Thursday, November 17, 2011

Angels in Adoption

We're privileged this week to share a story from one of Iowa's 2011 Angels in Adoption nominees, the McIntyre family!

Angels in Adoption is a terrific program from the Congressional Coalition for Adoption Institute, which allows members of Congress to honor selfless individuals, organizations and families who have made extraordinary contributions for children who needing loving homes.

Past recipients include some pretty good company, such as Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, First Lady Laura Bush, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Kristin Chenoweth, Rhea Perlman, Bruce Willis, Al Roker, Muhammad Ali, Patti LaBelle, Jane Seymour, Henry Winkler and CBS Studios.

Learn more about one of our Iowa nominees and their unique experience celebrating adoption on Capitol Hill!

Making a difference as the McIntyre family

Dee McIntyre first learned about foster care as a nurse in southwest Iowa. She was on her evening shift one night when a six-year-old boy was waiting in the emergency room for his relatives to arrive.

Dee’s heart went out to him, and she immediately wondered if she could take him home to their family for the night until his family arrived. When she was told that she would need to be a licensed foster family to care for him, it sparked her awareness of the ongoing need for foster and adoptive homes in her area.

In 2002, Dee and her husband Ken received their foster care license. Fast forward nine years, and they have now adopted four children from foster care – Aubrey, 11; Dillon, 10; Sam, 9; and Abby, 8.

In October, Dee, Dillon and Sam traveled to Washington, D.C., as one of Iowa’s “Angels in Adoption” nominees, nominated by Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

The family participated in a breakfast and resource fair, a bus tour of the Capitol and other historic sites, an evening gala and many other events. A highlight, Dee said, was meeting former foster youth who were now interning at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

“The entire trip was so uplifting,” Dee said. “I just want to share it with everyone. You hear a lot of difficult stories sometimes, and it was so incredible to see former foster youth who had made it and were having success as young adults.”

They've got our votes! Sam and Dillon pause in front of the White House.
Her young sons, Dillon and Sam, were proud to be in attendance, she said.

“Everywhere we went they were excited to tell people they were in Washington, D.C. for an ‘adoption award,’ whether it was the bus driver or a doorman,” Dee said with a laugh.

Their journey didn’t end there. For November’s National Adoption Month, Dee, Dillon and Sam shared their Angels in Adoption adventures with a foster and adoptive parent support group in Southwest Iowa.

And that’s only one example of how many other families across Iowa are spreading the word this November, all sharing their hearts and voices to make a difference.

Thanks to the McIntyres for sharing their experiences with us, and congratulations to all the families who will be adopting at Iowa's six National Adoption Day events this weekend!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy National Adoption Month!

Happy National Adoption Month!

It's an exciting time to celebrate adoption and also to raise awareness for the more than 107,000 children across the nation who are still waiting to be adopted from foster care into forever families.

We've been hearing a lot of great adoption stories already leading up to November.

Like the couple in their mid-twenties who adopted a pre-teen and will be adopting another child this month.

Or, the mother who became a foster and adoptive parent simply because she heard an ad on her local radio station that kids needed homes.

Like the single mother adopting a 15-year-old girl, giving her a place to call home as she moves into her young adult years.

Or, like the family with five adopted children, who believes there is always more room at the table.

There are literally thousands of stories of people building positive, permanent connections for kids, and we're lucky to hear even a few of them every day.

If you've ever considered becoming a foster or adoptive parent or wondered how you could help, National Adoption Month is a great time to get involved!

Find a local candlelight vigil on our website, or download some of our resources to use in your community. Or, meet children waiting to be adopted right here in Iowa.

Thanks to all those making a difference in the lives of children in foster care!

P.S. Make sure you like us on Facebook, so you can keep up with news about National Adoption Month, including some fun giveaways starting on Monday, November 7!

Friday, October 28, 2011

"Unadoptable is unacceptable"

Happy Friday!

