Monday, March 26, 2012

Whistle Blowing Technique Update: Moving Forward

by John and Diane
Hi Friends,
I posted a blog about a whistle blowing technique I used with my foster kids to end the cycle of verbal arguments and tantrums on March 19th titled “Blowing the Whistle on Arguing” and I just wanted to update you.

The other day I was dealing with one of my kids who has “anger issues” stemming from RAD, a history of abuse and learning disabilities. I had to redirect him on completing his chores, and he was beginning to argue with me. This was a spontaneous “room check” and I was not really prepared to deal with an outburst. I could see he was ramping up and I reached up to my throat to feel for my whistle, which I had to use with him the day before.

I didn’t have it. I didn’t want to deal with a big blow out with him, and I knew the whistle system worked well with him. I began to walk away from the situation and look for the whistle before he began to argue with me.

I went to where I thought I left the whistle, and it was gone. I asked one of my other kids if he knew where it was, he said no. Meanwhile, the “defiant” child was listening to this, and knew what I was doing.
“Why are you looking for the whistle dad?” he asked.

“ Because I am not going to argue with you, and I can see you are getting upset. I am going to have to redirect you about your room, and I am not going to listen to you yell at me.” I replied.
“I don’t like the whistle.” He said.
“ You don’t? Why?” I asked.
“Whenever I see it, I think I am in trouble, and I stop what I am doing. I feel like I should be quiet and go to my room or watch what I am saying around you.”

Interesting! I thought. My child just told me that the whistle, even without my blowing into it, is doing its job. It is a visual cue that the behavior he is exhibiting is wrong and has negative consequences (the unpleasant noise.) I don’t even have to blow the whistle now, I can just reference it, or touch it or pick it up, and the behavior stops.

Now, his caseworkers and I are going to try to move him from the whistle to a behavioral modification that he can control more. We are going to offer him the option of a cue-word like “Stop” along with a physical action, like a hand clap, to signal a de-acceleration of his anger and tantrum behavior.

So, when he becomes angry I would say, “Stop” and clap my hands once. He would then clap his hands once in response, to acknowledge the statement and to provide a physical release of his growing frustration. Then the argument will be done and the conversation over. If he continues and doesn’t respond with a clap of the hands, I would then blow the whistle.

The handclap, by the way, is also a physical tension release for the parent or caretaker as well, during a confrontation.

We are going to begin this experiment in the next week or so, and if it works, transfer the handclap technique to his teachers at school to help control his outburst in that environment as well.

This technique is really working well for my difficult foster kids, and if you have kids with anger issues I invite you to discuss the technique with your caseworkers and therapists to see if it might work for you as well.

Good luck

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Art Therapy with Trouble Foster Kids: Addressing Defiance, Detachment and Behavioral Issues

Hi Again,
My co-author Diane (an art therapist) came across this art therapy article that deals with an art process using "sculpey" clay. I think you'll find the article interesting, and may be able to use it with your kids, or share it with their caseworkers to try.

Reprinted with permission from the author. Check out her website for more articles that may be useful for foster and adoptive parents with behaviorally/emotionally problematic children.

