November is National Adoption Month which is a celebration of children across the country who have found their “forever families.” On November 18, we will celebrate with these families as we host joyous Adoption Day event at the Fort Bend County Justice Center complete with booths, face painting, photo booth, games and food. We will decorate the courtrooms, give stuffed animals and gift bags to all the children and their siblings. For these children, this brings stability, love and acceptance and is the culmination of their journey from abuse or neglect to healing, recovery and closure. It opens the door to futures bright with possibilities and opportunities. For families, these children are beautiful additions and we hear adopting parents share stories of how they worked so hard to make this day happen. Through tears of joy, we join arms with these families to show our support and appreciation. Please join us the morning of November 18 if you want to be a part of this incredible day. I promise you that there will not be a dry eye in the courtrooms. In this issue of our newsletter, find out more about becoming a foster or adopt parent if this is something that you might be interested in. You’ll also get a sneak peek at our 31st annual Christmas Home Tour coming up on December 9-10, #Giving Tuesday, and meet some of our fabulous donors who ensure that we can continue to provide transformational services to children and families.
Thank you for all you do to support these children in their journey from abuse and neglect to recovery, healing and stability. We are so fortunate to have a community that puts children and families first and commits to ensuring that our children are safe and can thrive.
For the Children’s Sake,
Ruthanne Mefford, CEO
Keeping you informed on our mission:
Strengthen the child’s voice, Heal the hurt, and Break the cycle of abuse and neglect for children in Fort Bend and surrounding counties.
Adoption Awareness is Important for All of Us
Written by Aly Ferrante and Heather Cody
Each year, the month of November holds an extra special place in our hearts at Child Advocates of Fort Bend. It’s a collective effort when we raise awareness about adopting children from the Child Welfare system and the need for adoptive families.
Raising awareness and understanding about adoption is for all of us, not just prospective adoption parents. Adoptive children and adoptive parents are in our communities and schools. Awareness is knowing how to support an adoptive family that might be a neighbor, a student in your classroom, a friend of your child’s or a church/temple member. Building strong adoption-informed communities helps the entire Texas foster care system.
Today there are more than 400,000 children across the nation lingering in the foster care system. The hope is that these children will be able to return to their families of origin. However, when that is not the case, the state often turns to the community to identify adoptive families in the hope of achieving permanency for these children by building them a loving family through adoption.
The road to adoption is not always an easy one due to the ever-changing adoption laws, process, and most importantly due to the trauma that children in foster care have experienced, live with and continue to work through each and every day. This underscores the need for trauma-informed adoptive families who are wholly vested in the process, but more so in the children whom they are seeking to bring into their families.
Children in foster care have extensive trauma histories and need lifetime supports and families that will offer unwavering support and compassion as these children navigate how to cope and heal from what they have experienced. For families looking to foster or adopt, the best place to start is by connecting with an agency that has expertise in trauma, while providing support to prevent placement breakdown and disruption. Becoming trauma-informed, yourself, is also incredibly important so that you can stand alongside these children and families.
A Foster Parent’s voice:
Trauma and Wellbeing Advocacy Specialist at Child Advocates of Fort Bend, Alli Waterwall, has had firsthand experience as a foster parent. During that time, she saw how trauma influences the way children from difficult backgrounds think, trust and connect with others.
Waterwall said, “Over the span of 3 years, I was able to provide a temporary safe haven to four amazing children. Each child brought with them their own personalities which filled my home with joy, as well as their own set of trauma. Each trauma manifests itself into different challenges that prompted the household to constantly adjust and adopt new rituals and routines based on each child’s needs.
Without a foundational understanding of trauma and how to provide trauma-informed care, disruptions within household norms can translate into frustration which leads to placement breakdowns leading to even more loss and trauma for children in care. The importance of understanding the effects trauma has on developing brains in crucial in being able to meet our kids where they are at, seeing the need behind behaviors, and creating an environment that incites felt safety and promotes healing. Providing trauma-informed caregiving within our foster and adoptive homes help us break the cycle of generational trauma and helps children return to a healthy developmental trajectory.” In doing so, we can achieve lasting permanency for children within the foster care system.
