November 18, 2015

“A Table Full of Unconditional Love” – A Project Family Adoption Story

Posted in Adoption, DCF, Project Family tagged , , , , at 11:36 am by Lund

“The visual of the night he came into custody is forever burned in my memory. The sights, smells and sounds trapped in my muscle memory so different than any of the other memories I have. How late it was, how sad he was, how relieved he was when he saw it was me waiting for him. Even now that picture brings tears to my eyes. I cannot believe that three years have flown by because truly it feels like just yesterday.

At first he was with me “just the weekend” and that first weekend was pure fun. Trying to keep his mind off of things, showing him around the farm, driving the tractor, making s’mores over the fire.  It wasn’t until the following week when he found out he wouldn’t be going home for at least 3 months that things got real. The honeymoon was over. All bets were off and I met the angriest, saddest, guiltiest, most self loathing little eight year old boy there ever was.

And even then in our darkest hours he was also plainly the sweetest most compassionate, brilliant glowing ember I am sure I will ever know. People ask me how I could see that in him so clearly when so much was trying to quash his true self. I don’t know. And yet, there it was. Big as life for anyone who spent time with him to see.   Never has there been a more committed team of people from Project Family, DCF, the school, and mental health to Post-Permanence Services. I continue to feel that this group of people truly created a positive outcome where there could have been a much different one. We had this table full of unconditional love that just wouldn’t give up.

I should interject here that there were certainly moments when I thought I couldn’t go on, times when the boulder felt too heavy. There were thousands of dollars of property damage, physical aggression that left me
breathless and bleeding and the running away!!!!! That was tough. It was the self harm though and threats to self that finally pushed me to ask for a higher level of care.  It took three bouts of residential in two different places as well as a couple of short term crisis placements to teach, heal and nurture my child to the point of stability but we made it. He has been living at home for over a year now. He has friends. Real friends, the kind who invite him over for sleepovers and to their birthday parties. It may sound like just a normal kind of kid thing but it isn’t. Recently when he got his first base hit the bleachers and dugout were full of screaming children and adults. He is all of ours. To know him is to love him and he is enveloped in a community of love.

Credit: Steve Allen, Creative Commons on Flickr

Credit: Steve Allen, Creative Commons on Flickr

He used to say that his dream was to one day be a normal kid. Somehow, that reality just snuck up on us. Here he is, my normal, so much more than normal, football playing, avid reading, friendly, well balanced kid.

I hope anyone reading this doesn’t think I have blinders on to the reality of our world and what it may always be because I don’t and I recognize that statistically we are an anomaly and that this may be short lived. Every time we have a good day it goes in the savings to be stockpiled for the next storm. Man, do we have a small fortune in there right now.

-Bianca, Adoptive Mom

November 12, 2015

Jeff Small Pioneer Award Winner 2015

Posted in Adoption, Awards, Employees, Events tagged , , , , , , at 4:45 pm by Lund

The Jeff Small Pioneer Award: Jeff Small was on the Lund Board of Trustees for 16 years, including 6 years as president.  He was a dedicated and hard working board member who always was looking to the future and the continued success and security of Lund.  The recipient of this award will show similar dedication and hard work in each of the following four areas:

  •  Focus on the mission of Lund, knows what we need and is driven to achieve it.
  •  Courageousness in pursuit of what is right and what is needed.
  •  Confidence in working to secure a brighter future for Lund and its clients.
  •  Persistence in understanding all of Lund’s needs and not giving up on a project or a belief even where there is resistance or slow progress.
  • Above all, the recipient of this award is an advocate and ambassador for Lund

The 2015 winner of the Jeff Small Pioneer Award is Kate Van Wagner, Options Counselor in Lund’s adoption department.  Kate works with pregnant women and their partners and/or family members providing counseling and helping them access needed resources and supports as they plan for their future and the future of their child.  To learn more about Kate’s work, read this blog post.

Julia Conner, Kate Van Wagner, Wanda Audette and Barbara Rachelson at the All Staff Retreat on October 23, when Kate was announced as the Jeff Small Pioneer Award Winner for 2015.

Julia Conner, Kate Van Wagner, Wanda Audette and Barbara Rachelson at the All Staff Retreat on October 23, when Kate was announced as the Jeff Small Pioneer Award Winner for 2015.

Kate was commended for her clear vision, focus and determination but was especially celebrated for her courage. “I’ve intentionally saved courageousness for last,” said Kate’s supervisor Julia Conner when presenting the award. “In part, because I feel it is the most important but mostly because I feel this is the characteristic that truly sums up Kate.  It is courage, a willingness to take risks, and an unwavering dedication to this work that creates positive change. Kate radiates fierce courageousness – as a social worker, as a team member, and on behalf of her clients and her belief in everyone’s ability to grow and change.”

Since one of the definitions of ‘pioneer’ is “leading the way, trailblazing”, we’ve decided to try an innovative interview technique to learn more about this year’s pioneer.  The questions might seem a little unusual but you will see all the traits mentioned above come out in Kate’s answers.

Interviewer:  Describe the color yellow to someone who is blind.
Pioneer Kate: I feel like it smells like when you toast something perfectly and you have the perfect amount of butter melted on it.  You can smell the yeasty bread goodness plus the buttery, melty too.  Maybe that’s because butter is yellow.  It feels rich.  It’s a warm feeling obviously.  What’s the happiest key, musical key?  The saddest one is A minor, I think.  Yellow sounds likes a major chord on the piano, D major. You hear that chord and then you smell the toast.

Interviewer:  Who is your favorite pioneer?
Pioneer Kate: Jane Addams,  Louise Bourgeois, Bread & Puppet,  UVM MSW faculty Susan Roche, Brenda Solomon, JB Barna, Stan Witkin, and Suzy Comerford who are pioneers of Transformative Social Work and sparked the brave/curious parts of me that allow me to do my work.  And my great-grandmother Alice Maher, whom I didn’t get to know but had her MSW (super rare for a woman to have an advanced degree at that time!) and was a vegetarian (frowned upon as a daughter of a farmer!).

Interviewer:  If you had to unload a 747 full of jelly beans, how would you do it?
Pioneer Kate:  Oh man, I feel like you would need to construct something around the plane.  Park the plane on a platform and there is some sort of containing wall around the platform and there’s a giant spout funnel.  You could just open the door and let the jelly beans out and they would go into this funnel. You could pull up pickup trucks.  Where are you trying to bring them?  (Interviewer: Unspecified) Load them into boxes.  The platform would need to be a little tilty too to get the last ones out of the corner.  What I would really want to do is get into the plane with all those jelly beans.  That texture and sound would be amazing.  If they were all one flavor and one color, how pleasing would that be?

Interviewer:  How many cows in Canada?
Pioneer Kate:  Cows?  In Canada? I have no idea. There are farms up there.  Is this a real question?  Why would you ask that? I have no frame of reference for that.  I am horrible at number things, this is why I am a social worker.   I have no concepts of the amount of anything at any point.  A million?  Are there a million cows?  Do you know the answer?

Interviewer:  What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Pioneer Kate:  Once a week my best friend and I have breakfast club, so that was this morning.  We meet really early, she’s also a social worker.  This morning I had coffee  and this is the most hipster thing in the world, chia porridge. It’s delicious and healthy.  It’s chia and buttermilk and it has amazing hibiscus syrup and crumbled pumkpin seeds, dehydrated blueberries and some sort of dried hibiscus flower.  It goes well with coffee, it’s really good.  We go there really early and either we are the only ones there and we are the clearly too loud.  Or there are other people there with their macs and their hipster outfits and we are the only ones talking.  We talk about everything and probably everyone is just listening as entertainment.   It’s like peer supervision in a way.

Interviewer:  Tell me something inspirational from you recent work
Pioneer Kate: The people I work with are usually in the most stressful or overwhelming situations.  They are not calling me and saying how excited they are about their pregnancy.  So my good days might not look like what you think.  There was this one woman who I worked with, in a situation that was super complicated and I worked with her through all kinds of things.  She was going to have the baby any minute and she didn’t know what she was going to do.  The father got involved at the very end of it. We were all at the hospital for a really long time.  I talked with the father in the waiting room, talking with him for eight hours straight, doing therapy with him almost. Other family members were coming and going and there were lots of complex dynamics at play, everyone’s emotions were really up.  I felt like I was holding them together.  I waited for a very long time to be able to see her after the birth, I wasn’t going to leave without seeing her again.  When I saw her she was so thankful, “I knew that you were there with all those people and I knew that you would make sure it was OK and that no one would fight about everything.” It felt important to me that I was there.

