Adoption Clients Surprise LSG Staff at Fundraiser

Jean, Jordan and Micah
Jean, Jordan and Micah

While participating in a recent fundraiser at Glory Haus, a decorative accessories retailer in Marietta, Georgia, LSG’s Rome staff received a surprise visit.  On January 22, the LSG Rome staff gathered at the shop for the Purchase for a Purpose fundraiser.  Though the cold, rainy day brought less than ideal weather conditions, shoppers were still eager to get their hands on the fun, unique inspirational home and holiday items that Glory Haus stocks.

While our staff was busy welcoming and assisting customers and sharing information about LSG’s programs, they were approached by a mother-daughter couple.  The two introduced themselves as Jean and Jordan.  Jean, the mother, rested her hand on Jordan’s shoulder as she told us, “She’s from Lutheran.”  Jean and Jordan continued, explaining that Jordan and her brother were adopted through LSG when they were young children.

Now 26 years old, Jordan tells her adoption story with pride.  Always open and honest with her about her adoption, the family still celebrates her adoption day each year.  Jordan revealed her love and appreciation for her parents, their support, and their openness. She expressed her gratitude for LSG and what the agency does for children, adults, and families in need in Georgia communities.

Jordan is now a youth minister, and regularly shares her adoption story as part of her testimony to the individuals she serves.

It was wonderful meeting  Jean and Jordan! We are so grateful to them for sharing their story and for supporting Purchase For A Purpose and shopping specifically that day to support LSG.

In many ways, it was a testament of the lasting impact LSG has on the lives of children, adults and families.  Our surprise visitors touched our hearts and reminded us of the positive ripple effect in the work we do.


National Adoption Month

national adoption month
national adoption month

National Adoption Month is recognized across the country as a way to spread awareness of of the many children who wait in the foster care system for their forever families. Through our adoptions program, Lutheran Services of Georgia works with children who are considered to be special needs. This means that they are older, part of a sibling group, or that they have developmental, behavioral, or physical difficulties. We are blessed to work with these exceptional children and the incredible families who welcome them home.

As an agency, we work with families who have expressed an interest in adopting and have been referred to our program to get assistance. Many families who choose to adopt do not have birth children, but others do and have simply decided to continue expanding their family by adopting. The children we work with come from all over Georgia, and oftentimes prospective parents will travel all the way across the state to meet with them.

Once families and children meet, a wonderful, unmistakable bond begins to form. These children, many who have overcome unimaginably difficult situations, become part of their new families, and are welcomed as though they have been in the family all along. Even the extended family members and support systems start calling the children their grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. Most of the children who are adopted have experienced some form of abuse and have experienced more in their young lives than any adult can begin to imagine, but when they become part of a family, they begin to understand that they are safe, loved, and supported—forever.

Oftentimes a loving, permanent home is the difference between a child who is depressed, agitated, and destructive, and a child who is just the opposite. The families we work with take the time to get to understand the needs of each child individually,  and though they know that it will not always be easy, do not give up despite challenges. These families know that children need love and to know that someone is there for them regardless of what they’ve been through.

Sometimes when parents learn about the difficulties that their adoptive children have faced, it can seem like a risk to make the commitment to welcome them as a permanent part of their family. However, the parents that we work with are truly exceptional, compassionate, and empathetic people who see these children for what they really are and truly want to give them  the love and support that every child deserves.

This month, we have been able to finalize seven adoptions. Each of these families took the time to understand that these children are more than what they read about them on paper. Adoption is a lifelong commitment to a child as if the child was one’s birth child. The child and adoptive family need ongoing support to process the impact of adoption, and Lutheran Services of Georgia is that support for both the family and the child, and we are here even when the ink has dried on the final adoption court order!


National Adoption Day


National Adoption Day falls on November 21, and is a national effort to raise awareness of the over 100,000 children waiting in foster care for their forever families to find them. The day is sponsored by four wonderful organizations: Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, The Alliance for Children’s Rights, and Children’s Action Network. Since its inception in 2000, National Adoption Day has helped nearly 54,500 children find their forever families. LSG specializes in finding homes for special needs children, which means children that can be more difficult to place due to age, being part of a sibling group, or having a disability. We believe every child is adoptable and every child is special, and work with some incredible families and children. In recognition of this day, Shamae Crosswhite has shared her family's story, below.

