What is AFSN?
It’s fairly easy to ask questions and gain insight when you’re talking to friends or family about biological children. It’s much harder to ask questions about adoption with people who don’t share the experience. Adoption is a unique way to form a family, and sometimes families need a unique kind of support to make it work.
Adoptive parents are looking for guidance, reassurance, support, education and for resources. AFSN provides reliable direction for families who are considering adoption or who have already adopted. We give adoptive parents access to a community of people who can provide answers and share experiences. This important work gives parents the confidence to adopt, and helps keep adoptive families together. A confident parent is a successful parent.
AFSN was founded in 1991 in response to a community need for post-adoption support services. A group of parents and child welfare professionals came together to make sure that adoptive families were getting the services, support and encouragement they needed. The group kept AFSN going as a volunteer organization for five years which was quite an accomplishment, considering they had full-time jobs, families and other commitments! They drafted by-laws, secured 501(c)(3) status, developed and implemented programming, and held social events for families.
Today, AFSN employs both full-time and part-time staff members all over the State of Mcihigan and has an office located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2015, AFSN became a program of DA Blodgett St. John’s, strengthening both organization’s ability to serve Michigan’s adoptive families together
From the beginning, AFSN’s goal has been to serve as a clearinghouse for information useful to adoptive parents, a source of support to families facing adoption issues, and to advocate for families and for change in policy and practices that affect adoptive families.
AFSN is not an adoption placement agency. Rather, AFSN supports and strengthens families once they’ve been formed through adoption. AFSN works closely with area adoption agencies and is represented on the Kent County Interagency Adoption Resource Committee, the Statewide Foster Adoption Kinship Coalition, and the Adoption Oversight Committee and Post Adoption Subcommittee. AFSN holds memberships with the North American Council on Adoptable Children and the Michigan Nonprofit Association.
Most importantly, AFSN maintains ties with adoptive parent support services and professional service providers throughout Michigan in order to refer families to the resources that best fit their needs. Since 2015, AFSN has trained 84 adoptive parent leaders from 33 counties in a leadership curriculum designed in partnership with the Michigan State University School of Social Work. These leaders reached 1600 adoptive parents through one-on-one parent support, in-person support groups, fun family networking meetups, trainings and educational events in 2015.
Throughout the years, AFSN has given adoptive families an understanding shoulder to lean on and a chance to get involved with making it just a little bit easier to parent adopted children. AFSN will continue responding to the needs of adoptive families by providing links to the experts and other adoptive families.