URGENT—TAKE ACTION NOW!
from our friends at the National Council For Adoption
Join us in asking Congress to include the Adoption Tax Refundability Act in Year-End Legislation
It’s quick and easy to send a clear message to your Senators and Representative asking them to do two things:
1. Cosponsor the bill (S.1156/H.R.3031) if they haven’t yet.
2. Convey to their tax committee and caucus leadership the importance of including the bill in their priority list for tax provisions in any year-end legislation considered in December.
Visit adoptiontaxcredit.org/take-action/contact-congress to send a prewritten message to Congress in just a few minutes.
A Q&A with Hope’s Promise Founder and author, Paula Freeman, on her new book, Learning to Be Me Without You.
What is your new book about?
Learning to Be Me Without You is a love story about a diagnosis, one last adventure, a crisis of faith that erupts on the threshold of death, and a transformed life. Two weeks after my husband, Ray, and I moved to coastal North Carolina he died, leaving me alone with my two greatest fears: How can I survive the grief of his loss, and will God be enough. It serves up hope, with a pinch of humor, and the wonder of discovering the presence of God in the wilderness of widowhood.
What inspired you to write this book?
It began with my need to unpack how the presence of God met me in my grief in unprecedented ways after Ray died, and I fell in love with a gentler and kinder Jesus. I have journaled for most of my life. So, when Ray was diagnosed with a terminal disease for which there was no cure or effective treatment, I created a separate journal for that experience. I journaled through his disease, our move to the beach where he could breathe better at sea level, his last hospitalization and death, and then through my first year of widowhood. I wanted to record my experience in real time—the events, the pain, the questions, the graces, and the healing. And I sensed a sustained movement of the Holy Spirit to “Write, therefore, what you have seen…” (Rev. 1: 19). This verse offered perspective from which to write and guided my internal conversation: Write what you have seen. Don’t preach. Don’t compare. Don’t worry about what others might think. Go ahead and name the hard stuff. Just tell the story of what Jesus did for you.
How does your book connect us to your work as founder and former executive director of Hope’s Promise?
Beyond the facts that we all have known pain and loss, and probably know someone who has been widowed, it connects in two very specific ways. First, one chapter includes quite a bit of Hope’s Promise history I think clients, staff and board members would enjoy: the research, the decision to begin the organization, the impact it had on our family, and my difficult, yet wise decision to pass the baton to Beth Woods, whom I love and wholeheartedly support. And the book deals with grief and loss—issues that undergird the adoption process for all members of the triad, and ones that I addressed in my first book for adoptive moms, A Place I Didn’t Belong: Hope for Adoptive Moms. I pray that each of these books inspires grace for the hard stuff and hope for the journey by pointing us to Jesus, no matter the flavor of our loss.
Tell us about the title.
Learning to Be Me Without You describes my challenge as a new widow, and one most widows encounter when their spouse dies. Responsibilities, rhythms of life, and relationships all change and become unscripted territory for us to navigate.
What would you like the reader to discover from reading your book?
My prayer throughout the writing of this book has been Lord, help me show the essence of how you worked in my life, so others might see You in theirs. I want readers to discover Jesus in their story and to say “Yes!” to His invitation to follow Him on a further journey, whatever that next step may be.
How can people contact you?
How can I buy Learning To Be Me Without You?
Amazon link: click here
It’s that time of year again! Back to school! Back to school can be a daunting time, for parents and children alike. We love these tips from our friends at Raise the Future. These apply to all children and can be especially helpful reminders if you are parenting a foster child.
Back-to-school time is here! We wanted to share a few reminders of how to prepare, support, and advocate for your kiddos as they go back to the school routine.
Look for/Be aware of these things:
Felt Safety—Is your child going to a new school? Do they have new teachers, a new classroom, new classmates, new experiences? All of these things can be hard for kids; even if they are in the same school, there are always new things each year. Look for ways to help your child feel more secure and safe in the new environment. Be proactive and talk about the new thing, whatever it may be. Meet with teachers, if possible, to help your child become familiar with them before school starts. Ask your child how they are feeling about going back to school. Ask some “I wonder” questions to encourage the conversation. Relate to them by sharing feelings you have when experiencing new situations. Encourage them to use their voice and talk about things. And, of course, be there to encourage and help along the way.
Structure and Routine—Implement a regular routine and structure around your day. In addition to the schedule of what to do in the morning to get out the door for school each day, implement a schedule/routine around what to do after school each day.
