Allegations and Investigations

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Foster care and adoption can create many wonderful and happy times. Still, they can have unwanted outcomes, such as allegations and investigations. Many adoptive and guardianship families have experienced, to some degree, an allegation on their family, resulting in an investigation by your local Human Service Zone. Although most of the allegations are harmless, there can be serious allegations made against your family, such as poor discipline techniques, neglect, poor parenting, and so forth. Allegations can be made by multiple sources, such as foster/adopt/guardianship children, birth family, community members, school personnel, and so on. Many families say it is not if allegations/investigations occur, but when they occur.

Some recommendations to protect you and your family if you find yourselves in the middle of an investigation, or simply wanting to prepare for the instance that you may experience an investigation are below:

1) The most important recommendation is to document anything and everything. Documenting can be very beneficial in the instance that you experience an allegation, resulting in an investigation. Document any concerning behaviors such as aggression, inappropriate comments, and an increase in behaviors. Also, taking pictures of any new bruises, scratches, and cuts and documenting how the injury happened can be beneficial.

2) Another important recommendation is to discuss any concerns, changes, or updates with team members as soon as possible. Team members can include case managers, therapists, doctors, teachers, and any other provider significant to the child and family.

3) Engaging in safety planning so all household members know what to expect in regards to behaviors can also be beneficial. Having a safety plan in place can help prove to investigators that you are working on each possible crisis and have a plan in place when and if it is needed.

4) If you do find yourself in the middle of an investigation, being honest and open is the best route to go. Being cooperative with the investigative agency can help them to better trust you. Answering questions, following the rules, and providing documentation can help.

For more information and a webinar discussing allegations and investigations, please see our post adopt website at http://www.ndpostadopt.org/ under parent resources and webinars.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Jaclyn Stroehl, LBSW

Mental Health

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May officially marks Mental Health Awareness month!  Did you know 1 in 5 adults experience mental health illness each year?  Or suicide is the second leading cause of death among people 10-34 years of age?  These are some staggering yet, important statics to consider.  In the helping profession, mental health is a common issue experienced by clients and coworkers.  I can especially confirm this working within the child welfare and adoption system.  Birth parents experience trauma and loss when their children are removed from their care.  Children experience abuse or neglect, which leads to the removal and grief and loss. Case workers who invest everything they have into the families they serve only to be disappointed and discouraged by the outcomes.  Adoptive and guardianship parents struggle with how to support their adopted children in addition to process their feelings about their family’s adoption or guardianship story.  All of these situations can increase the risk of mental health illness.  Don’t get me started on throwing 2020 and COVID 19 into the mix.  In February of 2021, one in four adults reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression in the past year based on data from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, which is a huge increase based on the previous statistic.

It’s hard to imagine only a few centuries ago, so little was understood about mental health.  Those who were unable to maintain in the community were institutionalized and often forgotten.  Others felt forced to suffer internally and alone and do their best to attempt to “maintain.”   We’ve made huge strides in awareness and understanding of mental health, but we still have a lot of work to do.  On April 30th, 2021, President Biden presented a proclamation of National Mental Health Awareness Month in which he states, “My Administration is committed to ensuring that people living with mental health conditions are treated with compassion, respect, and understanding.”  As I mentioned, we still have a lot of work to do but acts like this have me hopeful.  At this stage in my life, I feel if you are a person who has never experienced mental health issues, you are truly a “unicorn”.  People are people! We experience love, loss, and hardship.  With our community’s support and the right services in place and available, we can overcome.  If you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.  If you are an adoption or guardianship parent who needs a safe place to talk, reach out to your local coordinator.  We are here for you.  You are not alone.

Additional Resources:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/04/30/a-proclamation-on-national-mental-health-awareness-month-2021/

https://nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Awareness-Month

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Brittney Engelhard, LBSW

The Need for Connection

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Often, I find myself thinking about connection.  I mostly contemplate various ways to explain the importance of the connection between parent and child and different ideas on how to promote healthy connections.  Recently, I stumbled across this interesting article, Connections: 4 Reasons It’s Important, 4 Reasons It’s Difficult, and 4 Ways to Cultivate It, by Alisa Jaffe Holleron.  If you have the chance to read this piece of work, I recommend that you do – the article is a quick read and great refresher on, you named it, connecting with your children.  I will always and forever promote a healthy connection between parent and child and enjoy working with families on finding practical ways to find a few ways to connect.

Parenting can be difficult.  Parenting children who have experienced trauma can add another component that can be especially difficult at times.  Connection for parents is very beneficial.

A connection with other parents who have parented children with a trauma history can have many benefits.  A connection with two (or more) parents who have experienced similarities in their journey can promote comfort and understanding.  A simple head nod or message of, ‘Yes, we’ve been there, too,’ can do wonders with feelings of comfort and being understood.  The connection can also be encouraging.  For example, hearing another’s story may create a hope to continue the tough work of parenting.  These connections can also be inspiring!  Different approaches to handling various scenarios in parenting can be gained when connected to another who has gone through similar situations.  Parents may also find a mentor to help along the way; or find themselves as a mentor to someone who is just starting out on their journey of parenting.

Brene Brown once said, ‘staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.’  Parents, I encourage you to reach out, become vulnerable, and experience connection.  This may help alleviate some of the stressors you’ve encountered within parenting.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Darcy Solem, LBSW

Additional Resources:
https://alisajaffeholleron.com/inspiration-for-all-parents/connection-important-to-healthy-development-in-children/

Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is a celebration to honor the mother of the family, motherhood, and maternal bonds. It doesn’t matter the adjective in front of the word “mother.” Whether you’re a birth mother, adoptive mother, foster mother, guardian mother, stepmother, godmother, kinship mother, you deserve to be celebrated on this day. Being a mother does not stop with DNA. A mother encompasses that and so much more.

Mother’s Day was held on May 9th, 2021 of this year, but any day is a great day to appreciate mothers and everything they have done for us.  It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in March or May. The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908. Jarvis campaigned to have Mother’s Day recognized by the federal government, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill that designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Jarvis would later denounce the holiday’s commercialization and spent the latter part of her life trying to remove it from the calendar. While dates and celebrations vary, Mother’s Day traditionally involves presenting moms with flowers, cards, and tokens of appreciation. Mothers deserve to be thanked, spoiled, and loved on in their own special way; however that looks to them and their family.

 “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” – Sophia Loren

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Kim Waswick, LBSW

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