Check out this short book review on The Connected Child, a must have for any foster/adoptive family. If you are one of AGAPE's families be sure to join Facebook Live (on the private group page) 8 pm on February 21st for our first discussion!
By Jordan Upton
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.
By Jordan Upton
Are you or someone you know interested in becoming a foster parent? We at AGAPE would love for you to be involved! Before getting started, here are some general requirements and frequently asked questions that may help you make the amazing leap into the world of fostering.
● You must be at least 21 years old. There is no top age limit.
● You must be in good health.
● If married, you must have been married for at least two years.
● Both parents are allowed to work outside of the home.
● You can be a single parent.
● You must be a Christian.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Who are the children in need of foster care?
Children placed in foster care are those that are temporarily removed from their birth family. This is sometimes due to the child being in an unsafe environment where they have faced abuse or neglect. Or, the child could have been surrendered to an adoption agency and, while waiting for the legal process to be completed, need a temporary home with a foster family. Children’s ages can range from a few days old up to eighteen years old. Sometimes it is a single child in need of a home and sometimes it is an entire family. Occasionally some children face serious medical concerns or physical maladies. Most foster children have experienced great emotional or physical trauma, which makes the need for them to be placed in a loving, caring, understanding home even greater.
2. How long are these children in foster care?
While every situation is unique, the average time spent in foster care through AGAPE of N.C. is eight months. Some children will spend a few days with a foster family and others will spend a few years. Both during the licensure procedure and when a specific child is being presented to a foster family, the potential length of stay will be fully discussed, and the foster family will participate directly in making the decision of what is right for them. Foster care is by definition temporary, but the length varies with every child and his/her circumstances.
3. What happens if I become too attached to my foster child that I do not want to let them go?
Bonding and becoming attached is a natural and necessary part of fostering. Without these things, the child would feel unwanted and unloved. Foster families feel as if they are sending a piece of their heart with their foster child when they leave. This is an important part of the process and your caseworker is sensitive to this. AGAPE will help you prepare for this sense of loss and how to adjust after your foster child has left. AGAPE believes that God has given foster parents an even bigger heart so they are able to give so much of their love away to these children in need. If you feel as if you would be too easily attached to a foster child and would experience a tremendous loss when your foster child is placed in a permanent home, AGAPE feels as if you would be the best candidate to participate in this loving service.
4. What is involved in the licensure process?
AGAPE uses state regulations and agency policies to ensure prospective families are a right fit for becoming foster parents. Foster families submit an application and will be put in touch with a caseworker. This caseworker will begin the evaluation process and preparation period, usually lasting three months. Additionally, the caseworker will spend many hours interviewing the family in the AGAPE offices as well as in the potential family home. Home inspections and background checks are given. In the end, the caseworker will assign a specific number of foster children to the home (one to five), a specific age range (from birth to 18 years old), specific gender when applicable, and the family will be informed of any special needs or circumstances for the children if the family feels they are equipped to handle such situations.
5. What if I have never fostered before? How will I know what to do?
During the licensure process families will undergo a minimum of 30 hours of training for the specific type, situation, and age of children in which the family is placed. While fostering, the families also receive more training. Most importantly, the family is never on their own. Their caseworker is always available and will visit on a regular basis. Additionally, the AGAPE staff is on call and available 24 hours a day, ready and willing to help with any question or concern that arises.
6. Is this a paid or volunteer position?
This is strictly a volunteer-based process. The agency does provide a set reimbursement per month per child to cover expenses directly associated with the child. This money is not treated as income by the IRS and does not need to be reported since it is reimbursement of actual expenses. Foster families report that this is an adequate amount to meet basic needs. With older children, there is often a clothing allowance once or twice a year. The foster home is not responsible for medical expenses related to the child.
7. How can I get started?
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent or have additional questions please contact AGAPE at 919-673-7816for a no obligation information meeting. This meeting will serve to help you “count the cost” of such service, and to decide if this is right for your family. At that time an application will be made available to you. Please visit AGAPE’s website at www.agapeofnc.orgfor more information and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with news and relevant information.
