The Foster Care and Adoption Network held its Far West Conference of 2012 this weekend in Franklin.
The event was held during “National Adoption Awareness Month,” a time set aside each year to celebrate and promote the importance of adoption, and to recognize and thank adoptive parents who have participated in bringing family, love and support into a child’s life.
The conference, a consortium of 12 agencies representing the seven counties of Western North Carolina, was held at The Fun Factory. The Foster Care and Adoption Network collaborated with the agencies to coordinate this year’s conference in an effort to honor foster and adoptive parents for the hard work and sacrifices they make on behalf of children and families.
Approximately 130 adopted or foster children and 127 guardians attended the event.
“It’s all about the kids and the adoptive or foster parents,” explained Ron Stier, of Barium Springs, a local mental health and adoption agency. “They open up their homes and hearts to these children, and we wanted to do something to show our appreciation.” Stier chaired the conference initiative.
For a $25 fee, the guardians and children were given all-access passes to the Fun Factory, gift baskets, catered food, three training seminars for handling children and free hotel rooms at the nearby Microtel.
“These parents sacrifice their time, day-in and day-out for these children, and it is not an easy job,” said Rebecca Barboff, director of The Children’s Home in Franklin. “Each agency supports its parents, and in turn, this event is a public effort to support the adoption services that exist.”
Jill Cobb, a foster parent that has adopted two teenagers and is a member of Barium Springs, lauded the event for the social respite it provided the agencies and its members.
“We’re here to make contacts. We need a support system,” said Cobb. “These kids come from hostile and loud backgrounds. These training seminars help parents learn how to redirect that in a more positive way of communication ... It’s a blessing in both directions to be a foster or adoptive parent.”
“Changing Lives; Creating Connections” was the theme for this year’s conference. Training included topics on “Parenting with Humor,” “Trauma Focused Parenting,” and “Avoiding Power Struggles.”
Donna Foster and Joanne Scaturo of the N.C. Department of Social Services were the keynote speakers. Workshop presenters were Jill Cobb, foster and adoptive parent, Barium Springs; and Willey Garrett, a therapist in Jackson County.
“We had a great time as a family,” said one adoptive parent, who chose to remain anonymous. “We got to do lazer tag and go carts. We were well fed and I didn't cook for more than 24 hours. They watched the kids and kept them entertained. There were even some really great door prizes. The speakers were also good.”
“This conference was amazing,” remarked another parent. “It was really a very positive family experience.”
Children’s Home Society, Baptist Children’s Home, Macon County DSS, Clay County DSS, The Children’s Home/Franklin, Jackson County DSS, Cherokee County DSS, The Bair Foundation, Grandfather Home for Children, Haywood County DSS and Barium Springs were the agencies involved in the conference.
Although all 12 agencies contributed to the success of this conference, Barium Springs contributed significant financial support for the consortium to realize its dream, according to a prepared statement by The Children’s Home. Visit www.familyinnovations.org for more information on becoming a foster or adoptive parent.