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Parenting, Sibling, Foster Care & Adoption Support


 Links to More Resources


The Two Biggest Parenting Mistakes (PDF) - Dr. Thomas Phelan, of and 1-2-3 Magic, explains that the two biggest mistakes parents and teachers make in dealing with children are: Too Much Talking and Too Much Emotion. Talking is bad because it either doesn't work or takes you through the Talk-Persuade-Argue-Yell-Hit Syndrome.



Bridges4Kids/Early On Review: The Eurps & Eurpsville - The EURPS are warm and whimsical alphabet letters with eyes, feet, personalities and phonics-based names. The characters appear in entertaining and educational children’s storybooks where together with Bipple, a human boy, they take children on magical educational adventures.



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Articles and Resources

How Parenting Styles Shape Our Children - Everybody is familiar with the concept of helicopter parents, so-called because they hover around their toddlers. But what happens when kids get a little older and helping them develop gets more complicated than simply to hover or not to hover?


Persuading Kids to Put a Lid on the Potty Talk - Your child thinks toilet humor is hilarious, and nothing you've tried can convince him otherwise. Here are some tips.


A Rise in Efforts to Spot Abuse in Youth Dating - She was 17 when she met her boyfriend, and 20 when she died at his hands. In between, Heather Norris tried several times to leave the relationship, which was fraught with control and abuse, before she was killed — stabbed, dismembered and discarded in trash bags. Her death in 2007 in Indianapolis is one of several stemming from abuse in teenage dating relationships that have spurred states and communities to search for new ways to impress on adolescents — and their parents and teachers — the warning signs of dangerous dating behavior and what actions are not acceptable or healthy.


New Study Shows Time Spent Online Important for Teen Development - Results from the most extensive U.S. study on teens and their use of digital media show that America’s youth are developing important social and technical skills online – often in ways adults do not understand or value.


Stacking the Deck for Family Holidays - It’s family holiday gatherings season. So, do you feel anticipation or anxiety? If you have a child with an autism spectrum disorder, you might feel a bit of both.

Expecting Longer Lives With Greater Risk, Reward - Longer lives brings new demands as first generation of kids With disabilities set to outlive their parents.


New Foster Care Law Seeks To Increase Stability - Bill provides incentives for adoption, requires 'reasonable efforts' to keep siblings together.

Western Michigan University Helps ex-Foster Kids with College; Program Provides Money and Support - Perhaps it should have been an odd feeling -- being delivered to your freshman year at college by a caseworker rather than parents. o matter, said Mike Baker. He had other things on his mind.

Speaking Slowly Helps Children Learn - The average adult speaks at a rate of almost 170 words per minute, but the average 5- to 7- year-old processes speech at a rate of only 120 words per minute. The gap between what a child hears and what he or she understands can appear to parents and teachers as inattention, confusion or outright defiance.

Saying what We'd Want to Say - My wife, Julie, and I lost a close friend recently. Bella died quickly and unexpectedly of a heart attack. It was a real shock. The kind that makes you look at your life and how you're living it. Bella and her husband, Mike, were very close. So much so that it's hard to imagine one without the other. Mike told us that he only regretted not being able to say goodbye.

New School Year Brings New Class: Parenting - Sandwiched between lessons on counting calories and staving off disease, high school health teachers will offer hefty doses of parenting advice in the next school year. A new state law requires that parenting and paternity awareness be included in the high school health curriculum by 2008-09.


The Power of Apology - When's the last time you apologized to one of your kids? Of course, maybe you don't ever do anything that requires an apology. If so, you are a very rare person.


Get Real - Will next year be better for you and your kids with special needs? "Gosh, I hope so," I hear you say. Me too. I want things to get better every year. With two kids who have special needs, some years have been tough for our family. Recently, even with new challenges, things have been pretty darn good.


Surviving the Holiday Season - The holiday season, full of joy and cheer, is just around the corner. But for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, the class parties, family get-togethers and other gatherings that so many of us look forward to at this time of year are fraught with scary social interactions and sensory overload.


