Monday, December 22, 2008

Playing Santa

We would like to thank two organizations whose employees have done so much to help children living in foster care this holiday season. Marriott & Renaissance held their Annual Philadelphia Holiday Open House and asked those coming to donate gifts. Marriott employees added many extra gifts and did a flurry of wrapping, bringing in over 200 presents for NAC to distribute.

Wendy's restaurants in the region again collaborated to bring together gifts for the 31 children and teens on their lists. They did a marvelous job getting most, if not all, of the gifts on each child's list.

Our offices have really looked like the North Pole lately. We are grateful for all of the work our friends have done to help brighten the holidays for these children. The best gift of course is a permanent home, we'll continue to work on that and hope you help us in that goal too.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Home for the Holidays

We wanted to highlight the efforts of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, an organization that supports foster children year-round. The organization’s namesake founder was an adoptee himself who, though his success with the Wendy’s corporation, built the foundation upon the principle of “Do what's best for the child.” The foundation has accomplished this goal repeatedly with the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, which finds permanent homes for foster children through fundraising and advocacy, with the goal of finding adoptive families for 8,000 - 10,000 children by 2010. Thus far, 2,600 children in the U.S. foster care system have been matched with families who can provide a permanent home.

The holiday season is often the hardest time of year for children who have either lost or never had a loving family. To celebrate those children who have found adoptive families, while at the same time drawing attention to those who remain in foster care, the Dave Thomas Foundation is once again airing A Home for the Holidays on December 23. This program, which can be seen on CBS, features celebrities such as this year’s Faith Hill, who draw attention to the needs of children in foster care. The program also highlights children and their adoptive families, allowing them to share their success stories with viewers.

The media’s portrayal of adoption too often reflects high-profile celebrity adoptions of international children. This program provides a stage for the thousands of overlooked foster children in this country to be seen. Tune in on Tuesday, December 23 8:00 - 9:00 EST/PST to celebrate these children and find out how you can help.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holidays and the Blues

Holidays can be a difficult time for adopted children and their families. This time of year can remind a child of difficult holidays in the past or, on the other hand, make them long to be around people that are no longer in their lives. It is important to respect the unique difficulties that your child will face, but not to allow them to dwell upon the negative aspects of the holiday season. The best thing to alleviate a child’s holiday blues is to provide as many shared experiences as possible, especially if it’s your family’s first Christmas together. By creating new traditions, you will ensure that subsequent holidays are easier and more enjoyable for the whole family.

There are many ways for your family to bond over the holidays. Holiday pictures are a great way to make your child feel that they truly are a part of the family. Help your child to create hand-made gifts for friends and loved ones. This is a great opportunity for your child to open up to those around them and also provides a creative outlet that will distract them from feelings of loss or loneliness. The best gifts are not necessarily store-bought. If your child is old enough, try to get them involved with a charitable cause this holiday season. For example, animal shelters are always in need of supplies, so getting your child involved in making a donation can help them feel good about themselves. Come up with some other ideas to make sure that this is you child’s best holiday ever.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Single Parents, Gay Parents

A recent survey of 1,000 adults conducted by Action for Children found that over a third of respondents oppose adoption by single and gay parents (thirty-seven and thirty-eight percent, respectively.) Public opinion has changed very little recently on same-sex adoption and these figures are consistent with the recent Pew Center survey which also indicated that a large minority of the population still disapproves of adoption by members of the LGBT community.

The more surprising finding is that there is an equally large group of people who believe that single parents should not adopt, regardless of sexual orientation. More than 80% of respondents cited the need for both “male and female role models” as the reasoning behind their opposition. The fact that many social workers have been found to have similarly conservative views does not give much hope to single and gay adoptive parents.

It is the policy of the National Adoption Center that no person should be denied consideration in the adoption process solely based on marital status, sexual orientation, lifestyle, disability, physical appearance, race, gender, age, religion and/or size of family. The support group that single parents surround themselves with will ensure that their adoptive child has the all of the “role models” that they need whether it be the parents themselves or an entire community.

There are challenges to be overcome, but none of them are insurmountable with the right information. The requirements of the thousands of foster children in this country can be met by many different families, including those that do not fit the traditional structure. Share your opinions on same-sex and single adoption with others and hopefully public opinion will change, shifting the focus to what is truly important: a child’s best interests.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Florida Ban Repealed

You may have missed this in the run-up to Thanksgiving, but last week a Miami judge approved the adoption of two children by the parent who has been fostering them, who happens to be gay.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederm ruled the ban on adoptions by gay people unconstitutional. Thus bringing down a 31-year old law.

While this matter may still go to the Florida Supreme Court, we applaud this first step.
To read more, click here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nebraska's Child Safe Haven Law

An update on a story we've written about in the past.

From the New York Times:
Nebraska Revises Child Safe Haven Law
Published: November 21, 2008

Omaha — In an emergency session, the Nebraska legislature on Friday revised a law permitting parents or guardians to hand children over to state custody without fear of prosecution, limiting its reach to infants up to 30 days old.

Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican, is expected to sign the bill Friday afternoon, It will go into effect at 12:01 Saturday morning.

Full Article

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

LGBT Adoption

As the United States voted the first African African-American into office, the state of Arkansas joined Florida, Utah and Mississippi in banning unmarried couples from adopting. The ban, of course, extends to LGBT couples. This is especially disheartening news for a state in which there are "three times as many children who need homes as people willing to adopt or foster them" according to Brett Kincaid, campaign director for Arkansas Families First. Despite the result, a survey conducted by the University of Arkansas indicated that 55 percent of voters in the state opposed the ban. Public critics included former President Bill Clinton. The strongest support came from conservatives, whose grassroots efforts helped the measure to pass with nearly 57 percent of the vote.

Adoption bans have been passed under different phraseology in every state that has supported such measures. Florida and Mississippi explicitly prohibit adoption by LGBT couples, whereas Utah prevents all unmarried cohabitated couples from adopting. Arkansas’ measures are closer to those passed in Utah, as they prevent all unmarried couples from adopting, regardless of sexual orientation. As of 2006, nearly 9,000 children in Arkansas remained in foster care, with 216 "aging out" of the system. It is unfortunate that, in a state whose foster care system desperately needs help, legislation has been passed that does not even represent public opinion. Consequently, measures based more upon political ideologies than common sense have once again limited the possibilities for foster children to find a permanent home.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Economic Crisis' Impact on Foster Care System Part 3

Despite the bleak outlook presented in the past two blogs, there is a wealth of assistance available to current and prospective foster parents. Foster children need loving families more than ever. The more informed you are about the benefits available, the more realistically you can decide if and when adoption is an option. Below are some of the options available in helping to make the decision to adopt an easier one:
  • Many employers offer benefits including paid or unpaid leave and reimbursement of adoption-related expenses.
  • By filling out Form 8839 you are eligible for a tax credit worth $10,960.
  • If your child qualifies, they may be eligible for reimbursements under Title IV-E.
  • In certain states, adopted children receive partial or full college tuition.
Agencies like the National Adoption Center exist to provide information on programs and incentives that improve the conditions of foster children. Talk to your social worker to see what credits and reimbursements you are eligible for. Once you’ve gotten all of the necessary information, adopting a child at such a difficult economic time might not seem so improbable.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Economic Crisis' Impact on Foster Care System Part 2

Poverty, homelessness and unemployment are some of the main contributing factors to children being placed in foster care. Considering the current economic recession, it is possible that more children than ever will be placed in foster care in the coming months. The American foster care system is already facing challenges due to a lack of funding and workers. It is difficult to recruit and hold on to trained social workers who might improve the experiences of children in foster homes, which have gained a reputation as being unsafe in recent years. According to a 2004 report in The Future of Children, “30% to 80% of children in foster care exhibit emotional and/or behavioral problems, either from their experiences before entering foster care or from the foster care experience itself.”

This makes the job of a current or prospective foster parent harder than ever. Not only are they expected to deal with a variety of developmental disorders in their children, but the networks available to assist them are becoming increasingly dysfunctional. Without the proper funding, fewer parents will consider adoption and those who do will find it harder to raise their children successfully. It is easy to forget children who are still in foster care when so many families on both ends of the adoption process are already facing problems that seem insurmountable. Consider the following statistics: 37% of foster youth aged 17–20 had not completed high school and 12% reported being homeless at least once. With poverty and homelessness as two of the main contributors to placement in foster care, the resulting statistics seem neither promising nor surprising.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Economic Crisis' Impact on Foster Care System

In the next few posts we are going to look at the impact of the current financial crisis and it's potential impact on the foster care system. America’s foster care system was in financially-bad condition even before the global financial crisis. Last fall the Washington Post reported that “in nearly every state… the cost of providing basic care for a foster child exceeds the government's foster-care reimbursement rate.” Collectively, states are reimbursed $5 billion per year towards annual foster care expenditures; a large but still inadequate number. Researchers at the University of Maryland, who conducted the study, factored in basic needs such as food and clothing. The ensuing subprime mortgage crisis and stock market crash and the resultant bail-out plans have likely halted plans for any future government increase in funding for children currently in foster care. According to the aforementioned Washington Post report, the only state that adequately covered the costs of caring for foster children was Arizona.

