Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Resource Review: The Foster Parenting Toolbox

The Foster Parenting Toolbox is a welcome addition to our Alabama Pre/Post Adoption Connections Region III resource library. These chapters cover many topics that are a must know for foster and adoptive parents. The articles in The Foster Parenting Toolbox are written by professionals, veteran foster parents, adoptive parents, former foster children, and birth parents. These perspectives provide timely assistance for the novice foster parent and professional as well as advice and support to seasoned families. As a social worker who has worked with foster children in residential programs and foster care families, and now as a trainer for professionals and foster / adoptive families, I have seen many parents at their wit’s end as they try to reach the angry, hurting children in their care. Each section of The Foster Parenting Toolbox combines real stories with practical tips and suggestions that will help parents connect with the children in their care.

Why Foster? uses compelling stories from actual foster parents and children to discuss not only the need for loving homes, but also the impact foster and adoptive families can make. Discipline instructs parents on using evidence-based methods for managing even the most difficult behaviors. School Tools educates parents on services for children with learning disabilities and how to handle troublesome family-based school assignments. The Foster Parenting Toolbox also tackles every parent’s worst nightmare- how to prevent and survive false abuse allegations. The editors of this book didn’t shy away from the tough issues parents face each day and they provide the tools and techniques that will equip and encourage parents to continue making a difference in the lives of children.

Within each section, there are numerous resources available for professionals to reference in training and supporting foster and adoptive families. As a trainer for professionals and parents, I will definitely incorporate the stories and handouts in several of our trainings. I also plan to use the Jigsaw Puzzle activity as an interactive tool to help parents understand how abuse, neglect, trauma, and multiple transitions can impact the development of a child. Thank you so much for this great resource that has become a part of our library to be referenced my many parents who will undoubtedly find the answers to their most pressing questions.   

Lindsey Gurley

Monday, March 5, 2012

Talking to Your Child About Adoption


Talking to your child about their adoption can be a very overwhelming and scary process that many parents dread. Parents often do not know how to begin the conversation, at what age to begin the discussion, how to answer difficult questions about their child's history, etc. Here are a few tips for starting that discussion...

  • Begin the conversation with your child(ren) as soon as possible. We like to tell families that your child should not remember being told they were adopted, it should just be something that they have always known.
  • Parents need to initiate the conversation and keep the discussion going, letting your child know that you are open to talking about their adoption. Make adoption language and their story a natural, normal part of life.
  • Convey to your child that the circumstances leading to the adoption were not your child's fault. Children's magical thinking often leads them to believe that their bad behavior or thoughts caused parental death, divorce or relinquishment. Stress the fact that the reasons for relinquishment are unrelated to your child but made the birth parent incapable of being an adequate parent to the child at the time.
  • The best times to talk are always calm moments when you're not distracted. This might be while looking through family albums, photographs, videos or making a life book.
  • If your child doesn't seem interested in talking, you may want to consider whether you have been approaching your child at times when they do not want to talk. Children are more open to discussion of adoption when they ask you questions on their own. You should take advantage of openings for discussion but always be aware that you can overdo discussion by going into more detail than your child needs or can handle at the time.
  • Children sometimes don't want to upset their adoptive parents so will not bring up the adoption topic if they sense you are uncomfortable discussing their birth parents or the adoption itself. Pay attention to your tone of voice and body language and make sure you are conveying that you are comfortable discussing adoption with your child.

Check out these online resources for more information about starting and continuing the adoption discussion with your child. 

Explaining Adoption to Your Child
Get Talking!
Adoption -- When and How to Talk About Adoption With Your Kids

You can also contact your local APAC office to request one of our many DVD and book resources on talking to your child about adoption. We even have children's books that you can read with your child that explain adoption in developmentally appropriate language. Give us a call at 866.803.2722!

How about you? What tips do you have for talking to your kids about adoption?