Our Unique Path

The Second Nurture Path

We at Second Nurture will provide you with everything you need along the way – including training, materials and ongoing support. From soup to nuts.

1. Learn
   2. Spark
      3. Determine
         4. Go
            5. Match
               6. Welcome
                  7. Grow, Challenge, Enrich
Step One
Spark an interest in your community!
Do you have an organizer’s sensibility with a human touch? Become a Second Nurture community partner. You know that there are hundreds of thousands – even millions — of children who need permanent, loving families. The same loving families that make up our communities. With love and courage, you can put the two together.

Bring the Second Nurture message to your community through announcements, articles, informational sessions and a lot of one-on-one meetings.

Activate these resources in your community.

Goal of Step One: Have an informed community from which you can create an exploratory group of people who would like to learn more about adoption.

Rabbi Susan Says
Sometimes the spark to adopt is dramatic – urgent and palpably obligating, like this story. What could be more compelling than finding an infant, alone, by a subway station turnstile?

Mostly, though, we have to use our empathy and imagination to call ourselves to action. Our job, in sparking action within our communities, is to lift each other’s eyes to all children who need us, to whom we are called.

Step Two
Serious Exploration.
In Step 2, you will create an exploratory group that will meet once a month for five month. This group might have five families. It might have fifteen families. What matters is that the people in this group want to learn about different avenues to adoption within Foster Care and International Adoption.  Second Nurture will provide the schedule of meetings, the local professionals who will address the group, and support for you as you shepherd the process, including our presence with you as needed. And we will help you place this process in a context that is meaningful to your community through cultural stories, paradigms, metaphors and rituals.

Goal of Step Two: Identify the direction that the group wants to go in (local foster care, international and what country). People ready to continue in the adoption process or take another role in creating a Second Nurture community.

Rabbi Susan Says
81.5 Million Americans have considered adoption. If just 1 in 500 of these adults adopted, every waiting child in foster care would have a permanent family – NATIONAL FOSTER CARE ADOPTION ATTITUDES SURVEY

My passion for adoption comes not only from my personal experience—but also because I’ve seen the power of permanent families to rehabilitate children who experienced disastrous starts in life. —Dr. Dana Johnson, The Adoption Medicine Clinic, University of Minnesota

Foster-care and adoptive parents are some of the most motivated parents I’ve ever met. I love working with them. —Dr. Judith Eckerle

Step Three
GO! Enter the adoption process in a supportive context.
You have your starting cohort. These people – some already parents, some not — want to engage in the adoption process. Perhaps all, perhaps just a few, will complete the process and bring a new child or sibling group into their families – and your community. But, at this point, everyone is serious enough to want to begin the process and see where it leads.

Second Nurture will help you arrange the home study process. This process is largely a private process for the individual families. However, with Second Nurture, we also provide communal opportunities to share this process with each other, enriched by your community’s traditions and culture.

Simultaneously, Second Nurture works with the community at large to develop support systems and reimagine the shared culture to include the adoption experience.

Goal of Step Three: Complete home study process with a committed, educated and supportive cohort within a community that is thinking seriously about how to become an adoption community.

We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves… ―Audre Lorde

The question I have been repeatedly asked is ‘Do you know what you are getting yourself into?’ The answer I continue to give: ‘No, how could I?’ What I do know is this: I have a strong network of support and am not alone on this new path. —David Brown, Founder and Creative Director, Harmony Project; Dad of two teenagers he adopted from foster care

Step Four
Reimagine your community.
Second Nurture is not only about new families. It’s also about a new kind of community. The community begins to learn about the different circles of support it can offer. At this point, the various components of our community – educational, ritual, cultural – are looking deeply into the ways in which adoption can be integrated. Second Nurture will work with everyone, from the cohort and beyond to expand and enrich communal thinking and integrate adoption into it’s foundational elements.

Goal of Step Four: Imagine how adoption can become organic to all elements of our community.

