Strengthening Foster and Adoptive Families in Ukraine
For the last decade foster care and adoption has been on the rise in Ukraine, as the need for caring for orphans and vulnerable children has been recognized by the Evangelical community. Evidence of this growth was seen at the recent 2018 Strengthening Families Conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, which hosted over 200 foster and adoptive parents for a weekend of teaching, refreshment and encouragement.
The parents who attended the gathering represent over 600 Ukrainian children who are now in loving families. In partnership with other local organizations, Orphan’s Promise has helped spearhead the efforts to see that this bi-annual gathering takes place since 2010, recognizing that foster and adoptive families need continual resources to help them on their often challenging journey.
As one adoptive mother shared, “it’s so healthy and important to see parents like us, foster parents who are standing in faith, even in difficult situations.”
Pam Parish, founder of Connected Homes in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the speakers at the conference this year. Pam’s book, Ready or Not: 30 Day Discovery for Battle Weary Parents, was translated into Russian and made available to all the families who were attending the conference. Pam was delighted to share at the gathering some of what she has learned on her own parenting journey. “Spending time with the wonderful families and team in Kyiv during the Strengthening Families conference was truly a highlight of my year,” shared Pam. “I will never forget the face of the adoptive mother (who had recently lost her husband) as she cried over a conflict with her teenage son. After talking with her and praying with her at length, she found me a day later to say that she had taken my advice and called her son and things were drastically better. There are no words to express the feeling of being used by God to touch a life experiencing such great sorrow, especially across the globe.”
Another important resource, The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis was translated into Russian and presented for the first time at the Strengthening Families Conference. Raya Shelashskaya, co-founder of the Institute of Child Developmental Trauma in Kyiv, helped oversee the translation and publishing of the book and is excited to see this recourse made available for Ukrainian families.
“It was one of my dreams to make this amazing resource available for adoptive parents in Ukraine as well as in Russian-speaking countries,” shared Raya. “Parenting children from hard places is not an easy task, and as a foster and adoptive parent myself, I was looking for a practical, effective, scientific approach to parenting. When I was introduced to TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention) and the work of Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross, I quickly realized that their materials were what we needed in our country. It brings joy to my heart knowing that caregivers in Ukraine now have access to The Connected Child and can learn and implement the parenting principles found in the book and see healing come to their children.”
Zoya, a mother who received the book at the conference shared that it has already proven to be a helpful resource, “the book highlights not only issues on attachment and trauma, but gives practical advice and guidance for adoptive parents on how to effectively parent children with a history of trauma.”
Couples left the weekend with a sense of feeling heard and understood and with new tools to take home that will assist them on their adoption journey. As one mother shared on the final day, “the level of these conferences keeps getting better and better, and we are so thankful for the ways you have blessed us by giving us this weekend away to refocus and learn!”