I have worked part time with the Adoptive Family Preservation grant as an Adoptive Parent Liaison since 1999. In this role, I am privledged to talk with and support many adoptive parents who are building their family through adoption, or having difficulty finding local/regional resources. In this role, I have two-fold experience with UMFS: I am an employee AND a client (with the AFP grant). In both roles. I have found UMFS to be incredibly supportive with staff taking phone calls at all hours of the day and weekend; working together to support adoptive famililies!
When our adopted daughter began experiencing very serious psychiatric issues -- and our own adoption agency would offer no help or support -- another adoptive mom suggested we contact UMFS for help. UMFS -- LITERALLY -- saved our family through their Adoptive Family Preservation program. They didn't care that we were not Methodist and didn't care who placed our daughter with us, they only cared about helping us locate the services she -- and we -- needed to move forward as a family. Our daughter spent a year at the UMFS residential treatment center in Richmond and the staff there and in Alexandria were OUTSTANDING. They understand how to help even the most seriously disturbed children -- and -- their families. I really believe UMFS gave our daughter her future because, without their help, she would likely have ended up in an institution, homeless, or dead. Throughout the process, UMFS also provided support to my husband and me -- and -- our other three children. We participate in an AFP parent support group and our teens participate in their newly formed adopted teen discussion group. UMFS staff listen to what families need and provide it, period. Most recently, our teens expressed regret the scheduled teen group sessions were ending. They said it was the one place they all felt comfortable and "like everyone else" so UMFS agreed to continue the group for the kids. Thank you UMFS for serving our children and our families with humility and grace. I have no doubt you saved our daughter and our family.
UMFS has been very supportive and knowledgable throughout the process to become certified as resource parents (foster and adoption). Their training is responsive to the needs of adult learners, incorporating and building on our own experiences. Every question that I have has been answered in a timely manner, with clear directions and detail. Our journey with UMFS is just beginning, but it is one that I am very happy to be on, as I know the entire process will be clear with them.
From at-risk teens, to youth without permanent homes, to families wanting to care for a child, UMFS is forming lasting connections and making a difference in the lives of youth all over Virginia. As an adoptive parent of a teen through UMFS, I believe that UMFS is reaching and impacting the lives of disenfranchised and at-risk populations of youth more than any other organization in Richmond. I cannot imagine what the life of my 20-year-old daughter would be like if she had not had the opportunity to be adopted at the age of 14 through the work of UMFS. Not only did UMFS facilitate the adoption process, they provided our family with the training, emotional support, and professional services necessary to ensure permanence during the challenging times that seemed insurmountable. I will never forget the day my husband and I called a UMFS staff person feeling overwhelmed, defeated, and ready to give up completely. On that day, UMFS saw us through our toughest hour and provided a solution that we still rely on to this day!