2014 Calendar Fundraiser

May - Elias

Dear Family to Family Supporters,

The staff at Family to Family works hard to create new families and relationships through adoption and foster care placements. However, what you may not know is that the agency also does so much more.

The birth parents are the reason that the agency has been able to be so successful with adoption placements. Therefore their safety, respect, and needs are always considered priorities here at Family to Family. Even after our birth parents have placed a child up for adoption, they are still considered our clients and friends. Many of them keep and touch with the agency staff members throughout the years which everyone loves. Our birth parents become cherished members of Family to Family.

In order to help give back to them, the agency has set up an educational fund. Any birthparent (including birth parents from other agencies) can receive educational grants through Family to Family. They simply have to submit an essay, pass a drug test and background check, prove that they have placed a child up for adoption, and be prepared to begin the course as soon as it is available. If these requirements are met then a birth parent may apply for a new grant each semester as long as they can show that they have passed and completed the courses from the previous semester.

Another way in which the agency gives back to our birth parents is by providing Christmas for them and their children. Every year for Christmas Family to Family buys gifts for the birth parents and their children. The birth mothers are usually given a gift as well as a gift card to help them purchase a Christmas dinner and/or additional gifts for their children. The children are given multiple gifts which often include a jacket, pajamas, and age appropriate toys.

In addition to our birth parents, our adoptive families are also considered priorities for the agency. The Family to Family staff knows that adopting a child is a very emotional and exciting time for our adoptive families. We believe that every loving and capable person should be able to adopt the child of their dreams.

In support of our adoptive parents, Family to Family Adoptions created the Family Dreams Fund which the agency uses to assist families who cannot afford the full costs of a private adoption. As long as the adoptive parents make a combined annual income of 75,000 or less, then they may receive financial assistance with their adoption costs.

December-Joshua

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In order for the agency to be able to continue to help send birth parents to school, to help adoptive families pay for an adoption, and to provide Christmas for our birth parents and their children; we need your help. Please consider helping us make a difference in the lives of others.

Our calendars are on sale now! Each calendar features new pictures of the children that have been adopted through our agency over the years and is a great way to show your support. If you purchase 1-4 calendars they are $15 each, if you purchase 5-9 calendars they are $12 each, and if you purchase 10 or more calendars they are $10 each.

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To purchase a calendar please contact Debbie by email at deb@fam2fam.org or by phone at (281)342-4042 You can also download a Calendar Order Form to complete and send in to us, if that is more convenient.

My Journey with Adoptions

My first day as an intern at Family to Family Adoptions was a crazy one. I did not know what to expect, and I definitely did not expect what happened.

That first day I was told a recent story about a group of four siblings that had recently been placed with adoptive families through our agency. My field instructor told me that it was one of the most difficult and emotional cases she had ever had. Four sibling ages 8 months to 9 years old had been given to the agency by their birth parents who signed away their parental rights and left them in the care of Family to Family Adoptions. They told me that the four boys had been so severely neglected that they had to be placed in separate foster homes because no one would have been able to adequately take care of all of them at the same time. Hearing their story and some of the things that they had been through broke my heart.

That evening when I went home I sobbed and told my parents that I did not know if I would be able to handle this job. It was the first time since I was ten years old that I had ever questioned that adoptions was what I wanted to do.

About a week later I went with Jennifer, my agency field instructor, to do a post placement evaluation for the oldest of the four boys. What I saw completely blew me away. Not only was he doing very well physically, emotionally, and mentally; but he was one of the happiest kids I have ever seen! Being able to meet this amazing boy and to see how happy he was with his adoptive family helped me to realize that adoptions were definitely what I wanted to do.

This past week I was able to attend the adoption finalization of two of the four boys. It was one of the happiest moments I have had in my internship experience thus far. Although each of the four boys were adopted into separate families, they are all happy and adjusting quickly. All of the families keep in touch and bring the boys together regularly.

Adoptions is something that changes so many lives. The birth families, the adoptive families, and of course the adoptive child are all affected. Hearing the heart breaking story of these four boys and seeing them now has been an experience I will never forget. They have gone from neglected and developmentally delayed to flourishing and undeniably loved, cherished, and cared for. Some people ask me how I can handle working in adoptions because it is “so sad,” but in my opinion adoptions are not sad. They are miracles that give children a healthy and loving family, that give birth parents a way in which they can give their children the best life they possibly can, and that bless adoptive families with a child that they had only ever dreamed of.

