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Together We Celebrate National Adoption Month 2020

In 1995, President Bill Clinton expanded what had been ‘National Adoption Week’ to encompass the entire month of November, during which we honor and celebrate the achievements of adoptive parents. MRPA celebrates resource parents of all kinds, every day, and in November we pay special homage to adoptive parents across Maryland who are making life better for the children in their care.

Maryland 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year

During this Thanksgiving Week we are honored to share the winners of the ‘Maryland Adoptive Parents of the Year’ awards. They were each nominated by their Jurisdiction for outstanding contributions, and we sincerely thank each and every one for their tireless work and dedication to the welfare of children.

Follow us here and on Facebook, as we’ll be sharing more award winners on Tuesday and Wednesday leading up to Thanksgiving day.

And now… drum roll,please!… we present the award winners! Appropriately, click on the ‘heart’ to view their complete nomination.

The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

These families were nominated together.

About the Nominees

Nominee Names:  William and Deborah Devlin, Frostburg, MD

  • Years of Service: 22 Months
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 1

Nominee Names:  Mike and Lisa Nasser, Cumberland, MD

Years of Service: 4 years

Adults in Household: 2

Children in Household: 3

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction: Allegany County DSS

ACDSS nominates the Devlin and Nasser family.

Both have adopted children (teenagers) whom are biologically brothers. Last year we nominated Caitlin Blough who adopted the teen sister of these brothers. We honor the Devlin, Nasser, and Blough family for commitment to this children continuing to be brothers and sisters. They have included them in so many ways through celebrations of life and vacations and just simple sleep overs. These families have also assisted this sibling set in meeting with their biological grandmother whom lives a distance away. These two families we are honoring this month as well Caitlin from last year have gone above and beyond to instill these kids know they are loved , they have a home, and they didn’t have to say goodbye just hello to new chapter.___(Plus that teens are adoptable!)_

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

These families were nominated together.

About the Nominees

Nominee Names: William and Deborah Devlin, Frostburg, MD

  • Years of Service: 22 Months
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 1

Nominee Names: Mike and Lisa Nasser, Cumberland, MD

Years of Service: 4 years

Adults in Household: 2

Children in Household: 3

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction: Allegany County DSS

ACDSS nominates the Devlin and Nasser family.

Both have adopted children (teenagers) whom are biologically brothers. Last year we nominated Caitlin Blough who adopted the teen sister of these brothers. We honor the Devlin, Nasser, and Blough family for commitment to this children continuing to be brothers and sisters. They have included them in so many ways through celebrations of life and vacations and just simple sleep overs. These families have also assisted this sibling set in meeting with their biological grandmother whom lives a distance away. These two families we are honoring this month as well Caitlin from last year have gone above and beyond to instill these kids know they are loved , they have a home, and they didn’t have to say goodbye just hello to new chapter.___(Plus that teens are adoptable!)_

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

These families were nominated together.

About the Nominees

Nominee Names: Anderson and Jennifer Williams

Co-Nominee Names: Dave and Shelly Boblits, Manchester, MD

  • Years of Service: 1.5 Years
  • Adults in Household: 3
  • Children in Household: 4

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction: Carroll County DSS

Theme: “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn”

Carroll County DSS is proud to nominate two sets of foster parents, Anderson and Jennifer Williams, and Dave and Shelly Boblits.

These two foster families came together to adopt a sibling group of three brothers who needed permanence within Carroll County. Dave and Shelly Boblits adopted two brothers, ages 8 and 10, and Jennifer and Anderson Williams their three-year-old younger brother. They were both new foster families, and quickly assumed the roles of pre-adoptive parents, committing to each child and providing unconditional love and support, while fully integrating them into their homes, community, and schools. They have continued to enable the brothers to have ongoing relationships with one another while allowing each to thrive individually. Carroll County DSS is pleased to congratulate Dave and Shelly Boblits, and Jennifer and Anderson Williams as joint 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

These families were nominated together.

About the Nominees

Nominee Names: Dave and Shelly Boblits, Manchester, MD

  • Years of Service: 1.5 Years
  • Adults in Household: 3
  • Children in Household: 4

Co-Nominee Names: Anderson and Jennifer Williams

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction: Carroll County DSS

Theme: “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn”

Carroll County DSS is proud to nominate two sets of foster parents, Anderson and Jennifer Williams, and Dave and Shelly Boblits.