First and foremost, I would like to thank the staff at Lutheran Services of Georgia for helping us find our missing pieces through adoption. My husband and I were trying to start our family the natural way, but unfortunately we did not have success. Adoption was always an option for us, so we decided moved the timetable up.

My husband and I started the adoption process in December 2013. I will never forget the day I went to our local DFACS office for an informational session. We arrived on time and were very anxious to learn more about the adoption process. The first words out of the case manager’s mouth were “we are not accepting applications for adoption at this time.” Once I heard those words, I don’t remember hearing anything else that was mentioned--my heart was broken. I remember walking out of the office crying, leaving my husband behind to speak with the case manager. He came out the office, hugged me tight and told me everything will work out. He said that the case manager gave him a phone number to an agency that handles adoption. That agency was Lutheran Services of Georgia.

I knew I didn’t want to give up, so I called the number the very next day. We were scheduled for the next available informational session which was only two days away. Once we attended the informational session at LSG, we knew this was the place for us; it just felt right. That night, we decided that we definitely wanted to move forward with the process and potentially have a sibling group.


In January 2014, we completed all the paperwork to attend the classes. We ended up completing our final classes in June. And in July, LSG conducted our home study. By September 2014, we were approved by the state and LSG to be matched with a child. I remember attending an adoption quarterly meeting and someone mentioned creating an adoption flyer that we could send to the other case managers and people we knew for potential matches. With the exception of our parents, we did not want to tell our family or friends that we were going through the process.

Well, after attending the quarterly meeting we realized that we should tell more people as we felt the meeting encouraged us to share our story. Once we made that decision, I emailed everyone in my contact list the flyer. Low and behold, a friend of ours knew a case manager and she forwarded the email to her. Would you believe that is how we find out about two beautiful kids? We ended up receiving a phone call from Ms. Terrell about the possible match and I cried. There were so many additional personal issues we were also dealing with during this time, but this news restored me. I believed, no, I knew this was God’s doing. He waited for the perfect time to provide us with two children who needed us just as much as we needed them.

They sent the file over for us to read. Just reading their story, word after word, we knew they were for us. I remember attending the meeting to sign papers to move forward with the match. We signed the papers and then I asked, “Can I see a picture of them?” I didn’t have to see a picture to know they were my babies; a 5 year old girl and 8 year old boy. We met them for the very first time on December 5, 2014. I will never forget that visit. I wanted to take them home and keep them safe because they were MY children! They are the most affectionate children I know. They were officially placed with us on January 12, 2014. And after numerous home visits, we finalized the adoption July 7, 2015.

I will never say this process was easy, but it wasn’t a huge battle. To those contemplating adoption, I leave you with this advice: First, be patient. Everything happens in due time.  Second, share the process with family and friends because you never know who they know or how they can help. Third, love all the kids with an unequivocal, unconditional love no matter their situation. Fourth, utilize Lutheran Services of Georgia at all avenues. They have a plethora of information. Last but not least, keep the faith.


Celebrate National Adoption Month with LSG Rome!

national adoption month November is National Adoption Month! National Adoption Month is recognized each year to raise awareness of adoption throughout the country, to challenge myths about adoption, and to celebrate the love and support that is shared between adoptive families and their children.

This year, through our Specialized Foster Care program in Rome, we have matched many exceptional children with their forever families, who have opened their homes and welcomed them as their own. We think this incredible gift is something to celebrate!

We will be hosting an adoption appreciation pizza party to celebrate all of the life-changing connections that have been made between adoptive families and their children. We are so grateful for each family that has chosen to partner with us to start or expand their families, and we invite them to join us in celebration this Saturday:

LSG Adoption Appreciation Party Date: Saturday, November 7th Time: 11:30am-2:30pm Place: Mellow Mushroom              238 Broad St, Rome, GA 30161

The party is sure to be lots of fun, and a great way for children to socialize and make new friends, so please don’t miss it! We will have lots of fun activities for the kids and plenty of pizza and snacks for everyone. We encourage parents to bring their entire families so that they can get to know other families like theirs, and share stories and support with one another.

