Debunking Adoption Myths

Society's portrayal of adoption often does not match the reality.

Adoption is a lifelong process that creates families with unique stories. Yet, there is a lot of misinformation about this process and the impact it has on those involved. Here are three myths about adoption often harbored both by adoptive parents and the people around them.

Adoptees are Lucky

Adoption stories are often written by the adoptive parents and they are focused on the process of finding and bringing a longed-for child home. These stories have a happy ending.

Yet by calling adopted kids “lucky,” we dismiss challenges they keep facing after the adoption. We miss the chance to acknowledge the trauma these children experience. Changing homes and guardians is difficult, especially for young children who do not fully understand why all this is happening.

While adoption can be a very positive thing for many kids, it’s still complicated. Some adoptees might feel quite a pressure to appear happy and grateful, to avoid hurting their adoptive families or giving adoption as a whole bad name. After all, in popular culture adoption is often shown as a reward for hardships, both for the child and for the adoptive parents who waited for this for so long.

Adoptive parents aren’t saviors and adoption isn’t a triumph over adversity.  Adoptive parents are just that – parents, as loving, as wonderful, and as flawed as any parent can be. Adoption is just the beginning of a unique story with its own ups and downs, challenges and rewards, sadness and joy.

For many adopted children, being an adoptee becomes a part of their identity, just like race or gender. Not because adoptive parents were, in any way, not enough – of course not – but because that permeates many things and experiences in their life.

Race Doesn't Matter

What do differences matter when you have so much love to give? Loving care helps to create strong bonds within the most diverse families. However, that also means you have a responsibility to keep difficult ongoing conversations about race and ethnicity with your beloved children and be their closest allies in a world that might point out the differences that don’t matter to you in a straightforward way.

Consider your extended family, social circle, and neighborhood to make everything you can so that the child of different ethnicity can feel comfortable and accepted. Be realistic and do this work because it is important for the wellbeing of your child. Instead of simply shielding him or her, prepare and empower.

Understand that even if you have done everything to celebrate their birth culture, to make them keep in touch with their community, and provide role models in whom they can see their reflection, it will still be hard for them. Racial and cultural connectedness is a complicated thing. Some of their peers will still drop phrases like “You aren’t really black/Asian/brown”, while some people will keep complimenting them on their English and ask “Yes, but where are you really from?” Don’t leave them alone in their quest for identity; be ready to support them.

A Fresh Start Means a Clean Slate

Even adopted as babies, adoptees may challenge the narrative of their origin. As much as you want to give your little one a story that will comfort or empower them, if it isn’t the whole truth, they could start to search for the rest when they are old enough.

They may ask about their birth parents, why they were given up, to meet their biological siblings and to know their roots. This journey is likely to happen even in the case of closed adoption with no information exchanged and no further contact planned between adopted and birth parents. 

While growing up, adopted kids can have a lot of questions about their identity, about how they think of themselves. Children are more sensitive to nuances and detail than many adults give them credit for. They pick up the cues and hang on to accidentally slipped words. They wonder whom they have inherited their eyes from, why no one in the family seems to like the poetry they are obsessed with, and why online homework help with math is their guilty secret when it was their parents’ favorite subject in high school. 

Try not to let it hurt you. That doesn’t temper their love for you in any way, but even if not being vocal about it, they will have a special place in their heart with all the thoughts about their birth family and the feeling of loss. Part of them may wish that things could have been different and that their birth parents could have raised them together with their brothers and sisters. Being in the company of people who share their features can give a strange sense of belonging.

Try to support this search for identity with a positive outlook. They may feel guilty for these thoughts because they do love you and are endlessly grateful for everything you gave. Your being upset or feeling jealous will only make things tougher for them.

The best you can do is to make your child feel safe, cared for, accepted, and loved no matter what. Remember, you are a family – nothing can cancel that.

Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits in Children

Working toward positive eating habits as a family can set children up for a healthier future.

Children between the ages of 2 and 18 years should consume less than six teaspoons of added sugar per day, according to the American Heart Association. That’s about 25 grams. Yet children in the US consume roughly 16% of their daily caloric intake from added sugars alone, while missing out on the vitamin-packed foods they need in order to support their growing bodies.

The abundance of added sugar coupled with foods that are low in nutrition and additional complications with less-than-ideal eating habits can make for a real challenge. It can be difficult to guide your child to healthy habits to begin with, and even more so if you’re welcoming an older child, who may already have developed certain food preferences or dislikes, into your family. Thankfully, with some know-how, enthusiasm and patience, you can help instill healthy eating habits in children of all ages.

