I Wished For You, an Adoption Story

image2A few weeks ago I went to Barnes and Noble with some of my friends (yes, we are nerdy!) While I was there I decided to look at some children’s adoption books so that I would be able to recommend some of them to our adoptive families. Little did I know that I would soon find myself crying in the middle of the book store! I had stumbled upon a story that so closely mirrored the story that we told to my brother when we explained his adoption, that it brought back a flood of memories. Of course I had to buy it! I took it home with me and read it to my parents, and my now 15 year old brother,  the next day! It of course brought us all to tears. I Wished for You by Marianne Richmond is a story about a mama bear and her adopted son, Barley. Barley has a lot of questions about his adoption and asks his mama to tell him the story about how he was her wish come true.

image1

Mama bear explains to Barley about how she had wished that she would one day be a mama to a special child, and how one day her wish finally came true. Mama explains how the mama that grew Barley in her belly decided that she could not be the very best mama that she wanted to be, and that she made a different wish to find the perfect family for Barley. Barley’s story is a sweet and easy to understand story that I would highly recommend to any adoptive family! I wish we would have found this book sooner, but we still enjoyed sharing it as a family and reminding my brother once again how he truly is our wish come true.

– Raquel Olguin

Meet Adrianna

AdriannaAdrianna Linares has been hired at Family to Family Adoptions as a Foster Care Case Manager. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with her BSW in May of 2013, and then went on to obtain her MSW from UT Austin in August of 2014. During her time at UT Adrianna participated in a study abroad internship in Costa Rica where she worked with women dealing with domestic violence. In addition, she also interned at Strong Start in Austin, Texas where she provided early intervention through an agency program for at risk families. She continued to further her clinical social work skills by interning at the Austin Shelter for Women and Children where she gained experience working with at risk women and children.  Adrianna also volunteered at the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center. She knew early on that social work was the right fit for her. Adrianna states that she has always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, and specifically in the lives of children. She is excited to be working at Family to Family Adoptions, where she will truly be able to make a difference.
To learn more about Adrianna, check her out on our staff page http://fam2fam.org/about-2/our-staff/

National Adoption Day Event

Chuck E Cheese flyer

National Adoption Day is on November 21, 2014! This year Family to Family will be hosting an event at Chuck E Cheese’s in Houston, Texas. Come by between 3 and 9 PM that day and be sure to mention you are with Family to Family. 15% of the proceeds from food and token sales will benefit our Family Dreams Fund. There will also be a raffle with lots of great prizes. Whether you are in the process of adopting/fostering, have adopted, are adopted, want more information about adoption/foster care, placed a child or adoption is just close to your heart, please stop by and join us for this event. We hope to see you there!

 

 

2014 Annual Adoptive Family Picnic

Blessington FarmsHello Adoptive Families! It’s almost time again for our Annual Adoptive Family Picnic. I am so excited to see everyone. As per tradition, the picnic will be held on the second Saturday of October. This year we will be hosting the picnic at a new venue that I think everyone will love. Blessington Farms is located in Simonton, Texas not far from Katy and Fulshear and has tons of fun activities for the kids. I took my girls there in the Spring and we did an egg hunt, picked strawberries and everything else the farm had to offer.  Activities for the Fall include hay rides, hay maze, pedal cars, barrel train ride, pumpkin patch, animal encounters and much more. There is even a pond if you feel like doing some fishing. Check out their website at www.blessingtonfarms.com and come out and join us on October 11th from 10 AM to 2 PM. Bring a picnic lunch and leave the dessert to Family to Family. The venue does sell water and a few assorted other drinks and some snack options or you can bring them with you.

Please RSVP if you plan to attend to Jennifer@fam2fam.org or Raquel@fam2fam.org by October 3rd so we can get a head count and provide a complete list of attendees to the farm office.  Our 2015 calendars will be ready at that time and we will have them with us to sell. As usual feel free to place your orders ahead of time. If you would like to include your child or children, there is still time.  Please contact us so we can send you a release to sign and email us some pictures. We will start putting these together in the next couple of weeks. Hope to see everyone at the picnic !

From the desk of Jennifer O’Leary and the Staff at Family to Family

Back to School Tips

114

August is upon us and that means it’s back to school! In honor of this we decided to share some of our favorite back to school tips.