Congratulations, Kate, on winning the Jeff Small Pioneer Award.  Your work for Lund is making lives better for women, children and families all across the state of Vermont.  We are so thankful for your dedication, compassion and pioneering spirit.

 

July 1, 2015

Adoption Support Group in Brattleboro – Guest Post by Graham Kidder

Posted in Adoption, DCF, Events, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , , , , at 10:25 am by Lund

In my role as Permanency Planning Counselor for Lund and Project Family, I facilitate an adoption support group for adoptive families in Brattleboro, Vermont with my colleague, Danna Bare who is a Post Permanence Specialist for Lund. The group meets from 6:30 to 8:30 on the second Monday of every month at the Brattleboro Savings and Loan community room.

I co-founded the group with Nancy Birge (formerly with Casey Family Services) in 2003. The group was called ‘Adoption Support for Families of Younger Children’, and was designed as a group to offer support and guidance for families of younger children, who might otherwise be scared by some of the stories and experiences shared by families with teenagers. While the group maintains its original name, several of the original members continue to attend the group; hence the group is no longer solely for parents with younger children.

This adoption support group is a safe and supportive environment for parents to share the joys and frustrations of parenting. The format is based on what families need.  We usually check in to see if anyone has any burning issues they need to discuss.  We split the time up depending on the number of participants, and try to allow for everyone to have equal time to talk.  Group members understand that sometimes they will need a little extra time, but there are also usually members who don’t need their full allotment.   When a participant starts, he or she can let us know whether they are looking for advice, or just need to vent. Parents know that what they share in group remains confidential, and will not circulate back into the community. Parents have expressed gratitude for having a space where they can talk about how frustrated they sometimes become, knowing that the group members recognize that they still love their children even if the stories they share don’t always convey that love.

CC Image Courtesy of Emilio P. Doiztua on Flickr

CC Image Courtesy of Emilio P. Doiztua on Flickr

Group members have truly formed a supportive environment for each other, and they come to recognize that they are not alone.  Danna and I often find ourselves observing as group members empathize with each other’s struggles, and offer advice and encouragement.  Members often talk about how in stressful situations at home they often remember some advice from the group, and are able to tap into that knowledge to help themselves through the moment.

We welcome new members, whether you have adopted internationally or locally, either through public state adoption or private agency. If you are interested in learning more about the group, please do not hesitate to contact me or Danna.

Graham Kidder – Permanency Planning Counselor for Lund and Project Family  – (802) 368-7260 – grahamk@lundvt.org
Danna Bare – Post Permanence Counselor  –  (802) 258-0308 –  dannab@lundvt.org

 

 

 

graham@lundvt.org

June 10, 2015

‘I found my home’ – The real voice of foster care

Posted in Adoption, DCF, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , at 12:07 pm by Lund

Sierra was adopted through foster care at age five. She has memories of her previous foster homes and living with her birth parents. As part of a school project, Sierra wrote about her story. Her poem, “I’m Just an Orphan” captures the experiences of early trauma, foster care, and adoption. Her writing is expressive and provoking. Sierra shows courage and awareness in writing about her story. She is willing to share her poem in hopes to create more awareness about the adoption journey for adoptive parents, service providers, and educators. Sierra also hopes other adoptees will read her poem and know they are not alone.

 

I’m Just an Orphan

From the day I was born,

I’m pretty sure everyone knew I was different,

The parents at each and every house I went to,

They would treat me different too,

They treated me like I had no brain,

When really I knew it wouldn’t last there either.

 

I finally got a real house,

A real family,

More siblings too,

Animals,

And even food,

Something that you think everyone should have,

But that’s not the cold hard truth.

 

I started going to church with my new mom,

Her mom too,

Sitting in the back row,

Felling judged,

But also feeling at home.

 

Listening about how God has a plan for everyone.

Everything happens for a reason,

Questioning my faith,

 

Well if everything happens for a reason,

Why the hell did this happen to me?

Why do I listen to fighting,

And witness my birth mom getting hurt?

Why did my parents get into drugs,

And treat me like I was worthless,

Pretend I wasn’t there one minute,

Then yelling at me and throwing stuff the next,

Did they not think I was too young to remember what they did,

Did they not realize that someday I’d be looking at my ceiling and wondering,

What did I do wrong?

 

Why didn’t you love me,

What was wrong with me,

Why didn’t you care?

 

I thought that was all done,

I thought you were finally out of my life,

I thought I could move on,

It was time so I did.

