Posted • Categories: Uncategorized.


Thank you for allowing me to begin our time together on a purely personal level.  I share today not because I have a unique story or a success story, but as an adoptive mom who cares deeply about others and as an encouragement to you as an adoptive parent and potential leader.


I Was A Perfect Parent

I’d like to start out with some thoughts from my husband regarding being a perfect parent.

The great thing about being young and inexperienced is that you know everything.  At least I did.  Before I had children I knew what every misbehaving kid needed.  Before children I had all the answers.  After children I don’t even remember the questions.  But it is not just the young and inexperienced who suffer from omniscience.  Experienced parents who believe that what worked for their kids will work for all kids cause greater pain.  And the parents of special needs kids, in my case kids with mental health challenges, feel that pain; sometimes from the disapproving looks of strangers, but many times from the comments of their own parents, family and friends.


I was a perfect parent… until I had children


By Jim McNaughton  B.S.  (B.arely S.ane)
(Style inspired by Dr. Seuss, only for parents)


Some children are brought home and sleep through the night

They are corrected according to the books

They don’t fight and they don’t bite

And fall in line with one stern look

The parents of these

Children that please

Sometimes take the credit

They write books and give others looks

When the others just don’t quite get it


But we are not the parents of these that please

Our children not only don’t get it

They study us intently to learn our faults and

Our buttons in hopes to upset it


They can weave a lie without batting an eye

They love the crowds all around

To yell “you’re hurting me” and “I can’t breathe”

Though you’re NOT and they CAN

(And YOU just want to LEAVE)


Try Love and Logic they say

It works the best

(Unless your kid has no

Cause and effect)

Put up a chart… Charge him for you to do his chores…

You just need to be firm… You just need to love more…

We know the answer… (Though we hardly know your kid…)

We think we know him much more than you ever did


So the next time you see my child and me

Struggling while we go through the store

Please lend us some of your compassion


Advice… We don’t need any more.

Posted • Categories: From the Director.

AFSN logo_Web new logo

January 21, 2015


Dear Friends & Community Partners,

We are pleased to announce that Adoptive Family Support Network (AFSN) and D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s (DABSJ) have joined hands to better serve the post adoption needs of children and families in our community.

The merger took effect January 1st. The strength and stability this partnership provides will ensure that the post adoption services families depend on can continue to grow now and into the future. AFSN and DABSJ share the same values evidenced by providing safety, advocacy and support to families, so it is a natural and sensible step for our organizations to team up.

There are several things we want to point out that will not change:

  • AFSN’s office location and contact information will not change.
  • AFSN will continue to operate as a confidential service to adoptive families.
  • The staff at AFSN will not be changing.
  • The services offered at AFSN will continue as is.
  • AFSN program services will retain the AFSN name, and AFSN will now be known as a service of DABSJ.

About AFSN:  AFSN provides post adoption programs and support to families and the community that supports them. In addition, AFSN gives adoptive parents the confidence to be successful parents.  To learn more visit the About section of our website.
About DABSJ: DABSJ works in partnership with the community for the good of all children. DABSJ provides comprehensive services to children and families, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, counseling and family support, emergency shelter care, foster care, residential treatment and adoption. To learn more visit

If you have any questions about this exciting news, please contact us at any time. We are grateful to you for the safe and loving homes you help us provide to children.  We are confident that the synergy from our new affiliation will serve our families well.




Sharon Loughridge                                                           Ron Apol

President/CEO                                                                 Interim Executive Director

D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s                                                 AFSN

Posted • Categories: Testimonials.

My adoption journey began 8 yrs ago when my great niece was placed in the foster care  system. She was 9 yrs old at the time, and desperately in need of a stable home. I sat down with my two biological children, ages 11 and 15, and together we decided that no child should ever be without the love and support of a family.

A year later I received a call about a sibling group of 3. They were just babies at newborn, 1 and 2 yrs of age, and I knew when I looked into those precious faces, that I would never be able to look away.

