National Foster Care Month is in full bloom, and at Heart of Adoptions we love every adoption story. Each foster-to-adopt journey is as unique as the families who make the decision to venture down this path. As a Florida adoption agency, we get asked many questions about our foster-to-adopt program, Hearts to Home. This program is designed to give children ages 3 and older a chance at a loving forever home. Sometimes we have prospective parents that call us and are hesitant about the process because of the many myths that are commonly believed as truths.
Myth One: Adoption from Foster Care is expensive.
This is simply not true. Adopting from foster care is typically less expensive than domestic infant adoption. There is also an abundance of resources and grants available to families looking to adopt from the child welfare system, especially for those interested in adopting children with special needs.
Myth Two: I’m a single man or woman, and I won’t be able to adopt on my own.
Love comes in all forms. Whether you’re single person, an LBGTQIA couple, an older couple, an ethnically diverse couple, a family with children of their own, etc you are able to adopt from foster care. These children are searching for loving homes and there is no secret formula or ‘look’ for the perfect family. All families are unique and beautiful, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Myth Three: If I adopt from foster care, I’m afraid the child’s birth parents will take them back.
This is simply not true. There are children in the foster care system who are available for adoption. In many of these cases, the birth parents or a judge has terminated the parental rights, allowing the child to become available for adoption. Once you sign the adoption papers, that child is your family forever.
Myth Four: I don’t know anyone who has been through the foster to adopt process. I won’t have any support or friends who understand.
With our Hearts to Home program, you are never alone. Our caseworkers are here for you every step of the way. There are many support groups and organizations that they can get you in touch with for help and resources. There is also required training where you can meet other potential adoptive parents
Myth Five: I don’t have any training for managing older children. I won’t know what to do if I foster to adopt.
Before you can adopt from foster care, each intended parent is required to go through training. Our trauma-linked Caregiving Course is a 6-week long program that helps each prospective adoptive parent understand and learn about the child welfare system and some of the challenges and struggles the children are facing in the system. These classes give you resources and tools to use as a parent and help you understand different ways children might cope with their hardships.
We hope we have dispelled some common myths about fostering to adopt. Those who have adopted from foster care describe what a fulfilling and love-filled experience it has been in their lives. We urge you to research every prospective foster to adopt program thoroughly so that you are prepared and can make an informed decision.
What is the vision for the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act?
Our vision is a world in which every child has the love and security of a permanent family.
What does this legislation do?
This legislation will make the current adoption tax credit fully refundable to help make adoption a supported option for more families! This legislation will make the current adoption tax credit fully refundable, removing income barriers to adoption for low and middle-income families, which represent the majority of families who adopt from the foster care system. Every year, more than 20,000 youth age out of the foster care system. We believe this bill can help to change that, bringing more vulnerable children and youth into permanent, loving families.
Who supports this legislation?
Thank you, Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), and Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) for sponsoring H.R. 3031 to reintroduce the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act.
“Here is what you and your organization can do to turn this bill into a reality for children and families:
Encourage your lawmakers to support the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2021. Find your Member of Congress by clicking here.
Spread the word and share the press release however you can (social media, newsletters, etc.). Encourage every to contact their members of Congress today to ask them to cosponsor the bill. Check out the ATCWG social media posts here and here.
Tweet your own messages and retweet the ones we will be providing (@AdoptTaxCredit). Tag your Members of Congress.
The purpose of National Infertility Awareness Week is to shed light on the subject. It’s allowing real people to have open, honest, and informed discussions regarding infertility.
Why is this important?
Speaking out about your own experiences is widely known to have many benefits. Talking about your frustrations and your fears allows others to know what you are feeling and how this may be affecting your everyday life. This gives the people who love you an opportunity to step forward and support you every step of the way.
Sharing your story with others can help those who are suffering silently. You could be the reason someone else doesn’t feel alone and isolated. Infertility infiltrates the heart and can have a devastating impact on the mind. Spreading awareness and speaking openly about infertility has the ability to extend a helping hand to those in need.
If you or someone you know needs someone to speak to regarding infertility, the RESOLVE helpline has trained volunteers who have experience with infertility and can help to navigate available resources.
There are many ways to build a family.
In Vitro Fertilization is often a method used to help assist with fertility. Learn more about IVF treatments here.
Adoption is a powerful and amazing journey. Interested in adopting a baby or seeking to adopt a child from foster care? There are so many options and resources that are available to you and your family. Call 1-800-GO-ADOPT for more information.
AtHeart of Adoptions Alliance, children are at the very heart of what we do which is why spreading awarenessduringNational Child Abuse Prevention Month is integral not just in April, but year-round.Here are some need-to-knowFAQs surrounding child abuse to assist in spreading awareness.