These two foster families came together to adopt a sibling group of three brothers who needed permanence within Carroll County. Dave and Shelly Boblits adopted two brothers, ages 8 and 10, and Jennifer and Anderson Williams their three-year-old younger brother. They were both new foster families, and quickly assumed the roles of pre-adoptive parents, committing to each child and providing unconditional love and support, while fully integrating them into their homes, community, and schools. They have continued to enable the brothers to have ongoing relationships with one another while allowing each to thrive individually. Carroll County DSS is pleased to congratulate Dave and Shelly Boblits, and Jennifer and Anderson Williams as joint 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Brenda Orendorf, Garrett, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 2 Years
  • Adults in Household: 1
  • Children in Household: 2

Nomination Details

Brenda has done an amazing job with the children placed in her home. She loves the children as her own. She was extremely open with the children’s biological parents and in passing no judgement created a good relationship with them allowing the children to transition to adoption without any difficulty. The children were scheduled to be adopted on October 30, 2020 which will end a two year placement in foster care.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Jill Duffy, Hagerstown, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 19
  • Adults in Household: 1
  • Children in Household: 4

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction:  Washington County DSS

Jill Duffey has been active with the Washington County Department of Social Services foster and adoptive program for almost 20 years, becoming licensed on March 1, 2001. While being a single parent and working full time, she has adopted four children throughout the years, with her first adoption in 2002 and her most recent just a few months ago. Jill has been described as being energetic, enthusiastic, positive and genuinely loves being a mom to her four children, ranging in age from 18 to 7. Jill has been a strong advocate for her children and has always been able to find strengths in a difficult situation. Jill has been an amazing foster and adoptive parent and WCDSS is extremely fortunate to have her as part of our team. WCDSS is pleased to nominate Jill Duffey as Adoptive Parent of the Year.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Shelia Connor, Columbia, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 2
  • Adults in Household: 1
  • Children in Household: 3

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction: Howard County Department of Social Services

Shelia Connor has been a resource parent with the Howard County Department of Social Services since January 2018. She has supported Howard County DSS by providing care and support for infants and children under age 5 placements. She assists HCDSS with maintaining birth family connections through communication and family visitation. Recently she adopted one of the children in her home and continues to foster the two other children placed in her home.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Mary Frances and Stephen Eshleman, Wicomico County

  • Years of Service: 4
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 1

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction:  Wicomico County DSS

The Eshleman’s have proven to be the model licensed resource home providers exemplifying what the PRIDE curriculum refers to Mutual Assessment; they have demonstrated through their ability, willingness, and resources to Engage Youth: Listen & Learn. They have accepted multiple respites and placements outside of their comfort level and have excelled in nurturing and protecting the children. They have demonstrated support to birth families and when this was not possible, they supported the child to maintain cultural and racial connections. They have served as a professional member of the child welfare team; participating in all placement specific meetings and FIM’s and serving as a stakeholder during our last DHS-Child and Family Service Review. They accepted a short-term placement of a 19-year-old awaiting approval for his own apartment. This youth aged out of care in December 2019 and this relationship has continued through the present. The Eshleman’s purchased a one year AAA subscription for the use with his vehicle for his 21st birthday, provide access to their home internet service to help keep his monthly household expenses more manageable, share family time especially during holidays, and providing practical mentoring regarding life skills such as cooking, laundry, automobile maintenance, and navigating relationships including safe sex practices. On June 17, 2020 as soon as our courts resumed during our country’s COVID -19 Pandemic, the Eshleman’s finalized the adoption of their son who had been placed with them since August 2019. They initially became license resource providers for youth through age 5 and yet their last two placements were for a young adult male preparing for independence and for an 11-year-old who would become their son. The Eshleman’s experiences, service as a member of our professional team and most importantly, as a resource for children and families is the epitome of the theme Engage Youth: Listen and Learn. They have had to do this through and through to meet the children on their levels, advocate for their needs and to decide to be permanent resources for them in whatever form or shape that required. For these reasons, Mary Frances and Stephen Eshleman are Wicomico County Department of Social Services Adoption Family of the Year for 2020.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Emilio and Joyce Jorge, Abingdon, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 9.5
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 3

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction:  Harford County DSS

Charles Xavier Jorge and Benjamin Oliver Jorge were in foster care for over 9 and a half years (3,511 days) before being adopted by the Jorge’s. It has been a very slow and emotional process for the family and they finally adopted Charles and Benjamin on July 15, 2020. This family has been through so much and deserves to be honored for their time, sacrifice, and dedication to ensuring that Charles and Benjamin were given a forever home. We at Harford County Department of Social Services cannot think of a more deserving family to be honored with Adoptive Parents of the year than Emilio & Joyce Jorge.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Julie and Brian Remsberg, Frederick, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 2
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 5

