Trauma-Informed Activities for Summer


family at the lake eating watermelon

Summer time brings a lot of free time, which can feel like freedom from the rigidity of school schedules. It can also be very difficult for parents to fill the open days. Below are some trauma-informed activities to keep your foster or adopted kids busy this summer.


  1. Create a huge, colorful calendar for the summer months and hang in your living room.

Allow your child to create the calendar with you. This not only gives the child a sense of ownership in the planning process, but also creates another afternoon activity for your child to complete. Provide several colors and encourage drawing images next to their events.

A big and visible calendar that your child can access freely allows them to look forward to upcoming events in the summer while also setting expectations that every day might not be the most exciting, activity-filled day.

  1. Let your child brainstorm their “yes” day.

Add at least one “yes” day to your summer calendar. Have you seen the movie “Yes Day”? Set aside time to watch it with your family and let them brainstorm their perfect day! Before the brainstorming day, write out clear expectations and guidelines for their “yes” day. Examples of expectations include – the total of all activities must be under $50, must be within driving distance, must include all family members, etc. After expectations and guidelines are set, let your child have free reign to be creative and draw images of their perfect day.

  1. Research local “foster friendly” summer camps!

Look for local summer camps that encourage foster children to join in on the fun! In Texas, Royal Family Kids Camp of Austin provides foster children aged 7-11 years old a week of fun summer camp with no charge to the family. Ask local foster families or your agency for help researching reliable and safe camps for your kids.

  1. Schedule weekly play dates with friends to give yourself a break!

Do not be afraid to ask for help! Summer can be exhausting and it is important that caregivers take time for themselves as well. Switch off weeks with friends to host kids in your home that allows each parent to get a break every month. Support is essential to staying sane.

  1. Create a routine for days the family is hanging out at home.

There is no pressure to give your child the most active, engaging, and full summer. Brainstorm activities that the family can do at home to keep everyone busy. Set incentives for chores, offer more responsibilities to the child that they would not have time for during the school day, and encourage creativity with the games you have at home.

  1. Limit screen time and encourage outside time every day.

Do not forget to utilize nature as a resource. However, be mindful of the rising summer temperatures. Create a “water drinking” challenge to make sure your child is getting enough water throughout their day when it is extra hot outside

  1. Review water safety with your child every month to remind them of the importance of being safe (even if they know how to swim).

As a parent, it is impossible to keep your child away from dangerous situations at all times. However, we can make sure our kids are aware of the dangers and equip them with the knowledge to have a safe and fun summer. Review DFPS water safety tips monthly. Let your child take turns reviewing the guidelines with the family.

  1. HAVE FUN!

Let the summer be a way for your family to increase connection, safety and stability. Continue to provide your kids with the structure and nurture they need to be their best, healthiest and happiest selves! Stick to a routine, even if every day might be a little different.

Partnership Parenting in Foster Care


partnership handshakes

The reality of foster care is that many professionals and families focus on the children and forget about the parents of these children. The Department of Family and Children Services (2009) describes partnership parenting in foster care as a family-centered approach that merges the dual roles of placement and rehabilitation into one path. It emphasizes the foster parent’s need to care for the child while establishing a co-parenting relationship. Partnership parenting is one of the most frightening and challenging topics for foster parents. Families enter the world of foster care to support children and families in need but are often hesitant to reach out to biological parents. Often this fear comes from handling the unknown, feeling the need to protect the child placed in their home, and not wanting to hurt the biological parents given that they are caring for their child. For parents with a criminal history, this can also present fear for foster parents when partnership parenting.

Although many unknowns exist within foster care, one truth continues to reign: Children need their families. Removing a child from their home is one of the most traumatic experiences a child can endure. It is a day of grief, loss, sorrow, and confusion for most children. Even if their environment were abusive, unsafe, or unfit, the child would return home to be with their parents most of the time. In addition, it is also a day of loss for the parents. The dynamics of a family can change within several days or hours when a child is removed and brought into foster care. The questions remain through all of the hurt, pain, and unknowns. Why is this important to partnership parents, and how do we do it well?

