By Anna Yates
Post Adoption Social Worker
Maria became a licensed family through CHS in Spring of last year. She already had a successful career and actively pursued science fiction writing, among her other eclectic interests. Maria was eager to dive into being a parent of a teen from foster care. She was quickly matched with 15-year-old Vanessa, who came into foster care three years ago and had been living in a group home since that time. Maria and Vanessa began the process of getting to know one another through transitional visits and Vanessa moved into the home full time toward the end of summer.
Maria quickly began incorporating her knowledge of attachment, child development, trauma, and resiliency that she learn throughout her home study and licensing process. Initially, everything seemed to be perfect, Maria felt like Vanessa was a perfect child who seemed to fit all of her expectations as a parent. After several months, however, Maria began to notice that Vanessa became more argumentative and avoidant at home and that her grades began dropping at school.
“We recognize that sometimes families need support from other adoptive families.”
As is frequently the case with youth who have experienced the disruptive effects of early childhood trauma and out-of-home foster care placements, after several months of bliss, Vanessa was starting to show Maria the more complicated effects of her past and the difficulty she had forming healthy relationships. Even though Maria’s training had prepared her with knowledge of trauma and attachment theory and even though she had been maintaining weekly check-ins with her CHS Post Adoption worker, she wanted support from people with first-hand parenting experience.
Maria was learning what many adoptive parents before her have experienced; that it’s much easier to learn about about the effects of developmental trauma then it is to live with it every day. Then, Vanessa participated in a CHS Post Adoption Kid’s Club and became fast friends with Tiffany, a girl about the same age whose adoption finalized over the summer.
After noticing this newly formed friendship, the two families met each on a number of occasions for dinner and Vanessa also spent several days with Tiffany and her parents, while Maria was out of town. Through the natural forming of these relationships, Maria has benefitted from the support and experience of a seasoned adoptive family who has come out the other side of similar events that Maria was currently experiencing. The two girls have both gained a friend who has shared experiences of foster care and adoption.
The relationships between these two families is one of the areas we encourage through our Post Adoption Program. We recognize that sometimes families need support from other adoptive families. Because of this, we facilitate a number of events throughout the year aimed at encouraging natural bonds to develop between the youth and families involved in our program. Through Kid’s Clubs, Adoptive Family Engagement events, and sometimes simply sharing contact information, we encourage our families to get to know each other–and add each other to their natural supports.
PARENTS IN THE PARK! This spring we have scheduled several parent-led social meet-ups in Richmond and Fredericksburg. These meet-ups are open to any adoptive family or family in the process of pursuing adoption. Attendance is free, please contact your local staff facilitator to get registered or click here for more information!