Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Last Post of the Year

2009 has been a busy year at the Center. We've had multiple match parties, with great kids and potential parents in three different states! We've had Freddie Mac Foundation's Wednesday's Child tapings most weeks. These feature Vai Sikahema of NBC-10 interviewing and usually playing alongside one of our youths waiting for a permanent home. We built and launched a new website to support this thriving, national program.

We also launched AdoptMatch, our online matching program that brings families together with the adoption agency appropriate for them. Mainly regional to Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, in 2010 we will roll this out across the country.

AdoptSpeak.org, our online community, is also a thriving place to get and share information and support regarding adoption. Thanks so much for all those who contribute to the conversations there! We also wanted to thank all of our readers and contributers for a fun year of blogging.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday season! See you in 2010!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wendy's Wonderful Christmas Blog


Jowelle doesn’t know it yet, but later this week she is going to receive an Ipod Nano, itunes giftcard, earrings and bracelets for Christmas. She is a Wendy’s Wonderful Kid, and will be getting these gifts from a local Wendy’s franchise owner who decided to help give our kids a great Christmas. With the help of very generous Wendy’s owners in the area, every child on our Delaware and Southern New Jersey caseload is going to receive presents for Christmas.


I can’t stop smiling when I deliver these presents to the children, who are all very excited to get exactly what they asked for on their Christmas list. While it is fun to see the children opening their presents, it also makes me sad to realize that this is the 2nd year Jowelle is getting gifts for being a part of the Wendy’s Wonderful Kid’s program. That means a whole year has gone by with Jowelle in the foster care system just waiting to be adopted. Jowelle is an amazing teenager who deserves to spend her next Christmas with her Forever Family, rather than in a foster home.



Next year I hope there will be a whole new set of children to buy presents for. Hopefully, all of our current children will have found their new permanent families and will be spending their first Christmas together. If you would like to be a Forever Family for any of our Wendy’s Wonderful Kid’s, please contact me at acressman@adopt.org or call 215-735-9988 ext. 319. Happy Holidays to everyone and have a good New Year!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good TV for a Change

Another plug for the 11th annual “A Home for the Holidays with Faith Hill” will air Wednesday, December 23 at 8 PM n CBS. The entertainment special will feature celebrities and inspirational stories about foster care adoption. The program is presented in association with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the Children’s Action Network.

Thomas, who was adopted, established the Dave Thomas Foundation in 1992. It is dedicated to dramatically increasing the adoptions of the more than 129,000 children in North America's foster care systems waiting for permanent, loving homes. Through the Foundation’s Wendy's Wonderful Kids (WWK) program, recruiters are working for children in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and throughout Canada. The Adoption Center of Delaware Valley is a WWK agency in the Philadelphia region.

The Children’s Action Network was founded in 1990 by leaders in the entertainment industry committed to using the power of the media to inform the public about the needs of children and to make children a top priority in American life.

The special will include moving performances by five-time Grammy Award winner and Academy of Country Music (ACM) Award winner Faith Hill, who headlines for the second time, Grammy Award-winning singer Mary J. Blige, musician and featured adoptee Michael Franti, Grammy and ACM Award-winning country superstar Reba McEntire, Grammy Award-winning Latin pop singer Shakira and Grammy and ACM Award-winning star Carrie Underwood, among others. Jenna Elfman ("Accidentally on Purpose") and Nia Vardalos ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding") are among the celebrities presenting inspirational stories about adoption.

Jenna Elfman, Nia Vardalos and other celebrities whose lives have been touched by adoption or who are involved with children’s issues, will present story segments about adoptive families.

Monday, December 14, 2009

AdoptAChild

We have found that a large part of what we do is public awareness. Letting people know that there are children waiting for permanent homes in foster care. Letting people know that these children are just children like any others, deserving of love and a family. We have done this for over 30 years through newspaper articles, television, radio broadcasts and websites. Now we are proud to have ventured into mobile communications with an iPhone App. This is a freely available app and can be found through the App Store or click here.

The main goal is to raise public awareness about our mission: there are no unwanted children, just unfound families. We hope to draw more people to our resources, such as our photolistings, our course on adoption from foster care and our forum, AdoptSpeak.org. Overall, we want to find families for all of the children currently waiting for a place to call home.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Home for the Holidays

Happy Friday Everyone!

I wanted to share a story with you that truly touches my heart and inspires the true meaning of Christmas. Today I attended a team meeting for a teen on my caseload. This teen (whom I will refer to as “Charles”) does not have a family to call his own. What he does have is a support staff that cares for him, and a special friend (whom I will refer to as “Matthew”). Charles and Matthew are in similar situations; both are teenagers in foster care, both were previously living in the same residential placement, but Matthew recently moved into a foster home. Knowing that Charles would not have a family to spend the holidays with, Matthew asked his foster parents if Charles could spend Christmas day with his new foster family. Matthew was so heartfelt and sincere with his request, that his foster parents agreed to have Charles be their guest for the day. Both boys are excited because they will have a home for the holiday.

A Home for the Holidays is presented by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Children's Action Network, and sponsored by Wendy's. Now in its 11th year, the special will feature Faith Hill and include performances by Shakira, Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood. Nia Vardolos and Jenna Elfman are among the celebrities who will present inspirational stories of extraordinary families formed through foster care adoption.

Please tune in to watch this special event and consider opening up your home, not just for the holidays, but everyday, by adopting a child from foster care.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Academic Success

According to studies, almost 800,000 children in the United States spend time in foster care each year. These children may change foster homes once or twice a year. Often these moves mean also changing schools. Because of this, it can be hard for them to make significant educational progress. Frequently, they experience delays in enrolling in a new school or difficulties in transferring credits from one school to another. As a result, many foster children lag behind their classmates, lose hope and drop out of school.

To address this problem, in 2008 Congress enacted the Fostering Connections to Success Act—a child welfare law, which, among other things, aims to improve the school stability of foster children. On November 19, 2009 U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Al Franken (D-MN) introduced a bill providing additional resources:

Fostering Success in Education Act, promoting school stability and success for foster children by:

• Forbidding states from segregating foster children by forcing them to attend separate, and often inferior schools, unless it is documented that particular foster children have disabilities that must be addressed in alternative educational settings under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

• Requiring each state Department of Education to designate a foster care coordinator to collaborate with the state child welfare agency.

• Requiring states to create a process for resolving disputes about whether it is in a foster child’s best interest to remain in a particular school after moving to a new school district.

• Requiring states to develop systems to ensure that foster children can transfer and recover credits when they change schools, and that foster children who have attended multiple high schools with different graduation requirements can graduate.

• Providing states, school districts, and child welfare agencies with funding to improve the educational stability of foster children.

In Philadelphia a charter school for high school students who are involved in the foster care system opened this year. Arise Academy seeks to offer rigorous academics along with the social supports needed by these students. Both of these programs show the importance of ensuring that all of our children have a chance to get a good education.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Public Hearings - Philadelphia Foster Care

While everyone is recovering from Thanksgiving and making preparations for the holidays, the Adoption Center is planning for critically important Public Hearings. We have been asked to testify before the Joint Committee on Public Health and Human Services and Legislative Oversight on adoption and foster care policies and programs in the City of Philadelphia. We hope to explore ways to improve the process by decreasing wait times, implementing strategies to reduce the number of children that age out of the system and address concerns that discourage people from considering adoption.

The hearing will occur on Tuesday December 15 at 10:00AM in Philadelphia City Council Chambers (City Hall Room 400).

Staff, volunteers, and adoptive parents representing the National Adoption Center/Adoption Center of Delaware Valley will provide testimony as to their experiences with “the system” and recommending changes that would help expedite increased adoptions of our most vulnerable children and youth.

We invite you to be present at these hearings. If you cannot attend, we encourage you to write a letter/e-mail describing your own experiences, or those of someone you know along with any recommendations you may have. Please send your correspondence directly to me and it will be distributed to the Committee prior to the hearings.

In Pennsylvania alone there are 20,000 children in foster care with an average stay of more then 2 years (and sometimes as many as 6) in multiple homes. Every year more then 1,000 “age out” without a permanent family. Please send us your thoughts (email to nac@adopt.org) to include in the meeting. You may also leave any comments in the comments section below. We’ll provide an update in January.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Celebrations for All

Last week in the US we celebrated Thanksgiving. Traditionally this is the kickoff to the holiday season and the many celebrations held at this time of year. Whatever your background, most of the celebrations revolve around family and home. It goes without saying that for some this can be a very difficult time of year. For us, this time of year serves to reinforce our mission -- that all children deserve a family, not just at holiday time, but all year long.

Here we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving with our “NAC family” and have lunch together this year. We all contributed a dish and there was a cornucopia of good food to share and enjoy. We also shared our thoughts about what we were thankful for this year. Most of us shared their thanks for family, friends and co-workers and their satisfaction with the work we do for on behalf of children and families. You can visit our social network, AdoptSpeak, at www.adopt.org to see photos of our Thanksgiving. From our “NAC family” to yours, we wish you a very holiday season full of peace and joy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book Review: Water Steps

Water Steps
by A. LaFaye
for ages 8-12

Eleven-year-old Kyna is terrified of water and with good reason. When she was only three, she and her family were caught in a torrential downpour that capsized their boat. The only survivor of the storm, Kyna was rescued by Mem and Pep, an Irish couple, who later adopted her and raised her as their own. Overwhelmed by fear of water and everything associated with it, Kyna couldn’t even go for a swim. Even water touching her skin provoked an anxiety attack.

Mem and Pep loved everything about the water and tried very hard to help her take small steps—water steps--over the years to overcome her fear. This summer Mem and Pep decide she is ready to take the final step and rent a cabin on Lake Champlain for the summer. Kyna desperately protests but she has no choice but to go with them. She has no memory of her birth family, but during the summer she realizes that her fear is keeping her from these memories and from her adoptive family’s love of water. She also learns that among the tales told her by her Irish parents are clues to her original parents’ secret.

Filled with delightful Irish tales about silkies (seals by day, men and women at night), leprechauns and fairies, Water Steps has much to offer youngsters struggling to overcome their own fears and to anyone fascinated by myths and fantasies.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wendy's Wonderful Kids Spotlight – Jowelle

This Friday, I wanted to highlight one of my favorite Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, Jowelle. It is always a pleasure to visit Jowelle each month and get caught up on the latest news about her friends, school life, and what is going on in her foster home. A typical 12-year-old, she enjoys music, movies, playing on the computer, and hanging out with friends. Jowelle is one of the most athletic girls I have worked with. She is on her school’s field hockey team, and hopes to also be on the basketball and softball teams later this year. I was able to go to one of Jowelle’s field hockey games, and got to see her in action (her team won of course)!

Jowelle has big dreams about her future. She thinks she will become a lawyer one day, because she is good at winning arguments! Jowelle is working hard to be on the honor roll this year, and so far it looks like she might be able to reach this goal.

Jowelle is looking forward to being adopted. She has no preferences about her future family’s race, religion, or composition, just as long as they are "young, active, and nice"! She imagines herself going shopping and to the movies with her Forever Family. She is also looking forward to celebrating holidays together, and being a normal family.

If you would like to find out more information about Jowelle, or any of the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids of Delaware, please feel free to contact me. I can be reached at 215-735-9988 ext. 319 or by email at acressman@adopt.org. Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Adoptive Family Portrait Project

To celebrate National Adoption Month, Voice for Adoption runs the Adoptive Family Portrait Project. Today, framed photos and stories about adoptive families will be displayed in Washington, DC. These portraits are then given to each Congressional office where it is to be displayed with the goal is to raise awareness of both the joys and challenges that families experience by adopting children from foster care.

Here is the story we shared with Senator Specter about the Clark family. We've included the questionnaire in it's entirety at it's an important story to share.



Children’s names, ages, and descriptions (background/time in foster care, age when adopted if applicable, personalities, hobbies, special needs, etc.):

Javaun is now 12 years old. He was in foster care for three and a half years after the death of their mother from cancer and abandonment by his biological father. Javaun was adopted on June 19, 2009 ten days after he turned 12. He is very popular boy in school and out. He is very outgoing and friendly now, but initially was shy. He is video game enthusiast and loved cartoons. He has a healthy appetite and loves cheese pizza. He dreams of becoming a football player. His goal is to good grades to allow him to play little league football. Having been raised in a female led foster home, what Javaun truly needed was a supportive father figure in his life.

Saymere is now 7 years old. He will soon turn eight in November 11, 2001. He too was in foster care for three and half years after the death of their mother from cancer and abandonment by his biological father. Saymere was seven years old when he was adopted. Saymere is a shy boy, but will open up when he gets to know you. He is well known in school and currently in an advanced second grade class. Saymere likes to read. He likes to also draw superhero characters. Once an avid Iron Man fan, he now proudly has a GI Joe book bag. Saymere has benefited from having a strong male presence and has come to understand what it means to be apart of a forever family.

What motivated you to adopt?

My mother died suddenly when I was 17 leaving me to look after a then 9-year-old sister. My grandmother was on record as our legal guardian, but she had a stroke six weeks after my mother passed away and was in no condition to care for us. I put myself through school and took on the task of raising my sister on my own. Raising my sister was hard, but in my heart, I always wanted a son.

I had grown up with only my grandfather to look to as a role model for what a father was supposed to be. You see the man I had come to know as my grandfather, Robert Luckey, actually met my grandmother shortly before I was born. He became my inspiration as well in knowing that he took on the challenge of raising my grandmother’s eight sons and three daughters, when her first husband decided he would not. He never once said no when we were in need and was always there to lend a friendly ear or a helping hand.

My grandfather was there to bring me home from the hospital and when my own father chose not to be a part of my life, he showed me how to be a man in a world he didn’t even have a hand in bringing me to. I soon learned family is not based on blood but it is based on the love you have for the person you have in your lives.

As a teacher, I have worked with many students who are in foster care and who may have been adopted. When I first looked seriously at adopting one of the children turned up in my school. As fate would have it, he was assigned to me to be a mentor. However, all attempts I made to see about adopting him were met with deaf ears.

Apparently, he had turned 12 and social workers change the goal for children when they turn 12 from adoption to finding permanent legal custody. This did not deter me; it only strengthened my resolve to welcome a child into my home. Raising my boys now, I have decided that they would not be the last children I welcome in my family.

What recruitment efforts or campaigns, if any, were effective in helping you decide to adopt a child from foster care?

I attended several match parties sponsored by the National Adoption Center. They have always been supportive in my efforts to adopt even when I did not have my profile completed. I also watched the NBC 10 Wednesday Child Specials. In addition, my girlfriend donated money to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. I had watched their “Home For The Holidays” special.

What role have post-adoption services played in making it possible for you to adopt and meet your children’s needs? Please describe the post-adoption services and support you have used and how they help your family.

I have attempted to get tutoring for my son to no avail. My agency was less than supportive in my efforts to adopt and I have not heard from them since. Even on the day my boys were being adopted, they were at the courthouse to support another family and did not even know that I had gotten a finalization date.

What in your opinion makes your family unique? Please explain.

I am a single father raising two sons. At a time when men are being blamed for the breakdown of the traditional family, I chose an alternative route to starting mine. At times, this can be a challenge because you go through all the usual challenges of a family, but it is harder when it is only one parent. I think I hear Dad a hundred times a day.

By the grace of God, a co-worker recommended me to an excellent after school program the supports me as a parent. They have extended hours, they pick up my sons on half days and keep them on the days when teachers report, and students do not.

What challenges, if any, has your family experienced through adoption?

I think the major challenge that my family has faced is the lack of support from the adoption agencies. I would like to sing their praises and say my agency supported me but they did not. I had to write a letter to the Philadelphia Department of Human Services’ acting Commissioner to get my profile completed. Even then, I went through three workers before my adoption was finalized. This was a challenge unto itself because this allowed my clearances to lapse, which held up the procedures.

What do you think is most important for members of Congress to understand about adoptive families and adopting children from foster care?

I would like Congress to simplify the process. I did not mind the hurdles to become certified as adoptive parent, for example, the fingerprints, the clearances, the mountains of paperwork. Since I started the adoption process in 2005, I have watched children age out of the system and once viable forever families become discouraged by all of the red tape.

Who will be there when these children graduate or when they go their senior prom? Where will they spend Christmas or Thanksgiving? Who is going to be there when they start a conversation as my youngest son does, “Don’t you know?”

Then, there are the workers who are not concerned with finding a family for these children. They are more concerned with keeping a job by shifting them from one home to the next. As a teacher, I am often accused of wearing my heart on my sleeve because I treat each child as I would treat my own. Maybe some social workers need to start to do that.

Is there a quote, artwork, poem, or a letter to your Congressman that your children would like to submit about their adoption experience?

Javaun says “In my family, I feel like I am a part of something. You can look forward to your future. It’s exciting to be adopted because somebody loves you and cares for you.”

Saymere says, “I feel happy. I finally get to get somewhere where it is right. I just like it here and I want to stay.”

