DePaul’s commitment to finding forever homes for children in need continues. Our adoption team is adjusting and adapting to make sure children have families that love them unconditionally and families have the support they need to thrive.

The Adoption Through Collaborative Partnerships grant, or ATCP, covers the pre-adoption part of that effort. The ATCP team is ensuring that families feel supported during this time and that adoptions are still moving forward. Some ATCP workers are having “social distance” contact with families while some have moved to having contact through phone, email, and video chat. The team is also treating this time as an opportunity to shrink the wait list for forever families. Team members are assisting local departments of social services to move forward with adoptions that can be “paperwork only.”

“We have found that everyone is very open to thinking outside the box and things are coming together well,” said Misti Greer, adoption supervisor.

Family recruitment workers are continuing to search for families for the youth they serve, because virus or no virus, these youth still need and deserve a forever family.  The search is just happening in new and different ways.

The Foster Adoptive Family Recruitment, or FAFR, grant is one of the grants that supports our effort to find forever families for children in need. One of the ways we find families is through the Heart Gallery, which features photos and profiles of youth in need of an adoptive family. Previously, Heart Galleries were set up in public venues, like public libraries. Since most public venues are closed right now, Missy Jones, who runs the Heart Gallery, is getting creative and thinking of ways to virtually display the Heart Gallery. Missy is also using this time to start a LifeBook for each youth on her caseload. LifeBooks are creative ways to help children connect their past with their present and better understand their lives and histories.

Another family recruitment worker, Morgan, is getting creative too. She is purchasing a frisbee for each youth she serves, writing a simple message on it to let them know that she’s still here and thinking of them, sticking a stamp on it, and mailing it to them. She’s still visiting with youth who live close (staying outside and not having physical contact). For the youth who live far away, she is reaching them through phone or video. Morgan has been playing card/video games to creatively engage youth and using “Would You Rather” questions as a fun way to learn more about the teens she is supporting. Morgan’s work is supported by a grant from Wendy’s Wonderful Kids.

Post-adoption support services, or PASS, continue as well. Workers have been doing their best to support families virtually. Using Zoom, they’ve created 3 different parent connection groups, meetings for adoptive teens, and family game nights. PASS workers have created a private YouTube channel for families where they are offering recorded story time for kids, craft demonstrations, Lifebook videos, and other fun topics for families. PASS workers have also partnered with NewFound Families of Virginia to host support groups and webinars for adoptive families across the state.

“We want families to know that we are here for them,” said Oma McReynolds, adoption supervisor.

ATCP, FAFR, and PASS grants are funded by the Virginia Department of Social Services.