Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome

By Jordan Upton

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Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS) is not a formally recognized disorder but is a term that has been used since 1995 to describe feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression that some parents feel following an adoption. PADS usually affects adoptive mothers and can be attributed to a variety of factors.

The adoption process itself can be an emotional rollercoaster, but challenges may continue even after parents have brought their child home. There may be bonding issues, residual emotions about infertility, overwhelming pressure to be perfect, or a let-down that occurs after accomplishing a major goal or life milestone, like getting married or graduating from college.

Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome may present itself through:

●  Loss of interest or enjoyment in activities you used to enjoy

●  Fatigue or loss of energy

●  Excessive guilt

●  Feeling powerless

●  Feeling worthless

●  Sense of hopelessness

If you or someone you know may be experiencing these feelings post-adoption, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Reach out to a therapist or counselor. Contact AGAPE staff for their guidance and referrals. Take time off - whether it’s time off work or a day away from home to clear your head - take care of yourself so you can better take care of others.

Remember, you are not alone. A study by Purdue University found 18-26% of adoptive mothers reported depressive symptoms within the first year of bringing home a new baby or child.

Asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. You, your child, and your family as a whole will benefit when you are honest about your feelings and seek help to be and feel your best.

https://www.adoptionstogether.org/blog/2013/01/07/why-arent-i-happy-recognizing-post-adoption-depression-syndrome/

https://www.seleni.org/advice-support/2018/3/16/post-adoption-depression https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2012/120322FoliResearch.html

Adoption in America

By Jordan Upton

In 2007 the National Public Radio morning show Morning Edition began a series titled “Adoption in America”. This four-part series examines the highs and the lows of adoption with four families and adoptees. The listener learns various aspects of adoption and how lives are impacted in sometimes unforeseen ways.

Part one talks with Judy Stigger and her now 26-year-old adopted son, Aaron. Over 30 years ago Judy and her husband, after discovering infertility issues, decided to adopt. They adopted two biracial children. Judy and her husband are both white. Judy and Aaron discuss the obvious and unexpected issues (such as the skin color of the angels on the family Christmas tree) involving race the family have faced.

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In part two, NPR’s Steve Inskeep hears a harrowing story from the Smolin family who adopted two girls from India in 1998. The Smolins were told that the girls were orphans who were looking for a new home in America. But, when the girls arrive in Atlanta the Smolins learn this was not the case. The two girls, Manjula and Bhagya, were emotionally distressed and tell their new adoptive parents that they had a home and a mother in India and that they were taken from her. The Smolins learn that the biological mother of the two was poor and in order for her daughters to be taken care of had temporarily placed them in a boarding school. This school turned out to be an orphanage and the director essentially sold the girls overseas and had given false information to the adoption agency in America.

Part three has Susan Soon-keum Cox tell her story of being adopted by an Oregon couple after spending her first four and a half years in South Korea. Adopted in 1956, Susan was one of the first children from overseas to be adopted in America. Susan’s childhood was spent learning how to be an American and she essentially lost all touch with her Korean heritage. Cox, now the vice president of an adoption agency, advocates for the retainment of an adopted child’s heritage and culture, which was not the case when she was adopted.

Finally, in part four author A.M. Homes talks about being adopted just after her birth. Growing up with no intention of finding her birth mother, Homes, then 32 years old, came home to find a voicemail stating that “someone is looking for you”. That someone, was her birth mother who wanted to get in touch. Homes talks about the complicated histories of her birth mother and her birth father, who she would also eventually meet, and how these events and histories have shaped her own understanding of identity.

These heartfelt, unique, and diverse stories are all available for free online at

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12138181

Book Recommendation: Four Waifs on Our Doorstep

By Jordan Upton

Trisha Merry won a regional mother of the year competition and was titled “Mum in a Million” for her outstanding work as a foster care parent. Mrs. Merry has fostered over 700 children and adopted seven in her 50 years of experience.

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Mrs. Merry gained an excellent reputation as a foster care parent and was often the first call for emergency placements and large sibling groups. In 2015 she published a book, “Four Waifs on Our Doorstep” which described the last sibling group she and her husband fostered and eventually adopted.