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction: Frederick

Theme: “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn”

Julie and Brian Remsberg have been licensed resource parents for approximately two and a half years. Shortly after joining our team, they welcomed a sibling group of two children into their home. I would like to nominate Julie and Brian Remsberg. Julie and Brian have continuously gone above and beyond to advocate for the children’s needs. They have been a consistent, loving source of strength and support for these children, and have been committed to working through emotional and behavioral challenges, never giving up during the toughest of times. Julie and Brian have worked hard to honor and connect with the children’s birth family every step of the way. They find humor in tough times, and always maintain such a positive, hopeful attitude. We are thrilled that their adoption will be finalized during National Adoption Month this year. We couldn’t be prouder to honor this family as a 2020 Adoptive Family of the Year for Frederick County.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Glenda And Jarnard R. Brown, Silver Spring, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 5
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 2

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction: Montgomery County

Theme: “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn”

Mr. and Mrs. Brown became foster parents after raising their children. Mrs. Brown is a daycare provider and wanted to help children in a crisis. She wanted to be an emergency foster family for children that needed a place to be safe. She wanted to help as many children as she could. A sibling group of 2 boys were placed with the Brown family 5 years ago. These boys were the first placement the Brown family had, and they have remained. The Brown family plan to foster many children did not material, but they have made a significant and profound impact in the boy’s lives. The boys are now 8 and 10 years old. They have a traumatic history and have 5 other siblings that are all in the foster care system as well. The Browns have worked to make sure the boys remain connected to their siblings. Mr. and Mrs. Brown have worked tirelessly to ensure these children are safe and secure, while having their needs met. Mr. and Mrs. Brown are strong advocates for the boys, in all areas of their lives, especially in regard to education. Mr. and Mrs. Brown are truly deserving of this recognition.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Christine & Michael Brown, Berlin, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 4
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 4 (Including 1 Foster child)

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction: Worcester County DSS

Theme: “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn”

Christine complete foster parent PRIDE training on March 1, 2016. Shortly after completing PRIDE Christine opened her heart and her home to Bryanna in August 2016, just 5 months after joining the fostering family. On December 21, 2016 Christine welcomed a short-term respite for a little girl (Sophia) as she wanted to ensure she had a home for the holidays in a loving and safe environment. Sophia left her home January 9, 2017. Still committed to her love as a foster parent, Christine welcomed a sibling group of two in her home on February 8, 2017 (Jada & Madison). Christine engaged all three of her foster children (Bryanna, Jada, Madison) in every family activity, community events, social activities and mental health counseling as needed. Christine grew as a foster parent through multiple training and education surrounding trauma, anger management, coping with stress, realistic expectations and setting healthy boundaries. Christine starting dating Michael in 2018 and he was so inspired by her journey as a foster parent he signed up for PRIDE foster parent training and completed PRIDE in March 2019. They merged together as a family in April 2019 and the children looked at Michael as a father figure and positive supportive mentor. Michael and Christine got married on September 6, 2020. Through their life and fostering experiences and applying what they learned they were able to successfully adopted Bryanna (adopted name: Michaela Brown) on July 16, 2020 and Jada (Adopted name: Susan Brown) and Madison (adopted name: Madilynn Brown) on August 24, 2020. Through engagement in services, integrating their families and support systems and listening to the needs of each child individually and collaboratively Christine and Michael were able to not only expand their family but provider a Forever Home for the children they love and cherish. Even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic they remained supportive and creative with teaching and occupying their children so they wouldn’t feel isolated. After adopting three children this year Christine and Michael still accepted a respite placement for a one-year old September 11, 2020 and he remains in their home. It is without a doubt that Christine & Michael should be honored as the Worcester County 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name:: Michael and Fiona Mitchell, Essex, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 8
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 3

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction:  Baltimore City DSS

Theme: “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn”

Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell have provided exceptional care and have shown that they are committed to providing their adoptive children with a loving and stable home. The children were adopted on September 16, 2020.

The children entered care in December of 2012 due to an extreme case of neglect. Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell have been strong advocates for their children’s well being. The children have bonded well in the family and have shown good developmental progress both at home and in social gatherings. They have thrived in the Mitchell’s care and refer to them as “Mom” and “Dad”. They have been observed to be alert, active and well adjusted. The children are school-aged students who continue to earn good grades.