Parenting Information Handouts - Dozens of handouts containing information on General Parenting Information, Specific Concerns/Problems, Discipline/Intervention Strategies, Injury Prevention, Parental Involvement in Education, and Children’s Development.


RAND Study Finds Adolescents Who Listen to a Great Deal of Music with Degrading Sexual Lyrics Have Sex Sooner - A RAND Corporation study issued today presents the strongest evidence yet that sexually degrading lyrics in music encourage adolescents to more quickly initiate sexual intercourse and other sexual activities.


Children of Yesterday, Today, are in Different Worlds - To the best of my recollection, the year before I turned 12, I was 11. My daughter, who turns 12 in October, is now eleventeen. There's a difference. Jenna is at an age where she seems to have all the answers. I don't remember being all-knowing until I was at least 14. And let it be known that none of her sophisticated knowledge was derived from her super-annoying parents. She got her hands on a fashion magazine geared toward teen girls.


Parenting: Sending Clear Signals - Communicating poorly seems so obviously wrong and annoying when someone does it to us -- and so innocent when we do it to others. Like my son, I’m in the habit of using my turn signals, but there have been plenty of times when I could have communicated my thoughts more clearly.


Edwatch by Julia Steiny: Education Policies That Bully Don't Attack Root of Problems - On a visit to my parents' home years ago, I took my twin boys to a nearby park because everything in my mother's house was begging to be broken. Along with the makeshift toys cobbled from the kitchen, I installed their rambunctious bodies in a large sandbox where they could make roads, hills and sundry destinations. Other women with kids came, and soon a little peer group was sharing toys and space.


Can Shyness in Children be Serious? (PDF) - In a very general sense you might say there are three kinds of childhood temperaments: aggressive, normal or anxious. Aggressive children have serious social skills problems, but, ironically, don’t seem to be able to appreciate this fact. “Normal” kids get along reasonably well with others and are easier to like.

First Day of School Success Tips - Most of us can remember some wonderful and terrible things about school. In many ways, the first day of class can set the tone for a whole school year. If you have a child with special needs, or one who is new to the school or district, you can help lay the groundwork for a successful year's launch with some basic preparations.


Parenting Teens and Young Adults with Disabilities - The passage from childhood to adulthood is a passage for families as well as individuals. As young people with disabilities move from their teen to adult years, they and their families experience many growing pains in common with all families at that stage of life. In addition, there are often milestones, questions, concerns, needs, and challenges unique to individuals with disabilities and their families. In this issue of Impact we explore strategies for families of teens and young adults with disabilities to consider in navigating the transition years with their young person, and share stories of those who are in the middle of it or have come out the other side.


Cheerleading for Parents - I've had a taste of acclaim a number of times in my life. The first time that stands out was riding on the bus to an "away" basketball game in junior high school. The cheerleaders were doing that "Bill, Bill, he's our man, if he can't do it, David can..." thing where they go through the names of everyone on the team.


Kids Count on Consistency - If you're a parent or a teacher, can your kids or students count on you? I mean, do you think about being consistent so they know what to expect? Kids who have Autism Spectrum Disorders, in particular, often benefit from guidance that's structured and consistent.


Becoming Bulletproof Parents - Ever been frustrated or embarrassed by something one of your kids said or did in public? The stares of strangers can feel like bullets. If your child has an Autism Spectrum Disorder, you may sometimes feel like you've been machine-gunned. Wouldn't it be great to have a way to deal with these situations that made you bulletproof? I found something that works sort of like a protective shield -- and it's basically a matter of perspective.

Taking Care of You - A while back, I wrote an article urging parents of kids with special needs to deal with stress by taking breaks and finding other ways to relax. Given that I've been burning the candle at both ends with a blowtorch recently, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the subject.


