Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Attachment & Trauma Network's Nov/Dec 2010 Hoofbeats Newsletter

As a special holiday gift, the Attachment & Trauma Network (ATN) has made this issue of its bi-monthly newsletter, Hoofbeats, available to both ATN members and non-members alike.

Included in this issue is a discussion of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute's recent policy report Keeping the Promises: The Critical Need for Post-Adoption Services to Enable Children and Families to Succeed.

The issue also features confidential but honest responses provided by experienced ATN members regarding their current attitudes and feelings about adoption, with a consensus that those considering foster and international adoption must become as informed as possible prior to making this lifelong commitment.


To receive future issues of Hoofbeats, join the ATN at http://www.radzebra.org/Join.htm.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why We Adopted a Teenager

This article was written by Kim Johnson, supervisor of adoptions services for Partnership for Strong Families of Gainesville. It has been copied from The Gainseville Sun's website, where it was published on Monday, November 22, 2010.

If you had asked me before today about adopting a teen, I would have said it was because I work in the child welfare system and too many teens go from painful childhoods to aging out of foster care and living on their own without the opportunity to be kids.

It was my answer because I believed it, until November 12th.

Robert captured my heart when I saw him on the adoption websites (www.adoptfl.org and www.adoptuskids.org) in April. We hadn't planned to adopt, as our hands were full with two little ones and a home without adequate space for another child. Robert's picture went on our refrigerator nonetheless and our steps toward adopting progressed.

The months leading up to his finalization were heartfelt to say the least. The more we learned about Robert, the more we loved him.

He encompasses all the things you could wish for in a young adult, but oftentimes fleeting in a teen. He is considerate, helpful, respectful, kind-hearted, playful, cheerful, a peacekeeper and a faithful companion.

Robert's enthusiasm and charismatic smile can light up a room and has brightened our home every single day since his arrival. He embodies the concept of resiliency more than anyone I've known and in that challenges me to find reasons to be grateful in all circumstances.

There were many reasons my heart had already grown to appreciate the transformation of our family, but the magnitude of what was at hand saved itself for delivery on finalization day.

It's difficult to put into words what a mother feels sitting in an adoption finalization and hearing the judge call it "a celebration of an additional birthday to be celebrated, a new child has entered the family."

Having had a biological daughter and son, I can testify that the emotions elicited are nothing short of being handed your newborn the first time. An adoptive mother spoke before our finalization, she believes each time a child's biological parent is unable to care for them, there is another person or family especially purposed to parent them.

On that day, November 12th, I realized that while I thought we made a decision to fill a need, instead I received a gift of a son, particularly tailored for my heart.

With feelings of completion and joy as we finalized, I now see, that just as the birth of a child is a miracle, the adoption of a child is just as miraculous.

My answer today is a new one. We adopted a teen because something in me knew, before I knew, that our family was missing Robert.

It's confirmed daily as I see the smiling faces of our two little ones as they all play. It's confirmed as I feel my own overwhelming gratitude that, despite Robert coming so far and through so much, he was somehow positioned in the perfect place at the perfect time for us.

We adopted a teen because our lives were missing Robert, and our family was blessed on November 12th to receive a miracle.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Internship Opportunity for Young Adults Who are Former Foster Children

Copied from an 11/2/10 North American Council on Adoptable Children(www.nacac.org) e-mail:

The Foster Youth Internship Program of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) is for young adults who spent at least 24 consecutive months in foster care at any point in their life and who have completed at least four semesters of higher education by May 31, 2011. CCAI places these interns in Congressional offices in Washington, DC for a 9-week internship program.

Housing, travel, and a weekly stipend are provided by CCAI. Applications are accepted now until January 7, 2011. The program will run May 31-July 30, 2011. The goal of the program is to educate policymakers about the experiences of foster youth in an effort to inspire legislative improvements for foster care. Interns participating in this program benefit both personally and professionally, gaining experience and skills that will bolster their careers for years to come. If you are unfamiliar with the program, please watch a short video to learn more about this unique experience: http://vimeo.com/16060742. For more information and to apply, visit www.ccainstitute.org/fyiapply or contact Emily Collins at Emily@ccainstitute.org
or 202-544-8500.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Loving God's Children Adoption and Orphan Care Ministry Upcoming Walk for Orphans

Copied from http://www.lovinggodschildren.blogspot.com/

Loving God's Children is proud to announce our first walk for orphans. The Walk Home - will be a family friendly event that takes place on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 9:30am. We will start on Pauls Street at the beginning of the Brandon Parkway and walk one and a half miles to the Brandon Town Center mall.

