post adoption

UMCH Family Services Blog



Why I Foster

May 24, 2017

May is National Foster Care Month. To celebrate this month, we have asked some of our amazing Foster Parents why they chose to provide foster care. Here are their responses:

” We had more love to share and wanted to have more kids in our home so we made the decision to become a foster family. It has been a challenging and rewarding experience so far and we are enjoying working as a team to love and care for our foster children.” – Joe and Alicia Manning, Foster Parents for 1.5 years

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“We have extra love to share and want to be a safe and supportive environment for kids to land for a short or long time.”  -Josh and Lindsay Meyer, Foster Parents for 1 month

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” We seek to bring boys into a loving, encouraging, positive home where they will be loved, challenged and guided to prepare for a positive life ahead of them. God directs our steps as we take care of his own.” -Charlie and Delois Yates, Foster Parents for 14 years.

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“We foster to help children. We have a lot of love to give! Our overall goal is to adopt and add to our family, but until those placements come to our home, we are going to bless as many kids as we can.” -Terry and Bonnie Madden, Foster Parents for 1 year

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“We foster because we love kids! We want to help hurting kids by providing them love and stability. We also want to help them by showing the love of Christ. We also would like to expand our family.” -Jeff and Dianna Lambert, Foster Parents for 3.5 years

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” I foster to be a helping hand and to provide a safe home for children. I consider myself a modern day Harriet Tubman. I make a commitment to keep the children until they can go back home or to an adoptive home. There were many people that help and guided me along the way when my mother died when I was 5 years old. I now try to be a blessing to someone else.” – Patricia Robinson, Foster Parent for 19 years

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” We love children and being able to share our home and lives with them. So many children are in need and this is a way we can be involved. It has been a journey, some ups and some downs, but always worth it!” -Dale and Lori Van Valkenburg, Foster Parents for 3 years

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” We have been so blessed by our own families that we want to give that love to other kids in the world. We want to give to the community in which we live and this is a great need in our community. We are loved so we seek to love in return. God told us to love those in need and we have a responsibility to use what has been given to us to meet those needs.” – Matt and Krista Creeger, Foster Parents for 3 months

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“We foster to help kids that often come from a world of experiences that are difficult to comprehend. We foster to give kids the chance to heal, grow and move forward towards their dreams.” -Dan and Mary Headapohl, Foster Parents for 9 years

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We appreciate our foster families sharing with us why they chose to foster and hope that many of you will choose to foster too! There is a large need for foster homes in our community, especially for older children and sibling groups. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, please call 614-559-2800 or email kbanks@umchohio.org.

Please feel free to comment below and share on your social media pages why you have chosen to foster as well! Use the hashtag: #WhyIFoster.

House Bill 50: The Fostering Connections Act-Update

March 8, 2017

You may have read our last post,House Bill 50: The Fostering Connections Act . If you did, you know that this bill will expand foster care services to the age of 21 in Ohio, if not check it out! This bill has excited a lot of youth, parents and staff working to emancipate children successfully from Ohio’s foster care program. So what has happened since the bill passed? We wanted to let you know!

The Foster to 21 Program has officially been given a name and is now known as, Bridges. It was given this name to best convey what it actually will be: a voluntary “bridge” from foster care to independence. Youth who age out of foster care will be able to request housing or other supportive services at any time between their 18th and 21st birthdays.

An advisory committee was put together by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services back in October and has been meeting regularly to discuss how to build the Bridges program and implement it effectively. They have been tackling tough issues surrounding the program’s infrastructure and policies such as how youth will smoothly transition from foster care to Bridges, identifying Ohio Administrative Code rules that may be affected by the program, as well as new rules that may be necessary to support the program, and how to effectively market this program so youth will want to take part in it.

There is still much to figure out, but we do know that in order for foster youth to be eligible for the Bridges Program they will have to meet one of the following criteria:

  • Completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential.
  • Enrollment in an institution that provides post-secondary or vocational education.
  • Employed for at least 80 hours per month.
  • Incapable of doing any of the above activities due to a medical condition, and incapacity is supported by regular documentation from a medical professional.
  • Participating in a program or activity that is designed to remove barriers to employment.