Sculpey - Art Therapy
by Deborah Hage

Use of Clay in Projective Art

Applying the same guidelines to clay will also yield valuable insight. An added benefit is that most childrenVarious Sculpey figures have not become jaded to the projective art process when clay is involved and thus are more apt to self reveal. The benefits of clay are numerous. It is extremely colorful and appeals strongly to the child’s imagination. Most children are immediately intrigued with the clay and its creative possibilities. Parents also have found there is an “ah ha” quality to watching and interpreting their child work with the clay. Pieces of the child’s personality that have been obscured jump out at them and they tend to have an insight into their child’s view of the world that they did not have before.
The best clay identified so far is Sculpey, a trademarked plastic clay found in arts and crafts supply stores. It is about $3 a block. It comes in over 20 colors, however, it is best to stick to the primary and secondary colors of black, white, blue, purple, green, yellow, red, orange, and brown. These eight colors provide the child with a wide range of choices with which to make expressive objects. Once the object is completed by the child it can be baked to a hard consistency in a regular oven. Until it is baked it is moldable and mixable into shapes and colors of infinite variety.
The process is similar to the process used with drawings. The child and family come into the therapy room and the child is set to one side with instructions on what to do with the clay. While the child works with the clay the therapist talks to the parents, obtaining a history of the child and descriptions of the negative behavioral issues. When the child is done and has sat quietly, waiting to be addressed by the therapist, then the therapist takes the piece in hand and asks the child questions regarding it. The questions depend on what task the child was given.
The basic task that has yielded the most insight is to create an animal that the child would be if the child were an animal. The therapist briefly discusses the different types of creatures – those in a zoo, those found in Africa, those found in homes, those found on farms, those that fly, those that swim and those that are simply made up like Dr. Seuss animals. The child is instructed to make any animal he wishes, either one that he has seen or one that he makes up, as long as it is one the child would be if he were an animal. He can use any and all of the colors. The animal, however, must be able to stand up. This last instruction is to avoid the child making a flat animal profile, rather then a three-dimensional object which has more diagnostic possibilities.

When done the child is asked open ended questions. For example:
Tell me about your animal.
What is the name of your animal?
Where does your animal live?
Are there other animals like this one?
Does the animal have parents? Where are they?
What does the animal eat?
Where is the animal going?

The child is then invited to leave the room and the results can be discussed with the parents. The process the child took to create the animal is part of the discussion as are many of the same elements used to interpret drawings. The goals are to find elements of the clay art that confirm or deny existing diagnostic possibilities and to help those who wish to help the child to a healthier mode of functioning gain insight in to what the current functioning is.
Examples of clay art and interpretation possibilities follow.

Black and White Dog
Black and white sculpey dogMarlon S, age 11, described by parents as being basically a good kid but sassy. The animal is a friendly, tail wagging dog with a large head. The eyes are disproportionate and indicative of hypervigilance and watchfulness. Marlon said, “They light up at night.” The ears are attuned to the environment. Mom confirmed that he was egotistical and watched her constantly in order to catch her in mistakes that he could point out to her with his oversized, prominent tongue. The choice of colors indicates he tends to see the world as black and white. Mom is either right or wrong. In his world there are no grey areas. When he corrects his mother it is with the attitude that she is wrong and he is right. The body of the dog tipped over slightly to the right indicative of a small, yet discernible instability. The tongue was disproportionately large, as wide as the body and dragging to the floor, a clear reference to his parents concerns that he is mouthy and verbally belligerent. His need to have the last word and to back talk his parents is a primary concern.

“El Horse”
"El Horse" sculpey figureChelsea B, age 12, is described by her parents as oppositional and defiant, requiring supervision 24 hours a day to curtail stealing and destructiveness. Prior to her adoption she had a history of multiple moves. As described by Chelsea, her clay piece was an “El Horse” or an elephant horse. “El Horse” is quite crudely made for a 12 year old suggesting an immaturity. It has the head of an elephant and the back end of a horse. There is a rider on the back. The multiple figures indicate a sense of role diffusion, she does not really know who she is. Her choice of multiple colors for the body, legs and rider is indicative of some level of mania, possibly bipolar. There are no ears on either figure, indicating how unavailable Chelsea is to verbal instruction. The eyes are huge and protruding, on the top of the head, more like the multi-directional eyes of a fly then an elephant, indicating an extreme watchfulness and hypervigilance. The legs are solidly planted, suggesting immovability and the appearance of being stuck. The reins connect to the body but are not being held in the hands of the rider, suggesting an inability to take control. “El Horse” and rider “are crossing the desert and are used to traveling”. Numerous other details point to a high level of disturbed thinking and separation from a solid reality base, consistent with a diagnosis of attachment disorder, and thought and mood disorders.

Bee sculpey figureJohn J, age 8, had a great many attention seeking behaviors such as non-stop chatter, high activity level and playing dumb. He made a bee-like insect. It had eyes but no mouth (dumb) and no ears (unavailable to verbal instruction). When asked what the bee did he picked it up and flew it around the room saying, “It goes round and round and up and down, buzzing and buzzing until it is ready to STING.” He jabbed the bee into the therapist as he screamed the last word. His mother confirmed that was what it was like living with him.

White and Black Cat
White and black sculpey catAlbert J, age 10, had numerous negative behaviors and his parents were concerned that they would not be able to let him live at home much longer. Albert was creating his creature while they discussed how difficult it was to parent him. His creature has very wobbly, unsteady legs and it tips off to one side, barely balanced enough to stand, indicating how off balance he is and how skewed his view of the world is. He made a white creature with orange stripes initially. As his parents talked he took the orange stripes off and replaced them with black ones. When asked why he changed colors he said, “I think it is time this tiger changed its stripes.”

Orange and White Giraffe
Orange and white sculpey giraffeAndrew, 5, had recently exhibited unusually angry behaviors, had become uncooperative at home and at school. His creature is very solidly planted, indicating a firm foundation. However, the neck and head are obviously phallic in design. His mother insisted that he had never been in a situation where he could possibly have been molested, nonetheless, she allowed the therapist to explore the possibility with Andrew. After several sessions Andrew revealed when, where and by whom he had been molested.

Black and White Creatures
Black and white sculpey creaturesJade H, age 7 ½, was brought in with her younger brother, Jack. They were in a foster-adopt situation and Jade was doing fairly well. Jack was not adapting well at all. The parents were questioning whether they should try to keep both children, disrupt both children or just keep Jade, as she was doing so well, and disrupt with Jack. Jade’s creatures are black and white exemplifying good and evil. The larger, angelic creature, is larger and dominant over the smaller, devil type creature…..very illustrative of her inner struggle of good over evil. The angel, though predominantly white, has black elements. The devil, while predominantly black, has white elements. Jade’s message about herself was that even the best child has some bad and even the worst child has some good. Nobody is all one or the other.

Purple and Orange Pie
Purple and orange sculpey pieJack H, age 6, was brought in with his older sister Jade. He made several items, one of which was a snake poised to strike. His second item was an orange pie. Inside the pie he made numerous small red berries. He then covered the berries with the crust. When asked about it he said that he did it that way “because the goodness is hidden.”

Several sculpey snakesSnakes are a fairly common theme. They can be examined to see if they are benign, lying flat; or dangerous, poised to strike. The presence of absence of communication features such as ears, eyes and mouth indicate ability to interact with others. Snakes do not have arms, with which to reach out to the world.

Yellow and Black Backed Creature
Yellow and black backed sculpey creatureAndrea, 7, was described by her mother as withdrawn. Her creature is solidly planted, with four firm legs. However, there is little torso, only a flat plane with no substance (backbone). The neck is not strong enough to hold up the head. While the face has eyes, ears and a mouth, they are pointed downward, avoidant of communication and of interactions with the environment.

Purple Winged Creature
Purple winged sculpey creatureRuben R, 11,was referred for uncontrollable anger and aggression. As described by Ruben, his clay piece was called a “Hornflyer”, a purple creature with “horns like a bull, body of a snail, tail like a snake, and wings like a bird”. “It is both a boy and a girl.” “There are no others like him”. “He lives in different places. When he feels mean he lives in a corral to keep him from hurting his house. He puts his head down to charge others with his horns when he is excited or wild. When he feels angry he lives in a snake’s den. When he is in trouble he goes to his secret nest. He goes into his shell when he is lonely. He has pictures of his family in there. He flies whenever he wants to wherever he wants.” Notably the face is featureless, associated with evasiveness and hostility. There are no ears with which to hear, no eyes with which to see and no mouth with which to communicate. It has no legs to move about, associated with helplessness and emotional immovability, and no arms to reach out. The use of the color purple has been associated in projective art with an internalization of affect, anxiety and tension. “Hornflyer” appears to have no sense of who he/she is, no sense of being in relationship to others and no ability to get in relationship with others.

