Monday, December 24, 2012

When Strangers Become Family

We share this with you as a wish for peace and love this holiday season.

When Strangers Become Family 

by: Michelle Johnson 
Development Intern



[Written in the voice of a child awaiting adoption and a 

husband longing for a child until their worlds collide] 



Who do I belong to? 

They gave me life and a name 

but no one to hold on to 

A life of inconsistency 

Nothing’s ever the same 

Could this be home? 

or only for today? 

I’ll dream forever 

if I wake to new scenery 

of a family 

embracing me with love 

and never leaving me 



Everything I’ve ever wanted 

as far as material things 

but still so incomplete 

I wanna feel the happiness 

that only a child brings 

Fill the hole in my heart 

Fulfillment to my life 

A reason to smile 

for me and my wife 



And then I met you 

Every thing I’ve ever needed 

My life anew 

My love will help you cope 

I know your past 

With you there is hope 

No more calamity 



Closer to world peace 

When strangers become family

Friday, December 21, 2012

Wednesday's Child - Megan

Megan is a sweet and beautiful 15- year- old originally from Guatemala. Art, computers, listening to Spanish music, and basketball are just some of her favorite pastimes. In school, she gets along well with her peers and teachers. While Spanish is her first language, she has made great gains in learning to speak English. She is a friendly and helpful teen with a goal to some day work in a salon.

Hair wash, cut, blow dry and make-up are the things Louis Christian Wayne Robert Salon and Spa offered to Megan for her Wednesday’s Child taping. As assumed, she gladly accepted! Wednesday’s Child host Vai Sikahema was there to witness her turn even more into a beauty. She and Vai were able to chat with staff as they dedicated their time with her and listened to her amazing story of how she came to America and how she hopes to soon be adopted into a loving family.

Megan had an amazing day getting pampered Vai later sat with her to talk about the importance of family. Megan is actively involved in her recruitment process for a family. She would like to be in a family that will love her unconditionally. All families will be considered.

To view her original feature, click here.
To view an extended feature, click here. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This Holiday Season

Blog by Emily Meekins, intern. 

It’s the holiday season and the hustle and bustle is in full throttle as the end of the year approaches. As I walk the city streets gathering my final gifts for loved ones, it hurts to make eye contact with the lost souls that flood the streets in December hoping that the spirit of giving is still alive. Especially after the tragedy in Connecticut this past week, we hold our loved ones close and are reminded of the importance of family, what our family means to us, and how our lives would be affected if a loved one were lost.

To fathom the heartache of what these families are going through is unimaginable; equally as heartbreaking is imagining life without a family, without loved ones, and without a place to call home. There are over 104,000 children across the United States who will spend another holiday season dreaming of finding a loving family and stable home. While the winter holidays are often perceived as the happiest time of the year, with much emphasis on the importance of family and being with those you love, it is easy to forget that not everyone is experiencing the same kind of expectant joy.

This year, let us extend our loving arms and giving hands to those in need. Whether it’s providing someone with a loving family, a home-cooked meal, or simply sharing your story –giving the gift of love, kindness, and awareness touches the lives of everyone around you.

What does adoption mean to you and how has it touched your life? It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story, be apart of the bigger picture.

"Stories live in your blood and bones, follow the seasons and light candles on the darkest night-every storyteller knows she or he is also a teacher..." —Patti Davis

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Phillies Charities Holiday Party

Ken & Katie join the Phanatic! 
Ken, our Executive Director, and Katie, our Development Manager, attended the Phillies Charities Holiday Party on Monday at the Diamond Club at Citizen’s Bank Ballpark. The room was filled with representatives from nearly 50 charities that received support from the Phillies over the past year.

Each group was spotlighted throughout the course of the program, and we were thrilled to feature one of our Wednesday’s Child Philadelphia clips that told the story of a family we have helped to create. Ken also had the opportunity to address the crowd, describing the need for adoption among older youth living in foster care. 
Ken with Phillies' Manager Charlie Manual

One of the highlights of the evening – apart from getting an autograph from Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel! – was learning about the inspiring work taking place in nonprofits across Philadelphia. Their causes and missions were varied, from housing for veterans to care packages for families with ailing children, but the passion was the same. It felt good to be a part of this community of care.