Throughout the book, she voiced her frustration with certain authority figures who failed the children in her care. She constantly pushed them to do better, to keep her kids’ best interests at the forefront of all decisions. Using these difficult situations as more purpose for writing the book, Mrs. Merry explained:

“I’m hoping just one foster carer, just one adopter, one social worker, perhaps one social-work manager, one psychiatrist, one teacher, one whatever, will pick it up and read it and sit and think.”

While the book mentions some of the traumatic incidents that led to the children being placed in care and eventually on the adoption track, Mrs. Merry tried to keep the overall story hopeful and inspiring. She did not want to dwell on the kids’ past, but “loved being able to open their doors to life.” She focused on the future, the opportunities now available to those in her care.

When telling her now-adopted children about her reason for sharing their story, Mrs. Merry said:

“I would like a child who’s been in the care system, perhaps who’s just been kicked out at sixteen, to pick up our book and read it, and be inspired by how you’ve turned your lives around. I would like it to help them.”

For more information on “Four Waifs on Our Doorstep” see:

https://www.amazon.com/Four-Waifs-Doorstep-Trisha-Merry/dp/1471138453 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25325738-four-waifs-on-our-doorstep

Why We Do Respite

Your donations support and equip foster families in your community who are opening their loving, Christian homes right now to children in need. Other Christian families assist them in this mission work by occasionally providing respite. Please watch & listen as the Williams family shares why they became Respite Providers.

A Reunification Story: We Just Hugged

By Jordan Upton

Bonnie Hendrix is now 30 years old. As we speak on the phone I hear the playful and raucous laughter of Bonnie’s two children, aged four and two, and Bonnie frequently has to take a sidebar from our conversation to answer questions posed by her curious kids. I was put in touch with Bonnie to hear and share her story. AGAPE has had a large impact on her life: she was adopted when she was two months old and recently was reunited with her birth mother.

Bonnie’s adoptive parents, Randy and Joyce, were on AGAPE’s Tennessee-based waiting list to be placed with a baby. When the couple heard no news of any children needing a home, they switched to AGAPE of North Carolina. After making this switch to the North Carolina branch, the couple was contacted about the birth of Bonnie while they attended a baseball game. Bonnie jokes “...it’s always funny I get to tell people that my mom was at a baseball game on my birthday.” This is one thing that surprised me while speaking with Bonnie about such intimate and dramatic details of her life: her unwavering sense of humor. The openness and willingness to discuss such events in her life with a relative stranger were both pleasantly surprising and uplifting.

Bonnie grew up in a happy home with Joyce and Randy as her adoptive parents. Two and a half years after taking Bonnie home, Joyce surprisingly became pregnant and the couple welcomed another girl into their family. Bonnie was raised knowing that she was adopted. Bonnie tells me how her mother explained to her that “I had not grown under her heart but in it”, and that her parents had always welcomed and supported Bonnie’s idea of finding her birth mother if she ever wished to do so. It is easy to see how caring and compassionate Bonnie’s parents are, especially considering how hard situations like those could be. Three years ago Bonnie decided to embark on that journey.

Bonnie contacted director of AGAPE, Kim Scott, who supported Bonnie’s search fully and helped in every way she could. Bonnie explains the process of filing the paperwork and sending in money to receive information on her birth mother. She was then told the information would take up to 90 days to find its way back to her. “I waited all summer and exactly on the dot 90 days later I got an email that said that they found her and that she really wanted to meet with me.” I asked if this 90 day wait was as grueling and stressful as I imagine it would be, to which Bonnie replied succinctly: “I immediately started freaking out”.

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The two decided to meet during Bonnie’s fall break because she is a teacher. Joyce (Bonnie’s adoptive mother), Bonnie’s husband, and her then two and a half year old and six month old kids made the trip to AGAPE of NC’s offices. Bonnie impatiently paced the waiting room for 45 minutes waiting on her birth mother to arrive. “She was running late...she was terrible at directions which made me laugh because I’m also terrible at directions” Bonnie tells me. And then she arrived. I could feel the tension as Bonnie was telling me the story and could only imagine how this moment would feel. I was anxious as to how this story would end. And then Bonnie tells me with all of the sincerity and simplicity she had exuded throughout our conversation: “We both just started crying as soon as we saw each other. And we just hugged and it was great”.