Opt for Healthy Sugar

Everyone knows that kids love sweets. This is thought to be a trait of evolution that causes children to seek out sources of food high in sugar to fuel their rapid growth, as well as sustain the body during times of famine. Excess sugar, however, can lead to a number of health issues.

It’s true that sugar is sugar, but the source of that sugar is what really makes a difference. Healthy fruit and veggie smoothies, for example, have natural sugars, but they also contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals and fiber - while still being low in calories. A serving of cookies, on the other hand, will have just as much (if not more) sugar, while offering little to no nutrition.

To encourage your kids to eat more nutrient-dense sweets, let them choose their own fruits to try, and spend some time looking around the produce section - it’s a great learning opportunity. Swap out traditional store-bought sweets with healthier, homemade varieties. You can bake a variety of cakes, cookies and other treats using healthier ingredients, like applesauce instead of table sugar.

Science Develop Natural Portion Control

Excess sugar isn’t the only issue when it comes to dietary concerns. Overeating has become an increasing problem among Americans, children included. While there are a number of contributors, often overeating is the result of eating too quickly. The stomach needs time to process and send information to the brain to let it know that it’s full.

The hustle of modern life can lead to rushed mealtimes, which can mean eating more food than necessary because the body hasn’t had time to communicate that it doesn’t need any more. For this reason, it’s important to help children develop natural portion control by eating slowly. Make a point of having relaxed, no-rush meals together as a family.

Not only does this help digestion and allow for the natural ‘full’ mechanism of the stomach to work, but it’s a great way to spend time together and actively communicate with your children.

Don't "Diet"

Though it’s important to encourage healthy eating choices, it’s equally important not to implement a strict, rigid diet for children. Children need to develop both healthy bodies and healthy minds, and an over-concentration on a specific diet or weight/size goal can negatively impact a child’s self-esteem. When healthy eating meets moderation, there’s no need for restriction. It’s best to guide your children rather than dictate their food choices.

Perhaps the best bit of advice when it comes to instilling healthy habits in children is to lead by example. Show your kids it’s important to eat healthily by doing so yourself, and make it a family affair.

Keeping Kids Connected to Nature

Encouraging your children to connect with nature has many benefits for children's health and development.

Connecting kids to nature is a great way to disconnect them from their cell phones, TVs, and other electronic devices. Most kids love to get down and dirty in the great outdoors. If you're a parent to a foster or adopted child, exploring nature can help you bond and provide a smoother transition for both of you.

Physical and Mental Health

Instead of raising a couch potato, take your kids out to plant potatoes. It's the best way to keep them healthy, both physically and mentally. Being outdoors helps them build a stronger immune system and relieves stress. The sun provides vitamin D, a necessity for keeping your mind and spirit at its best. You’ll notice a child who is cooped up indoors will often seem listless and grumpy. They may simply lack vitamin D and sunshine.

Nature also provides kids plenty of opportunities to stay physically active and use their imagination. Kids can play tag in an open field, play hide-and-seek in a pocket of woods, or start a baseball game using rocks or sticks as bases.

Science

Think of the outdoors as a giant science classroom. When taking them to the lake to skip rocks, point out how aerodynamics and physics work in nature. Geology (rock shape), throwing strategy, and distance all factor into the basics of good rock-skipping.

Fishing teaches you about the circle of life, as well as the difference between water and land creatures. They also learn patience. Learning to be patient most definitely affects behavior at home, as well as at school.

Digging in the dirt gives exposes kiddos to geology and the layering concept of the Earth and its creatures. Encourage them to get dirty!

Hiking allows parents the opportunity to teach kids about the dangers of poison ivy and poison oak. They also know or will learn which bugs to stay away from, and which bugs they can pick up or watch closely. This teaches them how to differentiate and categorize plants and insects based on safety.

Planning, Responsibility and Patience

Your kids can also help you maintain your yard and grow your garden. Not only does this teach kids about planning, measuring, and project management, it allows them to see how plants and flowers grow over time.  Give them a few basic hand tools and teach them how to use tools safely.  Growing a vegetable garden is also a great way to get them to eat their veggies!

Gardeningcan be especially beneficial to foster and adopted children. It helps them create their own routines and responsibilities, and offers them control over a project. It gives kids a chance to take pride in something they helped create. It also teaches them about climate patterns and to check the weather before embarking on outdoor tasks.