PS – We’ll be auctioning off our Charlie Manuel autographed-Phillie Phanatic at our fundraising gala on April 25th at the Crystal Tea Room! Stay tuned for more information about this exciting event!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Unique Gift Idea

Looking for an affordable unique gift made by children to help children?



We have them right here.


The National Adoption Center is providing child-created notecards for a $15 donation that are perfect for any occasion! The package consists of ten irresistible cards designed by 3rd graders in answer to the question, “What does family mean to you?” The results warm the heart and could make you laugh. Through this purchase you are helping find homes for children who are spending this holiday season in search of a safe and loving family.

So feel good about your holiday purchasing and give a gift that benefits children and allows NAC to continue to impact the world of adoption.

To order cards click HERE.

To make a donation click HERE.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ripple Effect

No one ever knows the ripple effect of what they do. How could we have predicted that a film documentary maker who attended one of “match party” would lead to 170 children living in foster care having the opportunity to hear a weekend concert by Jay-Z in Philadelphia? Leah Stauffer, who is working on a documentary about foster care and adoption was so impressed by the children and social workers she met at a “match party” several months ago that she was determined to stay in touch with us, arranging to interview the our executive director and communications director as her work progressed. When she had the opportunity over Labor Day weekend to get several tickets to a special Jay-Z concert in downtown Philadelphia, she knew she wanted to make them available to the children she had met. Within 48 hours, a social worker for SWAN, Pennsylvania’s statewide adoption network, had emailed her families. Leah was stunned when emails flooded her computer—dozens of children with their foster parents wanted to attend. When Leah passed the word on to the Shawn Carter Foundation, started by Jay-Z and his mother, Gloria, the director there told her to include as many children as wanted to come. That number turned out to be 170. Jay-Z was so moved by the experience that he made a similar offer to children living under the care of New York's foster care system for a concert at the new Barclay Center in Brooklyn!

Monday, December 3, 2012

We thank Jeremy Maclin!



Jeremy Maclin, a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, grew up in an emotionally chaotic family until, as a sophomore in high school he went to live with the family he says “made me what I am today.” But he hasn't forgotten what it was like before he had a loving, secure family. Jeremy has, therefore, declared himself a spokesman for the National Adoption Center: for each Eagles home game, he invites an adoptive family to the game as his guest, giving them the chance to go to the warm-up before the game and meet with him in the locker room when the game is over. John Thomas and three of his children, who attended the first game against Baltimore, said it was an incredible experience, one that the children will always remember. Seven more adoptive families will have the same opportunity over the course of the season (one story of which we have already shared with you).

Friday, November 30, 2012

#AdoptHope Wrap-Up

Wharton students, left to right: Natalie, Ainsley, Armin, Nilesh, Kashfia 

Our #AdoptHope event held at Shops at Liberty Place last week was a huge success in spreading awareness about the many children in foster care who await the love and support of a forever family. Many passers-by were given the opportunity to ask questions they had about adoption and foster care, pick up pamphlets provided by several different adoption agencies, and gather information on the many children that we work with here at the National Adoption Center.

The goal of this event was to educate others about adoption through the use of informative resource tables and provide interactive activities that reveal surprising myths and facts adoption. NAC staff, our Philly Fellow got to working side-by-side with students from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania to create this event. We are extremely pleased that we had the opportunity to celebrate National Adoption Month with others in the community and continue to push forward with public awareness initiatives.
        
Quote from Brittani, Wharton student and event performer, “I know I personally learned a lot about adoption and so did the rest of the team, which is awesome because now we will be able to educate others”
Myra, Adoptive mother of special needs children, and Beth, NAC's Marketing Director
                                   
We had a scrapbook where people could record their thoughts about adoption and family, here are a few of the messages left:

“Special children need special homes”

“I definitely want to adopt someday”

“It’s a wonderful thing”

What would be your message?

Monday, November 19, 2012

#AdoptHope

from a team of Management 101 students who have been working on a project to assist us & who have worked with our Philly Fellow and our Marketing Manager

Throughout the past two months, our team [from UPenn, Wharton] has thoroughly enjoyed working with the National Adoption Center to organize the #AdoptHope event, a public awareness event that will be held today Monday, November 19 at Liberty Place in Center City Philadelphia.