The North American Council on Adoptable Children provides an extensive list detailing the importance of partnership or co-parenting. Some of the benefits include:

  • Relationships between the birth parents and the child can be maintained.
  • Birth parents can be reassured their child is in a safe and loving home by forming this relationship with the foster parents.
  • Foster families can be viewed as a resource, not a threat.
  • Visitation planning can become more simplified.
  • Support and relationship with the foster family can continue once a child returns home (Stevens, 2018)

Partnership parenting is for the benefit of the child, the birth parents, and the foster parents. Below are several suggestions for beginning a partnership parenting relationship with the child’s biological parents in your home.

  • Facilitate phone calls (when allowed by the courts)
  • Keep a journal of the child’s achievements to share with the biological parents.
  • Include birth parents in birthdays and holiday celebrations.
  • Provide the biological parents with school pictures and other work from the child while at school (art projects, good test scores)
  • Keep a photo book of the child for the biological parents to see their growth and achievements. (Stevens, 2018)



Georgia Department of Human Services. (2009). Partnership Parenting Guide: Good for the Community. Better for Families. Best for Children.  Partnership Parenting Guide: 1–8.

Stevens, P. J. (2018, July 11). Co-parenting or shared parenting. The North American Council on Adoptable Children. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from


Who is Who in Foster Care


organization flow chart

With each child or youth placed in a home there comes a team of professionals all dedicated to working together to make sure that each child has their needs met, feelings heard, and long term goals driving their decisions. For many it can get confusing as to what role everyone is playing, and who is responsible for what.  Let’s take a look at these roles and responsibilities in foster care.

  • County Caseworkers: These individuals work directly with the county in which the custody of the child is held and work with all parts of the families. They meet with biological parents to help them with their treatment plans, they conduct searches for extended family members that could function as a kinship placement, and they report everything back to the court to make sure the judge is up to date on all things.
  • Guardian Ad Litem (GAL): This is the legal representation for the children and youth in care. They visit the foster homes, speak with the children, and advocate for their needs. For children old enough to make requests or share their preferences, the GAL can advocate for what they want or help them understand the realities of the case from a legal perspective. While the GAL’s work to represent what is best for the children in court, they also work with the attorneys assigned to the family members to make sure everyone is up to date with legal matters.
  • Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA): This is a role that is not necessarily guaranteed on every case, but a very beneficial one, if it is an option. The CASA can provide a variety of services from functioning as a mentor to youth, helping with transportation, or simply being an extra hand on deck if you need it.
  • Parents Legal Teams: Each parent will have their own lawyers assigned by the courts, and these legal teams are separate from the legal representation of the children to ensure that all needs can be considered and reported to the courts. The parent’s legal teams will always fight for a return home of the children, and will share updates on the parent’s progress in court.
  • Therapists: While in care children and youth will be in a variety of services and will have therapists that can keep the team up to date on progress and concerns. Therapists will often provide updates to be shared in court, and can also be available to help foster parents by offering suggestions and sharing methods that they are working on in therapy that the foster parents can try at home.
  • Foster Care Advocate: While working with Nightlight you will be assigned a Foster Care Advocate who works directly with you and advocates for your needs as the foster family. They can help connect you with resources, offer training suggestions to help with your case specific needs, and partner with you to serve the children in your home to the best of your ability.

All of these roles are important in ensuring that children and youth are in stable and secure homes while they wait for permanency.  Each individual will bring experience, wisdom, and ideas that will serve the children and family.

Ways Your Family Can Help Vulnerable Children


Most will agree that all children deserve to grow up in a loving and protective family. All children deserve to be fed, to receive an education, clean clothing, shoes and to sleep in a warm and safe bed at night, all basic necessities provided by a family. All children deserve the warmth, love, protection and guidance of a parent or parents. Yes, we agree. As a rule however, most people do not know the number of children worldwide who are parentless or forced to grow up in an institutionalized setting not having access to things we all agree every child should have access to.

