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Adoption news from our Family Hope Connection

Deciding to adopt a child is a life-changing experience for all those involved. It creates an incredible opportunity to bring children in need and loving parents together. With the joys of adoption, there are also challenges. One of the first challenges in deciding to adopt is understanding the process, beginning with grasping the many adoption options, steps and laws. Starting simply with information and conversation, our staff at JF&CS’s Family Hope Connection (FHC) is happy to guide you along throughout the entire process.FHC is our licensed adoption and foster care agency, with compassionate, experienced staff dedicated to helping build families. I asked JoAnn White, FHC director, to share some adoption updates with us, including information on international adoption training, Pennsylvania adoption legislation and FHC staff. Keep reading to learn more.
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International adoption training
International Adoption training, required by The Hague Convention since 2008, will begin in February. FHC collaborates with several other local agencies in Pittsburgh’s International Adoption Collaborative Training (IACT)network to offer 10 hours of required training to those pursuing international adoption.Trainings include Medical Issues of International Adoption, Parenting to Promote Attachment, Positive Cultural Connections and Adoption is a Lifelong Process, which JoAnn facilitates. To register, or for more information, please contact FHC at 412.422.8567 or info@fhcadopt.org.Pennsylvania Senate passes open adoption legislation
At FHC we work with adoptive parents on ways to talk to their children about adoption in a developmentally-appropriate way. Conversations create a chance for adoptive parents to help their children accept who they are and gain a sense of identity. Knowledge about birthparents doesn’t diminish the adoptive parents’ roles as Mom and Dad. Instead it helps children make sense of what has happened in their lives and how they came to be an integral part of their permanent family.

For some children, when physical or emotional safety is not comprised, it is possible to maintain some sort of relationship with their birth parents or extended birth families. Last fall the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously approved legislation to recognize voluntary open adoption agreements and streamline procedures for retrieving adoption records. According to the Senate website:

Senate Bill 1360 would allow a perspective adoptive parent to enter into a voluntary agreement with a birth relative of a child to permit continuing contact between the child and the birth relative. If the child is age 12 and older, the child’s consent would be required. The court would only approve the agreement if all parties enter voluntarily, and it is in the best interest of the child.

This legislation further encourages children to clarify life events and accept membership in various family systems. Especially for older children in the foster care system, it lessens their fears that being adopted means losing contact with their birth relatives. For help on talking to your child about adoption, please contact FHC at 412.422.8567 or info@fhcadopt.org. Welcome Erica Lyons! Erica Lyons
Please extend a warm welcome to FHC’s newest staff member, Erica Lyons. Erica joins us as a foster care and adoption caseworker. She helps prepare children for permanency, creating life books, writing child profiles and preparing home studies.
Erica will attend the Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network (SWAN) Winter Statewide Meeting later this month. FHC is a SWAN affiliate and provides many support services at little or no cost to families adopting waiting children through Pennsylvania’s foster care system. To learn more about SWAN services or adopting a waiting child, please contact FHC at 412.422.8567 or info@fhcadopt.org.