Q: What is National Child Abuse Prevention Month?
A:Since 1983, the United States has named April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month in order to raise awareness on preventing child abuse. With over 4.4 million cases, it is our mission to help bring awareness and put an end to child abuse.
Q: What should I do if I suspect a child is being abused?
A:Always report any instances of suspected child abuse to the proper authorities. Even if you do not know the child personally, you may be that child’s only hope of getting out of a dire situation. For more information on how to report child abuse, click here.
Q: What are the effects of childhood exposure to domestic violence/child abuse?
A:Domestic violence encompasses a range of manipulative, controlling, and violent behaviors exerted by one partner in order to maintain power over the other partner in an intimate relationship. While domestic violence is often recognized as being within a partnership between two people, DV can also be reflected in the wider family dynamic involving children. When situations are growing violent between current or former spouses in a household, children are at risk of exposure to violence in the form of verbal arguments and physical altercations. Witnessing violent acts between parents can have a tremendous impact on children. Click here to read more on an in-depth blog regarding this subject.
Q: What are some child abuse prevention resources for families?
A: There are many helpful resources on the internet. We’ve listed a few below:
Q: Why are home studies required to adopt a child?
A:Home studies are wonderful tools to help birth mothers and caseworkers get to know more about the intended parents and the living environmentthat the child will be placed in.State and Federal Law requires background checks and fingerprinting for intended parents as checkpoints to help ensure the safety of the child(ren). As another step of precaution, intended parents will need to provide references and speak with a counselor to determine if they arephysically, mentally, and emotionally prepared to parent a child. These policies are precautions are put in place to ensure a safe, loving environment is provided for all adopted children.
Q: I don’t live in an environment that is safe for a child, and I am looking to give up my child for adoption. What should I do next?
A: As you consider your unplanned pregnancy options, especially adoption, you may come across the common use of the phrase “give baby up for adoption in Florida.” This phrase has become popular through media, movies, television, podcasts, and is now practically synonymous with adoption. However, when choosing adoption for your baby, you are not “giving them up.” You are giving them the opportunity to have the best life possible, full of opportunity and happiness. It means you are making a selfless decision to put your baby’s safety and needs before your own. In other words, it means that you are a great mom. If you are ready to choose adoption for your child, we will help you create an individualized adoption plan that is right for you. You may also be eligible for assistance with living expenses, depending on your circumstances.We can help. Please call us day or night at (866) 432-7860.
April 2nd is designated as World Autism Awareness Day, and it’s the perfect time to provide a few helpful tips to those who have adopted or are considering adopting a childwith Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
This environment of unpredictability and change is quite scary for any child, especially for ASD children.How can parents help their child adapt comfortably to a new home environment? Below are a few tips to help withthetransition:
And no, we don’t mean that you must become likeBill Murray’s character Phil Connors, forever stuck in a loop on Groundhog’s Day. However, developing a daily routine is an integral part of every child’s growth and happiness.This isespecially crucial for foster andadopted children with ASD. Predictability of daily routines can set your child up for success.
A Few Suggestions from Parents of Children with ASD:
Allow older children to be a part of creating their routine. Sit down with them and ask what routines they‘vehad in place in the past. Reinstating old tasks in a new place can be a source of comfort for them.
Write down daily routines on a piece of paper where the child can see them. If the child cannot read, draw or take pictures of them completing each step and post the images on the wall for reference. For example, a morning routine could include pictures of themeating breakfast, brushing theirteeth, and grabbing their backpack for school.
A soft-sounding timer or a visual alarm is a useful cue to begin each daily task. When each step is complete, don’t forget to provide task-specific, positive praise.
Consistency is key! Regular habits and schedules help children with ASD feel connected and safe.
Build Trust and Respect
Aretha Franklin was completely right when she sang “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.” Learning to build an adopted child’s trust and earn their respect is all about learning theirpersonality. This is especially true for children with ASD who often fixate on special interests. Does your child love facts about sharks? Ask them for a new fact each day! Do they love to draw? Have a special space to post their picture of the week. Become engaged and supportive in their interests and do your best to communicate with them in a way they understand.
Oftentimes, children with ASD are literal. Building trust means communicating with them effectively. Sarcasm and jokes often end in confusion and hurt feelings with an ASD child. Learn your child’s way of communicating and expressing their emotions and mimic it. If they are nonverbal, this blog on autismspeaks.org is a great resource for creative ways to communicate with your child.
Patience, Patience, Patience
We’ve all seen the Disney cartoons where Donald Duck’s short-fuse is displayed through his red face rising like a temperature gauge about to burst. By that point, we all know that poor Donald is stressed out because things aren’t going his way. But how do we, as parents, make sure our gauge never reaches those limits?
