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The American Academy of Pediatrics as part of their Healthy Children series, has created a brochure for parents who have or are considering adopting a child internationally. Their brochure, "A Healthy Beginning" offers advice on things to consider prior to bringing the child to the U.S., what to expect in the first medical visit, a check list of information to bring to the first medical visit with their doctor and resources.

To download the brochure, click here.

The organization also has a lot of helpful resources about foster care and adoption. Click here for the website.

Use of psychotropic medication for youth in foster care

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This guest blog post was written by Abdifateh Ahmed.

Review of Tufts University, Health Sciences (2010, September 24). Psychotropic medication and youth in foster care report. ScienceDaily.


In summary the article gives us insights on the subject of the use of medication for treating behavioral and mental health tribulations in foster care children. The article further, talks about how we should use medications as a help for the relief of child and not offered as an alternative to deal with children's behavior and issues without considering or attempting non-medication options first. The article mentions the study that depicts a high psychotropic medication use amongst youth which doubled up over the decades and also further mentions foster children to be more likely on multiple medications "ranging from 13-52% than those in the general youth population 4%". Psychotropic drugs that were prescribed include those used to treat ADHD, anxiety, depression and psychosis. There is a national approach to this issue and States are stepping up to take action on the problem of over medicated children since Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act was signed into law in 2008.


  • The article is balanced, fair and thoughtfully written to educate readers on the issues of overmedication or prescription of psychotropic medication for the children in foster care system.
  • The writer uses statistical evidences to support his augments in order to fairly convince his audiences.
  • The article mentions elements of federal law and state policies that were enacted as a result this subject.
  • Informed decision making and appropriate medication monitoring for children in foster care by the agencies in collaboration with system were emphasized.


  • The language of the article is tailored for the most learned reader and not the for all ordinary readers, for example scientific word like "psychotropic" and the use abbreviations like ADHD is not easy for every reader to understand and in general it is fair to say that this is a scholastic article meant for research purpose.
  • The writer does not sound to be an active for this subject, neither he didn't use an activist language that could invoke my attention, he sounded to be more sensitive to the topic which I don't appreciate! I will love to hear phrase like "our children are at stake and overmedicated while in the hands of the system".

In a nut-shell, the writer seems to be having a lot of experience as regards to multi-disciplinary knowledge and background both in child welfare, medical and policy issues. He neither mentions his support for adoption nor dispels the over-medication of youth in foster care.


Tufts University, Health Sciences (2010, September 24). Psychotropic medication and youth in foster care report. ScienceDaily. Link here.

Supporting foster youth parents

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California Senator Leland Yee is sponsoring a bill that would help support foster youth who are parents in the state. The bill would help foster youth raising children with resources to help them stay in school, provide needed parenting and child care.

In the Pleasanton Weekly, Leland states that "parenting and pregnant youth are 200% more likely" to leave school without earning a high school diploma or GED and that impacts their ability to find work that enables them to provide financial stability for their children.

About 30% of pregnant and parenting youth experience a second pregnancy while still in foster care.

The University of Minnesota has some amazing scholars researching adoption. Here is a presentation by Megan Gunnar, Department Chair and Regents Professor at the Institute on Child Development here at the University of Minnesota, presenting a keynote address on the developing adolescent brains of post-institutionalized adopted children at the 2012 Rudd Adoption Conference, New Worlds of Adoption: Navigating the Teen Years.

For more presentations from this conference, visit the Rudd Adoption Research Program's YouTube page.

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MN Adopt is offering a training on August 6, 2012 on Working with the Mind-Body Connection: Understanding Stress and Trauma in Adopted and Foster Youth. The training will be presented by Lora Matz, LICSW.

From the description:

Increased levels of anxiety, depression and hopelessness are being seen in children from all socio-economic conditions, cultures and family life. Stress-related stomachaches and headaches in children of all ages are being reported as the number one health concern for children by physicians today. The principals and practices of Mind-Body skills are easily learned and empowering. Lora Matz offers Mind-Body skills that not only increase self-confidence, resilience and self-regulation but contribute to decreased disruptive behaviors often seen in children who have trauma histories. Participants will gain insight on how to talk to children of different ages about the stress response and how it impacts the body and emotions.

