to continue. “They may think we’re just playing, but we’re really doing therapy,” Tara says. “If they don’t have fun, they won’t want to be there, and they won’t learn as much. People learn better when they’re enjoying it.”

Krista says that Lucy is “a completely different little girl” as a result of Pathfinders. Through the program, Lucy has increased her self-esteem, developed confidence, grown more talkative,made more friends, and no longer covers her ears at loud noises. “I can’t say enough how amazing the program has been for my daughter. It changed her life and gave her the chance for a much better life altogether.”

Pathfinders is also offered One Hope United’s Aurora Early Learning Center and Joliet Early Learning Center, and could expand to more, which Tara would be happy to see. “This is the first program I’ve been in where the kids are so little, and it’s great,” she says. “The earlier you help them, the better off they’ll be.”

*Name has been changed.

Florida Case Manager Named Reunification Hero!

Victor Sims, Case Manager Lead in Florida, was recognized as a Reunification Hero by the American Bar Association Children and Law.

Sims was nominated by one of his clients who gave him credit with her reunification with her children. She recalled how “he brought my kids home when no one knew a way to make it happen” and said that “he has continually been a champion for change.”

His experience in the child welfare system began while spending the first 11 years of his life in foster care. Fortunately, Sims was adopted into a loving family and his experience in foster care is what motivated him to pursue a career as a case manager at One Hope United in Florida. While reunification was not possible for him and his parents, today Sims makes reunification his priority with every family that he serves.

He prioritizes strengthening  families’ so children can return home safely as soon as possible. Sims strives to understand the root causes of the parents’ problems so that they overcome their barriers to success. He does an excellent job of using innovative techniques that will help families continually succeed after their case has ended.

Read Full Article Here on America Bar Association

Discover more #NationalReunificationMonth stories on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram