Are you looking for a friendly guide for caregivers of children who have experienced trauma? Then search no further. The Compassionate Companion: Supportive Guidance for Fostering and Adoptive Caregivers includes almost everything a seasoned caregiver wishes they had known before becoming a fostering, adoptive, or familial caregiver. It features insights from Carla A. Carlisle’s lived experiences and will help you make informed decisions and steps toward having a healthy child while maintaining your own self-care, which is critical to being the best caregiver possible.
There are over 400,000 children in foster care in the US. Regardless of how dire the situation may be, it still hurts when a child is separated from their parents. With an average of three placements during their first year in care and an average of seven placements during their foster care journey, our in-care children are struggling. Let’s prepare for the task ahead—caring for a child in foster care and potentially becoming an adoptive parent. Together, we can change the trajectory of a child’s life. Let’s do this!
Carla’s thoughts on working with SPARK Publications:
“I appreciate the level of professionalism and vision that SPARK Publications brings to the relationship with a writer. They endeavor to understand the writer’s vision, mission, and objectives and ask probing questions to help meet the goals of the writing project. My three favorite things SPARK Publications provides are: 1) editing—expert editors that help bring your vision to life, 2) graphics for the front and back covers—they asked my inspiration, what I wanted to accomplish and the feel of the book … and they captured it all, and 3) their process—they helped me stay on track to meet the timeline for The Compassionate Companion.”
Is there a particular moment that SPARKed your interest in writing a book?
I first published My Big Notebook through SPARK Publications with my 12-year-old son and it has been very well received. My Big Notebook is a “buddy in a book” for kids, designed to help them process their feelings in a healthy way. I wrote The Compassionate Companion as a companion guide to prospective fostering and adoptive caregivers. I made pretty much every mistake in the book—and so did most of the people I interviewed—because I wasn’t prepared for the process or reality of the impact on myself and my family. I believe in being prepared for any situation I encounter, but there was nothing that prepared me for the actual experience. I decided to help others by sharing key information and questions developed by experienced foster and adoptive caregivers as well as a few adoptive (adult) children.
We are not alone in our struggles, trials and tribulations, and triumphs! It is possible to be as prepared as possible, show love and compassion to the child(ren), AND take care of yourself too. One theme was that caregivers were unaware of the trauma their child experienced prior to coming into the home. Without that knowledge, it tends to be harder to give the appropriate support. Also, pretty much everyone I interviewed, at some point, found themselves operating on empty, giving all of themselves to others.
What surprises did you encounter on the road to writing and publishing the book?
It surprised me that there were so many fostering and adoptive caregivers with similar experiences to mine. It reinforced the need for The Compassionate Companion. The classroom and programmatic information given as you progress through the fostering and adoptive process is valuable, yet it doesn’t really touch “real life.” It also surprised me about how much data I compiled (without really even trying) through lived experience. Writing the book was almost easy because there is so much information to share and it motivated me to help those who want to foster or adopt.
How did SPARK Publications help in championing and publishing your book?
SPARK Publications helped me through my writing and publishing journey by providing me with exceptional editors, helping me develop the right cover that would invite and soothe to the reader, and pushing me to meet my deadlines! I feel a genuine sense of partnership with the SPARKlers!
Now that your book is published, are there any goals or experiences you’re looking forward to?
Now that my book is published, I look forward to sharing this essential tool with fostering and adoptive caregivers and the community! My goal is to help potential parents prepare for their journey by leveraging The Compassionate Companion. I have workshops and talks that align with the book available to organizations. More information is available at carlaacarlisle.com.
What advice do you have for other authorpreneurs and aspiring writers?
My advice to other authorpreneurs and aspiring writers is to just start writing. It may be uncomfortable, but just get started. As a recovering perfectionist, I used to believe everything had to be in order and pristine before I could take a step forward. But my writing coach, Glenn Proctor (2-time Pulitzer Prize winner), told me to just start writing. In my case, SPARK Publications paired me with an amazing editor who helped me structure my writing and build an incredible tool for people to use, not just to sit pretty on a shelf! You can do this … just get started!
Tell us about your future plans—what’s next for you?
My future plans are to continue giving keynote speeches and workshops to support caregivers and our children who desperately need love, attention, and support. I look to build my nonprofit—The Compassionate Companion, INC.—to get books in the hands of those who may not be able to afford to purchase my books themselves.
If you could broadcast two sentences to the entire world, what would they be?
It takes one loving advocate to change the trajectory of a child’s life. To be effective, a caregiver must put their own care first—self-care is not selfish, it is essential to being an effective and compassionate caregiver.
For potential cross-promotion or awesome connections, do you have a podcast, regular event, and/or run or manage a nonprofit?
My non-profit is called The Compassionate Companion, INC. I set it up to take donations to provide My Big Notebook for underserved youth. See compassionatecompanion.org.
Outside of your business, what are your hobbies and passions?
My passion is seen through my books—children, mental health, trauma recovery, and care for caregivers. My hobbies include shopping, traveling (especially to the islands), and music (I’m inclined to dancehall, reggae, and R&B). Hanging out with my kids and my friends—separately—is always fun.
Carla Carlisle is TEDx speaker, award-winning author, trauma expert, proud boy mom. A keynote speaker and boy mom, Carla provides workshops to support our communities in becoming trauma informed and practicing self-care. Carla, TIAA’s 2022 Working Mother of Year Award Recipient, is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She earned an M.S. in human resources management from American University, an M.S. in organizational development from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in sociology from Indiana University.
Connect with Carla A. Carlisle:
- LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/carlaacarlisle/
- Facebook: facebook.com/CarlaACarlisle
- Website: carlaacarlisle.com/
- Instagram: instagram.com/carlaacarlisle/
The Compassionate Companion is published by SPARK Publications
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