Friday, November 6, 2009

Adoption Fraud

Recently, a Long Island attorney promised a couple desperate for a baby that he could find an infant for them. The cost, he said, would be $65,000 which the couple handed over happily—a small price, they thought, for the baby they wanted so much.

Unfortunately, there was no baby, just a money-making scheme for the attorney.

We understand how logic and reason can become elusive when an infant seems close enough to touch. However, we caution would-be parents to be wary. It is best to deal with a licensed adoption agency, if possible.

If you are working with an attorney or other intermediary, ask questions. Where is this baby coming from? Who are the parents? Will or have both mother and father relinquished rights to the baby? What do the laws of the state in which the papers were signed say about a parent changing his or her mind? Have the birth parents been counseled so that they are making their decisions thoughtfully and will not change their mind? What is the baby’s health status? When can you see the baby? A trip to another state, if necessary, can save a lot of angst. And, most important, do not allow money to leave your hands until you have actually seen the baby.

Following these suggestions can help you avoid the heartache experienced by the couple for whom, it turned out, there was no baby.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Never Too Late for a Family!


This week on Wednesday’s Child, we are kicking off National Adoption Month with a success feature on how it’s never too late to find your forever family. Meet Kiana and her mother, Ms. Patricia! Kiana was adopted at the age of 17 by her teacher, Patricia, who happened to be watching Wednesday’s Child one night. Prior to the feature, Patricia did not know Kiana was available for adoption. After seeing the Wednesday’s Child feature, Patricia inquired on Kiana’s history and secretly got certified as an adoptive parent. When Kiana was notified that Patricia wanted to adopt her, she was in shock and very excited!! Kiana is thankful to now have a family that includes a wonderful mother; two sisters to look up to; one brother who will always have her back; a niece she can mentor; and many aunts and uncles.

Kiana’s success taping was a day to celebrate. Many family members and friends were there to support her as Wednesday’s Child host Vai Sikahema came to her home to learn of their story. Patricia welcomed Vai with open arms and a cake which read, “WE ARE FAMILY”. Patricia is very thankful of the Wednesday’s Child program which has opened the opportunity to add a new member to her family. Kiana is now 18- years-old and doing well in school.

On behalf of Wednesday’s Child Philadelphia, I want to thank all the dedicated parents who have stepped up to the plate and adopted. The Wednesday’s Child program, sponsored by Freddie Mac, is a great recruitment tool. Many families have a new addition to their family. In fact, over 40% of the children featured on Wednesday Child Philadelphia now have a permanent home.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Our Core Beliefs

As we begin National Adoption Month, it is a good time to remember our mission here.

We believe there are no unwanted children, just unfound families. Since our founding we have helped to place more then 22,000 children and youth from foster care into adoptive families.

We acknowledge that there are several types of appropriate permanency. We believe adoption is the best choice.

We believe the current amount of time it takes to adopt from foster care is unacceptable and untenable.

We believe additional public and private resources should be made available so barriers can be removed and more children and youth can be adopted.

All month we'll be highlighting existing programs and services, introducing new ones and working with you to allow more children to achieve permanence in their lives.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Help for Those Who Age Out

Each year more than 20,000 young people “age out” of the foster care system. For many of them, their childhood and adolescent years were marked by the instability of multiple placements. As a result, these youth are at a higher risk for unemployment, poor academic achievement, early parenthood and homelessness than their peers living at home with their families.

When youth in foster care “age out,” they no longer have the assistance of the state or foster families and many of them do not have the skills to live on their own. According to an article in Children’s Issues, in just four years after leaving foster care, 25% of “aged out” youth have been homeless, 42% have become parents, fewer than 20% are able to support themselves, and only 46% have graduated from high school.

Unable to earn a wage sufficient for obtaining suitable housing, many end up in homeless shelters. In Philadelphia, the People’s Emergency Center (PEC) and the University of Pennsylvania School of Design are collaborating in a project to develop innovative affordable housing. The project, the Bernice Eliza Homes in the West Powelton section of the city, is a recently opened new six-family apartment house catering to hard-to-place homeless youth with children.

According to Gloria Guard, president of the non-profit PEC, which provides shelter and service to homeless families, there is a great demand for this type of housing. Many of those in the organization’s shelters have “aged out” of the city’s foster care system. For them, the PEC is providing hope for the future as well as a home.

Friday, October 23, 2009

LGBT Adoption

The Center’s initiative directed at the LGBT community to encourage consideration of adoption coincides with the adoption anti-discrimination bill introduced by U.S. Representative from California Pete Stark. His bill would restrict federal funds for states that discriminate in adoption or foster care on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Stark’s legislation is a response to the 25,000 children each year who “age out” of the child welfare system without a permanent home.

We agree with Representative Stark that members of the LGBT community could reduce those numbers dramatically if they felt welcome as prospective adopters. The Center is working with adoption agencies to make that happen.

It is estimated that 2 million lesbian, gay or bisexual persons are interested in adoption. The backlog of children in foster care who desperately want to belong to a family could benefit dramatically if they could be “matched” with some of those individuals or couples.

There are nine states—Florida, Mississippi, Utah, Michigan, Arkansas, Nebraska, Kentucky, Ohio and Wisconsin—that explicitly prohibit LGBT couples from adopting children. This condition exists despite the numerous studies indicating that children who grow up in gay and lesbian homes are as well adjusted, happy and healthy as those raised by heterosexual parents. It is love and caring, not sexual orientation, that make the difference in the way a child grows up.

Representative Stark believes chances of the legislation passing this Congress are “pretty good,” and said that a hearing could take place this year in a House Ways & Means subcommittee. He is looking for a Republican co-sponsor for the legislation, then will work on getting Senate companion legislation introduced.

The Center supports the legislation. We hope you do too. You can respond to us here, reach out to your Representatives and Senators and/or contact someone in a “red state” and ask them to contact members of Congress or their senators, pointing out that this legislation will make a difference in the way thousands of children grow up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why We Do This

This past weekend we had a Match Party in Houston, Delaware. Sam Yoder's Farm provided a gorgeous setting and while it was windy, the weather held for us. The purpose of a Match Party is to provide a relaxed atmosphere for guided interactions between adoptable youths from foster care and home studied families. We play games or participate in activities which get the adults and youths talking to each other and working together on common goals.

My station was the pumpkin painting table. Here each person got a small pumpkin or two to paint. (Pumpkins graciously donated by Steve from Hurricane Hill Farm in Coatsville, Pennsylvania.) The youths jumped right into this activity. Some designs were abstract, some modern, some pretty, some goofy and some traditional. Each unique as the child.

As they painted the potential parents chatted with the youths. Some offered encouragement and really focused on the child's painting. While other potential parents painted alongside the children while chatting with them about unrelated topics. Most stayed engrossed in the activity for the full time allotted. Whether the enthusiastic participation was as a distraction from the normal concerns at such an event or because of a sense of fun, it doesn't matter. The painting served as the icebreaker it was meant to be. From my vantage point, I could see all the typical family interactions which take place -encouragement, correction, freedom and boundaries. I could see that some adults were comfortable in the role of "parent" while others still needed to find their way.

The reactions of the children also varied. Some were eager to show their talent, some defended their unique visions. Some comfortably chatted to anyone who listened while others depended on adults carefully drawing them out. Between the planned activities and lunch, there was plenty of time for people to get comfortable and chat.

Our hope is that these interactions result in matches that will result in permanent families. We'll have a later post giving out the results of this party. (Although it can take 6 months to a year to know significant outcomes.) From the smiles on kids' faces I know we were successful in making a day for the youths to enjoy. The parents also looked like they had fun. Hopefully all got to see that the potential parents and the children are all just normal people. No one needs to be scared or worried about the other. Some people are shy, some talkative; some happier than others. Regardless all children deserve a permanent home full of love and security.

BTW: we have a Teen Match Party coming up in northern NJ next week. If you're a homestudied family, we'd love to have you come on out. Call us at 215-735-9988 or email callen@adopt.org to register.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The LGBT Community and the 2010 Census

In March 2010, everyone in the U.S. will be asked to fill out a Census questionnaire. The results of the data collected will directly affect how more than $400 billion per year in federal and state funding is allocated to communities for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation, and much more. In addition, the census is used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, to redistrict state legislatures,

The Census does not ask if the respondent is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. To help the LGBT community complete the form, the Human Rights Campaign has listed “10 things to know about the 2010 Census” on its website (www.hrc.org/12634.htm).

Among the suggestions:
• LGBT couples who are married should check “husband” or “wife.” Other same-sex couples should check “unmarried partner.”
• Transgender people should identify with whichever sex on the census form they feel best applies to them.
• LGBT people of color in bi-racial relationships should consider identifying as head of household.