We also know that youth enrolled in the program may be in a variety of supervised living situations, including:

  • Apartment living
  • Room & board arrangements
  • College or university dormitories
  • Host homes
  • Shared roommate settings

The Advisory Board will continue to work along with The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services to build the Bridges Program and support one of our most vulnerable populations; youth emancipating form the foster care system. Right now, the program is set to be implemented on December 11th, 2017.

What do you all think of this new program? Share your comments below and be sure to check in for more updates as information is released regarding this impactful change on our system!

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Our New Treatment Facility

December 12, 2016

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We have some exciting news to share with you! UMCH Family Services has officially moved into our new location on East Broad Street in downtown Columbus. Here, our Outpatient Mental Health, Psychiatric, Treatment Foster Care and Adoption programs have come under one roof and into one cutting-edge facility. We designed this facility to be conducive to the treatment needs of children who have experienced significant trauma. Often these children do not respond, or do not respond as well to traditional treatment methods because trauma changes the brain in a way that makes it important to respect the sensory impact of the environment. That’s why multiple spaces throughout our building offer activities for gross motor skills, therapeutic art and sensory calming. These spaces help to regulate the arousal system and calm the heightened state of fear many traumatized children experience.

Therapy rooms:

Our therapy rooms are painted in soft, soothing colors, are clutter free and have large home-like chairs and sofas creating a comfortable environment for both parents and children. Each room gives our clients a sense of safety, confidentiality, creativity, and opportunity and is outfitted with many therapeutic tools such as games, art supplies, puppets, toys and books.

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Play Therapy rooms:

Children dealing with trauma or who have other special needs may have trouble processing or filtering many sensations at once or may not process sensory messages quickly or efficiently. Often, a traditional office environment is overwhelming for a child and they may not be able to participate in traditional talk therapy. We don’t want anything to get in the way of helping the children we treat; therefore, the design of our therapy rooms has kept these factors in mind. We have specific rooms designated for sensory items such as sand and water tables where children can work along with their therapist on regulation and sensory skills. Sand and water tables may also assist children in verbalizing their emotional states, particularly in the face of trauma, neglect, or abuse.

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Gross Motor Room:

Children affected by trauma may be affected in multiple ways; cognitively, socially, emotionally and even physically. We offer a large gross-motor room full of tools to assist children in working through their challenges along with their therapist. This room helps children to make a connection between their mind and their body and houses items such a sensory swing which provides the sensory input kids need to calm and organize allowing them to better process and focus on their treatment. It also encourages movement and exercise. As kids climb in, stretch out and move around inside the swing, they learn body awareness, balance, motor planning and spatial skills. This room is also full of soft mats, inflatables, balls and more inviting children to touch and play in a socially appropriate manner.

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Training Room:

The advances our industry has made over the past decade in treating children who have experienced trauma are astounding. Our staff continually seeks to stay abreast and to pass along valuable training to our foster parents. We’ve developed a large training facility located on our lower level that can host trainings for up to 50 individuals. This spacious learning environment with large television screens, a top of the line sound system and comfortable seating provides an area to host our ongoing foster parent and staff trainings covering topics such as trauma, abuse and neglect and the Neurosequential Model of Therapy.

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Staff Rooms:

Working with traumatized children can be demanding and we want to do it to the best of our ability. Therefore, UMCH made certain to create a healthy and inviting atmosphere for staff to work in. We know that healthy adults create healthy kids. Clinicians have “touch down” locations where they can complete documentation comfortably after serving out in the community. There are also several meeting rooms located throughout the office where staff can gather to complete work and meet with one another. Kitchenette areas are located on the third floor and lower level where staff can prepare meals and eat with one another during a busy work day.

UMCH also included a bicycle and treadmill desk available for staff to work from and get some exercise at the same time. Not only can staff burn some calories, but treadmill and bicycle desks have been proven to reduce stress, increase creativity, increase productivity, lower blood pressure and help maintain strong bones.

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National Adoption Month

November 18, 2016

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and this year’s Adoption Day celebration is on November 17th in Franklin County.To honor this month and create awareness surrounding adoption, UMCH has participated in the #OneDayProject.

“The day an adoption is finalized is one you’ll never forget. The National Adoption Day Coalition created the One Day Project to share with the thousands of waiting children and families what this “one day” feels like.”