The Comfort of Limits - True or False? Self-esteem and creativity both are higher when kids can “do their own thing” without external limits imposed by adult power or authority. Believe it or not, this statement is false. Also included with this article is "Ask Dr. Phelan: Mealtime".


Where's the Manual? - If your child is diagnosed with a significant disability, disorder or condition, it's pretty common to start a frantic search for answers. Is there a cure? If there's no cure, where's the manual I can use to do exactly the right things to help my child make his life as good as it can possibly be?


Five Ways to Stop School Behavior Problems Even Before They Start - There are all sorts of reasons why children misbehave in school. By the time a student is reacting with violence, it's too late to institute a quick fix. Newspaper articles about children whose behavior problems have turned tragic often talk about missed opportunities and why nobody helped. Here are five ways to start dealing with problems or potential problems early, when there is still time to work with teachers and administrators to make school a tolerable place for your child.


Research Digest: Mothering the Mind and Soul: African American Mothers' Beliefs and Practices to Ensure Academic and Social Success for Their Daughters in High School - In this study by Barbara Morrow Williams, interviews with African American mothers of successful high school daughters show that mothers maintain intense interest and direct involvement in multiple aspects of their daughters' educational lives, but keep little contact with school officials. Specific suggestions for ensuring success are proposed.


Good Parents: Warm AND Demanding - Research has taught us that good parents have two important qualities: They are WARM on the one hand, and they are DEMANDING on the other.


Being Who You Are - Lots of kids aren't happy being who they are.  Particularly if they have neurobiological conditions that make them tend to act different from other kids. Conditions like Asperger Syndrome, Higher Functioning Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder and others.


Effective Parenting & Building Your Child’s Self-Esteem - In a sense, affection is the “I like you” part of parenting. Affection is a self-esteem builder for kids because it represents a direct confirmation of the young person and it contributes to the social-competence part of the self-esteem equation. Praise is the “I like—or I am proud of—what you are doing” part of parenting.


What’s Your Parenting Style? - Promoting the self-discipline and self-esteem of one’s children often requires an emotional juggling act by parents. It is not easy to be firm and demanding one minute, then warm and affectionate the next. In addition, some adults naturally have personalities or temperaments that predispose them toward one parenting style or the other.


Getting Behavior in Shape at Home - Positive behavior support, often called PBS, is not just for schools. Parents can use the same ideas to create a better environment for the entire family.


Will Your Kids Be Of "Good Character"? - At some point parents wonder what kind of adult their child will grow up to be. Use this advice and beat the odds.


Click here to see more articles and resources related to parenting.

Adoption Information & Resources  (Click here for Foster Care)



Adoption: Where Do I Start? - This fact sheet is a "gateway" to the many possible paths to building your family through adoption. It will help give you an understanding of the basic steps in any adoption process and guide you to resources at each step.

MyDNATest is now available at Walgreens. "It's the most accurate test on the market, and can save people hundreds if not thousands of dollars in lab fees."


DNA Diagnostics offers DNA testing for all stages of the adoption process, including relinquishment and potential reunification. They can verify paternity, maternity, siblingship, and granparentage as needed.


Glossary of Terms - Definitions of words and terms used in connection with adoption and foster care, and adoptive and foster families.


Special Needs Adoption FAQ - Part 1: What Prospective Adoptive Parents Need to Know - About 134,000 children are waiting to be adopted right now out of the half million US children in foster care. The rest will eventually be reunited with birth families or will "age out" of the system while waiting to be reunited.  Part 2: Eight frequently asked questions - Here is a special needs adoption FAQ, and some brief answers.  Part 3: Special Needs Adoption Advocacy Resources - This listing contains adoption-related resources with an emphasis on legal issues, advocacy, parent support, adoption links, and much more.


The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
The website of this non-profit organization provides a current and fairly comprehensive record of government policy. Because of its focus, it's not the best site for people who are just getting started in the adoption process. It is, however, a great place to become familiar with the latest in adoption research and practice. The bottom line: Great for education, but not for action.