National Adoption Month is also a time for celebration and recognition of all those working diligently to build forever families for children in need. Whether it’s social workers, lawmakers, advocates, caseworkers, counselors, foster families or adoptive families, these are the individuals that are in the trenches and working to heal the hearts and homes of children and families in our communities.
An Adoptive Parent’s voice:
Another of our very own colleagues at Child Advocates of Fort Bend, Heather Cody, shared her own personal experience with adoption over the past two years. She and her husband opened up their own home to their niece and nephew in August 2020 after they were pulled into the foster care system. What began as a temporary placement soon became clear that their home was exactly where these children needed to be. Heather and her family joyfully embraced these children, bringing them into their family when they were not able to return to their biological parents.
All the stress, worry, and hard work getting to this place in our lives was beyond worth it.
Heather’s family worked diligently to get licensed as a foster home which is a tedious and stressful process due to the many requirements and standards required to ensure the safety of children placed in foster/adoptive homes. They attended court hearings, provided opportunities for the children to visit with their biological parents, worked with countless caseworkers, attorneys, providers and even a CASA Volunteer. Whether these professionals were providing huge comfort and guidance for this family, or even having the hard conversations, many left a lasting impression on Heather’s family.
In what often felt like an overwhelming process, Heather and her family never gave up on the process or their niece and nephew. After two years of ups and down, Heather and her family were able to finally adopt their niece and nephew on June 15, 2022. Heather said, “The judge asked me to announce the kids with their new names, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. All the stress, worry, and hard work getting to this place in our lives was beyond worth it. We were legally the Codys, party of six. The adoption process is hard but so worth it in the end. We would not have been able to do it without the support of our family, friends, great caseworkers, and our wonderful work families.”
Lastly, we leave you with a quote/thought from one of our current CASA volunteers, Toseika Thomas. “Many kids in foster care have one wish, to find their forever family and home. Like everyone else, the deep desire for hugs, kisses and to hear I love you lie dominant in their hearts. Unfortunately, many teenagers in foster care leave the system with that dream not being fulfilled. Walking into the world with no support, guidance, and the feeling of loneliness turns from nightmares into reality. Having the opportunity to witness what statistics would consider impossible, I had the greatest joy to advocate for a teenager girl that found a home full of love. Some may never understand the importance of a teenager being adopted, but I have the pleasure of knowing that a child is safe, secure and happy. This is one of the wealthiest and memorable experiences one could ever live.”
This November, as every year, we are so grateful to all those involved in finding permanency for the thousands of children waiting for loving homes and recognize the need for trauma-informed adoptive families in our community. By aligning ourselves and our community with the common goal of raising awareness about adoption and the need for trauma-informed adoptive families, we can work toward achieving permanency, building and strengthening forever families for so many children in need in our communities.
Resources for more information:
The Connected Child by Karen Purvis, The out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz, and Attaching In Adoption by Deborah Gray are all very helpful books. Adoption.org has some wonderful resources, and The Karen Purvis Institute of Child Development has a multitude of online resources available. If you’re interested in attending in-person training to become more trauma-informed, please reach out to Jennifer Lane at fortbendtbri.org to register for the TBRI Collaborative for training dates and times.
Presenting Sponsor Fred & Mabel R. Parks Foundation
31st Annual Christmas Home Tour
The Christmas Home Tour is scheduled for December 9th and 10th. The two-day Home Tour hosts visitors from all over Fort Bend County and surrounding areas. Over 2,000 guests will tour the beautifully decorated homes, including the 800 volunteers that take their time to volunteer. We are so excited to be including four amazing homes for our in-person event this year! This year’s homes are in Imperial (crowd favorite), First Colony, Riverstone and, for the first time, Aliana in Richmond.
How can you help?
- Sponsor – There are numerous opportunities left with perks
- Purchase Home Tour Tickets Individual tickets – $30 Ticket Bundle – $60 (1 tour ticket + 3 wreath raffle tickets)
- Purchase a Holiday T-Shirt –Super cute tees, bright and colorful, available in short and long sleeve in black. Show your support and get in the holiday spirit. Order yours today! Short-sleeved $25; Long-Sleeved $30
- Buy Wreath Raffle Tickets -Choose the wreath you hope to win. Ticket prices are $10
- Volunteer – Share your time as a 2-3 hour host in one of the homes OR help distribute Sponsor Jingle Boxes. Bring a friend or family member and volunteer together!