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption recently released the findings of a five-year evaluation on the success of their Wendy's Wonderful Kids program, which helps find homes for children waiting to be adopted from foster care. Check out their powerful video below for some Friday morning inspiration!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bringing waiting children into the light

As we celebrate November's National Adoption Month, the Heart Gallery of Iowa will be traveling around the state to raise awareness for children waiting to be adopted from foster care. 

While the ultimate goal of foster care is to reunify children with their birth families, sometimes children cannot return home and they may need a new permanent home through adoption. The Heart Gallery is one way to help raise awareness of these waiting children.

Ever wondered what the Heart Gallery is or how it started? Jerusha, our Heart Gallery of Iowa coordinator, shares its great story below and ways to learn more! Thanks Jerusha!
The National Heart Gallery in Washington, D.C.
The Heart Gallery gets its start
What do you see when you look into the eyes of a child? Innocence, perhaps? Wonder? Pure joy? 

A poignant photograph of a child can reveal these same qualities and emotions—and may elicit emotion from those who view it. 

It was this very concept that led to the creation of a unique way to help children in foster care find adoptive families: the Heart Gallery.
The very first Heart Gallery was formed by the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department in 2001 as a way to raise awareness about adoption and find homes for older children and sibling groups in foster care. 
Photographer and adoptive mother Cathy Maier Callanan suggested that stirring, professional portraits would be a fresh way to show people the unique personalities of children waiting to be adopted.
This idea was implemented and named by Department recruiter Diane Granito, who obtained donations from businesses and organizations in her community. 
Over 1,200 people attended the grand opening of the first annual “Heart Gallery” exhibit at the prestigious Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico on March 9, 2001. 
This event drew media attention and resulted in the adoption of many of the featured children. Now this exhibit of about 50 current portraits travels throughout New Mexico each year to raise awareness and interest in the children legally available for adoption in that state.
A decade later, there are now Heart Galleries in 45 states, including Iowa. These exhibits create public awareness of the children in each state waiting to be adopted and also hopefully touch families and inspire them to adopt a child. 
The talent and generosity of photographers
These compelling images not only reveal the spirit of the child, but also reflect the compassion, generosity and talent of each of the photographers behind the lens. 
Iowa photographer Mark Oehler, after photographing a child for the Heart Gallery of Iowa, said “It was my privilege. It is a small way for me to give back.”  
These skilled photographers, volunteering their time at no cost to the agencies, capture the individuality of each child and have helped hundreds of children find permanent, loving families.

"I am completely honored to have the opportunity to help a child who is going through a similar situation that I have already [experienced.] I became a photographer to help people and I am so grateful for the opportunity to help." - Alaina Ellington, Iowa photographer. 

The Heart Gallery of Iowa
Here in Iowa, Iowa KidsNet created the Heart Gallery of Iowa to spotlight our own waiting children.

November is National Adoption Month, and the Heart Gallery of Iowa will be displayed across the state throughout the month. You can view portraits of waiting Iowa children at an event near you!

Visit our events page to see where the Heart Gallery of Iowa will be displayed next. 

The National Heart Gallery in Washington, D.C.
In 2005, thanks to the diligent efforts of adoption advocates across the country, a National Heart Gallery was established in Washington, D.C. 

This year, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the formation of the first Heart Gallery, and in honor of National Adoption Month, a National Heart Gallery Exhibit will be displayed on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. 

The National Heart Gallery Exhibit will feature beautiful photos of children across the nation hoping to find their "forever families." Find out more at

Also, click on the Gallery page to view photos and short descriptions of featured children from each of the Heart Galleries across the country, including Allen, a waiting Iowa child!
National organizations have noticed the effectiveness of this unique recruitment tool. The US Children's Bureau named the “Heart Gallery” as a best practice in the field of adoption, and The Smithsonian Photography Initiative included Photography changes the ways families are formed, a great story about Heart Gallery photography written by Diane Granito, in their web feature Click! Photography Changes Everything.
Thanks to one photographer with a creative idea and one worker with a big heart—and hundreds of compassionate parents, advocates, and volunteers after them—the Heart Gallery has helped untold numbers of children in foster care who are waiting for adoptive families step from the shadows into the light.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reflecting on respite care: A mom's first respite adventure

If you've considered becoming a foster parent but were hesitant about stepping into a full-time commitment, providing respite care can be a great way to get started. Respite care involves providing temporary, short-term care for children in foster care to give their foster parents a brief break.

While you still go through the same training and licensing process and while we still encourage you to consider fostering children during longer-term placements in the future, respite care can be a good first step. Here's what one Iowa foster and adoptive mom had to share about her first time providing respite care:

Reflecting on Respite

My husband and I were licensed last year and chose to provide respite care because we wanted to help children and foster families and thought it would be an excellent way to get to know a variety of children along the way. Our first experience was a rewarding and challenging experience, and we can’t wait to do it again.
It all started with a phone call one afternoon from a foster mother caring for a set of seven-year old twins. “Perfect," I thought, since I have a seven-year old daughter who loves play dates. The care would be for five days, and they’d come meet our family the evening before I was to pick them up from daycare to begin their stay with us.
Shy at first, my daughter and the twins sized each other up a bit. I noticed their ease and her excitement grow as I encouraged them to play on the porch swing. 

As they swung, I learned more about them from their foster mom. That is one of the greatest parts of providing respite. You get to hear all about their habits, history and personality, which is not always available immediately upon placement. I was given tips for how to get them to eat, sleep and mind their manners. 

The children switched to playing in my daughter’s dollhouse while I got a run down of their medications, directions to their daycare and reassurance that they would be on their best behavior. For me, being used to one fairly quiet child in my home, that is the golden ticket about providing respite. The children, for the most part, behave superbly because they want you to like them. You offer them a fresh start, void of the labels others in their lives may have put on them and the pressure they have to live up to them. It’s what’s known as the ‘honeymoon phase’, which resembles a courtship where all parties put their best foot forward trying to impress one another. I felt completely confident that everything would be fine and that my daughter would love having some company.
I was right. The kids were sweet, courteous, obedient and not much more work than I was used to. Sure, like all kids their age, there was energy to be expended and I found myself wanting to make sure to spend quality time with each of them, which was a change of pace for me, but it was also joyful to hear giggles at bedtime and get extra morning hugs.
Respite is also beneficial to the foster parents who provide the ongoing care for the children. Raising children isn’t easy and when you add in some of the extra complexities of temporarily raising another person’s child, a child who may have some special needs or behavior issues, it can be draining. Respite allows the foster family a break. 

For blended families, it allows the birth or adopted kids in the home a chance to spend alone time with their parents, who inevitably spend a lot of their time focused on the child they are fostering. It gives them a chance to recharge so they can continue to advocate for, encourage and guide the children who are in foster care. 

An added benefit I noticed is that it gives the kids and their foster families an opportunity to miss one another. I saw that as the twins ran to greet their foster parents and tell them all about their time with my family. The foster parents beamed listening to the excitement in the twins' voices, and I could tell they were happy to be reunited and continue their journey together.
I always recommend that people try respite. It’s a great way to ease into foster parenting and there is always a need for it. If you’re thinking about becoming a foster parent but aren’t sure, go for respite and try it on for size. If you’re a licensed family and have room in your home, let your support worker know you’re willing to provide respite. I’m sure countless children and their foster parents will be grateful you did.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Talking foster care with IPR

Hey everyone!

We wanted to update you on a great radio show that will be taking place next week. Iowa Public Radio's "Talk of Iowa" weekday segment will be talking foster care and adoption on Tuesday, Sept. 6 from 10 - 11 a.m. 

If you're an Iowa foster or adoptive parent or a former alumni of the foster care system, we'd especially encourage you to tune in. "Talk of Iowa" is a live, call-in show, so there will be an opportunity to join the conversation and share about your experiences.

You can find your local IPR station on their website at


Monday, August 1, 2011

Coffee Break with Julie

Today we're excited to spend a few minutes with Julie, one of our post-adoption support specialists. Julie has a wide range of experiences not only as a support specialist, but as a foster and adoptive mother herself! She helps provide support and resources to meet the unique needs of adoptive families.