 

Christmas came,

My first real Christmas,

I got real presents,

Not just stuff that could have been stolen,

I got food,

Not just scraps that weren’t eaten,

Smiles and laughing,

Not tears and yelling,

The feeling of warmth running through my veins,

The love I could feel,

The love I could feel until the end.

 

I thought I was done with you,

I thought you were in the past,

I have a new family,

A new family that will last,

But I started school and the teachers gave us a task,

What they asked, Made me think different about myself and I know now you’re going to last.

 

My teacher said we all have to do a task about our family,

What parent you look like,

What parent you act like,

When did you start to talk,

When did you start to walk,

All these questions in my head,

They make me feel well dead.

 

How am I suppose to know,

These are my parents,

You can see it,

I can too,

But these aren’t my biological parents,

None of us know these answers,

So how am I suppose to?

 

It’s not my fault,

I didn’t mean to,

If you want me to be honest,

I don’t know what to do,

I think of them all the time,

What I did wrong,

Why they didn’t care.

Not everyone lives or knows their mom or dad,

So why should I have to do this,

To remind me that I’m different,

Or to remind me that they didn’t care,

Truth be I think about it all the time and I don’t think it’s fair.

 

But now kids have started saying stuff,

Stuff that keeps me up at night,

Stuff that should never be said,

Stuff that keeps running through my head.

 

They look and they stare,

Trying to pick something out on me to make me feel bad,

As I’m walking through the hallway,

I can start to hear them saying,

She’s the one, who could be at different houses different days,

Then I go home to get away from everything,

Then I that that DING,

The,

You have a message DING,

Dreading opening it after that day,

I bite my lip and do it anyway.

As I hold back my tears,

I reread it over and over again,

The words stinging the back of my head,

Reminding me of all the hell that people have said,

This one is the worst,

 

This one is always in my head,

“IF THE TWO PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO WERE SUPPOSE TO LOVE YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING COULDN’T NO ONE CAN”

 

I know what they mean,

I feel it too,

How do they love me,

Is it true,

They say I’m amazing,

They say I’m worth it,

They say everything I’ve never been told,

I try to believe them, but because of everything people say,

It gets harder every day.

 

But I know I’m worth it,

I know I’m amazing,

I know I can be loved,

My parents chose me,

Yours are stuck with you,

And I know that to be true.

 

But this is life,

We are all just orphans,

The only difference is,

I found my home,

Have you?

May 5, 2015

Employee (s!) of the Quarter

Posted in Adoption, Awards, Employees, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , , , at 4:08 pm by Lund

Lund staff members are dedicated, energetic, hard working and passionate. The work that we do is often challenging or difficult. Lund’s leadership team is committed to celebrating the hard work and the amazing efforts of staff members to help the children and families we serve. The Employee of the Quarter award is a way of showing appreciation for this work. This quarter there were two individuals and one team who won the award. So many wonderful staff members, it was impossible to narrow down to one recipient! Meet them here:

Deb Mayville and Director of Operations, Bob Robinson

Deb Mayville and Director of Operations, Bob Robinson

Deb Mayville – Office Administrator
Deb works in the front office at Glen Road and Joy Drive and makes sure that everything runs like clockwork. Deb is often the first face that people see when they arrive at Lund and she immediately makes them feel welcome and supported whatever the reason for their visit. “Deb continues to maximize her role and the impact it has on the agency overall. She does so because she genuinely cares about Lund and wants it to be the best place it can be for all,” says Bob Robinson, Director of Operations. “She continues to grow as a ‘go to’ person and wants to help those she can, when she can. She delivers on her word and with a smile. Every day she takes time to appreciate people she interacts with – both staff and clients. This has had a positive impact on her direct staff and on the culture of the front office.” When asked what her favorite part of her work was, Deb replied, “What I find the most rewarding is watching our clients grow, seeing how open & strong they are to share their life experiences, watching their relationships with their children grow and seeing them transition successfully. I love being able to spend my days working with such caring staff who give so much of themselves and being part of the Lund team.”

