Allison Douglas is an emerging voice in the fields of therapeutic parenting, trauma responsive learning environments, and early childhood mental health. She holds professional certifications in Dr. Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics™ and Neurosequential Model in Education and has completed UC Davis’ Napa Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship.
However, her greatest lessons have come from her children. Find out more about her lived experience as a foster and adoptive mother – The Douglas Family, Tennessee.
The Douglas Family, Tennessee
Our kids have overcome incredible odds and persevere daily!
Eleven years ago, Allison and Jonathan Douglas began to transform their calm, sedate lifestyle into one centered on the activities, needs, challenges, and joys that children bring to a home. They signed up to become foster parents, and they ended up adopting four of the children they had cared for.
Asked what motivated them, Allison replies, “Children in need of families.” Then she further explains that an encounter with a foster family in their community inspired them to become foster parents themselves through their local DCS.
On their application, the Douglas’s indicated their openness to children of different ethnicities, children with disabilities, and sibling groups. Shortly after they completed the licensing process, T., age 5 entered their home. Several months later, 2-year-old M., T.’s biological brother joined the Douglas household. When reunification was not possible, the family was able to adopt the pair within a couple of years.
The Douglas’s continued to provide foster care, which led them to adopt two more times. Son J.R. arrived at age 2 and was adopted at age 3. A couple of years later another 2-year-old, daughter M.J., came, and she also was adopted at age 3.
Once settled into their new home, the children began to heal, and they have continued to make steady progress over the years. Allison writes, “Our kids have struggled with emotional and behavioral issues due to prenatal drug exposure and early childhood traumas.” As an example, she recalls that J.R., when placed with them as a frightened, non-verbal 2-year-old, would flinch at her approach. Allison and Jonathan agree, “ALL our kids have overcome incredible odds and they continue to persevere daily!”
Each youngster has developed unique talents and interests. T., now age 16, is a fabulous writer who enjoys playing computer games and drawing. M., age 12, likes listening to audio books, learning about history, and helping those in need. J.R., age 9, runs cross country and enjoys working out, playing basketball and doing yoga. Like many 7-year-old girls, M.J. enjoys playing with her Barbie dolls, getting her nails painted, and playing dress up.
Adopting through foster care has taught the Douglas’s much about pervasive developmental delays, learning disabilities, and mental health challenges. They have used post adoption supports including Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy and mental health services. Allison and Jonathan have found EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy “integral to one of our son’s healing.” The therapist understood the impact of early trauma and was able to treat the underlying issues instead of focusing solely on behaviors.
Allison and Jonathan Douglas wish to thank members of Congress for the Federal Adoption Tax Credit, which they have used to build a special sensory room in their home. They respectfully ask lawmakers to understand the insidious and long-lasting impact of childhood neglect, trauma and prenatal drug and alcohol exposure. They write, “These issues don’t disappear when the adoption decree is signed. Families need a robust and trauma-informed training curriculum and access to adoption and trauma-competent professionals. Services must be available for these kids and families to succeed.”
What people are saying –
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the seminar last night. I’m an adoption professional but I’m an adoptive parent too and I found myself inwardly saying “AMEN” to about 100 different points that were made. Thank you so much for your help and for making this information available to parents and professionals alike. The information you guys shared is SO IMPORTANT!
-adoptive parent and adoption professional from South Carolina
I attended Allison’s 3-part Trauma-sensitive Parenting Skills webinar series in late 2020 and it was so beneficial for me and the families I work with. I am a child & family therapist with a community agency, and we see lots of families who are involved with DHHS and foster care, so I am always looking for relatable ways to help explain to parents and caregivers what they are seeing in their kids. Allison speaks not only as a professional, but also shares her personal experiences as a long-time foster parent, and is able to share all the tips and tricks she has learned along the way! She breaks things down into simple and practical terms, and sharing the information I gathered from her training has really helped the parents/caregivers I work with to better understand where their children are coming from and why they often react the way they do. Thank you!
– Jennifer Cullom, M.Ed., LAC, LPCC
I just want to thank you SO MUCH for your help this evening. I am sitting here crying (I didn’t expect this).
We are in the process of adopting our wonderful young foster son. He has been with us for 9 weeks now, and honestly, many days, we feel we are losing everything. I feel I am coming unraveled, unable to connect with his needs, unable to regulate his behaviors. Your webinar shone a bit of light. It gives me hope, and direction…I have some glimmer of hope, some shred of direction now. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
-J.P., foster father
Get in touch with Allison –
If you would like to inquire about Allison’s availability to provide training for your agency or school or to book her for a conference workshop or keynote address, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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