If you are interested in joining the walk or just sponsoring someone, please contact us at gsloan@lovinggodschildren.org,

For those of you that do not live in the area, please feel free to get sponsors for the walk and walk a mile and a half in your own neighborhood or local park.

We appreciate your support!

Sylvia Thomas Center Adoption Support Group November Meeting Topic: "The Real Me: Documenting Your Child's Story in a Lifebook"

What: Sylvia Thomas Center's November Adoption Support Group Meeting
When: Thursday, November 11th, 6:30 - 8:00pm.
Where: Sylvia Thomas Center
716 S. Oakwood Avenue
Brandon, FL 33511

Presenting on the evening's topic, "The Real Me: Documenting Your Child's Story in a Lifebook," will be Kevin Slack, STC's Training Institute Director,and Renee Walker, STC's Family Support Counselor. From Kevin: "A Lifebook is simply a history of a child's life thus far, in a easy to read format which may include photos, history, special memories, certificates, and records of favorite things and events. This will be an opportunity to learn the importance of this tool for your adopted child(ren)."

As November is National Adoption Month, STC will also be using this meeting to promote their upcoming Lifebook event, scheduled for Saturday, November 13, 2010 from 10am - 2pm. For more information on the event, please call STC's office at
(813) 651-3150

Please also RSVP for the November 11th meeting by calling STC's office at (813) 651-3150. Let STC know if you will be bringing children, how many, their ages and any special needs so that we may prepare for their care. Childcare is on a first come, first serve basis and space is limited. Light refreshments will be served.

Attachment and Trauma Network, Inc. Lifeline Webinar: Surviving The Holidays With Your Traumatized Child

Copied from an 11/8/2010 Attachment & Trauma Network, Inc. (ATN) email update

The holidays can be stressful for healthy families. But for traumatized children and their families, the holidays present a special challenge. Family traditions and parental expectations clash with our wounded children’s fears of intimacy and anxiety over changes in schedule. Add visits from extended family who don’t “get it” and excitement over festivities and gifts and you can quickly have a recipe for disaster.

Janice Turber, attachment & trauma therapist with the Center for Attachment Resources & Enrichment, and Nancy Spoolstra, founder of ATN and experienced mom, will discuss some strategies for altering expectations and their experiences with surviving the holiday season.

When: 8:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, November 11th

Where: The ATN Online Classroom

How: Click here to register http://www.radzebra.org/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=RAD&Product_Code=2010WL2&Category_Code=ATNLifeline

How much: $10 for ATN members, $25 for non-members. (Or join ATN at http://www.radzebra.org/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=RAD&Category_Code=MBR and get a coupon for a free webinar!)

Need Support Now?

Call ATN's Warm Line: 240-357-7369
All calls returned within 24 hours

Join ATN's Online Support Groups at http://www.attachtrauma.org/supportgroup.htm.

Details of Hillsborough County's National Adoption Day Celebration

What: A Celebration of National Adoption Day
When: Fri, November 19, 2010 9am – 1pm
Where: George E Edgecomb Courthouse, 801 E. Twiggs Street, Tampa, Florida

30 adoption finalizations will take place on the 6th floor of courthouse. Adoptive mom Lauren Dungy will be the keynote speaker. Activities include first new family portraits, face painting, refreshments, and the Heart Gallery exhibit. For more information, please contact Kathie Michael at Kathleen.Michael@HillsboroughKids.org.

Florida Presents "30 Days of Amazing Children: Explore Adoption!"

Videos, photos of children dreaming of forever families featured on www.adoptflorida.org during National Adoption Month in November

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The "30 Days of Amazing Children: Explore Adoption!" initiative presenting children in foster care who dream of being adopted by forever families was unveiled today by Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon and Florida’s Chief Child Advocate Jim Kallinger.

A different "Amazing Child" available for adoption in Florida is being featured every day during National Adoption Month in November on www.adoptflorida.org. Many of the featured teens, sibling groups and children with medical needs are depicted on videos as they talk about themselves and their hopes to become part of a loving family. About 850 children are available for adoption on any given day in Florida, and more than half of them are teenagers.

"Floridians are encouraged to visit www.adoptflorida.org during November and become acquainted with children available for adoption and their dreams of belonging to a family," Secretary Sheldon said. "These are Florida's children. Their futures depend on actions that all of us can take to raise adoption awareness and recruit loving adoptive families."

Speaking at the celebration that kicked off National Adoption Month in Florida at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park was 17-year-old Robert, whose adoption becomes official this month. Kim Johnson and her husband decided last March to adopt Robert, who spent half of his life in foster care. Kim first encountered Robert when she searched www.adoptflorida.org looking for a teen in need of a family. The Johnsons also have two biological children, ages 3 and 4.