1. Start getting into the school routine at least a week before school starts by going to bed early and waking up early. This will create an easier transition to the school time schedule.

2. Pack lunch and pick out clothes the night before. This will eliminate some of the morning rush stress.

3. Make sure your child has breakfast. Even if it is just cereal or a granola bar. Nothing is a bigger distraction at school than a hungry tummy!

4. Label your child’s backpack, lunch kit, jacket label, etc. with their first and last name. Things have a way of disappearing at school, but they are often returned if they have a name on them.

5. Talk to your kids about safety, especially if they walk home. Tell them about “stranger danger” and what to do if they are approached.

6. If you have younger children, pack an extra set of clothes to keep in their backpack. There are always accidents and spills so it’s better for your child to be prepared.

7. If you are getting rid of any of your child’s old clothes, donate them to the school nurse. That way you know there will be clothes on hand if your child happens to need them.

8. Some schools offer pre-packaged school supplies themselves. Check to see if your child’s school offers this. It will save you a lot of time and stress trying to find all of the specific items on each child’s individual school supply list.

9. Keep a set of essential school supplies at home. Children always run out of pens and pencils halfway through the year, and glue, paper, etc. are always needed for projects.

10. Get involved in your child’s education. Contact the school’s PTA to join the PTA, or to find out about the school’s other committees that you can join or help out with.

11. Plan to attend at least one school function with your child. I still remember field trips with my mom and they mean so much to your child.

Family to Family Supports Birthmother’s Education

For years Family to Family Adoptions has been helping send birth parents back to school, but unfortunately our Educational Fund is running out.

What Does the Educational Fund Cover?

The Family to Family Educational Fund is designed to assist any birth parent (not only birth parents who have placed through our agency) who can prove that they have placed a child for adoption at some point in their life. To qualify, they must fulfill application requirements such as writing an essay, showing proof of enrollment. etc. They are then awarded educational grants to help support their educational costs including tuition, books, and living expenses.

Is This A Successful Program?

The Family to Family Educational Fund has proven to be a successful and worth while program that has changed the lives of several deserving birth parents over the years. Here is just a few examples of how the educational fund has helped:

 

  • After placing a child for adoption, T.C. turned her life around by going to cosmetology school, working, and eventually giving birth to twin boys whom she has been able to successfully parent and support.
  • C.M. is another birth mother who has taken advantage of our Educational Fund and is currently attending Sam Houston State University.
  • After a long journey, C.R. is using the Family to Family Educational Fund to help support her through college at Texas A&M University with the hopes of become a social worker.
  • Another birth mother, T.A., is also pursuing higher education at Texas A&M University and a to also hopes to pursue a career in social work.
  • S.L. is currently going to school to learn sign language.
  • Birth mom K.H is going to college for Pediatric Dentistry.

 

These are just some of the ways that the Family to Family Educational Fund has made a difference in birth parents’ lives. Please consider donating to our Educational Fund and help us help birth parents earn an education and create new and successful lives!  You can find our PayPal button on our website at the bottom of our Donations page or simply contact our office. Thank you in advance for helping us further the education for our birth parents.

The Staff at Family to Family

A Family to Family Foster Care Mother’s Experience

babyhand

By Veronica Bucio

 

There is no way to anticipate being placed in line to become a foster parent.

I was sitting in an oil and gas conference in Midland, two weeks after I’d been approved to foster, listening to the last speaker of the day, when I received an e-mail asking if I’d be interested in adopting a 2-month-old girl.

In that rather unexpected and anxious moment, I lost my breath, and my stomach turned queasy. Adoption wasn’t what I had planned, at least not so early in the fostering process, and definitely not on the first try. It felt as if I were in a time warp, rewound more than five years earlier when I initially thought to adopt, when I desperately wanted to be a mother solely to fulfill a deep, long-neglected maternal urge.

Since then, I’d come full circle, and yet I was nowhere near the same mental, emotional or spiritual place. I had purposely chosen to foster, in my late 40s, and it was nothing less than a calling, and it was certainly not all about me. A potential foster-to-adoption, I thought, could come later, but it wasn’t a priority.      Even so, I also knew I couldn’t and wouldn’t turn away the possibility of adopting because I believe in being completely open to life’s amazingly wonderful surprises.