Over 760,000 Americans have lost their jobs in the last nine months, many of whom are either current or prospective adoptive and/or foster parents. The prices of basic needs such as food and transportation are steadily rising and tax hikes are expected for all income levels. In addition, 47 million Americans still lack health care and 400,000 face foreclosures. A 2002 study reported that for every 1,000 people who call a public child welfare agency, only 36 ultimately go on to adopt. With numbers like these, the future of America’s 130,000 foster children seems bleaker than ever.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Traditional safe haven laws were intended to allow parents (specifically mothers) in urgent situations to give up their babies to secure locations until a permanent home was found. These laws were created in response to the growing incidence of unsafe abandonment across the country and allowed parents to securely relinquish control of their children while maintaining anonymity and without facing criminal prosecution. Supporters of these laws claim that parents who would have previously “dumped” their children can now safely surrender them. Critics point out that in many cases the laws guarantee anonymity to the parents and therefore the repercussions are lessened, causing the rate of child of child abandonment to increase

In an unprecedented move, Nebraska has extended traditional safe haven laws to children as old as 17. Since Nebraska’s law went into effect on July 23, twenty seven children between 1 and 17 years old have been left by their legal guardians at state hospitals. In almost half of these cases, children were between 15 and 17 years old.

All states have safe haven laws which apply to infants between a few weeks and one year old. Nebraska allows parents to abandon “any child up to the age of 18” with the intent of “protect[ing] children who are in immediate danger of being harmed.” This modification of traditional safe haven laws has, not surprisingly, resulted in an unprecedented number of older children and teenagers, none of whom were in immediate danger, to be left at hospitals. Four of these cases involved children who were 17 years old.

The consequences of abandoning an older child are severe, including irreparable psychological and social harm. The steps that can be taken in order to ensure that a child abandoned shortly after birth will be raised effectively without a sense of fear and shame are simply not available to an older child. Thankfully, on October 29, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman called for a special session to update the new law. The session will begin Friday, Nov. 14. Gov. Heineman’s stated purpose in updating the law is to “focus on its original intent, which is to protect infants.” The proposed changes will apply the law to infants who are no more than three days old.

This story has garnered national attention and represents an extraordinary violation of children’s rights at a time when 130,000 children still remain in foster care. More importantly, the state of Nebraska needs to address the unintended consequence of twenty seven children now left in state care under a law which was clearly flawed.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Interacial Adoption

It is widely known that there are a disproportionate number of minority children in foster care. Preliminary 2006 information from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) shows that 60% of children waiting to be adopted are minorities, 32% of whom are African Americans. The 1994 Howard M. Metzenbaum Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) was put in place with the long-overdue goal of “preventing discrimination in the placement of children on the basis of race, color, or national origin.” The intent was to place children with adoptive families who could best meet their needs, regardless of ethic or racial background. Fourteen years later the statistics are still distressing, but progress has been made.

The annual AFCARS report reveals a promising trend, indicating that the population in foster homes is beginning to more closely resemble the national population. Statistics from 1998 show that the number of African American children in foster care was 43%, significantly higher than the 32% reported in 2003. There would seem to be a direct correlation between the MEPA ruling and this normalization of the racial makeup in foster homes. Hopefully, strides are being made to support minority children, who much more often enter adulthood never having found a permanent home.

The National Adoption Center recognizes the benefit of finding adoptive parents whose backgrounds children can identify with. To meet that need, we actively engage in the recruitment of families that fit the diverse cultures of waiting children. We also know that matches sometimes transcend ethnic backgrounds and interracial adoption often is a great choice as well. If an interracial placement occurs, agencies should be required to provide additional support to preserve children's racial and cultural connections.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President-Elect Obama

We are heartened by the results of the election yesterday. Regardless of your political affiliation, it was wonderful to see so many take part in the process. We look forward to uniting as a nation through the leadership of President-elect Barack Obama and his Vice-President-elect, Joe Biden. While there are many issues in need of attention, we will work to keep spotlighted those issues which touch the lives of children within the foster care system and those who receive the permanacy of adoption.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Family Growth Patterns

The recent National Center for Health Statistics' National Survey of Family Growth reports that “men adopt twice as often as women—2.3 percent of men versus 1.1 percent of women.” This reflects a national trend in which the number of single fathers more than doubled from 1.1 million to 2.5 million between 1990 and 2006. These statistics are promising, but the numbers can be misleading. Researchers have attributed the growth in the number of men involved in adoptions mainly to men who adopt their divorced or widowed wives’ children and to gay male couples. Furthermore, four out of five single-parent families are still headed by women.

