Family Hope Connection

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Stories of Hope

We help those we serve to turn life's challenges into opportunities, to improve their lives, find new hope and build families.


Angela and Derek's Story

When Angela and Derek decided to adopt a second child, they told everyone they knew with the hope that a relative or a friend might be able to connect them with a birth mother. It worked. A few weeks later, Angela's brother told them of an acquaintance in his Florida town who was pregnant but did not want to parent the baby.

Angela and Derek were thrilled, but they had to jump through a number of logistical hoops before their dream would come true. They called on Family Hope Connection to help.

FHC caseworkers worked with Angela and Derek to complete all of the prerequisite paperwork and activities that are mandated for adoptive parents. Angela and Derek attended required training courses provided by FHC, and the caseworkers conducted a home study to ensure that the environment was an appropriate one for a child. They also helped Angela and Derek gather the necessary documentation, such as autobiographical essays. Additionally, when Angela and Derek had any concerns or became nervous that the birth mother might change her mind, the FHC caseworkers supported them and offered them guidance.

After securing approval from the appropriate agencies, Angela and Derek not only were able to bring a second child into their family; the couple also was able to be at the hospital for their daughter's birth. They have established an ongoing relationship with the birth mother as well.

Sharon and Leon’s Story

After waiting for more than a year, Sharon and Leon got word that they finally would be able to adopt a Russian boy. The child would be their first, and the international adoption process is even more complex than that involved in a U.S. adoption. The couple not only needed guidance on the requirements, they also needed a supporting, sympathetic sounding board from time to time. Family Hope Connection provided that.

A couple like Sharon and Leon planning an international adoption can face a number of hurdles.

Like parents adopting a child within the United States, they must submit large amounts of paperwork, complete interviews and a home study, and take parental training classes. Additionally, there are language barriers, multiple governmental bureaucracies and cultural differences that may present roadblocks.

Sharon and Leon, for example, wanted to get as much information on their child's birth families as possible, so they wrote a letter to her. The FHC caseworkers had a JF&CS colleague translate the note into Russian. The caseworkers also offered support when the couple felt as though the adoption placement agencies involved weren't addressing their needs, in addition to their traditional role of gathering background information.

Sharon and Leon successfully adopted their son, Max, two-and-a-half years ago. He is a bright, happy little boy, and the entire family is doing well. Sharon and Leon have written down Max's adoption story, and he often requests it to be read to him at bedtime.

Missy's Story

Missy had always wanted to be a mother, but two previous engagements fell through, and on her 40th birthday, she found herself still single and running out of time. She realized that there are a number of children whose parents are unable to care for them, so she opted for adoption rather than attempting to have a biological child. She did some research online and learned about all of the steps she would need to take in preparation to bring a child into her home.

Missy sought advice from a friend whose sister had adopted, and that friend recommended she contact Family Hope Connection.

Missy worked with Angelica, a Family Hope Connection caseworker, to make sure that all of her paperwork was properly submitted, and Angelica also conducted the mandatory home study for her and provided information on the training course that Missy would need to take. Angelica also offered tips on how Missy might increase her chances of finding a baby, such as reaching out to her network of family and friends to put out the word that she hoped to adopt an infant.

A year after Missy reached out to Family Hope Connection, she brought her son, Joey, home from the hospital after his teenage mother had given birth. Missy found out about Joey through one of Angelica's colleagues at FHC, who was working with his birth mother. Missy and Joey are adjusting well, and Missy keeps in touch with Joey's birth mother so that he'll be able to contact her if he chooses to do so when he gets older.

Paige and David's Story

After three years of trying to conceive and failing, Paige and David decided to pursue adoption as a way to build their family. Their good friends had a beautiful daughter that they had adopted from China through an international adoption agency in Connecticut. Paige and David engaged the same agency for their adoption, but needed a local agency to prepare their adoption home study.

Paige and David were referred to the Family Hope Connection for their adoption home study, and they contracted with FHC for this service.

Paige and David wanted to get started right away so that their home study would be complete when the news of a baby came.

The Family Hope Connection adoption caseworker walked them through the entire process, explaining the many types of documentation (personal, financial, references and many more!) they would need to provide and the purpose of each and every of the many forms they needed to complete. She assessed the home environment, their family background, approach to parenting and myriad other factors.

According to Paige, the home study is exhaustive, but definitely serves to cement your commitment. Plus, she says, "we know the purpose of the home study is to protect the child by ensuring he or she is placed in a loving, healthy and safe environment."

Paige's and David's family now includes a beautiful baby girl. They brought her home from China in January. They can't imagine life without her, and are even thinking of starting the process for a second adoption!

Tammie and Kris’ Story

When Tammie and Kris first became foster parents, they were comfortable with the temporary nature of that role. As time passed and they became close with several of the children placed in their home, they began to consider the possibility of a more permanent arrangement-adopting one of their foster children.

FHC caseworkers assisted them in laying the groundwork for that next step.

FHC conducted a home study, just as it would in any other potential adoptive situation. Caseworkers also gave the couple information on their 20-hour training course required by Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Additionally, the FHC staff reached out to their networks of county case workers and the Statewide Adoption Network in hopes of identifying a foster child who Tammie and Kris might be able to adopt.

Approximately 18 months after they initially expressed their desire to adopt a foster child, Tammie and Kris welcomed six-year-old Nikki into their home. Just six months after that, her adoption was complete, and now the three are a happy, loving family. Tammie and Kris still serve as foster parents from time to time as well.

Genevieve's Story

Genevieve was stunned to learn that she was pregnant and about to give birth when she went to the hospital with severe stomach pains. She had just graduated from college, hadn't yet found a job and was completely unprepared to raise a child.

After the initial shock wore off, she called Family Hope Connection from her hospital bed.

A few hours after receiving the call, FHC caseworkers met Genevieve at the hospital, gave her the opportunity to talk about her decision and informed her on the adoption process. The caseworkers also worked with the hospital's social workers to make arrangements for discharging Genevieve and the baby. Because a birth mother has 72 hours to change her mind, FHC temporarily took custody of the baby until the adoptive family was allowed to take her home.

The adoptive family offered to share information with Genevieve, although she declined to do so. An FHC caseworker checked in with her periodically over the next year to make sure that she was able to handle her emotional response. Genevieve ultimately was able to find a job and move out of her parents' home, and she is doing well. Her baby was adopted by a family that adores her.

Rhonda's Story

Rhonda's marriage had been struggling for nearly a year, so it was not a surprise to her when her husband finally decided to move out. What did throw her for a loop was finding out she was expecting twins. Concerned that her husband would not live up to his responsibility, she knew there was no way she could raise the children alone on her modest salary. When Rhonda was three-and-a-half months pregnant, she reached out to Family Hope Connection for assistance in placing her children for adoption.

FHC caseworkers presented Rhonda with a number of profiles of potential adoptive families and allowed her to select one of them.

She eventually got to meet both parents. Rhonda also received emotional support from her caseworker throughout her pregnancy, and the caseworker offered an unbiased outlet with whom Rhonda felt comfortable discussing her doubts about making an adoption plan as her pregnancy progressed. Ultimately, though, Rhonda did follow through on her decision, and the adoptive family took the twins home from the hospital a week after their birth.

Rhonda was very emotional for a few months after she left the hospital, and she also suffered from post-partum depression, which compounded her problems. Her FHC caseworker kept in touch and referred Rhonda to a therapist. Rhonda eventually recovered and is doing well. She occasionally receives photos and updates from the twins' adoptive family.

Sam's Story

Sam had been in the foster care system for three years, and there was little chance of his returning to his biological family. Eventually, one of his foster families decided to adopt him. While Sam loved this family and was excited to have a permanent home, he still needed help getting ready for this big change.

Lori, a Child Preparation worker from FHC worked with him in a number of areas.

Lori met with Sam for 10 sessions over six months. She encouraged him to do drawings that expressed his feelings about being adopted. Lori and Sam also talked about his biological family and that loss that went hand-in-hand with finding a new family. They also discussed his concerns and questions about the future and explored the relationships in his new family. Lori also helped Sam develop a Life Book, a scrapbook that honored his personal history and included his baby pictures and other documents like report cards, drawings and essays.

Although he and his adoptive family have encountered a few bumps along the way, Sam's transition into his new family has been a relatively smooth one. He continues to confide in Lori when he's having problems, and he also looks through his Life Book at least once a month and updates it whenever possible.

Yvonne's Story

Yvonne adopted her daughter, Tina, five years ago when the girl was nine years old. They've established a good relationship over the years, but Tina started to become more rebellious as she entered adolescence. Tina started stealing small items around the house, and she was sneaking out of the house at night. Yvonne also found a pack of cigarettes in Tina's room. Yvonne worried that this could be the beginning of some bigger problems, so she wanted some outside help in addressing the issue.

Through the Statewide Adoption Network, Yvonne and Tina were eligible for follow-up (post permanency) services until Tina’s 18th birthday.

A Family Hope Connection case worker went to their home and talked with them together and separately in an introductory meeting. The case worker also continued to meet individually with Tina twice a month. In those sessions, the case worker got Tina to open up about her reasons for her bad behavior and helped Tina to see how some unresolved issues about the adoption were contributing to those decisions.

Over time, Tina settled down and dropped her bad habits. She found a new group of friends through her interest in writing, and she also joined her school's track team, which kept her in line as well. Tina became more helpful around the house than she ever had been before, and she confides in Yvonne more than she had in the past. Mom and daughter still had occasional disagreements, but they were generally able to work through them.

Gary and Mary Anne's Story

When Gary and Mary Anne first brought their adopted three-year-old daughter, Leigh, to the United States from her home in a Chinese orphanage, she was a delightful little girl. She enjoyed playing with her eight-year-old sister, who was the couple's biological child, and seemed to be adjusting well. However, several months later, Leigh's personality shifted dramatically. She would blow up at the littlest things, like a missing doll. She became inconsolable anytime she didn't get her way and would pout for hours, and even days, afterward. Gary and Mary Anne hadn't experienced any of this with their eight-year-old, and they didn't know if it was just a phase for Leigh or something more troubling. They wanted an outside observer's insights.

The Family Hope Connection case worker who helped guide Gary and Mary Anne through the adoption process offered to help them navigate these stormy waters, too, reminding them of the many issues a child of international adoption may encounter.

The case worker also scheduled some play therapy sessions with Leigh and referred Mary Anne to a support group to moms who adopted children internationally.

Gary and Mary Anne developed a better perspective on Leigh's experiences and learned how to curtail her tantrums in a constructive way. Leigh continued to attend play therapy sessions for the next few years, and they helped her adjust to her new home as well. Mary Anne enjoyed her support group sessions and learned from the experiences of other women who had been in her shoes. She developed a solid network of mothers in similar situations and continued to rely on those connections throughout Leigh's childhood and teen years.



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