Hi Julie! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

I live in Radcliffe, north of Ames. My husband and I have four children, three of which were adopted from foster care. Our kids are involved in many activities that keep us busy. We took the first PS-MAPP class in Iowa and were licensed foster parents for six years.


You have lots of experience to share with your adoptive parents. What do you enjoy about supporting families? 

I enjoy connecting families to resources.

What's one resource you wish all adoptive families knew about?

Each family has different needs so that is difficult to answer. I wish all families who adopted from foster care in past years knew about post adoption services.


What's a commonly asked question you receive from families and how do you respond?

When children have their parental rights terminated or are having a termination of parental rights (TPR) hearing soon, many foster families have questions about the adoption process, adoption subsidy and Title 19. I explain the timeline from the TPR hearing to adoption. I also explain the criteria for adoption subsidy, future needs and Title 19, and the documentation needed.

As we approach the start of the school year, do you have any tips for helping parents transition children back into a school routine?

Start getting into a routine a few weeks before school begins. Start using "school" bedtimes and getting up in the morning at the time they will need to get up for school. Have them go through their normal routine that they will have each morning before heading off to school. Make sure kids are getting plenty of sleep. It seems the first couple of weeks of school tire them out!

Do you have a favorite moment from your work or personal experience in the foster care and adoption field?


Adoption Saturdays every November in Webster City! There is a lot of excitement and emotion on that day.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Everyone deserves a graduation party

Every once in awhile you hear a story that totally fills your soul. Here's a story we loved recently about one Iowa church making a difference for youth in foster care.

When this church heard about how many teens age out of foster care each year, often without the support or resources of a caring adult, they decided to do something. In a few weeks, they rallied their entire community - friends, neighbors, businesses, social workers - to pull together an incredible graduation party for area youth in foster care.

“Most people didn’t know that this need existed or even knew about foster care, but once they knew, most had a heartfelt connection,” one church member said. “They had a child or grandchild who was graduating, and they couldn’t imagine their own child not having the support system we take for granted.”

From laptop computers to cookie sheets to personal finance education, each graduate received many gifts that would spur their success in college or in living on their own for the first time. 

You can read the full story here at LSI's website, one of our partner agencies. 

Thanks to First Lutheran Church in Decorah for sharing love and encouragement with these youth! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Francesca's Foster Care Story

Thanks to some inspiring youth at Elevate, Iowa's advocacy organization for youth in foster care, we're privileged to share insights from those who know our foster care system the best - our young people.

Here what Francesa, an alumni of Iowa's foster care system, has to say about her experiences and why parents shouldn't be afraid to foster teenagers.

Were you inspired or surprised by anything she had to share? If you've ever considered fostering teens, check out our list of Top 10 Reasons to Foster Teenagers.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why foster parents matter

Last month at a youth conference in Ames, several youth and community members stopped by our booth to offer their thoughts on why foster parents, and support for youth in foster care, are important. Here's what they had to share!

Friday, May 6, 2011

"Changing my part of the world"

The best way to learn about foster care is to hear from the folks directly involved. Thanks to our awesome spring intern Hanna, we have a series of video interviews to share with you during May's National Foster Care Month, starting today with an area family who fosters teenage girls.

Look for more videos this month that will share thoughts from teens currently or formerly in foster care, thanks to the youth advocacy group Elevate!

Thanks to Deb below for sharing her insights, and to all of Iowa's wonderful foster families.

You make an incredible difference.

Check out our events page for more info on what's happening during May's National Foster Care Month! Here's a couple items coming up. If you're in the area, we'd love to have you there:

Saturday, May 7 - Get Lifted! in Cedar Rapids
Monday, May 9 - Governor proclamation signing at Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines

Have a great weekend!

Monday, April 25, 2011

What would be your reason for doing foster care?

Brandy's "I Did It" reason
National Foster Care Month starts next week! We've got lots of stuff planned, including a May 9 proclamation signing with Iowa's Governor, and we're also looking forward to sharing with you video interviews with Iowa resource families and teens during May. Here's some more events and resources if you're interested.

