Helping Families in Crisis with Amy Curtis and Jennifer McCallum [Podcast 032]

Amy Curtis and Jennifer McCallum work with Buckner Children and Family Counseling Resources. Amy leads the counseling staff, and Jennifer is a post adoption counselor.

I heard Amy speak about helping families in crisis at a break out session at a conference, and I reached out to her to come onto my podcast so we could talk about this important subject.

Foster and adoptive families get lots of training and support while they are in the process of fostering or adopting. Friends and family express excitement about the pending adoption, then throw a big celebration when the day finally arrives. Then far too often the adoptive family is left to fend for themselves.

As an adoptive family struggles, red flags appear that sadly leads many down the road to disruption and dissolution. Disruption defines an adoption that fails before the adoption is final. Dissolution is an adoption that fails after the adoption is final.

Many studies done over the years reflect that around 10% or more adoptions end up either in disruption or dissolution. All this does is cause further harm for a child who has already suffered trauma.

I invite you to listen as we address the causes, red flags, and ways to avoid ending up being one of these statistics in this podcast interview.

Bio for Amy and Jennifer:

Jennifer McCallum, LPC,  is the Lead Post Adoption Counselor with Buckner Children and Family Services’ Counseling program Jennifer’s educational background is in Human Development, Child Development, and Counseling.  Jennifer has worked as a therapist serving adoptive families, foster families and kinship families. Prior to working in the field of adoption and foster care, Jennifer gained extensive experience working with Head Start as a family specialist, as a therapist with a psychiatric hospital, as a crisis line specialist and as a parenting class facilitator. Each position has been preparing her to manage the many, complex needs that adopted persons, parents, and birth parents face as they navigate life-long relationships.

Amy Curtis serves as Director of Counseling with Buckner Children and Family Services serving families and children throughout Buckner’s placement and permanency programs. She has worked in the field of adoption and foster care for over 30 years as a Licensed Social Worker and a Licensed Professional Counselor. Amy is also working on a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy, with a focus on attachment and trauma healing of adopted and foster teens and young adults, as well as focusing on the clinical needs of those most vulnerable globally.

Show Notes

  • Jennifer explains how she works with all members of the triad, the biological family, the adopted person, and the adoptive family.
  • Amy shares that she is an adoptee and an adoptive parent.
  • What is missing from post adoption counseling is a wholistic approach to all members of the triad.
    • People come together with very little information about each other.
  • Research shows that adoptive families tend to go into crisis 5-10 years after the adoption.
  • Amy and Jennifer share the red flags they see with families in crisis.
    • The nurture piece is missing.
    • Anger builds and isolation takes over.
    • Resentment creeps in about different things related to the adoption.
  • Amy—”Call me before you lose your compassion.”
  • When we go through stress our nervous system is impacted.
  • Parents can feel defensive as they reach out for help and support.
  • Ways people can support an adoptive family especially when they are in crisis.
    • Be aware that when a family is in crisis they go into isolation
    • Trauma informed care training is vital for everyone, not just adoptive families.
    • Don’t allow foster and adoptive ministries within a church to exist in isolation.
    • As a friend, don’t hesitate to step in and offer help.
  • Adoptive families need to have a real-life support group, not just an online internet group.
  • Placing agencies should pay attention to available resources in a community while placing a child in a family.

And much, much more!

Resources and Contact Information

Ready or Not: 30-Day Discovery for Families Growing Through Foster Care and Adoption by Pam Parish

Ready or Not for Battle Weary Parents by Pam Parish

Buckner Ministries

Amy Curtis email –

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I am a longtime Austinite. Married my beautiful wife over 25 years ago. Adopted our son September 2012. Currently a writer and loving it. Previous jobs and careers include project management, missionary, and pastor. I enjoy sports (both watching and playing), traveling, reading, digging in dirt and hanging with my friends and family.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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