Thursday, July 23, 2009

Letter to the Editor of the St. Petersburg Times

The following is a Letter to the Editor I wrote that was printed in the St. Petersburg Times on Monday, July 27, 2009. It was in response to a Times Editorial, "Adoption progress, problems" which was printed on Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Subject: Much Work Still to be Done

As a foster adoptive parent and advocate, please accept my gratitude for pointing out that the increase in the number of foster adoptions in Florida, while commendable, does not eliminate the work that is still to be done. Over and over research commissioned locally, at the state level, nationally, and beyond indicates the fundamental need for post adoption support services. However, both DCF and Hillsborough Kids, Inc. continue to allot a miniscule portion of their budgets to providing such services. Further, the supports that do exist are hard to access and generally for limited periods of time only, but anyone who has adopted a former foster child can tell you that the effects of the trauma these children have experienced are likely to resurface throughout their childhood, teen years, and beyond. Learning to work through or manage the often extreme behaviors they understandably exhibit as a result of their past experiences requires far more than love; it requires commitment, perseverance, and dedication on the part of the parents to become knowledgeable of the psychological, neurological, and other “whys” behind their children’s behavior, as well as students of the specific methods that are effective in parenting this population. As your editorial points out, families who adopt foster children are providing an invaluable service to the state. One has to ask why, then, does the state not in turn commit to supporting them with the resources they need in order to be successful?

Regarding ours being the only state in the country to have an outright ban on gay and lesbian adoption I say shame on us, Florida. For the sake of fulfilling our shared responsibility to provide every child with a safe, secure, supportive, and loving home, it is time to insist that political and personal biases be set aside so that all qualified residents, regardless of their sexuality, may finally be extended equal rights to adopt in the state of Florida.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Social Network a Promising Resource for All Who Are Touched by Adoption

A new online social network devoted to all aspects of adoption was recently launched. A July 10th message from the site's founders to its members read:

A message to all members of Adoption Voices

In the last few weeks since we launched, we've already had more than 1,500 members register. Even more important, we've had great content created along with great member interaction. For example, we now have 98 sub-groups created on adoption topics.

The groups with the most members so far are:
(1) Transracial Adoption
(2) Hoping to Adopt
(3) China Adoption
(4) Families Supporting Adoption
(5) LDSFS Adoptions
(6) International Adoption
(7) Bloggers
(8) Openness in Adoption
(9) Adoption Humor and Inspiration
(10) Adoption Advocates
(11) Foster Adoption
(12) Why Open?
(13) Open Adoption
(14) Finding and Adoption
(15) Christian Adoption

The most active groups as of today are:
(1) LDSFS Adoptions
(2) Hoping to Adopt
(3) Why Open?
(4) China Adoption
(5) Bloggers
(6) International Adoption
(7) Transracial Adoption
(8) Families Supporting Adoption
(9) Kid Free Zone
(10) Adoptive Parents for Open Records
(11) How to Avoid Being Scammed
(12) Foster Adoption
(13) California Adoptive Families
(14) Special Needs Adoption
(15) Birthparents (Who Have a Positive Story to Tell)

We encourage you to join or create a group today and share your adoption voice at

Visit Adoption Voices at:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Excerpts from UK Article About Increase in Number of Adopted Children Returned to Care

Research from the UK validating the need for and importance of post adoptive support services...

July 10, 2009
Number of adopted children returned to care has doubled in five years

The number of adopted children who have been returned to care homes because their new parents cannot cope with them has doubled in the past five years.

Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the number has increased by a third in the past year alone as parents struggle with often challenging children who have suffered years of neglect or abuse in their natural families.

Going back into care after living with an adoptive family is a traumatic experience for children, and for the adoptive parents who have to accept their only chance of having a family has gone. It is also a huge cost to an already over-stretched system with the children likely to need expensive specialist care.

The increase in breakdowns comes despite a fall in the number of children being adopted. Only 4,637 children were adopted in 2007, the lowest number since 1999.

The data on breakdowns is in a survey of local authorities, conducted by More4 News and shared with The Times. More4 News will broadcast its special report tonight at 8pm.

Experts say the figures show that many children are being left to suffer at the hands of dysfunctional natural parents for too long before being taken into care by social workers. By the time they are adopted, many have severe emotional or behavioural problems.

Local authorities are not obliged to keep any data on adoption breakdowns and the vast majority of those contacted by More4 News had no figures or only partial records. However, according to the numbers kept by 92 out of 450 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, 57 children were returned to care in 2008-09 compared with 26 in 2004-05. If the pattern is repeated across the country, it means more than 250 children were returned to the care system last year.
The figures are also a reflection of the changing face of adoption. Before the 1970s, most adopted children were babies born to single mothers, but today more than three quarters have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. The increase in alcohol and drug abuse among parents is also a growing factor in care proceedings, with parents often being given several chances to break their habit before children are removed.

According to data provided to More4 News by the local authorities, last year only four per cent of adopted children were babies, with the majority aged between one and four. A quarter were aged between five and nine.

Adoption UK, the charity which supports adoptive families, said not enough was being done to help parents to care for a challenging child.

Jonathan Pearce, of Adoption UK, said: “The figures starkly illustrate the difficulties and complexity of modern-day adoptions from care and also highlight the lack of support for adoptive families in their challenging task of being therapeutic parents for traumatised children.”
The charity says the system is still too preoccupied with the intense and lengthy approvals process for would-be adoptive parents, rather than preparing them in advance and helping them afterwards.

Case study ‘I had naively believed in love’

Initially, the adoption seemed to be going well. But Kate discovered that Alex, whom she had adopted when the child was four, had an attachment disorder and heard voices.
“She never left my side, ever,” Kate says. “She couldn’t watch television, she couldn’t play, she didn’t want to play with other children. There was nothing that she could do by herself.”

Alex’s behaviour deteriorated rapidly and she began to torture the family cat. She tried to kill her rabbit. Social services had warned Kate that her daughter’s background was “as bad as it gets”. Alex’s natural mother was an alcoholic and a drug addict.

“I naively believed that with enough love and enough attention and security we could make it all better for her,” Kate says. “But it became a nightmare caring for a child who isn’t attached to you.”

(All names have been changed))

How Social Media Will Help Our Cause

Last night, I attended Social School, a seminar focused on bringing attendees up to speed on why social media is an essential marketing tool. Prior to attending, I had a Twitter account, Facebook, etc., but wasn't sure how to use them to promote this blog.

As discusssed in some of my previous postings, this blog focuses on 3 goals:

1) Be a voice of encouragement for those who have adopted through the foster care system during their toughest moments by telling the stories of other families who have gone before them.

2) Encourage others to foster and/or adopt.

3) Advocate for increased availability of post adoption support services.

After attending Social School, I now know how to search for others who are passionate about sharing helpful info. with other foster adoptive parents (see links to resources). I also have a whole bunch of ideas on how to recruit new families (and the latest proposed legislation to lift Florida's ban on gay adoption plays a key role). Last but not least, I've also got ideas to share with HKI, Inc., the org that oversees fostering and foster adoptions in our county, on a whole new (and low cost) way to provide post adoption supports for our families (think "DIY).

Very exciting times, indeed. Stay tuned!!

Stay tuned!!