Starting a Group

Starting and Nurturing Adoptive Parent Groups: A Guide for Leaders was written for you—adoptive, foster, and kinship parents who want to start a parent group. Your desire to lead is an important step for you and one that will positively affect the quality of life for families in your community and maybe even change the systems that determine child welfare policy. It takes courage to be a leader, and you should be proud of your willingness to help other parents and children.

As you think about starting a parent group, remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Gather good people around you to help you take the first step. You can begin slowly or develop quickly, and however you and your group grow and change, you will make a difference in the life of a child, a family, a community, or even a country.

Although this guide starts leaders at the very beginning of the group development process, it is designed to help leaders and parent groups at all stages of development. New leaders can work sequentially, going chapter by chapter as they progress from organizing their group to creating a mission and plan, to sponsoring their first event. Experienced leaders may use the materials by selecting single chapters, segments of chapters, or specific samples that address their current needs. A group that has supported the needs of the community for years may want to focus on chapter 6 to help them become a nonprofit organization. Other groups that are expanding their direct services to families may be most interested in exploring chapter 7 on financial planning and fundraising. A group experiencing membership burnout may feel they have lost the passion behind their mission and can find suggestions for how to rejuvenate their group in chapter 8. Wherever your group may be, this guide is meant to be one source that can help you and your group do what you want to do.

However you decide to use this guide, feel free to share the information generously with others, and make handouts available to anyone who needs them. Be creative and adapt any of the exercises and tools provided to fit your group’s style and culture. Take your time processing the information and if any part becomes overwhelming, return to it later when the timing is right or when you can apply the material to your group.

NACAC has nurtured and supported the efforts of more than 1,000 parent groups across North America since 1974. Over the years, parent groups have supported individual families and children, provided post-adoption services, and recruited prospective foster and adoptive families. Many groups have become agents of change—identifying policies and practices that will help foster children and adoptive families and working to make those policies and practices a reality. As a parent group leader, you are a part of a formidable network of parents who are dedicated to improving the lives of foster children, children who have been adopted, and their families.

As you and your group develop, remember to return to this guide from time to time, seek out other resources, stay connected with your community and other leaders, and contact NACAC if you have questions or need help. Most importantly, don’t ever lose sight of the collective power that parent leaders have.

– used by permission from the North American Council on Adoptable Children