November is National Adoption Month, a time to raise awareness and attention surrounding adoption from foster care. This year’s theme is “Engaging Youth Voice” and is focused on engaging youth to participate in their case planning. This empowering practice can improve outcomes and lead to greater opportunities for success in their lives. Though adoption may be the way forward for a child’s long-term safety and wellbeing, the complex trauma stemming from initial family separation can be a challenge for a child’s sense of identity.
One adoption path, a mediated agreement between the adoptive and birth families, is a way to maintain connection and ties to family. Based on their experience with a mediated agreement, adoptive parents Jammie Trimble and her husband keep their two adopted children involved and connected and truly elevate their voices as they raise them wrapped in love.
Jammie and her husband live in Portland with their five children, two of whom were adopted four years ago. Jammie says her journey into becoming an adoptive mother was not expected or something she had initially even considered. The two children were ages 3 and 6 when they came into her care due to a family connection. At first, the children were going to be adopted by the biological grandparents of one of the children. That changed when those grandparents decided they could only adopt one child. ODHS staff determined against splitting the tightly connected siblings and asked if Jammie and her husband, then listed as family supports, would consider becoming an adoptive family. They said yes.
After four years, the Trimble’s keep a mediated agreement with the birth father of one of the children and have ongoing communication with the birth mother. Mediated agreements can evolve over time. In the Trimble’s case, the agreement currently sets expectations of visits and may continue to change, as needed. Jammie says, “there are ups and downs and setting boundaries is crucial, but to see the confidence, growth, and connection that the children have gained from being connected to their families, it is hands-down worth it.”
To learn more about adoption in Oregon, ODHS partner Oregon Adoption Resource Exchange offers answers to frequently asked questions and more.