Creativity and Imagination

Star-filled skies awe children. Lightning bugs caught on a warm August evening are like catching little miracles. Stars and lightning bugs, to kids and adults alike, are magical.

The sense of wonder you gain from these activities can help you open up your imagination. So go ahead: Grab a dandelion, make a wish, and blow. With the creativity nature inspires, some of those wishes may just come true.

Special Considerations

For families with foster children or adopted children, spending time with nature can be especially important. Sometimes being alone and listening to birds chirp, water flow, or feeling grass between your toes helps heal a mind.

While all kids need boundaries, it's sometimes tough to explain those boundaries to foster children. You can start by teaching your children how to respect nature and all it offers. Yes, bees sting, but if you respect their space, they'll leave you alone.

Nature can help your child to grow,  thrive, and stay healthy. The best part? It's right outside your front door. Happy exploring!


Author Bio

Mary Lewis is a busy (is there any other kind?) mother of three. When she’s not helping with homework, she’s working on her next crafts or DIY project or tending to her vegetable garden.

Signs of Insomnia and How to Help Your New Child Sleep Well

Understanding the causes and potential treatment of insomnia can help parents ensure their children get enough rest.

Most children have no problem falling asleep after a day of learning and playing. However, some may have more difficulty getting into dreamland than others.  Recent studies indicate that more than 30% of children are sleep deprived. Apart from having trouble falling asleep, some children also deal with sleep disorders, the most common of which is insomnia.

Insomnia varies in severity, and while in some cases it can be corrected at home with a few hacks for better sleep, some forms may require a professional’s help for proper treatment. Here’s how to know if your new child has insomnia and how you can help them cope.

Always Cranky, Forgetful, and Tired?

Most people associate insomnia with constantly stressed and busy adults, but even children can have difficulties sleeping or staying asleep. If your new child is always sleepy during the day, has difficulty focusing, or is constantly tired and cranky, then it’s possible that they have this condition.

Stress, changes in their regular routines, caffeinated drinks, and even certain medications can also cause this sleep disorder. Being in a new environment such as a new home and school can also cause your new child to have sleepless nights.

Can Very Young Children Have Insomnia?

Even children ages one to three can have short-term insomnia, but one way to alleviate the problem is to ensure that their bedding is comfortable and safe. Make sure that crib or toddler bed mattresses are soft and supportive enough and that there’s plenty of space for them to move around. Placing a cute night light on their nightstand can also help to comfort them. Enforcing a strict bedtime is key to an improved sleep pattern, so if you say that they should be in bed by 8 p.m., make sure that this becomes the rule every night.

How Can You Help an Older Child Sleep Better?

To help older children sleep well, you need to find out which factors are contributing to their lack of sleep. If it’s their medication, then you’ll need to consult a pediatrician to see if you can change it. Monitoring their caffeine intake can also benefit them in the long run. If you suspect that your new child is drinking too much soda or energy drinks, then remove these from the house. Encourage them to drink smoothies and juices instead.

You can also try talking to them to see if anything’s bothering them-- sometimes, all it takes is a good conversation to allay any worries and fears that can prevent them from dozing off at night.

If you think that your child has insomnia, try these tips and see what works. If the problem persists, see your pediatrician and ask to be referred to doctors who specialize in treating sleep disorders.

7 Tips to Help Build Your Child’s Writing Skills

Helping foster and adoptive children develop reading skills as young as possible will set them up for future success.
For every child, adolescence is marked by constant growth and changes. Personality, emotions, mental aptitude, and interests all emerge and fluctuate. But even in the most favorable conditions, these changes can be challenging for the little ones.  Now imagine adding one other aspect to these changes by being placed under foster care.

In the US alone, nearly half a million children enter foster care every year. Various studies have shown that foster children face a unique set of challenges in the learning environment. As a teacher or foster parent, it’s important to understand and learn the best practices and strategies to help these children achieve academic success and ease the stress that comes with the changes they’re going through. 

One important skill a child needs to build up on, is writing. It takes time to develop strong writing skills, so it can be a pretty tough task to accomplish. Luckily, there are many things educators can do to help improve a child’s writing skills. 

From daily reading to fun activities, here are 7 tips that will help your child build their skills and become a strong writer in no time.

Tip #1: Make Reading a Regular Habit

Reading on a regular basis is a stepping stone to better writing. It also strengthens a child’s written and verbal communication skills and helps expand their vocabulary. 