The Adoption Guide
This site, though tricky to navigate, addresses an issue on everyone's mind in the wake of the recent case of the Internet adoption twins: adoption fraud. Here you'll find information on adoption laws in the U.S. and a link to the U.S. State Department's site on international adoption. You'll also learn how to report instances of fraud or wrongful adoption. A special tool allows you to search for complaints filed against specific agencies or adoption professionals.


Spaulding for Children - the National Resource Center for Special Needs Adoption. 16250 Northland Drive, Suite 120, Southfield, MI 48075.  248-443-0300 or 248-443-7080. Fax 248-443-7099.
Spaulding for Children finds permanent homes for children that have been in the foster care and adoption system the longest. It was one of the first agencies in the country that specialized in finding and training adoptive families for the placement of special needs children. Spaulding offers support and training for adoptive and foster parents.

North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) maintains a listing of adoptive parent support groups and other sources of information about special needs adoption. Contact NACAC, 970 Raymond Avenue, Suite 106, St. Paul, MN 55114-1149. Phone: 651-644-3036; Fax: 651-644-9848; e-mail:; web site:

Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption - offers information and education including the excellent "A Child is Waiting: A Beginner's Guide to Adoption." 4288 W. Dublin-Granville Road, Dublin, OH 43017. Phone: 614-764-3009; Fax: 614-764--6707; website:  


Safety Issues

Fire Safety - Informative resource focused on fire safety for families and educators.


Home Hazards - Fun interactive resource that allows kids to get a visual understanding of hazards in the house.


Family Watch Dog - On this website you can enter your address and a map will pop up with your house as the small icon of a house.  Red, blue, and green dots are shown surrounding your entire neighborhood.  These dots represent different types of crimes.  When you click on these dots a picture of a person will appear with an address and the description of the crime he or she had committed. Another tool to help us keep our kids safe.

How to Keep Your Child Safe from Abduction - Just warning your children about "stranger danger" isn't enough anymore. Find out how to update the advice you give your kids to keep them safe.


Fact Sheet: All Terrain Vehicle Safety (PDF) - The season is here for outdoor recreation. This includes the use of All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). Michigan is number four in the country for ATV sales and unfortunately is also number four in the nation for ATV related crashes and deaths having 600 crashes and 15 deaths in 2002 (2003 data not yet available.) ATV sales in Michigan are on the rise and have continued to increase by nearly 25% each year since 1999. Safety training for the youthful operators is mandated by law. Most are unaware of this requirement and also do not know where to get training. The Michigan ATV Association website is available at or call 888.223.5247.


The Following Might Save Your Home or Your Life: Fire Chief Sanders Reveals Most Common Causes of Household Fires - The most common causes of household fires and how to prevent them...


Worldwide SAFE KIDS Campaign - Promoting child safety to prevent unintentional injury.


When to Call the Doctor: 8 Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore - Making the decision to call your pediatrician can sometimes be a tricky one, especially late at night. On one hand, you don't want to cry wolf -- bothering your doctor every time your child sneezes. On the other hand, you certainly don't want to miss any critical symptoms.


Michigan's Sex Offenders List -


Custody & Child Support


The Secret Sacrifice - To get help for their mentally ill children, some parents have to give them up.


Sibling Information & Articles


Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Siblings - During the past seven months, my wife and I have met an amazing group of people. In producing two videos about brothers and sisters of kids on the autism spectrum, we’ve conducted 57 interviews with siblings and parents. People were incredibly open about their lives.  About their hopes, fears, and challenges.  Most of all, about the ways they’ve found to make things better for their families.  We went into these videos looking for “best practices” about siblings that we could share with other families.  We got that and more.


Talking To Kids: Getting Along With Siblings - In a house with more than one kid, there are bound to be some problems. Brothers and sisters borrow stuff, and don't always return it in top condition. Younger kids sometimes feel like the older kids get to do whatever they want. Older brothers and sisters think that the baby of the family gets more attention. These are typical problems found throughout the ages, everywhere in the world.