It is estimated that there are 147 million orphaned children worldwide who have lost one or both parents. Consider this, 81.5 million Americans about 40 percent have considered adoption. If just 1 in 500 of these adults adopted, every waiting child in foster care would have a permanent family.  Seemingly, as with everything else, we become distracted or think someone else will take care of that and we go about our days or we just turn a blind eye and choose to ignore that a child somewhere is suffering. While we look away or get distracted, more children suffer and some die while in institutionalized care. While we look the other way, more children age out of institutionalized care to fend for themselves with little to no education or training and without the support of a family.  There are currently 107,000 children eligible for adoption in the U.S. foster care system and every year, about 28,000 children age out of foster care in the U.S. Many who age out are forced into criminalized behavior, such as prostitution and theft, simply to survive. Aging out of the system without preparation and a safety net affects not only the child, but also society at large. Each child that we lose whether through death or talents lost due to criminalization, we lose another potential gift to the world and society loses as a whole. We have a responsibility to these children to care for them, to nurture them and to ensure they grow into loving, educated functioning adults who can contribute to society.

In international adoptions alone, we have seen a dramatic drop. The number of children adopted to U.S. families from other countries peaked at 22,884 in 2004. In the past 18 years, the numbers have consistently dwindled every year and now are just under 2,000 adoptions annually, and continue to drop. Yet despite the decline in adoptions, the number of children in need and the need for adoptive and foster parents continue to rise. What a sad state of affairs for our children. They say a society is judged by how it treats its elders and children. What does that say for us when we sit by and allow so many children to go parentless and without families?

There are vulnerable children suffering worldwide every day. You hear about them in the news, you see them on TV. While many of these children cannot be adopted, there are many who are eligible for adoption in the U.S. and abroad, who are in desperate need of a family.

Whether you are hoping to adopt a younger child considered to be “healthy”, an older child, a sibling group or a child with special needs, there is a child out there waiting for his or her own family to call their own. A child waiting for the love and protection of a family.

If you feel you are being called to adopt, we encourage you to look at our waiting children eligible for adoption on Adoption Bridge.  Additionally, many of Nightlight’s intercountry programs are accepting new families such as Burkina Faso, Dominican Republic, Colombia and Albania. Many of our country programs have short wait times for families to be matched with a child, especially if you choose a waiting child.  If you wish to pursue adoption from foster care, Nightlight can assist adoptive parents navigate the U.S. foster care system and adoption process.   If you are unsure about adoption and want additional information, schedule a free initial telephone conference at your convenience to explore your options, by filling out Nightlight’s online interest form.

If you feel adoption is not the way that your family wants to care for the orphan, there are other ways you can be involved. By volunteering or making a donation. Nightlight is a non-profit organization. Making a tax-deductible donation provides assistance to families adopting and children in need in the U.S. and countries where we serve.

For more information on all adoption options available to families through, please visit our website or contact us.

Navigating the Holidays with your Foster Child


Most of us tend to think of the holidays as a time of joy and celebration. However, for kids in foster care, this time of year often triggers big emotions. We are smack dab in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. The changes in routine, school programs, gift exchanges, sweets, endless food buffets, and family gatherings can be enough to make even Martha May Whovier come unhinged. Complicated feelings are inevitable, but having a plan in place can go a long way toward heading off major meltdowns.


Communication is key. If your child is old enough, you should definitely talk with them about their family traditions and find out if they would like to share any of their favorites. Encourage them to help with planning and incorporating familiar traditions into your schedule. It is important to consider the possibility that your child might not be used to much in the way of gifts and festivities, so suddenly experiencing the holidays in such stark contrast can cause intense feelings of confusion and loss.  Give your child a heads up about traditions you have followed in the past and be assuring that you would like to include them if they are interested in joining in. But it is important to avoid forcing participation if they are uncomfortable.


Keep it simple. Try to avoid events with lots of people, over-stimulating activities, and events that require you to be on a tight schedule. Instead, plan a few fun activities that offer plenty of flexibility. Some ideas are a popcorn and movie night, fill some to-go cups with hot cocoa and drive around looking at Christmas lights, or decorate some store-bought cookies. The important thing is to keep the activities optional and low-pressure for both you and your child.


Be flexible. Have some ideas and supplies at-the-ready for activities that allow for last-minute modifications. Make sure to offer them on days when everyone is feeling well and in a mind space to get the most out of the experience.


Finally, prepare your heart.  Remember that our own feelings of frustration and disappointment are usually due to unmet expectations that are often times unrealistic to begin with. It can be disheartening when we work hard to make the season magical and fun for our kids and they do not respond in the way we would have hoped. It is so important to remember that we should not take this personally. Showing our frustration or making demands will only compound the problem. Try to remember that their reactions are not a reflection of our efforts or their feelings about us, but rather their feelings about what they have been through.


