Celia Center Is Now On a Mission to Support Adult Adoptees of California Restore Equal Access To Their Original Birth Certificates

Celia Center Is Now On a Mission to Support Adult Adoptees of California Restore Equal Access To Their Original Birth Certificates

How do we Restore Equal Access For Adoptees in California?

By beginning a healthy dialogue of understanding, education, and compassion for all… so legislators feel compelled to restore adoptees original birth certificates without restrictions.

Celia Center is not a political organization, however we feel deeply for adoptees who have been “blindsided by adoption” in not knowing their genetic, medical, and birth history.

We are hoping to be a voice in California to be an influencer, to restore access to original birth certificates for all adult adoptees.

We support the inherent right of adult adopted persons to access and obtain these records regardless of when their adoption occurred.

We want to be clear, Celia Center does not support Bill AB1302.

We support opening a dialogue with fellow adoptees, first-birth parents and adoptive parents to help legislatures understand why this matters to adoptees. 

We want to be respectful and talk about the best ways we can have civil conversations together to restore access to birth certificates in an ethical, humane, and efficient way together as Adoptees, First-Birth Parents and Adoptive Parents. 


Let’s not split and divide on this matter, let’s conquer and side on this matter.  

 

Learn the Basics of Rights

 

Effective advocacy requires a basic understanding of rights. Here are some links to helpful background information and case law:

What It Feels Like to Be in Foster Care Event May 2023

What It Feels Like to Be in Foster Care Event May 2023

During May’s National Foster Care Awareness Month, on Thursday, May 18th we had a special screening of a film that educates what foster children go through and what it will take to make a difference in their lives.

Two Los Angeles Nonprofits, Angels Nest TLP and Celia Center Inc., co-hosted the “What It Feels Like to Be in Foster Care” event, which aimed to raise awareness and offer solutions for handling the foster care crisis in Los Angeles. LA is home to 33,000 foster children, the largest foster care population in the United States, according to the Children’s Law Center of California.

To better understand what foster children go through, the event will screen the foster care documentary, “Breaking the Cycle.” After the screening, there was a panel discussion with the film’s director, Angels Nest TLP Executive Director, Arzo Yusuf, Celia Center Inc. Founder and Clinical Director, Jeanette Yoffe, and Connect Our Kids‘ Outreach Director, Georgette Todd, who is featured in the film. Jeanette and Georgette grew up in foster care and are authors of books on the subject.

Also featured were special performances by Storyteller, Raymond McDonald, and Singer/Songwriter, Jenni Alpert—artists who have experienced foster care. A special thank you to Natalie Simpson for working the book table.

Here are questions that were raised during the event…

What are the Current statistics on Foster Care today?

There are over 391,000 foster children in the USA.

63% of the children who enter foster care remain in the system for up to 2 years, on average, they experience 3 placements.

Of the children in foster care, just 23% of those in care for at least 12 months received any mental health services. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Approximately 30% to 40% of children in foster care receive services through Special Education.

Recent studies suggest that up to 80% of children in foster care have significant mental health issues.

Foster Children have higher levels of emotional and behavioral problems, and more often had physical, learning, or mental health conditions that limited their psychosocial functioning.


Why do kids end up in foster care?

Physical, Mental, and sexual abuse, physical neglect, abandonment, orphaned by a parent, death of a parent, and/or unavailability of a parent due to alcoholism, drugs, or imprisonment and poverty.

Neglect is the biggest predictor for children entering the system, 27% in LA County of children are neglected.


What are the Mental Health Challenges of being in care?

There is a range of mental health issues that are evident among children in foster care clustered into 3 groups:

  1. Anxiety Disorders: panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder,
    post-traumatic stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder.
  2. Depressive Disorders: major depression, bipolar disorder, suicidal ideation.
  3. Attachment Disorders: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disorders, conduct disorders, eating disorders, autism, and schizophrenia.

If Mental Health Support is left untreated what can this lead to?

Addiction: Sexual, Substance Abuse, or Obesity

Suicidal Ideation: Foster youth are 3-5 times more likely to commit suicide than same-age peers, two and a half times more likely to think about possibly committing suicide, and four times more likely to make a suicide attempt (source: National Center for Prevention of Youth Suicide).

