Below you will find a number of quotes and stories that are designed to demonstrate the importance and efficacy of post-permanency support. Use these and your own quotes and stories to bolster your advocacy message.
When looking for quotes, seek those that are focused on the child’s need and demonstrate an outcome (adoption or improvement of behavior as a result of support). If you are an adoptive parent, make your own quote based on the circumstances of your family. For example,
- “I wouldn’t have been able to adopt three teenagers from foster care without the health care and ongoing support.”
- “The ongoing connection to other experienced adoptive parents and adoption competent therapists helps us understand what Jack needs to recover from his early abuse. Since he started with the therapist, he’s doing better in school and feels more secure in our family.”
- “The respite services give Jolyce an opportunity to get away without any sense of blame or punishment when the intensity of being in a family gets overwhelming for her.”
The following are quotes from adoptive parents that NACAC has used in its advocacy efforts:
- “Post-adoption services saved our family. I don’t know if we all would have survived as a family without the counseling and support we received.”
- “[As a result of the post-adoption support] I am less frustrated. I have become more knowledgeable, and that makes things better. [I am] more knowledgeable in areas dealing with adoptive and special needs kids. So I am less frustrated and more able to deal with various systems.”
- “If you haven’t lived with children who have emotional issues, you can’t imagine it. They bring you into their storm. You cannot stay out of it. Fortunately my husband and I are very strong people. We are committed to our children. We’re holding on, but sometimes we don’t know what we’re holding on to.”
- “[As a result of the post-adoption support] there have been changes in my kids, especially one of them, in terms of attachment and identity. I am more confident as a parent because of the resources. I am more aware of the help that is out there.”
- “I have seen/know of so many adoptions which have been disrupted because there were no supports for parents. Building up supports, contacts and resources is a MUST as you prepare to adopt. Pre and post- adoption supports must be integrated to provide comprehensive support for families to ensure their well being and that of the adopted child.”
- “… between [experienced parent mentors] and the social worker from the county who handled our adoption, I don’t think we would have gotten through it without them. There is no other support. You would feel extremely isolated without this group. I am not sure our family would have survived without this information and support.”
- “We could not be doing what we’re doing without [the post-permanency program]. They have been critical to our success. We are so fortunate to have them.”
- “Three years ago, my husband and I adopted seven siblings, all under age eight. They had been through lots of trauma in their early years that resulted in serious problems. The children had diagnoses including severe emotional disturbance, post-traumatic stress disorder, attachment disorder, and anxiety disorder. We adopted in January and by the summer I was in crisis—trying to parent them as they went through fits, head banging, crying, rocking, and night terrors. Parenting these kids was so different than parenting our biological children who had never been traumatized
- We were lucky that we received post-adoption services right away from a therapist who knew the children and understood the mental health effects of trauma. With her help we learned how to parent our children and how to help them heal. These post-adoption services made a world of difference and today our children are thriving. If adoptive parents are supported in this way from the beginning, it will save many, many adoptions like ours.”
Depending on how you are communicating with decision makers, you can also use stories like the ones below in your advocacy efforts. See “Sharing Personal Stories” for more about to find and develop your own stories.
Danielle, Kelsey, JT, Jennifer, & Leah
In 1998, Pam and Tom were drawn to two-and-a-half-year-old Danielle, whom the local paper said needed a home. Soon after Danielle joined the family, her little sister Kelsey moved in too. Both had endured significant abuse. Danielle used to wake up screaming at night, and the only way Pam could help her was to sleep on the floor next to the bed. “Danielle used to beg me to ‘put Band-aids on the windows to keep the bad guys out,’” recalls Pam.
Three years later, the girls’ baby siblings—JT and Jennifer—came into foster care too, and were placed with the family. JT and Jennifer had both endured severe injuries. JT, who has spina bifida and hydrocephalus, was badly burned. Jennifer’s skull was cracked and she had multiple broken bones. Finally, their sister Leah needed a family too, and eventually Pam and Tom had adopted all five children.