Despite this, any growth in the involvement of single fathers in raising children is good news. The roles of parents have become more flexible in recent years, and single father households are no longer seen as a rarity. Mothers are often given parental responsibility by default, regardless of their ability to provide the optimal environment for their children, while fathers are held minimally accountable. If these societal stereotypes are abandoned, placing children whose mothers are unfit parents into foster care will no longer be seen as the only alternative. Likewise, many single men who would not previously have thought of adopting may see adoption from foster care as the best choice. There are a plethora of issues to consider regarding expectations and responsibilities that hopefully can further the situation of children who are already in or face the possibility of being in foster care.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

LGBT Adoptions

England’s 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations “outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services.” One of these services is adoption, a service that is often provided by the Catholic Church. Many Church agencies have severed ties with the Church in order to comply with new legislation and carry on with their duties, while others have closed their doors in the face of such changes. In some situations, such as in the case of The Westminster Catholic Children's Society, clergy have either outright ignored legislation or have attempted to find loopholes that allow them to continue practicing discriminatory adoption.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, president of the aforementioned Westminster Catholic Children's Society, made clear his intention to exclusively place children with heterosexuals. Since his announcement over the summer, five agencies in the United Kingdom have disclaimed control by the Church and one has ceased to function as an adoption agency. These cases reflect a mixed reaction by the Church over former Prime Minster Tony Blair’s “support [of] the right of gay couples to apply to adopt like any other couple.” While it is too soon to declare a victory for either side, some agencies have expressed no intention to comply with the fast-approaching legislation deadline.

A significant minority of adoptions are arranged by the Catholic Church in Great Britain and the United States. The Church’s unprecedented role in the care and adoption of foster children cannot be overstated. This does not, however, justify their defiance of legislation which advances the rights of members of the LGBT community to adopt. As of January 1st 2009 any Catholic adoption agency that attempts to prevent a gay or lesbian couple from adopting based upon their sexual orientation could face legal action.

Will lawmakers in England allow Church agencies to continue practicing an incredibly valuable service even if they continue to disregard new legislation? The worst case scenario would echo the Catholic Charities of Boston’s’ 2006 decision to stop working in adoption after state laws were passed allowing adoptions by LGBT-identified people. Governments have previously discussed granting exemptions to the church, but in the case of Great Britain, Prime Minister Blair’s outgoing support for the legislation has been maintained. A 2006 Pew Center survey indicated that 46% of Americans are in favor of allowing gays to adopt, up from 38% in 1999. Perhaps it is time for the Catholic Church to reassess its stance on those of the LGBT community to adopt.

Monday, October 27, 2008

No Smoking for PA Foster Parents

In an article by Jonathan D. Silver, Pennsylvania's new 'Clean Indoor Air Act' effective September 11, 2008 is discussed.

As he writes it:
[The law] contains a provision which bans smoking in homes or vehicles that are used for "services related to the care of children and youth in state or county custody." This means that foster parents are bound by this law and cannot smoke in their home or vehicle if the foster child is present, and have to post "No Smoking" signs in their private residence.

The Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth and Family Services expressed fears that this law could impose greater challenges in finding much needed foster families for children. While there is worry that there will be "disruptions" in the child welfare system, state Department of Public Welfare spokeswoman Stacey Witalec stated that there duty is to protect the health and safety of children in their care. A violation of the law can result in a $250 fine. Even though being a smoker does not automatically preclude someone from being a foster parent, some agencies have asked foster parents to sign a no-smoking pledge.

Click here for the full article: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 19, 2008

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Instead of Candy This Halloween

Instead of giving out candy this Halloween, why not give out coupons to your trick-or-treaters? Each coupon is for a free Wendy’s Jr. Frosty. Since 1992 this program has been raising money for programs which support and promote foster care adoption. This annual program raised almost $1.6 million for foster care adoption in the US and Canada in 2007.

This is a great way to not only raise funds which support foster care adoption programs such as Wendy's Wonderful Kids, but also raise awareness in the local community.

Dollar booklets can be purchased at Wendy’s with 10 coupons per book.

Monday, October 20, 2008

WHYY seeks stories of people over 50 for series

Here is an opportunity for those in our local region. For many people age 50 and over, retirement is seen as an opportunity to open another chapter in their lives where experience, knowledge and passion become an asset to their communities.

WHYY and Coming of Age, a civic engagement partnership also sponsored by United Way, AARP and Temple University, is providing a chance for these individuals to tell their stories on the new Coming of Age Radio Series on 91FM and The series will explore the many ways that people fifty plus in the Greater Philadelphia area are pursuing their interests and making a difference.