While this was the only time Bonnie and her birth mother, Wendy, have met in person, they maintain contact over the phone and the internet. Wendy lives in South Carolina while Bonnie and her family live in Tennessee. Wendy had two other daughters, making them Bonnie’s half-sisters, and while Bonnie has not met them in person they have been in touch using Facebook. As we end our conversation Bonnie tells me that this journey has been a “really great experience” and that by contacting her birth mother it has “benefitted my whole family and I make a lot more sense to myself now”.

I was privileged to hear Bonnie’s incredible and uplifting life story. AGAPE is honored to have had a part in placing Bonnie with her incredible adoptive parents as well as helping her contact and reunite with her birth mother.

Staff Profile: Meet Social Worker Marilyn Bredon

By Jordan Upton

When speaking with Marilyn Bredon, two things become apparent: her love of working with children and her faith in God. These pillars in her life led her, in January 2018, to join Agape of NC as a social worker II.

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Marilyn has been an advocate for children since she was a child herself. As a Christmas gift when she was young, Marilyn was given a doll and named it Baby Sister. She knows that her parents had entertained the idea of adoption on their own, but with her insistence of wanting a baby sister, they adopted a two year old girl when Marilyn was five. When completing the adoption paperwork, five year old Marilyn piped up to give their home address and phone number, feeling very included in her sister’s adoption.

Marilyn and her sister, like their parents before them, grew up in the Church of Christ. Marilyn participated in youth group, and when she was old enough she became a leader in the children’s church Sunday morning service. She was also a leader during Vacation Bible Schools and taught bible study. In college, she ran a “Mothers Morning Out” program. Marilyn’s work with children has truly been a lifelong calling.

After college, Marilyn moved to North Carolina with her husband. While living in Durham and working for Durham County Child Protective Services, they had three children. A job opportunity moved them to Virginia, where their fourth child was born. Marilyn swears this move was all God.

In Virginia, she was diagnosed with ocular cancer. She had an ocular melanoma wrapped completely around her optic nerve. Fortunately, one of the nation’s leading doctors with that expertise was working in Richmond. Marilyn was his last surgical patient. When the job opportunity turned out not to be what their family expected, and they moved back to North Carolina, Marilyn realized God’s real purpose in moving them to Virginia - that specific place at that specific time- was so this doctor could save her life. She has been cancer-free since 2001.

Upon their move back to North Carolina, Marilyn spoke with Nicole Spickard, whose father started AGAPE. She applied in the fall of 2017 and officially started work in January 2018.

There is no such thing as a typical day in her work. What families and children need may change every day, depending on who is involved and what is happening. She was the social worker for Salem House, and is currently working with two other families that are fostering children. She may be visiting, calling, texting, and/or emailing the foster parents on any given day to discuss the children in their care. If there are older teenagers currently in care, she’ll check in with them via texts and calls too. Marilyn also helps people who are working to become licensed foster parents or renew their licenses. Some days are hectic - like during the recent July Fourth holiday when she needed to find last minute respite care after late notice of closure from a daycare. But other days, like when she receives adorable school pictures of happy children in care, balance it out.

My Reflective Experiences with AGAPE

By Jordan Upton

As the school year begins again and my summer interning with AGAPE of N.C. draws to a close, I felt it would be appropriate to reflect on my experiences working with the organization. I feel incredibly blessed to have had the privilege of working with AGAPE. Everyone involved with the organization is compassionate, helpful, knowledgeable, and each person cares about the work they do and the children they help. This is true about every staff member from the social workers such as Marilyn Bredon, to the Board of Directors members like Joe Hall, to the executive director Kim Scott.

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Not only do the staff members work tirelessly to promote the mission of AGAPE, but the volunteers, donors, and community members work just as hard and are just as passionate about helping children find loving homes. Take 11-year-old Meredith Finch, for example, who began selling lemonade in her town to raise money to donate to AGAPE. People like that are special, and they recognize that the people at AGAPE are special, too.

When I began working with AGAPE, I had not heard of them and I knew very little about adoption and foster care experiences. Now, by having spoken with those who have adopted, been adopted, and foster children themselves, I have grown a deep appreciation and respect for these people.