Navigating this time of year can be extremely difficult with kids from hard places, but with a little understanding and preparation, it can be a truly meaningful time of creating wonderful and lasting new memories.


Thankfulness Practices for the Family


November is a natural time of the year where our minds gravitate toward thankfulness. Cultivating that practice in your children can be fun and built organically into your family structure, not just in this season but throughout the year. Below are some ideas on how to incorporate expressing gratitude in your family with your children:

  • Add it into your routine – Your family naturally has routines and structures where you can easily add in a time of thankfulness. At bedtime, as children are brushing their teeth ask them to think about 2 things they are thankful for and tell you after they are done. You can ask them while you are reading books or tucking them into bed. Consider adding the question in while eating breakfast or in the car on the way home from school. Sharing “highs and lows” of their day can be easily altered to include what they are grateful for.
  • Gratitude activities – There are many crafts or activities that incorporate thankfulness that you can make at home or find available on a website. You can create a “Thankfulness Jar” or a “Blessing Tree” where children write out something they are thankful for and put it in the jar or add it to the limbs of the tree. Consider making a chain link with colorful paper that is added to each day and strung along the wall or mantel. Another idea is use a corkboard or magnet board where you can pin up gratitude cards to display.
  • Family gratitude journal – This can be used as a family or you can have each child write in their own journal. You can teach your child this practice that is ongoing through the year.
  • Thankfulness in prayer – Many models for prayer begin with praise and thankfulness. As you lead your child in prayer, be sure to incorporate thankfulness for what God has done and will do in their lives. Your prayers should include tangible blessings in your life but also acknowledge the goodness of God in their lives and how He provides for them throughout all areas of their lives.
  • Giving to others – Volunteering or giving items to others can show children the blessing and gifts they have in life and how they can bless others. This cultivates thankfulness by recognizing all they have been given and acknowledging the gift that is to them.
  • Thankfulness in hardship – We all go through challenging circumstances that can make it hard to remember the good things we have in our lives. If your child is going through something difficult, allow them to acknowledge those feelings and difficulties and also acknowledge what remains positive in their situation. Don’t brush off the challenges by only focusing on the positive because their feelings are valid and should be recognized. However, you can show them how to remember to balance the positives and negatives they will experience throughout life.

As a parent, you may not be good at keeping a practice of thankfulness. These suggestions above can benefit you as well as your children. Thankfulness is something that needs to be approached with intention if it is not our natural response to any situation.

We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and are able to pause to recognize all the blessings in your life and family!

Anchored in Hope: Adoption from Foster Care


Families are able to adopt children directly from foster care. There will be time of bonding before placement officially happens that allows you to get to know one another and how you all fit together. After placement there is also a period of time (varies by state) before the family can finalize the adoption. This allows for a family to bond, connect, and adjust their daily living to having a child(ren) in their home. Going from no children in the home, to having children, is a very big change that can take time and effort for a family to adjust to their new daily routines and schedules. Even just adding one more child to a family that already has children, will take time to adjust.

Children adopted from foster care tend to be coming from hard places, which can lead to difficult behaviors and emotions. A child may take any amount of time to feel trusting and fully comfortable with their new family and it is necessary that their adoptive parent(s) and sibling(s) in the home be aware of this when a child is placed. Barth et al. (1988) state that disruption is more likely to occur when children of older ages are adopted into a new family; an older child is described to be a child above the age of three years old. Barth et al. (1988) also describe how the number of disruptions have taken a drastic decline since the establishment of agencies and more advocates to be a supportive hand to those children within the system. Examples of these agencies are Nightlight Christian Adoptions, state workers, counselors, and CASA workers. The list goes on. The decision to adopt a child is an important decision that causes change to a family’s overall dynamic. Learn more about Nightlight’s Anchored in Hope Program, that assists families adopting from foster care.

With the establishment of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, the number of families who are now willing to become licensed foster and adoptive parents has drastically risen. This created a monthly per diem that given to foster parents’ to ensure that they are financially capable of providing for the basic needs and wants of another child placed in their home. This assistance can also be very helpful as many of these children need services that are more specialized and therapeutic to address issues from trauma, grief, and loss. It is important to remember that children who were placed in the foster care system were placed there for a reason and they may have triggers that affect them for a lifetime.

