Friday, September 24, 2010

Another angel in adoption

Today we're excited for you to meet the other Iowa Angels in Adoption nominees, Julie and Charles from Council Bluffs. With six children in their home, you might imagine they would be a little busy, but Julie graciously took the time to answer some questions for us. Thanks Julie!

First, congratulations on your award! What a terrific honor. How did you get involved with foster care?

"My husband Charles and I started our journey in 2006. I'd always been interested in fostering and adoption even before we got married. After a couple of years of marriage, we decided we were ready to open our hearts and home to children and families. We could have never imagined where this road would take us."

Tell us a little bit about your family.

"We have fostered over 25 boys and girls, from a two-day old baby to a 16-year-old. We've been blessed to adopt Noah, 3, Elizabeth, 10, and Josie, 7. We'll be finalizing adoptions of three more children this fall, including a sibling group on National Adoption Day."

As a Congressional Angel in Adoption, you'll be traveling to Washington, D.C. this fall. What do you hope to accomplish?

"We hope to continue to advocate for children in the system and also their birth families in many cases. We'd like to meet with legislators to talk to them about the importance of the time frames for children and families and really put a face to the children, instead of a statistic. We're also an Iowa KidsNet ambassador family, and I teach PS-MAPP classes so we truly feel a need to find wonderful homes for our children, whether they're temporary through foster care or permanent through adoption."

Do you have any words of advice for those considering foster care or adoption from foster care?

"Keep an open mind. Each child is an individual, and don't rule out older children. Every child deserves a place to call home and someone to call their family. Know there will be twists and turns, but the journey is so worth it. Every child needs love, but also keep yourself informed with trainings on behaviors and other issues. Also, reach out for support, whether through your Iowa KidsNet support worker or other foster parents. We may never know the impact we may have on our children, but we will never forget the impact they have had on us!"

Thanks Julie! We wish your family well as you enjoy this honor and new adventure! You can learn more about the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and the Angels in Adoption program here. If you're reading, can you remember an "angel" who made a difference in your life? We'd love to hear about it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

An angel in adoption

Every fall each member of Congress gets to pick one constituent to honor as an "Angel in Adoption," for their extraordinary contributions on behalf of children in need of homes.

Iowa is honoring three terrific individuals this year- Charles and Julie Lamb of Council Bluffs and Teresa Sea of Iowa City.

We'd like to introduce you to Teresa this week. She's been a DHS worker for over 20 years, currently serving as a transition planning specialist to help teens aging out of foster care. Jackie Hammers-Crowell, a foster care alum and a support person for the Cedar Rapids Elevate Chapter, helped nominate Teresa and shares why Teresa is so special to her:

"Teresa first entered my life when I was in college and was chosen as a recipient of the Iowa Foster Child Grant. As part of her DHS duties, Teresa would check in on me and other recipients once per month to verify we were attending our classes and give us info about resources. Teresa always went above and beyond for me - running me for groceries, sending me birthday cards, taking phone calls off the clock when I needed to vent about a class or family issues, etc."

"Knowing Teresa has truly changed my life."

"She has helped many other kids as well. Teresa used to volunteer her weekends altering secondhand prom dresses for teenagers in group care, and she has also been part of the Iowa Youth Dream Teams initiative locally, attending meetings for numerous youth and encouraging them to chase their dreams. To this day, Teresa continues to support foster care youth and alumni by supporting not one, but two Elevate chapters. Teresa is an amazing human being and an asset to DHS, foster children and the community at large."

Powerful proof that it only takes one person to make a difference for youth in foster care.

Congratulations to Teresa and the many other nominees. Thanks for making a difference!