So, firmly back in the present, nervous but certain, explaining, briefly, all of the above, I typed my answer:  “Yes, please submit my name. To God goes the rest.”

It was a process, I was then told, simply to be considered, meaning there were no guarantees, and there would be a wait.

Two days later, a second e-mail notified me of another infant, this time a month-old girl, a foster.

I did not hesitate. I said yes, but was informed a couple of hours later that Child Protective Services had chosen another candidate.

During state-required foster courses, the two social workers teaching the classes said babies through the CPS process were rare. Older children far and away outnumber them. So to prepare for the arrival of two potential children, toddler age to no more than 8 (my preference to start), I’d outfitted the second bedroom in my home with a pair of twin beds and gender-neutral colors.

After the second possible baby, I phoned my social worker and said, amused, “I thought you said babies were rare!” She responded with a laugh, “They are! I don’t know what’s happening. It must be a God thing.”

A week later, a third e-mail informed me of another baby. I was no less excited, but this time I paused long enough to question myself and my calling – in a deeper context, this “God thing” – to foster.

The baby was born to a mother who had used highly addictive drugs, and although the baby showed no signs of medical problems so far, I asked myself: Could I handle the potential problems associated with drug use throughout a pregnancy? Did I want to foster this particular child?

In only a few minutes, my Q’s had an A: Yes, fostering – all of it, including this possibility, this type of challenge – was what I had signed up for.

This time, I was chosen by CPS, and I left work at 3:30 p.m., speeding from the Galleria area to a suburban hospital I’d never heard of in rush-hour traffic – stopping at a department store along the way to buy an infant car seat, diapers and a couple of bottles – to make a required feeding by 5.

Placed into my arms as I sat in a rocker in the neonatal intensive care unit, snuggly swaddled, the baby was delicately beautiful. I could not take my eyes off her as I fed and then held her for two hours.

It was enough to have a nurse remark, “You’re going to make a good foster mother.”

Not so naively, I asked how a foster parent could be any less affectionate with the babies they were picking up and taking home, to which she answered, “You’d be surprised.”

It wasn’t the first time I’d heard about those types of foster parents.

The appreciatively straightforward social workers at my foster agency, Family To Family Adoptions, had addressed this issue. By their personal estimations, up to 80 percent of those who foster do so simply for the monthly stipend paid by the state. It wasn’t unusual, they said, to have to remind those parents to celebrate their foster children’s birthdays, with, at the very least, something as simple as a cake. The social workers made it clear that those types of parents wouldn’t be sought by or allowed at the agency.      I was simultaneously appalled by their anecdotal figure and grateful of the agency’s stance.

I’ve been asked more than a few times about the reasons why I choose to foster. Only once have I been asked, directly, if it was for money. I refused to be offended.

Each time I am asked why, I respond, first, with why not? I am as much curious of others’ responses to that question as they are of mine to theirs.

Many people, it seems, have two extreme, opposite reactions to the topic of foster parenting. A foster parent is either seen as a hero/saint or as possibly only in it for pay.

I don’t see myself as either, though I do believe the hero/saint characterization may hurt fostering as much as disinterested parents. It’s much easier to reject the awe-inspiring ideal of being a hero or saint than it is to accept being a compassionate human being.

Beyond courses and background checks, the basic stipulations for fostering demand that a potential foster home have so much square feet of space per child.

To a large degree, I believe being a foster parent requires nothing more different than that spatial prerequisite, though in a metaphorical sense.

It is simply, in my opinion, a matter of making room in one’s heart as much as one’s home.

This month, National Foster Care Month, and this Mother’s Day, I hope more people would consider making room in both places for foster children who so desperately need foster parents who truly care.

 

Veronica Bucio is an associate editor at Hart Energy and former assistant Outlook editor at the Houston Chronicle.

 

 

 

Steven and Drew, University Science teacher, Adult Psychologist

During their 14 years together, there have been two things that have never changed for Drew & Steven, their love for each other, and their desire to become parents. From very early on they knew that they wanted to be parents, and that their home wouldn’t be complete until it was filled with children.

