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An Introduction to Autism for Adoptive and Foster Families: Book Review

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From the Cover of An Introduction to Autism for Adoptive and Foster Families: How to Understand and Help Your Child by Katie Hunt and Helen Rodwell:

“Written for busy foster carers and adoptive parents, this book provides a concise introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and how to support a child with a diagnosis. It emphasizes the common strengths children with ASD have, as well as offering strategies for any behavioral issues that are likely to arise, highlighting how these can be exacerbated by the care system and adoption process. The strategies include social scripts, reduction of sensory input in a child’s environment and encouraging parents to think about self-care.”


Grade:

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Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 4 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]


What Our Family Thought:

The target audience for this book is foster and adoptive families with children who are autistic, who may be receiving placement of a child with autism, or who have a reason to suspect a child in their home may be autistic. As the title suggests, this book provides an introduction to what autism is, how it is assessed, and challenges in assessing foster and adopted children. The book also provides a primer in attachment and belonging, how attachment and belonging can be damaged in foster and adopted children, and how attachment and belonging look different in autistic children. They discuss managing everyday transitions, placement transitions, and visits with birth family and how to minimize negative impacts of these transitions on autistic children. Furthermore, they provide insight into doing life story work with children who have autism and helping them with their loss and trauma. The authors share ways for caregivers to look after themselves while parenting a child with autism.

Chapter 9 in the book lists many resources for seeking information or finding professionals best suited to help. The appendix, entitled “Getting to Know my Child,” provides a detailed checklist about a child’s social communication; anxiety and feelings; social interaction; rigid and inflexible interests, behavior, and routines; everyday transitions; and sensory needs. It is really quite applicable to any child and can help caregivers in multiple ways. A prospective parent can ask current caregivers or professionals to fill it out before the child moves in so they can better prepare. A current caregiver can pass it on to a new caregiver if the child moves or to a birthparent with whom the child is reunifying. It can also be useful for a caregiver to give to teachers or other professionals who work with their child to enable them to better understand and work with the child.

The strategies and principles in this book will help any foster or adoptive parent who is parenting an autistic child, and they really apply as well to parenting any child through foster care or adoption. The book does not list a lot of specific actions to take, as the authors emphasize the fact that every child and family is different, but rather they outline seven overriding principles to guide caregivers of children with autism.

Overall, this is an insightful and informative book for caregivers who do not have a good understanding of the aforementioned topics. For those well-versed in autism and parenting children who have experienced trauma, it may provide good reminders to return to as needed over time.

*Note: The authors are from the UK, so certain foster and adoption processes or health or governmental agencies will vary for readers in other countries, but the overall principles and strategies are applicable anywhere.


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It’s Your Turn:

  1. What did you find most helpful or eye opening in this book?
  2. What changes will you make as a result of reading this book?

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ADOPTING: real life stories – Adoption Book Review

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From the Cover of ADOPTING: real life stories by Ann Morris:

“Who makes adoption a success? We do: the kids and parents in the new family as we change shape to accommodate each other.

With more than 70 real life stories, revealing moments of vulnerability and moments of joy, this book provides an authentic insight into adoption. These stories take the reader on a journey through every stage of the adoption process, from making the decision to adopt to the challenges of bringing up a child who has lost all trust in the adult world, offering informative, honest and often emotive accounts of families’ experiences. It includes the stories of adopters, adoptees and birth parents. Chapters cover every aspect of adoption: adopting older children to adopting sibling groups; adopting as a single parent; adopting as a same-sex couple; adopting emotionally and physically abused children; the nightmare of adoption breaking down; contact with birth parents; tracing and social media and much more.”


Grade:

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Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 4 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]


What I Thought:

This book is a collection of stories as well as general information on adoption, specifically pertaining to adoption in the UK. The stories are organized in great fashion, surrounding different topics in the adoption and foster care community. The book begins with “So you want to adopt?” as the first chapter and has quite a bit of good intro info as well as stories to support the topic. Th book progresses through the topics of the first meetings, ages of the children at time of placement and how that might look, to different types of abilities as well as trauma. The topics covered next are about different types of parents ( same sex and single parent adoption). As well as additional adoptions in the same families. The following chapters cover more controversial topics of race/religion as it relates to adoption as well as the difficult subjects of school, future contact with biological parents and children, attachment issues, behaviors, helping the adoptive children know there story, social media and adoption, and concluding the book with a birth mother’s story.