I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to get to know everyone involved with AGAPE, and for all of the people I was able to speak with who were so open and honest about their experiences, and for the chance to share their stories with the public. I only hope I was able to convey their messages and stories in a meaningful way and that they were heard and appreciated by those who read them as much as I appreciated hearing and sharing them. I am excited about the future of AGAPE and can not wait to see what the future has in store for everyone involved.

Why You are So Important!

By Kimberly Scott

Director of AGAPE of NC

In 2017, experts warned that North Carolina’s foster care system is in a predicament. The state’s Division of Social Services began noticing in late 2012 that the number of children coming into foster care was exceeding the number exiting the system. With over 11,000 children in NC already in foster homes, our foster care rate is reportedly the highest it has been in the last 10 years and is steadily rising. Many causes factor into the situation:

  • physical and mental trauma, abuse or neglect;

  • parental substance abuse, including the opioid crisis

    we hear so much about;

  • parental incarceration;

  • a reduction in federal funds for mental health services.

    The bottom line is that the number of children currently in our North Carolina foster care system is rising faster than the number of foster families available to support them. It is AGAPE’s Christ-focused mission to fill as much of that gap as possible with Christian counseling and foster homes where these children will be loved and come to know Jesus.

At present, AGAPE of NC has over 30 kids in care with our 25 foster families. Thankfully, we are blessed with another 25 new families pursuing licensure right now. We also have at least a dozen families providing respite foster care. But AGAPE needs more of YOU because the children need more from us.

So, when AGAPE of NC asks YOU to

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  • consider becoming a foster parent or a respite care provider;

  • donate items or funds needed to supply SALEM HOUSE;

  • start saving your spare change now because AGAPE’s 3rd Annual CHANGE FOR LIFE! fundraising campaign will kick off in September 2018;

  • volunteer your time & talents; and

  • pray for AGAPE and those who need us...

    know it is ALL for the children and families God wants us to serve. “And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

Staff Profile: Meet AGAPE of NC's Director, Kim Scott

By Jordan Upton

Executive Director Kimberly Scott knows that her involvement with AGAPE was not her plan, but God’s. As a young girl, Kim often told her family that she wanted a job for God, and took comfort in her mother’s response that “we all have a job for God.” This thinking led her to a life of service and helping others.

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Originally from Texas, Kim earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. Her husband, an engineer, received calls from headhunters and was offered jobs around the world. She was pregnant when her husband asked if she’d rather move to North Carolina or Germany. With two toddlers and another baby on the way, Kim thought it best to stay in the States. She envisioned the move to North Carolina as a starting point for a life of travel; they would stay a couple years then check out other places. But things don’t always go as we plan, and 19 years later Kim is still enjoying life in NC.

After relocating to NC, Kim was lucky to stay home with her children until they all began school. At that time, she started her own private practice. One day, her minister walked into the office with a new client. Until then, her minister didn’t know that she was a licensed clinical social worker. After seeing her practice and learning of her qualifications, Kim’s minister approached her about AGAPE. He was on the organization’s board of directors and the search committee for a new executive director.

Kim wasn’t looking for a job. She had been in practice for years and had about 15 people working for her. She said, “I was doing great where I was,” and even joked, “I had a great boss - me!”
But after several interviews where she learned more about the meaning and mission of AGAPE, Kim found herself thinking ‘if they’ll have me, I am here.’ When they officially offered her the position of executive director in October 2013, Kim said, “Of course! Of course, I’m going to take this job. No, wasn’t even an option.”

Nearly five years into her role as executive director, Kim says, “I feel truly blessed to be part of this organization, and just to be able to be part of people’s lives in such a profound way.”

Kim has a hand in every aspect of AGAPE - making presentations about foster care, raising awareness, recruiting foster families and board members. She manages the staff and helps with financial planning. She receives calls daily about kids needing placement and works to find a match for them. In short, she does everything she can to fulfill AGAPE’s mission of strengthening families through compassionate Christian outreach.

Partnership Made in Heaven

by Lisa Brewer

Lisa Brewer serves as Executive Director of Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival.

For the past two years, AGAPE of NC has sponsored the Kids’ Activities tent at Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival. The event is the nation’s only bluegrass festival held at a Bible camp promoting Bible study and wholesome recreation. In fact, it might just be the most family-friendly festival around. And that works out well for a partnership between CBC and AGAPE.

