Monday, October 29, 2012

National Adoption Month Mini-Conferences

Our Alabama Pre/Post Adoption Connections program is hosting two mini-conferences in November in celebration of National Adoption Month.

Wednesday, November 7
Mobile County Department of Human Resources
3103 Airport Blvd.
Mobile, AL 36606

8:00am: Registration
8:30am: Conference
Sessions Include: 
  • Effective Behavior Management Techniques for Children with Special Needs, Jules Starr, MS BCBA (Program Director, Woody's Song)
  • Effects of Domestic Violence on Children and Techniques for Intervention, Jennifer Weed, LCSW (Children's Therapist, Penelope House)
  • Understanding the Link Between Early Childhood Trauma and Brain Development, Barry Swope, MS LPC (Managing Member, Focal Point Counseling)
  • Strategies for Healing Trauma Based Behaviors, Barry Swope, MS LPC
Lunch (on your own - a list of local restaurants will be available for your convenience.)

Click Here to Register for the Mobile Mini-Conference

Friday, November 9
Alabama Public Library Service
6030 Monticello Drive
Montgomery, AL 36117

8:30am: Registration
9:00am: Conference
Sessions include: 
  • Special Education Advocacy: Lorraine Barnes, ALPIRC
  • Cyber Safety: CyberKids Program, Troy University
  • Adoption Triad Panel: Amy Kenney, Adult Adoptee; Kerri Moore, Adoptive Parent; Betsy Emmerson, International Adoptive Parent; Lamar Bates, Foster Care Alumni; and a Birth Mother
Lunch: Honey Baked Ham will be on site with boxed lunches (PRE-ORDERS ONLY)

Click Here to Register for the Montgomery Mini-Conference

Children's Aid Society/APAC offers free Social Worker and Counselor CEUs as well as certificates for adoptive and foster parents. CAS is an approved CEU provider by the Alabama Board of Social Work Examiners and the National Board of Certified Counselors.

For more information about these mini-conferences, please contact:
Mobile - 251-460-2727 or
Montgomery - 334-409-9477 or

Friday, October 26, 2012

Our Main Office Is Moving

Our central CAS office in the metro Birmingham area is relocating from Homewood to Birmingham in the Southside area.

Our new address is
2141 14th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35205

All of our staff's direct telephone numbers and the main telephone number, 205-251-7148, will remain the same. However, our office will be closed until Wednesday, October 31 while we make our transition.

If you have any needs during this time, please email us at

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Free Webinar: The Importance Of Healthy Attachment

Children who have had serious disruptions of care in the first years of life, including separation from birth parents and/or multiple moves, are at major risk of not developing healthy attachment. This factor has significant implications for children and strongly determines how they develop in other areas of their lives. This webinar will address how such disruptions affect brain development, as well as how the natural attachment process helps a child develop empathy; cause and effect thinking; and the ability to manage feelings. Practical tools will also be discussed in order to nurture healthy attachment with the children who need it most.

CEUs available for the following:
  • Adoptive Parents
  • Foster Parents
  • Social Workers
  • Counselors 
CAS is an approved CE Provider NBCC #6459 ABSWE #0039

Trainer: Lindsey Gurley, LGSW, is a Family Support Worker for APAC. She obtained her Master's of Social Work from the University of Alabama. In addition to working at APAC, Lindsey also teaches social welfare courses at the University of Mobile. She enjoys recruiting promising students to the social work profession. Prior to working at APAC, Lindsey earned experience working with adults and children with cognitive disabilities and emotional and behavioral disturbances. She also had the privilege of working at a therapeutic foster care program and family preservation program as a clinical supervisor. She is a mother of three and knows firsthand how challenging parenting can be, so she enjoys the opportunity to educate and support foster and adoptive parents in Alabama.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Extended Family and Adoption

The introduction of an adopted or foster child to a family can be a challenging and overwhelming experience for all involved. The way your extended family responds to the child often depends on how well you have prepared them. General information that you can share about the effects of trauma, and abuse and neglect on a child, can be very useful and a deterrent to assumptions that your family members may have before meeting your child.

Here are a few suggestions on how to prepare them: 

· Discuss the reasons you are adopting or fostering, not for the purpose of obtaining permission, but in order to further their understanding. 
· Explain the unique experiences of an adopted or fostered child.  This can be done without a lot of detail, by focusing on the reality of the child’s birthparent not being in his/her life, and the potentially challenging transition to the presence of a new parent in the child’s life. 
· The child may not respond to the family as the family may anticipate. The child may be withdrawn, suspicious, angry, sad, or demanding. All of these behaviors and many more are indicative of the child’s fear, not necessarily of the child’s acceptance or rejection of the family. 
· If the child is engaging in disruptive behaviors, this might require further education, so the extended family understands the difficulty a child may encounter in trying to feel safe and attached to their new family.  It is easy to identify with a child suffering a severe physical condition, but can be very difficult to comfort and embrace a child suffering an emotional condition that is not visible to the naked eye.  Adoptive parents are instrumental in helping extended family to view the behavior through that lens.
· Language can be a factor. Extended family can be educated on the language of adoption, such as ‘forever family,’ ‘birth sibling’, ‘termination of parental rights’, and ‘made an adoption plan’.  The use of positive adoption language is very important to show the child that they are accepted, loved and that they are not being judged by their past.
· Another factor that may emerge is prejudice held by extended family regarding ethnicity. Prejudices are based on ignorance. Education of those family members can be helpful. Part of this education is explaining why the difference in ethnicity is not an issue for the parents themselves. 

There may be, however, some extended family members who remain difficult and judgmental regardless of the information they receive. Parents should make a decision about how to handle this circumstance.  Limiting contact may be an option. Another option is to prepare a script and coach the child (if developmentally appropriate) on how to relate to these difficult family members. If there is contact with difficult or non-committed family members, it is important to remember that an adopted or foster child is usually very aware of nonverbal messages and will often feel rejected. The parents need to be prepared in advance for this and coach the child that what they are observing is about the adult, not about anything the child has done. 

In a perfect world, extended family would embrace this adopted or fostered child as one of their own.  The reality of this world is that there are difficulties. The challenge for adoptive parents is to be advocates for all their children and the challenge for extended family is to be unconditional in their respect for all family members.