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 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 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.