More than two thousand guests have visited the festival on the second Saturday of September since AGAPE began sponsoring a children’s area. Multi-generational families with members of all ages have enjoyed the best in bluegrass artists, tasty meals, a classic car show, and a variety of free crafts activities. The AGAPE of NC’s Kids’ Activities tent has featured Bible crafts, recyclables for art projects, a Bible coloring page and free face painting. Each year, a “Save the Date” coloring page has been designed by artist and CBC camper, Melea Womack, of the Charlotte area (she doubles as a face painter).

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“Our involvement with Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival began because we wanted to increase our own organization's profile,” said AGAPE of NC ExecutiveDirector, Kimberly Scott. “The festival gave us a very appropriate venue in which to do that. What makes this a great place for AGAPE to be is the audience. Guests who attend this event believe in family values. And if they have not experienced strong families before, we can demonstrate what they look like here.”

The annual bluegrass festival is a fundraiser for the Bible camp’s capital development and scholarship funds. No child has ever been turned away from Carolina Bible Camp due to an inability to pay. In fact, every camper’s fee is kept low and supplemented by the fundraiser.

Performing artists are chosen carefully by the festival committee to ensure family-friendly listening. Alcohol and tobacco products are not permitted at the Camp at any time, including during the festival.

Carolina Bible Camp is situated on sixty-eight wooded acres in Mocksville, NC. Cabins are rustic in design with modern accommodations including heat, air-conditioning, and private bathrooms. A dining hall with commercial grade kitchen comfortably seats 250 at one time. Outdoor activities include walking trails, in-ground pool (open during summer camp weeks only), beach volleyball, jungle gym, disc golf and more. The largest outdoor shelter is a popular gathering spot for a cappella singing during camping weeks.  During the bluegrass festival, it becomes a Pickers’ Place for instrumentalists who want to “jam.” More than 100 volunteers work together to create a memorable family festival experience for guests.

In addition to sponsoring the Kids’ Activities tent, Scott and other AGAPE representatives promoted AGAPE at a separate booth at the bluegrass festival.

“This has given us a means to engage with festival guests directly,” Scott explained. “We have had many special conversations about exploring foster family service and supporting AGAPE’s mission in various ways."

“We believe in the healing qualities of music, fun, and fellowship,” Scott said. “Those activities are so important to families, and they are highlighted at Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival. With Christ as the foundation of the Camp and the foundation of AGAPE, we know we are at the right place to share Christ as the foundation of the family.”

The seventh annual Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival is scheduled for Saturday, September 8, 2018. Performing artists include Grammy winner Alison Brown; acclaimed Bobby Hicks, Mark Kuykendal & Asheville Bluegrass; returning favorite Tim White & Troublesome Hollow; 2017 MerleFest band competition winners The Trailblazers; 2016 MerleFest band competition winners Fireside Collective; the popular Snyder Family Band; and famed pre-war stringband musician Dwight “Sawman” Hawkins. For more information, please contact Lisa Brewer at spchwoman@ aol.com or visit www.cbcbluegrass.com.

Board of Directors Profile: Meet Vice Chairman Joe Hall

By Jordan Upton

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AGAPE of North Carolina could not run as efficiently or productively if it were not for the help of our amazing and diverse staff, volunteers, and board members. The board of directors is made up of various members of the community who help maintain AGAPE’s pursuit of excellence. Each of these members bring a unique yet equally important aspect to the organization, which allows growth, new perspectives, and expert problem solving. The board is made up of various positions, each of which holding a particular purpose and integral for the board to function well. The positions rotate every few years allowing for new faces and fresh ideas to be brought to these posts. The members of the board, who live across parts of North Carolina and in various states across the U.S., meet quarterly either in person or via teleconference to discuss the future plans with AGAPE and to ensure the organization is running at its highest potential.

One of these board members is Mr. Joe Hall, of Claremont, North Carolina. Mr. Hall is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the United States Air Force. After spending 20-plus years traveling the country, Joe and his wife of 34 years, Cathy, ended up in Kansas. There, the couple with their two biological children, fostered a two-month-old daughter, Kimi. Shortly after, Kimi had three other siblings brought in to be fostered by the Hall family. Three years later, all four children were adopted by Joe and Cathy. The family then moved to North Carolina where Joe teaches JROTC at Bunker Hill High School.