Green Horned Creature
Green horned sculpey creatureJeremy, 9, was referred for oppositionality and defiance. His creature is bull-headed, thick necked with legs so wide and squashed together there is a sense of immovability, of stolid stubbornness. The eyes are bright red slashes, indicative of the flash point rage his mother describes. The tail is long and tipped with yellow (poison? stinger?). It looks malevolent. The horns are wide set, pointed and give the creature the ability to charge at a moment’s notice. There is no mouth or ears, thus no way to give or receive verbal communication.

Multicolored Insect
Multicolored sculpey InsectRick, 42, is the father of an adolescent who refused to participate in the projective art. Rick said that the clay looked like fun so as the therapist talked, he worked with the clay instead of his son. The wide choice of colors is indicative of a manic personality, which he and his wife concurred with. The tail has the appearance of having a stinger on it. He and his wife admitted that sometimes he “zinged” the family with his volatility. The overall appearance, however, is of a very heavily burdened creature, whose load is so huge a support is required under the front of the body to keep it from collapsing. The tiny legs appear to struggle to pull the burdensome body behind it. Rick described his role as the father of an oppositional and defiant adolescent as being sometimes more then he can bear.

Various Mixed Figures

Sculpey cats More sculpey figures
Sculpey figures

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tantrums and Trust Disorders: Doorways to Better Relationships

by John and Diane 
So, your new foster child is throwing a fit. He is tossing his room. You have removed all the sharp objects and safety threats, and he rips posters off the walls, strips his bed, empties his dresser drawers and closet and pees on the floor. He yells and screams and calls you names.

You stand by and wait for the storm to pass.

Eventually he runs out of steam. Still angry-faced, he sits on his bare mattress and you enter the room with paper toweling. Kneeling on the floor, wiping up the urine and piling up the soil clothes you begin to ask questions calmly and quietly.

“Why did you get so mad at your brother?”
“Because he wanted the toy and he always gets everything he wants.”
“He does?”
“Yes! When we lived at home Mom always gave him everything and I got nothing and I had to work while he played…”
“I had to take care of him and then when he got in trouble I am the one that got hit for it…”

The conversation continues as the child watches you clean up his mess, not judging him, listening to his story, learning his history and accepting him for who he is.

You are in what I call “Jesus Mode.”

You walk into the darkness with your detached, abused or child with Trust disorders. You accept him and do not judge him, you sacrifice and serve him and you learn his stories and history over time so that eventually you can take the power and the hurt away and release him.

This doesn’t happen overnight mind you, you have to use tantrums as opportunities to allow a child to tell you his story. You will find that as you get to know the child, more details will emerge and the stories will build. Important details will come out that will need to be discussed and explored with caseworkers and therapists.

As you listen and ride the storm out with the child, and as he sees you accepting his behavior and “serving” him by cleaning up his mess, he begins to take pity on you, and sees your sacrifice and your love for him.

You two grow together and you are soon able to recite his stories back to him. By doing so you take the power away from the past. The child will see that you have heard him and you can add relevant facts to the stories, such as if abusers were punished by the law.

That is what tantrums are really all about. They are built up frustrations, a way of saying “no one hears me, I don’t trust anyone, and no one is helping me.” When you use the tantrums to uncover the hidden wounds that feed them, you begin the process of healing, and diffuse the anger.

image: Flickr: License Some rights reserved by eyeliam

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Becoming a Foster Parent of Troubled Kids: A Leap of Faith

by John

Everyone comes to be a foster parent in his or her own way. Some come to it on the journey to becoming a parent through adoption or to grow their existing family, others as a way to make a difference in a system that raised them. Those are just two of a thousand unique reasons a person might choose foster parenting, and every parent I have met has had an interesting and inspiring story.

Sometimes couples or individuals are supremely ready for the challenges that some foster kids might present, others may request to provide emergency, short term or foster parenting for children with very minimal behavioral, emotional and physical challenges. Whatever type of fostering a person wants to do, they (hopefully) begin the process from a place of love and the desire to help.

