How You Can Be Involved With AFFEC

A Family For Every Child began in 2006 to find permanent adoptive homes full of love for waiting foster children. Over the years, 10+ programs have been implemented to assist special needs and challenging-to-place foster children find their forever families. None of this would be possible without all of the wonderful people who donate their time to us and you could be one of them. There are so many opportunities to get involved and make life-long impacts on these children’s lives.

1. Volunteer

We have two events coming up, Princess for a Day (3/3/19) and Hero for a Day (5/18/19) and volunteers are what make them possible. Spending the afternoon with foster children will make a long lasting impression in both of your lives. And who doesn’t love a day full of princess or superheroes?!

2. Intern

Whether you are interested in social media, child recruitment, fundraising, event planning, or something else, there is a spot for you at AFFEC. It’s the best way to gain work experience, and simultaneously make a difference in dozens of kids lives.

3. ROUNDUP APP

Download this app on your smart phone and every purchase you make on your card will get rounded up and the difference will be donated to the nonprofit of your choosing. Every $2.25 coffee you get from Starbucks, could be a 75¢ donation to help foster children find their forever homes. It’s so easy and you’re making a difference without even thinking about it. 

4. Donate 

It takes a wide variety of items to keep our program an ongoing success. Anything from office supplies to gift cards to children books and games, we could use. Decluttering your home or old storage unit could make a big difference in both of our lives.

5. Spread The Word

Tell your friends, family, co-workers, barista, anyone about A Family For Every Child and you are helping us out! We love having our name out in the community and want to bring awareness to all of the amazing foster children awaiting homes. You may not have the time to be involved with us physically, but spreading our name and message is more than enough. 

Thank you to everyone who worked with us in the past and those who want to become involved in the future! A Family For Every Child and all of our children and families are so grateful for you. 

Valentine’s Day Crafts For Kids

Not all young kids understand the meaning of Valentine's Day yet, but one of the best ways to learn is through art. These crafts are great for all ages and don't call for many supplies. Have fun!

Not all young kids understand the meaning of Valentine's Day yet, but one of the best ways to learn is through art. These crafts are great for all ages and don't call for many supplies. Have fun!

Yarn Heart

These hearts make the cutest gift and can be used as decorations around the house or at work.

Supplies:
Cardboard, scissors, yarn, hot glue gun

Valentine Rocks

This is a great way to get outside and be creative. The kids will love getting to hunt for rocks, paint with their hands, and share with friends and family.

Supplies:
Rock, paint, markers

Candy Dog

This is one is trickier, but better than taking care of the real dog your kids have been wanting.

Supplies:
1 Smarties candy, 5 Hershey’s Kisses, pipe cleaner, google eyes, foam paper, small pom-pom, glue

Love Bug

Instead of throwing away all those toilet paper/paper towel rolls, turn them into art! There are so many ways to make these bugs and your kids creativity will shine. The fun is limitless!

Supplies:
Cardboard roll, paint, google eyes, pipe cleaners, beads, construction paper, glue, markers, scissors

Hand Print Bouquet

What's better than a bouquet that will never wilt?! Make it a tradition and watch your child(ren) grow over the years.

Supplies:
Paint, markers, scissors, paper

Dear Princesses, Save The Date

Hear ye! Hear ye!

Our 11th annual Princess for a Day event is upon us and we’re asking for the fairest in the land to attend! Join us for a day full of spa treatments, dress-up, tea parties, dancing and singing along side all of your favorite Disney princesses, and more. The royal party will commence on March 3, 2019 from 10A.M. to 5P.M. at the Valley River Inn in Eugene, Oregon. Foster children are admitted for free and non-foster children can purchase tickets for $50, which includes the event, tea party, and one guest. Registration can be done online, at the door during the event, or in person at our office (1675 West 11th Avenue Eugene, Oregon). If you want to join but don’t have a princess to bring, we offer tons of volunteer opportunities. Of course none of this can be done without the help of our amazing community so thank you to all of those who have donated and if you would like to donate here is a list of princess necessities. We are so excited to see all of you there!

Best Blogs By Adoptees

The Lost Daughters

Lost Daughters is written by a wide variety of adopted women who are 20-60 years old and share their unique adoption experiences and upbringings. Since Amanda started the project in 2011, Lost Daughters has become a safe space for adoptees to contribute their stories and find a strong community of women to relate to.

The Adopted Life

Angela Tucker started The Adopted Life as a personal blog in 2009. In 2013, her adoption story was featured in Closure, a documentary spanning two years of her life while she searched for her biological parents and family. Today, Angela works at Amara where she is the Director of Post-Adoption Services, is creating an adoptee mentorship program, and writes for Lost Daughters. She is an advocate for adoptee rights and leader of transracial adoption.