HRC also notes that the Obama administration has directed the Census Bureau to determine what changes need to be made in tabulation software to include married same-sex couples in census reports. Hopefully, this can be done so that everyone’s marriage will be treated with equal respect.

Monday, October 5, 2009

National Adoption Day

Nia Vardalos, who adopted a child from foster care, has been named spokesperson of the 2009 National Adoption Day in November. In making the announcement, the National Adoption Day Coalition said the award winning actress/writer/director will share her story as an adoptive parent. Vardalos, Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee for the motion picture My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and her husband, Ian Gomez, adopted a 3-year-old girl last year.

Vardalos is an advocate for foster care adoption in the United States. “My goal is to raise awareness about foster family agencies who can connect prospective parents with the 129,000 legally free children in the United States waiting for a family,” Vardalos said. “I am pleased to spread the message that American foster care, while maintaining the highest level of screening, does not discriminate against applicants for reasons of income level, marital status or sexual orientation.”

Of the children in foster care in the U.S. waiting for adoption, here are some statistics, provided by Voice for Adoption.

47% are nine-years-old and older
Nearly 42 months is the average stay in foster care
Children of color stay in foster care longer and have fewer adoptions than their
white peers
Nearly 90% of children adopted from foster care in 2006 had special needs
In 2006, more than 26,000 “aged out” of foster care


Friday, October 2, 2009

Terminating Parental Rights

“If it comes to a point that the family is so toxic for the child that termination of parental rights and staying in foster care (thus making the child free to be adopted) is in the child’s best interest, I don’t have a problem with it at all. Why would I want to keep a connection between a toxic parent and a child?” This is one judge’s comment in a recent Brief by Child Trends a research organization based in Washington D.C. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it. Yet often it seems that judges are loathe to terminate parental rights. Is this because of a belief that it is a right to raise a child any way a parent sees fit?

What advice would you give the judiciary in helping them to decide when it’s appropriate to terminate the parental rights of a child? Is it ever appropriate or not appropriate? Would it help more children to be adopted rather then continue to languish in foster care while waiting for their biological parents to “get their act together?”

Monday, September 28, 2009

WWK Spotlight

Meet the newest addition to Wendy’s Wonderful Kids in Delaware, Na’Heim! I had a great time hanging out with Na’Heim at our first visit. He was outgoing and friendly with me right from the start! Na’Heim was eager to show off what a talented artist he is. He loves writing his name in bubbles letters, and can draw any animal you ask him too! He is an expert at games like Sorry and Uno, and has a very competitive nature. We played several rounds of Uno and Tic Tac Toe, and he concentrated very hard to win! Na’Heim is a big sports fan, and thinks that football is his best sport. He is always up for a game of football or his second favorite sport, basketball.

Na’Heim is an adorable boy with so much energy. He has been through a lot in his short life, and is receiving services to deal with the trauma that he has faced. Na’Heim needs a stable family that will provide loving role models and give Na'Heim an opportunity to excel. Na’Heim says that he would like a fun family who is always willing to play with him and have good food at dinner time! He also would like to have pets in his home that he can take feed and take care of.

The Wendy’s Wonderful Kid’s program is the signature program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Since the Delaware program launched on January 1, 2005, we’ve had 33 finalizations and there are 9 children currently matched and placed with their future forever families! If you would like more information on Na’Heim or on the Wendy’s Wonderful Kid’s Program, please contact me at acressman@adopt.org, or at 215-735-9988 x319.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

My job as Program Director at the Adoption Center has been made easier over the past year because of a great team of adoption coordinators who work effortlessly together on all aspects of the Center’s programs.

Sheina Martinez is our Family Advocate and Wednesday’s Child Coordinator. If you are a first time caller about adoption, you will receive a warm, welcoming response from Sheina who will encourage you, answer your questions and provide you with the correct information so you can move ahead with your plans to adopt.


Amy Cressman, our Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiter for children in Delaware, is our newest team member. She immediately embraced the Center’s philosophy “There are no unwanted children, just unfound families.” She fit in so well that we put her in charge of planning our next match party in Delaware, knowing that she would do a great job!



I would especially like to recognize Crystal Allen, our Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiter for south Jersey on her first year anniversary with the Center today. Crystal is a tireless champion for the children waiting for adoptive families and brings her energy, boundless enthusiasm and passion for the mission of the Center to work everyday. Happy Anniversary, Crystal and we hope there will be many more to celebrate together.

Our program team is ready; don’t hesitate to contact them.

Sheina Martinez, Wednesday’s Child Coordinator and Adoption Coordinator
(215) 735-9988 @ ext. 311 smartinez@adopt.org
Amy Cressman, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiter/Delaware Adoption Coordinator
(215) 735-9988 @ ext. 319 or toll free (877) 799-6900 acressman@adopt.org
Crystal Allen, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiter for South New Jersey and Adoption Coordinator
(215) 735-9988 @ ext. 346 or toll free (877) 799-6900 callen@adopt.org


Christine Jacobs
Program Director

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Raise Me Up

More than 500,000 children in this country live in foster care; l20,000 will not be able to return to their families. In Philadelphia, a new public awareness campaign, Raise Me Up, hopes to enlist volunteers and mentors for those children.

In a press conference yesterday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and Department of Human Services Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose said that the city cannot do the job alone—that its citizens must step up and take a strong role in the lives of the children who are at risk of growing up homeless, despondent, less likely to complete high school and more likely to end up in a life of crime, addiction and poverty.

The Honorable Max Baer, justice of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, said that ideally children should be raised by their own families, if possible. When they cannot and are placed in foster care, he or she has a better chance of success if there is a mentor involved in his life. “Foster parents are wonderful,” he said, “but foster care is a flawed system. Children need permanent families.”

We agree. If a child can not be returned to his birth family, we believe that adoption should be his or her goal. Meanwhile, mentors and volunteers can help boost a child’s confidence and contribute to his self-esteem. But an adoptive family should be sought for him before he succumbs to the devastating outcomes inevitably visited on children without permanence in their lives.

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Special" Needs

Happy Friday!!

This week I want to talk about the term “special needs” as applied to children in foster care and how non-social work professionals view this term. The “special needs” label in the foster care system means that there is something about the child that needs some extra attention. Did you know that having a sibling can categorize a child as having “special needs”? Wow, I guess I was special needs when I was a child! :-)

Having learning disabilities are another thing that classifies a child as “special needs”. Many children in foster care have a learning disability simply because they have changed schools often. So much so, that they have not had the opportunity to be on the same page as everyone else, and are constantly playing catch up.

I wonder if individuals don’t adopt from the foster care system because they do not want a “special needs” child. To me, the term “special needs” just means they need someone special to parent them. If you are special and want to consider adoption, please contact me. I would like to answer your questions, concerns, and maybe even break some myths about adoption.

Question:
What behaviors, needs or disabilities, do you consider special needs? What issues do you not consider special needs?

Would a label of "special needs" automatically stop you from considering an adoption from the foster care system? Would you now ask for more clarification about what the special need is?

Sincerely,
SMART aka Sheina Martinez

Friday, September 11, 2009

Meet Oprah!

This week on Wednesday’s Child Philadelphia meet 14-year-old Oprah. This beautiful teen has a great sense of humor. Oprah can be shy when first meeting you, but when she finds a comfort level, she will have you laughing. Oprah is very active and plays volleyball and the trumpet in the band for her school. Oprah is a very bright student and does well academically. Her favorite classes in school are computers and music.

Oprah recently had the opportunity to visit with gospel performer Tye Tribbett. Tye welcomed Oprah to his home to watch music videos, talk about the music industry, and give her some advice on keeping her head up. Oprah had a great time watching Tye Tribbett’s music performance on DVD and was overwhelmed with excitement in meeting a famous music performer. Tye signed and presented a photograph and CD to Oprah before the visit was over.


The day was a huge success. Wednesday’s Child host Vai Sikahema was honored to be a part of this experience with Oprah. He joined in conversation with the two and also danced a little while watching Tye’s music video. Later, Vai and Oprah were able to sit together to talk about family and what it means to her. Religion is very important to Oprah. She would like a family that would allow her to express and practice her Christian beliefs. She would like to maintain contact with her siblings and would prefer a mom and dad, but will also accept a single mother. Oprah has come along way in accepting adoption as a goal for herself. She is now ready to welcome a forever family into her heart and hopes someone will be willing to accept her as a daughter. All families will be considered. For a profile and picture of Oprah, or to inquire about her, click here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bridging the Gap: Families Working Together Webcast

The National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPPP) will host a webcast on Wednesday, September 16 from 1-2 PM (Eastern time) about the importance of the relationship between foster and birth families.