A few weeks ago we put out a call to Iowa's foster families to share with us their "I Did It" reasons - or in other words, the reason why they chose to step into the important role of resource family. We'll be sharing these again during May in hopes that other Iowans would also consider becoming a foster or adoptive family.

Here's a few of the ones we heard from Iowa families:
  • "We did it because we can!"
  • "Because every person is a child of God."
  • We did it because we couldn't have kids of our own but can't wait to parent!"
  • "I did it because I enjoy kids and hope I can make a difference in someone's life."
  • "Because the need is there, and it's very important to us."
  • "Because we want to share our love."
  • "Because we believe every child deserves to be in a safe, nurturing environment."
  • "I just want to give back to tomorrow's leaders."
If you're a foster parent, why did you choose to become one? Or, why do you feel it's important to support youth in foster care? We'd love to hear.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Coffee break with Becky

Today it's time to meet another support and licensing specialist - Becky from our Western side of the state! Becky graciously shared a few insights about what she loves about working in the child welfare field, as well as some things you might consider if you're interested in making an impact as a resource family.

Photo via Flickr - Phil Monger
Hi Becky! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your role with Iowa families?

I've worked in many areas in the social service field, including waiver homes, after school programs, in-home services, a domestic violence shelter, and my favorite - working with children in foster care and foster parents. I am a foster and adoptive home licensing and support specialist, covering families in about nine counties in Western Iowa.

I aid families in renewing their license, help them find training opportunities, support them through difficult situation with a placement or personal matter and am their sounding board for questions and concerns.

What do you enjoy about this role?

I enjoy seeing children in foster homes succeed in all aspects of their life. I love to see the difference that foster homes give children through consistency and making children feel a part of their immediate family, as well as the connections foster families have with biological families and their willingness to maintain that connection and bond.

The joy on a foster parent's face when they have assisted in successfully reuniting children with their biological families is priceless. I also enjoy hearing foster parents talk about the progress children in their home have made and the positive feeling this gives the foster families who work so hard.

As a support specialist, what's one essential tip or resource you often recommend to families?

One essential tip is to use the resources surrounding you, whether this includes therapy services, in-home services, support groups, other foster families or respite care. I like to point out to foster families that everyone deserves a break and using respite gives themselves as well as the children they care for a break.

Name three qualities that help a foster family be successful.

Patience, consistency and being willing to try new techniques and skills in parenting.

Can you share a favorite story from your years in the field?

I've seen many families grow through adoption, long term foster care or just by being a support to biological families even after reunification. Many parents meet lifelong friends and maintain relationships with past placements throughout their adult life.  

Any words of advice for those considering becoming foster parents?

Foster parenting is very rewarding. There are a lot of support systems available, and it's essential you use all those resources. It's important to understand your own family dynamics and make decisions that your entire family can handle and fit your strengths.

Thanks Becky! Iowa is lucky to have a strong support network for foster and adoptive families. What kind of support is most helpful in your life, whether as a foster/adoptive parent or just in dealing with everyday ups and downs?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Good books for May (or any day!)

As we gear up for May's National Foster Care Month, several of our resource family recruiters are encouraging local libraries to display books about foster care or adoption from foster care during May. (See some good resources for libraries here.)

If you are a bookworm, this would be a great way to get involved in Foster Care Month awareness efforts in your local community! We'd suggest getting in touch with the resource family recruiter near you to see if they're already planning something at your local library. If not, they would probably love your help!

You could also suggest your library do a story time with a foster care related book, highlight movies with foster care related themes or even display books or movies about famous former foster youth.

A new book you could suggest to your local library is Michael Oher's new memoir: I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness to The Blind Side and Beyond. The real life inspiration behind the film The Blind Side, Oher wrote the book partly in response to thousands of letters he received from youth in foster care.

