Monday, July 23rd, 2012
We are no longer using this blog. Please visit our new blog at http://downeyside.tumblr.com
Monday, July 23rd, 2012
We are no longer using this blog. Please visit our new blog at http://downeyside.tumblr.com
One of their recently adopted children (they adopted a sibling group) was caught in a sexually compromising situ… wait I take that back. It was way more than comprising and dangerous and all kinds of things although I’m obviously not going into details. The child in question is under 14 years old.
The beautiful part of the incident and my telephone call was the unconditional love the family has for the children. They went into this process knowing there might be severe challenges and made the decision to commit in a very mature way. The kids of course, can’t return that commitment so it falls to the parents to maintain the relationship.
Many people would say that these parents deserve a gold medal or a halo, and they do. But this family would say they’re normal – just like you and me. I don’t know about you but it’s fantastic to know that these folks exist. For me it’s a phenomenal privilege to be involved with these kids and families.
I don’t know exactly how to write this story. It’s not pleasant and it’s pretty complex. But because it is important, it needs to be told. It’s about a family with and for whom we are ‘searching’ for children. They were just ‘matched’ but the proposed placement fell through- and that’s the story.
But to really understand it, you have to know the emotions and for that you need some details. The family has been searching for a long time; for over a year. They are not asking for infant or even a young child who is relatively undamaged but rather they are looking to adopt a child (or children) of teen or near teenage years who has (have) been there and back. They came close on one occasion but the worker for the other agency sabotaged the placement. It was probably not done consciously but it was sabotage nevertheless. (That had to do a with the other social worker [not from Downey Side] buying a 13- year old a cell phone and horseback lessons over their reasonable objections because they were ‘just’ pre-adoptive parents…)
Anyway, they didn’t let that stop them and continued searching and were recently called by a local county proposing they adopt two sisters. The girls were about 12 & 5 years old and had ‘only’ been in 2-3 previous foster placements. Our family worked hard to get information on the girls and, in this case, had to work quickly to learn enough to basically make a permanent commitment to the girls- sight unseen!! This is of course, difficult though it may be, is best for the children. It’s so the children don’t learn of potential placements prematurely and then have their hopes crushed.
The day before they were to meet the children the “county” called and said the placement was off. The day before!! Talk about crushed hopes. The county didn’t ask or suggest. It just said the placement was off.
The reason they offered was that birth family resources were going to be explored. This means they were going to go through their own files to see if an uncle or an aunt or grandparent or cousin might reach out to the children. I couldn’t tell our family why this wasn’t done before. So, I asked the county and it answered that the foster care unit hadn’t done that work but had sent the case over so the adoption unit just assumed… The county then also said it would also be exploring it’s own families instead of reaching out to private agencies such as Downey Side. There does seem to be a little more than meets the eye here. But we’ll let the more cynical amongst us ponder that.
Anyway, our family had adopted those children- in their hearts and in their reasonable expectations and imaginations. They were getting bedrooms ready and contacting schools and all kinds of things. It’s very much on the order of divorce or death- a crushing blow to the heart and mind and body.
I have no doubt that they would have made fine parents for those little girls. (The county agreed – saying our family was ‘delightful’.) But, I have grave fears that I will see those girls listed on the photo-listing exchanges in the future. We don’t know what the girls were told; if they were told anything at all.
Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
Last week one of our experienced adoptive moms came in to talk to some prospective families. She said it was, and is, a great experience. She & her husband adopted a girl 14, and her little brother,10. The young lady is remarkably resilient and is doing like any other girl her age. She’s 15 – and is going to get her cell phone privileges back any day now…. normal as normal can be.
Her brother on the other hand is a piece of work. They realized time out in his room isn’t a punishment because that’s what he did for years in his old foster home; just stayed in his room. He didn’t go out to play after school, he was kept in his room; he just stayed in his room. Only, the foster home room didn’t have a TV, or computer, or I-phone, or books, or toys, or stereo. His room now has all these things so when they send him there it’s a reward! (However, they did discover that making him sit on the stairs works wonders… hah!)
Anyway, they love him (and her) to bits. That’s why they take the time to listen deeply. Somehow they figured out that the reason he wasn’t using a knife and fork was that he didn’t know how- having never been taught. So, they simply asked him if he knew how, he said no and they asked him if he wanted to learn. He said yes, and the rest is history. It was kind of the same thing with brushing his teeth and taking a shower. And paying attention in school. And making friends. He’s got sooo much to learn. It’s a good thing he has a family to help him.
It’s a good thing they have a family. Their family is lucky to have them!
Tuesday, January 17th, 2012
We placed three children last week. Words cannot describe my gratitude and awe. The family who is adopting two brothers and their sister is absolutely marvelous. Can you imagine? The kids have been to hell and back. They’re healthy and so they have to be angry. They have normal responses to the abnormal situation of serious abuse and neglect. Their new parents are saying by action, not just by word, ‘Yes, we know you’re angry. We welcome you and your anger. We’ll love you while you work through and get past that anger- even if it’s rage. We’ll show you how beautiful you are and how beautiful life can be.’
The family will succeed. They’re mature, loving, caring normal adults and that gives them the abilities they need.
To be involved with this is blessing of the deepest kind. Can you imagine how lucky I am? I still can’t comprehend the phenomenal hospitality and courage of the families I work for. Although I do have an inkling of that because of the love and sacrifice of my own parents. But I’m absolutley clueless when it comes to the experience of the children. After more than 25 years of contact with children in ‘the system’, I still cannot wrap my head around what they go through. I just can’t.