Adoption has closely touched the lives of many of our team members, so we’re truly excited to have had the opportunity to help NAC celebrate National Adoption Month on their 40th anniversary.

Our event’s goal is to educate people about adoption through the use of informative resource tables and interactive activities that debunk surprising myths and facts about adoption. We will also have live entertainment from students of the University of Pennsylvania and a raffle with a chance to win some great prizes. As guests leave the event, we hope that they will take a minute to share their experiences with adoption or something they have learned by writing in our “Share Your Story” scrapbook or conducting an interview that will feature in a future promotional video.

This experience, from the inception of the initial concept to the creation of the final posters, has helped us to realize the dedication and organization that go into planning an event. The work of the National Adoption Center is truly inspiring, and it was an honor to be part of this exciting time for them. Although we were already passionate about adoption going into this project, we have learned so much by taking on this project and hope that our guests will also be inspired to support the National Adoption Center in their mission to help thousands of youth #AdoptHope.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day-at-the-Eagles

Here’s one of the families that participated: (left to right) Marianne Cadieux, Jeremy Maclin and Cadieux’s children, Jamie, Mariah and Valawn.

Every time the Philadelphia Eagles play a home game, a lucky family with children it has adopted has a chance to observe the team’s warm-up, cheer at the game and meet afterward with Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles wide receiver. Maclin, who was raised by parents who were not his birth family, understands the feelings of other children with similar experiences. Therefore, he has become a supporter of the National Adoption Center and has initiated the Day-at-the-Eagles experience for the families.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Behind the Scenes with Amanda

Greetings! My name is Amanda and I am a Program Intern here at the National Adoption Center. This internship fulfills the last requirement needed to obtain my degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State University, but more importantly allows me to gain “real world” experience outside of the classroom. In the short six weeks that I have been with NAC I have learned so much about the field of adoption and what goes in to finding the perfect family for a child in foster care.

One family recruitment tool that is coordinated by NAC is “Wednesday’s Child.” I had the exciting opportunity to attend a Wednesday’s Child taping and meet Jose, the featured Wednesday’s Child for that week. I’m not sure why but I had expected something to set Jose apart from a typical teenager growing up in their birth family. I thought maybe he would look different or act different, or do something that would make it obvious that he lives in a foster home. Looking back, I feel embarrassed that I thought any of that. Jose was your average teenager; nose buried in his cell phone, listening to music on his head phones, and updating his Facebook status to let his friends know that he was at lunch with the Vai Sikahema. He was polite and very well-mannered. Nothing about Jose’s appearance or behavior indicated that he was going through one of the toughest things a child could face.

Unfortunately, I’m sure that many people have some of the same thoughts that I originally had about children in foster care. It just seems to make sense that a child who has been through such heartbreak and uncertainty in their short life might act bitter and mean. Lucky for me, I had the chance to be proved wrong by a sweet young man in foster care, and I am so thankful that I was blessed with that opportunity. Now I will make it my mission to let the rest of the world know just how amazing these children are.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Our Extraordinary Partner: Wendy's!

L to R: Sam Scott, Regional Director for Briad Group, Roberta Drakes, General Manager for Wendy's, Mushtaq Abdullahi, District Manager for Wendy's and Ken Mullner, Executive Director for NAC.
In addition to being Lead Sponsor for our 40th Anniversary Gala and Golf Tournament, Wendy's also designated us as beneficiary of the proceeds from its Frosty Key Tag Campaign. Wendy's restaurants in the tri-state area sold key tags for one dollar during January and February, allowing buyers to get a free Frosty each time they made a purchase throughout the year. Wendy's important partnership supports the work we do expanding adoption opportunities for children living in foster care.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Notes from NAC’s Development Department:

For the purposes of this blog post I thought I would give you all a glimpse into the world of nonprofit fundraising...

Nonprofit organizations depend largely on public funds – government contracts, grants from foundations, corporate gifts and individual donors. The more diverse an organization’s funding base the better, because it can be dangerous to rely too heavily on one source of income. Many nonprofits experienced this firsthand during the recent recession because government funding, foundation giving and corporate support took major hits.