Here's a clip of Oher sharing a little about why he wrote it:

We'd love to hear what books or films you'd suggest on the subject of foster care or adoption? Any favorites? You can see others' thoughts over on our Facebook page.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring forward with post-adoption support

As spring approaches, it’s a great time to pause and take a fresh look at all the resources available to your family. We'd like to remind all subsidized adoptive families to consider taking advantage of free post-adoption support.
Here's the highlights: 

All Iowa families with a DHS-subsidized adoption are eligible for free support through Iowa KidsNet's Navigator program. Your family is eligible for post-adoption support services for children age 18 and under, no matter how long a child has been a part of your family.

If you have adopted through DHS and receive Title 19 insurance as part of the adoption agreement or have a future needs statement as part of the adoption agreement, you are also eligible.

The goal of post-adoption support is to keep both your child and family stable by developing a support plan that meets the unique needs and circumstances of your family. For example, your support specialist can:
  • Visit your family at your home
  • Provide behavior management plans and assistance
  • Respond to crisis calls from your family
  • Assist and support your family’s relationship with a birth family or kin
  • Advocate with schools, DHS and service providers for a child’s treatment or needs
  • Coordinate with licensing workers or providers connected to your family
  • Connect you to community resources
  • Connect you to a local adoption support group 

Post-adoption support
is flexible! Even if you don’t feel as though your family currently needs additional support, you may want to meet your support specialist and learn more. Then, if you ever do need more support, you already have the resources in place. 

Want to know more? Please give us a call at 1.800.243.0756. 

Are you a foster or adoptive family? What kind of support resources have been most helpful to you?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fist Pump Friday

Happy Friday! 

As we close out the week, here's a few things that got us talking this week. They definitely deserve a fist pump!

Community graduation party for teens. Will you be attending a graduation open house this spring for friends or family? What if there was a whole group of students who graduated and never had a party or acknowledgment of their achievement? A  group of folks in Cedar Valley is making sure all foster youth in their area get to celebrate! You're invited to come encourage youth earning their diplomas and G.E.Ds. See more.

Great foster parent stories. To be a successful foster parent, you need patience, flexibility and a willingness to be part of a team (among other things!). I heard a powerful story this week about all three, as a family who initially became licensed intending to adopt later changed their perceptions about how how their family could help others. They've since become involved in foster parenting and helping birth families. In a twist, they may end up adopting after all, as one of their youth may need an adoptive home. It's great to see families discover new strengths.

Waiting child stories. It is always a good moment when we receive a request to remove a child from the Iowa KidsNet photolistings. This means potential adoptive homes or a permanent connection to a supportive, caring adult has been identified. Meet other Iowa children still waiting for this permanent support.

Iowa Aftercare Services Network. In all 99 counties, Iowa youth aging out of foster care can connect with the Iowa Aftercare Services Network to be assigned a self-sufficiency advocate and learn more about available support as they transition to young adulthood. See this week's news story highlighting this important resource!

What in your life deserves a fist pump this week?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Why Social Workers Matter

Let's end this Friday on a positive note! March is National Social Work Month, a time to raise public awareness about social work and to thank those engaged in this important role.

Folks at the National Association of Social Workers asked social workers around the country one very important question - why are social workers important to our nation's future?

You can see what they had to say in the video below. One of my favorite responses: "People like my mommy help make it all better." 

Thanks to Iowa's social workers who make a difference!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hugs Help Kids in Foster Care

Starting Valentine's Day weekend, we'll be piloting a new campaign in western Iowa, called Hugs Help Kids in Foster Care. 

2011 Campaign logo
Inspired by this story here, one of our recruiters came up with the idea to connect with the community on the issue of foster care in a new way. Last year in Woodbury County there were approximately 700 out-of-home placements of youth. In Council Bluffs, in Pottawattamie County, there were nearly 600 out-of-home placements.

The goal of Hugs Help Kids in Foster Care is to raise more community awareness for these counties. We'll be out at seven locations from Feb. 12 - Feb. 26, hoping to gather 700 Sioux City "hugs" and 600 Council Bluffs "hugs" from community members to show their support for Iowa youth in foster care. We'll ask you to sign your name as a symbolic "hug" of support, and you'll get a free chocolate "hug" in return.