Our Special Siblings: A Sister Explains - Often we as adults try to imagine what it must be like for our children who have a brother or sister with autism. We read books to help them, we send them to support groups, and we go out of our way to keep life as normal as possible for our kids. But hearing it from a child who has a brother with autism sheds an interesting light.


Parenting On The Go: When Siblings Battle


As Parents Age or Die, More People Are Assuming Care of Disabled Siblings - Back in 1996, Pat Carver of Falls Church was not her brother's keeper -- not yet.


Foster Care Support Information and Articles


Raising Kids Of Relatives Could Bring Federal Funds - A new federal law would steer monthly financial support to people who take in children their relatives have abused or neglected. The law is among the most sweeping reforms of the U.S. foster care system since President Bill Clinton overhauled federal law to streamline the adoption process in 1997. It also increases the rewards for placement of older children and gives states money to allow children to stay in foster care until age 21 instead of 18.

MI Foster Care Falls Short on Basics - The Michigan Department of Human Services failed to follow its own policies and to meet basic standards for care of foster children, according to court-appointed experts who reviewed hundreds of case files.


MI Suit Against State Foster Care Delivers Another Blow - State record keeping is so shoddy and investigations are so superficial that children in Michigan's foster care system face continuing danger of physical abuse, according to a report compiled as part of a class action against the Michigan Department of Human Services.

U.S. District Court Finds Children Have a Right to Counsel in Dependency Cases (PDF) - The U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division issued an order on February 8, 2005 in a class action lawsuit brought by Children's Rights, Inc. against the Georgia state child welfare agencies and officials regarding children in Georgia's foster care system. Among other things, plaintiffs allege the defendants have failed to provide adequate and effective legal representation for children in dependency proceedings. In its order the court stated that children in dependency cases have a constitutional right to counsel that may be violated by excessive caseloads. The question of the excessive nature of the caseloads will now go to trial. Thanks to the National Association of Counsel for Children for sharing this news.


Health Questions & Answers


Medical Procedure Picture Story Books: Going To Get Blood Drawn and Going To The Doctors - Parents can download these e-books at no cost. HANS is currently developing a series of these stories including: Getting an X-Ray, Getting a cast, Getting an Intravenous drip, Visiting the ER Getting stitches, etc.


What's earwax? Why do I have a belly button? What's a burp? You asked and we answered! Check out the answers to all your health questions - click here.

Caring for an Infant


After the Bottle: Preventing Food Allergies - Preventing food allergies may be possible, especially if your child is at high risk of having a food allergy, including already having an allergy to another food or formula, having other family members with food allergies, or having other 'allergic' type conditions or family members with these conditions, such as eczema, allergic rhinitis (hayfever) and/or asthma.


Three No-Brainers For New Parents - As a new parent you'll be faced with many decisions. Some are more clear cut than others. Fortunately for you there are a few decisions that are real no-brainers.


Parent Tips


Bridges4kids Featured Book: An Intimate Understanding of America's Teenagers: Shaking Hands with Aliens by Bruce J. Gevirtzman - Alicia is so obsessed with being popular, she does things that would shock her parents, if they knew. Hector is aware the gang that wants him to join may be the death of him, but he will not decline. Sam was a baseball star, but can't play the sport he loves anymore because he is wracked from football injuries, a sport his father will not let him quit. These are just a few of the teenagers readers will "meet," in this candid book authored by a 34-year veteran high school teacher. Voted Teacher of the Year and Coach of the Year, Bruce Gevirtzman shares with us the results of his years spent talking with teenagers about topics from life and lust to depression and death. Revealing honest, poignant words shared in conversations, classroom talk, interviews, surveys, and journals, Gevirtzman takes us inside the minds of today's youths, and also contrasts them with teenagers of decades past. Also, read his article The iPod.


