• 46°

Local group offers support to adoptive and foster parents, relative caregivers

Need help as an adoptive or foster parent? Just ASK 

A support group that meets locally, organized through the University of Kentucky, wants to make sure everyone in the community is aware of the services it provides, and who it will help the most. 

ASK, which stands for Adoption Support for Kentucky, offers group meetings to adoptive and foster parents, as well as relative caregivers throughout the commonwealth. In Danville, the group meets the second Tuesday of each month at The Showroom on Lebanon Road. 

ASK is part of Southern Bluegrass Support Groups, organized by UK’s College of Social Work Training Resource Center (TRC) in partnership with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services Department for Community Based Services. Its aim is to “recognize adoption, foster care and relative caregiving as a unique commitment to ensuring the safety, permanency and well-being of Kentucky’s children.”  

Its team members are trained through the TRC Office of Adoptive Support and Training. TRC promotes and supports the well-being of families, children and communities through research and evaluation, training, technical assistance and service, and program development. According to its website, TRC has “been a source of information, information and integral collaborations” and is “a nationally recognized leader in the fields of child welfare research and training,” serving more than 50,000 individuals yearly. 

“Moreover, the TRC is committed to being a catalyst entity — one that brings meaningful change — to the institutions, organizations and agencies with which is partners and collaborates,” the site said. 

Lauren Lynch is the program coordinator for ASK, and said the main focus of the group is a simple one — support. “We support foster and adoptive parents, as well as relatives and fictive kin caregivers,” Lynch said. Fictive kin refers to a person who is not related by birth, adoption or marriage to a child, but who has an emotionally significant relationship with them. 

She said each meeting also offers a training topic.

“For foster parents who have open homes and need to continue receiving training credit hours, they may receive up to two hours per group,” she said.

Holly Carter is an adoption parent liaison with the group, and helps organize the Danville events.  Lynch said all of the parent liaisons who lead groups have adopted at least one child into their home. “So those who attend the groups know they are led by their adoptive parent peers.” 

The group, however, isn’t for people who are merely interested in becoming adoptive or foster parents, Lynch pointed out. “It truly is for those who currently foster, have fostered or who have adopted, whether it be through foster care, international, domestic or fictive kin.” 

The adoptive parent liaisons also provide one-on-one support and information by phone, email and in person. The group offers an open, confidential environment in which participants may share resources with one another, suggestions, frustrations and success with those who share the unique experience of adopting or fostering. 

ASK said that by learning and sharing together, it strives to prevent placement disruption and adoption dissolution. Lynch said disruption is when a child has to move foster homes. 

“It’s obviously not a good thing when a child moves from home and isn’t able to find stability,” she said. And dissolution is when the legal ties are severed between an adoptee and their adoptive parents after the process has been finalized. 

“Again, this is obviously a sad and difficult situation. Through support and education, we hope to reduce those instances ….”

Lynch said anyone can contact ASK to find out more about peer support for foster and adoptive parents, as well as parenting topics related to their family’s unique needs. 

The support groups work to validate parents’ experiences, she said, as well as sharing coping and parenting strategies, as well as celebrating successes together. They discuss challenges and problem-solve in a confidential setting, and receive insights from experienced, adoptive parents. 

“We are truly so committed to all of our families and want them to know how seriously we take confidentiality,” Lynch said. “Stories shared within the ASK group don’t leave that room — even without names to go with them.” 

Some who attend the support group meetings may have adopted years ago, while others have recently gone through the process and getting adjusted. Parents who are working through private child placing agencies are also welcome to join. 

Childcare is also offered at the Danville meetings. 

SO YOU KNOW 

ASK meets 6-8 p.m. every second Tuesday of the month at The Showroom’s bay area, 2405 Lebanon Road, Danville. Childcare is available. For more information, call Holly Carter at (859) 401-2751, or email ASKSouthernBluegrass@gmail.com. To view upcoming training topics and confirm meeting dates, visit trc.uky.edu/ask/southernbluegrass.