The public broadcasting station is looking for first-person experiences about connecting and contributing in your neighborhood or in larger arenas from people aged 50+ in the Southeastern Pennsylvania region.

Here is the opportunity for you to share your experiences as a volunteer for the National Adoption Center. Some of you have generously contributed your time and efforts to help us with our Match Parties, which bring together in a friendly fun-filled setting children waiting in foster care to be adopted and families desiring to adopt. Other volunteers have assisted at our annual gala, golf tournament or other events.

For more information or to relate your experience, follow this link.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Foster Family to Forever Family

You’re a foster parent and you’re considering making the commitment to adopt. You wonder, “Is this step right for me, my family and my foster child?”

To help you make an informed decision, the National Adoption Center has created a friendly, interactive online course, Foster Family to Adoptive Family, designed by adoption professionals, that provides in one convenient location everything you need to know to guide you in making this life-changing choice.

In addition to foster parents who want to adopt their foster child or children, the course is helpful for prospective adoptive parents, adoption agencies and social workers, and anyone working with adoptive families and their children.

Topics include the benefits for children, families and society of adopting your foster child; understanding what your state permits, the importance of a support system; the seven steps of the adoption process, getting the help you need to guide you and your child in making the transition from foster to adopt, and discussing adoption with your social worker. There is also an extensive glossary, a list of adoption-related websites, and a section on famous people whose lives were touched by adoption.

Cost of the course is $35. To access it, go to our main website:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Transracial Adoption Study

Faculty in the Department of Family Science, at the University of Maryland, in conjunction with The Center for Adoption Support and Education (CASE), are initiating a national survey of transracially adopted adolescents and their families. The specific focus of the study is to examine the impact of family characteristics on the overall adjustment, self-esteem and racial identity of racial minority youth adopted by white parents.

They are looking for parent or parents who are white and at least one racial minority adolescent between the ages of 14-18, in the family. The study will consist of an online survey about 20 minutes in length.

If you would like to know more about the study or are interested in participating, contact:
Dr. Leigh Leslie
Department of Family Science
The University of Maryland, College Park

Monday, October 13, 2008

Raise Me Up Campaign Launched Today

The Raise Me Up Campaign is launching today. From their website:

You don’t have to raise foster children to raise them up. You just have to raise your hand and say you’ll help.

The Raise Me Up campaign will harness the vast power of communities, families and individuals who are willing to raise their hands and help bring real change to the lives of vulnerable children.

Raise Me Up is a national effort that offers people real opportunities to make a difference in the life of a child in their community, through education, volunteering and outreach.

Raise Me Up features powerful ads on television and radio, and in newspapers and other venues, that highlight the real difference people can make in the life of a child by getting involved.

There are three principal elements of the Raise Me Up campaign:

Raise Your Hand will connect visitors to volunteer opportunities with local organizations. Whether someone would like to volunteer, mentor a child or make a donation, their contribution can make all the difference in the life of a child in foster care.

Raise Awareness will connect people to events and other opportunities to learn more about helping to strengthen children and families. The more people know about the facts of foster care, the more that can be done to improve the lives of children in care.

Raise Your Voice will provide simple ways for people to get involved in efforts to improve the child-welfare system and to engage with elected officials at the regional, state and national levels in supporting these vulnerable children.

We encourage you to check out their website and get involved!

Friday, October 10, 2008


How much do you know about the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)? It was an act passed in 1978 to control the child welfare cases of Native American children. It gives tribal governments jurisdiction over states when the child in question is living on a reservation. For children not living on a reservation, the tribal government has equal power to the state and can request that the case be transfered from the state court to the tribal court.

If parental rights are to be terminated, there is a heirarcy for where the child should be placed. First, extended family, then other members of the tribe, then other Native Americans who are not memebers of the tribe and lastly non-Native Americans. The purpose of this is to preserve the child's culture as much as possible.

For more details please see A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act from the Native American Rights Fund.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Economy and Adoption From Foster Care

With the economy tanking, we are pleased that potential adopters of children who now live in foster care can continue to count on adoption subsidies to help defray any costs associated with raising their adopted children. In addition, children are provided with medical coverage, which may include coverage for psychological challenges. In addition, the federal government provides anyone who adopts with additional benefits for those who adopt children from the foster care system. And increasing numbers of companies are offering employees benefits which range from paid or unpaid time off to a cash payment to help with adoption costs. If you are considering adoption, but worry that you may not be able to afford it, ask your social worker about adoption subsidies…and learn whether your employer provides adoption benefits. If it does not, maybe you can convince the human resources manager to consider adding adoption benefits to the employee package. It is cost effective because it is seldom used, creates positive feelings among employees and is a win-win situation.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Match Party

This weekend we held a Match Party in Delaware. From the smiles on the faces of the children and the prospective families, I think it was a successful party. If you are not familiar with the concept, you may wonder what is a Match Party?

