Vital Touch By Sarah Dalian

Vital Touch By Sarah Dalian

I’ve recently learned something that has sparked a lot of curiosity, and even a revelation.

When a baby is born, and it does not receive the vital touch that tells it it’s safe and protected, its body and brain begin to shut down*.

The first thing that happens to a baby when it comes out of the womb is it is given to its mother to be held.

So what happens when you are given up for adoption at birth.

Was I held by my mother in my first few moments of life? 

Did I receive that precious, nurturing touch? 

Or was I put into a holding crib and awaited my departure to the orphanage. I do not know.

But what I do know is that the brain is playable; it can recover, it can correct, it can transform.

I may not have been held a lot as a baby but look at me now. There is nothing I can’t do.

No matter the traumas we’ve endured, we have the ability to not only survive it but to thrive despite of it.  Our bodies and minds are not fixed objects, they eb and flow through our lives, and are always transforming. So use your gifts and super powers for the betterment of yourself.

*the importance and effects of physical contact on infants has been well researched. One example paper from the National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7502223/


Bio:

I am Sarah to most, Puma to some, and Dariya to my birth mother. I was born in Kostani, Kazakstan in 1997, and was given up at birth by my young and unsupported mother. Then subsequently placed into an orphanage, where I stayed for the first 4 years of my life.  One day, my Ukrainian adoptive mom and American adoptive dad came for me, and left with two other orphans to start a new family.  We were raised in Bloomfield Hills Michigan, which was thankfully an ethnically diverse part of the country thanks to the auto-industry attracting employees from around the world. Despite my adoptive sisters being from the same country as me, I was the only transracial one in the family.  I spent most of my life hiding my shame about my “otherness”, and my curiousity about my birth family.  That is up until a few years ago when I experienced an identity crisis and began working to re-discover myself.

The earliest photograph of myself, taken at the orphanage. Age unknown. 
 
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:

Addiction and Adoption Constellation Support Group: Tuesday, June 27th, 2023

Addiction and Adoption Constellation Support Group: Tuesday, June 27th, 2023

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

Addiction and Adoption Constellation Support Groups honor all paths to recovery, acknowledging that each person’s journey is unique and reflects their personal experiences and strengths.  All constellation members are welcome to attend. 

Addiction and Adoption Constellation Support Groups meetings are hosted by a professional with expertise in recovery and adoption, both professional and lived.  These facilitated discussions provide an opportunity to give and receive social support that focuses on the hope and healing found in recovery, as well as to connect with others with shared goals of initiating and maintaining healthy choices and a recovery lifestyle.

This is a mutual self-help social support group, not a therapeutic process group. Our group focus is to have a conversation with each other and learn more about recovery from addiction. This group is for anyone who has suffered from addiction to a substance or unhealthy behavior and/or has been affected by the symptoms and/or disease of addiction, which includes family and friends. Our goal is to achieve long-term recovery (defined by SAMHSA as “A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential”), sharing what we have learned from many paths and diverse recovery-based programs.

TUESDAY
5:30 pm – 7 pm PST
8:30 pm – 10 pm EST

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

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

David B. Bohl, M.A., C.S.A.C., M.A.C. BIO:

David is a Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor, Master Addiction Counselor, Independent Addiction and Recovery Consultant, and Relinquishment and Adoption Consultant at Beacon Confidential LLC, he is co-author of the monograph Relinquishment and Addiction:  What Trauma Has To Do With It, and the award-winning memoir Parallel Universes—The Story of Rebirth, which chronicles the author’s experiences within the intersection of adoption and addiction. He is a member of the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), and an Advisory Board Member of Wisconsin Adoption and Permanency Support.

David was relinquished, adopted, and currently lives in southeastern Wisconsin and works around the country and world. He enjoys spending time with his wife of 38 years. He relentlessly pursues the Blue Mind (that mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peace, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life at the moment) that comes from being in and around the water.  

https://davidbbohl.com/

THERESA KNORR, CARC RCP

Theresa is an adopted person, a family member in recovery, and a family member of loss, and she works her own process addiction and mental health (relinquishment trauma) recovery program.  She obtained her OBC in January 2020 and reunited with her biological family members shortly after that.

Theresa has over 30 years of professional experience in counseling, coaching, and case management, primarily in addiction treatment and recovery.  As a former Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) in New York and CADAC in Arizona, Theresa has been a clinician, a clinical supervisor, and a program director.  She is now a Certified Addiction Recovery Coach (CARC) and CCAR-designated Recovery Coach Professional (RCP).

Theresa has been teaching, training & developing a curriculum focused on wellness, self-care, and personal growth for more than 20 years. She has volunteered in the community teaching meditation, tai chi, and esoteric psychology for over 20 years and has co-facilitated the Adoptee Paths to Recovery mutual support group for NAAP with David B. Bohl for over a year. 

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

Adopt Salon Constellation Support Group: Wednesday, June 7th, 2023

Adopt Salon Constellation Support Group: Wednesday, June 7th, 2023

FREE monthly open support group called ADOPT SALON CONSTELLATION for all members of the Adoption Constellation: First Birthparents, Adoptees, Former Foster Youth, Foster, Adoptive Parents, and Kinship Families. Ages 18 and above.

A place for the Adoption & Foster Care community to come together to share stories, thoughts, feelings, and ideas, receive psycho-education, process grief/loss, and build strong bonds and connections.

The group is facilitated by Adoptions/Foster Care Psychotherapist, adult adoptee Cathy Leckie Koley,  Adoptee and Intern.

5 – 7 pm Pacific Time
8-10 pm Eastern Time

Time and place are 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.