Liam has been the greatest gift the universe has ever given me and even though I’m a single mom and it’s just the two of us, we have our village – a village that only came into being when Liam came into my life. —Brianne G., VT, Mom

“Children fare better when raised in communities where families are connected to each other. Such belonging fortifies parents’ emotional and practical resources.” —The Metamorphosis Project, Annenberg School, USC
Step Five
Find your children!
This is an exciting and nerve-wracking time. The unknown theoretical is about to become known and very real. Second Nurture will help contextualize this process with guiding principles from your tradition and culture. This is the first opportunity for the cohort and its community to plan intensively together. Second Nurture will show you how to set up Family Liaisons who will share families’ needs with the community and arrange help. We will help you think about questions like: How will you welcome your children to their new families and community? What kinds of professional, institutional and personal supports will be in place? What messages will both the families and community send, both implicitly and explicitly, to form each child’s first impression? How will we teach the children already in our community to welcome their new peers? What rituals might we offer?

Foster Care: Find your child: The matching process in adoption through the Foster Care system is a combination of children’s case worker seeking the right family and your social worker seeking the child that best fits your family. The goals of each social worker are aligned. You can also play a part by searching databases such as this one.

International Adoption: For International Adoption matching processes vary country to country. In some cases, a referral for a child is made to prospective parents with photos and information on the physical, intellectual and emotional well-being of the child. In other cases, the prospective parents look at that information, perhaps on-line, for the various children in the institution and then seek further information on a specific child or children. Often it is a back and forth with the parents and the agency that organically leads to your match.

Goal of Step Five: Get a handle on the communal components involved in Second Nurture individually and working together as a whole.

Step Six
Welcome Your Child Home!

Reality. Or your first taste of it. Each child and family will have different needs. Second Nurture professionals will be there to address them, help you orient yourself, your partner and family. There may be an immediate role for your community, or that may come later. Family-Community liaisons will check in with each family and organize communal responses, balancing needs — welcome, but not overwhelm the children, hold gatherings for the new children, the whole family, and/or the community. Introduce the children to new friends. Second Nurture will help you and your community to understand and navigate these early days, weeks and months.

Goal of Step Six: Put plans into early action and be adaptable.

Prepare for your child & get organized. More.

Bring your child home & finalize adoption. More.

Rabbi Susan Says

Not every day is full of sunshine and rainbows. But if you work at it with understanding and compassion, your good days will far outweigh the bad ones…Foster care adoption is an amazing process. You take complete strangers, put them in a home, and if you’re lucky, something beautiful—a family—will grow. ―Barry Farmer, Dad of three brothers

Step Seven
Grow, Challenge Enrich!
Here is where we get deep into the heart of the Second Nurture vision. You have a community in which there are multiple families who have adopted children from the Foster Care system or the same country internationally, such that the children continue pre-existing relationships and/or have a network of shared experience.

There are issues that all kids struggle with, and ones particular to adopted children. We will cultivate networks within and from outside the community to address issues such as physical and mental health, identity development, and belonging.

We will provide and work with you to develop materials for various aspects of community life — such as religious school, adult education and holiday enrichment — that will integrate the particular issues and questions raised by adoption to enrich your shared conversation and experience.

Goal of Step Seven: This one has no end. Love, grow, and heal the world.

Rabbi Susan Says
Ellen Zemel helps her 10-year-old son Laib Zemel, from left, in a symbolic lighting of a menorah in honor of the eight days of Hanukkah Sunday Dec. 14, 2014 during a party for parents and children of the Project Esther: The Chicago Jewish Adoption Network of the Jewish Child & Family Services at the Elain Kersten Children's Center in Northbrook. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune) 2415851 - ct-multi-ethnic-jews-hanukkah-met 2

(Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune)


Saturday morning services have ended at Temple Sinai and the congregation is gathered in the recreation room for lunch and socializing. The table is covered with bagels and cream cheese, as well as Ethiopian injera and sauces. The children are running around, playing cards, hiding behind the curtains on the small stage at the back, sneaking soda, and negotiating play dates.

Among the children are a dozen or so from orphanages in Addis Ababa. They are of the eight families of Temple Sinai who have adopted in the Second Nurture framework. Their parents had shared the adoption journey from the beginning: from learning about the orphan crisis to home studies and paperwork; matching with and traveling to bring their children home to on-going support of each other and the children via classes and discussion groups.