Hugs are about connection. Every young person deserves to be connected to a supportive and caring adult in his or her life, and youth thrive when they have this support. Our hope is that more adults will consider how they can offer that support and guidance, perhaps as a foster or adoptive parent or in other ways, to young people in their community.

Here's where we'll be if you want to stop by in February! See you then!

Council Bluffs locations:
  • Feb. 12, 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., Mall of the Bluffs food court, 1751 Madison Ave
  • Feb. 19, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., K-Mart pharmacy, 2803 E. Kanesville Blvd
  • Feb. 26, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Shopko, 3271 Market Place Drive

    Sioux City locations:
    • Feb. 12, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Hy-Vee on 3301 Gordon Drive
      Feb. 17, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Hy-Vee on Singing Hills Blvd
      Feb. 19, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Hy-Vee on 2827 Hamilton Blvd
      Feb. 23, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Wilbur Aalfs Library (Gleeson Room), 529 Pierce St.

    Thanks, and an early Happy Valentine's Day to you!

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Celebrating service

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?"

    Monday is the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and it's also a day when we come together to try and answer that question through service in our neighborhoods, our communities and our cities.

    There are a lot of great ways to give back across the country, and if you have some time to lend a hand, here's a great place to get started.

    I think about that question, and I think about the ways our foster and adoptive parents have answered it. We asked a simple question last year when we launched our "I Did It" campaign. The question we posed to families was "Why did you become a foster parent?" Here's what they wrote back.

    "I did it because I saw a huge need in our community, and I wanted to be part of the solution."

    "I did it because these children are our future and if we can make a difference in even one child's life then maybe we can make the future better." 

    "I did it to help families keep their family together."

    "I did it because I wanted to keep siblings together."

    "I did it because there is always room for one more person at your table."

    "I did it because their birth mother asked for help."

    "I did it to help give a child a good, solid start toward adulthood. So many children don't get that."

    "We did it because it is not their fault that sometimes there are bump in the road."

    "I did it because I am thankful for what our family has."

    The list goes on and on. There are a lot of different reasons, but they all capture the spirit of Dr. King's question—What are you doing for others? 

    Thanks to all of our foster parents, adoptive parents and community partners who work with youth for choosing to answer that question in such a profound and life-changing way.

    Do you have a MLK Day of Service project happening near you? Let us know how it goes!

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    5 New Year's resolutions to consider

    Maybe you've already made some New Year's resolutions this year (or broken a few!). Either way, we have a few simple suggestions to add to your list. :)

    1. Encourage one person this year to consider foster care. Is there a family in your neighborhood or church who you have always thought would make great foster parents? Tell them! Share how great you think they are with kids, and ask them if they've ever considered it. Many people have become foster or adoptive parents simply because someone asked them. And regardless of whether they end up pursuing more information, that kind of compliment is very meaningful.

    2. Take a new kind of training class. If you are a current foster or adoptive parent, consider stepping out of your comfort zone with a new training class this year. For example, maybe you've never fostered teens, but have been thinking about it for awhile. A teen-focused training would be a great way to explore the idea and ask questions.

    3. Thank a social worker. Social workers have a tough and sometimes thankless job. How about brightening someone's day with a simple card thanking them for choosing this field and for the difficult work they do for kids and families?

    4. Write your legislator. Handwritten letters can make a big impact on legislators, who get countless emails and form letters. Tell your legislator that you hope he or she will support initiatives this year that benefit kids and families and provide support for youth in foster care. IFAPA has some great resources posted about legislative issues involving foster care and adoption in Iowa.

    5. Be a friend. If you really want to do something special this year, consider getting involved as a mentor or permanency partner with a teen in foster care or a young adult who has recently aged out of the system. Even simple support, like sharing life advice on getting a car loan or renting an apartment or just being there to listen when someone needs to talk, can make a big difference. Check out some great ideas from Foster Club. You can also connect with Iowa youth in care through Elevate.

    Did you make any New Year's resolutions this year? Let us know how it's going!