Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Caseworker's View of the Local Colors Festival - Roanoke, VA

Our guest blogger is Rachel Curley, FLS Adoption Caseworker! Rachel has worked in our office for two years and has prior experience providing foster care for children in Thailand.

This past Saturday, I made a drive to Roanoke to attend the Local Colors Festival for the first time. I wasn’t sure what to expect, if I would be bored after an hour or wish I could stay for an hour more. I am happy to tell you that the latter was true! It was truly a wonderful celebration of cultural diversity!

After parking nearby, my friends and I walked toward Elmwood Park and were immediately greeted by a beautiful sight, delicious smells, and a sound I love! We saw people from a myriad of backgrounds, of all colors, and sizes. We breathed in the delicious smells of food from around the world and heard any number of languages being spoken around us. We slowly walked past stands selling Indian curries, fresh gyros, lamb kabobs, Thai noodles, Baklava, and of course the all American hamburgers and hotdogs! It would be impossible to leave this place hungry!

Next we wandered down a row of little booths selling jewelry, t-shirts, and various other trinkets. After buying more food then we could possibly eat, we settled down in front of the large outdoor stage and watched various performances from around the world. Everything from Brazilian martial arts, to zumba dancing with audience participation, to Chinese dragons kept our attention as we sat out on the lawn and enjoyed our feast. A day well spent! Hope to see you there next year!!

To learn more about the Local Colors Festival visit their website and make your calendars for the 2012 festival!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

El Roi - The God Who Sees Me

Have you ever felt alone or feel like no one understands you or your situation? You can be surrounded by a stream of people and feel completely alone 

Personally, I sometimes feel this way and what really lightens my spirit is knowing this truth - God sees me and He knows everything about me.  El Roi in Hebrew means “the God who sees me”.  Find comfort in remembering, when you feel lonely, that God sees everything and knows everything.  

Scripture makes it clear that God never slumbers, never looks one way while we head off in another, and never misses a millisecond of what is happening on earth because he wants to strengthen our hearts as we serve him.  Be encouraged, friends, God sees and He knows whatever you're going through today.

Written by Erica Dogini, FLS Caseworker

Monday, May 16, 2011

Celebrate Diversity at the Local Colors Festival - May 21, 2011

For those of you in Central or Southwest Virginia, you will not want to miss the Local Colors Annual Festival this Saturday, May 21st, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Elmwood Park in Roanoke, Virginia.  This celebration of cultural diversity is free and provides entertainment and a learning opportunity for the whole family.  Representatives from more than 90 countries showcase foods, music, clothing, crafts, games and displays.  There is a Parade of Nations and the festival features Egypt this year!  

Free parking is available in Downtown Roanoke and you will want to bring a blanket or lawn chairs for enjoying the entertainment all afternoon on the main stage.  Don't miss this celebration of the cultural and ethnic diversity in the Roanoke area!  For more information about cultural events throughout the year, visit the Local Colors Facebook Page.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Key Component of Positive Adoption Communication

Adoptive families and birth families, alike, are often searching for the “secret” to building a great relationship with one another. Because there are so many factors that contribute to how a relationship unfolds and develops, there isn’t one formula that produces the outcome that everyone desires. However, even with the unique differences of relationships, there is one common denominator that I have observed to be so important for the positive growth of an adoption relationship. It is simply this – respond.

It is an impossible feat to try to build a relationship with someone if you’re the only one communicating. That is not to say that you must always respond with a lengthy, hand-written letter or that you must respond within 1 week of receiving communication from the other party. But, there is so much to be said for an acknowledgement that you received what was sent and that you were glad to hear from the other person.

You can imagine a birth mother or birth father’s disappointment if he or she sends a lifebook to the adoptive family, graduation pictures, a gift for the child, or a letter telling the family about an exciting opportunity he or she has been given…only to hear nothing on the other end. This simple lack of acknowledgement can breed feelings of doubt, discouragement, and disappointment. In a similar manner, I have heard many birth families and adoptive families talk about plans to open the adoption, all state that this is their desire and they are comfortable doing so, and then no movement toward completing this task is pursued on the part of the adoptive family.

This intentional or unintentional delay often prompts questions of whether the family really meant what they said, if they have some problem or issue with the birth family, or if they will really follow through on their word. Often, these kinds of delays produce issues where there were no issues present. But, time and a lack of response creep in and begin to plant seeds of disillusionment in the birth family.

Adoptive families who are faithful with sending pictures, updates, and letters can easily become discouraged if they don’t ever hear from the birth family. They wonder if the pictures are helpful, if they are sending the “right” pictures, if they are sending too many or not enough, etc. A lot of time and effort goes into adoptive families choosing the best pictures from their collection to send to the birth family and it is important to respond and let them know if you look forward to getting the updates and cherish them.

We all have busy lives and schedules and, I believe that, a short email saying “thank you” or an explanation such as “we received your letter/gift/etc. and I’m not able to sit down and write a long update now, but I will be sure to send you one soon” goes a long way. Even this simple response, eliminates the questions that can be detrimental to the relationship moving forward. I want to encourage you to make this a priority to respond within a reasonable time frame to keep the lines of communication open and grow your relationship in a positive direction.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Adoptive Families - A Lifelong Adoption Resource

Our guest blogger is Rachel Curley, FLS Adoption Caseworker!  Rachel has worked in our office for two years and has prior experience providing foster care for children in Thailand.

I want to take a moment to tell you about my favorite adoption website. That’s right, my favorite! There is a lot of information out there on the internet to weed through. You might ask yourself how do I know this is accurate information or that this is really what adoption looks like.

I would encourage you to check out, Adoptive Families, the online adoption and parenting guide that has provided trusted adoption information and inspiration to families for over 30 years. Their website is comprised of articles and information put together by the experts in the field, adoptive parents, adoptees, birth parents, and adoption professionals such as adoption attorneys, doctors, and social workers. This site offers a wealth of insightful, thought provoking information about adoption.

You will find articles about the home study process, naming your child, communicating with birthparents, talking about adoption, and the list goes on. Whether you are just getting started on the journey of adoption, or you adopted fifteen years ago, you will find something to speak to where you are at on this website.

Join the conversations with Adoptive Families on Facebook, Adoptive Families Circle - their social networking website, and Twitter too!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Adoption Day, Isabella Mia!

We finally have pictures from our placement on April 6, 2011 of Baby Isabella Mia to share!  Adoptive parents, Mike & Bettina, celebrated the adoption of their first child at FLS with Isabella's birthmother.  The birth family connected with the adoptive family because of similar backgrounds and a shared love for spending time with family.  Due to confidentiality, pictures of the birth family will not be shared.

View more pictures at Happy Adoption Day, Isabella Mia!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Happy Adoption Day, Josiah Evan-Ioan!

Placement day for Josiah Evan-Ioan was long anticipated by both his birthmother, Rose, and his new adoptive parents, Daniel & Erin!  Friday, April 29, 2011 was a celebration of a new beginning and also of God's faithfulness to each person in attendance. 

When the birthmother and adoptive family met, it was evident that both were on a journey that had not always been easy, but they had chosen to put their faith in a healing God who was able to direct their steps and already knew their futures.  They believed that their paths had been brought together, and would remain bonded together, by their love for a special little baby boy (who may be spoiled already, I might add)!

We are celebrating God's goodness and want you to share in some of the highlights of this special placement by viewing the Placement Photo Album - Josiah Evan-Ioan.  Enjoy!
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