Giving Tuesday

September 26th

#GivingTuesday is Tuesday, November 28. Find out more about this 24-hour, special opportunity to make 2X impact, click here.

Stories

Lisa is a five year old who currently lives with a foster family in Eastern Europe. Lisa is a warm and cuddly little girl. She knows how to charm people and receive lots of attention.
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Waiting Children – Bulgaria

Meet Lisa, a charming fiveyear-old girl who lives with a foster family in Bulgaria. Due to her medical needs, her foster mother can no longer take care of her so Lisa needs a new homeLisa laughs a lot and is excited around others. She expresses joy when meeting other people and verbalizes positive emotions through sounds and syllables. Lisa is a warm and cuddly little girl. She knows how to charm other people and receives lots of attention. She will light up your home with her calm and positive personality. 
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Christmas in July photo collage with paper Christmas trees and a photo of a girl holding a purse and popcorn ball.
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Christmas in July: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This summer our girls woke up early at Krause Children’s Center in the dark morning dawn. They were anticipating a break from their routines and a reason to celebrate: Christmas. The staff members at Krause Children’s Center are always thinking outside the box for ways to bring joy and light to the lives of the girls they serve. The tradition started a few years ago, but plans this year were almost scrapped because of the pandemic, but Quana Smith, Director of Volunteer Services, knew Christmas in July was exactly what the girls at Krause needed. Read More

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Upbring Neighborhood House Shines a Light in the Darkness During Coronavirus Pandemic

Upbring Neighborhood House is stepping in to help the brave families of Lubbock whose lives have been upended by the pandemic. March marked a harsh new chapter for many people when life grinded to a standstill to contain the virus. Jobs were lost by many and dependable hours vanished for others. Furloughs started and uncertainty began to take hold not only in policy, but in families: Will I be able to pay rent? How long will our savings last? When can I return to my job or apply for a new one? These questions are still being answered, little by little every day. Read More

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The Effects of Childhood Trauma

Children who come into our care here at Upbring have often experienced significant trauma due to abuse and neglect. While there is no universal way trauma affects a child or presents its symptoms, it’s not to be discredited or ignored. Frank Lopez shares his expertise on how to spot signs of trauma in children and how to provide the best support and care needed. Follow along below to a Q&A session with Frank Lopez.

 

Is there a standard system or method to assess the effects of traumatic experiences during childhood?

Children coming into care have a Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment completed within 30 days of placement. This comprehensive behavioral health assessment is completed by a qualified assessor or clinician and provides recommended treatment based on the responses given. This assessment serves as the standard system for children in foster care. Additionally, each child who receives behavioral health services may have more specific assessments completed by a mental health clinician, psychologist or physician. A comprehensive list of several additional instruments that assess for trauma can be found here.

 

Is it common for a child to experience more than one type of traumatic experience? And if yes, how are these experiences measured by trauma experts?

Yes, and multiple traumatic events are known as Complex Trauma. Complex Trauma can impact an individual in various ways that interfere with forming attachments, physical ailments and emotional responses to common situations. There are several assessments used by mental health clinicians to measure the effects of trauma. This provides the foundation for treatment modalities to be effectively utilized. Our standard of care at Upbring is for our youth to receive behavioral health services that work to identify and treat those traumatic experiences.  Additionally, trauma experiences can extend into adulthood. The ACE Study, developed by the CDC & Kaiser Permanente, includes the use of an adverse childhood experience questionnaire (ACE), which is used to survey adults. An ACE score is a point value score used to measure Adverse Childhood Experiences that include abuse, neglect and family challenges. The higher the score, the higher the probability of health and social-related problems as an adult. Modified versions of the ACE Questionnaire such as those developed by the Center for Youth Wellness have been developed in order to assess early on the impact of trauma.

 

What are the types of trauma measured in the ACE study?

The ACE study measures physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical and emotional neglect of the individual. It also measures dynamics within the family in regard to violence, substance abuse and incarceration. These experiences are collectively viewed by many as traumatic. It should be noted that this questionnaire does not take place of formal screening for trauma. This questionnaire is the foundation for additional screening and assessment of trauma. Information about the ACE study can be found here.

 

What is considered a high ACE score?

The study indicates that those with a score of 4 or higher are at a higher risk of health-related problems as an adult such as obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, mental health concerns and engaging in high-risk behaviors such as using illicit drugs.

 

What are some of the effects a high ACE score can have on children?

The effects impact social, emotional and cognitive impairment as a child, which can result in engaging in high-risk behaviors and possibly an early death as an adult.  While this does not mean that every child with a high ACE score will engage in damaging behaviors or experience health issues later in life, success rates are higher when intervention occurs.