I Am Adopted

Jessenia Arias created I Am Adopted as an outlet for adoptees to share their adoption stories. It has grown into a website full of resources for adoptees and an educational platform for adoptive parents. Her blog is full of raw content of what it’s like to be an adoptee suffering from trauma, identify, loss, stress and more. Her goal is to help everyone find their purpose in life.

Adoptee Restoration

Deanna was adopted in 1966, found her biological mother and siblings in 1993, and started her personal blog in 2013. Adoptee Restoration offers insight to adoption from the Christian community, features her personal struggles as an adoptee, and documents her ongoing search for her paternal family. She is also a spiritual contributor for Lost Daughters and has written many  books.  

Black Sheep Sweet Dreams

The author of Black Sheep Sweet Dreams, who remains anonymous, has created this blog as a resource for those who want to find their biological parents. She talks about her journey and offers tips for others who are searching for their birth parents. Often referring to her life as a “rollercoaster,” her posts are honest, inspiring and humorous. She just released her book, Black Sheep Sweet Dreams: Adoption Journal.

The Adopted Ones

The Adopted Ones is written by two adoptees from the post World War II era who come from different adoptive backgrounds and have varying view points on adoption. This blog is a great place to hear opinions, reflections, and personal stories. They discuss everything about the world of adoption.

Confessions of an Adoptee 

This isn’t your typical blog, but it is an amazing platform for adoptees to anonymously share their stories, feelings, dreams, and fears. The posts are full of emotion and a great place for adoptees to truly and freely express themselves. 

Age Appropriate Therapies for Foster Children

 

Girls on Desk Looking at Notebook

No matter what type of situation a foster child has come from, they have the potential to thrive in a loving and nurturing home. Therapy gives a foster child the ability to regain lost ground. The most potent forms of therapy have an underlying theme of self-empowerment. Depending on the age of the child and what needs to be addressed, these methods may be used together.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) takes into consideration the way the child is thinking and works with them to build new behaviors. This form of therapy is best for older children who can sit and communicate effectively. It works to promote emotional growth. Your foster child will be able to learn to understand the intense emotions including those that are attached to past events. From there they can practice how to control those feelings more effectively. Instead of displaying defiant behaviors, a child can begin to use other means to express and control those emotions such as writing their feelings down and mindfulness exercises.

Family Therapy

Even if your foster child comes into your home without siblings, they are never alone. Family therapy is about building healthy relationships between everyone in the home and community alike. Children do not grow up in a vacuum. Multisystemic Therapy (MST), is a form of family therapy that takes into account the child’s entire social environment. It will look at the dynamic of the foster family, the family of origin, classmates, school, and the community around them. This can give you and the child the chance to work together as a unit to build each other up. This is especially potent for children who may not know how to grow these relationships or have encountered difficulties from multiple places.

Play Therapy

Children who may not be able to express their emotions through words alone benefit the most from play therapy. The purpose is to see how the child interacts with their environment while using play as a practice opportunity. Activities such as role playing allows for young children to see how interactions and social scenarios are supposed to work. It gives them the chance to make mistakes during an interaction, such as saying the wrong thing, without any lasting effect. They can then try again until the new behaviors become second nature. In addition, drawing and projects can help a child to express themselves freely without judgment. Sometimes feelings are easier to express on paper rather than verbally. But as a child relaxes in the therapy environment they have to opportunity to slowly open up about their feelings, in whatever form, as well as events that they were previously reluctant to discuss.

This is an opportunity to advocate for your foster child and create an open conversation with the child’s pediatrician, therapist, and case manager. These therapy options can help remind a foster child that there are adults out there that do care for them and are there to help. No matter which form of intervention is chosen the goal is to provide foster children with opportunities to grow and flourish.

Life Lessons to Teach Your Foster Child

Whether you are fostering or adopting a child, once of the biggest questions you will undoubtedly ask yourself is: what life skills and values  you would like to instill in them? While it is true that all children have their own talents, interests, and outlooks on life, there are important lessons that nearly everyone can take with them in their adulthood. Take time to think about the things that matter to you and the extent to which specific skills or behaviors have helped you, and try to synthesize this into a small but valuable list. If you need a little inspiration, perhaps the following life lessons can be of help.

Being a Team Player

While independence and learning to stand on your own two feet are crucial for your health and happiness, most scenarios in your child’s life will involve working in a team - including school sports, friendship groups, and work settings. Even being in a relationship benefits greatly from a team outlook; when conflicts arise with a spouse, it pays to focus on the solution (as teams do) rather than take a blaming stance. To boost your child’s teamwork skills, try to get them involved in group activities. These don’t have to involve sports if they are not athletic; instead, they can take part in art, language learning, or other group classes and activities.

