November is National Adoption Month and at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work, the Adoption Support for Kentucky (ASK) program supports foster and adoptive parents daily through trainings and support groups.
ASK is an award-winning program that utilizes innovative training modalities and inclusive support group practices to meet the needs of foster, adoptive, relative, and fictive-kin caregivers throughout the Commonwealth. In FY23, ASK provided training and support to 4,232 individuals, covering foster and adoptive-related topics.
One of the most important aspects of these support groups and trainings is the opportunity for these caregivers to connect with other parents who have shared experiences as they navigate this difficult but rewarding journey.
“We are all here for connection. That is what the heart and core of ASK is, is for that connection and networking. We’re not alone doing this and that’s what I want people to know,” said Angela Jamison, an ASK Adoptive Parent Liaison (APL).
Jamison, a foster and adoptive parent of nearly 15 years, has had 13 children through her home, with most being long-term placements. She currently has five children in her home that are adopted, including four teenagers and a three-year-old.
A big aspect of Jamison’s training is focused on self-care for foster and adoptive caregivers, particularly around taking care of oneself amidst the chaos of daily life.
“So often we don’t take enough time for ourselves, and I think it’s vital. If we’re not caring for ourselves, we’re doing a disservice for the children in our homes. It is imperative that we make time and make an effort to take care of ourselves. That’s also what ASK is, taking time for ourselves,” Jamison said.
Sheila Minton, an ASK Support Group Leader, echoes the same sentiment in her support groups.
“Take five minutes out of your busy life and do something for you. If your cup is empty, how can you fill someone else’s?” Minton said.
Minton has been a foster parent for over 10 years and has four adopted children, as well as over 30 children, ages 0-6, through her home.
“I’ve been with ASK for five-plus years and I absolutely love it. I love helping people, that’s what I do. Through ASK, you can get a group of foster parents together and talk about the things that are painful, the joy, the tears, the happiness. We get to celebrate each other,” Minton said.
Both Jamison and Minton echoed that being a foster and adoptive parent is one of the hardest but most rewarding journeys. Utilizing the support groups and trainings that ASK has to offer is an opportunity to find support with others who are experiencing similar thoughts and emotions in their daily lives.
The ASK Support Groups and Trainings range from transracial parenting and healing after a foster child leaves your home, to support groups for LGBTQ+ foster and adoptive parents, as well as a support group for foster and adoptive parents of teens. All support groups and trainings offered can be found here.
As future foster and adoptive parents begin their journey, Jamison mentions there is never a perfect time and to trust and give grace as you begin.
“I tell my children every day ‘I choose you.’ I choose you on the hard days, I choose you on the easy days. And I will choose you every day. Every child in the state of Kentucky and around the world, no matter their past, deserves to know that they’re chosen,”’ Jamison said.
During National Adoption Month and every month, ASK continues to provide a safe space for caregivers to continue to grow, learn and connect as they navigate this difficult but rewarding journey, because the kids are worth it.