When there is a good relationship, all parents can do a better job in meeting the children’s needs. Studies have shown that a team approach with planned contact between foster and birth parents has resulted in children returning home sooner, having more stable placements, developing better emotionally and achieving more in school.

The experiences of the foster parents with the children in their care can yield valuable insights for the birth families when the children return to them. The webcast will highlight promoting meaningful partnerships between foster and birth parents as well as other family members and caretakers for the well being, safety and permanency of the children. The webcast is a Northern Virginia Foster Care and Adoption Initiative.

The National Adoption Center supports the goal of the NRCFCPPP to help children in foster care receive the love and security that only a permanent family, whether birth or adoptive, can provide.

Click to register for the webcast.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Labor Day

Labor Day is fast approaching and we’re looking forward to celebrating the last holiday of the summer. (It seems like only yesterday that we fired up the grill to barbeque on Memorial Day.)

The gay and lesbian community in Vermont has another reason to celebrate this weekend. At midnight last Monday, a new law went into effect allowing same sex marriages. This brings to six the number of states in which this is legal. Along with Vermont, marriages for same sex couples are currently being performed in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa. Maine will allow same sex marriages this month; New Hampshire on January 1, 2010.

It is too soon to see how the new law will affect adoption by gay men and lesbians in Vermont, where LGBT individuals and same-sex couples may petition to adopt and a same sex partner may petition to adopt the partner’s child.

The number of gay and lesbian parents in the U.S. has been rising. In 1976 there were between 300,00 and 500,000 gay and lesbian parents. In 1990, an estimated 6 to 14 million children had a gay or lesbian parent.

According to statistics from the 2000 U.S. Census, the National Survey of Family Growth (2002) and the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting Systems (2004):

  • An estimate 2 million gay and lesbian people are interested in adopting.

  • An estimated 65,5000 adopted children are living with a lesbian or gay parent.

  • More than 16,000 adopted children are living with a lesbian or gay parent in California, the highest number among the states.

  • Gay and lesbian parents are raising four percent of all adopted children in the U.S

  • Gay and lesbian foster parents are raising approximately three percent of the nation’s foster children.

  • An estimated 13,000 foster children are living with lesbian or gay parents in the U.S.



As we celebrate the traditional end of summer holiday, we think of the 130,000 children in foster care through the country waiting to be adopted and hope that by Labor Day 2010, many of them will be in “forever” homes.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Customer Service in the Adoption Process

A recent article in the Roundtable newsletter published by the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Adoption notes that there are three strategies that public and private adoption agencies can implement to increase adoptions from the foster care system:

  • Friendly and responsive customer service

  • Predictability about the adoption process

  • Support during the waiting period from home study to placement


Customer service begins with the initial call from a perspective adoptive family. The call must be answered in a timely fashion. It is critical that the agency be welcoming and helpful. If the agency says they are going to do something, even something as simple as sending information, they must do it.

We hear far too many stories of perspective parents giving up due to poor customer service, an excuse that can no longer be tolerated. To that end, the National Adoption Center will be launching its Online Family to Agency Matching Service during National Adoption Month in November to insure that agencies are responsive to the needs of families. Like “Angie’s List”, families will have the opportunity to publicly rate the responsiveness of a particular agency(s). We believe this will instill much-needed accountability into the process.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Adopted Celebrities

With the begining of the football season, there comes to light another example of a family providing the love and permanance for a child not born into the family. Jeremy Maclin was the number one 2009 draft pick for the Philadelphia Eagles. This Missouri native was informally adopted and raised by his coach and his family. The coach realized that when he'd drop Jeremy off at home after practice that he'd not go in, later he realized why. Eventually Jeremy moved in with the coach's family. Now he considers himself to have two families. While not the formal adoption we advocate for here at the Center, this is another example of how you can make a difference in a child's or teen's life. Obviously Jeremy got the support and encouragement to help him guide his natural talent into a rising (and as an Eagles supporter, we hope very successful) career.

Among the other people whose lives have been changed by adoption are some well-known names. Here are just handful of the notables.
Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s is probably one of the most famous adoptees. He never knew his birth mother, and was adopted by a couple from Kalamazoo, Michigan, at the age of six months. Thomas's adoptive mother died when he was only five, and by the time he was 10, he had lost two stepmothers as well. He founded the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, whose mission is to “dramatically increase the number of adoptions of waiting children from North America's foster care systems.” Through its “Wendy’s Wonderful Kids” program, it works diligently to move children from foster care into permanent, loving adoptive homes.

Darryl McDaniels, A founding member of Run D.M.C. While researching his early years to write his autobiography, he was shocked to learn that he had been adopted when he was three months old. Even as a child, he knew that he did not look like the rest of his family and now he understood why. The news inspired him to search for his birth mother. A documentary chronicling his quest aired on the VH1 network in February 2006. The program ends with McDaniels reuniting with his birth mother. He thanks her for her choice because had he not been placed for adoption, Run-D.M.C. would have never existed. In September 2006, he received the Congressional Angels in Adoption Award for his work with children in foster care and promotion of adoption.

Melissa Gilbert, actress. Best known for her role as Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie, she was adopted the day after she was born by actor and comedian Paul Gilbert and his actress wife, Barbara. The couple later adopted a son, Jonathan, who appeared with Melissa on the show.

Faith Hill, singer and songwriter was adopted along with her two brothers when she was only a week old, she grew up in a small town in Mississippi.

Marilyn Monroe, never knew her father, and at age seven after her mother was too ill to take care of her, she was placed in foster care. In 1937, a family friend and her husband took her in.

Lynnette Cole, Miss USA 2000 Of Puerto-Rican Heritage, she was placed in foster care as an infant. When she was 10 months old, she and her brother were adopted by a white couple who move to Tennessee in order to adopt the children, because of a law prohibiting adoption of children from a different race where they had lived before. Her adoptive parents had previously been foster parents to a succession of over 100 children.

Scott Hamilton, Olympic champion figure skater, was adopted at six weeks of age by two university professors, joining an older born-to daughter. Later his family adopted another son.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple computers, Born in San Francisco, he was adopted by a couple in Santa Clara County.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Come visit us at the Farm!


School supplies are being bought, bathing suits are on clearance, and here in the office, Match Party preparations are underway. Planning for Fall has begun!

On October 10th, the Adoption Center of Delaware Valley will be heading down to Sam Yoder Farm in Houston, DE. Children in Delaware’s foster care system, eligible to be adopted, will be invited to come to the farm for ‘Fall Fun Day’! Parents who are interested in foster care adoption, and who have completed or almost completed their home study, are invited to attend and meet with the children in a fun, relaxed, setting. Match parties are a great way for children and families to meet face to face, and have a chance to interact and make connections with each other. It is also an opportunity for children to meet other children waiting to be adopted.

Sam Yoder farm is a working farm with plenty of chickens, cows, and goats, for everyone to check out. Games, crafts, face painting, and other activities are scheduled as well as lunch for everyone. The party will be held from 10am-2pm. It should be a beautiful fall day and we hope there will be a great turnout for this event!

If you would like more information about this Match Party, or would like to be sent an invitation to the party, please call our office at 215-735-9988 and ask to speak with Amy Cressman. You can also reach me by email at acressman@adopt.org. Following the Delaware party, on October 24th, there will be a Teen Match party for waiting teenagers in New Jersey. Stay tuned for more information about this event!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tee-Off for Kids!

Save the Date!

Tee-Off for Kids!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ACE Club, Lafayette Hill, PA

Attention Golfers: the 2009 golf season is upon us! As you dust off the clubs, make tee time reservations at your favorite courses and work on lowering that handicap, the National Adoption Center’s Development staff is preparing for another fantastic day of golf at the ACE Club in Lafayette Hill, PA.

Why not cap off what is sure to be your best golf season yet by participating in the Center’s Tee-Off for Kids! golf outing on Tuesday, September 22, 2009. This event, sponsored by PECO, is at one of the most premiere, beautiful and challenging courses in the Delaware Valley,the ACE Club, that is a serene and secluded 311-acre environment easily accessible from Center City Philadelphia and the outlying suburbs. The Club features a Gary Player Signature design measuring 7,500 yards from the tips. With five tee placements on each hole, it was created to accommodate the most discerning golfers of today and the equipment and ball technologies of tomorrow.

Cocktails, dinner, a silent and live auction and awards for on-course contests will follow.

