November 2020 Connects E-News

Family to Adopt on National Adoption Day

The JordansWhile they never had children of their own, Heather and Shawn Jordan have always loved kids and thoroughly doted on their friends’ and family’s little ones. So when this Bremen, Ohio couple had the chance to help out Leannah, the young daughter of a family friend going through tough times, it made perfect sense. “This is an opportunity to have a child in our lives,” Heather recalls. Leannah, then two and a half years old, needed a safe place to stay due to her birth parents’ mental health and substance abuse issues and the Jordans decided to help.

Leannah was only supposed to be with Heather and Shawn temporarily, but she ended up finding her forever home. The Jordans will officially become a family of three when Leannah’s adoption is finalized on Franklin County’s National Adoption Day on November 18, 2020. This annual Dave Thomas Foundation event raises awareness of the more than 120,000 children nationwide currently in foster care awaiting their permanent families.

When Leannah first came to stay with them, she had virtually no language skills due to parental neglect. “Now she doesn’t stop talking,” Heather says, laughing. Seeing this lively, affectionate child thrive under their care has been tremendously rewarding, according to Heather, especially seeing her learn how to play and discover her imagination. She added that thanks to Leannah’s influence, their house is now full of toys and everything is pink and purple.

Leannah, now five, has a special bond with her father Shawn. The two go on picnics, explore the nearby Hocking Hills and have their own weekly ritual “milkshake Mondays.” Shawn says he most cherishes waking up with his daughter every day. “I like my morning cuddles,” he says.   

For the Jordans, becoming the temporary—and now permanent—caregivers of Leannah wasn’t an easy process. It was complicated and drawn-out with plenty of frustration and heartbreak along the way, Heather notes. But keeping this little girl in a safe, nurturing home and out of the child welfare system has made everything they have been through worth it. “That means everything to me,” Shawn says. “That’s what keeps me going.”

For more on the Dave Thomas Foundation’s National Adoption Day, visit nationaladoptionday.org. Learn more about Franklin County Children Services' Adoptions Program. 

Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library Brings Books to Kids

     Reading is fundamental to overcoming the social and economic barriers that many children face. The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library believes that “education is the path out of the trap of generational poverty, and literacy is the handrail.” And so, they are placing free, brand-new books in the homes of children to help them develop literacy skills, so that they can succeed academically and build promising futures.

In partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library sends each child who is enrolled from birth to age 5 a free, brand new book each month. Participants also receive reading tips. Braille and audio versions of the books are available for the visually-impaired. Enroll here

Having books in the home and reading with a parent or caregiver are very beneficial. “Studies indicate that early literacy experiences, such as being read to, can effectively predict future academic success across all subjects,” said Joy Medlock, a former school guidance counselor and current education liaison at FCCS. “Early literary experiences can also help the brain grow and allow the child to develop a sense of pride, well-being and a healthier self-image. By reading to our children and encouraging our children to read to us, we are creating the basis for them to become lifelong learners and ultimately, thinking citizens of the world.”

FCCS Kinship Supervisor Jamie Chambers signed her child up for the program and her family just received their first book. “We try our best to read a book every night and recently our 6-year-old son has been reading to our 4-year-old,” she said. “They both love looking at pictures and creating their own stories. The more books they have, the more they enjoy reading. Thanks to the Imagination Library, we can expand our home library even more.”

Tips for Today: Staying Positive During Stressful Times

Families are dealing with a lot these days. It can be hard for both adults and children to be cheerful and optimistic, thanks to worries about health and finances, disappointments and fears for the future. Virtual education also presents its own challenges. But there are ways to cope and maintain a positive outlook. 

In a post titled Mood-Boosting Tips for Families on healthychildren.org, Dr. Kathi Kemper, MD, MPH, FAAP, a professor of Pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine recommends techniques for parents that will help children adjust during the tough times and confinement that comes from the Coronavirus.

Kemper suggests that families get outside for at least for 30 to 60 minutes per day, get plenty of sleep, talk out problems, and eat wisely. In addition, Kemper recommends families create a media plan, especially for youth who are schooling at home. “Make a family media plan and limit your family's exposure to TV and internet ads suggesting that buying things can make people happy,” she writes. “It will also help you manage your family's exposure to upsetting news.” Instead, Kemper recommends family activities like playing cards or board games, making and playing music, making a video or cooking together.

At the same time, Kemper acknowledges that using electronic devices to communicate with loved ones can be healthy and help alleviate stress. Participating in virtual educational programs and entertainment events can also be beneficial. She writes: “It's also good to become familiar with telehealth options offered by your doctor and your child's pediatrician in case health questions arise.”

Finally, she recommends focusing on the positive. “Research shows that regularly expressing gratitude helps boost overall happiness, leading to lower rates of stress and depression,” she writes. “Help your child write down the names of at least three people, places, events, or things each day that make them feel thankful. Keep your own gratitude journal, too!”

Support Holiday Wish and Black Girl Magic

The Holiday Wish and Black Girl Magic campaigns have officially kicked off for the 2020 season. Every year, Franklin County Children Services, with the assistance of the community, provides gifts to more than 6,500 youth. The youth may have experienced abuse, neglect, or other challenges in the home. 

This year COVID-19 has created another set of challenges in ALL our lives. For this year only, Holiday Wish and Black Girl Magic will be moving to a cash donation format. To ensure the safety of everyone, we are asking the community to make online donations or send a check to assist our children now through December 24. The donated funds will be used to purchase gift cards for our youth or provide funding to a family to enjoy a holiday meal. 

All of our children should receive gifts that reflect their culture and celebrate their uniqueness. Since its inception, Holiday Wish has struggled with meeting the diverse needs of the children we serve, particularly our African-American girls between the ages of 8 and 11. Support our Black Girl Magic Drive to make the holidays special for youth of color.

Help make a child's wish come true this year by:

  • Clicking here to donate online. To support Black Girl Magic, type “Black Girl Magic” in the “in honor of” and “comments” fields.
  • Writing a check payable to the Franklin County Children Services Children's Fund or FCCS Children’s Fund/BGM and sending it to Holiday Wish at 855 West Mound Street, Columbus, OH 43223.
  • Contacting Holiday Wish via email at holidaywish@fccs.us or (614) 275-2525 for questions.

Click here to learn about Holiday Wish's Black Girl Magic Gift Card Drive.

Upcoming Events

November - National Adoption Month

National Adoption Month is a time to focus on the children in foster care who are waiting for a permanent family. Locally, National Adoption Day will be celebrated on November 18 with the finalization of the adoptions of several children at Franklin County Probate Court. Click here to view a searchable list of FCCS adoptable kids.

November 22-28 - National Family Week

This annual celebration focuses on the importance of the family and those who build community connections that strengthen families. FCCS's Family-to-Family Program will celebrate this event by awarding families and community advocates of the year virtually.