We know that the adoption process can be long, and that it is not always easy; however, to parents who have completed the process and gotten to welcome their child or children home, we say this: you did it! You not only changed the life of a child who longed for love and support, but you navigated a complicated process and came out on the other end as a stronger family with a wonderful addition.

We are so grateful for your partnership and the incredible gift that you have given, so please join us in celebrating your family!

Anthony's Big Family

Family3 By Micah Bennett Johnson, LSG Case Manager in Rome

Anthony* came to Lutheran Services of Georgia's Specialized Foster Care program as a medically fragile teen. He was falling behind in school and had a known history of behavioral issues. Prior to being placed in foster care, Anthony lived with a caregiver whose old age and personal health issues prevented her from being able to fully provide for Anthony's medical needs.

The Harmon* family welcomed Anthony into their home. With help from LSG's supportive services, they were prepared to work with Anthony to address his behavioral issues and traumatic history. After over two months of support from the Harmon family and LSG's services to address medical and mental health needs, Anthony was progressing medically but still displayed behaviors that his foster family found challenging.

Although the Harmon family cared for Anthony, they realized that their home was not the best fit for Anthony. Anthony had developed close relationships with his foster parents and their extended family, particularly with his foster mother's parents. His foster family and their extended family wanted to support Anthony and to maintain as much continuity in his school, church, mental health and medical providers, caregivers, and friends as possible. LSG identified the foster mother's parents as potential matching family for Anthony. With Anthony's blessing, LSG and Anthony's health providers being working together to move the foster mother's parents through the training and home approval process as quickly as possible.

When Anthony realized that LSG and his foster family were working to support a positive transition for him, his behaviors and disposition improved. Anthony felt that he mattered to this big family, and that they cared enough about him to make sure he was in the best place. The foster family's sensitivity, understanding, and compassion inspired them to think outside the box in order to meet Anthony's needs for stability, permanency, and well-being. As for Anthony, he demonstrates the resilience and hope that so many of us working in the field see in the vulnerable children with whom we work. Anthony is a reminder that, above all, these kids want to be wanted, to be loved, to belong.

For more information about foster care or becoming a foster parent with LSG, click here.

*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality.



LSG Participates in National Adoption Month Forum

Group Photo - Fair Participants  

In honor of National Adoption Month, Lutheran Services of Georgia joined other agencies at Ray of Hope Christian Church on Sunday, November 9, 2014. Each November, a Presidential Proclamation launches activities and celebrations to help build awareness of adoption and the foster care system throughout the United States. This year's theme is "Promoting and Supporting Sibling Connections" and pays tribute to the unique bond between siblings.

Tha National Adoption Month forum at Ray of Hope brought together Lutheran Services of Georgia, Wednesday's Child, the Georgia Department of Human Services, and other groups to share information during two worship services. A panel of four individuals--two current adoptive parents, one child that has been adopted, and a psychiatrist--shared their stories and answered questions about foster care and adoption. The message for the day was  "It Takes A Village", further emphasizing the importance of caring for children in need of forever families. LSG staff members Latrice Stowe, Cynthia Kersee, and Tasondra Terrell represented LSG at the event.

LSG thanks Ray of Hope Christian Church for hosting this celebration and informational session. For more information about adopting through Lutheran Services of Georgia, click here.

LSG Participates in Georgia's Inaugural Heart Gallery!

heart gallery Lutheran Services of Georgia recently participated in Georgia’s first-ever Heart Gallery! Now in its thirteenth year, Heart Gallery is a nationwide traveling photographic and audio exhibit created to find forever families for children in foster care. On Saturday, November 1, 2014, LSG joined other adoption agencies at Savannah Christian Church to showcase 16 of the 600 waiting children in Georgia’s foster care system to prospective adoptive families.

LSG Savannah staff members Lydia McCrary, Tacarra Hayes, and Teer Mitchell helped showcase several children who are part of LSG’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids caseload, including a sibling group of three, a teenage girl, a medically fragile toddler, and a sibling group of two pre-teen girls. Several families expressed interest in adoption, while others asked questions about becoming foster parents or providing respite through LSG. Next week, LSG will host an adoption party where these families will have the opportunity to meet many of the children.