“Kelsey is doing very well,” says Pam. “She has ADHD, but she is beautiful and bright.” With Leah, Pam remembers, “She walked in the door and I was her mama. She never looked back—she looked forward. She is nearly seven now and suffers horribly from post-traumatic stress syndrome.”
The twins are thriving. Pam celebrates how well JT has healed: “All of his burn marks are gone. Now he is walking with no crutches and he rides a bicycle. He does a lot of things they said he would never do.”
Unfortunately, Pam worries about Danielle’s mental health. When Pam began to receive numerous calls a month to pick up her daughter from school due to behavior issues, she had to do something. She recently found a special school in a hospital setting that is working better. “I drive 30 miles to get her on the bus, but I know the staff is trained to deal with behavior-disordered children. This year I only got four calls to pick her up,” explains Pam. Danielle has been on a waiting list for mental health services for more than six years.
“I am willing to do whatever it takes to care for my children,” says Pam. “But I know now I can’t do it alone.” The family could use in-home therapy, family therapy, a personal care attendant for Danielle, and short-term respite care. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds, many of these services are not currently available.
Pam says, “Children like Danielle were not born like this. They were robbed of their childhood at a very early age, and we all need to advocate for them. I don’t give up. I have a strong cluster of support and there is no can’t in our vocabulary!”
Serena and her brother spent three years in foster care before being adopted. “I can’t remember the day I joined my adoptive family, but I can remember a comfort, or peace, just knowing that everything was going to be okay,” recalls Serena.
“When I was five, I was placed in Children’s Hospital in Knoxville. They were doing all these psychological tests and the doctor told my mom that there was no hope for me. The best thing they could do was to put me in a group home,” explains Serena. “But my mom told him she was not going to give up on a five-year-old child.”
Serena had extreme behavior problems. “My room was a war zone. My mom and dad had to put a board up on the window so I wouldn’t throw myself out of it. And there were holes in every wall because I would kick holes in them,” recalls Serena. “I would go into fits for long periods of time for no apparent reason, screaming, raging fits. I know I was angry but I couldn’t ever tell you why.,”
At nine, Serena’s family moved to Colorado so she could participate in an out-of-home treatment program they had heard might be able to help her. Because of her participation in the program, Serena had an epiphany. She recalls, “It dawned on me that I had a choice regarding my behavior. And I did. Not overnight or anything, but that was when I started working through my therapy.”
By about fourth grade Serena settled in and things became normal for her. “I think I was 12 or 13 before I could quit seeing the therapist,” adds Serena.
In spite of these challenges—and perhaps because of the support she received—Serena has thrived. She graduated from college in three years, at age 21, with a degree in English secondary education. She is now a special education teacher, helping other children facing difficult challenges.
When Corvette learned that her three-year-old great-nephew, Malik, was in police custody, she went to offer her help. The police had found Malik wandering around outside, unattended and improperly dressed. Corvette agreed to care for him for 90 days. Unfortunately, Malik’s mother could not learn to care for him, so Corvette adopted Malik a few years ago. Corvette also adopted five-year-old Laquon and his four-year-old sister Star.
Malik, Laquon, and Star have a variety of special needs, and Corvette seeks professional assistance when they need it. Corvette explains, “I made sure Laquon and Star received therapy to help them deal with their past and transition into adoption,” adds Corvette. Laquon has completed therapy and is doing well at home and in school. When Star was in first grade, the school found a sexually explicit note she had written. Corvette immediately found a new therapist for Star and faces the possibility that Star may have been sexually abused.
Malik has also needed extra support due to ADHD and significant psychological problems. “Malik started acting out at age four. By five, he used to beat himself,” recalls Corvette. “For some reason he hallucinates and sees spiders even though there are no spiders. And then there is this person he sees—Flipsy. Flipsy tells him what to do.” When Malik starts to see spiders, he panics and loses control. One day Malik saw spiders at school and his reactions were overwhelming. School officials called the police and Corvette, and Malik was admitted to the hospital for 19 days of in-patient treatment. Corvette recalls, “I felt so helpless! Where do I go? What do I do? Everybody I started calling, I couldn’t reach. I needed help.”