Contrary to what you may think, individual donors are the largest source of funding for nonprofits, comprising about 70% of the sector’s nearly $300 billion worth of contributions! Individual donors also prove to be the most loyal, since they continue to give even during tough economic times. That shows how important it is for nonprofits to connect with individuals like you!

So, while I still spend much of my time writing grants to local foundations and while we still hold our government contracts in high regard, it’s also important to share our story with individual donors in a powerful way.

I encourage you to learn more about the National Adoption Center’s story by perusing our website; get to know the children we serve, the families we have created and the work that has yet to be done for the nearly 110,000 youth across the U.S. who are waiting for the love and stability of a family.

P.S. – you can become part of our story by making a gift today!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Match Parties Return to the UK

The National Adoption Center’s influence is not just national but international. Over three years ago, adoption staff from the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) contacted us inquiring about our match parties. Our staff shared their expertise and best practice materials on how to design and execute a match party.

Fast forward a few years and in early 2011, the UK held their first “activity day,” better known as an adoption or match party here in the states. While these events have had extremely successful outcomes, creating “matches” for 23 out of the 120 children who have been to the three events held so far, these activity days remain extremely controversial as the UK tries to spread awareness.

The UK’s first match party took place in the mid-1970s and quickly went out of favor in the 1980s with critics describing them as “adoption speed dating” which forced agencies to find new family-finding methods. As time has progressed and figures have shown a drop in placements, the UK has decided to reconsider hosting adoption parties, a method which has taken place for over 30 years in the US and have proven to be twice as effective compared to any other method of family finding for children.

“Activity days” have now returned to the UK as a pilot project involving nine local authorities, several adoption agencies, and made possible by the external funding and management of BAAF. BAAF’s adoptions staff has remained in contact with the National Adoption Center throughout their re-launch and our organization has been thrilled to help share materials and lend a hand in the creation of a successful match party.

As an organization that has been successfully hosting match parties for over 25 years, our program which has blossomed into a model for the country, is proud to have branched overseas and support BAAF’s efforts in bringing children in need one step closer to a loving, caring, permanent home.

To read more about BAAF’s “activity days” click here. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Family – Times Two, Part Three

part 3 of 3

Okay, perhaps you have guessed how the story ends. You are probably right but there are a few unknown twists and turns. The main point of this series: forging forever families, whether with birth or adoptive children and family members. That adoption is an amazing way to form one’s family. And that in the end, forgiveness and love are what matters.

This series has comedy and quirky moments, a theme song or two, many other family-oriented storylines and more and special moments that were undeniable life lessons. One of the translated titles is Unexpected You—quite descriptive of what happens in losing a child, finding a child, finding a child in an orphanage (or foster care!), and finding room for a child in one’s heart. Even finding the courage to decide to parent. Sometimes the prospect of loving beyond the borders of one’s life brings an “unexpected you”. Unexpected love. Unexpected parent or child. Unexpected other family. Unexpected life.

Reflecting on how many “unexpected you” youth wait in foster care—whether in group homes or foster homes, who dare to dream of a forever family, a forever home, I think the elements of this drama didn’t just make for good television (whatever the language), it makes for great perspective!

I agree--58 whole episodes with subtitles is a lot to tackle. It’s not Downton Abbey but it had special charm for me. Since adoption is a major topic in my life, I allowed myself the luxury of watching. I realize that all adopted children experience Family—Times Two, whether or not they ever meet or live with their birth family. I learned things about myself and my own angst. I know our daughter is in touch with her birth family. I know she had enjoyed coming to know them. I know she exhibits Nature a lot (although sometimes—rather unexpectedly—Nurture finds its way in, too). I applaud her because I also know that she works hard not to pit one of her families against the other. So I work hard not to feel intimidated that she has two families. This drama taught me to celebrate even the unexpected in adoption. To not be afraid to wear blue jeans, a plaid shirt and vest—to be comfortable, casual and so myself, no matter that she has family, times two—when we are together I let her know how happy I am to see and be with my daughter.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Family – Times Two, Part Two

 part 2 of a 3 part series

Most good drama plots are crafted to keep the viewers interested and this one followed suit: the young doctor and his wife end up renting in the small apartment building of the older parents searching for their son. You see where this is going: yes, indeed, the miracle of the small screen brought these two families (really one family) together. Traditions of the “old country” clash with the newly-from-America couple. Episode after episode both sides search for what is right beneath their noses. Not without some antics and emotions we discover (and finally so do they) that the doctor from America is their son! Ah, if only search and reunion would be as magical for all who embark.