Judy Harvey, Childcare Coordinator and Kristin

Judy Harvey, Childcare Coordinator and Kristin McClary

Kristin McClary – Toddler Teacher
Kristin works with the younger toddlers at Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program and can often be found engaged in art projects, reading, playing outside, and taking every advantage to help the children she works with follow their interests and discover new things about the world. “Kristin is the ultimate team player, in that she truly makes sure that she understands the perspectives of others before moving into problem-solving or decision-making,” says Judy Harvey, Childcare Coordinator. “Kristin exemplifies the best of what Lund represents; she’s compassionate and insightful, educated and experienced and very intentional in everything she does. Her quiet unprepossessing place of truly simply wanting to do what’s best for children, families, the program, and the agency shines through everything she does.” Kristin truly loves being with the children and cites sharing in their joy everyday as being the best part of her job.

Julia Connor and Kate Van Wagner, Private Adoption Team

Julia Conner and Kate Van Wagner, Private Adoption Team

Julia Conner and Kate Van Wagner – Private Adoption Team
Julia is Lund’s Private Adoption Coordinator working with families who want to adopt an infant through Lund. Kate Van Wagner is Lund’s Options Counselor and works with pregnant women as they explore the choices they have and provides lifelong support whatever decision they make. It has been a busy start to 2015 for Julia and Kate and they both have faced difficult situations where they have had to think in new and innovative ways to make sure that every client was able to get the support they needed. Julia and Kate are both exceptional collaborators, working well with each other and with the Department of Children and Families and other agencies that Lund works with. Director of Adoption, Wanda Audette, says, “It is a honor and a privilege to be able to work with such professional, thoughtful, ethical, caring and strong social workers who every day go above and beyond for the betterment of our clients.” Both Julia and Kate refer to the excellent members of the adoption department as great support and inspiration in their work.

Thank you to these wonderful Lund employees for the work that they do every single day to help children and families thrive.

March 10, 2015

Outreach and Information is Key in Finding Homes for Children in Foster Care

Posted in Adoption, DCF, Employees, Events, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , , , at 3:13 pm by Lund

February 21, 2015: Ashley Sargent, Lund’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiter set up an informational booth at the University Mall in South Burlington as part of NFI’s 4th Annual Youth and Parent Expo.  This event provides information and resources to families as well as lots of hands on activities and fun.  Ashley’s main goal was to inform the public about children in foster care waiting for forever families and encourage people to learn more about foster care. “I believe it is important for Wendy’s Wonderful Kids and Project Family (Lund’s partnership with DCF to find homes for older children in foster care) to have a presence there to help inform individuals that every child deserves a loving and nurturing family that will support them. Every child is adoptable and it is important to provide recruitment and informational events to educate families. On any given day there are about 60 children in foster care that are waiting for families to adopt them. The youth on my caseload are typically over the age of 8 years old and individuals need to be aware that even older youth need families.”

 

Ashley at the Expo

Ashley at the Expo

Ashley works as part of Lund’s partnership with Wendy’s Wonderful Kids which is a program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.  The Wendy’s Wonderful Kids website gives this description of Ashley’s work and that of the other 203 recruiters across the U.S. and Canada – “These professionals, known as Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters, work on caseloads of children the system has forgotten, ensuring they have the time and resources to give each child as much attention as he or she deserves. These recruiters employ aggressive practices and proven tactics focused on finding the best home for a child through the starting points of familiar circles of family, friends and neighbors, and then reaching out to the communities in which they live.” (www.davethomasfoundation.org)

Many people just don’t know that there are older children in foster care in need of permanent homes and forever families.  Events like this one allow people a chance to learn more and to find out what they could do to help.   “During the event people were most interested in speaking about how they wish they could help the youth; but that they were currently unable to. I was able to refocus them on seeing if they have any friends, family, etc, that would open their heart and home to the youth,” says Ashley.   Families are created in many different way and families find each other in many different ways so every outreach event has the potential to start a chain of action or open up a door for a youth currently in foster care.

To learn more about Wendy’s Wonderful Kids and their child centered recruitment, check out this video.

December 4, 2014

Elizabeth Lund Employee of the Year 2014

Posted in Adoption, Awards, Employees, Events, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:34 am by Lund

Melissa Appleton, Post Permancy Worker in Lund’s adoption department, was awarded the Elizabeth Lund Employee of the Year Award at the all staff retreat last month.  Melissa provides specialized support services for families after they have finalized their adoptions or guardianships.  Her focus is to help families manage the joys and challenges of adoption and guardianship and grow stronger by offering support, education and information.  Having worked for 8 years at Lund, Melissa felt honored and grateful to receive the Elizabeth Lund Employee of the Year Award, “I know how special the Elizabeth Lund award is. Lund is a great place to work with committed and skilled staff. I am grateful to receive this award-especially knowing that I work with other Lund staff who are equally deserving.  Knowing these peers nominated me is very special. I could not do this job without the support and encouragement of an amazing team and co-workers. I am also grateful to the Lund families who have taught me about being a social worker and have helped shape my work here at Lund.”

