Cathy Balliet, a recruitment and family development supervisor with Diakon Adoption & Foster Care, is interviewed by Nathalie Gros, producing a documentary for the French television network, Canal Plus.

Diakon Adoption & Foster Care parent training gains international attention

Topton, Pa.    Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Diakon Adoption & Foster Care's parent-training program has gained international attention.

A journalist from the French television network Canal Plus recently filmed a session of family training conducted by Diakon Adoption & Foster Care staff members based at the program's Topton office. Nathalie Gros, associated with production group CAPA Television, interviewed Diakon staff members, prospective adoptive and foster families and, later that day at a Diakon-sponsored fashion show matching event, older youths who await their own “forever family.” According to Gros, the 10-minute program will air only in France, with voices of those interviewed dubbed in French.

The piece will be shown on “a current-affairs program called L’Effet Papillon (which means The Butterfly Effect, a bit similar to Frontline in the U.S.),” says Yves Schaeffner, a New York City-based associate of the network. “Every week, we produce three different reports from three different countries.”

The filmmakers located Diakon Adoption & Foster Care through an Internet search for adoption programs that include parent training. “We place great emphasis on providing training and support for our prospective and current families,” says Lauren Conzaman, vice president for Diakon Child & Family Services. “Our goal is that every adoption succeed.”

The French filming of Diakon's adoption training program is the second time Diakon has garnered international-media interest.It was, in fact, issues with adoptive placements in Europe that prompted the report. “We are ... [producing] a report about the issue of re-adoption (or re-homing),” indicates Schaeffner. “The starting point of our report is a recent investigation by Reuters [in Europe], but we would like to show that certain groups and organizations like yours are trying to prepare parents who want to adopt children to make sure that the adoption goes well.”


Nathalie Gros of French television interviews prospective resource parent Kathleen Gaughan during an adoption-related training session.

Nathalie Gros of French television interviews prospective resource parent Kathleen Gaughan during an adoption-related training session.

In addition to filming the parent-training session, Gros interviewed youths and parents involved in an afternoon fashion show “matching event,” also held on The Lutheran Home at Topton campus. Eighteen youths available for adoption were treated to new clothing, makeup, and a chance to be “stars of the show” in front of prospective adoptive families.

The filming by the French network is the second time Diakon programs have attracted international media attention. Several years ago, a Japanese film crew developing a documentary on the Appalachian Trail interviewed and photographed youths taking part in Diakon Youth Services’ 30-Day Wilderness Challenge Program, part of which takes place on the trail. The challenge program helps youths who have been adjudicated delinquent or dependent by county courts learn to work with others, face and succeed at challenges, and reflect on the circumstances that brought them before county officials.

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