To be able to help a child feel safe and have a place to call home is a privilege that more and more people around the US are taking advantage of. Children who are adopted from foster care may have difficult behaviors that take time and a great deal of patience to work through. It is important for adoptive parents to know that working through trauma and traumatic experiences is not an overnight fix for a child. Adoptive parents should not have this expectation as working through trauma can take a lifetime. Providing love and stability to an adoptive child is necessary. However, when this love and care is provided, it does not mean that all previous issues will be fixed immediately. Taking time to listen and support an adopted child is necessary to help them know that they can trust their adoptive parents and work to overcome their traumatic experiences / habits. Being an adoptive parent is one of the most rewarding experiences one has described, but with it, comes a great deal of patience and trauma-informed practices. Nightlight offers a Post Adoption Connection Center that specifically aims at providing additional support and services to families and children after adoption.

There are a variety of behaviors and emotions that a child must work through during the adoption process especially if they are older youth. Children coming from a trauma background may display behaviors such as hoarding food, sleep difficulties, difficulty with self-soothing, attention seeking behaviors, having difficulty concentrating, night terrors, being on alert at all times, and having ADHD like tendencies usually from trauma experiences. These are just to name a few, and no trauma behaviors are the same for all. Just as adults, children deal with their life experiences in ways that best fit them or that make them feel most comfortable. When children are exhibiting difficult behaviors, it is important for a caregiver to:

  • have patience and to form a trusting bond with that child. Utilizing TBRI practices are some of the best ways and procedures for children to feel safe and form a bond with a parent. It may take time to form that bond as children may have difficulty understanding the reason why the adoption was necessary and may want to remain close to their biological family. This is okay and this is normal. Nightlight offers TBRI training to all adoptive families as a part of their training process.
  • never speak ill of a biological parent as this may cause a child to feel as though they cannot confide in their adoptive parent if they have questions about their biological family as they grow older. If you speak negatively about their biological parent, who is a part of that child, then they may question if you are speaking negatively about them.
  • identify a support system during the adoption process and post adoption as well. Ensuring that one has stable friends or family that can be a part of their adopted child’s life, can help the child and their adoptive family feel more comfortable with one another.
  • identify counseling services once the child is placed in your home. This has been known to help greatly with the transition process and also the overall understanding of a child’s new life. Having a counselor allows for the child to have someone that they can speak to of their feelings who is not a new family member. Beginning family therapy to help form attachment between a family and their adoptive child will also be extremely beneficial for the family to learn proper ways of speaking to one another, work on any difficulties that may persist, and also to overall form a stronger family dynamic.
  • find a support group that adoptive parents can become a part of to give you new people with similar experiences you can rely on and trust as you weather the joys and challenges of parenting.

By: Kayla Snow


References: Barth, R.P., Berry, M., Yoshikami, R., Goodfield, R.K, & Carson, M. L. (1988) Predicting Adoption Disruption. Social Work, 33(3), 227-233.

What to do While You Wait


After what may have felt like a long and tedious paperwork process you have made it to matching! Have you ever heard the phrase “hurry up and wait”? Now that you have hurried through paperwork and completed everything on your end it’s time for your Foster Care Advocate to work on your behalf. For some families, placement can happen within days of certification, but for others, the wait time can feel impossibly long.  We encourage you to use the time of waiting to continue to prepare your minds, homes and hearts for the kiddos that will one day call it “home” even if just for a while. Here are some tips or suggestions on how to use the time of waiting to its full potential!