The Mitchell’s have received highly favorable remarks for their dedication to their children. The quality of care they provide to their children remains excellent. They provide their children with a safe and nurturing environment, as well as ensuring that all of their medical, developmental, and all other personal needs are met and therefore, I am pleased to have the opportunity to nominate Michael and Fiona Mitchell as the ‘Adoptive Parents of the Year’ for the excellent care they provide to their children.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Ashley and Doug Maat, Monrovia, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 5
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 4

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction: Frederick

Theme: “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn”

Ashley and Doug Maat have been licensed resource parents for approximately five years. During that time, they have welcomed multiple children into their home and have adopted four children through foster care. Doug and Ashley have been incredible team partners to our agency. Even more, though, they have been incredible parents, advocates, and supports to these children. They are committed to providing the best care for their kids, based on each of their own unique strengths and needs. In spite of some significant challenges and special needs, they have never wavered in their commitment to their children. Doug and Ashley went above and beyond to maintain family ties during the reunification process and after the children were adopted, they continue to travel to New Jersey so two of the boys can see birth family. It is for these reasons, and so many more, that Frederick County is thrilled to honor the Maat family as a 2020 Adoptive Family of the Year.

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The following is the nomination that was received for this adoptive parent for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominee

Nominee Name: Sandra Beulah, Federalsburg, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 5
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 2

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction: Caroline County DSS

Sandra Beulah welcomed 2 children into her family this past year. These children were accepted as part of her immediate family as well as her extended family and have been included in family activities, holidays, and celebrations since they were first placed with her. She also understood that maintaining a relationship with the children’s biological family would be the best way to foster these children into becoming healthy and well-rounded young adults, so she mediated an open adoption agreement with the birth parents so there would always be a connection. Sandra has always been a good listener and stays in tune with her children. She feels strongly that the children should always have a voice in her home. She involves them in any community activities that interests them, as well as church activities and other adventures that the kids find fun to do. Sandra is truly devoted to these children. Even when she experienced a health crisis of her own, she made sure the children were taken care of and that the adoption would still take place. She never wavered in her dedication to her two children. Caroline County DSS is proud to nominate Sandra Beulah as their 2020 Adoptive Family of the Year.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name:: Robert and Lauren Bullis, Hoover, Alabama

  • Years of Service: 2
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 3

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction:  Baltimore, Maryland and Hoover, Alabama

Theme: “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn”

Mr. & Mrs. Bullis reside in Alabama. The child they adopted on 10/21/2020 is a relative that was removed in Baltimore, Maryland at birth. She was with Mr. Bullis’ parents who are caring for the child’s sibling and are advanced in age. The elder Mrs. Bullis suggested that the child, Harper be placed with her son and daughter-in-law. The couple, without hesitation and expecting their second child, took Harper into their home. Harper is now the middle child in the family. She looks very similar to the Bullis’ natural children and has adapted well in the family. Mr. & Mrs. Bullis were very eager and excited to adopt Harper and have complied with both Baltimore City Department of Social Services and the State of Alabama Social Services. As the adoption worker, it was a pleasure working with this family.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Kathy and John Mendoza, White Plains, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 5 years with Charles County
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 6

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction: Charles County

The Mendoza are not strangers to helping children. They have been resource parents in 2 different counties totaling 12 years. They have fostered 27 children and adopted 4 children prior to this adoption. In June of 2018, the Mendozas opened their home to a sibling set of three ranging in age from 13 yrs to 7 yrs old. The Mendozas were Christen’s 5th placement and his sisters’ 6th placement after entering care in March of 2017. Being adopted by the Mendoza not only provided permanency for this sibling set but allowed them to be reunited. This sibling set will have the opportunity to grow up together in a nurturing and loving home committed to keeping the three of them connected.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Andrew and Amy Washington, Middle River, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 5
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 2

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction:  Baltimore County, Maryland

Theme: “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn”

The Washington family has adopted two children through the Baltimore County foster care system during their 5 years of service as foster parents. They are an incredible couple who are devoted to making the children in their home feel special, safe, and loved. The Washington’s have made it a priority to ensure that the children in their care are active members in the local community by encouraging participation in activities such as gymnastics and roller-skating, as well as community sports teams. The Washington family finalized their second adoption in May, 2020. This child had been in their care since October, 2015. The Washington’s seamlessly and tirelessly worked through the numerous obstacles that come with the role of being foster parents to a young child with active biological parental involvement. They deserve to be honored this year for their unwavering dedication to the children placed in their home over the past 5 years.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Jomal Bryant and Stephanie Curtis, Baltimore City, Temple Hills, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 3
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 1

