Tag Archives: foster care

National Adoption Month Website Launches

The Children’s Bureau, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, is pleased to announce the launch of the 2014 National Adoption Month website, created in partnership with Child Welfare Information Gateway, it’s information service, and AdoptUSKids.

National Adoption Month (NAM) draws attention to the urgent need for permanent families for the more than 102,000 children and youth waiting for adoption in foster care. This year’s NAM theme, “Promoting and Supporting Sibling Connections,” emphasizes the critical role sibling relationships play in helping to promote permanency for children in care. The NAM website offers a variety of audience-specific resources:

· Professionals can find information to help them promote and support sibling connections, recruit adoptive families, and see examples of how other States are promoting permanency for siblings and youth.

· Adoptive parents can find information on adopting siblings from foster care, learn what permanency means, and view powerful videos from youth and other adoptive families.

· Adopted people can find information on openness in adoption and search and reunion.

· Birth parents can find information on kinship adoption/adoption by relatives, openness in adoption, and search and reunion.

· Youth can learn about how to get involved in their permanency plans, stay connected with adults and other teens through social media, find out about the benefits of being safe online, and more.

Bookmark the NAM website today.

For more information and other adoption resources, contact Child Welfare Information Gateway at 800.394.3366 or info@childwelfare.gov.


Mary Enters Foster Care; Adoptions, Hardship Follows


“My mom was reported for drug abuse and neglect,” she says. “But then she decided she couldn’t get straight, so I stayed in foster care.”

Mary remembers her early years with clarity. How could she not? “I was taken away from my home on Christmas Eve and I spent the next two months in a foster home” she says.

Her mom gave up her rights to her daughter in February of 2004,  and Mary was quickly adopted by a family friend.

Happy at first, the adoption was welcomed by Mary — she knew the woman, so the transition wasn’t as complicated as it could’ve been. But after approximately one year, things began to change. 

Mary’s adoptive mother got divorced, and with a new boyfriend in the picture, her adoptive mother’s demeanor changed. “I was physically and verbally abused,” Mary says. After a year, the neighbors reported Mary’s adoptive mother, and she was placed back into foster care. 

Mary decided she never wanted to be adopted again. Before deciding, though, she did go through with other adoptions — they just weren’t a good fit. No more adoptions, Mary thought. 

And so by choice, Mary lived the rest of her life in foster care. “I’ve been through seven foster homes,” she says matter-of-factly. 

There’s a certain sense of assuredness in Mary’s voice — as if she has her feet planted firmly on the ground while talking. She’s candid, and eager to answer our questions over the phone. 

It would take six years before she would meet the woman who changed Mary’s life for the better. 

Find out who Mary’s hero becomes in Part II of our series.

Just joining in? Read the series intro.

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Renewing Our Commitment During Foster Care Awareness Month

Dear Partners and Community Members,

May is National Foster Care Month, a month set aside to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections. During National Foster Care Month, we renew our commitment to ensuring a bright future for the nearly 3600 children and youth in foster care in Miami and Monroe, and we celebrate all those who make a meaningful difference in their lives.

We are honored that Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Letinen mentioned Our Kids, Foster Care Review and Charlee in her floor address as just a few of the many organizations working on behalf of the over 400,000 children in foster care in this country. Below is a link to her comments from the congressional floor. We are thankful for your continued commitment to the role you play in the child welfare system. We cannot do it alone, we as a community need to take care of our kids.

A Successful 2014 Legislative Spring Session for Foster Care

Florida Foster Care Parents' Association President Martha Pedroso, Our Kids External Affairs Manager Kadie Black, and South Florida foster parents met with Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez during legislative session in Tallahassee.

Florida Foster Care Parents’ Association President Martha Pedroso, Our Kids External Affairs Manager Kadie Black, and South Florida foster parents met with Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez during legislative session in Tallahassee.

As you may have already heard, there has been much activity around the topic of foster care in the Florida legislature this session. After much advocacy on behalf of the foster children of Florida, the legislature moved to pass legislation that would help keep kids safe and appropriated additional funding to the system.