LSG is excited to have participated in the inaugural Heart Gallery, especially as being showcased in the Heart Gallery triples a child’s chance of being adopted into a forever family. Families who are not interested in adopting but would still like to support foster children can donate money to help pay for the cost of showcasing a child in the gallery. LSG looks forward to more events and hopes to participate in the next gallery, scheduled to take place in Bulloch County.

Click here for more information about adopting through LSG or click here to learn more about the Heart Gallery of Georgia.

Alie Advocates for Child Welfare in D.C.!

Alie Redd at the Capitol On May 6-8, LSG’s Vice President of Programs Alie Redd, LCSW, participated in the Child Welfare League of America’s 2014 National Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C. Below, Alie shares her experience advocating for the nation’s vulnerable children.

I was invited by Together Georgia to participate in the Child Welfare League of America’s 2014 National Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC, on May 6 through 8. The summit addressed child welfare issues and helped organizations and individuals understand how to advocate on the Hill for child welfare reform. I, along with two colleagues fromCHRIS Kids, visited Congressmen John Lewis, Thomas Price, M.D., John Barrow, and Johnny Isakson’s offices and met with their staff to advocate for children in Georgia specifically about privatization of child welfare, mental health, and adoption. The summit taught attendees how to prepare specific talking points to address Congress and how to approach these influential people and decision makers with confidence.  This was particularly powerful because most people think Congressmen are unreachable or unapproachable. However, I found congressional staff to be welcoming and open to input and suggestions from their constituents.

At the summit, I learned how to advocate on a national level for vulnerable people who do not have a voice and for those who may no have the means to advocate for themselves or their loved ones. At first I was really nervous because I wasn’t sure what to say, but the summit taught me how to organize my thoughts. Then, all the voices of the children I have served throughout the years began to tell their stories through my voice. I was so proud to represent the vulnerable children of Georgia. Once I returned to Georgia, I shared with others how easy it is to make sure voices are heard in Congress. I also participated in a Lunch and Learn workshop to teach others at LSG how to ensure their voices are heard and how to advocate for those in need.

For more information about the Child Welfare League of America, click here.

The Millers' Adoption Journey

Sarah and Steven Miller both grew up in families that had chosen to adopt and believed in the special love that comes with adoption. So it was no surprise when, in November 2007, the Millers decided to adopt through LSG’s Cooperative Domestic Infant Adoption Program.

A birth mother quickly selected them as prospective adoptive parents. At first, Sarah and Steven were nervous about the openness and information sharing between birth and adoptive parents that comes with this form of adoption. After meeting the birth mother, however, they felt much more comfortable. They kept in touch with the birth mother until finally, in October 2008, Natalie was born. Three days later, the Millers brought Natalie home and began their life together.

In 2012, the Millers decided to adopt a second child through LSG. Again, they were connected with a birth mother, but the placement was unsuccessful. Georgia law gives a mother a 10-day revocation period in which she is able to change her mind about an adoption plan for her child. On the eighth day, the birth mother decided to parent her child, leaving Sarah and Steven deeply disappointed.

Yet Sarah and Steven’s adoption journey didn’t end there. They wanted badly to adopt a second child and, encouraged by their friends and LSG staff, decided to try again. In July of 2013, another birth mother chose them. Two weeks before the due date, Sarah and Steven received a surprise phone call from their caseworker saying that the baby had been born. They rushed to the hospital to meet Jonathan, their new baby boy, and brought him home four days later.

The Millers are grateful for their experiences with adoption and for their two beautiful children. “Both of our adoptions have been wonderful experiences,” said Sarah. “Adoption can be stressful, hard, and emotional, but it was all worth it when we held Natalie and Jonathan. We are so thankful for the birth families who chose us to be parents for their babies and for the openness we have with both birth families.”

Today, Natalie is an outgoing 5-year-old who enjoys reading, playing with her brother, and cheerleading. Jonathan just turned 17 months and is a sweet, friendly boy who loves to wave at passersby, play with blocks, and follow his sister around. Steven and Sarah stay in touch with Jonathan and Natalie’s birth families, sending photos and arranging occasional visits. The Miller family loves spending time together, and can’t wait to see where life’s journey will take them next.