A Match Party, sometimes called an adoption party, is a carefully planned event designed to bring together children who are waiting to be adopted with families interested in adopting them. In this case, this means only families who have been approved to adopt.

The theme of this Match Party was a carnival and was held on a college campus, outdoors with a large-protected lawn . We had games for the children to play with the assistance of the prospective parents. The games were not only to have fun with, but to also facilitate interaction between the children and adults, helping them to get to know each other.

We believe that no one comes forth to adopt the waiting children, almost all of whom live in foster care, unless they know about their existence. But even more important than that, says Toni Oliver, the executive director of Roots, an adoption agency in Atlanta, is the chance to meet the children. “It’s a powerful thing when people can see the children, see that they’re like any other child. Potential adoptive parents can see beyond the labels, the diagnosis and the case histories that mask who the children really are. Then they can say, ‘Maybe I could do that…adopt one of them.’ ”

Meredith and her husband, Fred, who attended a past Match Party said, “Meeting the children personally took away our fears. We saw that they are just children, like any other, and that they need parents like all children do.”

In addition to providing an opportunity to connect with a potential family, the children just enjoyed a day of play out in the fresh air. The day was focused on them and gave them the chance to meet other children who are waiting to be adopted. We even had some sibling groups who are now residing in separate homes reunited for the day and encouraged to play together and talk!

We'll keep you posted on any matches made. We also have a sibling-only event in New Jersey at the end of October. Get in touch if you'd like to be registered for that event.

Friday, October 3, 2008

LGBT Adoption

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center Research Center reveals mixed views on adoption by LGBT couples. 48% of people surveyed oppose adoption by lesbian and gay prospective parents, while 46% of those surveyed are in favor. Those in favor of allowing adoption by LGBT prospective parents are overwhelmingly younger college graduates who are religiously unaffiliated. Men and minority groups tend not to favor LGBT adoptions. Gay marriage remains a major issue in the 2008 elections, and it is important to note that 54% of Democrats are in favor of lesbian and gay parents adopting, while only 31% of Republicans support them. Religious affiliation remains highly correlated to whether or not an individual supports adoptions by gay and lesbians: 29% of white evangelicals support this, while at 56%, almost twice as many mainline Protestants are in favor. 64% of those who are religiously unaffiliated support adoption by LGBT couples.

The laws regarding LGBT adoption remain unclear in many states and illegal in Florida and Mississippi. A recent court decision in Florida indicates that this may soon change. LGBT couples continue to petition for adoption while many children remain in foster care. What are your thoughts on the future of adoption by gay and lesbian families?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Helping Families Before Foster Care

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made significant progress in his four year goal of providing assistance for the homeless of New York City. A recent New York Times article reports that the city’s new agreement provides “immediate [and] free shelter” to “homeless families demonstrating urgent need.” This means that access to desperately needed supplies such as infant formula will no longer be as heavily regulated and made unnecessarily complicated by forms and regulations. With improvements needed in our nation’s foster care system, it is comforting to see Mr. Bloomberg making efforts to address families facing even more dire circumstances. Families might have a better chance to get back on their feet, especially amidst a flagging economy, if more services were made available in other cities, resulting in fewer children being put in jeopardy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

International or Domestic Adoption?

The number of international adoptions continued to decline in 2007. While the State Department reported that adoptions from countries such as China and Russia rose between 1993 and 2005, recent restrictions from overseas adoption agencies have caused the rate of international adoptions to go down. With over 114,000 children in the United States still living under foster care, perhaps it is time to turn our attention closer to home. It is important to consider some of the undeserved myths and overlooked benefits of adopting domestically.

Access to your child’s medical and social history is essential in order to adequately address special needs such as exposure to drugs and alcohol in babies or attachment disorders in older children. Medical records and foster agencies will provide all of this information for domestic children, while information on children from overseas is often not available at all. It is commonly believed that agencies in other countries are desperate to get rid of orphaned children and will therefore adopt them more cheaply and quickly than children in the United States. This is also untrue, as the costs and waiting periods for typical international and domestic adoptions are very similar. Fears concerning an adopted child’s biological parents reclaiming them are also unsubstantiated; any domestic adoption requires the birth family to relinquish their parental rights through a legal process and in most cases a foster child is already legally free.