Lt. Col. Hall became involved with AGAPE after viewing a presentation former Director Tom Slaughter made at a church service one morning recruiting potential volunteers, foster families, donors, and sharing the message of AGAPE. Shortly after Joe became a board member where he has now served in various capacities including Vice Chairman and Chairman over the past seven years.

AGAPE is blessed to have people such as Lt. Col. Hall be a part of our organization and thank him and his family, as well as families like his, for all of the work they do for AGAPE.

Mayor Grateful To Start Family With Adoption

By Jordan Upton

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On May 22nd, the mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser, announced that she has adopted a newborn baby. Mayor Bowser, now 45, became the youngest person and only the second woman to serve in the position when she was elected in 2015. In a statement released today, Bowser announced that she began the adoption process last year and it progressed quickly, allowing her to bring her baby home today. Bowser becomes a single mom with this adoption and she is committed to being a great mother as well as a strong leader for her community. “I am thrilled, nervous, and looking forward to each and every stage... I am so grateful to be able to start my family in this wonderful way” Bowser stated.

Adoption has allowed for Mayor Bowser to fulfill her wish of having a family of her own and additionally gives her newborn baby the gift of growing up in a loving, caring, and supportive home. Bowser is an excellent role model for those who wish to start a family and have exhausted other means and are perhaps exploring alternative routes, and is a champion for the adoption process.

Adoption and foster care changes the lives of all involved. It allows for the parent(s) to love and care for a child that needs it tremendously. AGAPE helps foster parents find the children who need them the most. Placing children into safe, caring environments offers them the best opportunity to grow into the strong, resilient, and important people that every child has the potential to be.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Family/washingt...

A Call for Partnerships

By Jordan Upton

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AGAPE of North Carolina offers a lot of impactful programming for youth and families, and we would love to share more information about our organization with you!

In March 2018, we were pleased to attend the Southern Women’s Show at Wake Technical Community College and connect with women in the Triangle area.

We were excited for the opportunity to outreach more recently in western North Carolina. Early in June 2018, we were able to speak with members of the Abilene Church of Christ in Statesville.

We appreciate the opportunity to meet with people and have important conversations in person. As we increase our efforts to recruit potential foster families and spread the mission of AGAPE, we would welcome the opportunity to share our message with similar organizations.

For example, later in June, we’ll be visiting with members of the Kannapolis Church of Christ. We will also be participating in the annual Juneteenth celebration in Durham on Saturday, June 16.

If your church or community organization would like to hear more about AGAPE and our mission, please contact us! Call our main office at (919) 673-7816, or e-mail our office manager, Kaye Orander (korander@agapeofnc.org) to discuss the opportunities for partnership.

There are children in need in our area, and we believe our community can join together to positively impact their lives.

YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM IS A KEY TO YOUR LONGEVITY AS A FOSTER PARENT

By Jonathan Rockoff 

Jonathan Rockoff is a Training Specialist with the Family and Children’s Resource Program at the UNC School of Social Work.

For years I had the honor of working alongside some of the most selfless people I have ever met, individuals who opened their homes and hearts to children with a multitude of needs. These unheralded heroes I refer to are the foster parents of North Carolina. They are without doubt one of the most precious resources in the child welfare system.

When someone makes the decision to become a foster parent, they embark on one of the most rewarding journeys they will ever take. Yet if they aren’t prepared, this journey can be surprisingly brief. Consider this: one study of data from three states found that between 47% and 62% of foster parents quit fostering within one year of the first placement in their home (Gibbs, 2005).

What is it that enables some families to make it past that first year? In my experience, one of the most important factors is a strong support system.

Your Support System Is Key

During pre-service training, agencies ask prospective resource parents to think about who they have in their life that will support them as they face the challenges that come with fostering. Though this makes a lot of sense, many new resource parents don’t realize how critical this is to their future success. Their vision of a support system is limited to someone to provide occasional respite, answer a question here and there, and be a sounding board.

A support system can be all these things, of course, but it can and should be much more. Each child in care is different. So is every foster family. Each has different needs and types of support that will empower them to success.

