“Parents give others the support they need — at the moment they need it most,” says Zia Freeman, WACAP social worker who facilitates the organization’s Parent Support and Solutions group. “And then someone says the magic words. ‘Hey, we also went through that!’” which makes all the difference.
Last year, WACAP helped nearly 250 children in need of a family come home. About 30 percent of these kids were age 5 or above. As more and more children waiting for a family grow out of their toddler years and into their teens, more and more families who adopt children within this age group have asked for a place to talk about their needs as parents. The Parent Support and Solutions group led by Zia Freeman is just one of the ways WACAP has responded to that need.
If you drop by one of the monthly support meetings, you’ll find adoptive parents of toddlers to teens as well as families in the process of adopting, all taking turns listening and sharing. The room buzzes with energy as families offer the depth of their experience, provide resources, consider fresh solutions, and discover the invaluable support of their peers.
Here are just a few reasons why the group draws over 100 people on average each year, according to Zia:
- In addition to the clinical perspective WACAP offers at the meetings, families uniquely help each other with their varied experience and rich ability to understand what others are going through.
- Through the support they give to each other, parents get what they need, including education, emotional awareness and release.
- Laughter, tears, honesty, relief, transformation, company, perspective, celebration — it’s all there for the taking.
Like the conversation, the group’s attendees vary each month. Some parents come regularly, some when they need it, some once. As for the facilitator, Zia comes to each meeting knowing she’ll leave inspired and that “at the end of the day, participants go home with a renewed perspective that they’re not alone … not alone in adopting a child who is older, and not alone in their experiences and feelings.”
Zia stands amazed at how families help each other appreciate all over again what makes each child so special while participants do their own growing, too. One week’s conversations may yield a family saying, “We’ve accepted that we might need to let go sometimes”— an insight that moves parents to a new level. Another evening, a different voice may ring, “I felt like I was ready to give up … but I came to the class today.”
And on the other side of all these conversations, families are stronger.