Steven and Drew both grew up in small towns, and met in college at Texas A&M. They both have made careers out of their passion for helping youth and young adults. Steven teaches science at a local University, and Drew is a young adult psychologist.

They both come from close, loving families who cannot wait for a new addition to the family. Steven is a kind, loyal, loving person who has a passion for science and education. Drew is a loving and genuine person with a lot of creativity from knitting, to baking, to refinishing furniture. As a couple they know that the love they have for each other will only grow once they add a child to their family. Steven and Drew believe that parenting is a privilege and the greatest responsibility a person can have. They cannot wait start their family and to share their love with their child.

Calming Your Birth Mother’s Fears

575ab8ad5d35e3d922cc08fdc9459884

When my brother’s birth mother calls to check in on how he is doing she always expresses the same concerns and fears. Even though he was adopted almost fourteen years ago she still asks if he is going to hate her, if she is a terrible person, if he will forget her, etc. Many birth mothers have the exact same concerns. They wonder if their biological child will hate them for “giving them away,” especially if they have kept other biological children.  So how do you help your birth mother feel better about her choice to place her child up for adoption?

  1. Be honest with your child about his or her birth parents. Tell them the reasons why their birth parents were not able to parent them at the time. Tell them about the difficult decision their birth parents made in order to give them the best life they possibly could. For example, we always tell my brother that his birth parents were young and not in good place in their lives to become parents, and that they felt that we could give him a better life.
  2. Never talk down about your child’s birth parents. Your child is a part of his or her birth parents and it is important to emphasize that they came from good people who were possibly in bad circumstances or made some bad choices. Tell your child about the good qualities their birth parents had and what you liked about them. We always tell my brother that his birth parents made some bad decisions, but that they were good people with loving hearts who wanted to give their child everything they could, even if that meant giving him a new family.
  3. Save things that will help your child piece together their story later on. For instance, we saved letters, pictures, handmade gifts, and a couple of toys from my brother’s birth parents that we can give him when he is ready.
  4. Follow through with your promises to your child’s birth parents. We have always told my brother’s birth parents that they can visit him and that we would send them pictures of him over the years. We have always followed through and sent updated pictures. They visited my brother often when he was a baby, but have not visited him since his first birthday. Now we leave any future visitation up to my brother when he is ready, which we have also explained to his birth parents.

How will doing these things help ease your birth mother’s fears about adoption? It’s simple. Help your birth mother feel better about her choice to place her child up for adoption by telling her that you will do the above mentioned things and then actually do them. When my brother’s birth mother calls and expresses her concerns we are able to calm her fears with honest answers. We tell her that my brother does not hate her because we tell him good things about her, the reasons behind the adoption, and about the loving decision she made. We tell her that she will never be forgotten because we have saved memories and tokens from her to give to my brother as a part of his life story. And most importantly, we are able to calm her fears because she trusts us. She states that she knows we are good honest people who have never pushed her away or lied to her, and who have came through on all of our promises.

For those of you who have already adopted, what do you do for your birth mother?  Email me at Raquel@fam2fam.org with more tips regarding adoption and we will feature your advice in our future newsletters! Visit our website at www.fam2fam.org for more information on adoption. Feel free to contact us through email or at 281-342-4042 if you have any questions or concerns.

Lee and Dom love learning, travel, and the outdoors

They enjoy many activities such as hiking with their dog Henry, kayaking on the creek, and rock climbing.Lee and Dominic met at a Christmas party 14 years ago and have been inseparable since.

They love trying out new things from learning new skills to traveling to a foreign land. They enjoy many activities such as hiking with their dog Henry, kayaking on the creek, and rock climbing.

Dominic runs his own graphic design business and Lee is a lawyer. They both work hard to help people and to promote social justice.  They spend a lot of time with their family who are all anxious to meet their new baby when he or she arrives.

Lee and Dominic promise to love their child unconditionally. They will provide a loving home, a supportive family, and every advantage they can for a happy and rewarding life. They promise to honor their birth mother with love and respect, and to cherish her as their child’s birth mother.

For more information on choosing Lee and Dominic as your adoptive family, please contact Eloisa at Eloisa@fam2fam.org, or at 281-342-4042.