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.”

The Importance of Emotionally Investing in Children

Children are precious stewards of our future; caring for them and raising them to be healthy, well-adjusted adults should be our ultimate priority. In a world increasingly fraught with danger, tragedy, and uncertainty, it is more vital now than ever to equip our children with the social and emotional skills that they will need to navigate their world that is sure to be vastly different than ours.

Whether you are a parent, a friend, an aunt, uncle, or grandparent, the responsibility lies with you to ensure that each child you come in contact with has the tools that they need to become successful, fully functioning adults. How can you take your precious time with these precious ones and use it in ways that enrich everyone involved? Here are some simple ways that you can foster their natural curiosity, innovation, and intelligence in ways that boost their self-esteem and increase their confidence exponentially. Practice them with utmost integrity, for you are making the ultimate investment in the life and health of another:

Foster creativity, even if it gets messy

There are times when you just want to rip down those many finger paintings and fold up the epic blanket fort that they created in the living room, but stifling these creative urges sends the message that their ideas and imagination are not valid or important. Resist the urge to clean up after them all the time, and realize that in this flurry of creativity, it's going to get messy for a while. Breathe through it and celebrate their innovation, knowing that things will not always be this chaotic. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Teach them the value of personal space

While children need structure for daily activities, they also need to learn that it's okay to have a bit of personal space and time freedom as well. Let them explore this free time and find pursuits that interest them; in doing so you will be teaching them that their passions and interests should be nurtured, and that they will be allowed to grow and develop as individuals. 

Play!

We as adults have forgotten the spontaneity of playing; we find ourselves distracted by "to do" lists, endless mental chatter of things that we should be tending, and things that we would rather be doing than racing trucks around on the floor. Time is precious; engaging in these special moments with your children will teach them that they are worth your time, and that you are truly interested in what makes them happy. If you want to be intentional about it, set the timer, put everything else aside, and spend this time in the moment and in play, remembering how it feels to be a kid again. Be all in, and your kids will remember this for the long haul.

Have a routine

There is comfort in routine; kids feel safe, and they know what to expect of the day's activities. Strike a delicate balance between routine and unstructured time where you create together, and teach your children the value of each in their lives. They will appreciate this lesson on balance as they get older.

Model emotional investment in yourself

As you teach your children to embrace balance in life, you must also model balance in work and in play. Let your children see you following your passions and fostering relationships outside the family; as they see you create healthy boundaries for yourself, they will learn what that looks and feels like, and they are more likely to create that for themselves as part of a well-rounded life.

Praise, praise, praise 

Speak well of your children, both when you are with them, and about them in the company of others. Your children base their self-esteem largely upon the words that you speak to them and about them; infuse them with positive words and high regard, and you'll be raising children that have a healthy self-concept, able to interact well in and with the world around them.

Celebrate family time

Emphasizing the gift and the support of family will be essential as they learn to create a support system for themselves that will sustain them as adults. While this support system may take several different forms, learning to create healthy relationships starts with family; model good communication and interpersonal habits to teach your children how to negotiate and interact with others.

Get support and find resources if you need them

At times, being able to emotionally invest in your children may be too much for you to handle. If you feel that you can't emotionally invest in your children without assistance, there are programs that can provide you with support and resources for management of stressed and troubled youth. Reach out and connect with others to find additional help when you need it; at times it truly does take a village......

Invest now for long term results

While life may be busy, hectic, and downright unmanageable at times, the time you spend investing in children and their social and emotional development will be largely worth it when you see them grow and mature into wonderful, fully functional adults. Connect with them, love them, appreciate them, and set them up for success as best you can, knowing that your efforts will not go wasted or unnoticed.

Homemade Crafts For Your Mom This Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is coming up fast, are you ready? Here are some great last minute gift ideas that the ladies in your life will cherish forever.

Decorated Candy Stash

You can never go wrong with candy as a gift, especially when it’s in an adorable hand crafted box. All you need is a tackle box organizer and feel free to decorate it however you want!

Herbal Floral Perfume

All you need is water, assorted flowers and herbs, essential oils, and a spray bottle! Not only does it look beautiful inside the bottle, it also smells great.

Book About Mom

This is a wonderful gift that mom will cherish for life. You can ever put a twist on it by adding your own prompts and drawings!

Framed Flowers

Give the gift of beautiful flowers that will last forever without the hassle of having to water them.

Sand Candles

These beautiful candles can be made in just 10 minutes! All you need is a candle, colorful sand, inflammable glue, and a paintbrush. 

