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

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

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

 

November 15, 2013

November is National Adoption Month!

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Adoption, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , , , , at 1:32 pm by Lund

Join the adoption staff at Lund to celebrate on November 25th from 4pm to 7pm at our 50 Joy Drive building.  We will be serving refreshments and taking family photos.  And having a lot of fun of course as we celebrate families coming together and children finding permanent homes.

Who wouldn't want to celebrate adoption with these cool ladies?

Who wouldn’t want to celebrate adoption with these cool ladies?

Did you know these adoption facts?

1.   Lund finalized 188 adoptions last year.  170 children were adopted from foster care and 18 infants were placed with forever families!
2.  The adoption staff at Lund have over 114 years of experience between them.
3.  Lund staff members have been involved with 4 Angel in Adoption Awards.
4.  Then Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis instituted Adoption Week in 1976 to promote the need for homes for children waiting in foster care.  In 1995, President Bill Clinton expanded it to a whole month.
5.   There are over 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S right now, as you read this sentence.

Every year the President addresses the nation on adoption during the month of November.  Here is an excerpt from his 2013 speech:

“Every young person deserves the chance to learn and grow under the care of a loving family. Across our Nation, adoptive families give that chance to over a million children and teenagers. During National Adoption Month, we celebrate these  families and stand alongside every child still looking for the warmth and stability of a permanent home.”

This is what National Adoption Month is really about – finding homes for children who need them.   As we approach a time of year when family and tradition are so important and so present in our lives, it is really important to remember that there are many children in Vermont and across the country who cannot yet count on the security of a forever family.  If you would like more information on pursuing foster care adoption in Vermont, please click here.

Happy National Adoption Month and we look forward to seeing you to celebrate on the 25th!

October 7, 2013

Sunshine and Smiles at the 16th Annual Adoption Picnic

Posted in Adoption, Employees, Events, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , , , , at 8:10 am by Lund

“I expected something small, a few people on a picnic blanket…not this,” said one adoptive parent as he looked around in amazement at Lund’s 16th Annual Adoption Picnic last weekend.  Over 500 people attended the event which celebrates adoption and adoptive families with food, entertainment and companionship.    It is the largest statewide event for adoptive families in Vermont and even attracts guests from out of state.  “The Adoption Picnic is one of the few places in Vermont where adopted children get to see and meet other children who are adopted and look like them, it gives children a sense of sameness which is so important,” says Toni Yandow who works in adoption at Lund.

Inside the Inventor's Workshop, anything goes!

Inside the Inventor’s Workshop, anything goes!  (Photo credit: Kim Keefe)

This year’s event was held at the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds and the beautiful weather ensured that the bouncy houses, climbing wall, and fire truck outside were big hits.  Inside were arts and crafts activities, face painting, circus skills training, a clown and an inventor’s workshop where kids were actively encouraged to make a mess!

The picnic was hosted by the adoption department at Lund with help from 74 volunteers from Lund, St. Michael’s College and the community and could not happen without their enthusiastic help.  It was a very happy event full of people enjoying being together as a family.  There were couples shining with pride with brand new babies and families with many older adopted children attending the picnic for the tenth time.   Each family setup was different but they all had reason to celebrate adoption.    “The Adoption Picnic is important because it celebrates family,” says Wanda Audette, Director of Adoption at Lund.  “Families come together and we are able to witness our mission coming to life.  No child or family is left behind and our hearts are full.”

Wanda addresses the crowd before the circus show begins

Wanda addresses the crowd before the circus show begins

Last year Lund finalized 188 adoptions and 170 of these were of older children through Project Family, our nationally acclaimed partnership with the Vermont Department of Children and Families.   The tangible effect of this work was so clear at this event as families who came together through adoption spent the day celebrating under the sun of a beautiful late September afternoon.   “It’s her favorite day of the year,” said one mom of her daughter.  It’s one of our favorites too.

Not a cloud in the sky!

Not a cloud in the sky!

May 20, 2011

From The Executive Director

Posted in From The Executive Director tagged , , at 4:59 pm by Lund

Barbararachelson

My Mother’s Day Bike Ride
…Or What I Wouldn’t Do for Lund

Recently, we had our third Mother’s Day Bike Ride.   I am still awestruck by the experience. While I am not a cyclist and never have been, when I was asked to be the Captain of the Lund Team this past winter, I agreed. “What the heck, I can do the four-mile ride, and maybe if I train a little, I can even do the 16-mile.”

Read the rest of this entry »

March 15, 2011

Ask Us Who We Are: A Documentary About Foster Care in Vermont

Posted in Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , , at 4:14 pm by Lund

Kingdom Country Production Presents:

Ask Us Who We Are Title

Ask Us Who We Are: A Documentary about Foster Care in Vermont
April 9, 2011 – Main Street Landing in Burlington, VT at 7:30 pm
Purchase Tickets Today!

Ask Us Who We Are Girl released image

Ask Us Who We Are is a documentary film directed by Bess O’Brien that focuses on the experiences of children living in the Vermont foster care system. While Ask Us Who We Are highlights some of these children finding permanent families, it also highlights many of these children not being able to do so. The film is intentionally activist in nature in order to inspire action and questions such as: “How can I make a difference,” “How is the system managed and funded?” and “How can I become a foster parent?” Ask Us Who We Are is an excellent model for interagency cooperation between Lund Family Center’s Project Family Program, The Vermont Foster and Adoptive Family Association (VFAFA), The Vermont Department of Children and Families (DCF), and other departments and organizations involved in addressing the issues that face more than 1,200 children in Vermont’s foster care system each day. O’Brien’s documentary also functions as a window to show the public how they may become involved in helping the extremely at-risk population of children currently in Vermont foster care. While the film shows the way out of foster care, it also shows the way in, and in this sense functions as a powerful warning to abusive and neglectful families. Ask Us Who We Are breaks opens stereotypes, paints a holistic picture of foster care including its areas of success and failure, and gives a voice to those who are often unheard.