-Raquel- The Intern :)

Charli’s Super Big Family Tree: A children’s book on open adoptions by Toni Serena

Charli BookMost adoptive families worry about the prospect of an open adoption. They wonder how they will explain the birth family to their child, if the birth family will take over their roles as parents, etc. Adoptive mother Toni Serena was no exception to this.

In her children’s book Charli’s Super Big Family Tree, she writes an open adoption story that explains what an open adoption means. In the book Charli’s brother tells her that she did not grow in her mommy’s tummy. Charli always knew that she was adopted but she didn’t really know what that meant. She begins to wonder about all of the different places she could have come from if she didn’t grow inside of her mommy’s tummy.

Eventually her mother sits her down and shows her a picture of Charli’s friend Gabby. Her mom explains to Charli that she grew in Gabby’s tummy. Charli’s mom reads a letter that Gabby wrote to Charli and explains how Gabby chose them to be her family. Charli’s Super Big Family Tree is a heart-warming story that does a phenomenal job with teaching an adoptive child all about their “super big family” full of both birth family and adoptive family members.

At the end of the book author Toni Serena includes her own child, Charlotte’s, adoption story which explains how their adoption slowly became open. This is a great book that teaches both children and adults a little more about an open adoption, including the author’s own personal experiences.

Toni Serena writes this about her own family’s open adoption experience, “This family, our family, is Charlotte’s norm. It’s natural. It’s all she has ever known. Open adoption is a gift to an adopted child. It provides self-confidence, connection, and the opportunity to love and be loved by many.”

Charli’s Super Big Family Tree can be purchased online at  Barnes and Noble, , Amazon. or BrothersNBooks.

To find out more information about open adoptions please visit www.SuperBigFamilyTree.com.

 

Holidays and Foster Families

The holiday season is soon upon us, and with the season comes a raft of issues that extend to foster youth. To whose home might a foster child be invited for the holidays? Is it the best choice for the foster child? How do blended families offer a holiday welcome to foster children?

Families with long-held holiday traditions can make special cases for foster kids. It’s all about bringing them in and letting them soak in the holidays around loved ones. After all, since foster care is a temporary parenting situation, parents should bring as much joy as possible to foster kids. Read on to get some ideas for a joyous holiday season with foster kids and foster parents. But first, a little background on the most current state of foster care.

Foster Care

How many children are in foster care? The good news is the numbers are declining, but they are still too high for those involved. The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) and the Children’s Bureau Administration for Children and Families showed that as of September 2011 there were slightly more than 400,000 children in foster care. That a 22 percent decline from 1999’s 67,000 children in foster care. The most recent report showed that from the estimated 400,540 children in foster care on September 30, 2011:

  • 45 percent of children – less than a year in care
  • 23 percent – 1-2 years
  • 11 percent – 2-3 years
  • 10 percent – 3-4 years
  • 10 percent – 5 years or more

While numbers are declining, there are still opportunities for parents wishing to become foster parents.

Holidays for Everybody

When the holidays come around every year, it can cause stress for family travel and family rituals. Tensions between parents and their natural children may conflict with needs of the foster children. Parents need to show a little grace during the holiday season. It may include more trips to the local bakery for holiday-infused treats for foster kids or helping trim the family Christmas tree come to life. Stick with traditions that can involved the foster children every step of the way.

Families can bring holiday joy to foster children in other ways around the holidays. There may be foster children whose presence is warmly remembered by a foster family, but are no longer living with the family. If the child has a current mailing address, the family should design a customized Christmas card. Sending a card around the holidays can mean so much to a foster child. Minted has great cards for that, so click here for card styles and design options.

Share in the Season

When was the last time you saw a live stage version of “A Christmas Carol,” “The Nutcracker” or “Christmas on 34th St”? In many towns around the U.S., there are generally fun holiday entertainment options to pursue. Bring your kids and foster children to an excellent reading of some of the country’s most cherished live plays.

Holiday Light Shows

Bring the foster children on a car tour to designated holiday light shows. You might even try driving on your own around neighborhoods that show off with lights, statues and holiday extravaganzas in front of their homes. Most town news sites offer information on holiday hot spots.