Prevent Child Abuse Georgia Relaunches Statewide 1-800-CHILDREN Helpline

Prevent Child Abuse Georgia recently announced the return of 1-800-CHILDREN, its free referral line for Georgians concerned about the healthy development of children and the prevention of child abuse. The 1-800-CHILDREN Helpline is professionally staffed by operators from Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia and will operate Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Unlike the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) statewide centralized intake number, the Helpline is not a number to call in crisis or when making a report of child abuse or neglect (Click here to learn how to report child abuse or neglect). Rather, operators will be available to provide information regarding parenting support, community resources, counseling services, referrals for legal needs, concern about the well-being of a child or family member, family violence, and other child maltreatment prevention issues.

PCA Georgia is a state chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America. The organization provides statewide direction to prevent child abuse and neglect, promote healthy children, and develop strong families through its prevention network, public awareness, prevention programs, and advocacy.

Click here to find out more about 1-800-CHILDREN and PCA Georgia.

Celebrate National Adoption Month with LSG!

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! Celebrate with LSG this November by attending any of our exciting events located throughout Georgia!

November 14 (Savannah): LSG staff will join other public and private agencies who assist with finding permanent homes for children in foster care at the One Church One Child luncheon. Each year, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance/Wives & Widows Association sponsors this luncheon to thank staff who work with children. Several city officials and pastors in the community will also attend.

November 15 (Atlanta): Join LSG, other private agencies, and the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) for an informational event about adoption. This event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Richard B. Russell Federal Building (75 Spring St. SW). This event is free and open to the public.

November 17 (Savannah): The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance/Wives & Widows Association will sponsor the annual "One Church One Child" worship service. The service will be held at the New Salem Community Fellowship Church, 115 W. 40th Street, Savannah, GA, 31401. All are welcome to attend.

November 23 (Rome):  Come join LSG's Rome site for a family-friendly celebration of adoption at Westminster Presbyterian Church (1941 Shorter Ave SW). LSG will provide games, food, and prizes. There will also be an magician on site. This event is open to the public.

Thanks for celebrating National Adoption Month with LSG!

LSG Celebrates National Adoption Month!

Did you know that November is National Adoption Month? National Adoption Month has been celebrated since 1995 and is intended to build awareness of adoption throughout the United States. Each November, organizations like Lutheran Services of Georgia host events to spread the word about adoption, tell positive stories, challenge myths, and lift up children in foster care who are waiting for loving, permanent families.

As part of National Adoption Month, LSG is celebrating its partnership with the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program through the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. According to the DTFA, 100,000 children in foster care are currently available for adoption in the U.S. In 2012, almost 30,000 children turned 18, were emancipated, and left foster care with no family to call their own. Too often we make excuses for these statistics—this child is too old; that child is better off not moving again; our budget has been slashed and we simply cannot do any more. But DTFA and LSG believe that, when it comes to a child’s life, there is no time for excuses. DTFA and LSG share the core beliefs that:

  • Every child deserves to live in a safe, loving and permanent family.
  • No child should linger in foster care or leave the system at age 18 or 12 without a permanent family to call his or her own.
  • Every child is adoptable.

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids utilizes a Child-Focused Recruitment Model to seek adoptive homes for children in foster care. The Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters in Atlanta and Savannah utilize this model to assist area Department of Family and Children Services caseworkers in finding permanents homes for children in foster care. Since 2011, LSG has placed 16 of Georgia’s children in foster care into permanent, loving, adoptive families. Now that’s something to celebrate!

Click here to learn more about Wendy's Wonderful Kids.

Adoption Fun Facts

Lutheran Services of Georgia partners with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and, through them, has a Wendy's Wonderful Kids grant to increase the number of children in foster care who become adopted. Their vision: Every child will have a permanent home and a loving family.

Their values:

  • Every child deserves to live in a safe, loving and permanent family.
  • No child should linger in foster care or leave the system at age 18 without a permanent family of his or her own.

Lutheran Services of Georgia works toward finding safe, loving, permanent families for children in foster care so they can have someone to call for advice, someone to share the holidays with, someone who will love them as they are and be their family.

Re-Homing: What is it and How is it related to Adoption?