In clusters of conversation they watch their children play. They share meaningful glances that say it all: thank God they are here, with us, our children. Fellow congregants who are part of the new cohort of adopting parents – still in the home study stage — join them in a cluster, excited and nervous. They grasp the hands of their birth kids and say, “Soon your brother or sister will come home from Ethiopia, too!”

Many of their friends in the synagogue, adoptive families and not, are now involved in supporting sustainable technologies in a village outside Addis Ababa that enables mothers to pump and filter water at home, raising their children more healthfully and safely.

Tonight, Temple Sinai is holding an Open House for Second Nurture. The members are excited to welcome families from the Sikh Temple, since only Indians can adopt from the very high orphan population in India, as well as families from the nearby Unitarian church and the city’s community center.

This scene is supported and promoted by Second Nurture in dozens of religious and secular communities around the country.

Bring your child home & finalize adoption.

There is acute experience, like Homecoming Day, which is often followed by a Honeymoon Period. There will also be a stretch of time, until the finalization of the adoption, where there will be official social worker visits for both monitoring and support.

“I picked up the manila envelope we had received from an adoption agency, and Yosef put down his newspaper. I hadn’t opened it yet, hadn’t yet been willing to enter some ass-kicking reality: once the forms were complete, our file would join hundreds of others on the desk of a bureaucratic matchmaker—a faraway woman at a desk, surrounded by stuffed manila folders or clear plastic sleeves in binders. Half the files would be filled with information on prospective parents like us. The other half with photographs, biographies, and medical records of children. For Papa, make him a scholar! For Mama, make him rich as a king!

Maybe Xue the Matchmaker sits in an old Soviet-style office building in Beijing sipping bubble tea, and Sunita the Matchmaker drinks lassi in a Gothic structure in Mumbai, and Mio the Matchmaker sits in Hong Kong sipping yuanyang, and Yihune the Matchmaker savors muddy coffee in Addis Ababa, and Regina the Matchmaker tosses back a shot of Russian vodka. And maybe Xue’s bubble tea spills on one of the two piles of forms, and in cleaning up the spill she puts the top document on the windowsill to dry, and staples the second document to the first document from the other pile, and instead of Mei Ling going to Esther Goldberg on the Upper West Side of Manhattan she goes to Erin and John o’Malley in Boston.

And maybe that was meant to be.”

Prepare for your child & get organized.

The length of time between being notified that you have been selected as the adoptive family for a child or sibling group and receiving the physical placement of them in your home is dependent on many factors. Just as you will need time to prepare both physically and emotionally for the placement, so too does the child with the help of their caseworker, foster family, and others. Activities such as goodbye visits with the child’s birth family and others will not only help you to be patient for placement to occur, but will also help you to respond to the child’s mixed feelings when placement does occur. Weighing other factors, such as timing placement to happen during summer vacation, holiday break, or at the end of a school semester will be help them transition more smoothly from their current placement to your family. Pre-placement visits with the child in your home, the child’s foster home, or a neutral location is important. When and where the visits happen, and how many will occur, are customized for each adoption and take into account the child’s age and developmental stage, child and family calendars, distance, and other factors. You will also have preparations to make such as school arrangements, medical insurance, and legal processes. Second Nurture and our partners – your partners – will guide you through it.

I rifled through the forms. Three stapled sections were held together by a paper clip. The pages were photocopies, black type on white paper, the text askew. I paused at the page of medical conditions, like the health history form you complete at a first doctor visit. But instead of checking off the ailments you had, you checked off the ones you were willing to have—in a child:

HIV, Clubfoot, Blindness, Deafness, Cleft Palate, Spina Bifida, Hypospadias, Hemangioma

Each mark, whether a “yes” or a “no,” felt significant. Would a certain pattern of yes and no marks somehow lead us to our child? How could I divine these markers on our path, like constellations in a desert sky? And who was I to have this kind of power? God lifted the veil of creation, just a little smidge at the corner, for half a second, and showed me a glimpse of its inner workings. “Now,” the still small voice said, “take a step toward your child.”

