Adoptive parents in Fredericksburg now have a new partner on their journey to a healthy family. In 2016, Children’s Home Society was awarded a $125,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Social Services to extend their Richmond area post-adoptive services to the Fredericksburg area.

“Adoption Day is not the happy ending. Instead, it’s the beginning of a unique and challenging journey to parent a child back to emotional and physical health,” said Sara Buckheit, program manager for the Children’s Home Society (CHS) Post-Adoption program.

“Seventy-five percent of our participants have been diagnosed with ADHD and more than one-third suffer from depression or anxiety; all have experienced significant loss. Those being adopted from foster care have most often experienced abuse or neglect,” added Dave Martin, chief marketing officer for CHS.

Now CHS is looking to find adoptive families in the area who need support before they hit a crisis point. “It doesn’t matter which agency they adopted from, or when that happened,” said Buckheit. “We want to offer a lifetime of support to adoptive families in the Fredericksburg area, especially those who haven’t been aware of our services in the past.”

While CHS offers serious support from social workers qualified in trauma and attachment issues, they also offer fun. Adopted children can participate in the CHS Kid’s Club, run by Amy Waldbillig, LCSW, Ph.D., CHS post-adoption program coordinator for Fredericksburg. The Kid’s Club offers eight opportunities each year for adoptees to get together with each other and enjoy an enriching experience while their parents get a respite day.

The next respite day is Tuesday, November 7, Election Day. Local potter Betsy Curtiss will be teaching a clay creation activity for the children at the quirky and fun LibertyTown Arts Workshop.

Many adopted children have experienced a lifetime of trauma, loss and sadness. If you know an adoptive family in the area, refer them to sooner rather than later. “The sooner we can get into the family, the better. There is a six-month waiting period to be adopted, and without significant help and intervention, many child-family matches don’t make it through the six-month waiting period,” says Buckheit.

CHS Post-Adoption Program offers:

  1. Parent Coaching, especially how to deal with the special needs of pre-adoptive and adoptive children. Parent coaches can attend IEP meetings and help with special medical needs.
  2. Family Support Services, including resources, referrals, education on trauma, attachment, the adoption process, and the key players in the process, online and in-person networking, and advocacy for the family with service providers
  3. Kid’s Club activities

When a match with a family is made, we can help with the logistics of the process, plus offer help with the parenting aspect of adoption. There are unique challenges to becoming an adoptive parent and it can be isolating. The adoption day is not the happy ending. That’s when many difficulties start. Adoptive parents need different parenting methods. Many adoptees are younger than their chronological age emotionally, so they are 15 on the outside but 5 on the inside. Staying flexible as a parent is key. Parents need to be flexible, patient, comfortable with repetition when teaching basic appropriate behaviors and committed. Understanding the why behind behaviors is important. Adoptees can have frustrating behaviors. They need to learn how to establish trust. They have to learn that they can rely on a parent, but a healthy, trusting attachment is difficult to establish. They are catching up on how to attach and trust adults. This can be very stressful.

They behave in ways that helped them survive in their original homes.

CHS offers no limitations on how long they will help adoptive families. They will help as long as needed and offer a lifetime of support.

They accept families who have adopted from anywhere, at any point in the process.

CHS Four Programs

1. CHS handles infant adoption, these are usually medically challenged, at-risk infants.
2. Foster care adoption, with a focus on teenagers and the hardest to place children
3. Possibilities Project—programs to help the foster children who age out at 18 without being adopted, such as housing, life skills, medicine.
4. Post-adoption program