Click to register online or to sponsor online. To learn more about how you and/or your company can get involved, please contact the Center’s Development Manager, Michelle Smolka, at 215-735-9988 ext. 343 or email her at: msmolka@adopt.org.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Weekend Frustration

Not-so-happy Friday

As the weekend begins, I wonder if people’s minds turn from adoption, family, and relationships from Friday to Sunday. As an Adoption Coordinator, it is interesting to see the numbers inquiries about waiting children drop dramatically. Do we forget that there are kids who sit in foster care even on the weekend? Do we forget that someone has to do something? Because of the lack of interest in becoming adoptive parents during the summer months, it can sometimes be very lonely here. Where do people go? Do they take a break from caring?

While individuals drown themselves in their own activities, children in need wait and wait, and wait some more. I am deeply saddened that while life continues to go on for us, it also does for them. As a parent of two beautiful children, I look at them at night and wonder how life must be for those children who have never been tucked in, read a bed time story, praised, or even hugged. When will they get their turn? How dare we as citizens of the United States who have it so well compared to other countries allow OUR children to be subject to that neglect?

The National Adoption Center does child recruitment of all sorts, and at times, we feel it’s not nearly as much as what is needed and deserved for waiting children. For example the Center places weekly columns in the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Tribune; features children on NBC 10 and the Wednesday’s Child website; has two Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters (one for NJ and one for DE); and we also host at least two Match Parties a year where waiting children get to meet face-to-face with prospective adoptive families.

Not all families can adopt or are in the position to adopt at this time, we understand that and hope you help our children in some other way. For those persons who are able to adopt, we are asking, begging, and challenging you to step up. Adoption is free of charge if adopting from the foster care system. Subsidy and medical assistance are available to families to help support the adopted child.

The Adoption Center is open to ideas and recommendations of other ways we can get the word out about adoption….Please send your ideas and suggestions in to us!!

written by Sheina Martinez

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Response to "The Battle Over a Baby"

This past Sunday, the New York Times printed a letter by our Communications Director, Gloria Hochman, which was sent in response to an article the previous week on same-sex adoptions. The letter along with the original piece can be viewed by following the link below:

MAGAZINE August 09, 2009 Letters: The Battle Over a Baby It was striking to read in Pamela Paul's article on Kathryn Kutil and Cheryl Hess, the remarkable women who graciously opened their home and their hearts to many foster children, that some officials and parents found a conflict between Christian values and the women's efforts to adopt a homeless child. Far from it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Need for Federal Funding for Post-adoption Services

The National Adoption Center supports the need for increased federal funding for post-adoption services. In a recent Congressional briefing given by Voice for Adoption (VFA), it was stated that post-adoption services are critical to helping adoptive families and children overcome the challenges they encounter. These services also help to influence families to adopt, by reassuring them that the services their children need will be available after the adoption is finalized. Since 2002, approximately 51,000 children are adopted from foster care annually.

Currently there are 130,000 children in the United States —1600 of them in the Delaware Valley —waiting to be adopted. VFA cites some disturbing statistics about these children:
  • 47% are nine-years-old and older
  • Nearly 42 months is the average stay in foster care
  • Children of color stay in foster care longer and have fewer adoptions than their white peers
  • Nearly 90% of children adopted from foster care in 2006 had special needs
  • In 2006, more than 26,000 “aged out” of foster care
Post-adoption services include a variety of services, such as support groups, crisis intervention and family counseling. The need for these services is on-going. But it all takes money. Families who adopt children from the foster care system are generally eligible for a financial subsidy to support the basic cost of caring for the child. While medical assistance may be available, it does not always cover the special needs of these families and children

At present there are diverse federal funding sources for post-adoptions, some of which are matched by state dollars. However, VFA points out that there is no federal mandate or funding directed solely toward post-adoption services and recommends that federal funding for this purpose be enhanced and improved.

A priority for increased federal funding is to ensure that post-adoption services once again be part of the federal grants offered through the Adoption Opportunities program. The National Adoption Center has won many federal grants through the Adoption Opportunities funding both in recruitment and post-adoption services.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

August at the National Adoption Center

In an effort to stay ahead of the curve, and to help expedite the number of adoptions nationwide, the National Adoption Center is investing heavily in technology. Just in time for National Adoption Month in November, we will debut our Online Family to Agency Matching Service, designed to quickly help a potential parent identify the appropriate adoption agency for their particular needs. Users will also be able to post ratings as to that agency’s responsiveness. We are confident this will increase the level of accountability to you, their customers.

We are also in the process of developing an Application for use with iPhones. Users will have the ability to view videos and get other information about our work and make donations right from their phone.

The Center continues to lead the way by using technology to benefit our most vulnerable children.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Family Preservation 2.0

We are a family oriented country. Family is often spoken of as a sacred institution that must be considered when legislation is written, whether it is a matter of health care or taxes.

In the world of adoption, family is two-fold; there are the children’s families of origin and the families who are created through the adoption process. We know that there is a need to preserve the family of origin if at all possible but when this is not the reality we turn to the families who will make a child a member of their family through adoption.

The need to preserve families, however, does not end with the success of adoption. There are many adoptive families who struggle to parent the child they have adopted, especially those who adopted children with special needs from foster care. There is a need again for family preservation. Post adoption support for adoptive parents is critical to the continued health and well-being of the child who is adopted and to the newly-created family.

On July 16th, Voice for Adoption, a national advocacy organization that the National Adoption Center helped to found, held a briefing for Congressional members on the topic of post adoption services. There was powerful and moving testimony by adoptive parents, adult adoptees and child welfare professionals about the need for increased federal funding for post adoption services.

Post adoption services can range from parent support groups to therapeutic counseling for families to the continued services of speech and occupational therapists.

Particularly in these challenging economic times, post adoption services are critical to keep families formed through adoption from foster care together and to encourage those considering such adoptions that the support and services they need will be there for their family after they adopt.

Throughout the years, the Center has consistently promoted and expressed support for post adoption services for adoptive families and our policy states, “The National Adoption Center believes that the availability and accessibility of post-adoption services are vital to adoptive family preservation and advocates that all adoptive families be informed of post-adoption services.” It is time to make post adoption services a priority and to support our belief that our society benefits from children who are raised in families, not foster or institutional care.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A reaction to Orphan

Movies are not merely entertainment; they influence the way people think, feel, act and live their lives.

It is unfortunate that adoption which brings joy to countless families is so negatively portrayed in the film, Orphan. Even people in the entertainment field such as Madonna and Angelina Jolie who have been in the public eye because they have recently adopted children must be disturbed and disappointed at their own industry and the message that Orphan brings.

Since 1972, the National Adoption Center has helped find families for more than 21,000 children; what we hear from their adoptive parents is that their only regret is that they didn’t adopt sooner.

More than 130,000 children in this country live in foster care waiting for families to adopt them. We need movies that will enhance their chances of making that happen. Orphan has let them down…big time

Let us know what you think.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wendy's Wonderful Kids Spolight!




Hello everyone! It’s Crystal again, with this week’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids child feature! This week’s feature profiles Tah’jeria, an engaging and sweet 13 year old!



The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is a nonprofit 501(c)3 public charity dedicated to dramatically increasing the adoptions of the more than 150,000 children waiting in North America's foster care systems. Created by Wendy's founder, Dave Thomas, who was adopted as a child, the Foundation works to fulfill its mission by implementing result-driven national signature programs, awareness initiatives and advocacy efforts.

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids is a signature program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption that combines the fundraising of Wendy's and its customers; aggressive grants management of the Foundation, and the talent of experienced adoption professionals throughout the nation and in Canada to move children from foster care into permanent, loving adoptive homes. As a WWK Recruiter for Southern New Jersey, I recruit for 14 of the most amazing children and youth in the DYFS foster care system, using child-specific recruitment strategies. Each of my blog post will be dedicated to a child that I work with.


Energetic, sweet and charming, Tah’jeria enjoys her weekly swimming and dancing lessons. She also likes to play dress up, ride her bike and go to the park. She takes pride in her appearance and in her room in her group home. Tah’jeria craves attention, affection and approval from adults and loves to please them. She frequently compliments the staff at her residence about their appearance or cooking skills.

Tah’jeria is in a self-contained classroom where she receives additional services to improve her language skills. Her ability to focus and stay on the task at hand is increasing. Through therapy she is gaining self-esteem and is becoming more aware of her feelings.


This little girl has experienced much trauma and loss in her young life and as a result has much anger, frustration and sadness. She would benefit greatly from a patient “forever” family that would provide unconditional love and would be understanding of and a good advocate for her special needs. Tah’jeria’s continued contact with her brother and sister has been a consistent positive experience for her, therefore it is important that the family support continued contact.