Last year, Our Kids helped to create the Foster and Adoptive Parent Legislative Committee to ensure that foster and adoptive parents have a voice in Tallahassee. This year, 12 parents traveled to Tallahassee in three groups to meet with legislators and ask them to fund the system appropriately.

Needless to say, we all had an amazing experience, not only because we were able to overcome a huge hurdle in our fight for foster children in the state, but our group was also able to make some very significant contacts.

We met with key folks such as House Representatives, Senators, aids and Miami Dade Mayor, Carlos Gimenez, to go over our legislative goals. We also recruited potential foster parents and answered many questions on what it means to be a foster parent.

Each week parents stood up in committee to convey the importance of putting kids first. Standing up to have our voices heard in committees sparked the legislature to ask important questions. Some of us were even interviewed by the Miami Herald. Each of the groups built on the momentum of the last. On the final group’s last day we had a sit down meeting with the Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera in his chambers.

We are so thankful to all the elected officials and their staff for their hard work this session. We can always do more on behalf of children and as a committee we look forward to continuing our work on behalf of the children we serve.



Why Do I Foster? By Tanya M. Spiegel

Tanya Spiegel, our guest blogger this week and an aspiring writer, is one of our wonderful foster parents.  In her poem, Tanya shares with us the gift of being a foster mom and the love, challenges and heartbreak that go hand in hand with fostering. Each child impacts you and touches your heart in so many ways. Tanya currently fosters three children but has fostered many others through the years.

last time

Why Co-Parenting Works

I wanted to share an important story with you. It’s a story that shows why co-parenting works. 

Like many couples, Tilza and Claudio Caceres came into our system of care intending only to adopt, and never wanting to foster. The Caceres changed their minds when they heard about a baby boy that needed a home.  They boy was 10 months old and was born to a teenage mother who lived in foster care and had lost custody of her son.  She had a difficult life, but now was making her best effort to regain custody of her child.

The 10 month old boy was placed with the Caceres (foster parents with His House), and they immediately made a concerted effort to employ the co-parenting skills that they acquired in their PRIDE training: engaging the biological parent as often and as much as possible in the care of her child.  Tilza Caceres would consult with the biological teen mother on how best to console her son if he was upset, what songs he liked, his favorite foods and his favorite toys. The teenage mother later reported that no one had previously asked her for advice and that this made her feel respected and valued.  Tilza also arranged for the biological mother to participate in the baby’s medical appointments and to join her for lunch with her son.  The biological mother continued to work with a therapist on the issues that prevented her from being the primary caretaker. She told her therapist that if for any reason she could not regain custody, she would like for the Caceres to care for him.

In March, the baby had his first birthday and the foster family not only wanted to attend the birthday party, but also offered to support the mother’s efforts by purchasing the cake and decorations. The mother was excited about the upcoming celebration and asked Tilza to go with her to pick out the cake. Of course the Tilza was delighted to join her. 

Sadly, the mother and Caceres never had the chance to pick out the cake nor to celebrate the baby’s first birthday. The mother, Genesis Fonseca, was murdered days later by her boyfriend.

That terrible day was a few months ago. The baby’s foster parents, Tilza and Claudio, continue to mourn this tragic loss, but feel fortunate that they had the opportunity to develop a relationship with the biological mother. With time, they can tell their soon-to-be-adopted son about his wonderful mother, whom they knew and loved.  They will be able to tell the child how much his mother loved him and how hard she was working to be the mother that she wanted to be for him.  Tilza has a few photos of the mother and she will create a book for the baby boy – together with all those things she knows about the mother – so that someday the child can know his mom, too.

This story is bitter in the tragic loss of a beautiful, young mother who loved her son. Given the tragedy, we find a silver lining in that

her son is being adopted into a family who wants and loves him, and it is that same family that the mother herself grew to love.  The young mother wanted the Caceres to raise her son if she was unable. The Caceres will raise the child honoring his mother’s memory and will instill in him the positive force of his mother’s life.