For younger children, it’s best to read together every day and encourage them to love reading as they grow. Start reading together as early and as frequently as possible. Doing so builds an important foundation that helps the young one become a better reader and writer.

Tip #2: Be a Role Model

Let the child observe you as you write. 

As much as possible, spend some time to share your writing with the child and talk to them about how you use writing in your daily life. Show them a wide variety of written works like poems, written letters, business applications, or even a page in your journal.

Tip #3: Encourage the Child to  Journal

Keeping a journal or diary is a great way for children to express their own thoughts and ideas, while at the same time working on improving their skills in writing. 

As a foster parent or teacher, make plans for an activity or outing where the child can be encouraged to write in their journals. Better yet, make journaling a fun part of their daily routine.

Tip #4: Connect Writing with their Interests

Think about the child’s favorite storybook or novel series. Perhaps they’re obsessed with Harry Potter or Nancy Drew. Or maybe they love to talk about dinosaurs or the solar system. Whatever their passion or interests, connect them to writing. 

Encourage the child to write an essay about their favorite characters in a book, or let them create their own short story about dinosaurs or the solar system.

Tip #5: Take Advantage of Technology

There’s no getting around it: technology plays a major role in daily life. So why not use it to your advantage to help improve a child’s writing skills? 

Have the child create their own blog, or encourage them to communicate to a friend via email. You can also get them to publish them own story online, with programs like the Little Bird Tales. Not only does this help improve a child’s writing skills, it also encourages frequent writing habits.

Tip #6: Respond to and Praise the Child’s Writing

Respond to the child’s ideas, whether they express it verbally or in writing. Show them that you’re interested in what their work conveys. This means focusing on what they’re writing, instead of how they’re writing it. If the child is still at a stage where they’re still trying to get their ideas together, it’s best to not pay too much attention to minor errors.

Don’t forget to praise the child for their work. Ask questions and celebrate when they present you a quality writing piece or when they show an improvement in their writing.

Tip #7: Make Writing Fun!

Play games and other fun activities that encourage writing. For example, you can introduce age-appropriate crossword puzzles and word games like Scrabble, which is great for everyone. 

Little ones will especially love the write-the-word game, where they can search for items and write down the word when they find them.

Writing is a vital life skill. While developing strong writing skills requires a lot of time and patience, you can help a child in foster care with these simple yet practical writing strategies. 

It’s important to understand that, despite the many challenges along the way, you must put your best efforts into working with these children. Regular reading, lots of writing time, and incorporating fun games and activities will go a long way to boosting their writing skills. By doing so, you’re contributing to their future success as a person, while teaching them how to express themselves.


Author Bio
Carol Duke is very keen on teaching students new, effective ways of learning. When not freelancing and blogging on education-related matters, Carol enjoys traveling, taking immense pleasure from visiting new countries.

She is also a writer for the IHateWritingEssays blog. If a child needs more helping hand in improving his or her skills, particularly with writing essays, a professional writer or tutor can help. Check out the best essay services and see how they can help develop a child’s writing skills, from word recognition to sentence structuring. 

You can follow her on Twitter.

Self-Advocacy in the Adoption Process

Hopeful adoptive parents can take action to increase their chances of getting matched.

 

Tanya F., her husband, and their 8-year-old son began their adoption process of two years in June 2017 by attending a meeting/matching event to gather information about the process and available local children. 

“We'd been talking about adopting an older child from foster care for several years, and it finally felt like the right time in our lives to jump all in,” she said. “Little did we know what a long journey it would be.”

That journey was one, like so many others, spotted with waiting, hoping, and disappointments. Above those things, though, it was one of self-advocacy and action. The adoption world is filled with many interests: the state, the birth family, foster parents, the children themselves, and the professionals trying to assist each of these groups. The more proactive hopeful parents can be, the higher the chances of finding a successful match.

Submit on Children Frequently

After completing their training, paperwork, and home study, the family was approved to adopt one child aged 6-12 through the state in April 2018. Over the next few months, Tanya submitted on at least 40 children.

While she did not hear back on many of them, this is an important element for hopeful parents. The more times a family is considered, the higher the chance of meeting the right child.

Attend Matching Events

Tanya and her husband attended their second matching event in June of 2018. 

“We were both immediately drawn to the profile of a 16-year-old girl,” Tanya said. “We spent the next 3 hours talking to her adoption worker and her caseworker, watching videos of her, and looking at her artwork on the worker's tablet.”