The scenes of him as a lost young boy and those when he was adjusting to living in an orphanage were some of the most memorable. The drama portrayed beautifully how he misjudged his own feelings about love and family. How he couldn’t understand what had happened. Why had he been abandoned? He was confused and ashamed and blamed himself for everything. His memories became blocked. He bottled his emotions to the point that he would not speak or laugh. And he was quite inconsolable. Asian born prospective parents living in the United States learned about and fostered then adopted him, giving him unimagined experiences and opportunities. His adoptive family consisted of parents and a brother, and he sought out other adoptees among his classmates. The viewer gets the impression that it was a slow process to get him to stop crying every day and draw him out of his shell, but from the caring and understanding of his adoptive family, he experienced healing. As he drank in their love, he became uber loving.

Just as poignant are the scenes of his birth family members following every lead. Flashbacks showed how each of them was heartsick, powerless to do much else. Showing, too, how they coped with life and put up with each other through this unforeseen and devastating loss. Their growing depression and sadness as individuals and as a family was so believable, I could often feel the weight of the mantle on their shoulders.

The shock of the adult doctor learning that not only were his birth parents still alive but living next door, was captured well. The nuances of family life (in his birth family he was the only son in a family of four children) in an honorific society (three generations lived together—grandmother, parents, and sisters with extended family in the same building) were new—not to mention somewhat awkward. In more comic than tragic scenes, the viewer is able to see the twists and turns of how challenging it was for his wife to accept and (gulp) finally like—even love—her in-laws. (The series opens with her declaration that one of the main reasons—apart from love—she married her husband was because he was adopted. She rationalized that since he was an orphan she would not need to deal with the cultural norm of serving and living near/with in-laws, a proposition that sounded almost too good to be true; dealing with his adoptive parents half a world away was much easier.) She was less than thrilled when he acted on his hope to search for his birth family. Her shock in learning the lady next door that she bickered with day in and out was her mother-in-law? Priceless.

While the feelings of loss by birth parents and son are explored in depth, in later episodes we have the chance to meet his foster/adoptive parents when they visit. His birth parents are shocked by the way he talks, jokes and even wrestles with his adoptive dad. They realize how formal and timid they are in loving him. It becomes apparent that the focus of finding their son was their ideal, yet coming to love him as a person/an adult was another thing entirely.

We learn more of the adoptive family’s story and how they struggled to get their son to open up and be himself with them. They were not always confident about how to love him. Wondering who he had been before the trauma of separation. Wondering if they were doing a good job. Wondering if his family would search for and find him. More healing took place as the two fathers talked and learned from each other. The same happened with the mothers. But most moving was the outpouring of genuine thanks each set of parents offered the other.

What this brought to me the idea was nature vs. nurture, illusion versus reality and that perhaps expectations in searching for birth family is heartfelt but may not live up to one’s imagination. Once someone searches for their ideal and then finds the reality, what then? Search and reunion is a step in the process of healing, too. In this story, the birth parents seem a bit hurt (understandably) that he doesn’t totally favor them only. In fact, he is quite even and measured in his love for and reactions toward all of them. Remarkably, I see this with myself and our daughter, too. I am the one who is a bit hurt that she doesn’t favor us only. Yet she, in her wisdom, heals me by her steadfast love for her (entire) family—times two.

The actors are a remarkable troupe. I couldn’t help wonder how much research they did into adoption or if some of them have personal connections to adoption. The birth mother, portrayed by a veteran actress, was totally convincing in her role. I cheered with her when she found her son. Yet when she treated his wife condescendingly, I became upset. What she learned about the circumstances of the separation made me re-think my upset. When the story went deeper into her psyche and her story, the viewer learns the real reason for the separation and how and why she particularly struggled. Her memories triggered, we are able to see how much she suffered in silence and took the mental abuse and cold shoulder from both her mother-in-law and husband. And even as an adoptive mother, I could almost feel how alone a birth mother separated from her child would feel.

