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Dear birth parents

Source: 
Focus on Adoption magazine

A letter from an adoptee

For most of my life, I hadn’t thought about my birth parents: where I came from, who they were, or why they had chosen to give me up. For me, the only thing that mattered was that I had parents who loved me and who chose to be my parents.

When I met my biological father just over three years ago, I was overwhelmed by his reaction to reconnecting with me. He spoke as though he had known me and loved me for my entire life—this “stranger” who hadn’t crossed my mind even once as I had transitioned through childhood and into my adult years.

One mom's method

Source: 
Focus on Adoption magazine

Every September, I speak to my daughters’ teachers about adoption. I always bring a copy of AFABC’s “Positive Adoption Language” with me, and I set privacy boundaries for the teachers around publicly discussing our daughters’ circumstances. This visit also gives me an opportunity to find out about any family-related assignments that might impact the girls. I’m careful to point out to teachers that the adoption language sheet will help them when discussing family circumstances with same-sex families, single-parent families, and separated, divorced or blended families.

Extreme parenting: Taking charge with love

Source: 
Focus on Adoption magazine

My kids matter, but I’m in charge

I want my kids to know that what they like and what they think matters to me. My predisposition is to say yes to all possibilities. I only say “no” after some consideration. However, my kids were starting to get the impression that it was OK to disrespect the decisions I made and the boundaries I set for them.

Planning permanency WITH youth

Source: 
Speak-Out Youth Newsletter

I'm a youth who was in foster care. I know what it's like to meet with social workers and have conversations about my future. I think that planning permanency and adoption is a good thing because it gives youth a sense of stability and belonging. Permanency is important because it sets the ground work for the youth's future; it sets up a permanent family life and also might help to make sure that positive outcomes are possible for the youth in the long run. Here are some suggestions I have for people who work with youth in care or adoptees!

Foster parents can help change the stigma of mental illness

Source: 
Focus on Adoption magazine

I’ve certainly benefitted from the care of some very supportive foster parents over the years since my placement in goverment care at the age of 15. My need for care was determined by the presence of serious mental illness in the family. My beautiful and brilliant mother was a professor of linguistics at the University of Victoria when she experienced the onset of schizophrenia. It certainly doesn’t discriminate. All of the degrees, merits and accomplishments did not matter in the slow decline of her beautiful mind.

"Perfect" parents for teens

Source: 
Focus on Adoption magazine

Parents who are willing to wait for personal gratification.
Attachment with teens can take longer and may look very different than attachment with younger children.

Someone with a great sense of humour, patience, tolerance, and adaptability.
Self explanatory if you know teens.

People who can see beyond the rebellious teen to the blossoming young adult that they are becoming.
Are you able to quietly nurture the child that is still crying out for love and attention?

Teaching trauma in the classroom

Source: 
Focus on Adoption magazine

It's not about "good" or "bad"

Children are vulnerable. In an optimal environment, they experience this vulnerability later in life when their minds and  nervous systems are equipped to handle elevated levels of fear, stress, and feeling overwhelmed. The key phrase here is “optimal environment.” Unfortunately, we live in the “real” world, so children will often find themselves in situations that are far from the optimal; the result can be childhood trauma.

Ask the Expert: Mental health and trauma in children

Source: 
Focus on Adoption magazine

Britta West is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Clinical Traumatologist located in Burnaby, BC. She completed her Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University in 2009. In 2012, Britta completed the Clinical Traumatologist specialization from the Traumatology Institute. Her areas of expertise include attachment, trauma, mental health and behavioural health diagnoses and parenting. Britta provides therapeutic interventions to address these issues in the context of the family system.

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