This family is a reason for being optimistic about all of us- and our future.
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012
Every day we receive referrals of children who need families. At any one time, our family life advocates are discussing possible placements of as many as 1, 500 children. Of course these discussions end up with permanent families for only about 40 children every year – by us. But there are several thousand agencies nationwide working for the children. So we have an essential hope for all of the hundreds of thousands of children who need families in this country.
One of the referrals we recently received was of a young girl named Gabrielle. She is 13 years old and has already been a 24 foster homes. This is an abuse of unbelievable proportions. It’s beyond devastation to treat a child this way. It would be devastating to treat an adult this way. Despite having worked in this system since 1977, I cannot begin to comprehend the pain that this history brings.
I had one person suggest that there must be something wrong with her that she would have to be changed that many times. And I ask what could a child that young possibly do to warrant this kind of abuse? While I don’t know the specifics of those 24 placements, I can detail the kinds of reasons that this sort of thing occurs – they are not the child’s fault. It’s about adult commitment. But the point is that children go through Foster Care drift and they don’t have to.
The miracle is that children do survive the type of treatment Gabrielle has undergone. The miracle is that there are families who can and will respond. I already have a family interested in adopting Gabrielle.
- Brother Terence Taffe, OFM Cap
Assistant Executive Director, Downey Side Inc.
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011
John, Anthony, and Aaron are three brothers who have been adopted by Erin T. They have extended their family with adopting Richard and Charlie. The family now consists of five boys. All of the children were recently baptized into the Catholic Church. They are active in sports and church events.
John is in the 10th grade, Anthony is in the 9th grade, and Aaron is in the 4th grade. They are all good students and love being with their new family.
Thursday, April 21st, 2011
Each year the Lenten Journey seems more and more up-hill. I find myself complaining to a God who calls us to give life to his waiting children through the love of a family of their own.
Last Tuesday night, I decided to give one of Downey Side’s biggest supporters, Bob, a call. I was fortunate to get him, as he was driving home. He welcomed my call and quickly sensed my frustration. Bob replied with “How can I help?” and “How much do you need?” I was uncomfortable in giving him a figure and he said “I know I’m going to send you $50,000, and you can send out a letter asking donors to match it. Then you can even double the amount, as before.”
Thank you Lord! Your Easter is almost here and you haven’t forgotten me. Probably tired of my complaining faith and letting me know that there are a lot of loving people out there that really want to be part of helping your waiting children!
The news from Bob made me also realize how grateful I am for all of our staff, both new and old. They’ve struggled along with me and I want to express my gratitude for their dedicated service.
I am sharing this Easter story to honor Bob’s special gift in hopes that you will participate and become part of our Easter miracle.
May the Lord bless you!
***All contributions may be sent to Downey Side, 210 W. 31st Street, NY, NY 10001. For credit card contributions, please call 1-800-US-CHILD
Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
2011 marks the 12th year that Race for Kids will raise money for three important charities: The Hope and Heroes Children’s Cancer Fund, Downey Side and The Make-a-Wish Foundation of Vermont. The event attracts ski buffs and winter revelers from the financial marketing, advertising and media communities and their friends and families
The “weekend” starts on Thursday and lasts through Sunday morning, with the Race on Saturday morning. In addition to our “Fireside Forums” you’ll have plenty of time to ski, relax with your friends, network with industry colleagues, and just sit back and toast the beauty of Vermont in January. Even if you don’t ski, there’s a full list of “things to do” off the slopes. For 2011, we also have two days of events for kids so bring the family.
So if you’re looking to kick off the New Year in a special way or if you’re just itching to show off your stuff, register today for Race for Kids 2011.
Company sponsors and individual donors are also encouraged to support this unique charity fundraiser.
To download an event brochure, please click here.
For additional information regarding the FCS Race for Kids, please visit www.fcsraceforkids.org or contact:
Tim Hart – email@example.com
(212) 641 6554
Monday, November 15th, 2010
When we think of Thanksgiving, most of us think of eating turkey, shopping, and a 2-day holiday off from work. Many of us have forgotten the true meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday, which is family. Although at times we take our family for granted, there are hundreds of thousands of children waiting in foster care who would love to switch places with us in a heartbeat. The month of November is National Adoption Month. Last year there were 424,000 children in foster care, 115,000 of those children were waiting to be adopted, and only 57,000 children who were adopted. (Based on data submitted by States as of July 2010)
Downey Side, a not-for-profit adoption agency, has seen the challenges that children in foster care go through. All children have their fair share of issues, but those issues are normally resolved with help from their family. But what happens when a child has no family to turn to? What happens is that the child becomes “labeled”. Labeled as “special needs”, “disruptive behavior”, or a “problem child”. The labeling of children is what sometimes holds many children back from getting adopted. Many searching families see these “labels” in children’s profiles and are frightened away.
A family is a key essential to growing and having a healthy childhood. Children grow better in families. As we celebrate this Thanksgiving holiday, please remember the many children who are still waiting in foster care. They are patiently waiting for that special family to become part of their lives. The odds are that many of the youth will age out of the system without ever finding a family.
Are you interested in becoming an adoptive parent? Would you like to support our cause? Please contact 1-800-US-CHILD to learn more about adoption or to make a donation.
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