  1. Continue to Educate Yourselves –there are so many incredible training out there that are geared towards helping you parent children from foster care. Learn from the experiences of those that have gone before you by reading their stories, watching their talks, and engaging in training to help you be prepared. This is also a great time to get ahead on your annual training hours so that when there are extra schedules to accommodate after placement you don’t fall behind. One specific training that would be great to participate in is TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Interventions). Taking an in-person TBRI class will provide you will so many practical tools that when you find yourself needing to use those techniques later on you are ready to jump into action. If you want more specific training ideas reach out to your Foster Care Advocate to see what they suggest!
  2. Prepare other Kids in the Home – adding children to your home is a big change for everyone. If you have littles in the home they may have a hard time understanding why someone new is sleeping down the hall, calling you mom and dad, and bringing new dynamics to your home. Taking the time to help your children understand why you are welcoming new children into the home, and what their role is as a foster sibling can help empower them and help them feel safe and secure when the big changes come. Build intentional time into your schedules with your children so that it can continue after placement and give them a consistent time to connect with you and talk as they process change.
  3. Get connected to a Therapist – We encourage our families to seek out therapeutic services for themselves as the Fostering process is a lot to process! Also, it helps normalize therapy for the children and youth in your home that will need to their own therapist. Getting connected and building a relationship with a therapist before placement will allow them to get to know you and then better serve you when there are times of difficulty in the placement.  This doesn’t have to be super frequent, but having this relationship established is super beneficial!
  4. Join a Support Group – it truly does take a village! Find a group of people to walk through this journey with. If you need help locating a support group in your area ask your Foster Care Advocate for help. Lots of times there are churches that host, and if not there may be specific ones offered by Foster Care groups in your area.
  5. Stay in Communication with your Advocate – not only will Nightlight need to know about any changes in your home or circumstances, but we also desire to serve you even in the waiting. Maintaining communication will help us share updates with you as well regarding the kinds of placements are needed and also what you can do to serve the children and youth in care.

The time of waiting before placement can feel discouraging, but it can be such a sweet time of preparation for everyone in your home and in your support system.  If you are in that time of waiting and wanting support reach out to your Foster Care Advocate to see what you could do to take advantage of this time.

Tips and Tricks to Use While Handling Big Emotions


Children from hard places often lack the skills and coping mechanisms. These skills are typically taught to children from a young age to help them calm down in times on emotional difficulty, but due to living in a constant fight or flight state, this lesson is missed. Therefore, when children in care experience big emotions it can often in turn look like tantrums, outbursts, whining, defiance, and/or fighting. During times of our children’s emotional dysregulation, it may often feel trying for us as caregivers. The good news is that there are ways for caregivers to help co-regulate and teach children in their home to calm down. This blog post will list a few tips and tricks to use while caregivers are handling their children’s big emotions.

Labeling and Rethinking Emotions – Caregivers can begin aiding children by first helping them understand their emotions. From the time that we are young, humans have five basic emotions: joy, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust, and as we develop, we begin to realize how complex those emotions really are. For example, how combining feelings such as anger and disgust would result in the feeling of contempt. As another example, how mixed feelings of a lot of sadness and a bit of disgust would result in regret, but in reverse, the mixed feelings of a lot of disgust and a bit of sadness would result in the feeling of guilt. Some children can be hesitant to identify or acknowledge their negative emotions such as sadness, anger, or fear because they are taught that these are “bad emotions”. Therefore, by helping children label their feelings past the five basic emotions and accepting those

emotions, caregivers can give children a tool to begin to ask for what they need. A tangible tool that may be beneficial while using this technique could be a feelings chart. Our foster team loves this one from the movie ‘Inside Out’ as it displays all of the combinations of emotions one may experience.

Model and Validating Difficult Feelings – When a child is experiencing emotional dysregulation and displaying it through tantrums with hitting, screaming, fighting, or crying it is important to remember where this child comes from. You may never know your child’s full history and experiences; however, children from hard places typically were not subject to a home where their family of origin modeled healthy coping mechanisms and techniques to outlet big emotions. Therefore, in your role as a caregiver, modeling difficult feelings and healthy ways to cope can be very beneficial to children in your care. As professionals, we often tell our foster parents it is okay to tell your foster child that when you get frustrated that you too need to take a minute in the “calm down tent” as well. By modeling healthy ways to deal with big emotions, you are also validating to your children that it is normal to have those feelings and validation is a powerful tool in communicating that you understand and accept what they are feeling. A skill that goes hand-in-hand with this may be using a 1-10 scale to rank the intensity of your emotion. For example, you may have taken the wrong turn to work and now you are going to be late. That escalates your emotional state to a “4”, but later that night you drop your computer and it breaks and that pushes you to a “9” or “10”. Practicing this self-awareness exercise with your children, even in times when emotions may be a “1” or “3” can be beneficial when our emotions get to an “8” or “9”.