Matching events not only allow hopeful parents to view potential adoptive children, but they provide an immediate opportunity to learn about them from their caseworker rather than waiting to hear on an online submission. They also allow caseworkers to gain an immediate impression of the potential match. 

The family expanded their age range to 7-17 and kept in weekly contact with the teen girl’s caseworker, but eventually heard back that they were not selected as a match.

Seek Support and New Connections

“Heartbroken, we pressed on,” Tanya said. “I joined several online foster/adopt support groups looking for more ways to advocate my family and make connections.” 

Part of that process was switching to a private adoption agency after realizing they wanted more support than the state could provide. 

In early 2019, they met a 9-year-old girl through a foster parent, babysat for her, and expressed their interest in adoption. Since their new agency required another home study, however, the state chose another family for her.

“Heartbroken, we pressed on. I joined several online foster/adopt support groups looking for more ways to advocate my family and make connections.”

Speak Up for Your Family

In addition to finding a new agency, the search for connections brought the family to A Family for Every Child’s (AFFEC) website. 

“It took some convincing to get our family worker to upload our home study. But once our family profile was up and running with AFFEC's MAP program, I was back to submitting our family for consideration on several children per week. Through AFFEC, I actually began to receive responses, and more importantly, found hope again that we'd find our future child.”

Keep Pushing Through

It was Tanya’s insistence that the family be linked with AFFEC that eventually led to a match with a 14-year-old girl. 

"[She had] the deepest, most soulful eyes... and her profile description listed all the same common interests that our family enjoyed.  I immediately forwarded the email to my husband, but he was still sad over our recent loss and wasn't sure he was ready to seriously look at new considerations. Knowing how long it usually took back to hear from children's caseworkers, if at all, I went ahead and sent an inquiry with a note about our new home study that had just become available through AFFEC.  The wait this time wasn't long, though, as we received news just days later.” 

In June 2019, nearly two years to the day they started their adoption journey, Tanya and her family found out they’d been matched. Within a few weeks, they had her full file and began the process of adopting their daughter. 

“The process of adopting from foster care is not for the faint of heart and among the many new things you'll learn about trauma, parenting, and even about yourself, lies a lesson in patience,” Tanya said. “Just when you think you've reached a milestone, you may find yourself continuing to wait. However, as parents, our waiting and our anxious feelings pale in comparison to that of the many children searching for a new family to call their own.  Our long road was more than worth it, and our adoption match has proven to be a great fit — we feel as if our daughter was always meant to be with us, and our family is complete.”

How to Help Your Adopted Child Acclimate to Your Family

Adoptive parents can take steps to help their children adjust to a new family

There’s no better feeling than welcoming a new member to the family. Weddings, births, adoptions: it doesn’t matter. Having a new child enter your life is a special kind of joy.

Sweet, right? That doesn’t mean these joyous changes are going to come without their fair share of challenges. If you’ve just adopted a child, you’re probably starting to figure that out. It’s a brave new world, and you want to make sure everything is perfect for the new little miracle in your life. 

Here are a few tips to help your child adapt to your home.

Chef it Up

Meals are one of the best ways to build community in a household. They are a time for everyone to come together and just be around each other (and complain about their days). Making your child healthy meals is a great way to keep their energy up and will help them feel more comfortable in this new setting.

Make Sure they Are Sleeping Right

You’ve heard that sleep is important a zillion times. Now you’ve heard it a zillion and one. Healthy sleep is going to make every other part of your child's new life easier, from school to sports to family activities. Find out how much sleep your child needs and create an environment that helps them get that.

Keep Age in Mind

Toddlers and teenagers aren’t exactly going to need the same approach. If you’ve adopted a young child, make sure they are getting lots of facetime with you. Engage them in conversation and be present in these highly formative years of their life. 

If you adopted a teen or preteen, give them a little more space. I’m sure you remember thinking you were all grown up in the 9th grade. Treating them with the kind of respect and restraint you would show other adults is a good way to show them they can trust you.

Go on a Trip

Ah, the family trip. If you’re anything like me, you can still remember the long car rides you used to take with your family. Although if you do remember those, try and remain optimistic about the ones you’re going to go on with your kids.

Vacations and trips are excellent family-relationship building experiences. You’ll be able to do some serious bonding with your new child and make sure that they have some good memories to talk about right off the bat.