Lora Matz, LICSW is an internationally known health and wellness expert in the practices of Integrative Medicine. She currently serves as Clinical Education Specialist of Prairie Care and has a rich background as a psychotherapist, lecturer, writer and consultant in the areas of mind-body medicine and transpersonal development. Lora has many years of experience working with both children and adults in the areas of trauma and stress reduction strategies. She has served as Associate Director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington D.C. and supervised the team who worked with the children who were on the school bus when the I-35W bridge collapsed. Addtionally, she has worked with adoptees and foster children as a foster mother, psychotherapist with both children and adults who have been adopted and their families. She also has worked as a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor with individuals struggling with issues related to failed adoptions.

For more information on this or other trainings, contact MN Adopt at: or

612-861-7112 (fax)
866-303-6276 (toll free)

scale.jpgAn Ottawa man's children have been removed from his custody and will be placed for adoption because of the father's weight. According to the CBC News report, a parent's obesity can be a factor to determine a person's "fitness" to parent. Despite a 180 lb. weight loss, according to the unnamed father he is still being judged because he weighs over 300 pounds.

Obesity has been a factor in other cases, such as this case of a Cleveland, OH child, where it was the child's weight that targeted the family for child protection intervention.

What are your thoughts? Should weight be a factor in a child's removal and termination of parental rights?

Webinar on helping children with sexualized behaviors

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MN ADOPT is hosting a webinar on July 25, 2012 on Helping Children with Sexualized Behaviors: What Parents and Professionals Need to Know with Jane Seymour, MSW, LGSW.

From the training desciption:
This webinar will review the common myths and facts about children who are exhibiting sexualized behaviors. Participants will learn about the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy sexual behavior in children. The presenter also explores the influence of early traumas, such as domestic violence, sexual and physical abuse and how it manifests with children who display sexualized behaviors. Parents and professionals will learn specific strategies and interventions for working with and helping these children.

Jane Seymour, MSW, LGSW is a Clinical Specialist with the MN ADOPT HELP program at Minnesota Adoption Resource Network (MARN). MN ADOPT HELP provides a Warm Line for adoptive families and connects adoptive families with adoption competent therapists. Prior to her work with MARN, Jane provided individual and group therapy to children who had experienced intra-familial sexual abuse. She also provided in-home therapy, education, and skill building to adoptive and kinship families. Jane has previously worked with families involved with Child Welfare, and with youth in residential and day treatment settings.

For more information on this or other trainings, contact MN Adopt at: or

612-861-7112 (fax)
866-303-6276 (toll free)

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One of the practice issues that has been rarely talked about in academic, research or policy arenas that impact children that have been institutionalized or in foster care is the issue of eating behaviors.

It is quite common for children who have been neglected or for those who have experienced food insecurity, institutionalization in foreign countries or housing instability to have learned survival skills related to eating that may be difficult for foster and adoptive caregivers to manage.

Eating issues may be manifested in overeating, extreme pickiness, undereating, and hoarding. In addition, ideas about mealtimes may be very different for children who have had to learn to fight for food, were given limited options for food, or were not part of families or settings that had rules about eating (such as sitting at a table together, etc.).

Sometimes foster and adoptive caregivers end up inadvertently adding to the stress a child may have about food and mealtimes because they expect the child to understand that now food availability is no longer an issue or because meal time is expected (from the caregiver's view) to be a time of family sharing. Children that have experienced food insecurity or institutionalized meal times will not automatically understand the change, emotionally or behaviorally, once they move to a stable family setting.

Several years ago based on experiences as a case worker, I searched for research or practice guidance around this issue. At the time there was very little available. I finally wrote an article for Minnesota Adoption Resource Network (MARN) about this issue (click here for article), and I was excited to see that MN Adopt will be hosting a training on this topic on July 17, 2012.