For over 30 years the birth parents lived under the shroud of guilt and pointed the finger of blame at one another and themselves. They envisioned his life was tough (wondering, of course, was he even still alive). They had no idea where he was or who he was. They had no idea what a kind and giving person he had become, flourishing with chances, love and laughter through his adoption. With only their memories of him as a little boy, they were disheartened and felt that his life was ruined. But upon meeting and talking to the parents who raised their son for the bulk of his life, they saw how living with guilt had done nothing to help him but had made their lives miserable. Also, they began to recognize that they were walking on eggshells around this adult son they did not know, they worked on ways not to be strangers. Unexpectedly, each of them began to change, opening up and finding grace, forgiving themselves and one another for things they never had the courage to talk about. This was an eye into the heart of birth families separated from their children, regardless of why.

What is interesting is though the doctor worked to build bonds and was quick to embrace his grandmother, parents, sisters, aunts, uncles and niece as family, he does not pit one of his families against the other. He offers both sets of parents treasured (and expected by the culture) filial piety. He is benevolent and works to put them (not to mention his wife) at ease. He neither chooses one family over another nor takes for granted the love that either family gives him—even though that love is expressed in such different ways. When his birth mother harshly criticizes his wife, he defends his spouse and politely, but firmly, insists his mother talk to him if she has any more such grievances. He does it with such sincerity, his mother stops in her tracks. Despite being hurt by these words, his birth parents marvel at his good character, attributing that to how he was raised. This makes them feel a bit intimidated to meet his “other” family. But his integration of feelings for both sides is quite notable. He forgives. He loves. Period. Both sides. Both families.

His birth mother and father stressed over what to wear when greeting their son’s adoptive parents at the airport. Careful to choose just the right dress/sports jacket, jewelry and such, they wondered if they would make a good enough impression. Would his adoptive parents think they are pretentious? Would they send the right message and be welcoming enough? Off the plane walks his adoptive parents in blue jeans, plaid shirts and vests—comfortable, casual and so themselves. They might have been honored (not to mention apprehensive) to meet his birth family, but what I was most struck by is they were happy to see and be with their son!

At one point in the story the doctor and his wife learn they are pregnant (although neither of them wanted a child). Yet there is a second “generation” of adoption that comes into play for them. At the hospital the doctor meets an orphan who is a patient (the word “orphan” was used in subtitles or perhaps because the child lived in a group home/orphanage). He sees how much this young boy was like himself at that age—frustrated that he couldn’t communicate about how lonely and scared he was. We get to see more snatches of the doctor as a little boy as he unlocks the memories of his younger self, forgiving the circumstances of what happened, and then living with greater inner freedom.

This story had a number of pinnacles. Here is one. The little boy did not talk (just like the doctor when he was little). Through flashbacks we see the intense pent-up feelings of the doctor at that age. He took the boy for a walk and with extreme tenderness and knowing counsels him, “It’s not your fault. None of this is your fault.” Learning the circumstances of his own life in the orphanage (which I won’t reveal in case you decide to watch this series), leads him to understand that forgiveness is indeed noble and mighty and essential to healing. This is a gift he received from his adoptive parents and birth parents alike which he can give to this young boy who feels unloved and unsure about life.

The next scene shows the doctor as a little boy comforting this little boy in the present day. The little boy began to smile when he realizes that the doctor (as a child) is his friend. And the viewer senses how much he would like to father this little boy permanently. In his heart, he consciously decided to parent.

Another pinnacle: the realization by the doctor’s wife about the miracle of adoption. At one point the little boy wanders from the hospital. She hears that he has been picked up by the police and is at the station. On behalf of her husband, she goes to the station to pick him up. He sobs and clings to her skirt, uttering the first word the audience hears him say--“Mom!” It seems he decided she should parent.

Even when the couple becomes pregnant, she can’t help but think of that little boy who doesn’t talk and has little joy in his life. While her husband has broached the subject of adopting him, she tells him she can’t commit to that. Yet she suggests they buy him a gift and deliver it personally. The boy smiles when he puts on his new clothes, but his countenance drops again when they leave. They wave and promise to come visit soon again.