"I'm not in foster care any more. I'm really happy. It's more than I expected," Robert said of being adopted by the Johnson family. "All the comfort and love, it's really extraordinary. You have someone to fall back on." He gets along great with his sister Sage and brother Kaden, likes doing math and playing video games, and thinks it’s cool to have a dog named Buddy.

"We had an extraordinary first meeting. It just felt so natural." Kim Johnson said. "We are so blessed to have a son like him. What an amazing great big brother. To Robert, it has meant a vision of what he wants to do in life and the stability of knowing where home is and where he can be."

Florida is a national model on adoptions, collecting a total of more than $15 million in federal bonuses in 2009 and 2010 for increasing the adoption of children in foster care. More than 12,000 Florida children in foster care were adopted over the past three and a half years. Florida also currently is best among the states in achieving adoptions in a timely manner.

"When children in foster care are adopted by a permanent family, they feel loved, secure and positive about their future," Chief Child Advocate Kallinger said. "The many adoptive parents I have met are equally overjoyed to add these wonderful children to their families. We just need to keep spreading the adoption message."

Children in foster care who do not achieve permanency with a family before transitioning out of care at age 18 are at higher risk of being arrested, becoming teenage moms, dropping out of school and becoming homeless. Over the past three and a half years, Florida has safely reduced the number of children in foster care by nearly 11,000, or 36 percent, through adoptions, permanent guardianships and reunification with parents.

Credit for Florida's adoption successes is shared by many committed partners, including the Explore Adoption campaign, the Governor's Office of Adoption and Child Protection, DCF, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, community based care lead agencies, local adoption providers, Forever Family, Heart Galleries, One Church One Child and many others.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), a new partner, is giving free passes to state parks to all families finalizing adoptions of children in foster care during National Adoption Month. Several state parks also are hosting adoption celebrations.

"At DEP, we realize the importance of outdoor activities that families can enjoy together," said Bob Ballard, DEP Deputy Secretary for Land and Recreation. "We proudly manage 160 Florida state parks which are recognized as premier family-friendly destinations. Florida state parks not only offer unlimited outdoor recreation, but are educational and teeming with history."

Nearly 50 adoption celebrations and finalization ceremonies are being held throughout Florida this November. Find out about an event in your area at http://www.adoptflorida.org/adoptionmonth4.shtml.

While private forms of adoption can cost upwards of $30,000, adopting one of Florida's children in foster care costs little or nothing. The benefits include a monthly adoption subsidy for the family, health benefits for the child, and free college tuition at a Florida public university, community college or vocational school. The federal adoption tax credit recently was raised to $13,170 per child and is refundable, meaning eligible taxpayers can receive it regardless of whether or not they owe taxes for that year.

For more information, please visit www.adoptflorida.org.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Upcoming Attachment & Trauma Network, Inc. Webinar Focuses on Parental Rights Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

On Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010, at 8:30pm, the Attachment & Trauma Network (ATN) www.attachtrauma.org will host a webinar entitled Parental Rights Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The presenter will be Allison B. Vrolijk, Esq. Based in Georgia, Allison is an attorney/advocate for families of children with disabilities, as well as a mother of children with special needs.

This webinar is part of the Attachment & Trauma Network's Lifeline Series, monthly 90-minute interactive online seminars that bring experts on a variety of topics, via their computers, right to the parents of traumatized children and children with attachment disorder. The only device needed to participate is a computer with an Internet connection and speakers (microphone optional).

Cost to attend the seminar is $10 for ATN members and $25 for non-members (annual membership is $35; visit www.attachtrauma.org/join.htm for membership information).

For more information on the seminar or to register, please visit http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/782507/7bb3dfb54d/1470613809/895a999abd/.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Florida's Adoption Assistance Program

While researching post adoption resources in Hillsborough County today, I came across this very helpful link: www.adoptflorida.com/assistance-program.htm.

It includes information on everything from maintenance subsidies to the federal tax credit (please make sure you check into your eligibility for this if you haven't already...it could literally decrease your amount of federal tax owed by thousands of dollars) to the college tuition exemption and more. Great resource...thanks, Florida's Adoption Information Center, for making this info. so readily accessible!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Heart Gallery Roller Derby Benefit

From Christy Gestiehr at The Heart Gallery:

"The Heart Gallery is looking forward to an exciting, fun-filled evening. We hope you can join us. Please forward to your friends and family who might be interested."

Contact Christy Gestiehr with any questions at CGestiehr@childrensboard.org or at 813/204-1759.