Finding Family | Sponsored | Development | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Panelists and staff of AFFCNY at a recent panel discussion.
  • Panelists and staff of AFFCNY at a recent panel discussion.

A family created through adoption often faces issues that are challenging to both adoptive parents and children. These issues—dealing with a child’s sense of loss, identity development, or traumatic separation—are difficult for parents to navigate, and they may feel like they’re struggling all alone. The Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York (AFFCNY) is here to help.

A sense of isolation and disconnect is common in adoptive families, as if there is no one nearby who may be going through the same experience. But there very well may be adoptive families within a stone’s throw, without either family knowing it, says Sharon Williams, director of the AFFCNY’s Adoption and Guardianship Assistance Program for Everyone.

“Our services help bring awareness that there’s a whole community available around families,” says Williams, who is an adoptive mother of two children.

AFFCNY provides post-adoption support services that fortify and empower parents and children alike in Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, Sullivan, Delaware, Greene, and Columbia counties. An adoptive family is assigned a family support specialist—their own personal “concierge”—to guide them. The agency offers online support; parent training, including how to care for yourself as a parent; Reframing Parenting, a 12-week therapeutic parenting course that networks families with each other; and a multitude of other services that are tailored to the needs of each family.

“We help families with issues surrounding electronic media, Child Protective Services, reconnecting with birth families, trauma education—really anything they have questions about,” Williams explains.

AFFCNY’s Pat O’Brien speaking at a recent panel discussion.
  • AFFCNY’s Pat O’Brien speaking at a recent panel discussion.

A 24-hour helpline—(888) 354-1342, the only free, statewide, 24/7 service of its kind for foster parents, adoptive parents, relative caregivers, and professionals—is available for immediate assistance and answers. But Williams encourages families to seek AFFCNY’s post-adoption services before a crisis occurs: “People think they need us only when they’re in a bind,” she says, “but this is meant to help parents from the get-go, so the family doesn’t get to that crisis point.”

One of AFFCNY’s biggest goals is connecting adoptive families with each other; peer support and validation helps parents know they’re not alone. Going a step further, most of the people in AFFCNY have some form of experience with adoption.

“We have adult adoptees who help families look through the lens of an adopted child,” Williams says. “And sometimes, parents have trouble articulating what they need or what their child needs. We understand that, and can anticipate the issues they’re trying to address.”

Williams encourages adoptive families to contact AFFCNY: “Our adoptive parents often say, ‘We wish we’d known about you months or years ago.’”

To learn more about AFFCNY and its post-adoption services, visit Affcny.org.

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