I reviewed the column of blue Xs I had drawn. I had responded honestly, as honestly as possible. This was a partnership between my Bic pen and the cosmos.

Our National Social Service Director, Mary Beth King, MSSA, tells us about the Home Study Process in North Carolina:

In NC, a total of 3 home study visits are typically required. For married couples or if there is more than one adult living in the home, this usually extends to 4 visits. The first visit is generally with both partners: discussions related to why you’ve chosen to adopt, what you anticipate your life will be like as parents (or with additional children in the home), addressing any major concerns related to the process, the child, the overall adoption and what it means for your family in particular.

The next two visits are with each partner individually; we’ll talk about your childhood, your own experiences with your parents and what sorts of traditions and parenting norms you want to continue or see change with your own family. We’ll talk about your best memories and some of your hardest memories. Your relationship with your siblings and extended family. We’ll go over your time in school, your career, what it’s been like to be a parent so far (if you already have children) or what you anticipate parenthood will be like (from an individual standpoint). Talk about your partner and how you expect your relationship will change once you have children (or more children!).

The last visit is a general wrap up – go over anything that needs additional clarification or may have been missed, address any questions that have arisen throughout the process.

At some point, we’ll do a house tour. I’ll open closets, but I won’t rifle through them! I don’t care if your house is clean or if your pets (or children!) are freshly bathed. You do not need to have a room prepared for the child to be adopted (rules are different for foster care); you only need a rough idea of where he/she will sleep. Without a doubt, everyone says this is the most nerve wracking part of the adoption process – but it really shouldn’t be!

Note: International Adoption demands additional steps related to the US Department of Homeland Security, legal and court procedures, and US State Department immigration. Throughout, we will help you bring meaningful cultural paradigms to the process.

Getting the word out.

  • Write an article about Second Nurture for your newsletter with a description of Second Nurture and a link to our website.
  • Ask your clergy person or other community leader to speak about adoption (we are happy to provide her/him with content)
  • Invite a member of our staff or one of our partners to join you in presenting Second Nurture.
  • Invite interested community leaders, potential adoptive families and others to an informational gathering. Download our Sample Letter here.
  • Read Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World in adult education, book, or other groups, Use the Readers’ Guide.

* We are here to help you develop the best content for your community.

Unparented Children Abroad.

No one knows how many orphaned children are in the world or the circumstances of their care. In 2005, UNICEF estimated that there were 13 million children who had lost both parents in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Due to the AIDS pandemic and other factors, that number has surely grown. Many of these children are being raised by extended family. Many are in orphanages, on the streets, or in child-headed groups. Many are trafficked into sexual and other criminal and military activities. Children living outside of family care are far less likely to have access to adequate shelter, nutrition, healthcare and education. They are far more likely to be subjected to disease, child trafficking, hazardous labor, physical abuse and sexual exploitation. They are also more likely to die from preventable and treatable diseases stemming from malnutrition, AIDS, inadequate sanitation, poor water, malaria and diarrhea. Remember the 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria? There’s one reason the world has paid attention to them: They have mothers. Recent medical research and cross-cultural studies confirm that institutionalized children are susceptible to a wide array of psychological and developmental and emotional challenges. www.bothendsburning.org

Children in the US Foster Care system

According to the most recent federal data, there are currently more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. They range in age from infants to 21 years old. The average age of a child in foster care is more than 8 years old. Children and youth enter foster care because they have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by their parents or guardians. All of these children have experienced loss and some form of trauma. In other ways, foster children are no different from children who aren’t in foster care: they are learning and growing, like to play and hang out with friends their age, and need the love and stability a permanent home provides. The median amount of time that a child spends in foster care is just over a year. More than half of the children in foster care will be reunified with their parents or primary caregivers, and nearly one-quarter will be adopted, many by their foster parents. Each year, approximately 20,000 youth will age out of the foster care system when they turn 18 or 21, or when they finish high school (depending upon the state in which they live.) These children are at increased risk of poor educational outcomes, experiencing homelessness, and being unemployed. (From AdoptUSKids.org)