We all tortured our parents with, “Are we there yet?” Now, it’s your turn.

Don't Force It

It can be really tempting to enforce too many rules. You’re overjoyed that you have a new child in your life and you want everything to be perfect. Especially with older children, it’s important to remember that you aren’t the only one going through a big change.

As tempting as it can be to yank that smartphone out of their hands and tell them they have to eat dinner at the table every night, giving them some space will help them feel a sense of autonomy in their new environment.

Let them Help Decorate

Don’t stress too much over the details. Welcoming a new child into your home can be challenging, and patience is required to allow your family to build trust, bond, and grow together after challenging times. 

Remember that each circumstance with each child is different--some may take more time to build trust than others. Be assured that there are many resources available to help you and your child work through these hurdles. 

Just remember, good things take time, so have patience and know that one day your family will feel totally complete. 

 

The Importance of Dental Care for Foster Children

Help your foster children develop positive oral hygiene habits now for a healthier future

 

About 20% of children aged 5-11 have at least one untreated decayed tooth. While it might seem difficult to get the children in your care to brush, it doesn’t have to be. Supporting and encouraging your foster child to have healthy dental habits can make a positive difference in their lives and establish healthy habits down the road.

Why it Matters

To some parents, skipping a brushing or flossing here and there might not seem like such a big deal. After all, their baby teeth will fall out, right? While that might be true. Implementing proper dental habits into your foster child’s routine while they’re young can lead to healthy dental habits in their future, preventing heavy dental bills due to rotten teeth, gingivitis, and many other conditions associated with poor oral health.

Make it Fun

Regular tooth brushing and flossing may seem boring, repetitive, and easy to forget for a kid. As a caregiver, you may be looking for ways to encourage healthy habits. Not to mention that as a foster parent, your foster children might not have had much of a dental routine in the past. Luckily, there are many ways to make the habit fun and enjoyable for any child.

In almost any supermarket, you’re sure to find a plethora of products in the oral hygiene aisle geared towards children, such as light-up toothbrushes, flavored toothpaste, and even products with their favorite characters on them. Finding out what flavors and colors appeal most to your foster children will not only help you get to know them, but will also allow you to pick something they’ll like that will be sure to encourage them to brush daily.

Choose a Toothbrush

When it comes to a child’s toothbrush, there are many options available - and not just different colors. Aside from traditional toothbrushes, options include electric, light up,  music-playing versions. With so many options available, you’re sure to find one that will encourage any child to get into the bathroom and brush twice a day.

Get Into a Routine

Establishing a routine can be one of the best ways for your child to implement self-care tasks into their day. This can also teach them important time management skills and independence. One way to encourage this is to model good habits, match your routine to theirs so they see if something everyone in the house has to do, not just the children. 

Getting a child to brush doesn't have to feel like pulling teeth. With patience and attention to the interests and needs of each child, parents can help establish healthy habits early.  

Tips for Writing an Adoption Reference Letter

Understanding the major pieces needed for writing an adoption reference letter will make the process much easier.

“Reference letters are a good way for social workers on that file to understand what the adoptive family is like,” Nancy Goodman, editor at Best Assignment Help and Essay Writer, said. “They provide an external perspective to the family, which is a better-rounded picture of the home situation.”  

Your friend, colleague or neighbor has just asked you to help them in the most exciting time of their life – their adoption journey. This process requires one or more reference letters from people who know the prospective parents well, and this just happens to be you. 

You’re understandably honored and happy to help them make their dream a reality since you think they would be great parents. Once this sinks in, however, it’s normal to feel worried about what to write since this is such an important task. Understanding the major pieces needed for these letters will make the process much easier.  

Why are these Reference Letters Required? 

When a family is planning for adoption, the first step is a home study. This involves doing background checks, security clearances, sharing their medical health information, financial statements, and also providing a home inspection and visit. This varies depending on where the family lives, and also depends on whether they’re adopting internationally or domestically. The process for an adoption from foster care is slightly different as well. In every case, however, a reference letter is required.

A family planning to adopt will be asked to give the agency anything from three to five different reference letters. They are all similar in that the letter cannot be from a family member, so they need to reach out to family friends, colleagues, professors, neighbors, or a member of their church – anyone that can vouch for the prospective parents’ characters.

Step 1: How Do You Know Them?

The adoption letter should start by explaining how you know the prospective parents: where you met, under what circumstances, and how long ago this was. It should explain the relationship you have with one or both of the parents.