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction:  Baltimore, Maryland

Theme: “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn”

Mr. Jomal Bryant is the maternal cousin of Craig McKoy (age 11). He and his fiancée, Stephanie Curtis, willingly accepted Craig into their home when he was in need. Craig (then age 7) was placed in the home of a family friend by his mother who could not care for him. Craig started exhibiting bad behaviors and was told he had to leave. The Family Preservation Worker was able to get in touch with Mr. Bryant, who left his place of employment over an hour away to come to court, here in Baltimore City. Craig was placed in his home and has thrived both behaviorally and academically. Craig was adopted by Mr. Bryant & Ms. Curtis on 09/16/2020. His was the first case heard in person by Judge Robert B. Kershaw since the COVID-19 pandemic. Craig stated several times that he wanted to stand in front of a judge for his adoption hearing. He got his wish.

The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: David and Gwen Boyle, Queen Anne, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 10
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 5

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction: Queen Anne’s County

Theme: “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn”

David and Gwen Boyle have adopted three times, with the most recent occasion in January of this year. The couple adopted a sibling group of three who they had had as foster children for two years. The Boyles have an amazing way of accepting children into their home and allowing them to be children….not foster or adopted children…but just children. The children in this home are loved and benefit from a very large extended family that provides additional love and support. The Queen Anne’s County Department of Social Services is very happy to nominate Gwen and David Boyle as Adoptive Parents of the Year.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Christopher and Melissa Fisher, Severna Park, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 3
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 2

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction:  Anne Arundel County DSS

Christopher and Melissa Fisher accepted a foster youth into their home when she was nine years old. Throughout the case the family supported the youth’s relationship with her older sisters, some of whom were also in foster care in higher levels of care and some who were not in care because they were adults. Christopher and Melissa have also supported the youth whiles she explored her identity. The family learned her concerns regarding adoption and they were able to work through the youth’s concerns as a family. Christopher and Melissa were scheduled to adopt the youth when she was twelve years old at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as the court system was closed. The family waited several additional months in order to complete the adoption process which culminated in an adoption in July 2020.

The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Jennifer Seningen, Elkton, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 2
  • Adults in Household: 1
  • Children in Household: 3

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction: Cecil County

Jennifer Seningen has only been licensed by the Cecil County Department of Social Services for two years. Initially Jennifer had a goal of fostering and adopting only one child, an infant girl. However, one month after becoming licensed Jennifer received a call to receive placement of a 7-year-old girl whose placement had disrupted. Although this child was well out of Jennifer’s placement preference, Jennifer gladly accepted her into her home. Jennifer quickly built a bond with this child and began to address the numerous traumas she had experienced. Only three short months later, Jennifer received a call to accept this child’s four and five-year-old brothers. Again, Jennifer rose to the challenge and accepted these children into her home. The sibling set exhibited numerous trauma behaviors due to loss, separation, and grief. Again, Jennifer rose to the challenge and became a fierce advocate for each child. Jennifer located appropriate school-based therapy for the children, arranged for an evaluation to assess proper treatment recommendations, and communicated extensively with the children’s schools to provide them with the best resources based on their needs. Jennifer listened to her children and assured them constantly that they were safe and loved in her home. Jen incorporated the children into her extended family and never made them feel like they weren’t a part of the family. Jen went above and beyond in her attempts at family to family connections and continues to allow the children to have contact with their extended biological family members. Following the adoption, all of the children have eased in their behaviors and have begun to show signs of relief and happiness. Jennifer encouraged her daughter to share her story at a recent PRIDE panel where the child explained to the potential foster parents the qualities her adoptive mother had exhibited to make her feel safe, secure, and loved. It is all these reasons and many, many more that the Cecil County Department of Social Services is honored to nominate Jennifer Seningen as the Adoptive Family of the Year.