Executive Director, Barbara Rachelson with Melissa, Christina and Director of Adoption, Wanda Audette at the 2014 All Staff Retreat at Hotel Vermont.

Executive Director, Barbara Rachelson with Melissa, Christina and Director of Adoption, Wanda Audette at the 2014 All Staff Retreat at Hotel Vermont.

Christina Shuma, Post Permanency Services Coordinator, presented Melissa with the award referring to her as a “very special and extremely skilled social worker.”  She also remarked on her admirable commitment to professional development and her role as a go to person for post permanency issues not just at Lund but at other organizations she works with.  Everything Melissa does is driven by her commitment to the families, “At the core of her work with families she believes that families want the absolute best for their children and are doing the best they can with what they already know. She sees it as her mission to help these families, who are parenting children not born to them, learn as much as they can about this unique role that they have with their children, how they can parent their children at the child’s developmental level, how parents can learn more about their own parenting style, stress and coping skills; and to ensure that the community of providers involved with the families are sensitive to the adoption or guardianship needs of the child and family,” said Christina.

Doing work that can be frustrating and sometimes difficult, Melissa takes time to focus on the positives, “One of my favorite parts of being a Post Permanence Service Provider is being able to sit with an adoptive or guardianship family and celebrate the successes. These may not be considered huge successes in general terms: it may be a month at school free of write-ups for behavior or a parent finally getting nightly hugs from their child. To many these may not seem that substantial but to some of our Post Permanence families these small successes are so important. These children and families have not always traveled the easiest road and being able to recognize these celebrations reminds me how important this work is.”

In her free time Melissa enjoys getting outside as much as possible – skiing, mountain biking, swimming, horseback riding.  Activities which she uses to refuel herself to face the considerable demands of her job.  Thank you, Melissa, for your dedication and hard work for families who need you.  We are all very lucky to have you at Lund.  Congratulations on this well deserved award.

 

November 20, 2014

“Love Builds a Family” –

Posted in Adoption, DCF, Events, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , at 2:36 pm by Lund

“He’s finally my brother!” Said one little girl as the adoption of her brother was finalized this morning at the Chittenden County Probate Court in Burlington.  This finalization was one of 12 happening in Burlington which, when combined with 10 in St. Albans and seven in Woodstock, makes a record breaking 29 adoption finalizations in one day.  29 new families were created today through the work of  Lund’s partnership with the Department of Children and Families – Project Family and Lund’s adoption program.

There were balloons, stuffed animals, flowers and cookies for every adopted child and the waiting area outside the court room was packed with an ever rotating crew of friends, relatives, Lund employees and DCF employees as adoption finalizations happened every 15 minutes.  In the courtroom, the prodigious Judge Susan Fowler presided over the adoptions and made every one a party with music, balloons and letting the children bang the gavel.  “I’ll let you off making the speech we were expecting from you,” she said to one 19 month old. “Let’s make this official.”  She handed him the gavel and waited patiently while he put it in his mouth before encouraging him to bang it on the table.  “Give me my baby brother,” an older sister cried the minute the gavel hit the table, scooping her new little brother off his mom’s lap and lifting him high into the air.

Helium balloons wait for every child adopted today. Celebrate!

Helium balloons wait for every child adopted today. Celebrate!

The children adopted this morning were aged between 6 months and twelve years.  There was a little girl who was celebrating her birthday on the same day as her adoption, a little boy flanked by the proudest grandparents in a 100 mile radius, “He’s such a joy, such a blessing,” his grandmother said to me, another boy so excited he couldn’t stop jumping up and down and a family who were adopting their seventh child after fostering more than 100 children.  Everywhere you looked were smiles, happy tears, and hugs.  Even the security guard was getting into the swing of things clapping as the families came out of the courtroom and handing out chocolate.  ‘It’s going to be boring here tomorrow,” he said regretfully.

The scene will be repeated this afternoon at the courthouse in St. Albans and at different times of the day in Woodstock.   “Love builds a family,” said one Dad. “Adoption is that love.”