- Entertainers & Cookie Bakers – Are you a singer? Do you play an instrument? Can you bake? Put those your skills to work
Help us Spread the Word!
Like + Comment + Share information about the tour on your social media accounts to help us spread the word.
FRIENDS of CAFB
FRIENDS of Child Advocates of Fort Bend held it’s annual membership coffee on Thursday, October 20th. Guests had a great time visiting with friends, old and new and learning to create a gorgeous fall floral arrangement from Pat and Rachel at House of Bloom.
If you missed this event and would like to find out how to get involved, please click https://www.cafb.org/events/friends/ for more information.
Each $40 membership helps fund needs for youth in foster care, such as dance classes, tutors, clothing and backpacks full of school supplies each fall and much more.
To learn more about FRIENDS contact Pat Somers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Order Your Specialty License Tag Today!
Order a custom license plate with the phrase “Big Voices for Little Texans” and you’ll not only show your support and spread awareness but a portion of the cost of the plate goes to Texas CASA and the local programs to increase our statewide efforts to advocate for every child in the foster care system. Order your plate today!
Noonday November Fundraiser
We are thankful to Carol Kee for generously offering a great give back to Child Advocates of Fort Bend for the ENTIRE MONTH OF NOVEMBER!
Create an impact with your gift-giving this year with Noonday Holiday Gift Guide! Full of gorgeous artisanal treasures for your loved ones & handcrafted décor to fill your home, this guide is a one-stop-shop for the perfect gift!
Written by Courtney James
From October 13-15 I had the pleasure of attending the National Association of Social Workers Texas Conference in Galveston, Tx.
This is the first in person conference since the COVID 19 pandemic. I was able to connect with social workers from all over the state as well as catch up with professors from my graduate program at the University of Houston.
I attended a session where members of the Houston Police Department presented on the use of their Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART). The use of this team allows for there to be extra support accompanying officers when responding to a domestic abuse call. The individuals that work for DART ride along with the police officer and are able to take the family aside and provide crisis services, resources, and guidance. The presenters emphasized how the officer’s goal is to protect the victim, but most times in domestic abuse situations, once the officer leaves, the victim is still in the home with their abuser. This is a huge gap in services that DART is able to fill for individuals in the Houston area.
In another session, the presenters spoke about using Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and incorporating it throughout couples’ therapy. EMDR is a therapeutic modality that allows for individuals to process through traumatic events while alleviating symptoms of distress. These presenters spoke about how when an individual is in a relationship, there might be specific things that are frustrating (such as not closing the cabinets, or not doing the dishes) but it is hard to determine where exactly that frustration is coming from. With EMDR, they were able to utilize the technique in order to peel back the layers and process events in childhood that had led clients to have a reaction towards particular actions. It was SO interesting!
If you know me, you know I love using humor and laughter as a self-care tool. So of course, I attended a session about the use of laughter throughout therapeutic practice and how the simple action of laughing positively effects the brain. Throughout the session we participated in laughing yoga, told jokes, and shared funny stories throughout our careers as social workers. It ended my experience at the conference on great (and hilarious) note!
It was so much fun being able to “nerd out” and learn about different therapeutic modalities and approaches while attending interactive sessions throughout the few days. The conference focused a lot on the importance of selfcare in the social work profession, which was a good reminder with how busy we have been at the CAC. I left the conference with a full brain and a sweet reminder for my “why” as a social worker. Thank you CAFB for the opportunity to attend such a great event!
Needs & Opportunities
Written by Jen Brown
We are getting ready for our National Adoption Day celebration and have a wishlist of items for purchase if you’d like to contribute to the gifts that our families receive. Please contact Jbrown@cafb.org for that list. Gifts for that event must be delivered to CAFB by November 11th.
Our CAC is in need of blankets (size 50″x 60″), and snack bags with the following items: individual bags of goldfish, animal crackers and fruit snacks in each.
We ALWAYS need gift cards to places with groceries and gas, Walmart, HEB and Target in any denomination. Thank you!
If you are interested in donating toys and gifts for the holidays, adopting a family or hosting toy drives for CAFB, please contact Jen Brown at Jbrown@cafb.org for more information, wish lists, Amazon gift lists and drop off dates.