“Get the support. If it’s there, use it. Don’t hesitate,” said Nereida Serrano, an adoptive and foster parent and program participant of our Family Ties Program.
As a part of the Family Ties Program at Adoption Network Cleveland, Nereida and her family participate in monthly group meetings for parents, youth and children. These meetings provide an opportunity for the family to build their support network, access community resources and also benefit from educational and supportive content. Neredia can also access one-on-one support whenever she needs it from our program staff, who can provide expert guidance, referrals to community resources, and a compassionate ear.
Nereida came to Adoption Network Cleveland in 2018. At first, she attended General Discussion Meetings, where she was able to hear perspectives across the constellation, including birthparents, adoptees, adoptive parents and others impacted by adoption like siblings and grandparents.
She knew about Family Ties but was unsure about whether it was the right fit for her family. “Then I learned that there was childcare when we come. Teddy and Shelly can go [have fun and play], and I can concentrate and share my story. I can get the support I need to help my children,” said Nereida. Now, she regularly attends the monthly group with other adoptive, foster and kinship families.
Nereida became a foster parent after being a nanny for several years. She said, “Let me see if I can help kids who don’t have their own home. I’m not in a relationship to have kids naturally, so I fostered.”
Her daughter Shelly was the second infant placed with her when she began fostering. Nereida was already caring for an 11-month-old infant when she got the call about Shelly, who was a newborn. She quickly checked with her support system to find out if they would support her in fostering two children. She called back immediately to welcome Shelly into her home: “Usually, they just keep going. I could’ve called back and they could’ve said, I’m sorry we already placed her, but they didn’t. Things happen for a reason, and I just fell in love with her.”
She fostered both Shelly and Teddy before adopting them, each at 15-months-old at the time of their adoptions. “I got both of them from birth, straight out of the hospital. Shelly was four days old. Teddy was three days old,” said Nereida.
Family Ties has also become a place for Nereida to build her children’s support network. Teddy’s birth sibling, who was adopted by another family, also regularly attends Family Ties. The boys can bond and build their relationship through play.
“Coming here and being with people in the same situations is great. I love it,” said Nereida, who encourages all parents in similar situations to reach out to find the support and resources they don’t even realize they need, “The resources are incredibly helpful in [Family Ties].”
Family Ties Parent & Youth Program monthly group meetings are on the second Thursday of every month from 6 to 8 pm at the Adoption Network Cleveland office and are free to attend. To learn more about all of the services available through the Family Ties Program, contact Donikea Austin, Program Manager, at (216) 482-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camille Rose Smith is the Donor Engagement Officer at Adoption Network Cleveland.