Today my children range in age from 6 to 23, and I am very proud to be the mother of these beautiful and unique individuals.

I enjoy sharing the details of how we came to be a family. The difficult part comes in admitting to the many struggles we have endured along the way, and in knowing we will always be a “work in progress.”

Like many in the adoption community, I went into this believing wholeheartedly that love trumps all. I’ve been a single parent for many years, and I’ve never held myself to the standard of being the “perfect” mom. I believed that as long as my kids had a strong foundation built from unconditional love and the support of knowing that they could always count on me – the rest would fall into place naturally. I wasn’t prepared for a foundation built on neglect and abuse. I was devastated to learn that for these kids, trauma trumps love.

I immediately began to educate myself on the effects of trauma in childhood development. I signed us up for every program available, every class, every resource I could find. It wasn’t until I had become involved with the services through AFSN, that I realized I was missing the most important piece of this entire journey. I had been trying to do this alone!

It started with a cup of coffee and the woman who is now my parent support partner, Deidra Artecki. What started out as a casual conversation between two mothers, opened the door to a world of opportunity . AFSN has walked with my family through both heartache and joy. They have sat with me through crisis moments until 4 in the morning, gone to IEP meetings at the schools, and given me valuable information on how to obtain the specific resources that my family needed to begin the healing process. They have been my voice in fighting for tax credits and therapeutic treatment options that I didn’t even know were out there. Through AFSN I have taken classes where I learned not only why my children struggle, but how to parent differently in order to meet their needs.

Perhaps most importantly, I have had the opportunity to meet other adoptive families and to hear their amazing stories as well. Within this community there is an endless amount of love and support, and had it not been for that first cup of coffee, my family wouldn’t be where they are today.

AFSN is unique because they don’t just hand you the information, they walk beside you through it all. Everyday they work tirelessly in the adoption community to empower parents just like me to build strong, healthy family bonds. They tell us that these kids deserve our best, and then they teach us how to give it to them. They tell us that as parents we are strong, and then they support us until we believe it for ourselves.

Posted • Categories: From the Director.

Thank you for your support of the Adoptive Family Support Network (AFSN). Your contributions have enabled us to provide support and educational programs for over 600 adoptive families in 2014. Those families—and probably more—will continue to need AFSN in 2015. That is why I’m writing to you: AFSN needs your financial support now more than ever.

For the last three years, the number of families AFSN served by providing post-adoption assistance grew from 50 to 800. The State of Michigan funded our Parent-to-Parent (P2P) program—a mentoring program for adoptive parents, by AFSN-trained adoptive parents. This program is a proven success, as demonstrated by its fantastic growth. Our parents tell us that AFSN has helped them become “real families.” Your support will help AFSN expand our services from Kent County to adoptive families across Michigan in 2015.

Our adoptive families cannot simply cancel their need for our services. Their adopted children will continue to need help in healing from the trauma of their past abuse and neglect. The parents will continue to need support, counseling, education, and mentoring – to help them help their children become healthy.

So please, help AFSN continue to assist adoptive families. Your tax-deductible gift will have a significant impact and allow Parent-To-Parent, and AFSN’s other services, to keep supporting families. Here’s how:

  • $720: Provides a full year of programming to an adoptive family to join support groups, receive Parent-To-Parent support, attend educational classes and attend family-fun events such as Adoption Celebration.
  • $300: Provides adoptive parents with AFSN’s 8-week Advanced Parenting for Challenging Children course.
  • $80: A month funds a support group for 20 families for an entire year. ($1,000 annually)
  • $10: A month provides Parent-To-Parent Mentoring for an entire year. ($120 annually)

I wish you and your family a happy and blessed holiday season.  Thank you for your past support of AFSN and adoptive families in West Michigan.  Your gift this season will help us continue to nurture adoptive families and their children—a true gift to your community.


Brooke Van Prooyen,
Acting Executive Director