 

What resources are available for foster parents who care for children who have a high ACE score?

There are many trainings available to help caregivers understand how a high ACE score impacts all areas of one’s life. Upbring foster parents receive eight hours of Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) training before caring for children. Additionally, foster parents are required to attend two hours of annual training in TIC. There are many treatment models for specific concerns such as substance abuse, health-related concerns, mental health diagnosis, etc. Children receiving behavioral health services can seek support/resources from a licensed mental health clinician to help manage symptoms of trauma. A list of additional resources can be found on our website.

 

What factors in a child’s life increase resilience?

Protective factors such as safety, supportive and nurturing caregivers, meeting basic needs and access to health care all increase resilience in children. These protective factors allow the child to form secure attachments that help meet developmental milestones, socialization skills, good decision-making and overall improve the quality of life. With training, foster parents can provide these protective factors to children under their care.

 

While trauma can have a significant impact on a child’s well-being, it doesn’t have to dictate the rest of his or her life. Intervention and trauma-informed care provide a chance for a child to heal from the wounds of his or her past and move toward a brighter future. For resources and information on child abuse awareness and prevention, visit https://www.upbring.org/research/resources/.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Frank Lopez currently serves as the Family Services Clinical Director for Upbring. He has held several positions within the organization over the last several years. In his current role, he is responsible for the clinical, training and adoption programs of the foster care and adoption division of the organization. Frank is involved in identifying research-based interventions essential for children and families, leading family-team meetings, support groups and staff development. Additionally, he serves as a member of the child’s service plan team.

 

He is a social work practitioner in the areas of child welfare, mental health and higher education who graduated with a Master of Social Work degree from the Worden School of Social Service at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. He holds licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Child-Placing Agency Administrator and Certified Anger Resolution Therapist.

The Bulgarian Adoption Process

Specific guidelines to adopt from Bulgaria

International adoption can be an exciting process. When you partner with Upbring, we will help you through every step. If your family is seeking the adoption of a child who is either young and healthy or has very specific characteristics, the traditional program is for you. While each adoption is unique, this is a general outline of what you can expect from the traditional adoption process.  **Please note that the process for a Waiting Child adoption will be different.

  1. You will complete the provided application materials and return them to Upbring.
  2. You will participate in a home study (including a Hague compliant online training). As an agency that is licensed in Texas, we can act as your primary provider as well as providing your home study and post placement services. For out-of-state families, however, you will need to identify a licensed agency in your home state to work with.  During the home study process, a social worker will visit your home to complete an assessment of suitability for international adoption. Based on those interactions, combined with required documentation, the social worker will draft a home study report.
  3. You will submit the I-800A form and a copy of the home study to the United States Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS) for approval. To familiarize yourself with USCIS and this process, we recommend that you review their website.
  4. You will prepare a dossier (a collection of documents required by Bulgaria) and submit if for approval to be registered on the Bulgarian adoptive family registry.
  5. You will receive confirmation of your approval, and then you simply wait for a referral.
  6. When you receive a referral of a child, you will review it and either agree to proceed or decline the referral.
  7. If you proceed with the referral, you will travel to Bulgaria to meet the child. Plan for two days of travel time and five days in Bulgaria.
  8. If you still want to proceed, you will submit the I-800 paperwork to USCIS for approval.
  9. You will then wait for the adoption hearing to be completed and the child’s birth certificate and passport to be issued.
  10. At that time, you will travel to Bulgaria to complete the visa process, which will require another 5-7 days.
  11. You can then celebrate and return home with your child.
  12. Once home, your new family will participate in post-adoption support services through Upbring or your local home study agency if you live outside of Texas. During this time, a social worker will visit your home on 5 occasions over a 2-year period: within the first 6 weeks after arriving home and then at 6 months, 12 months, 18 months and 24 months. At each visit, the social worker will assess the family to see how everyone has adjusted to the adoption and offer any support that is needed. You will be required to provide several photos of your family and the child to accompany each report. The social worker will then write a report that Upbring will have translated and submitted to the Ministry of Justice.
  13. The final step is to re-adopt your child in a U.S. court and have another celebration.
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Supporting our Employees During a Global Pandemic

This past spring, as COVID-19 changed many aspects of our daily lives, we learned that while people can be quarantined; faith, hope and love cannot be bound within four walls. Evidence for this truth appears in countless triumphant stories shared throughout our nation, and at Upbring, we are happy to share some positive news that materialized during this challenging time. On the cover, we shared a story about our work in the community. Here are some ways we continue to support our employees during the global pandemic:

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