Jennifer Bliss, LCW, Psy.D., is director of adoptions and foster care at Vista del Mar Child and Family Services, a local nonprofit that provides education, autism, adoption, residential-care, prevention and early-intervention programs. She recently shared some information about herself – and about Vista.
What are some of your immediate goals in your new position?
Building on the strengths of Vista’s diverse and comprehensive programs, services, and expert team, my priorities include:
- Increasing education and engagement in order to cultivate our community’s interest in learning more about foster care and adoption opportunities, concurrently breaking down perceived stigmas associated with fostering or adopting a child.
- Connecting and building new partnerships with local, national, and global adoption organizations that reflect Vista’s best-practice standards so as to optimize resources for L.A. families.
- Strengthening Vista’s comprehensive support services for our adoptive families. Once you’re an alumni, you’re always a member of Vista’s Family.
What is the most critical need you see?
The lack of available, committed foster homes. In Los Angeles, there are over 28,000 children in foster care. We need to invest more time and resources into these children in order to break the cycle of dysfunction and disruption they have endured. They need a parent to tell them daily that they are worth loving so they can begin to believe it themselves. Being a foster parent can be a challenging journey, but consistently showing a child that they’re valued, respected, cherished and part of a team that works to heal their fractures is immensely rewarding. When provided with a stable, loving and permanent foundation, kids astonish us at how resilient they are. Watching a child learn to believe in themselves and blossom into the person they were meant to be is an indescribable experience.
How can L.A. families contribute to creating better futures for the children you work with?
By dedicating time, energy, resources and/or by choosing to become a foster parent. We’re looking for responsible people ready to open their minds, hearts and homes, to commit to our children and to inspire them to reach their greatest potential. That might be as a foster parent, mentor or community advocate. With a child-centered approach, Vista Del Mar takes great care in considering each child’s individual needs with the goal of connecting them with their forever family.
We seem to live in a society that views things through the lens of I versus we. Imagine if together, our community makes it a priority in 2019 to recognize and invest in even more life-enhancing services for children in care, as they are one of ourmost precious resources, they’re the future of this city and our country.
I invite your readers to consider what it might be like to become a foster parent. It would be my team’s pleasure and privilege to help them take the first steps in exploring options and opportunities locally. Potential parents who may be willing and able to foster or adopt might worry that they may not be good enough to be considered. Please know that children don’t need a perfect parent; they need safety, consistency, compassion and love.
If a family is considering adoption, what are some critical factors they should think about and explore?
Start with a blank page! When thinking of becoming a parent, we often think our child needs to look like us, have our same talents or interests, etc. In order to approach adoption in a healthy way for all involved, short term and long, it’s important to release preconceived notions, allowing you to open your heart and accept and nurture a child to adopt for all of the wonderful things that make them who they are and to contribute to who your family can become.
I understand you attended USC and UCLA, did you grow up in Los Angeles?
I did! In Agoura Hills.
Do you have a personal motto?
“A candle loses none of its light by lighting another candle.”
What sets your heart on fire?
Working with children
What do you like to do when not working?
Spending time with my family and friends.