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

Friday, June 12, 2009

Teen Leadership Development Series

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. One of my pleasures of my role is working with older New Jersey youth in foster care for the Center’s Youth Advisory Board and the Teen Leadership Development Series (TLDS).

The mission of the Youth Advisory Board is to empower youth in foster care to make positive decisions that will impact their futures. Adoption Coordinators meet with a group of 15 teens on a monthly basis to discuss topics such as, life skills, college and trade school preparation, coping skills, laws that affect youth, permanency and adoption.

An extension of the Youth Advisory Board is the Teen Leadership Development Series (TLDS). The objective of the TLDS is to provide NJ teens in foster care with an opportunity to build their leadership and communication skills to reach and educate the public about issues of teens in foster care.  The teens will be able to use their enhanced communication skills to (1) participate in a Speaker’s Bureau, addressing prospective adoptive parents, government officials, and adoption conference attendees or at meetings of groups involved in adoption (2) assume leadership roles at ACDV Match Parties (3) serve as facilitators for future ACDV training sessions for youth in foster care. 

Participants of the TLDS have already met with facilitator, Christopher Ridenhour, as part of a training to be Teen Leaders at the Center’s Match Party held on May 30th. Their next meeting will be held on June 30th, where they will meet with Dr. Chuck Williams, a graduate of the foster care system, to begin preparation for public speaking engagements.

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

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

According to AARP, currently more than 2.4 million grandparents have taken on the responsibility of raising their grandchildren. Of these, 29% are African American 17% Hispanic/Latino; 2% American Indian or Alaskan Native; 3% Asian and 4% White. 34%live in households without the children’s parents present; 71% are under 60 years of age; 19% live in poverty.

The reasons for grandparents becoming caretakers are many. Perhaps the children’s parents are working or in school. More often, however, there are more serious issues, including substance abuse, child abuse or neglect, mental or physical illness, divorce, abandonment, death, and incarceration.

As an increasing number of grandparents commit to kinship caretaking, the demand for support and information about their special challenges is also growing. There are many questions that need to be answered.

What are the legal issues involved? Is it better to become a legal guardian, seek custody, become a foster parent or adopt?

Is financial assistance available? What government programs can help? What about income tax credits?

Will it be necessary to move? If, so is there any special housing for grandparents raising grandchildren?

How to explain to grandchildren about their parents?
Is legal custody needed to enroll a grandchild in school?
Is help available to pay for a grandchild’s medical bills?
Are there any support groups for grandparents?
What resources are available?

Answers to these questions and further information can be found on the AARP website www.aarp.org. and other websites.

If you are a grandparent caring for a grandchild, we would like to hear from you.

Monday, June 8, 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 at one of the most premiere, beautiful and challenging courses in the Delaware Valley? The ACE Club 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.

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, June 5, 2009

Award and Seal of Approval


Today we feature a guest blog from one of our Adoption Coordinator's Sheina Martinez.

Hello all, and happy Friday!!!!My name is Sheina Martinez and I am the Center’s Wednesday’s Child Coordinator and an Adoption Coordinator.

On Friday May 29th I visited Chicago for the Adoption Exchange Association's award luncheon. The center was presented two honors at this annual event. The first was as runner up National Wednesday’s Child feature story award. This competition judged entered Wednesday's Child television features from around the country. Philadelphia's entry with Vai Sikahema was voted second best of over twenty Wednesday’s Child nominees!

In the picture you can see from the left is Freddie Mac Foundation’s, Senior Community Relations Manager, Renette Oklewicz; me, Sheina Martinez; Wednesdays Child Philadelphia's host, Vai Sikahema; and NBC 10’s producer Lydia Reeves.


The second honor I received on behalf of the Center was the All Children All Family Seal of Recognition. The Center is the first adoption exchange to receive the seal. The seal confirms that the Center has met the ten bench marks HRC has defined to ensure that the staff of the agency is competent in working with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Although I didn't get to see much of the city, Chicago was wonderful The awards luncheon was great! And I was proud to accept such honors on behalf of the Center.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Foster Care's Impact on Education

One of the major complaints of children who live in foster care is that their education is interrupted each time they move to a different foster home and need to change schools. They say that these disruptions put them at an academic and social disadvantage.

In an effort to remedy that situation, the first high school for children in foster care will open in Philadelphia in September, 2009. Called Arise Academy, the school will enroll 200 children from ninth through twelfth grade. In the event that a child is moved to another foster home during the school year, he will have the choice of changing schools or remaining at Arise Academy through the completion of his high school education.

It is expected that the children’s academic performance will improve and that they will feel more connected to the students they meet at school. Sixty percent of the children who have given input into the design, nature and intent of the new school have said that being a foster child in a school where most children live with birth parents has made them feel stigmatized. They believed that they would be more comfortable in a setting where all of the children were living in foster homes. Still, there is controversy about the wisdom of a school limited to foster children. Would it be better for them to remain in their neighborhood schools and learn adjustment to the larger world in which they will live? Or will their improved grades and more satisfying social connections be reflected in their increased self-esteem and an enthusiasm for learning? What do you think?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Marketing Adoption From Foster Care

It can take upwards of $40,000 to adopt a healthy Caucasian infant in the U.S. International adoptions are all but closed (unless you happen to be a celebrity). Yet there are so many fantastic children currently languishing in foster care here in our own backyard who want nothing more then to have a loving parent. Why is that? Why don’t more want-to-be parents choose foster care to help them start the family they so earnestly wish for? Do they think it costs a lot of money to adopt from the system? Do they think adoption is only for infants? Do they think they’ll be “less” of a family? Do they think these kids are juvenile delinquents or worse yet, “damaged goods”? The answer to all these questions is a resounding NO!

What can the National Adoption Center do to make adoption of children from the foster care system a more “attractive” option?? Is is a matter of "marketing" or of fixing some part of the system? Or is it not what parents-to-be want?