"Nose Buddies" - the ultimate behavior modifier for siblings
When my kids insisted on getting in each others face (we have 6 kids and ran out of separate corners to send them to...) I made them "nose buddies." The two in discord had to stand facing each other with only their noses touching for up to a minute...a very long minute. To this day all I have to do is mention "nose buddies" and the squabbling stops. Hint: the first time you use this method, you really have to stand over them so that it is just noses touching and no sly jabs to the ribs. You also have to tell them that they can't trash talk (except to say the other has stinky breath in hopes to get the offender to brush more often.) Once the rules were set it really did turn out to be THE behavior modifier in our house. - Joanne



AARP's Grandparents Section

  • GrandCare Toolkit: A thorough listing of health, financial, and safety resources for grandfamilies or relatives raising children.

  • Tips for Grandparents: Looking for a fun activity or vacation destination for yourself and your grandchild? We have some great ideas!

  • GrandCare Support Locator: Here's a searchable treasure trove of community resources to help grandparents and other relatives raising children, and to assist grandparents with visitation issues.

  • Benefits QuickLINK: Find out if you or the children you’re raising are eligible for key public and private benefits.

  • Guide to Public Benefits: Use this quick reference to find out about cash assistance, health, nutrition, and tax-credit programs designed to help grandfamilies.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren


Grandparent Power! How Extended Family Can Enhance the Lives of Kids on the Autism Spectrum - If you're a grandparent of a child with a disability and you're close to the family and providing lots of support, bless your heart! You're probably already tuned in to what we're talking about here. If you're a grandparent who's been separated by distance or other factors and you'd like to be closer, here are some steps you can take to build bonds with your grandkids.

GIC Publication Outlines Benefits for Grandparent Caregivers: The AARP Foundation Grandparent Information Center (GIC) offers a publication to inform grandparent caregivers about public benefits that may be available to them and the grandchildren they are raising. Entitled Guide to Public Benefits for Grandfamilies, it presents information about cash assistance, health, nutrition and tax credit programs that could help these families make ends meet. It provides useful information for grandparents or other relatives raising grandchildren who live on limited, fixed incomes that make it difficult for them to care adequately for the children. The GIC also suggests that these grandparent caregivers go to to determine if they are eligible for cash assistance, health, food or home energy services. For more information, call 202/434-2218 or e-mail to


George’s Place - Autism swept him off to a secret world. Could his grandmother find a way to meet him halfway?


Sign up for AARP's Free Newsletter for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren - In this newsletter from the AARP Grandparent Information Center you'll get: Practical information to help you raise your grandchild, Resources and information, News about programs that support grandparents and their grandchildren, and Practical tips on how to deal with challenges such as legal and financial matters, education, housing, health, respite, child-rearing, grief, loss, and stress. The newsletter is sent through the U.S. Post Office (snail mail).


Financial Planning


Letter of Intent - A lengthy but very important document that families and their loved ones fill out. Should be updated at least yearly.


Safe and Secure: Six Steps to Creating a Good Life for People with Disabilities - The authors of Safe and Secure: Six Steps to Creating a Good Life for People with Disabilities went to great lengths to make sure that parents are fully informed of the options and many steps involved in planning for the future of a loved one with disabilities. 


Special Needs Trust Administration Manual: A Guide for Trustees - The Special Needs Trust Administration Manual is an invaluable guide for anyone who is managing a Special Needs Trust for a person with disabilities.


Planning for the Future: Providing a Meaningful Life for a Child with a Disability After Your Death - The completely revised and greatly expanded 5th edition of Planning for the Future: Providing a Meaningful Life for a Child with a Disability After Your Death discusses all the steps that parents should take to assure a secure and happy life for their disabled son or daughter.


Estate Planning Attorneys - Find Estate Planning Lawyers or Law Firms specializing in Estate Planning law. Cases including Trusts, Wills, Uniform Probate Code, Gift Tax, Dynasty Trust, Joint Tendency. Also, visit for a list of all types of resources, including some estate planning services.

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