I started foster care resistant to working with kids with histories of sexual abuse and learning disabilities because I was uncomfortable with those issues. I was comfortable dealing with kids who had anger issues, or got in trouble with the law, because I had dealt with kids like that in my other job, helping them fulfill community service hours. I was successful dealing with kids like this, and could get them to turn around their bad behavior. I took level 0-1 or 2 if I could.

Until I had this dream.

I dreamt I was walking with Jesus and we were talking about the children I was taking care of. He said, “ John, take care of my kids,” and I said, “Okay,” because I was already doing foster care and had some kids with me, so it was an easy answer for me to make. I felt like I was already doing His work.

But then Jesus said, “You must take care of All my kids…”
I replied, “But Jesus, I can’t take care of all of them, I don’t know how.”

I had told my wife when we began doing foster care that we wouldn’t take on any kids with major learning problems, as I was an ADHD kid and had difficulty learning myself and I was afraid of the children finding out.

I was also afraid to take on kids with sexual abuse issues; I did not want any part of that! Too scary! I just wanted to work with kids that were “bad” and help them learn right from wrong, or work with kids that were being neglected, that I could help by just loving them and provide them with a stable home.

I just wanted a level 0-1, so, now, I am thinking, He has me! I try to plead with Him. “I cant! I don’t know how! It’s impossible for me!”
Then Jesus said, “ Love MY kids John.”
I said, “ I do, I do.”
Jesus replied, “ No you don’t John, you are caring for them, not loving them.”
I said, “What do you mean?”
He said, “ Love them with your whole body and soul.”

Again, I asked Jesus, “What do you mean?” Tears ran down my face with shame in my heart because I knew He knew my weaknesses.
He said one more time, “ Love my children,” and then he walked up to me and his spirit entered my body.

I fell to my knees and my face hit the ground. I cried as I felt Him inside me, holding me and taking away my fears. He told me “lead them with your heart and your mind and be in them as I am in you. Be to them as I am to you…”
He took all my shame away, all my fears were gone and I woke up crying and said, “Yes, God, Yes, I will. I will do my best…”

I have tried each day since. I understand now that helping my foster kids means more than providing shelter, it means learning who they are, where they have been, even if their history is hard for me to hear, or understand. Learning who they are is vital in helping them later on…. Something I will talk about more in future posts.

It has not been easy. I have dealt with kids who have been hurt very badly, been tied up and discarded, been sexually abused, abused others, are mentally challenged, detached, have threatened me, destroyed things I have loved and so much more.

If you are reading this you probably understand. I have also learned so much, and spend a lot of my time laughing, and being loved. I am truly blessed, and I would have none of it if it weren’t for my faith and relationship with God.

It works for me. I work for God. Maybe your faith is different, and I can appreciate that. I only hope that your faith gives you the strength and support I get from my faith. I also hope that my experiences and successes can help you with your difficult children.

image from:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Take Time Out for You...

by John and Diane

Hi Friends,
I am working on a "real" blog article right now, but meanwhile, I just wanted to share a photo I took this morning.

I managed to capture this shot out my back door (lucky me, I know) while my foster kids were getting up and eating breakfast. It just took a second, and gave me a chance to do three things I enjoy and that refresh and renew me. Enjoy nature, take pictures, and thank God for his blessings on a beautiful early spring morning.

As I was looking at the pics this afternoon I thought about how easy it is to get burned out... and I do feel that way often with my "tough" kids, and how important it is to take even a moment for yourself to relax and enjoy the quiet.

The world of chaos and stress is still there, but after a moment, sometimes a stolen millisecond, you will be a better parent and maybe just a little more able to face the day filled with tantrums, lies, arguments,dirty socks, missing homework, hidden dishes, missing tools etc, etc etc.

So, try to do whatever it is that you love, even if it is just for a minute or two each day, talk to a friend, look through a magazine, tend to your garden, meditate, fill up the bird feeders, pray,brush the dog, read this blog :) ... whatever... care for yourself so that you can care for your special family. You are special too.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Food Hoarding and Foster Kids

Hoarding behavior of all types is common amongst kids who come into foster care. Usually a reaction to years of neglect and abuse and a reflection of their attempt at meeting their own needs for security, many foster parents are frustrated when the behavior continues in spite of the fact that the child's needs are met.