Tah’jeria will also be featured the week of June 27th on NBC 10 Wednesday’s Child with host Vai Sikahema. She had a “once in a lifetime” experience when she got to spend the evening with 15-year-old Los Angeles native Kimberly Anyadike, the youngest African-American female pilot to fly solo cross country, as well as some of the original Tuskegee Airmen. Make sure to check out Tah’jeria and her “wonderful” Wednesday’s Child feature.



If you would like information on Tah’jeria or the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, please do not hesitate to contact me at callen@adopt.org or 215.735.9988 Ext. 346.

Friday, July 24, 2009

College Costs

Teens in foster care no longer have to choose between being adopted and receiving financial aid to attend college. Under a new law, The Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act (FAFSA), youth adopted from foster care after their 13th birthday will not have to include their parent’s income in determining their need for financial aid.

The FAFSA provision, which takes effect this month (July 2009), allows teens to seek financial aid for the 2009-2010 school year. Youth adopted before the new law are also eligible.

FAFSA is good news not only for youth but for families wanting to adopt them. Until now, many families fostering teens hesitated to adopt them if it meant denying them a college education.

According to statistics reported for the fiscal year ending 2006, the latest year these figures were available, 510,000 children of all ages were in foster care. Of these, 129,000 were waiting to be adopted and about a quarter of them were 13 and older. Only 11% of teens 13 and older were adopted.

Statistics have consistently shown that youth who are adopted out of the foster care system are more likely to attend college and have stable and productive lives. With this new law, the hope is that more teenagers will be adopted and that their dreams will include both a college education and a loving home.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Making a Difference in a Child's Life

Sometimes late, late night TV provides a different breed of “info-mercial.” The Oprah Winfrey Show does a rebroadcast in our area during the overnight hours, and a few days ago, disgruntled that I couldn’t sleep, I tuned in to the second half of a show filled with “info”-rmation which has undeniably impacted my heart.

The show’s topic was the effects of child neglect. The part I watched focused on a couple who adopted a child after seeing her at a Heart Gallery event. An adoptive mother myself, I was drawn to watch the unfolding of the story of how then eight-year old Danielle had been found living in deplorable conditions with her biological mother. The child was severely neglected, but her mother did not even consider asking the assistance of human services. The hard facts: at the time this child’s case came to light, she was nearly 9 years old, drank from a baby bottle, wore diapers, was afraid to be touched, obsessed over food because she was underfed, and had “terrible twos” tantrums.

Even before she married, something in Diane’s heart told her that adoption was a thing she was “supposed to do.” And Bernie said he simply “knew” Danielle should be part of their family.

Diane and Bernie already had a family of 4 biological sons, most of whom were grown and out of the house by the time they were introduced to Danielle. Did they take a risk by adopting her? Sure. Has it been easy for them or their other children? If you go to www.oprah.com and watch the video, you will see that making Danielle part of their family has been and is challenging. But as Diane told the TV audience: she saw a person somewhere in the blank stare of Danielle’s eyes.

Danielle was removed from her biological mother’s care but, considered a difficult child to place in foster care, was slated to be institutionalized. At the time of the adoption, this “special needs” 8-year old was considered to be have a developmental age of 6- to 18-months. After more than a year and a half with her adoptive family, that age was assessed as an 18- to 36 month old. Even though her development is lagging, she has made progress. She has learned to use the toilet. She is working on eating by herself. She swims. She cuddles. She has grown--because she is loved, thanks to her “forever family!”

Moving hearts with stories of passion and compassion is a lifework of Oprah. It would be my hope that Oprah and other TV hosts would continue to bring “info”-mercials of this caliber to raise awareness about children who need acceptance and love.

I would hope they would also showcase that levels of child “neglect” are often much more subtle than in Danielle’s case. That, for example, there are presently over 125,000 children and teens in foster care awaiting adoption, and that some of these children have been in the “system” for years. I imagine how powerful it would be for TV audiences to hear firsthand from a teen what it is like to be shuttled from home to home, school to school. Or to listen to a 9 year old talk about living in a group home. Or how a child of any age who longs for a family feels about not being hugged on a regular basis or rarely, if ever, hears the words “I love you.”

While it is sometimes fun to see big name celebrities talk about their lives with TV hosts, and other times great to watch the hosts cook and dance, I feel it is topics like this—weighty, meaty, relevant to a change of heart and perspective for our country and world—that can propel humanity forward knowing that we each make history by our choices every day.

As a team member of the National Adoption Center, I personally answer calls daily from people who are curious about what it takes to extend the borders of their family and adopt a child in need of a loving, permanent home. Many people don’t know the benefits of adoption. Whether a person is single, in a committed relationship, gay, straight, lesbian or bisexual, they can choose adoption. Our motto is “there are no unwanted children, only unfound families.”

This family inspired me. They, indeed, made history through their choice. There is no question: children with special needs are in need! Armed with the right “info”-mation, an answer can be clear: adoption is a great choice! Are you ready to take the chance and make it yours?

written by Nancy Barton

Friday, July 17, 2009

LBGT & Adoption

Today I want to blog about LGBT families! For those of you who don’t know what LGBT means, here is the breakdown: L-lesbian, G-gay, B-bisexual and T-transgender. As you know, the National Adoption Center has earned its seal by the Human Rights Campaign for being culturally competent in working with LGBT families.

Since the seal was awarded, I have been receiving numerous emails and phone calls to inquire about LGBT adoption. I am the Center’s primary LGBT Adoption Advocate, and being awarded the seal has increased awareness in the community. This has been an enlightening journey for all involved. From my perspective, I didn’t realize how many folks thought adoption was barred for them. For members of the LGBT community, they can now actually consider growing their family via adoption.

I, and others here at NAC, have been able to educate families about the possibility of becoming parents for the first time through adoption. Some families have taken the next step and been referred to an agency to begin that process.

If you are or know a member of the LGBT community who would like information on adoption and foster care, please do not hesitate to call me at 215-735-9988 ext 311.

If you want to post a comment about our seal, LGBT adoption, or advocacy, please feel free………..

written by Sheina Martinez

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cost of Florida’s Ban on Adoption by LGBT Individuals and Same-Sex Couples

The ban against adoption by gay, lesbian, bisexual individuals and same-sex couples in Florida costs the state over $2.5 million each year, according to a report written by Naomi G. Goldberg and M. V. Lee Badgett of The Williams Institute. The writers concluded that prohibiting LGBT individuals and same-sex couples from adopting means that 165 children must remain in foster care or have other adoptive homes recruited for them. If the ban were lifted, the authors estimate that both adoption and foster care by LGBT individuals and same-sex couples would lead to 219 children being adopted and save Florida $3.4 million dollars in the first year.

On March 9 of this year, both the Florida House and Senate introduced bills (HB 413 and SB 2012) that would repeal the state’s statutory ban on “homosexuals.” We hope that these bills will be enacted so that members of the Florida GLBT community will be able to experience the joys of parenthood that are possible in almost every other state.

The National Adoption Center has always welcomed members of the LGBT community and for many years has worked with gay men and lesbians interested in adopting children from the foster care system. Thanks to the generosity of the Wachovia Foundation, we are now embarking on an ambitious adoption initiative to: (1) spread the word to members of the LGBT community about the children who need permanent families and encourage them to consider adoption and (2) work with adoption agencies to create friendly environments with LGBT individuals and couple who wish to pursue adoption.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wendy's Wonderful Kids Spolight


Hello, my name is Amy Cressman the newest employee of the National Adoption Center. I am the Recruiter for the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program in Delaware. Over the past month, I’ve been having a great time starting to meet the kids on my caseload. My fellow Wendy’s Wonderful Kids’ Recruiter, Crystal, had the great idea of featuring a child on the Center's Blog each week, so I am going to follow her footsteps and do the same!

Last week, I met Gerard, who just turned 13 years old last Friday! Right away, Gerard was open and friendly talking to me about his life and what he wants in a forever family. Gerard loves all things sports especially football. But not only is he a sports lover, he also loves sitting down and taking the time to read a good book. He loves books about history, and social studies is his favorite subject in school. He is proud of his good grades, and thinks he might want to be a lawyer when he grows up (if he doesn’t get into the NFL of course!). Gerard spoke about wanting an “All American” family who will be as active as he is! He also wants a family who is involved in church and the community. A smart and articulate teenager, Gerard is very optimistic in one day finding his new forever family.