Family and Friends

Family and friends are the foundation of support for many resource parents. For example, I have seen a single mother with no prior parenting experience and a full-time job beautifully parent two children under the age of one in large part thanks to her support system.

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While this was an extremely strong-willed and resilient parent in her own right, before accepting the placements, she already had an established and benevolent support system in place. She had a dear family friend and a sister nearby she knew she could rely on, even when times were tough. They were fully on board. She spoke to them before becoming a foster parent and explained what she would need help with. They told her they would help whenever possible, and they lived up to this commitment.

 

Community Groups

The community can also play a big role lifting resource families up. For instance, I have seen families rely on church networks for reassurance, guidance, and support. I’ve also seen businesses and volunteer organizations donate time and tangible items to resource families. At one appreciation dinner, various groups gave their time, food, gifts, and talents to give foster parents an enjoyable evening and to let them know they are valued by their community.

Here’s another example. I knew several families that participated in a support group for foster and adoptive families called Mercy for America’s Children (http://www.mac-cares.org/), which is based in Wake Forest, NC. Once they became licensed, this group gave families opportunities to obtain continuing education, participate in events and trips, and be a part of a network of other foster and adoptive families that could provide support and genuine empathy.

The Role of Agencies

Agencies’ role in supporting foster families should not be overlooked, either. Agencies can best support their families by valuing them, providing trauma-informed training, listening to them, and being responsive. Turnover is less likely when foster parents feel heard and backed by their agency.

I have worked with several families who felt comfortable reaching out to their supervising agency for assistance with challenging child behaviors, guidance, and to serve as a sounding board to constructively solve problems. The families that felt more comfortable openly communicating with their supervising agencies were more likely to stick around and care for more children over time.

Well-supported foster parents are also more willing to share their experience with others in the community, which helps with recruitment.  If it takes a village to raise a child, it may take two villages to raise a child who has experienced trauma. When a foster parent has a strong support system within their family, friends, community, and agency, they gain confidence, are empowered, and can focus on meeting the needs of their children.

I would encourage any foster parent who does not feel supported or who feels stretched thin to reach out to their agency and their natural supports. Regardless of when you read this, there are children in foster care in North Carolina who need you.

 

Source: http://fosteringperspectives.org/?p=1378

What Can Churches Do to Help AGAPE of N.C.?

By Jordan Upton

One of the greatest assets AGAPE of N.C. has at our disposal is the support and friendship of local churches in our community. The encouragement, volunteer time, and donations received from local, state, and nation-wide partners are invaluable resources that help AGAPE of N.C. provide the greatest possible care in fostering, adoption, and counseling services.

If you are new to AGAPE and are wondering how you and your church can help further our mission, here are a few easy ways you can help be an advocate.

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Donations

AGAPE is grateful for any and all monetary donations that support our continued programs. Gifts may be made online or via check. For more information on donations, please seehttps://www.agapeofnc.org/donate/.

Shopping Through AmazonSmile

Many people already use Amazon for online shopping, but did you know your purchases could make an impact on local non-profits? By shopping through https://smile.amazon.comyou can select “Association For Guidance Aid Placement And Empathy Of N C Inc.” to receive a donation of 0.5% of your total purchase price.

Normalize the Idea of Fostering and Adoption

There’s a joke about newlyweds constantly being asked by family when they’re going to have kids. It’s played out on television and movies, even in best-selling novels. When these conversations happen in real life, you have the opportunity to discuss alternative family planning. Fostering or adopting isn’t the first idea that comes to most minds when planning for children, but with open, honest conversations, the ideas can be more normalized in today’s society. A better understanding of and a more accepting attitude toward fostering and adopting will benefit those in the system.

Encourage Fostering

Talk to your friends, family, and fellow church members about fostering. Explain how children in crisis could benefit from a stable, nurturing, secure, Christian environment. Encourage others to explore the option of providing comfort and care to children in need.

Volunteering

AGAPE welcomes volunteers who wish to share their skills and passions with us. We hope to create a valuable experience that will benefit both the volunteer and our organization. Please check our list of current volunteer opportunities here: https://www.agapeofnc.org/opportunities/. If you don’t see a role that fits you, please contact AGAPE’s administrative assistant Kaye Orander at 919-673-7816 or korander@agapeofnc.org to express your interest in volunteering and to discuss how you can become part of our mission to serve the children of North Carolina.

