The Barlow family
K-PARC has been the answer to our prayers plus some.
I recently started attending K-PARC weekly support groups that meet via Zoom. If it were not for the convenience, I am sure I would never have learned so much and found a place where I could share and hear from others information that could affect my daily life.
Our adoption journey
In 2018, my husband and I started the journey of getting custody of our three grandchildren that desperately needed to be with family. After the children were bounced from foster home to foster home for more than a year, we received two of the three children. Four months later we received the final addition to our family.
Looking for support
I was looking for some kind of support, mostly in how to “deal” with the extra burden of kids from different backgrounds all thrown together under one roof.
Our Kansas case worker told us about K-PARC. At first, I wasn’t sure if they would be what I was looking for; we were far from “Post Adoption.” But now that I’ve been attending the weekly support group they host I am learning more than I ever thought possible about the needs of my children.
Fulfilling their needs
I didn’t consider them as individuals with special needs. However, each week there is one topic or another that fits one of my “littles,” as they have been called, as well as things that fit my biological teenager who also lives at home.
About this time last year, we wanted to give up. There was so much chaos at home, I felt like I was being pulled six different directions with no sleep. Our lives were turned upside down and my marriage was beginning to feel the pressures.
Seeing a difference
Before K-PARC, I remember saying, “What is wrong with them?” They were so demanding. I now say, “What can I do better?” and, jokingly, “What were we thinking?”
I’m beginning to see a difference in the children. They are smiling more.
I have been able to talk with the older two about many of the topics discussed with the group and get their input into what they want from us. And it works. We’ve been able to compromise and even relax a little on “the rules.”
Being able to have a safe place to share about what we are going through has given us so much. Even though our journey still has many months to go, we feel so much more capable of being the best parents we can be.
A Kansas mom said, “K-PARC has been a critical part of our family’s success. They have been supportive of us as my child explores being a transgender youth.
“ During the teen virtual summer camp, my teen had a blast. Later, other parents and staff commented about my child’s warm and precious nature. At the time, these loving expressions about my teen about made me weep with gratitude. I thought to myself, ‘Finally, someone else can see what a special soul I was blessed to adopt.’ “
K-PARC hosts a weekly support group. One recent week the topic was, “Lacking school motivation.” Another week, the topic was, “Food Hoarding,” and behaviors around food. Each week, the topic changes and somehow, the topic happens to be a very active one in the home of this Kansas mom.
Occasionally, the group works as a team to help discover and support the best course of action for a particular family. They problem solve as a group and exchange shared experiences. The mom said she appreciates how K-PARC has been almost fluid at times in meeting the needs of group members individually and as a group. This type of intervention from the K-PARC team is unique compared to other support groups, she said.
There for the family
The woman’s child was in institutional care most of the seven years in foster care and has been in and out of institutional care since adoption. K-PARC has been there for the family even while the child was away.
The very valued contributions from K-PARC are helping the family be safe and successful in their home and community, and the frequency and length of institutional care has diminished, she said. During passes from the PRTF, the child was welcomed to Teen Camp. The social connections were very positive, she said. Her teen still asks her why K-PARC can’t have summer camp every month. 😀
Other parents in the group also have kiddos doing the revolving doors of emergency rooms, PRTFs and acute admissions, she said. Such times are often very sad for parents.
Thanks to K-PARC, the mother and her family are able to heal and develop a resilience that directly benefits their success as a family through adoption, she said. K-PARC is bridging resilience into true empowerment as they become another successful Kansas family.
Rob and Brooksie
Rob said he and Brooksie had considered dissolving the adoption of their 9-year-old daughter in 2017 when Brooksie “dragged me kicking and screaming” to a Kansas Post Adoption Resource Center Strong Families Retreat.
The couple are parents of five adopted children, four of whom are medically fragile, and each day is filled with challenges. What Rob and Brooksie learned at that retreat and through associations developed through K-PARC saved not only their family but their marriage.
After attending the retreat, Brooksie and Rob attended a 10-week K-PARC Parents’ Circle, where they spent 20 hours learning how to apply Trust-Based Relational Intervention. Trust-Based Relational Intervention®, or TBRI, is an evidence-based intervention for children from hard places of abuse, neglect, and/or trauma. It empowers parents to be instruments of healing in their children’s lives.
Leading a group
Rob and Brooksie are now co-leaders with the weekly K-PARC Support Group.
“It is so nice to be with people who are going through the same things that we are,” Brooksie said.
“We can’t go to Sunday school or small groups at church because there is no one who can take care of the kids. The support group on Zoom has been an absolute godsend. You don’t have to sugarcoat anything and can really be honest. We would be lost without the group on Monday.”
Michelle found great insight and encouragement attending the Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) training. She learned the strategies to deal with challenging behaviors and how to help heal her daughter from her early trauma. However, Michelle was frustrated by how difficult it was to put these new strategies into practice. After she began to focus on and practice one habit at a time, her confidence began to grow.
She discovered and began attending a weekly K-PARC Support Group, which she quickly found very helpful. She connected with the other parents’ stories and gained perspective, as their stories normalized the “crazy” she was experiencing. It was comforting to realize that she was not alone. Regarding the support group, she said, “It’s a safe, no-judgment place.”
Michelle said the K-PARC Support Group discussions helped her reflect on her skills. Each meeting was a chance to re-evaluate the support group topic for that week and glean ideas on how other parents applied TBRI concepts. She would evaluate things like, “What can I do to say “yes” more frequently?”; “Remember that my kiddo may be acting her emotional age, which is often younger than her actual age,” and “How else could I respond when my daughter ‘flips her lid’ to get a better, more positive outcome for all?”
Becoming a leader
The support group was so encouraging that Michelle willingly stepped into one of the group’s leadership roles. Michelle said, “I don’t feel like I’m much of a leader, but I’ll do what I can if it might help someone else. I gained so much from these support groups, I am happy to give back what I received.
“It’s a challenging journey and super helpful when we can be real with one another. Just hearing the positive, ‘happy’ experiences alone isn’t as helpful; it needs to be balanced with the hard, ugly stuff we deal with, too. It’s messy. We have to be able to laugh in the midst of the tough stuff.”