The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Yellot (Fitz) and Kimberly (Kim) Hardcastle, Baltimore, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 5
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 5

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction:  Baltimore County DSS

Theme: “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn”

The Hardcastle family has been devoted foster parents for 5 years. They will be adopting two siblings in November 2020 that have been in their home for over four years. In addition to raising their three birth children, Mr. and Mrs. Hardcastle have accepted the siblings as their own children. They have developed positive relationships with the children’s birth family and with the adoptive family of several of the children’s siblings and ensure that they remain in contact with their birth family. The Hardcastles are a loving couple who have worked tirelessly to meet the unique needs of each sibling. They have advocated for the children to receive appropriate services and involved them in community activities, such as soccer and dance. Mr. and Mrs. Hardcastle have always displayed a positive attitude, even during difficult points in the case. The Hardcastles deserve to be honored for their love and dedication to the siblings.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Nicole and Jason Safell, Silver Spring, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 1.5
  • Adults in Household: 3
  • Children in Household: 2

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction: Montgomery County

Theme: “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn”

Mr. and Mrs. Saffell are very dedicated foster parents. They recently adopted a young lady who had been in care for over 4 years. She had multiple placements and quickly settled in to the Saffell home upon arriving. They are willing to put up with a lot and did not let any of this youth’s past experiences overwhelm them. She was not used to being in a home that would let her stay and make the home her forever home if she wanted to do so. The youth tested their limits, but they never gave up on her. They have provided a safe and stable environment for this young lady to thrive in. Their adoption finalized in July of this year and since then have taken another replacement of a teenager who they are providing a secure and safe environment for as well. They don’t let anything phase them and they roll with the flow, not matter what comes their way. They are very committed to fostering and enjoy working with older youth.

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The following is the nomination that was received for these adoptive parents for the 2020 Adoptive Parents of the Year.

About the Nominees

Nominee Name: Charles and Beverly Brown, Waldorf, Maryland

  • Years of Service: 14
  • Adults in Household: 2
  • Children in Household: 2

Nomination Details

Jurisdiction: Prince George’s County

Theme: “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn”

On June 18, 2014, three siblings came into care and two of the Siblings were placed with the Brown Family. The children were severely traumatized and as a result displayed behavior problem, trouble sleeping, and needed extensive mental health treatments in and outside of the County. The children quickly noticed the love, care, and kindness from the Browns and asked if they could become their parents. The family understood what was at stake and remained very supportive of the children and responsive with addressing the children’s needs. Even when crises struck and faced with all of the challenges, the family did not waiver in their commitment to the children. They facilitated visitations with the other sibling that was outside of the County. As a testament to the Brown’s family love for the children, the Brown family sold their house and relocated to Charles County in order for all the siblings to stay connected to one another and grow up together. They encouraged the children to think positive and reassured them that they will never leave. And sure, enough they did not. On February 7, 2020, the adoption of the two siblings was finalized with the Browns.

Resource Parent Training Opportunities

MRPA Adoption Assistance with NACAC's Josh Kroll (Dec 1st Webinar)

On 12/1 the MRPA will host a webinar with Josh Kroll with the NACAC, the North American Council on Adoptable Children. Learn more about this organization here.

Josh is an expert on the state laws around adoption, subsidies, and financial support available to Maryland’s Resource Parents. He’ll share vital information with the group, and will be available for Q&A.

  • When: December 1st, 8pm – 9:30pm
  • Where: Via Zoom, call info will be emailed to you after registration.

Mr. Kroll’s photo courtesy of LinkedIn.

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMocuyuqzooGdwiv886K2CvRxBNo_017rvc

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Free Online Safety Workshops - Preventing Child Abuse

There has been a staggering increase in online child sexual abuse and exploitation in the U.S. and other countries since the beginning of the pandemic:

  • “Tips to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the clearinghouse for such information in the United States, nearly doubled from 6.3 million in the first half of 2019 to 12 million through June of this year. Reports of online enticement similarly spiked during that timeframe, from 6,863 to 13,268.” in The Herald News
  • “Through Oct. 9, New Jersey had received 5,251 reports of online child exploitation, a 75% increase from 2,996 at the same point last year, said Lt. John Pizzuro, commander of the state police’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.” in North Jersey.com
  • “Alarmingly, the report notes a rise in the amount of self-produced CSAM online, created by children who are spending more time online as a result of the lockdown.” In Info Security Magazine
  • “In the Philippines, cases of online child sex abuse have tripled amid the pandemic. Officials and activists told the media that the problem worsened during the country’s lockdown period as families struggled to earn a living while children have been out of school and spending more time online.” in The Asean Post

Child sexual abuse is a preventable public health problem.