Tickets for the Main Street Landing (Burlington) Screening on April 9th at 7:30 pm may be purchased for $25 here.

“Ask Us Who We Are” state wide tour dates:

Burlington Fri. April 15, 7pm Contois Auditorium Church Street
Burlington Sat. April 16, 7pm Contois Auditorium Church Street
Rutland Fri. April 22, 7pm Rutland High School 22 Stratton Road
St. Albans Thurs. April 28, 7pm Street Albans City Hall 100 Main Street
Montpelier Sat. April 30, 7pm Unitarian Church 130 Main Street
Randolph Sun. May 1, 7pm Chandler Ctr. for Arts Main Street
Stowe Thurs. May 5, 7pm Town Hall Main Street
Middlebury Fri. May 6, 7pm MUHS Auditorium 73 Charles Avenue
Street Johnsbury Sat. May 7, 7pm St. Jay Middle School Western Avenue
Hardwick Sun. May 8, 7pm Hardwick Town House 127 Church Street
Brattleboro Wed May 11, 7pm New England Youth Theatre 100 Flat Street
Bellows Falls Thurs. May 12, 7pm Opera House The Square
Newport Fri. May 13, 7pm Goodrich Library Main Street
Morrisville Sat. May 14, 7pm People’s Academy Copley Avenue
Barton Wed May 18, 7pm Parker Pie’s Village Hall 161 County Road
Bennington Thurs. May 19, 7pm Bennington Museum 75 Main Street
Norwich Fri. May 20, 7pm Norwich Town Hall Main Street

Tickets at the door are $10 for adults and $5.00 for kids. There is a $5 discount for low-income foster families.

For more information visit our website: www.kingdomcounty.com or call (802) 592-3190

Screenings of the film include a discussion with director Bess O’Brien and members of the film

Ask Us Who We Are logo

Project Family: Meet Pat

Posted in Adoption, Project Family tagged , at 3:29 pm by Lund

Project Family Banner

Name: Pat
Age: 9

My Favorite Things:
I love soccer and learning about Egypt.

Things that I do not like:
I do not like things to be chaotic or loud, and I don’t enjoy not having a family.

Activities I Enjoy:
I enjoy being around animals, I like to laugh, and I want to learn as much as I can. I am a good reader, I enjoy listening to music, and I like to draw.

My Strengths:
I am intelligent, imaginative, and artistic. I am sensitive and resourceful. I want to be a good friend and I can tell adults what I need.

What We Want Families to Know about Him:
Pat is a child who has expressed significant trauma and losses in his life, and he needs a family that is willing to actively participate in therapy with him. Pat is a child who has difficulty with transitions, so he will need an established pattern to bring stability to his life.

What We Are Seeking In a Family for Pat:
We seek a two parent home where Pat will be the youngest child. Pat needs a family who will provide an unconditionally stable and structured living environment where he can learn and develop trust. Pat could benefit from a family that has animals and a good sense of humor. We seek a family willing to help Pat feel safe in his home and community, and a family that is willing to help him with his self esteem and need for belonging. We also seek a family with knowledge of trauma and loss, and the effect of these factors on children.

For further information regarding Pat or other children please contact Heather A. Simmons at Lund Family Center (802) 864-7467 or heathers@lundfamilycenter.org.

January 27, 2011

Project Family: Meet Michelle

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 9:04 pm by Lund

Project Family

Finding Homes for Children in Foster Care up to 18 Years Old

More than 250 Children Placed in Permanent Homes Since 2000

Name:  Michelle

Age: 11

My Favorite Things: Gymnastics, love to jump on the trampoline because I can front flip and do a one handed cartwheel, I love to do “pearlier beads” and I love my blanket and baby which I need to sleep and feel safe.

Things that I do not like: Neighbors, who I can not get along with, people who drink a lot and smoke and I do not like a lot of yelling because this makes me very upset.

Activities I Enjoy: Michelle enjoys watching TV, soccer, playing outside, swimming and likes to go to school to learn new things.

What I want In a Family: Michelle would like a mom and dad and would like to be an only child and having pets would be a bonus.  She would love to live in a neighborhood where she can have friends and ride her bike or scooter.  She would love to have a trampoline.  A family who is happy most of the time and would love a day where they could all spray each other with a hose and everyone laughs.  She wants a more active family.  Also, a family which will help her with her homework.

What Michelle Wants Families to Know about Her:  Michelle wants families to know she is active and will care for them.  Also, if we have problems then we can solve them together.   Families which will let her know the rules before she moves in so she can learn them and practice following them.  Also, when I get upset then sometimes I need to have time by myself.

What We Want Families to Know about Her: Michelle is a child who has expressed significant trauma in her past and will need to continue to attend therapy and be supported by her family.  She will need time to adjust to being with a family and a family needs to be supportive of this transition.  A family willing to accept Michelle for who she is and have fun learning new ways to help and support her.  She is an active child who likes to be on the go and needs a family who has as much energy or more. 

What We Are Seeking In a Family for Michelle: A two parent family who will work together to parent her and provide Michelle with consistent structure and reinforcement to learn new techniques.  A family with no younger children but might have older children that could be role models for Michelle.  A family willing to work as a team to meet Michelle’s needs.  A family with or willing to attend training on attachment issues.  A family which is open to having Michelle keeps in contact with important people in her life.

Michelle is currently not legally freed so we are only able to consider current licensed or approved families in Vermont.

For further information regarding Michelle or other children please contact Heather A. Simmons at Lund Family Center 802-864-7467 or heathers@lundfamilycenter.org.