Positive Attention and Active Ignoring – One of the most powerful tools caregivers have in influencing children’s behavior is attention. Attention is a reward in itself to children and therefore giving positive attention to good behavior will increase that behavior. Therefore, every time you see that behavior you want to praise it and give a lot of attention to it, all while remaining sincere, enthusiastic, and genuine. For example, you and your child have worked on breathing techniques as a coping mechanism and during a moment of emotional dysregulation, you see your child take a deep breath. Be sure to say, “I love that you remembered to take a deep breath!” and then continue to take deep breathes with them.

On the other hand, withdrawing attention conspicuously or actively ignoring a negative behavior can be used as a way to discipline and reduces the chances of that behavior being repeated. Caregivers can validate feelings while still not giving attention to bad behavior. Therefore, in times of whining, arguing, inappropriate language, or defiance you turn your attention elsewhere that may look like turning your face, whole body, or sometimes leaving the room. However, the most essential piece to this is that as soon as the child does something that you can praise, you turn your positive attention on again.

Special One on One Time – At the end of the day, a caregiver can only be so successful with these techniques if there is not an added level of connection with their child. Connection is important in any relationship as it builds a foundation of strength, trust, and respect. If the relationship between a caregiver and a child does not foster this foundation, there is no room for correction. Therefore, by prioritizing dedicated, positive, one-on-one time with your child regularly, without parental commands, ignoring minor misbehaviors, and just attending to your child, you can build a deeper connection and foundation to build on. Even if this is only five minutes daily, take time and give your child your undivided attention to reinforce that you love them no matter what.

Ways to Honor Your Child’s Birth Father


Although there may not be a day each year designated to honor your child’s birth father, it is still important to consider how to incorporate him into your child’s story. Understandably, we give a lot of attention to birth mothers. There could be a number of reasons why birth fathers are not as involved in the adoption process. Perhaps he is not known by the birth mother or maybe she does not want him to know about the pregnancy. It is also very possible that he simply does not desire to be involved in the process or there is a reason contact should not occur with him. Even if little is known about the birth father, though, it does not mean he does not exist. He, just like your child’s birth mother, is a member of the adoption triad and there are several unique ways to honor him no matter how much (or little) you know about him.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  1. Try to gather as much information as you can about the birth father. Take note of his interests, unique physical features, and personality, as these can be things you share with your child eventually. If you have an opportunity to meet him, take it! Ask questions that help him feel seen and valued as an individual. If you are not able to meet him in person, try to gather this information from others that know him—whether that is the birth mother, a relative of his, or an agency representative.
  2. If the birth father is active in the process, consider how he may feel appreciated or honored. It is common, of course, for adoptive families to give a gift to their child’s birth mother upon placement. Maybe you could also consider giving the birth father his own special keepsake at the hospital, such as a framed photo of him with your child, an engraved piece of jewelry or leather, or a collection of some of his favorite items.
  3. Speak considerately of your child’s birth father in your home, even if you do not know who he is or there are parts of his story that are difficult to explain to your child. This does not mean you should make up information about him or try to hide the reality of his situation. There are ways, though, to still display respect towards him when talking to your child. It may be a challenge for adoptees to not know much about their birth father. Although it may not ever be possible to get more information about him, inviting your child to wonder and ask questions about him and simply acknowledging him when talking about your child’s origins may go a long way.
  4. Develop a plan with the birth father for ongoing contact, even if it is different than the one established with your child’s birth mother. It is possible that a birth father may desire more contact than a birth mother, and it is important for his voice to be heard in this regard. Consider writing a separate letter to him with updates and photos so that he, too, feels like he has a place in your family.
  5. Consider choosing a day around Father’s Day each year to do something to honor your child’s birth father. If you know him and have contact with him, consider reaching out to him in a unique way. If he is unknown or there is no contact with him, you could consider doing a special activity with your child instead. Perhaps you could help your child make a craft they could put in a keepsake box or take them to do an activity you knew their birth father enjoyed.

It is not as common to hear directly from birth fathers about their experience of placing a child for adoption. Here’s one birth father, though, that wanted to share some of his thoughts with others: Zachary | A birth father from Georgia – BraveLove. Although this is not representative of every birth father, it provides a thorough glimpse into his experience through the adoption process and also highlights the importance of incorporating your child’s birth father into their story in some way.