JOLIET, Ill. - Changing a child’s world through adoption — it’s a dream for many families, but they just don’t know how to navigate the system.
So, a Joliet family started a nonprofit to help.
As Jason and Cheryl Bentsen bonded with their two adopted children, they saw a need nationwide for families that had either adopted or fostered children. They say there is plenty of support around the time of adoption, but afterward the support dwindles and there’s no advice column for parents in need.
"My child might deal with anxiety, and this child may have been abused and this child may have dealt with a lot of different things with institutionalization… It can be really different for every kid and you're really being a detective to figure out what your child needs," said Jason Bentsen, co-founder of Loves Moves Us.
He and his wife founded the nonprofit six years ago. They serve 300 families a year.
The organization hosts monthly dinners for families that focus on raising children who have experienced trauma.
"They love being able to have a free meal and get their kids taken care of once a month. Then [we] give them practical skills and tools that they can take home that help them with their parenting and bringing about healing and connection and trust with their children," said Jason.
The couple also has a YouTube channel that addresses common issues for adoptive parents.
The organization gave Melanie and Jason Weller a roadmap for their two adopted daughters, Kayla and Skylar.
"It's really nice, especially for those older kids who come into it and say I’m not alone. There's other kids like me or there's other families that look different," said Melanie.
May is National Foster Care Month and the need for foster families has never been greater.
Love Moves Us is free for foster families to participate.
"It shows that you're not alone. It really is a village that helps raise these children. We have the support that allows us to give our kids the support that they need," said Melanie.
Love Moves Us is hosting their first big fundraiser this Saturday. It’s a 5K race at the Hadley Valley Forest Preserve in Joliet.
You can register online by going to www.LoveMoves.us