By Jordan Upton
With a new school year starting, foster parents may be asking themselves what they can do to help the kids in their care succeed at school. A few tips:
● Communication is Key
Teachers will not know that a student is in foster care unless you or the student tell them. Disclosing this information can positively impact your child’s success. Many children in foster care experience learning difficulties, and notifying the teacher ahead of time can help them be better prepared to deal with your child’s specific needs.
● Become Familiar with School Resources
Many children in foster care also have difficulty navigating social situations appropriately. Misbehaving, even unintentionally, can land students in the principal or guidance counselor’s office. Meeting these school officials and making them aware of potential issues ahead of time will help them be better prepared in the moment if a situation occurs. They may be able to offer you information on after-school programs, tutoring or extracurriculars that could benefit your child.
● Volunteer at the School
As their foster parent, you have observed this child’s behaviors at home and learned strategies for managing their stress and anxiety. If you volunteer in their classroom, you can help the teacher deal with these behaviors at school. Your presence may be calming to the student and decrease the chances of them misbehaving.
● Ask for Help
If you are experiencing any trouble, stress, or anxiety about the back-to-school process with your foster child, contact AGAPE! Our social workers, counselors, and therapists are here to help you as well as the children. We care about the well-being of families and know that the better you feel, the better you can take care of others.
By Jordan Upton
Have you thought about becoming a foster parent? Wondering what it may take?
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services requires that potential foster parents meet these eligibility requirements:
● Be at least 21 years old
● Have a stable home and income
● Maintain a drug free environment
● Be willing to be finger printed and have a criminal records check
● Complete all required training and be licensed by the state of North Carolina
- AGAPE of NC asks also that foster parents are in good health, free from communicable diseases, and Christian.
If you meet these requirements and are interested in more information, please contact AGAPE of NC! Call the main office (919) 673-7816 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and inform us of your interest in becoming a foster parent. You will be assigned to a social worker who can provide specific information and start the process. The social workers employed by AGAPE will always be there to provide 24/7 support.
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.
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.
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.
From iBelieve.com videos
iBelieve.com videos provide good advice for adoptive parents from Jamie Ivey, host, speaker and author, that we wanted to share today.
By Melissa Radcliff
of Fostering Perspectives
Children can love their parents, even if they don't like what they do. Children can love their parents even if they understand they can't live with them. This can be true for children in foster care where the parent is incarcerated. Today's article by Melissa Radcliff helps us as foster parents or mentors to understand the child's feeling better and our role in their parent-child relationship.
from Fostering Perspectives by Angie Stephenson
insights from the work of Dr. Brene Brown
It's a question all parents ask. How can I help my children (including foster children) be the best they can be? And the answer may surprise you; it's you! Or as Joseph Chilton Pearce put it, “We must be what we want our children to become.” Take a moment to read and contemplate this article's parenting advice and with faith and prayer may we all be more resilient and compassionate.
By Dr. John DeGarmo
Dr. John DeGarmo has been asked to speak this week on foster parenting due to the news that the school shooter in Florida was a foster child. This tragedy has put a negative light on fostering with a need to put it into perspective. This article does just that, it gives perspective and truth to fostering.
From The Spruce
By CARRIE CRAFT
This article is an honest look at the pros and cons of fostering and or adopting from foster care. Remembering that the children in the foster care system are usually in state's custody for reasons beyond their control – usually abuse and neglect. These issues have an impact on a child's behavior as well as on their mental state. Being prepared and knowing that these issues can be brought into your foster home is key to a successful transition for the foster child and your own children.
BY WAYNE PARKER
We have heard several foster parents talk about the challenge of bringing children into their home that use bad language. There is the challenge to help this child learn appropriate words as well as other children in the home, especially younger ones, not picking up the same habits by repeating what they hear. This article by Wayne Parker on TheSpruce.com addresses the challenge with some good advice.
by A Fostered Life
When a child enters your home as a foster child one way to eliminate further trauma is by giving them knowledge of what to expect. What do we do next? What is the routine for mornings and evenings? This video by A Fostered Life shares a great idea that has worked for many foster parents - Visual Schedules!