Jessica (left) and Patrice Ismael-Gantt began utilizing RPACS services after adopting their son, Zane.
“Being able to help people navigate adoption and become a family is unbelievable,” says Rosemary Liberti, an MSW and Senior Project Manager whose been helping build families for nearly 20 years at UMFS and 28 years in total.
For Rosemary, the weight of what’s at stake with adoption is top of mind — and not just during National Adoption Month in November — but 365 days a year.
“When it goes well, our adoption team says, ‘We did it! Hallelujah,’ Rosemary said. “But if it goes badly, it crushes us. It absolutely crushes us.”
Which is why Rosemary (pictured) and her team of unwavering champions is constantly looking for ways to improve. They’re relentless in their pursuit of solutions to help adoptive families not only achieve permanency, but maintain it. “What could we have done differently to promote permanency?” Rosemary asked. “How could we have helped more?”
These are complicated questions, to be sure, and complicated questions require complex responses. That’s why UMFS has partnered with C2Adopt, Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia, and Children’s Home Society, to offer a wide-reaching and holistic approach to post-adoption preservation for families who reside in the central and eastern regions of Virginia. Post-adoption services also are available to families who reside outside of central and eastern regions, but services are provided by other partner agencies.
“The Regional Post Adoption Consortium Services, or RPACS, is funded by Virginia Department of Social Services,” explain Denise Purgold, an LCSW and the Adoption Supervisor at UMFS. Like Rosemary, Denise also has been working in adoption for 20 years. “Each of the organizations that comprise RPACS is an expert in the field.”
What that means, Denise (pictured) continued, is that “RPACS is the place for adoptive families to go if they have questions, need guidance or support in addressing adoption-related issues, or need to get connected to resources.”
In short, RPACS advocates for adoptive families and offers case management, crisis planning, education and training, information and referrals, parent support, peer support, and planned respite activities. RPACS services are available to families in Virginia who have finalized an adoption with a young person aged up to 18 years old.
Families may contact any of the RPACS partners, and the partners will ensure that families are connected to the appropriate resources within their region.
“Parenting children who have experienced trauma and loss is so challenging,” Rosemary said. “We strive to provide support and resources to families, as we help navigate the complexities of their children’s needs.”
But before RPACS can help, the families must reach out, which presents two complicating factors. One, adoptive families are often unaware of the help that’s available to them. And two: “Sometimes when families finalize their adoption, they think they’re on their own,” Rosemary said. “We are so pleased to have the opportunity to provide support to families after their adoption is finalized.”
The hope that Rosemary, Denise, and partner organizations have is that families will turn to RPACS because of the very specific and targeted mission it’s carrying out: Lifting Up Adoptive Families.
“We want families to want to come to RPACS,” Denise said. “We’re going to partner with you to help you meet whatever your goals are.”
To learn more about Regional Post Adoption Consortium Services, visit UMFS.org/rpacs or call Denise Purgold, LCSW, at 804.254.9465.