We at UMCH have so many amazing families that have offered a forever home to a child or children in need. We will have 25 adoptions in 2016 alone! Here is what that one finalization day meant to some of  our families and what it can mean for the lifetime of a child:

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“This is from day Miranda was adopted. We didn’t tell her until 15 minutes before our meeting with the judge. She was so used to meetings at the courthouse that she thought it was just another day….” Now we celebrate ” Headapohl Day” every year.” -UMCH Adoptive Family, Dan and Mary Headapohl

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“Such a fantastic day! While Risen stole our hearts and we knew she was part of the family from day one, today we are able to state she is officially a Schreiber! We want to thank UMCH and Franklin County for being so organized and accessible through the process! We feel fortunate that the process went so smooth! “-UMCH Adoptive Parents Michael and Megan Schreiber

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“The best day of our lives! Enjoy everyday watching him become a man”-UMCH Adoptive Parent, Sam McKenzie

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The beginning of an exciting new adventure! He is an amazing kid with an amazing future ahead of him.”-UMCH Adoptive Parent, Sam McKenzie

 

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“Jeremiahs “gotcha” day was nothing short of amazing. Much like the days I gave birth to my biological children it was filled with tears of joy. This process was trying and stretching for our family, but we wouldn’t change a single challenge for getting to keep JJ in our family forever. That night as we put our kids to bed our 6 year old said ” I am so thankful that no one will ever take JJ out of our family. I love my little brother”. – UMCH Adoptive Parents, John and Danielle Schlitt

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“Welcoming Peyton, Grayson, and Avery into our family has changed our lives. I have always known that I could make a difference in the life of a child, but I never knew how much an adoptive child could make a difference to our family. I know that we are better people because of our experience fostering and adopting.”- UMCH Adoptive Parents, Sue Vargo and Jen Zegler

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“Our 2 latest adoptions, 8/18/15 James and 5/2/16 Morgan and Bradley— numbers for our family 9,10 and 11” -UMCH Adoptive Family, Walter and Teri Gabriel

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“On the day the adoption was finalized it felt like we finally got the family we had been wanting for a long time. It took awhile for the realization that we get to keep the boys forever to really sink in!”- UMCH Adoptive Parents, Derik and Misty Pace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Managed Care for Foster and Adoptive Youth

July 22, 2016

You may or may not know that coming soon, on January 1st, 2017; all of Ohio’s Foster and Adoptive youth will need to be on a Managed Care Plan. This is different than the current Medicaid plans that many of them are currently on. So what does this mean exactly?

Managed Care Plans are run by health insurance companies that are contracted by the Ohio Department of Medicaid to manage health care and benefits provided to the Medicaid population. There are currently five companies one can choose to work with:

Caresource

Buckeye

United

Molina

Paramount

For foster youth, the child’s custodial agency will be the one to choose the plan the child will be on. The custodial agency can switch the foster youth to another plan at any time should they need to. Although foster parents will not be the one to make the decision on the plan they will need to make sure that the providers they work with (doctors, dentists, therapists, etc.) are covered by the chosen company. Instead of the monthly Medicaid cards many families are used to, youth will receive one insurance card that can be used throughout the year.

For adoptive youth who are enrolled on Medicaid currently, the child’s parents will need to choose a plan for their child. All adoptive families will be receiving notification in early November regarding this change and choosing a plan for their child. Once notified, they will then have eighteen days to select a plan and enroll. If a family does not make a selection within the allotted timeframe, a plan will automatically be selected for them based on their child’s current needs and services. Unlike foster youth, adoptive youth will not be able to switch plans at any time. Initially, families will be able to switch plans after 90 days and then annually thereafter. Just like with foster families, adoptive families will need to make sure their child’s services and the providers they use are covered by their chosen plan.

If you want more information on this change, checkout the Ohio Department of Medicaid’s presentation by clicking here.

If you are a family wanting assistance in choosing a plan for your child or you want to enroll in a plan, you can do so by calling 1-800-324-8680 or going to: http://ohiomh.com.