I will share my own struggles with my foster kids and this issue as time goes on, but for now I wanted to share a link to this interesting article titled: "Child Neglect and Hoarding Food." from (link to this site in my Links list.) If you have any helpful techniques to deal with hoarding behavior, please share!

image: flickr: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by subewl

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Follow Up on Pet Therapy with Kids

by John and Diane

I just wanted to provide a few more resources for those of you who might want to pursue more formal training for your pets (and the handlers) for pet-therapy in your foster home. Although, as I said, I think just having pets in your home is therapeutic for foster kids with numerous developmental and emotional problems, there are some things to be considered and monitored depending on the behavior of the kids, and the temperment of the pets in the home.

Pet therapy training can help remind you of some of the things you want to consider and can help your pets get used to being handled, sometimes clumsily, by strangers and new children. Many ASPCA locations train volunteers to come into homes to do pet therapy, and may be able to provide a volunteer to come to your foster home to visit your kids once or twice a week, if you are unsure of having a full time pet.

The "elephant in the room" in this discussion, is, of course, animal abuse, so children need to be monitored while interacting with pets and the pet's health and well being should be protected from new children who's behavior may be unpredictable. Children with attachment disorders will have impulsive behavior and can be unpredictable throughout their stay with you, so you should consult the child's therapists and doctors and use your own best instincts on whether or not to have a full time pet in the house. Pet visits can still be effective with these types of children in monitored conditions and help build responsibility, empathy and social skills.

Check out these websites and resources for more information on pet therapy training.

image: flickr: Attribution Some rights reserved by chris friese

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dog Therapy: An article from "ADHD in the News"

Hi Friends,

I am sure this all makes perfect sense to us pet owners (I have multiple dogs, amongst other pets) but animals in foster care seem to be naturally therapeutic to the kids that become part of the family. Although of course the safety of both the pets and the kids must be considered, pet therapy can't be under-estimated with ADHD kids, or any foster-child. Check out this article I read at

Canines Contribute to Health

Ryan Wallace | Feb 28, 2012 |

Assistant clinical professor of pediatrics and UC Irvine alumna Sabrina Schuck has been conducting research with therapy dogs and young children in order to find evidentiary support for the idea and anecdotes that dogs are good for children with ADHD.

Engaged in a $2.2 million study at the UC Irvine Child Development Center, Schuck wants to see if the benefits of pet-assisted therapy can improve the social skills of children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

With a test group of 12, Schuck engages the children in social skills sessions twice a week where the animal-assisted therapy is given as a reward for good behavior. When the children behave well, they are awarded with positive affirmation and half of the group at a time gets to have contact with one of the specially-trained pet therapy dogs.

“We tell them when they’re doing things right constantly [because] these kids need more positive feedback than other students,” said Shuck.

Keeping scientific integrity a primary concern, Shuck wants to scientifically validate that therapy animals (dogs) are beneficial to children suffering from ADHD. Schuck is not only performing the study on the 12 experimental children — she is also using a control group of the same size as well.

The children in the control group also have ADHD, receive the same social skills training and equal attention to positive affirmation as the experimental group. However, there is one key difference between the groups. The control group does not get to have face-time with the therapy dogs. These children instead get the reward of cuddling with a stuffed animal.

Acknowledging that all of the children in the experimental group are different and have their own personalities, Schuck and her research team give the children not only the affirmation of a reward, but also a choice.

“We believe there are dog personalities that attract certain human personalities, and we provide three different types,” Shuck said. “The kids get to choose which dog they want to play with. Some prefer a docile, old retriever like Cinder. You can see them relax while they’re petting her. Others think that’s boring.”

For those who like more engaging dogs, or even just want to play catch, they are given the opportunity to choose other dogs to spend time with.

Children with ADHD typically tend to have shorter attention spans, trouble following directions and are usually forgetful. Without mediation of some sort, this disorder can come to dictate their lives as they become impaired from their symptoms.