If you can share the holidays in these ways with your foster kids, you’ll find extra meaning in the holidays for everyone involved.

Meeting Birth Mothers

Meeting some of the birth mothers here at Family to Family Adoptions has been a very unique experience. Many of these women have fallen into hard times and are simply looking for someone to help lift the weight of their burdens off of their shoulders. It has been hard to meet these women who remind me so much of some of my loved ones.

As a social worker, and as a compassionate human being, I want to be able to fix any problems that they may have, but of course that is not a possibility. In the end all the agency can do is offer the resources at their disposal and hope that it will be enough to truly help these courageous women.

Birth Mother Support Provided

In my opinion, Family to Family Adoptions goes above and beyond to give the birth mothers as much help as possible as they go through the emotional journey of giving life to someone who will ultimately leave their care and grow up separate from them. As part of the adoption plan the adoptive families pay for the birth mother’s (and any other children she has) to have their basic needs met. Their rent, food, phone, and basic living expenses are paid for up to 6 weeks after the birth of the child.

The birth mothers usually qualify for Medicaid and the agency provides transportation to and from appointments. In addition, the agency also offers paid counseling services if they need them. One of my favorite options that the birth mothers are given is the option to use the Family to Family educational fund which gives birth parents the opportunity to go back to school! Family to Family has even assisted a birth mom through law school by providing her with grants, which I think is incredible.

Although some people may look at the birth mothers that come in and label them, Family to Family knows better. Even though I have only been here for a short amount of time I have already witnessed how brave the birth mothers are. Most of them are sad to see the children that they gave birth to leave, but they put on their brave face and do what they need to do in order to give the child the best life they possibly can, even if it’s not with them. These women are truly heroes. The act of placing their baby is one of love and sacrifice and it has been an honor meeting them.

Well thanks for reading!

-Raquel:)

Becoming A Foster Parent

If you’ve ever thought about being a foster parent but didnt know where to start or what to ask…

First, you must meet the basic requirements. To become a foster parent with Family To Family, you must:

  • Be at least 23 years of age or older
  • Have a clear criminal background check
  • Have enough room in your home to accomodate another child or children
  • Be financially stable enough to provide for the needs of children placed in the home
  • Be willing to complete training and paperwork requirements
  • Be willing to provide a safe, loving, and caring home for children that have been abused and/orneglected

The first step is to attend a foster care informational meeting, which are conducted at the Family To Family office and at locations in the community.  At the information meeting you will have an opportunity to meet the program staff and receive an overview of the foster care program, including its goals, mission, and the needs and characteristics of children served.  Prospective foster parents will be introduced to Family To Family policies and procedures as well as Texas Minimum Standards.  A step by step description of verfication process, including necessary foster parent training, documentation and paperwork and homestudy  will be provided at the informational meeting.  Bring as many questions as you have to the meeting! It is our goal for you to leave feeling as informed as you need to be about the fostering process.  Our next informational meetings are on the following dates and locations:

September 26th, 2013, 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Cinco Ranch Library. 2620 Commercial Center Blvd. Katy, Texas 77494

October 3rd, 2013, 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Sugarland Library, 550  Eldridge, Sugarland, Texas 77478

Feel free to come to either upcoming meeting.  Updated meeting dates will be listed on the blog.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me  Family To Family office at 281-342-4092 or via email at casey@fam2fam.org    We really hope to see you soon at one of our informational meetings!

 

An Intern’s Perspective on Adoption

For those of you who don’t know me my name is Raquel. I recently began my internship at Family to Family Adoptions around the end of August. I attend UT and am currently in my last semester of college. I have dreamed of working in adoptions since I was about ten years old. My brother was adopted as an infant when I was eight years old and once we had him we knew there was no way that we would ever let him go. So I began my college career at UT as a social work major with the intention of becoming an adoption agent. When it came time to look for an internship to complete my last semester of college I knew I wanted to intern at an adoption agency. When I was unable to find an adoption agency on the list of agencies provided in the Austin area I decided to look for agencies near my hometown. That is when I stumbled across Family to Family Adoptions and was eventually accepted as an intern for the 2013 fall semester.