Valuing One’s Physical and Mental Health

The most common diseases and conditions in the world (such as heart disease, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, etc) are, to a great degree, preventable. Giving your child the gift of health is arguably the most important step you can take as a parent. Children should understand that their physical and mental health are intricately linked. That is, sound nutrition, good sleep, and stress reduction are should be important part of their lives, every day, if they are to feel healthy, energetic, and self-confident. Leading by example is key here. By preparing healthy meals, making exercise an important part of your life, and taking part in stress-busting activities like mindfulness meditation or yoga, you can be the benchmark for your children’s lifestyle choices.

Being Tech Savvy

This is the age of ubiquitous connectivity, and while the media is consistently warning parents of the number of hours spent by kids on devices (teens spend around nine hours a day consuming media, says The Washington Post), the truth is that nearly all industries are dependent on technology. Encourage your children to experience technology in a hands-on way, by allowing them to program a high-tech dishwasher, set the thermostat, or check up on any home automation system you have, from their smartphone. Kids should understand that technology makes life easier, and that they can take part in an industry involving invention and innovation. At the same time, you should feel free to establish set hours in which they can use devices like tablets and smartphones, which can interfere with homework and other tasks. 

Giving Your All

Helicopter parenting (being too authoritative and demanding) has been shown in various studies to hamper a child’s development, but that does not mean you cannot encourage your child to do their best. Hard work can be promoted by prizing effort instead of actual results achieved. Thus, if your child is trying to life their grades and they don’t do as well as they expected, but they have worked hard every day, you should let them know unequivocally that their efforts have been admirable. 

We have made a small list of life skills that generally come in handy to children and adults alike, but it is important for each parent to decide on the life skills they think are and will be important in the future. Some skills never change; these include so-called ‘soft skills’ like communication, stress reduction, and conflict resolution. Others, like technology, are constantly on the go. Once you have your list ask your child to make a list too; is there any way you can work towards these goals together? Once you have drafted your final list, start working towards way to pick up skills you both value, with a view to improving your child's health, happiness, and wellbeing.

The Importance of Belonging: Using Photos to Cement Memories

As of 2017, there were 123,437 kids waiting for adoption in the U.S., as confirmed in a report by the Children’s Bureau. A lot of these children have a history with foster care and come from difficult backgrounds - increasing their need for people with open hearts to take them in. Parents, in general, only ever want the best for the children that they welcome into their lives, no matter if they are birthed, adopted or fostered. Parenting is always challenging, and when new parents want their adopted kids to feel settled, it can be challenging to know what to do. Yet, what they may not realize is that something as simple as a photo can help bridge the gap their new child may feel in belonging.

Photos and Belonging

To cultivate the security that children need to feel, you can tap into the power of cameras and a well-made picture collage. Kids can acclimatize better to a new home when they truly feel that they are a part of it. A family photograph helps send the message that the child belongs in the family unit. Belonging is especially important for children who are still developing their sense of self. It teaches children to value themselves and the family that they are part of.

It isn’t just the act of having photos taken; it’s also about displaying it proudly in the home. This helps the child take in the reality that this now their home a little bit more every day. Photos are personal keepsakes that help showcase the progress of the family and the memories they hold dear. Feelings of belonging can also be emphasized through solo photos of the child. Just be mindful of the child’s comfort. as it should not be something that’s forced; it should come naturally. 

Feelings of Security and Anxiety

Adopted children often struggle with feelings of rejection, low self-esteem and anxiety, as found by Mental Help. The new home environment must seem unfamiliar and scary despite the best intentions of the new parents. Children may also act out or be distant, as they feel it would only be a matter of time before they’re “returned.” This idea may not make sense for parents, but it is a very real concern for children who have lacked security. 

Foster homes and adoption services often emphasize that the children need to feel secure. The feeling of security is quite important and isn’t elusive. Taking time to form memories through simple activities like watching TV, reading a book or playing outside all help to form a bond.

Importance of Positive Memories

People, in general, have a need to feel connected to each other. When children come from complicated histories, they may not have a lot of positive memories with them and end up having difficulty with building relationships. Kids who have an impression that they’ve had happy childhoods grow up with a better sense of self and stronger inclinations to connect with others. 

Children benefit the most when their parents make a conscious effort to form strong positive memories with them. It doesn’t even have to be anything over-the-top. What better way to showcase those positive memories than a menagerie of photos to remind them of events for years to come?

In all things, patience is necessary. New parents shouldn’t expect hanging some photo collages around the home will magically equate to a close relationship. Every child has their own process in dealing with their thoughts, fears, and concerns. In times when they cannot articulate this well, that’s when the parents should step in to help.

Is There Truly One Right Way To Parent?

Parenting By The Infinite Numbers

There are 250 babies born every minute. That means each year there are at least 150 million new parents trying to decipher how to best raise theirs. Move in close to any group of new moms and dads, and you are sure to hear lots of advice being shared and criticism of “other parents”. It’s true that new parents tend to rigorously study trends and research on how best to raise kids, and that’s a good thing. But it’s also important to acknowledge that, although you believe in your approach to proper parenting, it doesn’t mean the way someone else handles their kids is necessarily wrong. 