“All of these kids have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. They’re an aggressive group. A couple of them are at risk of suspension from their school,” Shuck said when describing the children in the study.

The benefits of the study have already become apparent to Shuck and other witnesses. With none of the children under the influence of medication, either by choice or because they can not tolerate drug-mediated intervention for their ADHD, it is clearly seen that the dogs are the main reason that the children are “calm and engaged,” as Schuck describes.

“They know that the more they participate in the training, the more they can hang out with the dogs,” Shuck said.

It is not yet clear that the children are getting better, but Schuck claims that, “it’s lowering stress on the child and the whole family system.”

Since the study has shown great benefits since Shuck launched the experiment in July of 2010, it is possible that the anecdotal evidence may have some proof behind it.

Putting all of the doubt to rest, UCI alumna Sabrina Schuck and the UC Irvine Child Development Center are showing, through the minds of children, that dogs are beneficial to the health of human beings. Man’s best friend may also be child’s best alternative to drugs when it comes to ADHD.

image: flickr; ttributionhare AlikeSome rights reserved by fashiontru

Monday, March 12, 2012

Myths about Foster Care

- from the AdoptUS Kids website:

Myth: Only married couples with a stay-at-home parent can adopt children from foster care.

Reality: In most instances, a person’s marital status, age, income, or sexual orientation do not automatically disqualify them from eligibility to adopt. You don’t need to own your own home, have children already, be young, wealthy, or a stay-at-home parent.

In 2010, 33 percent of children adopted from foster care were matched with either a single-parent household or unmarried couple. This includes adoptions by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) families. Find out more about who can foster and adopt.

This statistic came from the U.S. Children’s Bureau’s Preliminary 2010 Trends in Foster Care Report (PDF – 233KB).

Why Kids that Hug Everyone Trust No One

I was reminded recently about the contradiction (one of many) that trust disordered kids present. Many kids with detachment disorders and trust issue present themselves as overly affectionate. Like stray puppies almost, they will run up to you and hug you, hug complete strangers, and seek out affection. Those who don’t understand the disorder don’t really understand how this child might be troubled when they seem so loving and charming.

Some people think its sweet, that they are seeking out love and affection, but really, they can do this because they don’t trust people, they don’t really know what love is, but what they Do understand, even at very, very young ages, is manipulation.

Children as young as 4 and 5 can see that giving hugs makes people happy, and that by showing affection, they can then get what they want, like that extra cookie, or allowance. They use the show of affection without guilt because they are not “attached” and therefore, the affection itself means nothing to them.

They are some of the most challenging and frustrating kids to deal with in foster-care because you want so badly to help them, so that they can lead a healthy and normal life. A life with real love in it. Luckily, love can always be given, even if it can’t always be received.

Image: AttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by RunningTractor

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Hi, My name is John and I have been a foster dad for over 10 years. I run a foster group home in Michigan. Although I have had girls and boys of all ages through the years, and with all sorts of abilities and challenges, my focus through the last many years has been on boys with detachment disorders, alcohol syndrome kids, attention deficit disorders and severe behavioral problems stemming from sexual, verbal and other physical abuse. My kids are tough and this is often their last stop and their last hope within the system before being incarcerated or institutionalized permanently. I work with counselors, teachers, judges, doctors, therapists, parole officers and parents. Sometimes I don’t know how exactly I got here, but I feel like this is my calling, and I am doing God’s work, trying to help His kids the best I can.

I know that if you are reading this, you probably feel the same. You may be frustrated, and scared, unsure if you are doing the right thing for your troubled kid. I am right there with you. I am here to help you if I can.

My approaches are sometimes unconventional, and I have been asked many times to share my techniques with parents and social workers here in Michigan. Maybe I am just lucky, but the things I do work with the toughest kids, and with God’s help, I am happy to say that I have been able to bring kid’s out from dark places and back into a world that wants to embrace them.

I am starting this page to share information and experiences and to offer advice if I can. I am starting to work on some eBooks to detail some of my approaches, but I am more than willing to help you if I can, or at least provide a place for us all to help each other.