A Important Message from Lutheran Services of Georgia's Adoption Services

The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) posted a statement on 9/11/13 regarding the recent Reuters report on the "re-homing" of adopted children. "Re-homing," the statement reads, is a "heart-breaking and appalling practice" in which adoptive parents give their children to "unapproved, unlicensed strangers...and must be prevented and prosecuted." This is increasingly done through social media websites and without any oversight of child welfare agencies. The children highlighted in the Reuters report were often given to complete strangers who had no background checks done and often had prior child abuse history.

NACAC notes that "forcing families to struggle without support, trying to raise children they feel unable to parent, is also unacceptable and harmful to children." NACAC calls for improved training of families, increased support for adoptive families from agencies, nothing the need for "adoption-competent, trauma-informed family care. Adoptive families need a continuum of support." NACAC supports the current draft proposal in the US Congress House Ways and Means Committee to "pass legislation that extends far greater federal support for post-adoption services for children and their families." Children "are not commodities that can be traded or discarded."

Lutheran Services of Georgia works to prepare adoptive families for the unique challenges involved in adoption. For more information about adoption, visit reputable adoption websites including or or contact Lutheran Services of Georgia at 404-875-0201.

Malachi's Mirth

Most of us cannot remember the first time we heard our mothers say our name or bring to mind the first time we started crying because we laughed so hard. For Malachi, though, these memories are not so distant. On a momentous day earlier this year, he began to hear the sounds of the world, including the wonderful music of his mother’s voice and his own ringing laughter, which he could hardly contain.

Malachi is a six-year-old boy with Treacher Collins syndrome, born without some of the bones in his face and neck. For the first several years of his life, he lived in a group home for medically fragile children, where he did not have the attention that he needed. Without an ear canal, he could not hear, and no one at his group home worked to get him the surgery that he needed to have hearing aids put in. The nurses had to care for many children, and Malachi’s surgery was not pursued.

Then, in 2012, Amy and Derron saw Malachi for the first time and fell in love. They already had a child with Treacher Collins syndrome and knew that they could offer the love and stability that would allow Malachi to thrive. Having already adopted three other children through LSG, Amy and Derron worked with LSG’s case managers to finalize the adoption of Malachi. Earlier this year, they welcomed him into their family.

With parents now to advocate for his care, Malachi underwent surgery to have a hearing aid put into his ear. The effect of this surgery was remarkable. Five weeks after the surgery, Malachi returned to the doctor to have the hearing aids turned on. When the doctor pressed the right button, Malachi suddenly began to giggle. He could not stop giggling. New sounds flooded his ears for the first time, and he could not do anything but giggle. And then his parents laughed until their stomachs hurt and tears of joy flowed from their eyes. “It was literally a miraculous moment,” Amy recalls. “The overwhelming joy that came from that child was unbelievable. Other than the moment that a child calls you mom or dad, this was the most important moment for Derron and me as parents.”

With his new hearing aids, Malachi is now thriving. Although in kindergarten, he reads at a first grade level and has begun to write and speak. He loves to run around outside, color in his coloring books, and play with his trains. He also relishes his role on the special needs tumbling and cheerleading team, The Renegades. He is the “flyer,” the child who is on top of the pyramid and in the middle of the stunts. Before the surgery, he could feel the beat of the music, but now he can hear the music. The music, the noises, the sounds: everything is clearer to Malachi now that he can hear. But perhaps nothing is as clear as the love of his parents, a love that surrounds him every day and shows him that he is accepted as he is.

Christmas Party for Adoption Services

“Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas!” Santa calls out as he enters the room full of children and youth. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Steve Oliver, an LSG employee, Santa walks around and greets the children, who either eye him suspiciously or run up to him and shout, “Santa, Santa!” Mrs. Claus also makes an appearance, talking with the kids and answering their questions about the North Pole. Santa then takes a seat and the children form a line next to him. The first kid hops up onto his lap and nestles into position, and Santa asks his big question, the one that kids never tire of hearing: “What do you want for Christmas?”