Violence: Acting out, not being self-aware, and projecting out to the world how unsafe the world feels. Feelings that everyone is attempting to inflict more pain.

PERSONALITY DISORDERS, the most difficult to treat- become ingrained in the person’s psyche and need more specialized treatment i.e. Borderline Personality D.O., Narcissistic, Antisocial, Paranoid, Obsessive Compulsive, Avoidant Pers D.O., OR Dependent Pers

This is why early intervention is CRUCIAL. We believe all kids in care need therapy even if they APPEAR TO be OK “Just because they are not actively talking about their experience, does not mean they are not actually thinking about it.”


What do children and youth in care need?

Attachment, Safety, Stability, & Trust building.

Children in foster care can attach with a secure, regulated, and consistent attachment figure. The brain has plasticity. These children do have the ability to change with consistent, secure, safe attachment figures.

They need a stable parental figure who “will not give up” on them but stick with them. “It is through attachment that we achieve our basic sense of self.”

The stigma with Foster Care today is there is an assumption that Foster Kids will not get better, they are fated to “act out” but this is false.

We need to understand, and take responsibility and see that we need to change to better fit their needs and understand their “acting out” are learning to meet their “unmet needs” for attention.”

Using the trauma lens metaphor: When Foster Youth act out, we often see “What’s WRONG with them? Why won’t they behave like everybody else?” As opposed to seeing them through a TRAUMA LENS that asks and responds with: “What happened to them?”

Trauma is not set in their skeletal circuitry, when a child is able through a secure relationship, to heal their losses and create a narrative of their life with another person they can bear their past experiences.

“what’s shareable becomes bearable.”

One mentor can provide that “seed of resilience”, a sense of belonging, a person to turn to for help, guidance, and support.


What Needs to Be Done to Reduce Mental Health Issues in Foster Care?

  1. STABILITY of ATTACHMENT: Mental and behavioral health requires the presence of at least 1 nurturing, responsive caregiver who is stable in the child’s or teen’s life over time. this POPULATION needs more “time IN” with the child so we can learn to find out what’s going on in their life emotionally and psychologically. Attachment parenting is a must!
  2. STABILITY OF CONNECTION: Becoming a CASA Advocate, a MENTOR, a FOSTER PARENT, and extended Family Members need to get involved.
  3. STABILITY IN ROUTINE: Children and teens thrive when their families have routines, structure, and reasonable expectations; and parents display warmth and nurturance. Consistency and reliability breed security.
  4. STABILITY OF FAMILY CONNECTIONS: We need more involvement of extended families in their children’s lives, so they know where they come from and can integrate their ethnic, cultural, and racial heritage.
  5. STABILITY OF FOCUSING ON THE FAMILY’s STRENGTHS: We could partner BETTER with birth parents and older children/teens in foster care to identify family strengths that can become the foundation of healing for all.

What are the Future Calls to Action for the FOSTER CARE SYSTEM?

  1. Increase access to Mental Health treatment for youth in care/alumni via outreach, support and education.
  2. Extend foster care to age 21 to help ensure that young adult mental-health needs are met through state-funded mental health treatment.
  3. Provide thorough mental health screening, assessment, and treatment of children and adolescents in foster care on a yearly basis for all youth in care.
  4. Provide specialized universal Foster Care Competent trainings to ALL therapists working in foster care to increase their capacity to identify & treat these Mental Health challenges.
  5. Establish coordination and bridge collaboration among all systems involved in services of care: DCFS WORKERS, COURTS, SCHOOLS, GROUP HOMES, CORRECTIONAL

Assembly Certificate…
Presented to Jeanette Yoffe and Georgette Todd for lifelong advocacy  serving foster youth presented at the What it Feels Like to Be in Foster Care Event

Adoptive Family Play Group In Person: Saturday, May 20th, 2023

Adoptive Family Play Group In Person: Saturday, May 20th, 2023

FREE Monthly IN-PERSON open playgroup at a Home in Encino.