Corvette has a deep, abiding love for her children, but knows love isn’t enough to heal their past hurts and meet their special needs. She is grateful for post-adoption services that have covered the costs of medication, therapy, camp, a medical school setting for Malik, training for her, and more.
Corvette says, “I tell everybody—I don’t feel sorry for Malik. I have a love for him and because I really love him, I have to help him. I have to do whatever is necessary. Of Laquon and Star, Corvette adds, “God has blessed me with them. They are loving children and I love them to death. I tell them they can tell me anything and I will get the help that we need.”
LaShawn, Dezmond, Jakob, & Izrael
Lonnie and her husband Alonzo were treatment foster parents to eight-year-old LaShawn. When she first met LaShawn, Lonnie recalls, she “fell head over heels and wanted him to be her son.” They soon learned he had a seven-year-old brother, Dezmond.
“He did a lot of smearing, fire setting, and tantruming,” explains Lonnie. “[And the adults in their early life] encouraged a climate where there was fighting, choking, peeing in the closet, and competition between them. Neither one could read or write or knew their ABCs.” In spite of the challenges, Lonnie and Alonzo agreed they wanted to keep the brothers together.
Lonnie was determined to get help to meet both boys’ significant special needs. They received health care coverage, monthly subsidy payments, college tuition options, counseling, and special tutoring.
The boys birth mother later gave birth to twins, Jakob and Izrael, and Lonnie and Alonzo took them in too. The boys were born three months premature, tested positive for cocaine, and were on heart monitors. “They had significant health issues and many doctors’ appointments. They needed early intervention and developmental help. We hardly had time for anything else,” remembers Lonnie.
Although LaShawn did not agree to be adopted, Lonnie and Alonzo finalized the adoptions of Dezmond, Jakob, and Izrael. Lonnie knows that she could not have made it this far without the services her family has received.
“It has been harder to get post-adoptive services and training [for the twins]. The twins are adorable yet challenging,” Lonnie adds. “I don’t leave them with anyone. My mom and my sister can help out once in a while, but I don’t leave them with anyone else.”
John & Gina
Marsha and her husband became foster parents to four-year-old John and two-year-old Gina, and were able to adopt them two years later.
Everything went pretty smoothly until the children reached adolescence. Marsha recalls, “Gina had a lot of problems—precocious puberty, microcephalism, hypotonic muscles, specific learning disabilities and, eventually, adolescent-onset epilepsy.” Doctors kept treating each individual problem without examining them together. Marsha remembers when she and her husband figured out what was going on, “Finally we pulled out a pediatric textbook and said, ‘Oh my goodness, at the root cause of every one of these symptoms is the possibility of fetal alcohol exposure.’”
John also displayed symptoms of fetal alcohol exposure. Marsha explains, “John has an inability to anticipate consequences of behaviors, and an inability to learn from mistakes, repeating the same mistakes over and over and wondering why he was getting the same results.” She adds, “He has a lot more emotional scars, too, because he was the older of the two in a very deprived home where there was everything from incest to arson.”
With her children’s new diagnosis and their increasing difficulties, Marsha sought support that would enable her to meet John and Gina’s special needs. After a long process, she received retroactive post-adoption support. Marsha explains that the assistance covered costs for services such as counseling that her primary insurance wouldn’t fund. The counseling was critical. Marsha says, “Post-adoption services saved our family. I don’t know if we all would have survived as a family without the counseling and support we received.”
Marsha explains why adoption was so important for her now adult children, “Both of them had the chance for leading normal lives that they never would have had otherwise. Adoption was not a panacea for either child, but it seems to have been the stabilizing force that gave them the foundation from which they could reach their full potential.”