How Adopting a Child Can Reverse the Cycle of Trauma

Editor’s Note: November is National Adoption Month. In honor of the month, and of those parents who decide to take the transformative step to adopt a child, this week’s blog post centers on our Bienvenidos Foster Care and Adoption program.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser conducted one of the largest investigations of adverse childhood experiences, often referred to as ACE. The study identified the long-term impact on those who suffered traumatic experiences during their childhood. Because of these traumas, many fail at school, struggled to establish and maintain relationships, experienced high levels of unemployment, and are susceptible to mental illness, chronic poor health, and premature death. These conditions are rooted in abuse and neglect as children — destabilizing experiences that establish a tragic pattern of hardship, failure, and sadness. The study also revealed that the principle factor that can influence the negative consequences of adverse childhood experiences is the consistent presence of a caring adult in the lives of children who have been traumatized.

All of our efforts at Hillsides are aimed at breaking the cycle of adverse outcomes for the children, youth, and families we serve. We do that in a number of ways through various initiatives, but all are dependent on dedicated employees and caring volunteers. One very significant initiative is our Bienvenidos Foster Care and Adoption Services. Through our resource families (formerly known as foster families), homes are provided to children who would otherwise be living at group homes. There is no substitute for the family of origin. However, if for good reason, the family is unable to reunite, home-based family care is an indispensable resource for a child.

For some of our children living with a resource family, there is an opportunity for adoption. This past fiscal year, we finalized a record number of adoptions, 17. So far this year, five adoptions have been finalized and 14 are in the process. Adoption becomes a defining moment for a child and adoptive family. Pedro and his wife Nubia had been resource parents for one and a half years through Bienvenidos when three-week-old Lucia came into their lives. They fell in love with her and decided to adopt. Adoption is a lengthy process, but finally, on September 6 of this year, the adoption became final, and Lucia found her forever family. “It’s one of those moments that can’t compare to anything else in your life,” said Pedro as he thought back on the adoption ceremony. “It’s like your own child is being born.” Today, Lucia is a lively three-year-old who loves to laugh, dance, and carry her “Papa’s” lunch box for Pedro when he walks through the door each night after work. “Being her parent is a beautiful experience,” said Pedro.

Resource and adoptive families assume tremendous responsibilities when they welcome a child in their home. It is a daunting task that deserves our respect and support. Recently I heard a resource parent speak about her 25 years of welcoming children in foster care into her home. She mentioned that her success could be attributed to the support that she receives from her family and community. These selfless and dedicated individuals and the children they serve welcome and need our support. For those of you interested in either becoming a resource family or adopting a child, please contact our Bienvenidos Foster Care and Adoption program at 1-800-828-5683 or fostercarerecruitment@bienvenidos.org.

*Names have been changed to protect their privacy.

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