A play group gathering for parents of children ages 0-9, connected by foster care – adoption, to gather, play, and meet other families with similar backgrounds builds strong bonds, connections, and bridge support.

The group is facilitated by Foster-Adoptive Parent, Meredith Morton.

2 pm – 4:00 pm Pacific Time
Pizza will be served

For questions email info@celiacenter.org 

Please register below to receive the address and directions to the home.



Adult Adoptee Adopt Salon Virtual Support Group: Wednesday, June 21st, 2023

Adult Adoptee Adopt Salon Virtual Support Group: Wednesday, June 21st, 2023

FREE monthly open support group for ADULT ADOPTEE MEMBERS of the Adoption Constellation.

A place for Adult Adoptees to come together to share stories, feelings, and ideas; to receive psycho-education, process grief/loss, build strong bonds and connections.

WEDNESDAY 
5 pm – 7 pm PDT
8 – 10 pm EDT

Time and place are also shown in the Events Calendar. Meetings held virtually via ZOOM until further notice.

Please register below to receive your ZOOM link for the event.

Cathy Leckie Koley BIO:

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Instructor, Adoptee Speaker/ Writer / Educator. After reuniting with her birth family at age 43, Cathy found herself on an unexpected healing journey related to her own relinquishment. The process included yoga, through which she found significant healing, and a new career path.

As a yoga teacher since 2012, Cathy now teaches others about the adoptee experience, strategies for unearthing and healing adoption wounds, and mind-body practices that help with adoption-related difficulties. She trained in Trauma-Sensitive in 2014 with Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, and David Emerson, author of Overcoming Trauma through Yoga.

Cathy is currently pursuing an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute.

Why Post Adoption Support Matters? By Jeanette Yoffe

Why Post Adoption Support Matters? By Jeanette Yoffe

Adoption is not the end of the process; it is, in fact, the beginning of one! Post-adoption care and services play an integral role in making any adoption successful.

Being personally acquainted with the situation, I had long recognized the importance of high-quality post-adoption and foster care services to ensure permanency, stability, and well-being for children. But that’s not all; certain other aspects demand our attention.

Post-adoption services help address sensitive aspects such as trauma (young children, adults, and even parents can suffer from it), loss, separation, sense of familiarity or belonging, etc. Such services can also help children and their families address their specific needs and help family members strengthen their bond and deepen their attachment to sustain the relationship.

Previously for many years, post-adoption services were only viewed as services provided after the legalization (finalized process) of the adoption – and in some cases, only for very short intervals.

However, now adoption professionals and families have recognized that a comprehensive continuum of multiple forms of support that vary in intensity levels is necessary to ensure well-being, long-term stability, and true permanency for adopted children and the families.

Post-adoption services are a vital support to the families raising the children in cases where they suffer from severe emotional, behavioral, or psychological challenges. With the help of support groups and sessions offered at the Celia Center, families can remain committed and effective. Our services help parents nurture children while catering to their special needs. As well as providing adoption competent therapy to children, teens and parents offered at Yoffe Therapy.

“There is evidence of a strong relationship between providing support to adoptive families as a matter of course or in the form of preventive services and positive outcomes in terms of the health, well-being, and stability of the family (Groze 1996a; Smith & Howard 1994)”

At Celia Center, we work to serve the goal of:

  • Support understanding of adoption by removing confusions surrounding the adoption process.
  • Improve parenting skills so they are able to deal with their new family dynamics.
  • Help parents and children cope with their traumas associated with adoption or foster care.
  • Improve child functioning.
  • Bridging gaps between the relational bands.
  • Prevention of adoption disruptions.

