Power of Story is the FIRST MN Child Caring-Placing Agency Founded in 10 years!

April 11, 2022

Power of Story is THRILLED to announce that we have been granted Minnesota Child Caring-Placing Agency status, which enables us to partner with counties and organizations to serve Minnesota youth and families!

Power of Story is the FIRST new Child Placing Agency to be founded in Minnesota in 10 years.  Although a child placing agency is commonly referred to as an adoption agency, Power of Story will not be placing children for foster care or adoption, but rather as a licensed program with the necessary DHS support, we will be completing Social Medical Histories and Lifebooks, meeting with youth and families, building family trees, reviewing medical records, child welfare files and hosting workshops

Founder and Executive Director, Alisa Matheson, comes to this work as a child-specific recruiter, educator, and parent.  She has witnessed the healing powers of known personal history and the destructive powers of an unknown one first hand.

“I believe that someone’s story shapes who they are. Humans deserve to know their history and are only able to move forward when the past is understood,” she shared.

However, children in foster care are served through a child welfare system with high caseloads, a lack of time and resources. Understandably, the focus on the work of child welfare is the immediate safety and wellbeing of the children served. However, obtaining medical history and family stories are vital both now and in the future.

Board President, Diane Stang, leads Power of Story’s diverse and intergenerational board that includes a foster youth, adult adoptee and adoptive parent. Diane has over 23 years of experience in Minnesota county government.  

She states, “In my years of working in foster care and adoption, I’ve witnessed children who are in desperate need of knowing their personal story – not only as part of healing in addressing their trauma histories but also to provide a sense of identity.”

Power of Story will complete Lifebooks, Social Medical Histories and workshops in tandem with local agencies, counties and organizations, bringing these necessary, healing, therapeutic, and valuable services to Minnesota youth and families. Power of Story could save a life and make life more worth living.

Most people take for granted having access to their medical history.  Having medical history helps doctors diagnose a health issue and help prevent future disease.   Your health history, tells your doctor what things you and your children may be at risk for in the future.  

Adults who experienced multiple foster home placements try to piece the information together for themselves, but what happens when a need arises and this information is missing?  Power of Story is committed to helping youth in the child welfare system gather this important information so that they can attain the same degree to knowledge most of us have about our history.

Personal and family stories are less tangible, but no valuable.  Alisa shares a story of completing a lifebook, for an adopted baby, whose her birth mom stopped coming to visits or responding to the county.  The adoptive parents were told the baby was abandoned.  But during the lifebook process, the baby’s mom said she wanted her daughter to have a life free of drugs, that was safe and stable, so she “let her go”. 

Knowing this didn’t change the facts of the story. Visits were missed, contact was cut off, rights were terminated, the child was adopted, but the impact of the story changed from abandonment, to a mother’s desperate hope for a brighter future for a loved child.

Even beyond the emotional impact this, research tells us that young people thrive when they know their families’ stories.  This shared history grounds children in how they fit into the larger story of their family and how they fit in the external world.  These stories are cemented as we age and by the retelling overtime.  Children in care are left to fill in the blanks around their own lives, their journey through foster care and the family they came from. 

However, Power of Story helps fill in those gaps, by asking the questions and recording it for the youth as they grow. 

We know this impact kids, in fact, Dr. Robyn Fivush, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Developmental Psychology at Emory University shares, “Our research has shown that adolescents and young adults who know (their) stories… do better on virtually every measure we have examined: higher self-esteem, social competence, and academic competence; lower depression, anxiety, and aggressive behaviors; and a higher sense of meaning and purpose in life.”

In a February 2022 survey, a foster alumni shared, “We need to know certain things (health records of the family for instance) and we want to know others (what actually happened, reasons, etc.)… it is our story, and are entitled to have it.”

The immediate health and safety of young people is imperative, but so is capturing the essence of their story long term. 

As former foster youth Adam Starks puts it, “We need to know our story to succeed in the future. It’s extremely difficult to wander through life without knowing your past. That void haunts and revisits you in unexpected ways if left unchecked.”

Power of Story is pleased to be the first newly licensed Child Caring-Placing Agency in Minnesota in 10 years.  We are ready to help strengthen Minnesota foster and adoptive youth and families by capturing the essence of young people’s stories, history and medical information.

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Rule 4 status has been granted to Power of Story! We complete lifebooks, social medical histories and workshops in tandem with local agencies and organizations.

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