This is how the Christmas party for LSG’s Adoption Services began. Families from across Atlanta gathered at LSG to celebrate the holidays and their involvement with the agency. Parents who had adopted infants just after they were born through LSG’s Domestic Infant Adoption Program and those who had adopted children from foster care through LSG’s Heritage Adoption Program all came together for the celebration. Two adoptive parents traveled all the way from Savannah for the party, wanting to thank everyone at LSG for helping them adopt their daughter, now a three-year-old. For Electra Evans, LSG’s Domestic Infant Adoption Coordinator, the best part of the afternoon was “seeing the babies that I placed who are now three- and four-years old.”

All of the families were familiar with LSG and the Adoption Services staff, but they did not know each other. “It was really neat how they connected over adoption,” said Noreen Horrigon, LSG’s State Adoption Program Manager, referring to the adoptive parents. Couples made these connections all afternoon, trading stories about adoption while watching their children race around the room or create necklaces and bracelets at the arts and crafts table in the corner. LSG thanks all the parents and children who celebrated with us, and we look forward to the party next year, when the Adoption “family” will have grown even larger!

DFCS Statewide Adoption Matching Meeting 2012!

If you are interested in adopting an older child or a sibling group, please plan to attend the "Better Together” Statewide Adoption Matching Meeting. Case managers from across the state will be representing children who are waiting to be adopted through displays and video presentations. During the “Better Together” Statewide Adoption Matching Meeting you can receive more information about a particular child or children through direct contact with their case manager or representative. An informational meeting will also be held for those families who are just beginning the adoption process. Click here to view the flyer

FAMILY NIGHT Tuesday, August 14, 2012 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Macon Centreplex The Edgar H. Wilson Convention Centre 200 Coliseum Drive, Macon, GA, 31217

For more information please contact your agency’s resource development case manager or Lisa Lumpe, DHS DFCS contractor, at or toll-free at (855) 289-0349.

This event is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Human Services and its partners All God’s Children, Bethany Christian Services, Families First, Georgia Mentor, It’s My Turn Now Georgia and Lutheran Services of Georgia. To learn more about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, please call (877) 210-KIDS.

ADOPTION: Positive Adoption Language Strengthens Family Relationships

The words we use convey a great deal about what we think and value. When we use positive adoption language, we are saying that adoption, like birth, is a way to build a family. Choosing positive adoption language helps to dispel the myths and misconceptions about adoption. Adoption may be a second choice, but it is never second best.

Positive Language Negative Language Explanation
Birth Parent Real or natural parent The use of negative terms implies that the adoption is not a reality or is unnatural. The term birthparent(s) describes the life-giving role these persons play in the child’s life.
My or our child My or our adopted child Adoption is a process, not an adjective. When the process is completed, the adopted person becomes just another child in the family. The term “my adopted child” implies a qualified relationship.
Make an adoption plan Put up for adoption, give up, give away, surrender for adoption, relinquish These are emotionally charged term, which do not reflect the fact that the birth parent(s) made a loving adoption plan that was well though out, challenging and in the child’s best interest.
We wanted and chose to be parents, and your birthparent(s) chose us We chose you A child may rationalize that if they were special enough to be chosen, then they must continue to be special in order to receive ongoing love and acceptance.
Decision to parent a child Keep a child The word implies that the child is an object and something which may be kept or not kept. The phrase “decision to parent the child” better reflects that parenting role and the decision making process in a respectful way to the child.
Child born to unmarried parents Illegitimate child The word “illegitimate” implied a negative situation for which the child is responsible and which also give a demeaning image to the child. The words “unmarried parents” indicated that there may be many situations which may leave parents unmarried (rape, death, divorce, too young to marry, etc).
Adoption participants Adoption triad, triangle The terms “triad” or “triangle” imply an opposing or adversarial relationship
Locate, making contact with birth relatives Search, track down parents, reunite, reunion The negative terms imply enforced separation, and convey a sense of desperation with regard to the experience of adoption. The term locate more accurately describes the act of contacting and meeting birth relatives.
Waiting children, children with special needs Special needs children, hard to place children The negative imply that the children are undesirable and less than normal.
Child placed for adoption Child taken away Placing for adoption conveys the positive and respectful way in which this plan is made for the child’s future.