Step 2: Describing their Character

After this introduction, you should continue by describing their characters and their strengths. 

“This is where you provide any information at all that may be found useful by the social worker,” Robin McCann, writer at Academized and Essay Help, said. “[Consider] what attributes they may have that would be perfect for adopting and parenting a child and be sure to highlight those in this section.” 

You should provide information about each person in the relationship and then speak about how their marriage is as a whole.

Step 3: Finishing the Letter

Finally, explain what their current parenting skills are like, if applicable, or how you’ve seen them interacting with young children. Finish with a clear sentence indicating your recommendation that these prospective parents should be able to adopt because of their extreme suitability.

What’s important here is to indicate that the family is ready to raise a child, so you have to be honest. Don’t embellish or make things up to make your friend happy, or make things more difficult for the social worker.  Speak honestly and frankly about them as a couple and individuals. You should be clear about whether there is anything that would prohibit them from adopting, and if there isn’t, indicate that clearly.

Step 4: Proofread and Check

It’s crucial that your letter has no spelling mistakes or inconsistencies, so don’t forget to proofread and edit it before you send it off. Some sites have online tools that can help you with this, such as Best Writing Services, Do My Essay Online, Via Writing, Essayroo, and Assignment Writers Australia.

Don’t forget to finish off the letter by including your full name, your phone number, and your address so the social worker on this file can follow up with you if they have questions about anything you addressed in your letter. This may seem like a daunting task, but it’s a small thing you can do for a couple trying to grow their family. 


Author Bio
Chloe Bennet is a manager at Essay Writing Service and Paper Fellows portals. She helps with blog content and researches new educational trends. Also, Chloe writes legal documents at OX Essays service.
 

Coping with Grief After an Adoption Falls Through

One mom shares her advice on grieving the children you are not chosen to adopt.

 

When Greg and Jennifer Wolff decided to grow from a family of three, they opted to pursue adoption through the U.S. Foster Care system.

“It was kind of a dream adoption scenario,” Jennifer said. “From the day that we did our foster parent training to the day that his adoption was finalized was just over a year. Everything went very smoothly, and it was an easy transition. That was our first experience, so we thought all adoption was that easy.”

Thirteen years after adopting Keon, now 15, they are three years into their second adoption. The couple has experienced eight failed adoptions at the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC) and selection committee levels, which fall toward the end of the adoption process depending on the state. 

“The biggest heartbreak was back in October, we were chosen for a little girl and got to go meet her,” Jennifer said. “We spent a week with her and fell in love with her. A couple of weeks into the ICPC process, everything broke down, and the caseworker said the other state decided to pull the ICPC because of things that we were very upfront about and had not changed.”

ICPC had fallen through because of the severe weather in Montana, the family’s home state. Other reasons for previous matches that fell through included family members stepping up to take the children in and the Wolff’s learning the child had a condition or past experience they did not feel prepared to handle. 

“All along, any child that we have considered or been considered for, we have always prayed that God would put them in the family that was the best match for that child and if that wasn't us, that would be okay. As much as we wanted to adopt these kids, we wanted them to go to the best family for them, and if that wasn’t us, then that wasn’t us. When it was the right one, God would open the doors and it would fall into place.”

Despite this mindset, there was a grieving process for each potential match. The loss of a potential family member, especially in the case where they got to meet the little girl, is, Jennifer said, like a death in some ways. 

The process of healing from these let-downs varies greatly for everyone and every situation and there are a few common things hopeful parents can do to help themselves through this time. 

Remember Self Care

While everyone experiences the grieving process differently, keeping in mind the value of self care is imperative. Parents need to be healthy enough to focus on their child when they finally come home. After their last adoption failed ICPC, the Wolff’s decided to take a month off of submitting on children and take a break from their adoption journey. They gave themselves permission to not be okay during that time.

“When you have a death, you do what you have to do and you let other people help you. You survive and go day to day until things get a little better and you can start moving back to normal. We had to do that a little bit in this situation too. We had to cut back on a few things and take time to be here and not out trying to help everybody else, but just be us until things calmed down emotionally again.”

Keep the Big Picture in Mind

“Remember that there are a lot of factors that go into this decision, sometimes political factors that don’t have anything to do with the family,” Jennifer said. “It’s easy to start guessing yourself as a family, especially after multiple times that your hearts get set on a child or some children and then it falls through. You start thinking, ‘there’s something wrong with us’ and ‘we’re not good enough.’” 

