The First Night With A New Foster Child

The three children stood in front of my wife and me.  The four year old girl, here two year old sister, and one year old brother were so filled with fear, they would not look us in the eye, and were trying to hide their faces from us. It was quite clear that they were frightened, and I clearly understood why.  These three children were scared of us, their new so called “parents”; their foster parents.
The three siblings had been placed into our home for reasons of sexual abuse, neglect, and abandonment.  Those that proclaimed to love them the most, their birth parents, had committed horrific crimes of abuse upon these three innocent and defenseless children. 
Yet, we were strangers to them.  And they were scared.
Imagine, if you will, being taken away from your mother and your father, without any warning at all.  Imagine being taken away from your siblings, your pets, your stuffed animals and toys.  Imagine being taken away from your bedroom, house, yard, and neighborhood.  Imagine, too, being taken from all of your relatives, friends, classmates, and everything you knew.   In addition, after all of this, imagine if you were suddenly thrust into a strange house, with strangers, and informed that this was your new home and new family for the time being. It is a very frightening time; one filled with fear, uncertainty, and anxiety. It is a time where even the bravest of children become scared.
“I wanna go home,” the four year old said.
“I know you do,” my wife responded, bending down to her and looking at her at eye level.  Taking the little one in her arms, my wife tried to give the child a hug.  Instead, the four year old pushed her away, with tears streaming down her cheeks.

When a child is placed into your home, it can be a time of anxiety for not just the child, but for your family, as well. The first impression you create with your foster child is often vitally important to how the next few days and weeks will transpire.  This will probably not be the sweet little child who rushes into your waiting arms, laughing delightfully, as you might imagine. It is highly likely that your foster child will be scared and frightened, full of anxiety. He may have left his family moments ago, and is now told that you are his family, for the time being.  Without a doubt, he is full of questions, as emotions swirl within him.
As caseworkers remove a child from a home suddenly, most are unprepared.  Foster children leave their home with a quick goodbye, leaving behind most of their belongings, with a few clothing and perhaps a prized possession hurriedly stuffed into a plastic bag.  Before they know it, they are standing in front of you, strangers, people they have never met before.
After a tour of the home, and some milk and homemade chocolate chip cookies, the children seemed to find a little more peace; they seemed a little less anxious.  Milk and cookies often do that to a child.  My wife sat down with the three children on the blue sofa.  The one year old boy sat in her lap, while the other two little girls sat either side of her.  Then, as she always does, my wife read the three children a book.  More specifically, she read them a children’s book about being in foster care.  As it has happened several times in the past with many of the other young children placed in our home, I noticed the three children find some level in comfort with my wife.  As she read to them, some of their anxieties lessened, and each of the three snuggled into my wife’s arms.  Perhaps, just perhaps, they were beginning to understand that they were safe.
Make no mistake; we both knew that the days ahead would be difficult, and full of emotional challenges.  The children were sure to have plenty of questions and concerns, and there were likely some tear filled nights and days ahead of us. 
It takes great patience, understanding, and compassion to be a foster parent.  During the first few nights of placement of a child into a foster home, it also takes a great deal of love. May you continue to love your foster child, and may we all continue to comfort them as they experience the loss of their own family when they move to ours.

-Dr. John 

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Oscar, Dayana, and Debra

Oscar and Dayana met in 5th grade and started dating in high school. They married in 2007 after dating for 13 years. They have been together for a total of 23 years sharing an exciting and happy life. Oscar describes Dayana as an amazing mother and a dedicated and loving wife. Dayana expresses that Oscar is a brilliant, talented and devoted father and husband who works hard for his family. In 2009 Oscar and Dayana welcomed their daughter Debra into their life. Debra is 7 years old and loves to swing, dance, and play with their dogs: Sammi and Queen. Debra is very excited about becoming a big sister and says that she cannot wait to help take care of the baby. Oscar and Dayana love to travel around the world and going boating. They hope to share the world with their children. For them, being parents has been the most amazing and gratifying experience of their life and are looking forward to continue growing their family  full of love with a second child . Oscar, Dayana and Debra promise to offer your child a bright future full of love and joy.