Supporting and Encouraging Your Foster Children Beyond Aging Out

Over 23,000 children age out of foster care each year, but many struggle to adapt to independent living as an adult. As part of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, 25 states now offer extended foster care, and help such as financial support for young adults in work or participating in education programs. This and other schemes go some way to helping them get a good start in their adult life, but a more personal touch is also very important. As a foster parent you will most likely already have faced many transitional phases with your foster children, and, at each stage, supported them to ensure a smooth changeover. Now, whether you have stayed in touch with former foster children who are becoming adults, or you are saying goodbye to your current foster child as they leave for college, your continuing help and advice is still invaluable.

Graduating to Independence

Encouragement to stay in school and gain a high school diploma is perhaps one of the most important gifts you can give your foster children. Although only 58% of foster children graduate high school, those who continue to receive support as they become independent are twice as likely to finish at least one year of college by the time they reach 21. Leaving for college can be daunting for any young adult, so if you can offer advice and emotional support to your foster children at this challenging time, and throughout their education, it can help them stay positive and focused. Something as simple as a care package for when they move into their dorm can ease the transition to living on their own and help them settle in. Once they have finished their studies, their job options are broadened and they are more likely to find somewhere to live independently and support themselves successfully. However, they may still need help managing their finances for the first time and adjusting to their new life, and will be pleased to know that you are still there for them.

Recognizing Achievements

Many foster children often have low expectations, however, those who have mentors to guide and advise them tend to attain higher levels of economic and social success. By remaining a part of their lives as a positive role model, you can offer advice on a range of topics from interview techniques to asking someone out. As your foster children move on in life, recognizing milestones such as graduation and landing a first job can help nurture a sense of achievement, so building confidence and self-esteem. A celebratory meal or hosting a party will mark each occasion, consolidate their success and help them believe in themselves.

If you have fostered a child until they leave home, or been able to keep in touch with former foster children, just like any parent you will want to see them do well in life. With your continuing support and advice, they are more likely to attain their goals, and you can then enjoy celebrating their achievements together.

National Foster Care Month

Since 1988, May has been established as National Foster Care month by President Reagan. This is an important time to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, professionals, and more who work hard to find loving homes for children and youth in the foster care system. Along with, of course, supporting the foster children themselves! There are many ways to support foster youth this May and everyday. 

Volunteer

There are many opportunities to volunteer through organizations such as A Family For Every Child. Find organizations near you and sign up!

Become a Mentor 

This can be through an organization, a school, or even a business. There are many ways to mentor foster youth and it’s a great way to make a difference in an individual child’s life.

Provide Services

If you are a therapist or lawyer, provide pro bono services for foster youth.

Donate

Instead of throwing away clothes you no longer wear or electronics you upgraded from, donate them! 

Become A Parent

Provide a child with a loving home by becoming a foster parent or an adoptive parent. 

Recommended Books for Adoptive Parents

So, you are considering adopting. You have probably already filed your adoption request, and you are waiting to be matched with a child. Perhaps your little one has arrived home, and you are trying to figure things out. Whichever stage you are in the adoption process, it is essential to learn everything you can. Luckily, there are plenty of reading materials regarding adoption that you can use to gather as much knowledge as you can. Here are some fantastic suggestions.

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis

This book remains a classic favorite of adoptive books of all times. Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born is an exciting story about a loving family and small child coming together to discuss the night she was born. The tone of this children’s book is fun and educational and is a great story to read with little ones.

The Eye of Adoption by Jody Dyer

If you are looking for a true adoption story, this one will demand your attention. You will love the way Jody writes about her infertility struggles and how she ended up choosing to adopt. You will also love the part where Jody interviews the birth mother. Her story has an exclusive touch of humor that will makes it a real page turner. The letters she wrote to her future child are out of this world, the book opens with “No one just adopts.”

Modern Families: Parents and Children in New Family Forms by Dr. Susan Golombok

This adoption book highlights the various modern families such as same-sex, single parenting, surrogacy, and IVF donors. Dr. Susan is a leading researcher who explores modern family forms. The author's perspective is that they are thriving, and so are the kids in these family structures. The book is a way of making her research exciting and easy to read. If you are wondering whether your modern family will work, this book will give you the inspiration you need.




No Biking in The House Without A Helmet by Melissa Fay Greene

The mother of nine (four that are biological), talks about the beauty of raising children in a family in a way that no other writer has. She doesn't sugar coat the challenges that come with raising kids. Melisa admits that while there are many reasons for adopting children, the most important of them all is that children are fun and lovable. She also talks about how adoption has changed since ancient times to how we perceive it today.

An Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption by Lori Holden

Most adoptions in the modern world encourage openness, which means that there is increased contact between the birth family and the adopted family. However, do we understand how open adoption should be approached? The author speaks about the challenges that open adoptions face and gives an insight into the proper way of handling them. You will find real-life stories and experiences that can help guide you through open adoptions.  By the time you'll be done, you will be educated on the best ways to approach open adoption.