While this is a very personal experience, remembering that the “no’s” may not even be a direct reflection of the committee’s opinion of you can lessen the sting. Additionally, focusing on the process and end goal of each meeting can help.

“These kids are worth it and have been through so much. Even if I’m not the person that’s selected at a committee, having our family, along with other families, gives them more of a pool to choose from when finding a family. I think it’s worth it because so many of these kids just need somebody who loves them. If putting my name in a million times and getting told ‘no’ a million is what it takes to keep the system going and keep caseworkers looking for people to adopt these kids, then that’s what it takes.”

 "If putting my name in a million times and getting told ‘no’ a million is what it takes to keep the system going and keep caseworkers looking for people to adopt these kids, then that’s what it takes.”

Support Each Other

Grief can place a strain on a marriage. Shortly after adopting Keon, the Wolff’s had his biological sister in their care. Jennifer was hoping they could adopt her, but Greg did not feel it would work out. When that adoption fell through, they were not in the same place. 

“It was kind of a relief for him because he didn’t think it was going to go through anyway,” Jennifer said. “I suffered, and I felt like I suffered alone. That was hard on us.”

Years later, she says they did not have that same divisive experience with more recent losses. 

“Walking through it together and neither one of us being afraid to say 'I’m having a bad day and I just can’t deal with it right now…' makes it easier. We can lean on each other.” 

They recently joined an adoption and foster parent support group, which is in the formational stages. While they have not formed strong connections there yet, Jennifer said they wish they’d sought out this type of support earlier in the journey. 

“I think it would’ve been helpful to have some bonds with people to walk through it with--people who’d been there too.”

Focus on Your Kids

The Wolff’s took Keon and Hannah, their 18-year-old biological daughter, with them to meet the little girl that did not work out. 

“They struggled, and honestly I would say that they’re still struggling,” Jennifer said. “Sometimes I don’t realize it because they’re teenagers.” 

Hannah sobbed when the adoption fell through. Jennifer said that Keon suffered with them more closely because he still lived at home and saw his parents going through the healing process. 

Keon has been displaying more signs of abandonment than he had before meeting the little girl. His parents have been having to affirm his place in the family more frequently and assess outbursts as part of his grief.

“There’s just some of those things that you have to be really conscious of. Especially with him being 15, when he lashes out with a bad attitude. Sometimes we feel our own emotions and we realize ‘oh, I need this time to grieve,’ but if they’re not showing their emotions that way, it’s hard to understand that they’re grieving too.”

Take Control of What You Can

So many things in the adoption process are out of the hands of hopeful parents, but keeping in mind the things that you can influence can help the time go by, and possibly impact the results of this journey. The Wolff’s had originally set out to adopt one little girl under the age of four.

“Our daughter turned 18 in January and moved out. We were very discouraged at that point, and we were like, ‘You know what? Maybe we’re being too narrow.’ We expanded our age range to nine and under, to boys and girls, and a sibling group of three.” 

During their search, the family created profiles on as many listing sites as they could, including A Family For Every Child (AFFEC), AdoptUSKids, and several state databases. Jennifer also developed a system of looking at kids by state alphabetically. The first day of the month meant she could look at “A” state listings, and the second meant she had a day off because no states start with “B.” This allowed for balance.

“Make sure that you are not making adoption be your whole life. Don’t spend all of your time submitting and getting your house ready for adoption and looking at kids on the websites. Find balance. Enjoy your life and your family.”

 

 "We were very discouraged at that point, and we were like, ‘You know what? Maybe we’re being too narrow.’ We expanded our age range to nine and under, to boys and girls, and a sibling group of three.”

Hold onto the Hope

“The biggest thing is always the hope of a child,” Jennifer said. 

Soon after their largest heartbreak, AFFEC contacted the Wolffs about being the featured family in their newsletter. 

“We had absolutely no hope that anything would come of it.” 

Three weeks later, they got a call that they were being considered for a sibling group of three. After another two weeks, they were matched. They are currently in the process of reviewing the children’s files and moving toward presentation staffing. While nothing is official, all looks well with this match. 

The family is optimistic, and Jennifer said none of their journey, even the pain, has been a waste. 

“Head into each committee meeting saying ‘I really want to adopt, but if this is not the child that is best for my family, then I’m willing to let go. When you get those ‘no’s,’ it’s still going to be hard, but if you can keep the hope that there is a child that is right for this family, we just have to keep searching, it makes it easier to keep going.”