If you would like more information about Gerard, or the Wendy’s Wonderful Kid’s program, feel free to contact me at acressman@adopt.org or at 215-735-9988 x319.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Growing Up Without Family

Last week, I heard a talk by a young woman—I’ll call her Cindy-- who had spent most of her growing-up years in foster care. Her brother was shuttled among relatives. Neither was adopted. Their mother was an addict and had abused both children frequently. When her brother was 18, just out of high school, he went home to his mother for one last try. It didn’t work. Six months later, he committed suicide.
Cindy never felt more alone.

But it wasn’t the first time she missed having a home and a family. There were those Thanksgivings at college when she hoped a friend would invite her for the holiday. And she was reminded of all of lonely nights without a mom to confide in or a dad with a broad shoulder to brush away her tears.

Today, Cindy is happily married to a man who adores her. She has a good job and many friends. But nothing can fill the hole in her soul where her family should have been.

Her talk brought tears to the eyes of everyone who heard it. It made me think of all of the Cindys who never have the families they need and deserve. It made me wonder why birth parents are given so many chances to keep ruining the lives of their children.

It made me feel even more certain that adoption is the best option for a child whose birth parents have demonstrated over a period of time that they can’t or won’t give her a loving home.

So many families want to adopt and have so much to offer a child. If our society cares about the futures of children as much as it claims to, it should welcome these families, taking the first step toward letting each child know that he or she is valued and deserves to be loved in a safe, nurturing environment.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Center Year-End Wrap Up

On June 30, the National Adoption Center concluded its 2008/09 fiscal year. And for the third consecutive year, we ended with a balanced budget. There are not many nonprofits that can claim that distinction in the current economic climate. It’s a testament to the many generous supporters who share our belief that “there are no unwanted children, just unfound families”.

More importantly, during our Annual Meeting last week, we announced the facilitation of 85 placements over the course of the last 12 months, a 60% increase over the previous year.

The cost to find an adoptive family for one of these children is microscopic compared to the amount of money we spend to keep him/her in foster care. We once again urge our local, state and national leaders to make investment in adoption a priority, not a last resort.

Our goal next year will be to identify “forever families” for 100 children who currently languish in foster care. We thank you in advance for your support!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wendy's Wonderful Kids Spotlight


Hi everyone! My name is Crystal Allen and I am the Center’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiter for Southern New Jersey, as well as an Adoption Coordinator.
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is a nonprofit 501(c)3 public charity dedicated to dramatically increasing the adoptions of the more than 150,000 children waiting in North America's foster care systems. Created by Wendy's founder, Dave Thomas, who was adopted as a child, the Foundation works to fulfill its mission by implementing result-driven national signature programs, awareness initiatives and advocacy efforts.

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids is a signature program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption that combines the fundraising of Wendy's and its customers; aggressive grants management of the Foundation, and the talent of experienced adoption professionals throughout the nation and in Canada to move children from foster care into permanent, loving adoptive homes. As a WWK Recruiter for Southern New Jersey, I recruit for 14 of the most amazing children and youth in the DYFS foster care system, using child-specific recruitment strategies. Each of my blog post will be dedicated to a child that I work with.

Jay, an engaging, creative and inquisitive youngster is a bundle of non-stop energy. He loves to ride his bike and scooter, play sports and involve himself in any activity that requires vigorous playing. Is it any wonder, that his favorite animal is the Cheetah! Jay loves to play the saxophone and is in the school band. He also sings in the choir. Jay makes friends easily, but feelings of loss and low self-esteem sometimes interfere in his interaction with peers and adults. Jay must be closely supervised around other children. Jay continues to deal with issues of loss, past trauma, impulse control and trust. Enrollment in a specialized academic program where Jay receives one-on-one support is assisting him in accomplishing academic goals. He is making progress in school. Jay would do best in a patient, highly structured, loving home that will support his therapeutic, emotional and educational needs. Being an only child or having older teenage siblings is highly recommended.

If you would like information on Jay or the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, please do not hesitate to contact me at callen@adopt.org or 215.735.9988 Ext. 346.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act

Roughly 26,000 youth each year “age out” of the foster care system when they turn 18years old. Many are unprepared to live on their own, especially without any support from a permanent family to help them as they struggle to find their way.

One of the most important provisions of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, signed into law in October 2008, the option for states to extend supports and services to youth and young adults in foster care up to age 21.

Another goal of the Act is to provide educational stability for children in foster care, many of whom move from school to school as their foster placements change. Studies have shown that youth do better academically when they are in stable home and school environments.

Among other provisions, the Act advocates for placing children in foster care with relatives, coordinating health care planning, and improving training opportunities for caseworkers, private agency staff, judges and others whose work impact on the welfare of children in foster care.

The National Foster Care Coalition, in collaboration with several other organizations, has prepared Frequently Asked Questions about this Act and its implementation. We think it’s important to read them and learn more about what can be done to help children who “age out” of foster care to be on their own when they are not prepared to do so. The FAQ can be downloaded at http://www.nationalfostercare.org/pdfs/NFCC-FAQ-olderyouth-2009.pdf

Monday, June 22, 2009

Finding the Right Adoption Agency

Hi Everyone, My name is Christine Jacobs and I am the Program Director for the National Adoption Center and its regional affiliate the Adoption Center of Delaware Valley. I am really excited about a project our staff is working on to help families who want to adopt – an online service that would match families with the most appropriate adoption agency.

We know from speaking with families that most may experience confusion when faced with the dilemma of selecting an adoption agency to start the process. Families we speak with want to know: How do I know which agency is best for my family? Does the agency work with single families who want to adopt? Will the adoption agency work with a member of the lesbian or gay community?

The Center conducted research with families in the Delaware Valley in 2008 to find out if an online service that would match them with an adoption agency would be useful. It was clear from our research that families would welcome this type of service. So, we were able, with the support of several foundations in the area, to raise the money to build it! We hope to begin this service in the fall of 2009.

With the online Family- to- Agency Matching service, families can look forward to ratings of adoption agencies by other families; the ability to match with an adoption agency on their family’s needs and more exciting features. It is our hope that this will reduce the amount of time to find the most appropriate agency from several weeks to 30 minutes! Do you think this would be a helpful service and do you have suggestions for other features you would like to see included? We welcome your ideas!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Father's Day Weekend

Here in the US it is Father's Day weekend. For many this is a positive day to show dad he's appreciated. For some, though, this can be a day of painful reminders. Remembrance of a father or father figure who has passed. Or the loss felt when a someone can't quite live up to being all a father can or should be. For those in the adoption world there is also range of feelings from positive to negative emotions. For those who have suffered through infertility there may be the loss of a dream. For others, there may be a feeling of the excited anticipation of an impending placement or already be filled with the joy of becoming a father. There might also be some tension surrounding the role of the birth father.

Whether you are a father or father-to-be, we wish you a wonderful weekend. Please also remember that during Father’s Day weekend, Wendy’s will donate 50¢ from every Frosty product sold to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DTFA), a national, non-profit public charity dedicated to dramatically increasing the number of adoptions of foster children in North America. Also customers can stop by Wendy’s and donate to the cause by purchasing a Frosty pin-up for $1 each. Online, you can design a Frosty eCard for Dad: Kids can go to FrostyCard.com to create a free custom Father’s Day eCard and Wendy’s will donate an additional 25¢ to the DTFA for every Frosty Card sent.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Adopting from China

In 2007, the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) issued new, more stringent regulations, effective as of May 1, 2007, for foreigners wanting to adopt Chinese children. Children up to and including age 13 are eligible to be adopted.

However, there are now fewer Chinese children available for adoption.. In 2005, there were 7983 children adopted by US citizens; in 2008, there were only 3911. Among the reasons: (1) The “one child per family” policy, in effect though 2010, had reduced the ratio of boys and girls.--114 males born for every 100 females as opposed to the normal ratio of 105 males to 100 females. As a result, the government began allowing a couple without siblings to have two children. (2) More √áhinese families can afford to adopt and are doing so.

Therefore, the waiting period to adopt from China is lengthy, approximately 32 months from the time the US adoption agency submits the paperwork of the prospective adopters to CCAA to the time CCAA gives the parents its initial referral. The wait is not as long for children with special needs.

Once the prospective adopters receive and accept the referral, it takes four to eight weeks before the CCAA approves the couple to travel to China where they will spend about three weeks to complete the adoption process.

With the reduced number of Chinese children available to be adopted, the National Adoption Center is hopeful that more families will consider adoption of children in this country. More than 130,000 wait in foster care for a permanent family. Some of the children have been waiting for years. When families adopt these children, they say repeatedly that their only regret is that they didn’t adopt sooner. Contact us here at the Center for more information: 215-735-9988 or adopt.org