Be My Baby: Parents and Children Speak About Adoption by Gail Kinn

Be My Baby is a photo-essay book featuring reflections of several stories from various perspectives, such as adopted children, birth mothers, and adoptive parents. Although the author seems to be a little biased towards traditional families, the book gives voice to the parties involved in adoption. The experiences that are enlisted in the book are heart-wrenching. This is a thought-provoking book that encourages dialogue around adoption.

Attaching in Adoption by Deborah D. Gray

The book highlights how trauma and grief can affect children. Deborah Gray gives helpful tips on how adoptive parents can create trust and improve attachment. You will learn about the challenges that may result such as learning disabilities and fetal alcohol syndrome. Deborah gives amazing parenting techniques that will come in handy irrespective of your child's age.

Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother’s Story by Karen Salyer McElmurray

The author, Karen, gave birth to a son and put him up for adoption in the '70s. At the time, Karen was a teenager and was living with her mother. She didn't have much of a choice but to surrender her child with the hope that he would have a better future. While the decision was painful, McElmurray felt that it was for the best. The book is a great read for both birth and adoptive parents as it speaks about the birth mother's side of the story. The journey of Karen re-uniting with her adult son is priceless.

From parenting tips to children's stories and adoption tips, you will gain valuable insight from reading these adoption books. By the end of each book, you will be a step closer to enjoying your adoption journey more and comprehending what everything is all about.

Brittany Waddell is a contributing writer and media specialist for Youth Villages. She often produces content for a variety of fostering blogs.

Supporting a Foster Child who was Born into a Home with Addicted Parents

The opioid epidemic is pushing more and more children into foster care, as their parents are unfit to care for them while they are bound tightly by the grips of addiction. Foster children who were born into a family with addicted parents have likely seen the unthinkable, have been forced to mature far too quickly, and have unique experiences that set them apart from other foster children.

The Washington Post reports that nearly every state in the nation has seen a rise in the number of children being put into foster care directly related to opioid addiction as their parents are deemed unfit to care for their children. Perhaps the child you are fostering is an infant who was born addicted to opioids or they are an older child who has seen first hand the detrimental effects opioids can reap upon a family. Regardless of the circumstances, there are important things to know and practice when fostering a child who was born into an addicted home.

Children of Addicted Parents

A study published by the National Institutes of Health examines the fact that children who are exposed to opioid drugs during a mother’s pregnancy are susceptible to behavioral and cognitive issues. In addition, children that have grown up in an unhealthy environment where drugs were involved were more likely to develop learning and behavioral problems.

However, the study found that children who were removed from the home at an early age and raised in nurturing foster or adoption homes adapted to their new environments and developed normal intellectual abilities.

Before fostering a child who has addicted parents, it is important to recognize that addiction is a family disease. It affects not only the parents, but it has likely strongly affected the child as well. Due to both nature and nurture, children of addicts are 8 times more likely to develop an addiction of their own at some point in their life. Fortunately, with the appropriate support and care, the cycle can be broken.

Supporting your Foster Child

Children who have been exposed to substance abuse in the home are likely to suffer from anxiety, have a lack of coping skills, and may be afraid to communicate their feelings. It is imperative that your home maintains a safe, stable environment while fostering a child who comes from a family with addiction. Here are some ways to support your foster child.

  • Encourage open communication: Talk to your foster child openly about your experience with drugs and alcohol. Even if you don’t suffer from addiction, you can communicate clear messages about the dangers of substance abuse. If you are open and honest with them in a nonjudgemental manner, they will be more likely to confide in you.

  • Introduce them to hobbies or extracurricular activities: Kids absorb and take on the actions of their role models, so it is important to encourage them to participate in sports, arts, music, or any other type of healthy activity.

  • Promote a healthy lifestyle: Educate them about healthy living through your own practices. This includes cooking meals together, spending time in nature, and teaching them healthy ways to cope with their emotions.

  • Build their confidence: Many children who come from addicted homes may have suffered neglect or have a low sense of self-esteem. Acknowledge when he or she does something well or accomplishes a goal. Encourage them to work hard and overcome any obstacles they may face.

  • Be available: Parents who are addicted to drugs likely placed their drugs of higher importance than their child, causing a diminished sense of self-worth. Provide consistent support to build trust and a sense of safety with your foster child. Let them know that they matter.

  • Be patient: It may take time for your foster child to feel comfortable in your home and with opening up to you. They may feel as though their opinions and thoughts are irrelevant, so don’t give up on treating them with love, compassion, and kindness.

Taking these steps will help create a supportive, compassionate, and nurturing environment for the child you foster. No child is destined to addiction merely because their parents were. It may not be easy, but a stable environment like this can help set up a foster child for success. Watching a child grow and flourish will be a miraculous gift for you to experience and will benefit them for a lifetime. Instilling a stable life can help teach them the coping mechanisms and healthy habits they need to break the cycle of addiction.

Cassidy Webb is an avid writer who advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.