The SAFE Alliance

How adoption can make a family feel complete

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Over the last year, SAFE has had the honor of celebrating 17 adoptions through our Foster & Adopt program. These children, who have all experienced trauma, now have safe and supportive homes. Homes like Mark and Dusty’s.

Mark and Dusty's Story

Mark Simoes and Dusty Nguyen have always known they wanted a family. After nearly 25 years together, they started talking about adoption, and it became clear that this was the path that would make their family complete.

After months of training, home visits, and guidance from SAFE, the couple became foster certified and the waiting period began. When the call came to take in a 10-month old baby, they opened their home to this small child and immediately fell in love.

Mark and Dusty were hoping for the chance to adopt the baby they had come to love, but things changed four months later when the child was reunified with his mother. While the primary goal of foster care is reunification, it can leave foster parents like Mark and Dusty devastated.

After the many days and nights watching their foster child transform in the comfort of a safe and loving home, their bond to this small child had become strong. However, the heartbreak Mark and Dusty felt reaffirmed their decision that adopting a child — or children — was something they deeply wanted.

About seven months later, the couple received the call for another referral for two young boys, Joshua and Caleb. After meeting the siblings and spending a weekend together, they felt an immediate connection that they knew was special. In mid-December, the brothers were flown to Austin and were placed in what would become their forever home.

“We had the best Christmas we could ever hope for,” Dusty said. “The stars seemed to align for us in a way that was just amazing.”

Their case went from placement to adoption in about six months, becoming official July of this year in the presence of numerous friends and family members at an emotional adoption day. Today, the boys are happy and healthy, and the family is looking forward to spending their second holiday season together.

“It’s amazing how getting into a permanent home for them made all the difference,” Dusty said. “We couldn’t be happier. You just have to open your heart and let that lead your way.”

The SAFE Alliance

Ask SAFE: Is this abuse?

I suspect that my friend is in an unhealthy relationship. I’ve never noticed any visible injuries, but her partner seems super controlling. He won’t let her go out without him, and when they’re together he is constantly criticizing her. Should I bring it up to my friend?

Abuse can include much more than physical violence – It can include emotional, psychological, or financial abuse and revolves around maintaining power and control over a partner. You can learn more about these dynamics here so you can comfortably discuss them with your friend if they would like.

Be thoughtful about how you bring this conversation up. Start by listening and letting your friend know you are there to support them in whatever decisions they make about the situation. Leaving an abusive relationship is a very difficult thing to do, and it’s important to not pass judgement on your friend. It’s also important to remember that leaving can be one of the most dangerous and highly lethal times for a survivor. Remind them that they are not to blame for the abuse and that they deserve to be safe. They can always contact the 24/7 SAFEline to talk about safety planning; it is a very important step when making a decision to leave an abusive situation.

Offer to help them find local resources if they are interested. If they don’t know exactly what they want or need at this point, that’s ok. Talk to them about various options and allow them to choose what feels helpful.

Don’t give up. Everyone works through difficult situations in their own way and in their own time. Be mindful that although your friend may make choices different from what you may hope, ultimately they know what is best for them and their situation. Continue being supportive, and seek out support for yourself if needed, as offering support as a helper can be taxing.

I work at a childcare center and there is a little 3 year old in my class. Over the past few months, I’ve noticed his behavior change; he’s having more tantrums, often refuses to eat, and even started hitting some of the other children while playing. When his parents picked him up one day, I heard them screaming at each other in the parking lot. Is this child in danger? What should I do? 

Children, especially young children, often can’t express if they are experiencing violence at home, so it’s important to be aware of changes in behavior that may suggest something is happening. While the child is at daycare with you, make sure they feel safe and supported by keeping regular routines, connecting with the child, and letting them make decisions. Let the child know they can talk to you if they are upset or worried about things at home. Help them learn positive relationship skills, such as how to use words vs. physical aggression, how to set and respect boundaries, and express feelings.

Sometimes it just takes one person asking if everything is OK and making sure that they are safe. Try to build relationships with the parents at your school so you are able to talk to them about anything that may be happening, especially changes in a child’s behavior. If you have a relationship with the parent, and you feel comfortable speaking with them in private, let them know about your concerns and encourage them to contact SAFE or another resource. Also remember that just because parents fight does not necessarily mean a child is being abused. Watch for behavioral changes in the child.

Texas law requires that any person suspecting that a child has been abused or neglected must immediately make a report. If there is an emergency, call 911 and then call the DFPS Texas Abuse Hotline at 1.800.252.5400. Make sure you have as much information as possible about the child and where they can be seen/interviewed if necessary as well as any specifics about the abuse. 

The David Owsley Museum of Art

Work of the Week: Rest by the Wayside

DOMA has several impressionist paintings, but Rest by the Wayside stands out to me for its natural beauty. Although this painting is smaller than some that surround it, the color combinations attract my attention. I’ve seen Chase’s work in other museums, and I’m pleased that this painting is included in our collection.

The painting, completed by William Merritt Chase in about 1902, exemplifies the artist’s landscape period toward the end of his career. Chase, an Indiana native, studied in Indianapolis, New York and Munich, Germany before returning to the United States in 1878. The artist painted a wide array of subjects including portraits, still-lifes and landscapes, showcasing the breadth of his painting ability. Phillip Kennicott, an art critic at the Washington Post, wrote of Chase that "…his mastery of different styles, different national tendencies gleaned from cosmopolitan exposure to the breadth of Europe’s art scene, can make it seem as if multiple painters are represented."

From 1891 to 1902, when this painting was completed, Chase spent his summers in the Shinnecock Hills of New York where he founded the Shinnecock Summer School of Art. He spent time painting the nature around him, producing a series of vast landscapes which often featured a small human subject. The cool blues and greens of the vegetation paired with the hazy sky give the painting a dreamy feel, eventually directing the eye along the horizon to ponder where the dirt path leads. The mysterious human figure makes the viewer wonder why he is sitting alone in the wide landscape.

Frank C. Ball, David Owsley’s grandfather, purchased Rest by the Wayside from Chase’s widow, Alice. The painting has been exhibited across the nation in Seattle and New York City, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1984. Rest by the Wayside can be found upstairs in the American gallery, alongside another Chase painting.

Learn More:
Ball State Library
Oxford Art Online