 

 

House Bill 50: The Fostering Connections Act

June 22, 2016

Think about it; you just turned 18 and are on the brink of adulthood. The world is your oyster and you now have to figure out what to do as you end your high school career and move on. Now think about having to figure this out without the support of a family or mentor in your life. What would you do if you left home at 18 with nowhere to call home or no one to fall back on? Each year more than 1,000 Ohio youth age out of the foster care system when they turn 18. For many, this means the end of many supports that the foster care system offers including financial, educational, familial and social. According to a report by Ohio Fostering Connections, by the time foster youth had turned 19 years old the following statistics applied:

* 14% had a child

*24% worked part time; 12% worked full time

*26% experienced homelessness

*36% experienced incarceration

*53% had not completed high school or received a GED

The good news is Ohio is trying to change these statistics by recently passing House Bill 50. This bill will expand services to foster youth until the age of 21. It will also expand services to those youth adopted after age 16, through their 21st birthdays. The passing of this bill in Ohio comes after similar programs have been started in 26 states nationwide. According to Fostering Connections, these states have seen an increase in education and employment and lower levels of incarceration and homelessness among foster youth. House Bill 50 does not simply mean that children will continue to stay in foster homes until the age of 21; instead it brings an array of services including independent housing, and college and career preparation that foster youth can voluntarily participate in.

Officially, the bill will become a state law, The Ohio Fostering Connections Act on July 1, 2016. From there, The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services along with the Ohio Fostering Connections task force will take the next eighteen months to fully design and implement the specific services for emancipating youth. UMCH is proud to be a part of this monumental change and will work along with ODJFS in providing support to emancipating youth. Please stay tuned to see how this implementation will change Ohio’s foster care system and strengthen our support to one of our most vulnerable populations- youth aging out of the system.

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Fostering Teenagers: It doesn’t have to be so scary!

April 1, 2016

It is no secret that most people looking to foster or adopt want to care for little ones, usually those under the age of 6. Of course, these children need a home, but what about the growing number of older children in the system? In Ohio alone there were over 4,500 children aged 11-20 in the foster care system in 2013* and the number is only growing. Many families shy away from taking teenagers citing reasons such as “they are scary,” “they may make allegations,” or “they are aggressive.” With less homes willing to take teens, some face life without a family or a place to call home. We spoke to three foster parents who have fostered adolescents to see what it has been really like!

Delois Yates and her husband Charlie Yates have been fostering for about 13 years and estimate fostering around twenty teenagers. Initially the family was called to foster through their church and thought about offering a home to a young child in need. They were soon approached by one of their children’s psychiatrist who thought the family would be good at caring for teenagers. Mr. and Mrs. Yates decided to give it a try and have not turned back, sometimes having up to five teens in their home at once!

Terri Gabriel and her husband, Walter Gabriel also did not think they wanted to foster teens in the beginning, but after about 25 years of fostering and caring for around 100 adolescents, they realized all kids become teenagers at some point even if you start fostering them at a younger age. Like the Yates, their house is also always full of five or more kids.

Foster Parent, Phillis McDonald, on the other hand knew she wanted to foster teens from the beginning as she previously worked in case management with this population and enjoyed the work greatly. Ms. McDonald has been a foster parent for about six years and has maintained a house full of five teenage boys all on her own.

All three families shared that fostering teenagers is not always easy, but what they need most is a place to call home before they emancipate from the system. Foster children emancipating from the system face dire outcomes such as homelessness and incarceration, but if they have a family willing to offer them support and teach them how to be successful adults, these statistics can change. Mrs. Gabriel shared, “They need structure and to be taught daily living skills to be able to move on.” Mrs. McDonald agreed and also added, “They just need your time; hands on time. I like to eat dinner as a family and talk with them.” All three families also agreed that getting their youth to graduate high school were some of their biggest success stories and something that kept them going through the tougher times. Some of these youth may be the first to graduate in their families and a lot of them, with the proper support want to go on to higher education such as college or a vocational school. Mrs. Yates also shared that she often hears from former youth who call back after being in the “real world” and share how much it meant to them to have she and her husband’s support. To Mrs. Yates, this has made it worth it and made it feel like they must have done something right.

All three families hope to see a better outcome for the teenagers in the system and hope that more families can step up to the challenge. So what advice do they have to offer? Mrs. Yates stated, “It is not always easy, but just know that you are making a difference even if you don’t see it right away.” Ms. McDonald added, “Be patient and devote as much time as you can to them.” Mrs. Gabriel offered, “Don’t take stuff personally and know your Achilles’ heel.” If you are considering fostering teenagers, talk to someone who has done it, or try a respite first to get your feet wet. And remember, unlike younger children, you won’t need to change diapers with teens and you may even get to sleep in!