Watch news coverage of the days events from Fox 44 here

November 18, 2014

Lund Celebrates National Adoption Month

Posted in Adoption, DCF, Events, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , , , , at 12:04 pm by Lund

Every November, a Presidential Proclamation launches activities and celebrations to help build awareness of adoption throughout the nation. Thousands of community organizations arrange and host programs, events, and activities to share positive adoption stories, challenge the myths, and draw attention to the thousands of children in foster care who are waiting for permanent families.  At this time, there are 68 children in Vermont who need forever families and permanent homes.   Lund’s partnership with the Department of Children and Families, Project Family, is working hard to find homes for these children.  Last year Project Family found homes for 169 children who had been living in foster care or in residential treatment environments.

To celebrate National Adoption Month, Lund in partnership with  the Department of Children and Families  will finalize 29 adoptions this coming Thursday, November 20th, at three court houses across the state.  This is a record for Lund and the Department of Children and Families and a record for Vermont.  29 children will go to bed on Thursday night knowing that they never again have to wonder where they belong or who will look out for them when they need help.

Also in celebration of National Adoption Month, we are sharing some micro interviews with our adoption staff.  Get to know these fabulous people and their work to make sure that every child has a home, below:  (Click on the picture to view it larger)

julia#human

 

 

donna#humanKarisa#human

 

kate#human

christina#human

 

September 2, 2014

Angel in Adoption – Judge Susan Fowler

Posted in Adoption, Awards tagged , , , , , at 7:39 am by Lund

Lund is so pleased to congratulate Judge Susan Fowler on winning an Angel in Adoption Award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.  The award is given to an individual, family or organization who has made an exceptional difference in the lives of children looking for families.  Judge Fowler has overseen the finalization of over 1000 adoptions in the state and has worked with Lund for many years.  “We are very lucky to have a judge that is so passionate about adoption and the importance of belonging and family. Judge Fowler makes every adoption unique and special,” says Wanda Audette, Director of Adoption at Lund.   Judge Fowler’s most special duty is to pound the gavel and sign the paperwork and in so doing, create forever families.

“Judge Fowler is a huge part of our adoption community,” says Julia Conner, Private Adoption Coordinator at Lund. “She treats birth parents with dignity, respect, fairness, and understanding. She helps our adoptive families commemorate an incredibly important moment in their lives and approaches adoption finalizations with humor, music and joy; putting families at ease and creating a lasting and memorable experience.”

While a joyful situation, the finalization can also be nerve wracking for families and as an adoptive parent herself as well as a judge with such extensive experience, Judge Fowler does everything she can to help ease the situation.  Lund’s Case Finalization Manager, Karisa Thompson, has seen this first hand during the eight years she has worked with Judge Fowler.  “When adoptive families arrive at court, they are generally nervous, excited, and relieved all at the same time.  Judge Fowler plays jazz music so when families enter the courtroom, they are reminded that they are there to celebrate their family and the music puts them at ease.   She is a ray of sunshine at the end of a long, difficult process for our foster children and adoptive families.  She is personable, happy, and takes each hearing in stride based on how the child is reacting.  I have seen her stop talking and sit back with a smile on her face as a toddler spun and danced in circles in the court room and if a child was fearful or screaming, she just talks faster so the family can move on with the celebration.  Judge Fowler makes every adoption a special celebration.”

Judge Susan Fowler, Vermont's 2014 Angel In Adoption.

Judge Susan Fowler, Vermont’s 2014 Angel In Adoption – “A ray of sunshine”

Judge Fowler’s top priority is always to ensure permanency for children as soon as possible. “She is extremely flexible and consistently works in the best interest of children.  She maintains open communication with Lund and has scheduled extra hearings for children to be adopted before Christmas and even arranged for a last minute hearing so a child could be adopted the day before her eighteenth birthday.  Judge Fowler does not hesitate to call and ask a question about an adoption packet and is always willing to help advocate on behalf of Lund when confronted with issues regarding other probate courts,” says Karisa.

Judge Fowler will be recognized at the Angel in Adoption Gala on Wednesday, September 17 in Washington, D.C.

For more information about adoption in Vermont and Judge Fowler’s award, please watch the following news coverage from WCAX.

http://www.wcax.com/category/166239/video-landing-page?clipId=10517653&autostart=true

http://www.wcax.com/story/26377101/meet-a-real-life-angel-in-adoption

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