Celebrating a Life and Legacy

We are heartbroken to announce that our beloved Founder and Executive Director, Maxine Seiler, passed away in the early morning on February 28, 2017.

For those of you who knew Maxine Seiler, you knew where her passions lied and you couldn’t help but to love her for it. Maxine was the type of person who stood up for her beliefs. In fact, she founded our very agency on her core personal values of equality for all. Throughout the years Maxine has poured her heart and soul into this work and has helped to create countless families.

As an individual, Maxine was a family woman. There was nothing or no one she valued more than her daughter, Jennifer Seiler, and her two beautiful grandchildren Lauren and Nicholas. They were the joys of her life and she made that very clear. There was not a single adoption training that went by in which the three of them were not mentioned. Maxine was proud of her family and was blessed to have been so loved by them all.

As many of you may know, Maxine was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in her 20s. She fought the disease one day at a time and never let it limit her or bring it down. If anything, she took it as a challenge and overcame each battle one by one as long as her body would allow. Although she will be missed dearly, we are glad that Maxine is not longer fighting her battle, but is resting peacefully free of any pain.

In lieu of gifts, the family asks that any donations be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society at, or to the Family to Family Adoptions Birth Mother Educational fund which Maxine herself created.

Thank You,

The Family to Family Staff

Creating Positive Changes

114Each year we are blown away by the success of our birth mothers. We have seen many of them go on to find stable employment, attend college, and become someone who their children would be proud of. We have had birth mothers join the US Army, develop their skills through trade school, and attend some of the top universities in Texas including The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, and the University of Houston just to name a few. It overjoys us to hear the success stories of these wonderful women and to be able to see how much they have accomplished over the years.

It has always been our goal to make the adoption process as positive as we possibly can for all parties involved. In an effort to help out those who make the selfless decision to place their biological children for adoption; we created the Birth Parent Education Fund. Any birth parent who has ever placed a child for adoption can apply for a scholarship through our educational fund. This fund is made possible through donations from our adoptive families and supporters; as well as through the money we receive for our post placement visits which are also deposited into the education fund.

The Birth Parent Education Fund is just a small way in which we are able to help our birth parents move forward and create a new and brighter path for their future. Please consider donating to the Birth Parent Education Fund so that we may be able to continue to help our birth parents with their educational needs. Every penny donated is placed in the Birth Parent Education Fund.

Thank you For Your Consideration!,
The Family to Family Staff

A Father’s Role

Braden and Gavin Coleman-Taylor 1The role of a father is somewhat diminished at times. A lot of focus is put on the mothers in our lives. After all, the mother is considered the traditional caretaker of the family. She is “the one who raises the children.” But what about the fathers? We are seeing many fathers with very strong roles in their children’s lives. We have seen gay male households, single father households, stay at home dads, and fathers who simply do a lot for their children. We see more fathers helping out with all aspects of their children’s lives, and it has been a beautiful site to see!

With so many amazing fathers out there, this Father’s Day will definitely be a day to celebrate. Just as mothers can do anything that fathers can do; we know that fathers can also do anything that a mother can do. It just takes time, devotion, and love.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the wonderful fathers! Whether you are a biological, adoptive, or foster father; thank you for your time, devotion, and love. Thank you for teaching us how to ride a bike, for changing our diapers, and for giving us bear hugs when we cry. The world is a better place with all of you in it!

Michael, Kristin, and Decker

SchoetzMichael, Kristin, and Decker are a small, close knit family with a lot of love to give. They adopted their son Decker in 2014 and describe him as sweet, funny, energetic, and independent. They cannot wait to add another little blessing to their family and are certain that Decker will make a wonderful big brother. Michael and Kristin have a strong marriage. Michael loves Kristin’s dedication, style, and the fact that she is a great cook. Kristin loves Michael’s commitment to their family, his passion, and his charisma. They have a great relationship with Decker’s birth mother and believe that adoption makes their child even more special. They promise to always tell their children about their birth parents and how they are deeply loved by both their biological and adoptive families. Michael and Kristin promise to offer your child every opportunity possible, to support their dreams, to be excellent role models, and to remind them each day that they are loved.