It’s simple. Start with empathy, not anger. Many adopted ASD children have had to deal with a huge amount of trauma in their lives. Stop and think about the escalating situation and breathe deeply. Ask yourself what you can do to help de-escalate the moment. The most important thing you can do for your child is to remain calm. They look to you as the prime example of how to behave.
If a difficult task is the source of the meltdown, help break down the big obstacle into smaller, more manageable pieces. Always remember, patience and love will go a long way in building a supportive, trust-filled environment for your child.
Self-Care is Essential
There’s a reason why flight attendants always caution passengers to secure their own oxygen masks before assisting others. The concept is simple. If you don’t take the time to care for yourself, you won’t be in any shape to help others. The same concept applies when adopting a special needs child. Take a break to enjoy the simple things.
Below are some ways to relax and indulge in self-care:
Set aside time each day to do the things you enjoy.
Surround yourself with supportive family and friends.
Join a Support Group and interact with them regularly.
Keep a journal and jot down the positive pointsinyour day or moments that made you laugh or smile.
Know Your Resources
Adopting a child with ASD is a truly wonderful experience. It’s important to know that you are not alone in your journey and there are many resources available to you and your family.
*We recognize that all children with ASD have unique needs and personalities. This blog is not intended to be a one-size-fits-all solution, rather an idea generator implemented at the reader’s own discretion. The above tips and suggestions are not provided or reviewed by a medical doctor, and it is always wise to consult a physician before implementing any strategy or advice you read online.
Children in foster care can sometimes feel that they’re unappreciated or ignored. With more than 120,000 children still waiting to be adopted in the U.S., it’s easy to understand why a foster child might at times feel like just a number or a statistic in the eyes of grown-ups.
If you have a foster child, you can prevent these negative feelings by being a more engaged parent or guardian in terms of encouraging creativity. Actively prompting a child’s creativity to come out and play is a good way to make them feel appreciated, help them develop in different ways, and establish an authentic connection with them.
Here are some ways you can provide this positive experience for your own foster child.
Let them continue old traditions or start new ones
In our article on ‘New Year’s Resolutions for Adoptive Families in Florida,’ we touched on the importance of creating new traditions and memories. This is essential for any family to establish authentic bonding experiences. And letting your foster child take the reins not only shows trust, but also presents an opportunity for their creative side to shine.
Ask your child about the traditions passed onto them by their birth parents and prior foster families. Which of these traditions would they like to keep in your family? How does it go and what do you need to uphold it? Better yet, do they want to start traditions of their own? Apart from encouraging creativity, this can also allow you to establish a love language that is truly yours and your child’s.
Learn something new together
Don’t just take your child to a pottery or painting lesson. Sit down and learn alongside them. Don’t just complete school projects for them. Instead, try to help them by steering them towards squeezing their own creative juices. You can even learn new yoga poses together. You might be surprised at how simply learning alongside your foster child can encourage them to participate in a more engaged manner.
Alternatively, you can also go to any of YouTube’s different online educational programs and channels for kids so you can learn something new together, but from the comfort and safety of your own home. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of the available technology to encourage your child’s creative side. Technology has its limits and dangers – but it also presents new opportunities for children to grow.
Pick educational and inspirational video games for them
While there’s no doubt that many games are bad for kids, it’s important to remember that some games are actually educational and aimed at inspiring creativity. Such is the case with games like Roller Coaster Tycoon Story, a touchscreen, story-driven game that teaches basic resource management.
Created by Atari and independent game design company Graphite Lab, Roller Coaster Tycoon Story puts players in the shoes of a theme park owner trying to revitalize an old park. Matt Raithel who is the owner and director of Graphite Lab based the game’s visuals on the iconic Six Flags rides in St. Louis, Missouri. And through the help of local narrative design firm Brunette Games, Raithel’s team fleshed out 30,000 lines of the story that holds the game together. “I really wanted St. Louis to have a big stamp on this game,” explains Raithel who also teaches game design courses on the online digital media degree program at Maryville University in St. Louis. By teaching the fundamentals of digital media creation to students at Maryville University and creating games incorporating St. Louis through Graphite Lab, he hopes to foster video game creation in the area.
Roller Coaster Tycoon Story is part of this overall effort. It’s literally a game that’s designed to inspire creativity in the local youth. While these educational and inspiring games may be rare, finding them can give you a way to connect with your foster child in a way that’s undeniably engaging to a child. Tell them about what the game represents and let them discuss what they like or don’t like about the game.
Encouraging creativity is not that difficult. Embracing new technologies can make it even easier. And so can simply joining your foster child in new activities. The more you can encourage your child’s creative side, the more you can look forward to creating new family traditions and memories.