- Make opportunities for your kids to use their voice and talk about their day. Ask questions: What was good, what was challenging, what did they experience that they didn’t expect? etc. Allow time for connecting through conversation about what happened in their day when you weren’t with them, and LISTEN.
- PLAY with your kids! Make opportunities for play and schedule some downtime before starting homework.
- Provide structure around homework time. Look for the sensory needs that your child might have around completing homework. Be flexible.
Transition—Think of Dr. Dan Siegel’s “name it to frame it.” Talk about what is going to happen. Talk about when it’s going to happen. Talk about how you can help them with what is coming next. Transitions can be big triggers for kids; help them to be prepared for the next thing. If necessary, make a visual chart or transition cards to help with what comes next.
Regulation—Remind your kids about their upstairs brain and their downstairs brain. What can they do to self-regulate when the need arises? Practice strategies they can use in the classroom, on the bus, on the playground, etc. (fidgets, ask for help, breathe)
Snacks and Water—Be sure to have snacks and water available for kiddos at school and after school. If necessary, talk to teachers about allowing your child to have a snack at school. When a child’s blood sugar and hydration levels are where they should be, they are better able to learn and regulate. Have a snack and water available in the car when you pick them up from school or as soon as they arrive home on the bus.
Sensory Behaviors—Behavior is an expression of regulation…With this in mind, help your child regulate. Give ideas on what they can do to manage their behavior. Look for things that your child seeks or avoids with regard to their senses. Meet the sensory needs before the behavior becomes too challenging.
ADVOCATE!—Be your kid’s BIGGEST advocate. Talk to teachers and staff about what your kiddo needs to learn and be successful in their day. Older kids can be their own advocate with the right support, encouragement, and understanding of their own needs.
HAVE A FANTASTIC SCHOOL YEAR!
As an agency that prides itself and continuing education, Hope’s Promise continues to educate the children and families we serve through a variety of different avenues. Sometimes we come across a blog that we can’t wait to share because of the importance of its topic. This is one such blog.
Adopted, foster, and orphaned children often struggle with regulation. Learning regulation is a process and eventually leads to the final goal of self-regulation.
This blog, by our friends at Empowered to Connect, share what that process can and should look like for any child struggling with regulation.
By our friends at CO4Kids
Five years ago, Jessica Olds was a client in the Adams County Family Treatment Court program, working to overcome an alcohol and substance use disorder and trying to regain custody of her two sons. Three and a half years later, having achieved sobriety and reunification with her children, Jessica began working as a Parent Advocate for the Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel (ORPC), helping parents in the same situation she was in at her lowest moment.
“Jessica was my client when she was in family treatment court. She was in a dark place but she had two boys, a desire for change and a resilience reserved only for Disney princesses,” said Wendy Lewis, Jessica’s former counsel. “She has come so far since then, and now she is someone who inspires other parents to reach for their dreams. She made sure that her past made her better, not bitter.”
Jessica is grateful for the changes she made in family treatment court and the support she received from everyone on her team, particularly her peer support worker who took her to her first 12-step meeting and who Jessica credits in large part with achieving reunification with her sons. In 2020, the ORPC began hiring for the new role of parent advocate, and Jessica was inspired to pursue the job because of her experience years prior with her peer support.
As a parent advocate, Jessica works with parents primarily in the Adams County Family Treatment Court program, which specializes in reuniting families that have been separated due to substance use disorder. The court provides additional resources for parents to help them address their substance use disorder and create a safe and healthy environment so their kids can return home to be raised by their parents.
As a parent advocate, Jessica makes herself available to her clients 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. She doesn’t have to but she chooses to because she has ‘been there’ and understands what the other parents are going through. She connects with her clients on a deep level, often helping them face past traumas and achieve their goals. She is there for them if they need to find a place to do a drug test in the evening, if they need a ride to the methadone clinic at 6:00 am, or if they need a sympathetic ear in the middle of the night. In addition to attending hearings and family team meetings, Jessica goes well beyond her required duties, including hosting a clothing exchange for families in family treatment court.
But while Jessica goes above and beyond to support her clients, it is ultimately up to them to make the necessary changes. “In my experience as a parent in this situation and later as a parent advocate, I have found that in order to be successful in overcoming challenges and achieving reunification, parents must ultimately be willing to do the hard work of making healthy choices and good decisions,” added Jessica. “Utilizing the available supports and services is so important in helping parents to build a foundation for a successful life and a home in which children can thrive.”
Jessica’s clients are often at their lowest point when they begin working with her, but her willingness to share her story, lift them up and pay forward the support she once received helps them to envision and strive toward a future for themselves that is as bright as hers.