Educating parents, caregivers and trusted adults to the risks, and giving them tips on how to protect the kids in their life is a simple step we can take to address the issue. Our Maryland Essentials for Childhood partner, No More Stolen Childhoods is providing free online trainings to educate adults to the risks and sharing action steps for parents and other caregivers to take to prevent child sexual abuse before it occurs. Please share the online safety webinars with parents, providers, and other community members who can learn themselves and help to get the word out to others. You can use the provided flyers or simply share the link to the website page.

NMSC is providing 4 sessions scheduled in early November, let’s fill them!

Register for these online classes HERE.

 

Flyers – Click to View or Print

Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

Keeping Your Tweens Safe Online

Resource Parent Training Website

Access the Resource Parent Training Website HERE

We are excited to announce that the new Resource Parent Training website and catalog are now available!

Workshops from July ’20 onward are continually being added, so check back regularly to see which are open for registration.

Create Your Account

If you are a resource parent and you have not yet created an account in the Ideas@theInstitute LMS (Learning Management system):

  • Please use the link below to create your new profile. Upon clicking the link, participants will be asked to complete the sign-up form associated with the link which designates that you are Approved Status for Resource Parent training access.
  • Please create profiles for each individual if you are part of a couple. Only one account can be created per email address.
  • Click here to create your new profile: https://theinstitute.myabsorb.com?KeyName=ResourceParents

Already Have An Account?

Instructions for resource parents who ALREADY created a new account in Ideas@theInstitute

  • If you already have an account set-up in Ideas@theInstitute, please contact the help desk by email or chat to have your Resource Parent status verified and added to your profile. After this process has been completed, you will then have access to Resource Parent trainings.
  • Email the Help Desk at theinstitutehelp@ssw.umaryland.edu and put Resource Parent Approved Status in the subject line and make sure your name and work email are included in the body of the email.

General Instructions

Once you are logged into the website, you will first be asked to complete an initial “course” which is simply an introduction to the program.

Once that is completed, you will see this screen below. The catalog will be available by clicking the link on the right hand side under RESOURCES:

If you need assistance you can email the Help Desk at theinstitutehelp@ssw.umaryland.edu or you can contact the Help Desk by LIVE CHAT. The Help Desk is available Monday – Friday from 9am to 5pm ET.

Access the Resource Parent Training Website HERE

News and Info Related to the MD DHS

In May 2020 We Celebrated Foster Care Month in Maryland!

Winners of the 2020 Resource Parent(s) of the Year Awards are posted here on our website, and on our Facebook page.


  • To see the original post with program details, click here.
  • To see all of the featured Foster Parents posts, click here.

MD DHS Resource Parent Survey Results

The following are the results from a recent MD DHS survey of Resource Parents – click the image to open the results in a larger view. Use the arrows to scroll through the results pages, and click here for a printable version. Have questions or feedback to share on the survey? Contact us here.

Survey Goals – Background, Original Invitation

The Maryland Department of Human Services, Social Services Administration (DHS/SSA) is striving to increase authentic partnerships between staff, resource parents, and biological parents to improve safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes for children. DHS/SSA is partnering with the Maryland Resource Parent Association (MRPA) to support this effort in local jurisdictions.

With assistance from the Capacity Building Center for States (CBCS), DHS/SSA & MRPA developed a survey in SurveyMonkey to gather information from Resource Parents about their thoughts and experiences with state and local resource parent associations. The survey also asks what resources and supports Resource Parents need and find most helpful.

DHS/SSA & MRPA asks Resource Parents what their perception is of how well DHS/SSA is accomplishing its goals for resource parents in MD. 

Responses will help the DHS/SSA & MRPA workgroup develop strategies to better support resource parents, statewide and locally. This survey was anonymous, and responses will be held as confidential. 

COVID-19 News That Impacts Resource Families

Links to Important Updates & Articles

MRPA’s Executive Director Arnie Eby was featured in an NBC piece released yesterday, 9/21, on the impact of COVID-19 on Foster children and parents.

Excerpt:

Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., are easing some restrictions and rules placed on foster parents and foster children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A News4 I-Team review found a series of safety precautions were ordered at the beginning of the crisis and have complicated the lives and work of foster families and the social service professionals who administer the system.

Watch the video and read the full story here! https://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/covid-19-pandemic-impacting-foster-children-parents/2424143/

Our very own Executive Director Arnie Eby was featured as part of an NPR discussion of the effects of COVD-19 on foster children and resource parents. Have a listen!

