July 19, 2010


ParenTalk is a great newsletter put out by the Alabama Department of Children's Affairs. This month's newsletter covers topics from "101 Ways to Praise a Child", how to determine if your child is ready for kindergarten, guidelines on leaving children at home alone, ideas to cure the summertime blues, to the top 10 kids' health issues to be aware of in 2010. To sign-up for this newsletter visit this website.

July 8, 2010

Camp APAC 2010

Camp APAC is our annual camp for adopted children and their siblings, ages 8-18 in the state of Alabama. We had 103 campers this year and had a blast!! Here is some of the fun we had...

If you are interested in your children attending Camp APAC 2011 make sure you are on our mailing list and be looking in your mail the beginning of 2011 for more information!! We hope to see you at Camp APAC 2011!

July 7, 2010

Summer Activities

"Research shows that all children experience some loss of learning when they do not take part in summer learning activities, according to the National Summer Learning Institute. The PTA, one of United Way’s national partners, has created the Urban Family Engagement Initiative Summer of Learning Toolkit. The toolkit features a calendar with quick ideas for almost every day of the week and runs through August with dozens of summer activities for children." Check it out here!

July 6, 2010

Finding Birth Family Online

Got a Web-savvy teen on your hands? Here’s how to set safety guidelines and step in if she searches for—or is found by—birth family.
By Rita Taddonio, LCSW

Fourteen-year-old Amy was on the computer, when she called out, “Hey, Mom! Come look!” As her mom approached the screen, the image smiling back at her looked oddly familiar. “I think I just Googled my birth family!” said Amy.
Noah, a 16-year-old Korean adoptee, had his parents’ support and permission to begin a birthparent search. He had just contacted his adoption agency when his birthfather reached out to him—through Facebook.

In our high-speed world, stories like these are becoming commonplace. You should begin a conversation about Internet safety and privacy as soon as your child becomes computer-literate. Establish general rules, such as “Keep Facebook open only to friends” and “Never give your address or phone number out on the Internet.”

But even as our children learn these basic rules, we have the added complexity of teaching them about searching for, and being searched for by, birth families. We can no longer assume that we are the sole gatekeepers of information.

Online…and Off
Your teen’s emotional development is probably not on a par with her technical abilities. Children may search for birth family just to see what they find, without considering the complexity of opening up an adoption. Finding someone online means having to deal with a real person, who may or may not think, act, or respond as you would like.

Christopher, a 13-year-old, was found by an older birth sibling, and they arranged to meet. At the last minute, he told his mother. She contacted the sibling and explained that she supported her son’s interest in meeting his birth family, but that she wanted to be involved, since he was still a teen. The mother accompanied her son, and all three enjoyed the visit.

Julie, a 15-year-old, found her birthmother on Facebook and began writing to her. Her birthmom felt overwhelmed and pulled back. Julie’s parents didn’t know this had happened until her grades and behavior began to deteriorate. They had a heart-to-heart, and Julie agreed to see a counselor trained in adoption, to sort out her feelings and make a realistic plan for future contact.

By opening a dialogue, you can ensure that there are no divided loyalties or secrets around relationships with birth family members who might be found. If you sanction an online search, support your child by asking about her hopes for the relationship.

You might say, “You said that you want to find your birthmother. What would you like to tell her or ask her? I’ve read about other people who searched for their birth families, and birthparents are not always ready to have contact. How would you feel if that happens?”

Just as you prepare your child to answer questions about adoption from other children, so you need to prepare him to handle interactions that might arise online.

RITA TADDONIO, LCSW, is the director of the Adoption Resource Center at Spence-Chapin, in New York City.

Search Support

Parents of teens expressing interest in finding birth family should follow three guidelines:

1. Keep a dialogue open. You should talk with your child about his birth family from the day he joins your family. Not every day, of course, but to share information at a developmentally appropriate level when there is an opportunity.

2. Respect everyone's privacy. An adopted child (or an adoptive parent) may locate a birthmother on Facebook, but find that she’s not ready to open up her world to him or her. Perhaps her family doesn’t know that she relinquished a child. Conversely, if the birth family reaches out, adoptive parents have the right to establish boundaries until everyone gets to know one another.

3. Give the relationship time. Both adoptive parents and birthparents should try to get to know each other as individuals. Exchange e-mails or letters and calls until everyone is comfortable enough to meet.