When they get to the car, the doctor’s wife remembers she has another package to give to the orphanage but on her way to the office is shocked by what she sees. Middle-schoolers and their parents have come to do “community service” work at the orphanage. A middle school boy wants to take a picture with the little boy. Because he does not smile for the posed picture the mother of the middle-schooler is infuriated. She wants to get a good picture to prove her son did his community service work and made a good impression. She literally pushes away the little boy and with a chocolate bar entices a little girl who does smile to take a picture with her son.

The doctor’s wife sees how dejected the little boy is and begins to yell at the middle-schooler’s mother who retorts, “Well, just who are you to him?”

“Me? I am (large pause)-- his mother.” With the fury of a true Tiger Mother, the doctor’s wife defends the little boy and realizes how unexpectedly love for him has settled in her heart. She and her husband look into adoption, but don’t find an easy road.

Even though they feel resolute and excited at the prospect, when they announce this to the entire family, they face an additional roadblock: his parents do not agree. For them, the topic of adoption is bittersweet. However, the doctor’s father relents and declares he will be there for this young boy, happy to help raise him since he never had a chance to raise his own son. His mother makes no such statement. Those of us watching wonder, will this stop the couple?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Family – Times Two, Part One

part 1 of a 3 part series

A number of months ago I stumbled upon an Asian TV drama with a theme rooted in adoption. (Come to find out, apparently many of their dramas/mini-series touch on this topic.) Nonetheless, this one captured my attention and then my heart and, despite reading subtitles for over six months, I thoroughly enjoyed all 58 (!) episodes. It was extremely well acted and moved my heart beyond words. Unique to this series is that adoption is showcased through two generations and from the viewpoint of both birth and adoptive parents through international and foster care adoptions. Being an adoptive parent myself, it piqued my interest. That one of my best friends adopted brothers from Korea gave me a further reason to watch. I found its core was about how healing adoption can be. It talked about bridging gaps and broadening views regarding what it takes to adopt a child. And that what it takes to parent is, in part, not as much a question as a decision.

Several major storylines intertwine: an Asian man became a doctor in America and returns to serve his birth homeland bringing the medical expertise he gained at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and also hopes to search for his birth family. As he and his wife look for and secure a place to live, viewers learn that he had been in foster care and adopted in the States when he was a young child (presumably six or seven). Another storyline shows parents in their sixties searching for their son. He went missing at around age five after an unexpected fire explosion in the street separated him from his family. They continued to search for him for over 30 years. Finding him was the focal point of their lives.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Golfing for a Cause


It was the big day – our 2012 Tee-Off for Kids Golf Classic was finally here. I turned off my alarm clock and started digging through the closet for my tan “National Adoption Center” staff t-shirt. I cringed at the sound of heavy rain outside my window. The gray sky did not look promising. Would it clear up enough for the golfers to play? Bad weather was really going to hurt our numbers, and we had hoped this event would raise close to $60,000.
As I drove to Radnor Valley Country Club the sun started to peek out. Phew! The golfers arrived, dropping off their clubs and finding their assigned carts. After a BBQ luncheon, everyone gathered around the putting green for the opening contest and then the shotgun start sent the teams out to their respective tee holes.
Radnor Valley’s course proved to be gorgeous, and the golfers came back smiling a few hours later. We enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails before the buffet dinner and program. Phil Barnett and Bob Bechtold, board members and golf chairmen, talked about the National Adoption Center’s work of finding families for children living in foster care and thanked the golfers for supporting this important mission. Sports broadcaster Stan Hochman led an exciting live auction featuring sports items, a vacation home in the Poconos and a threesome to Merion Golf Club – home of the 2013 US Open! We closed the night out with the day’s awards and prizes, along with a make-your-own ice cream sundae bar!
All in all, the 2012 Tee-Off for Kids Golf Classic was a success. We raised nearly $60,000 and also built awareness to the need for adoption among the 105,000 youth living in foster care across the US.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Potential

By: Michelle Johnson, development intern

I’d say my first week here at the National Adoption Center is only the start of a life changing experience. Or better yet, a mind changing experience. I’ve never taken the opportunity to sit down and read stories about the lives of children who were forced to leave their parents because of various reasons, such as neglect or abuse. Or hear about a child that would be separated from the siblings they’ve known their entire lives. It makes me think about my own life and question … What would it be like to not know my own father? What if my mother decided she didn’t want me right after giving birth? What if I was forced to be separated from my sister?