Although I have only been here for a few weeks I have already fallen in love with adoptions like I knew I would. What I didn’t know was that I would also fall in love with the agency itself. As a newcomer I was of course nervous and didn’t know what to expect, however; I quickly learned that the staff at Family to Family Adoptions is like a tiny family itself. They support and teach each other every day, a courtesy that they extended to me as well without any hesitation. I love that they are accepting of all people regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or marital status which goes along with my beliefs and values. Another thing that astounded me was the attention, time, and complete support that they provide to every single client. Whether it’s a birth parent or an adoptive parent, the workers here at Family to Family Adoptions take the time to get to know their clients on a more personal level. As an adoption agency this gives everyone involved an advantage because it allows them to make the best choices possible when matching birthparents and adoptive parents. So far my experience here at Family to Family Adoptions has been a great one. I have already learned so much through my experiences thus far. I look forward to sharing with you again soon!

Thanks for reading,

Sincerely,

Raquel (AKA the intern) :)

Out of Office Monday and Tuesday

Family to Family’s office will be closed today and tomorrow due to an A/C issue in our building. We will all be working from home the next couple of days and can be reached on our email and cell phones. Please bear with us as it may take a little longer to respond over the next couple of days. They are working to get our A/C unit up and running as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Foster Care Placement Offered

We are proud to announce that on June 1, 2013, we expanded our agency to include a Foster Care Program!  This program will allow us to serve more children, as well as individuals & families that want to assist in meeting the needs of children in transition. Through our foster care program, we will be serving children ages 0 – 17 that require a substitute home due to abuse and or neglect.  To become a foster parent, you must:

  • be at least 23 years of age
  • have a clear criminal background check,
  • have enough space to accommodate additional individuals in your home
  • genuinely care for the well being of children and
  • be willing to provide a safe, loving and nurturing environment for children in your community

Family to Family is conducting foster care informational meetings now! You can contact the office at 281-342-4092 to make an appointment or send us a message through our Contact Us page.

Family to Family is a 501(c)(3) non-profit licensed agency founded by experienced professionals in the child advocacy field. We were licensed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services as a Child-Placing Agency on February 14, 2001. Since opening, we have placed 340 children with adoptive families. While we are delighted with what we have been able to accomplish to date, we understand that there is a need that is not being filled by adoption alone… hence, our new program!

How Can I Adopt A Sibling Group or Older Child? (And An Update on Our Sibling Group)

Recently our agency placed a sibling group of four children for adoption. We had a huge response to our need for families for these children and lots of support during this process. Who knew that a simple post on our Facebook page would have potential adoptive families inquiring about these children from many different places as far as Australia and The Philippines. Over several weeks, our staff worked together to find homes for these children and make decisions for each of them based on their needs. I am happy to report that we have placed all of the children with wonderful adoptive families.

Family to Family is a private, non-profit agency that specializes in making adoption plans for birth parents and adoptive families of mostly newborns. On occasion our agency will place an older child or a sibling group. In placing a sibling group or an older child, the adoption agency will require a current home study.  What is a current home study? A current home study is a report completed by a licensed social worker approving the adoptive parents for adoption and the report is dated within the last year. If your home study is not current then you cannot be considered as an adoptive family for a child that needs an immediate placement.  It is important to have and maintain that home study to be considered for an older child or sibling group placement for adoption.

There is a difference between a home study done for a domestic adoption and a home study for foster care. While we can use a home study for foster care, the adoptive family first needs to find out if their foster care agency is willing to release their home study to the adoption agency for placement of a child. Throughout the process of placing this sibling group, there were many inquiries from families where their foster care agencies were not able to provide the home study or informed the family that they could not take placement from another agency while providing foster placements.  It is important if you are a foster family to find out if this is a possibility for you before inquiring on a placement.

Placement of an older child or sibling group through Family to Family is a voluntary relinquishment of parental rights. The birth parents have made a decision to make an adoption plan for their child in order to provide a life for that child that they cannot provide. This means that children that are placed through our agency do not come with monetary reimbursements or stipends. Adopting a child is providing a permanent home for a child and the adoptive family is responsible and willing to provide for this child as they would their own child. In the event of a placement through a private adoption agency such as Family to Family, in most cases there is a fee associated with adopting a child or a sibling group. To learn more about our fees, please feel free to contact us.

We are so appreciative to all of the families that inquired about the sibling group we recently placed. It is encouraging to know that there are so many families out there that are open to providing homes for children when needed. Thank you to all of you!