What makes this book a stand out are all of the years and years of personal stories that are shared throughout the book to help the reader fully understand how each topic relates specifically to adoption and what it might look like in the real world. I personally appreciated a book like this on the market to help paint a more realistic picture of how adoption looks in real life. One of my favorite parts of the book was the Adoption UK’s ten-point guide to handling teenagers. It was a more how to/step by step guide to follow and apply for parents, (not just what to do with your children but also how to help yourself while parenting). Additionally, the chapter entitled, “Taking in the Child, Taking on the School” was incredible. It really paints a clear picture of how important finding the right school for the child is, as far as how to best help with trauma and trust. There are many tips and ideas on how to specifically help your child when in comes to the school setting. Another very informative chapter is called “Breakdown”. This chapter discusses adoption disruptions and has some statistics as well as in depth information about what an adoption disruption looks like. I appreciated this chapter being in this book as the social stigma for adoption disruptions appears to be so negative. The book does a great job of explaining the truth as to why they occur as well as what that looks like, with personal stories from adoptive families. Overall, this book is a easy read, that you could pick up and get some great take away’s from for your adoption journey or if your just considering an adoption.


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Transfiguring Adoption Changes: Honoring Beginnings

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Today, August 1, 2018, marks new beginnings for Transfiguring Adoption. When Darren and I began Transfiguring Adoption a few years ago, we initially planned to begin the process of becoming a federally-recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit. But Melanie Nordstrom, whom we had been working with in various capacities since 2000, recommended that we, Transfiguring Adoption, set up as a branch of Community Life Concepts (CLC) of Southern Illinois, NPC, a nonprofit for which she was the executive director. This made perfect sense as Darren and I had a history of running programming under CLC and also securing and managing grant funding under CLC.

Melanie has served not just as a “boss” to us in many ways over the last two decades, but she has been a friend and a mentor. Much of what we know about leadership, nonprofit management, and loving those in need we have gleaned from Melanie. Yesterday Melanie officially resigned as executive director of CLC and recommended me, Margie Fink, to the board as the new executive director. (Of course, this has been in the works in the background for a couple of months now.)


What’s Changing?

The CLC board has voted on several changes. Most of them will not necessarily be noticeable to those served through Transfiguring Adoption, but all are designed to have a positive impact on all that we do.

  • Margie Fink is the new executive director of the organization.
  • The legal name of the nonprofit is changing to Transfiguring Adoption.
  • We have a new board.
  • The current focus of the organization will be zeroing in on programs that relate to foster care and adoption.
  • We have also secured the services of Redbird Strategic Resources for strategic planning and fundraising help.

What’s Staying the Same?

For most people served through TA and for most of our volunteers, little will be noticeably different. First, here is a little background on CLC from the website:

“CLC has a history of founding programs that fill in gaps in services. These have included low cost food programs for families, coordinating emergency relief efforts for natural disasters, youth leadership training programs, volunteer mobilization, and organizing scholarships for low income children to attend private schools, to name a few. Additionally, CLC has provided infrastructural support to branches, such as Community Kids and Transfiguring Adoption, including office and meeting space in a state of the art facility, book keeping, office equipment and supplies, and a proven ability to market new programs effectively. Community Life Concepts (CLC) was founded as an outreach of Christ Community Church in Murphysboro, IL. Our mission is to develop programs that provide practical ways to bring hope and healing to those we serve. We work with faith-based and secular groups in a variety of settings. CLC was incorporated in 2006 and has its own federal nonprofit status. While CLC finds strength in its history, we strive to find new methods to respond to the needs of our world.”

These aspects will stay the same:

  • Dedication to improving and increasing services
  • Darren Fink as Program Director
  • Margie Fink’s duties stay the same with more added.

Current Programs

You may not be aware that there are already two other programs—Community Kids and Compassion Closet—that have been operating under CLC/Transfiguring Adoption. Moving forward, there will be opportunity to add more programming that supports and resources children and their caregivers.

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Compassion Closet

The Compassion Closet’s mission is to show the love of Christ by providing quality clothing and tangible items to foster children and their families.  We also desire to serve birth families, aging out youth, kinship placements, and domestic/international adoptive families as God allows and needs arise. The Compassion Closet is located in Knoxville, TN, and serves the greater Knoxville area.

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Community Kids

Community Kids (CK) is a support network for foster, kinship, and adoptive families that was conceptualized in the fall of 2009 and began programming in the spring of 2010. The purpose of CK is to provide foster and adoptive families supportive services that are not currently available through the state or other non profits. The first step was to initiate a monthly support group. Free child care from approved care givers is offered during the meetings. In the past, the group offered a free store to aid families in equipping new placements and also offered a summer camp for foster and adoptive children with the aid of a respite grant from AdoptUSKids. While its cofounders, Darren and Margaret Fink, currently reside in Florida and no longer provide programming, a support group continues to operate on a monthly basis in Southern Illinois from the group they began.


Thanks!

As we begin this new leg of the journey, I am grateful for the many opportunities Melanie has given us to grow, learn, do what we love, and become more of who and what we long to be. I am thankful for all who have been a part of our journey, and I look forward to the days, months and years to come and the people we will meet and serve along the way!

Let’s do this!!


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