Tamasin and Norma

Tamasin and NormaTamasin and Norma are an active and kind-hearted couple. They met at a rock climbing gym and have been together for seven years. They had their commitment ceremony in 2010 and officially married last year.

They are active in the community and often participate in charity runs such as the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and the SPCA Fun Run. Norma manages a landscaping company and Tamasin teaches high school.

They value nature and enjoy taking care of it at home and at work. They also value education. Tamasin enjoys helping her students reach their goals. They often spend time with their nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. They love having their family over for the holidays and taking them on family outings to the park or the local pool. The children in their family cannot wait to have a new family member to play with.

Tamasin and Norma have been trying to grow their family for the past couple of years and cannot wait to share their love and lives with their future child.

Barbara and Jennifer, Fun and Loving Family

BarbnJenBarbara and Jennifer married in 2013. They have always wanted children but are unable to have them on their own. Since their fairytale wedding in Mexico, Barbara and Jennifer’s lives have been filled with love, adventures, and joy that they cannot wait to share with their future child.

When they are not working, Barbara and Jennifer love to spend time with their nieces, play with their two adorable dogs, or travel the world creating new memories. They have a large and supportive family who they love to be around, and their family cannot wait for them to become parents.

They love water and animals and are always up for a canoeing on the lake or flying through the snow on a dog sled. They both would like to ensure their child’s birth mother that they will provide their future child with a wonderful home, childhood, family, and future. They promise to meet their child’s every need and to provide a lifetime of care and love.

A Piece of the Foster Care Puzzle

Web-Autism-PuzzleBefore I started working at Family to Family, foster care was not an area I was knowledgeable about. I did not know what the children, the biological parents, and the foster parents had to go through when working with the Texas child welfare system; Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. As the months passed by, I have been trying to make sense of how all the puzzle pieces fit together in order to achieve the end goal of providing a safe and nurturing environment for children who have been removed from their homes. I have found that the whole process from start to end is a systemic process with specific requirements in which all parties involved are subjected to. These policies may seem extensive; however these requirements are for the safety and well-being of the children. Individuals and families who are willing to jump into the process and open their homes to children are needed in Texas. According to research conducted by the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, the number of children in the foster care system has declined between 2002 and 2012. Unfortunately, Texas was not one of the leading states in the nation to contribute to that number; in fact, Texas was one of the few whose numbers increased substantially. There are thousands of children in Texas who have survived abuse and neglect and are in need of a caring home.  I’ve come to understand that my role in the whole process as a foster care case manager is to place a child in a caring home with one of our foster families and ensure the child’s safety and well-being. We, the foster care department at Family to Family, train, educate, and verify families and individuals to become foster homes. We are the link that connects the child to the home, but without the families who open their homes to the children, we would not be able to move forward. If you have ever been a foster family to relative or non-relative children, I’d like to thank you for the nurture, support, love, structure, and guidance you provide to foster children. I look forward to continuing to educate myself and the community of the needs and issues that arise for the children and families who are a piece of the foster care puzzle.

Thank you,

Adrianna Linares

When Motherhood Seems Unobtainable

Adoption requires you to put yourself out there and to take a chance. Most Adoptive/Foster families have an idea of how their adoption will go, but fortunately or unfortunately, things do not usually go according to plan. Some adoptions go smoother and quicker than the family could ever have dreamed of, while some families wait and wait and wait for their child to enter their lives. Some are elated when they match with a Birth Mother who is going to give them the gift of parenthood, only to be devastated when the adoption doesn’t go through. So the question becomes, how do families get through the torment of waiting, or through the heart ache of a failed adoption? We asked some of our adoptive families who have had failed adoptions in the past that very question. The families that we reached out to for advice are all now happily placed with children. Here is what they had to say to families dealing with a long wait and/or a failed adoption:

“I simply relied on my faith. I knew it would happen when it was suppose to. When the first birth mom changed her mind, I was disappointed but okay with it. When it happened the second time, I got very excited. I know that sounds odd, but I then realized Jesus had the most beautiful baby for me. I even told that to Debbie.  You’ve seen Emma, so you know I did get the most beautiful, happiest, sweetest baby!  So, my advice is to keep the faith! Like Maxine told me, you will get the baby you are supposed to.” -Laura

“Find something (e.g., work, hobby) to keep yourself busy – ideally something you enjoy that is fulfilling. For me it was my work. I am fortunate to derive a great deal of enjoyment from my work. Other than your spouse/partner, have someone (or people) you can talk with about your feelings. I had one good friend who listened to everything (I don’t know how she could bare to listen to me so much). We did not have children so my husband and I would do things (e.g., travel, movies, etc.) that we knew would be more challenging when we adopted. I allowed myself to purchase items for our future child…I wanted that experience. I also read other peoples’ stories about adoption (autobiographies). I subscribed to Adoptive Families magazine. Reading helped me realize I wasn’t alone in the process; it also gave me perspective. I emailed the staff at Fam2Fam regularly just as a way to feel like I had some control. Everyone was always so supportive and reassuring. After the failed domestic adoption, the wait became a little more daunting. I began to ask myself whether it would ever happen. We waited another 6 months until our son was born. It was tough and so worth it!” -Emily

“Realize the wait is a roller coaster.  This is something we said at least a thousand times while we waited.  You have the highs of completing your home study and getting “on the list”, the first profile showing, the call that you’ve been matched, the first meeting with the birth mother, the doctors appointments, the birth of your child.  But, you also have the lows of waiting for your profile to be shown – sometimes with months of inactivity, the birth mother who changes her mind, the excruciating 48 hours.  The ups and downs are an unavoidable part of the process.  We tried our best to minimize our emotional reactions to the dips by surrounding ourselves with supportive friends and family.  We also tried our best to distract ourselves with things we knew would be much less frequent once we had a baby (date nights, vacations). The weekend of the due date we had been given by our first birth mother we planned a trip so we wouldn’t be in town thinking about what might have been.  As a religious couple, we also spent a lot of time at church and meeting with our Priest, knowing it was out of our control and in God’s hands.

We also tried to avoid putting ourselves in situations we knew would be emotionally difficult for us — I said no to several baby showers, especially after the failed placement.  As happy as I was for my friends, I just knew it was more than I could handle.  We also didn’t buy anything for the baby or set up the nursery until we were feeling extremely confident with our second match.  Personally, we didn’t want to walk by a room in our house and be reminded that it was empty.  We also asked our friends to wait until after we had been placed with the baby to have a shower of our own.  We also *tried* not to look at the profile showing log every day — it’s too easy to drive yourself crazy! On the flip side, you also want to celebrate your peaks.  In our case, we were never going to see a positive pregnancy test, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t experience any of the joys of being an expectant parent.  We emailed the sonogram pictures to our friends and family.  We attended every doctors appointment with our birthmoms.  I went to a newborn childcare class with my mom.  We created a baby registry.  I relished the scent of his first load of laundry.  But most of all, we continued to remind ourselves that the wait would be SOOOO worth it!  The best part about adopting is that the question changes from IF it will happen to WHEN.  Adopting our son is absolutely the hardest experience we have ever been through, but it also the most rewarding.  We never knew we could feel so much love until we locked eyes with him.  God knew he was our son and picked him specifically for our family.  When he was placed in our arms, we knew, God had answered our prayers and all of the waiting was completely worth it.” -Kristin

 In the end, every family is different. You have to find what works for you and your family. Adoption is a long and emotional process, but with a little patience your child will enter your life and you will realize that the wait was worth it.