The importance of post-adoption services and support groups can be viewed in a survey of parents receiving post-adoption services. 80% of the respondents reported betterment in their households. Some excerpts from the survey are as followed:

“Research has shown that adoptive families’ needs are multidimensional and may arise at each developmental stage for the family and the adopted person. From a program development perspective, the research makes clear the need for flexible programming that permits families to return for services when needed and does not limit the extent to which they may receive services.”[1]

“Adoptive families have a need for an array of education, support and therapeutic community services. And they need to be able to access this array episodically. This mix of services must be provided by service providers and therapists with an adoption-competent knowledge base and core values, who can see child and family strength amidst complex circumstances and concerning diagnoses.”[2]

 “For moral, social, and economic reasons, it is in the public interest to assure that families remain intact and strong. The pendulum has swung and society again recognizes the importance of strong family systems in combating society’s ills. Adoption support and preservation services help build strong foundations for families created by adoption. By developing and implementing these services, families involved in adoption, service providers and policy makers are assuring adopted children of every opportunity to become useful, productive citizens.”[3]

Some concepts behind the support groups of Celia Center are:

  • Parental education
  • Counseling
  • Respite care and child care
  • Services for children and parents, including groups of people from every age group
  • Adoption assistance
  • Support services including support groups and informal contact with other similar families

Celia Center was not my goal as I started, but it eventually became one. As I kept progressing, it became the highlight of my life as I could see my efforts bringing positive results.

 Being a foster child myself who also went through adoption, I was aware of the miseries one can experience in this process. These were not the miseries that life caused me but the miseries which developed from my detachment from the world.

We need to realize that there is a ‘need to heal.’ There is a need to break the ice for the people who never get the chance to speak about how they feel. Even when they do speak, they are either shut down or not understood. They are received in a way that pushes them deeper into their shells, where they develop several traumas and social dilemmas.

To heal is to recover, to be at peace. It means to overcome the inner demons holding you back from moving forward. To heal is to set one’s soul and mind at peace. Healing cannot be achieved overnight. You have to go through a process, or sometimes a series of processes, to reach that state of mind where you are no longer bothered by what used to haunt you.

In order to heal, you need to stand tall in front of your fears and deal with them. You need to be reminded that you are loved, cared for, valued, and that you cannot be suppressed any longer. In order to heal, we need to break the chains of quietness, desolation, and life of fears. We need to come out clean to the greener side of life. The journey to healing could be challenging, but it’s not impossible.

People who have been through traumatizing events tend to experience heavy emotional burdens. It’s as if, over the years, the time has chipped away a significant part of them. This fear and struggle, if nurtured over a longer period, breed physical and mental disorders. These diseases devour the person slowly and gradually, leaving behind nothing but a hollow shell.

I can understand that after going through severe trauma in your life, it is difficult to grow from it. But for how long? For how long are you going to sit in that dark room? For how long are you going to absorb the pain? We have all experienced one of those dreaded days where you don’t want to get out of your bed. You just lie down, contemplating life and past events – it’s relatable.

Speak up! Talk about the things that are bothering you. Don’t just sit there taking it all in. Don’t empathize with your misery. Be the master of your senses; don’t let anyone else control it or take hold of it. Healing is the process that will lead you toward recovery. Eventually, you will be able to break through the chains of depression, fear, and anxiety, and breathe freely once again!

When we don’t talk about these things, they grow bigger inside us. If they are not dealt with at the right time and with the right guidance, they explode in the form of anger, violence, traumas, and other such issues. To understand this better, consider a human being like a spring.

You keep pressing and pressing the spring so it will absorb all the pressure and reduce in size (getting oppressed), but when you reach the contraction limit, it will pop up. The spring will jump up even higher using the energy that compressed it, directed in the opposite direction. The same is with human feelings and emotions.

Don’t let your stored emotions burst into some kind of retaliation or anger. Don’t let it corrode your body and soul from inside. Don’t live with your fears. Value the life that you have been granted, and make the most of it by making it better every day. Believe in the power of healing, and believe that in observing your struggle you will surely be rewarded with something great.

For a free mental health consultation please visit Yoffe Therapy an adoption competent mental health center in the state of California.


[1]  “Research on Postadoption Services: Implications for Practice, Program Development, and Policy” in The Postadoption Experience p. 295.

[2] “Perspectives on the Need for Adoption-Competent Mental Health Services,” Casey Family Services, October 2003, p. 72.

[3] “Adoption Support and Preservation Services: A Public Interest,” Spaulding for Children, revised May 2005