Adoptees Have Answers (AHA) is a statewide program in Minnesota whose mission is to promote connections among adopted and formerly fostered individuals of all ages, ethnicities and family types while maximizing their lifelong welfare and self-fulfillment. In the 21 months since its inception, AHA has received over 9,000 calls and e-mails from adoptees and family members. About 5,000 people have viewed AHA on Facebook and YouTube. There have been over 11,000 visits to AHA’s website and AHA’s monthly newsletter is distributed to over 5,000 subscribers.
Participation in peer support groups is an excellent way for adoptees to connect with one another, share common experiences and provide mutual support. Current research confirms that it also promotes healthy identify development and self-esteem, helping to prevent complex challenges down the road. Based on this evidence, AHA launched 6 new support groups in the Twin Cities and outstate, including school-based groups, and is affiliated with 7 others in Minnesota. All are facilitated by adult adoptees or formerly fostered people. AHA also offers free, one-to-one telephone and e-mail peer talk support.
Due to recent budget reductions, AHA’s effort to increase the number of adoptee support groups in Minnesota has been put on hold. There is an estimated population of over 135,000 adoptees and fosterees in Minnesota, many in outlying towns and communities. Currently without the resources to support live group development, AHA wants to establish an online adoptee support group with the capacity to connect adult adoptees in Minnesota from border to border and at all times.
AHA is applying for the Land of Gazillion $2,000 Giveaway to continue to develop its online support group technology, with appropriate security features, through its website and to help subsidize and the human resources necessary to facilitate the group. With an all-adoptee staff and an all-adoptee Advisory Group comprised of child welfare professionals and culturally competent leaders, all with the life experience of adoption or foster care, AHA can provide the human resources needed to support an online group and committed to creating more opportunities for peer-to-peer exchanges throughout Minnesota.
Proposed Project Schedule
- Initial meetings with AHA and web developer: Week of September 20 through 23, 2011
- Development time: Weeks of September 26 through October 21, 2011
- Announcement of new online group: Week of October 1, 2011, ongoing
- Meetings with support group facilitators to establish guidelines and group schedule: Weeks of September 26 through October 21, 2011
- Testing time: October 21 though October 31, 2011
- Launch of online group: November 1, 2011
“I loved being part of a larger community, knowing that I was not alone. I felt accepted, supported and encouraged.” — International/transracial support group attendee
“Often adoptees need adopted peers simply to connect and to help process emotions that, if unattended, can become immobilizing.” – AHA Program Manager in Star-Tribune article, Aug. 2, 2011