Support Those Who Foster

Ask how you can be there for current foster parents: physically, emotionally, financially, or spiritually. Monetary donations to AGAPE support our foster parents, but you can be their advocate in other ways too. You could be a shoulder to lean on or a compassionate, listening ear. Pray for the foster parents and their families. Refer them to AGAPE if you feel they need more professional support than you can provide.

Help Spread the Word About AGAPE

The more people who know about our organization, the more people we are potentially able to help. Sharing our blog posts, liking our Instagram posts, following our newsletter, and liking and sharing our Facebook updates will allow us to reach a wider audience. You never know who may see a post you share and how it may affect them. Your sharing could indirectly lead someone to AGAPE to become a donor, volunteer, or foster parent! Spreading the word about AGAPE will help bring awareness to our mission and garner more support of it.

Fostering That Became Adopting

By Jordan Upton

On May 11th, the Friday before Mother’s Day, ABC Evening News with David Muir chose to spotlight the Peters family as their ‘Persons of the Week’. Sharis and her husband, Thomas, wanted children but due to fertility issues they were unable to conceive. Faced with expensive fertility treatments, the couple instead sought other avenues in order to fulfill their desire for children. This led the couple to begin fostering in 2010. Sharis and Thomas were contacted about siblings Miles, 3 years old, and Jasmine, 5 month old. After bringing Miles and Jasmine home, the couple fell in love with the children, and 10 months later, the Peters received another call from their social worker that baby Jade, Miles and Jasmine’s sister, had been born. Baby Jade was the exclamation point to this happy couple’s fostering story. Sharis and Thomas have officially adopted all of the children who are now 11, 8, and 7.

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"Being a foster parent and becoming an adoptive parent has meant everything to me," she said. "There's nothing else I'd rather be doing with my life." Sharis says. She goes on to describe the overwhelming joy she has felt on this journey beginning with fostering and ending with the adoption of her children. Sharis advocates for the importance of fostering, not only for the joy that those who foster feel, but more importantly the need for these children to receive the love and care they deserve.

"You don't have to be perfect to be a foster parent. You don't have to be perfect to be an adoptive parent. You don't have to be rich. You don't have to own your own home. You don't have to be perfect," she said. "You just have to be able to love somebody and accept their love. That's all you really need to do."

AGAPE of North Carolina helps create happy endings just like this with our foster care services, adoption services, and counseling services. If you are interested in enriching your life as well as changing a child’s life in an extraordinary way, are interested in helping promote the AGAPE mission, or want to donate to the organization, please visit www.agapeofnc.org.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/couple-ad...

Foster Care Awareness

By Jordan Upton

May is National Foster Care Month. This national month of recognition began in 1988 when President George H. W. Bush issued the proclamation as a way of shining a national spotlight on the foster care system and to help show appreciation for foster parents.

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While there are countless foster parents who work hard to raise foster care awareness in their communities, they do not receive the same national media attention as do celebrities. International movie stars like Angelina Jolie, Hugh Jackman, and Michelle Pfeiffer have all adopted or fostered children in their lives and have spoken publicly about the joy it has brought them in their lives as well as the importance it holds in the lives of the children. Of this group of celebrity foster and adoptive parents is movie star Sandra Bullock, who has adopted two of her children out of the foster care system.

In an interview with InStyle magazine, Bullock discusses the importance of adopting, especially out of the foster care system. Bullock also discourages the use of the phrase “my adopted child”, stating that the word “adopted” is unnecessary. This is an important distinction to make and one that is looked over frequently. There is a stigma place upon fostered or adopted children when using those kinds of terms and it is essential that these children be made to feel loved, cared for, and respected.

While most of us do not have the ability to discuss these topics with international media outlets, we can still work locally to promote fostering and adopting practices. The need for loving and caring foster parents is not contained only to the month of May, but every day, every month, and every year. So please take a little time out of your day to help promote great organizations like AGAPE of N.C. and help us give every child a forever home.

http://www.instyle.com/news/sandra-bullock-june-cover https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/faq/foster-care-5