To see the full transcript, visit https://www.marketplace.org/…/…/covid-19-foster-care-system/

What To DO With Those Kids!?

MRPA Executive Director Arnold Eby joins Irene Clements in  a discussion with Rhonda Sciortino on the topic, ‘What To DO With Those Kids!’ during the COVID19 self isolation.

The MRPA Mission

Our Mission is to provide support service to all Resource Families in the state of Maryland. Membership in the Association shall be open to all Resource Parents.

MRPA supports foster, adoptive, kinship and guardianship parents all across the state of Maryland.

Whether you are a current resource parent, a prospective resource parent, or a child welfare professional, MRPA is there to support you.

We realize it takes all of us working together to give children in need a stable, loving family.

In the Know: Resource Parent News

Upcoming Events

Follow us on Facebook to see upcoming Events!

MRPA Community News

Continuous Resolution P-EBT Update/Resolución de continuar la P-EBT

Continuous Resolution P-EBT Update This is to inform you that a recent federal budget resolution will provide additional Pandemic EBT or P-EBT benefits. The Maryland Department of Human Services and the State Department of Education are working collaboratively to...

NFPA Training Opportunity: Mentorship Series: Reach, Raise, Love, and Train the Next Generation

  MRPA would like to share this training opportunity with the NFPA! TRAINING ANNOUNCEMENT Available Online Teaching mentors about ways to reach, raise, love, and train the next generation, Brian D. Molitor will talk about the many aspects of mentoring that...

OUR FOSTER DAD SAVED US

https://americanspcc.org/testimonial/our-foster-dad-saved-us/

Council considering $7.7M to help child care providers operate in public schools

We'd like to share this recent Bethesda Magazine article regarding child care accommodations in public schools. Council considering $7.7M to help child care providers operate in public schools Another $864K would go to mental health for schools Child care providers...

P-EBT Update Regarding September ’20 Benefits

The benefits for September were issued to those who received P-EBT over the summer. Please note that students who received benefits over the summer but have since graduated did not receive a September issuance.  The funds are available on the P-EBT cards between 9/21...

Maryland Secures Federal Funding to Extend Pandemic-EBT Benefits During September to Support Eligible Families

Over $47.5 Million in Additional P-EBT Benefits Will Serve Over 440,000 Maryland Children in September BALTIMORE, MD — The Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) in conjunction with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) received approval to continue...

NBC Article: COVID-19 Pandemic Impacting Foster Children, Parents (Featuring MRPA Executive Director Arnie Eby)

MRPA's Executive Director Arnie Eby was featured in an NBC piece released yesterday, 9/21, on the impact of COVID-19 on Foster children and parents. Excerpt: Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., are easing some restrictions and rules placed on foster parents and...

2020 ATTACh Virtual Conference: Interconnections (Get Your 50% Coupon Just for MRPA!)

Are you thinking of attending the 2020 ATTACh Conference? If so, read on! (And if you hadn't considered it yet, definitely keep reading!). Be sure to submit a request on our Home page to receive your 50% off coupon for the registration fee. The first 20 respondents...

New Training Opportunity from NFPA Training Institute: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder from a Trauma Lens

TRAINING ANNOUNCEMENT Available Online Parenting a child with a disorder on the fetal alcohol spectrum can present many challenges for foster and adoptive families. It is vital for these families and the professionals who support them to understand the reasons behind...

Registration NOW Open – Fall Virtual Resource Parent Conference | October 24, 2020

The Child Welfare Academy, Maryland Resource Parent Association, Maryland Department of Human Services, and your local Departments of Social Services invite you to our first VIRTUAL Resource Parent Fall Conference! Registration is FREE. Registration Deadline | October...

Prepping for the 2020 Census: Count All Kids

“The Count All Kids Campaign is a public outreach effort to working with advocates, state and local policy makers, complete count committees, service providers, and others to persuade families with young children to fill out the census questionnaire and make sure they include all their children.”

Resources for Parents

The MRPA is a member of the Maryland Charity Campaign. Learn more here.

Resources Shared From the National Foster Parent Association

Click image to view a larger version.

Graphic Resource From the National Foster Parent Association and the FASD Network

“Individuals with FASD may be over or under-sensitive to certain sensory inputs, meaning that they may be so focused on what they hear, see, or feel that they can’t focus on other things. Sensory processing impairments can affect an individual’s learning, physical functioning, and behavioural development. Here are just some of the sensory disabilities individuals with FASD may experience.”

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