A parenting expert on every corner

There are so many experts categorizing parenting styles and giving advice on how to raise kids, it can be dizzying. And they are often contradictory. The authoritarian parent, one of the four types of parents as defined by Diane Baumrind in the 1960’s, dictates rules not to be questioned, while the authoritative parent explains “why” a child should follow a rule or is being reprimanded. One might argue that the ruler creates bullies who pass along the trait, while another believes explaining things to a child gives them too much power they’re too young to handle responsibly. Benjamin Spock, noted for his bookBaby and Child Care, says children should be brought up with less pressure to compete and get ahead, another highly debated view. The point is, with there being as many opinions as there are people, who decides what is right? 

Personal style isn’t only in the clothes we wear

Dr. Spock also stated, “The more people have studied different methods of bringing up children the more they have come to the conclusion that what good mothers and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is the best after all.” This point of view allows for each parent or set of parents to do what they think is best for their own child; that respect for differing styles can be had even if it isn’t what you yourself would do in any situation. It is also important to acknowledge that cultural, economic, racial and geographical differences impact parenting choices that may be completely contrary to your own. 

Mixed cultures demand flexibility

Reportedly 40% of adopted children are of a different race, culture, or ethnicity than both of their adoptive parents or sole parent today. Depending on the child’s age and their experiences before adoption, it can be important to learn about your child’s history and sometimes model the healthy guidelines for behavior your child knows and responds to, even when it isn’t what you had in mind. It is also important to acknowledge the country and traditions your child may have a link to, and not to disregard it as “not your world”. This respect for the place or culture your child has come from will add a sense of self-worth to how they identify in the world as well as in the family, knowing all of what they are has value.

A non-judgment zone

Along with so much ever expanding diversity in today’s families, comes diverse beliefs and behaviors. In the end, what matters is that the choices parents make are healthy for their children and that they help them to become well-adjusted people. Of course, when you see a child is at risk, falling out of their stroller or walking out into the street, you don’t have to think twice about jumping in to help. But jumping to conclusions when you witness a fellow parent discipline or teach their child in a way that, on the surface, seems counter to what you would do, might not be the best approach. With so many variables culminating in the action you see, perhaps there are reasons for the choice that parent is making you may not be aware of. Perhaps whatever they’re doing is right out of the pages of one of the uncountable publications out there in the how-to universe.

Foster Care and Social Security Disability Benefits

Becoming a foster parent is one of the biggest and most rewarding decisions you can ever make in life. While you do receive supplemental income from fostering children, your family may be eligible for additional benefits.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits for people with serious illnesses, or dependent family members of those with disabilities. There are a few ways children in foster care could be eligible for aid.

If Your Foster Child Has a Disability

Social Security disability benefits are available to people of all ages. Children will qualify for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI benefits. SSI is only awarded to families in severe financial need, so if you or your spouse has a moderate income, your foster child will not be eligible for SSI benefits.

For example, a single parent cannot earn more than $38,000 per year before taxes while having a child qualify for SSI. The larger your family the higher your income limit will be, so be sure to review the SSA’s chart on SSI income limits before applying.

In addition to financially qualifying for benefits, your child will need to have a disability that’s medically severe enough to be approved for aid. The SSA maintains its own medical criteria for disability applicants, known colloquially as the Blue Book. By reviewing the Blue Book, you can determine if your foster child’s disability will be approved for benefits.

Each condition will have different criteria needed for approval. For example, any child with Trisomy 21 or Translocation Down syndrome will automatically qualify for benefits. Children with ADHD, however, often need to show that they’ve been receiving treatment or therapy for 2+ years with no improvement. You can review the entire Blue Book online with your child’s doctor to determine if he or she is eligible.

If You Are Retired or Disabled

The SSA does allow children to receive auxiliary benefits on behalf of a guardian who’s on Social Security disability or Social Security retirement. This means if you’re already receiving benefits, you may be eligible for supplemental income to help pay for your growing family.

Children are eligible for auxiliary benefits if anyone of the following criteria:

  • Your foster child’s parents are deceased
  • Your foster child’s parents are both disabled
  • You legally adopt your foster child

This unfortunately means that it can be challenging to receive benefits if your foster child’s parents are still in the picture but unable to support their child, but it is possible for some families who are eligible.

Starting Your Application

If you’re applying on behalf of a foster child for either SSI or auxiliary benefits under your account, you’ll need to do so at your closest Social Security office. To make an appointment to apply in person, simply call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213

It typically takes 3-5 months to hear back from the SSA regarding a claim. Once approved, you could receive an additional $750 per month to spend on your foster child and household needs.