From the training description:

Nurturing Feeding: Promoting Recovery from Eating Issues in Traumatized Children with Elizabeth Jackson, MS, RD, LD in Bloomington, MN

Children who have come from foster care or orphanages often have serious issues around found. This might take on the form of stealing or hoarding food, refusing to eat certain foods or developing a clinical eating disorder. Elizabeth Jackson provides participants a deeper look into food issues from infancy to adolescence. Topics to be discussed include:

  • Feeding during infancy and its impact on development of attachment patterns
  • Research on how trauma and neglect at all ages impact a child's eating habits and growth
  • Overview of Satter's Division of Responsibility that defines the optimal feeding relationship between adult caregivers and children of all ages
  • Treatment options for children and youth with habitual habits of hoarding and stealing food and eating disorders
Elizabeth Jackson, MS, RD, LD is an outpatient dietitian at Melrose Institute in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a large, multidisciplinary eating disorder treatment facility with five levels of care. In January 2008, Elizabeth published her findings from years of successful group treatment of compulsive eating in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. She relocated to Minnesota in 2001 after 19 years in private practice in Michigan specializing in eating disorders and treatment of child feeding and eating issues. Elizabeth also developed curriculum and taught for eight years on eating disorders at Central Michigan University. Additionally, from 2002-2010, she was a clinical faculty member with the Ellyn Satter Institute, speaking and conducting workshops on child feeding and weight regulation throughout the U.S. and Canada.

For more information on this or other trainings, contact MN Adopt at: or

612-861-7112 (fax)
866-303-6276 (toll free)

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The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has just released a Committee Opinion on Adoption.

This statement aims to provide a discussion about the role of and challenges for obstetrician-gynecologists in working with women seeking medical assistance related to fertility, pregnancy and childbirth.

The Committee on Ethics of the Ameican College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists make the following recommendations in their document:

  • Physicians have a responsibility to provide information about adoption to appropriate patients. The information provided should be accurate and as free as possible of personal bias and opinions.

  • A physician's primary responsibility in caring for a woman considering adoption is to her and not to the prospective adoptive parents.

  • Physicians should be aware of adoption resources in their areas and refer patients to licensed adoption agencies.

  • When physicians complete medical screening forms for prospective adoptive parents, the physician's role is to provide truthful, accurate information to screening agencies.

  • Because of ethical issues related to undue influence, competing obligations, and lack of expertise, physicians should not serve as brokers of adoptions.
For more, click here for the full statement.

Weekly news round-up

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Each Friday on the Stability, Permanency and Adoption blog we will provide a selection of news from the past week that you may have missed.

Today's news round up:

In Ontario, Canada, working parents who participate in foster-to adopt programs can participate in parental leave benefits. The Star online reports that even if the child is reunified with birth parents, the foster parent can receive parental leave benefits if they were willing to adopt the chils had reunification not been successful. In the past, foster-to-adopt families were only eligible to request parental leave benefits after they began the adoption process. To read the article, click here.

Children in New Jersey's foster care system will benefit from improved services as a result of a Silbermann Foundation grant awarded to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) School of Nursing. From the article: "We are very excited to branch out into the field of child welfare nursing. It is our great hope that the curriculum developed at the UMDNJ-School of Nursing will attract qualified nurses to this important subspecialty. It is also our aspiration that this curriculum becomes the national standard in teaching and attracting nurses to this extremely important field," said M. Steven Silbermann, spokesperson for the Rosanne H. Silbermann Foundation, a non-profit charitable family foundation established by the late Rosanne H. Silbermann in 1998 that supports medical, educational and religious organizations." To read more click here.

Writer Dr. Suzanne Babbel, PhD., has written part two of a series, The Foster Care System and Its Victims. In Part I, Dr. Babbel describes what happens when a child is reported to have been abused. In Part II, Dr. Babbel describes how foster care can harm more than help an already vulnerable child. Both articles are available on the Psychology Today website.

In The Huffington Post, Kelly Kennedy writes about how several states are changing the way they consider recruiting foster parents. From the article, "Most jurisdictions end up being in a reactive mode because they don't have enough fosters parents so they're just focused on getting people into the fold instead of making sure standards for parents are elevated," said David Sanders, an executive vice president at Casey Family Programs, an advocacy organization in Seattle." The new focus is on recruiting foster parents that consider their job "parenting," such as Maritza Moreno who told the Huffington Post, who says a parent wouldn't rely on having the county worker take the foster child to doctor's appointments. Morento says foster children "really need a parent, not a caregiver." To read the whole article, click here.