ADOPTION: How Adoptive Parents Can Embrace and Feel Deserving of Their Parenting Role

Last weekend was the celebration of Mother’s Day, a day that for many adoptive mothers overflows with mixed emotions. Often adoptive families do not know how to “fit in” the concept of the birth mother with Mother’s Day. This brings us to a topic that is not discussed openly – the concept that adoptive parents need to build a sense of embracing the essence of their children and the notion that their children are theirs to parent and that they are deserving of the parenting role. Building a sense of entitlement and belonging is not the same as being attached. This sense is related to attachment, yet it differs. One can be firmly attached but not feel entitled or fully embrace the parenting role. One can feel quite entitled to a child who is not attaching well. There are quite a few reasons this becomes a complex discussion. It appears that entitlement is not just a task for adoptive parents who struggle with infertility, but also for adoptive parents who chose to adopt in lieu or in addition to becoming biological parents. Children raised in adoptive homes need to build their own sense of entitlement to their parents and having a family, but this is a two way street. This sense of entitlement also needs to be developed by extended family, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, etc.

The result of creating this sense is a warm network for a family that feels they belong together and deserve one another. When a sense of entitlement is lacking, the feeling that something is missing in the relationships can develop and can be skirted around uncomfortably.

One of the first steps in adoption is being honest with oneself about the motivation to adopt. This often means the adoptive parents must face their feelings about infertility and the loss that accompanies that. For adoptees, this may involve understanding why they are adopted. It is also important to fully embrace that there are unavoidable ways a child who is not related by birth may have differences from the family through “nature versus nurture”. Some adoptive families have chosen to honor the mother  who “gave life” to their child by lighting a candle, saying a prayer, writing a letter to her or some open recognition of her role in their life around Mother’s day. It is also important to recognize the family will have to develop a public “story” of why they have chosen to adopt and why the child has been placed for adoption. One of the gifts we can give our children is our willingness to do the personal work necessary to embrace our own senses of entitlement as parents in adoption and to join our family and friends with us in that process.

In the classic children’s book, the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, the Rabbit asks “What is real?” And the skin horse, the philosopher of the nursery responded by reminding the rabbit that, yes, becoming real does sometimes hurt, and that it usually doesn’t happen easily to people who need to be “carefully kept.” Real, advised the skin horse, usually happens after your fur has been loved off and your eyes have dropped out, but that doesn’t matter. For when you are real, you can only be ugly to those who do not understand.

Building a sense of entitlement to one another is a part of the claiming and bonding process for all of those in adoption-expanded families. It’s about believing, with all of one’s being, that you are  that you are deserving, of these children whose life you share  in memory with the birth parents who gave them that gift. As you feel entitled and fall in love with your child, you know that you belong together as a whole strong family.

ADOPTION: The Importance of Play for Traumatized Children

Often when families decide to adopt an older child, they envision past memories of engaging in play activities they enjoyed as children with their new child. Sometimes children, who have been traumatized in the early years, have not connected with what we perceive as a child’s natural ability to play. Childlike play is creative, imaginative, and very active. Play encourages children to use their imagination and that can help the child’s brain to heal. Adoptive families are surprised when they take their new child to the park or skating or to a sporting event and they may discover the child has no idea what to do or how to initiate play. The stress of traumatic early experiences can cause short term impact to a child’s ability to engage in childlike play. The brain immersed with trauma functions on a survival response to the perceived threat.  This is the opposite of play. The stress is restricting and confining to the child, separating them from their natural ability to play.

The happy news is that children never lose their ability to learn – and to learn to play. It is important to help them recapture a sense of childlike playfulness. The play they may engage in without modeling can seem focused on control, winning, losing, and rules. The parent can teach the child to play and incorporate opportunities for play in daily life. Model  childlike pleasure and fun in engaging in activities yourself. Design environments that create the opportunity for silliness, laughter, and expression of childhood enjoyment. Being outside, running and games without winning or losing contexts are wonderful to provide this experience.

Play can provide healing in its purest form. So, as the weather is warming up, the parks are full of chances to explore and engage with one another. Take the time to GET OUTSIDE AND PLAY with one another. Have fun with your new child and help them learn the games that will help them heal and recapture the silliness and goofiness of being a child.

J. Anne Boyte Program Coordinator Heritage Adoption.