This is not to say that children in other countries do not desperately need parents too. It is essential for every potential adoptive parent to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of adopting domestically and to clarify many of the myths that contribute to so many American children remaining in foster care.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Older Youth in Care

Last week we shared some statistics from the 2008 Survey of Washington State Youth in Foster Care, we continue that this week.

The survey was done with youths aged 15 to 18 years of age. Directly from the survey:
The median number of years spent in foster care, including relative placements, for these youth is five years. The median number of different placements experienced by these youth during their entire years in foster care is four. However 19% of these youth reported having more that 10 different placements during their years in foster care. The median number of social workers that these youth have has since they've been in foster care is three.

Taken together, these statistics show the transience that these youths have had to deal with in addition to the separation from their biological family. Change is difficult for people of any age, but especially for those who have lived through so much uncertainty. Without strong roots, it is difficult for the tree to withstand the pressures which abound. This is why we at NAC support efforts to give children and youths the security of permanency in their lives.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fixing DC's System

A recent article reports that “a federal court has given D.C. two weeks to come up with a plan to fix its adoption system or risk it going back into receivership.” Although the article does not directly point out the ways in which the city’s system is “broken,” it does assume a correlation between it and the currently low rates of both permanent placement and adoption. The number of adoptions in Washington D.C. has dropped by 50 percent between 2005 and 2007, and the trend looks to continue this year. The article provides an account of a couple who attempted to adopt a teenaged foster child and, faced with unreasonable challenges and frustration, was unable to bring the child into their home. If D.C.’s system is in fact preventing children in foster care from finding homes with ready and capable families, then it does indeed need “fixing.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Adoption Clubhouse

With the blog well underway, we just wanted to remind you of another great resource: the Adoption Clubhouse. By going to, children aged 8-13 have access to helpful resources ranging from help with school to information on famous people who have an adoption connection. We know it can be hard to find all of the answers to your child's questions, so we have also included nearly 40 essays and stories created by children that can help them to relate their experiences to others. There is also information for teachers and links to more than 25 featured books and movies about adoption. Take a look and let us know how we can make it even better.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Adoption Around You

Today during an introduction someone mentioned that she was in foster care as a child, until going to live with her aunt and uncle. This was at a business event completely unrelated to adoption or foster care. I began to wonder how many people I know have been touched by adoption or the foster care system. I know two people who are dating men who were adopted. I know others who are parents to adopted children. I'm sure I could think about it and find many other connections. How has and how will adoption touch your life? Even if it is not obvious, it may be impacting your life in many ways, even today.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Right to Know vs. Privacy

Several months ago, we had an email from a 25-year-old woman I’ll call Meryl who was adopted when she was a toddler. Recently, she learned that she had a twin sister, knew where her sister was living and the names of the couple who had adopted her. She called her sister’s adoptive parents and identified herself, but was warned by them not to contact her sister. Why? Her sister did not know she was adopted. Her parents had never told her and had no intention of doing so now. They were worried about how she would handle it and how they would be viewed by her for keeping her adoption a secret for so long.

Meryl wanted to know what to do. She didn’t want to ruin her sister’s life or create a problem between her and her parents. Yet, she felt her sister was entitled to know she had a twin. What if medical issues emerged in the future that would make it important for the two women to be in contact? What about the emotional fallout of being separated from your twin sister?

We told her it was an ethical decision, requiring a determination about whose priorities were the most critical. We referred her to Art Kaplan, head of ethics at the University of Pennsylvania who helped her craft a plan.

How do you think Art Kaplan advised her? What would you have done? Tell us what you think.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Survey of Youth in Foster Care

Washington State just published the results of a survey of youths in foster care in 2007. The youths in question were ages 15-18. There are some really interesting results in this survey. We'll examine a few in forthcoming posts.

Today, let's focus on what the youths thought about their preparedness for life after foster care. Typically at age 18 a youth "ages out" of the system and is on his or her own to find a place to live, find a job, find a way to continue his or her education.

In the survey (full text can be found here), 37% of the respondents participated in an Independent Living or a Transitional Living program. Of those who were facing aging out within 6 months of the survey, 26% felt very prepared to live on their own, 51%, somewhat prepared, and 23% not very or not at all prepared.

Through adoption, one creates the network which will assist a youth growing into adulthood. This network, family, is something we believe all children are entitled to. How prepared were you at 18 to handle all of life's responsibilities with little to no help or guidance?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Foster Children In and Out of Care

According to a new report compiled by the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, a statewide child-advocacy group, Philadelphia children who leave foster care re-enter the system at “extremely high rates.” Many child welfare experts believe that enough isn’t done to strengthen the children’s families so that the children may return to their homes safely and receive loving care.