Through our conversations an overarching theme presented itself, although you may not be able to help them all, changing the outcome for one child; stopping the cycle of abuse, helping them graduate or get a job, or teaching them life skills made it all worth it. Mrs. Gabriel shared the story of the jellyfish. She said, “One day a man found a beach littered with thousands of jellyfish that had washed up on the shore. He began picking them up one by one and throwing them back into the ocean. Someone walking by asked him what he was doing and he replied he was throwing the jellyfish back in the ocean so they did not die. The individual then said to the man, “There must be thousands of jellyfish on this beach; you won’t really be able to make a difference.” The man then picked up yet another jellyfish and threw it into the ocean. Then he said, “It made a difference to that one!”

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent, please call 614-559-2800 or email fostercareinfo@umchohio.org. You can also checkout our website at: www.umchohio.org

 

*Statistics were collected from The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Database

The Homestudy Process: What to Expect

August 3, 2015

You have made the exciting decision that you want to foster or adopt, now what? You may have heard that to become an approved foster or adoptive parent you have to go through the “homestudy process,” but what does this mean? For many prospective foster/adoptive parents this can cause some anxiety, but it doesn’t have to! Let’s walk through the process so that you can get an idea of what will be asked of you and your family.

A homestudy will be completed after you start the Pre-Service training (36 hours of training) and fill out an application to foster/adopt. The homestudy is a written document that a certified adoption assessor writes about your family and includes basic information drawn from interviews with your family and some information provided by third parties.

The home study process can take between three to six months to complete and you and your family will have several visits with your adoption assessor. It may seem invasive or lengthy, however, just remember more often than not, agencies are looking for ways to rule families in rather than rule them out. The home study is simply conducted to help you, and your agency, decide if adoption or foster care is right for you, and the type of child who will be the best match for your family.

So what is discussed during the homestudy process? Here are some examples of topics that are covered during the interview with your assessor:

  • Relationship- If you are married or in a relationship questions will be asked about your relationship with your significant other. If you are single, questions will be asked about your dating life and previous relationships you may have had.
  • Religious affiliation/ Spiritual Beliefs
  • Family Finances- No, you don’t have to be rich to foster or adopt! We are simply looking that you can manage your finances responsibly and adequately and can sustain your household without a foster care per diem or adoption subsidy.
  • Attitudes and Beliefs Regarding Foster Care/Adoption Issues
  • Personal History
  • Personal/Emotional Maturity, Stress Management, Interpersonal relationships, Openness in relationships, Ability to empathize, Motivation to foster/adopt, Understanding of Entitlement Issues, Ability to honor commitments, Parenting Skills and your Support System.
  • If you have children or other adults living in your home, they will also be interviewed during the homestudy process

Along with the interview, the assessor will complete a “Safety Audit” of your home. They will need to view all areas of the house or apartment, including where the children will sleep, the basement, and the backyard. The assessor is looking that your home is a safe environment for children. A certain level of order is necessary, but some family clutter is expected! Remember that cleaning materials should be stored high up or with child safety locks, a fire extinguisher should be in the cooking area of your home, medication needs to be locked and emergency numbers and an evacuation plan need to be posted.

After the assessor is completed with the interviews and walk through (usually after 2-4 visits) they will write their assessment into the homestudy document and your family will be approved for foster care and/or adoption. Remember, that along with the interviews you also must complete a slew of paperwork and background checks for the agency so the interviews are not the only piece of the approval process.

The homestudy process may seem long or invasive, but remember that it is truly about learning! A time for you to learn more about the agency, foster care and adoption and a time for the agency to learn more about your family. It is also about deciding whether foster care and adoption are right for your family and the type of child that will fit best in your home.

Childwelfare.gov stated the following about the homestudy process and I think this rings true, “Flexibility and a sense of humor are vital characteristics when raising children, and they can be useful during the home study process as well. With perseverance and a positive outlook, you will be able to team with the social worker to make this a valuable learning experience—one that will help you do the best possible job in parenting the child who will eventually join your family.”

If you would like more information on the homestudy process, check out this fact sheet put together by Childwelfare.gov. and remember you can always call us with your questions; we would love to hear from you and are always looking for prospective foster/adoptive families!

Fact Sheet: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/f_homstu.pdf