While no one wants to see children taken away from their parents permanently, the facts show that some parents will never be able to take care of their children, no matter the supports they are given. Little seems to have changed in three decades…we continue to see children who are returned to their family homes again and again only to be abused and neglected, sometimes to the point of death. Indeed, the first option for these children should be living with their parents, but only when the parents demonstrate that they will nurture and care for them. If that can’t happen, the children should be freed to be placed with adoptive families.

We have helped find adoptive families for more than 21,000 children and we know that there are families who want— who will even advocate for-- these children. Every one of them deserves the chance to grow up healthy and happy. It is up to those of us in child welfare, those who are responsible for these children’s futures, to know when enough is enough…when children, in order to survive and thrive, must leave the parents who gave birth to them and move on to parents who will cherish and nourish them.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

White House Conference for Children Bill

As an organization we have signed on in support of the Child Welfare League of America's effort to get a White House Conference on Children & Youth. Upon congressional approval, a conference would be held in 2010 at the White House re-establishing conferences that took place every ten years from 1910 to 1970. Typically there is one year of local, state and tribal events to gather input and momentum in advance of the conference. Participants would include state officials, court and legal representatives, providers, children, tribal representatives and other parties effected by or involved with the child welfare system.

Why are we supporting this conference? Because it covers solely child welfare
, it would focus attention on issues from prevention, intervention to permanency including reunification, kinship care and adoption. The timing of the event, early in a new presidency, should get the candidates to address child welfare issues in their campaigns and to have these topics on their agendas early in their terms.

What can you do?
First and foremost you can contact your Senators and Representatives in Congress and urge them to support this. Call 202/224-3121 to connect to Congress. Go to the CWLA's website for further information.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Legislative Action

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, September 10 to consider the Chairman's Mark of the Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act (S. 3038), which includes important improvements for children and youth in foster care. The Center has supported this piece of legislation and we ask you to also.

What does the new legislation call for?
  • Extending and Improving Adoption Incentives - continuation of current state-incentive program with new emphasis on special needs adoptions.

  • Increasing Tribal Foster Care and Adoption Access - tribes would be able to receive funding directly to provide foster care services within the tribal community.

  • Keeping More Kids with Relative Guardians - Permanent placements with relatives would be encouraged through both relaxing the home-study rules for kin adopters and by providing adoption subsidy to relatives who become permanent guardians of kin.

  • Supporting Older Children in Foster Care - States would be required to assist youths transitioning out of the foster care system, even after their 18th birthday, in finding housing, employment, education and medical coverage.

  • Helping Caregivers Reach support and resources - Programs would be set up to assist relatives who are permanent guardians find the support and resources already in place for them.

The committee mark-up will take place at 10:00 am in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 215. Please call or email your local senator and voice your support of this bill.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hague's Impact Domestically

As a result of the Hague Adoption Convention, ratified in December, 2007, which standardizes policies and protocols for international adoption, adoptions by Americans of children from other countries has slowed dramatically.

Maybe this is good news for the 120,000 children in this country’s foster care system who wait to be adopted. They are not the healthy babies or toddlers often associated with adoption; they are usually school aged, some are teenagers, and they may be brothers and sisters who want to be adopted together. Some have emotional issues; others have physical or mental disabilities. But they all need families, and if you ask families who have adopted children like them, they invariably say they regret they didn’t do it sooner.

Advantages of adopting these children include:

• Cost—while international adoptions usually cost more than $20,000, there is virtually no cost to adopting from the foster care system
• Ease of adoption—there is no need to travel to another country, sometimes more than once, and to go through extensive immigration and naturalization procedures
• More information available on children—While information about the children’s background and medical history is scant when adopting from other countries, adoption agencies here make every effort to get complete medical and background information on the children in foster care, back to infancy

We want to see every child who needs a home find one no matter where in the world he or she lives. But the rush to adopt children from Russia and Guatemala and China and Roumania has shortchanged the children right here in our own country who need families. Some of them have been waiting for years. As one ten-year-old boy put it, “I’m a good boy. Why doesn’t anyone want me?”

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

New Beginings

Whether one has children in the home or not, September always seems like a time of new beginnings. Here at the Center we are starting our new blog. This is our voice to you where we can share all types of things from the latest adoption news, to common obstacles we see our families and children facing.

We also want to hear back from you. While we'll be posting specific questions for you to respond to, we welcome comments on any post. We will be using the information we gather from you to inform our work here at the Center. We want to ensure that all the children in foster care find permanent homes, and your insights, suggestions, front-line reports will help us to reach that goal.

Thank you for entering this dialog with us.