I attend Drexel University, one of the best schools in the country. I come from a very loving and supportive family. I have a great relationship with my parents and my older sister. That’s my reality.

But for most of the children I’ve read or heard about, this is not the case. They’ve lived in numerous foster homes over the course of only a few years. Their lives are filled with insecurity and instability. Their 18th birthday brings them a sense of fear instead of celebration knowing that they’ll age-out of the system and have no support. Their chances of ending up in jail, on drugs or homeless are much higher than someone who comes from a supportive family.

On the flip-side, I’ve also read success stories about children who were lucky enough to be adopted and accepted as part of a family. They have the parents they’ve always longed for. They no longer worry about waking up in a new home tomorrow. These are the stories I find the most heart-warming and touching. It makes me proud to work for a company that works to better the lives of children because they hold our future.

When a baby is born, you never truly know their potential. It’s very possible that they could change the world and have their name written down in our history books. But do they even have the slightest chance if they’re never given the tools to be successful? If our president, Barack Obama, grew up in multiple foster homes and aged-out of the system with no support, he most likely wouldn’t be president today. This idea, to me, makes every child significant. I believe that everyone is born with a purpose or somewhat of a destiny. A reason why they were put on this earth. It’s a shame that some of these children will never reach their full potential because of something they had no control over.

I realize now that adoption is much more than just caring for a child. It’s loving someone with different blood running through their veins as if they were your own. It’s giving someone the life they’ve always dreamed of. It’s showing people that being a parent means much more than just giving birth.

Monday, October 1, 2012

LGBT Adoption - Cafes & More

Adoption Cafe Panellists: Mark Woodland, Becky Birtha, Sarah Barnwell and Susan Shachter 
“I don’t know what the best thing is, but I am glad I am not the type of person who thinks that gays are from a different world. I am glad that I accept the fact that I have gay dads. I am glad that I'm more accepting of different types of families.”

Quote from an adopted youth involved in a research study looking at the perspectives of youth who were adopted by LGBT parents, conducted by AdoptUSKids.

With two million LGBT adults considering adoption, foster care and adoption agencies are realizing they need to pay attention to this constituent group. The National Adoption Center and the Obama administration believe that the LGBT community is one of the largest untapped and underutilized resources of potential parents. There are close to 105,000 children living in foster care throughout the country who wait for families, more than 1600 in the Delaware Valley alone.

HRC Video

NAC’s LGBT Initiative aims to educate and support the LGBT community around adoption issues. The program helps the community identify a gay-friendly adoption agency or how to differentiate what might be an issue of homophobia or just the barriers and weaknesses of the “system”, for example. We host events which provide the opportunity for prospective adoptive parents to talk to gay and lesbian adoptive parents in a safe and welcoming environment.

Last month we held one such event at the William way Community Center in Center City Philadelphia. Thirty five individuals attended our LGBT Adoption Café and listened to Mark, a gay man who has two adopted children, and Susan and Becky, lesbians who have adopted children, and Sarah, an attorney with expertise including estate planning and family law, in a lively and honest panel discussion.

Adoption 101

“This event is for anybody who has ever considered adoption,” says Ken Mullner, the Center’s executive director. “We believe that every child deserves to live in a loving, nurturing and permanent family and that people from a variety of life experiences offer strengths for these children.”

The Center has always welcomed members of the LGBT community. In fact, in the late 70s, one of the first children for whom the Center created a family was placed with a lesbian in West Virginia. Fifteen years later, the child, then almost 20, told those who attended an anniversary dinner for the Center, “Thank you for finding me a family. Without the National Adoption Center, I wouldn't have one.”

There was not a dry eye in the house.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Adoption Tax Credits

Please Act Today



Save the adoption tax credit is the effort of a national collaboration of organizations and people like you that have united to support the cause of adoption by advocating for the adoption tax credit.

While we all know that the adoption tax credit is a great help in finding children forever families and make adoption affordable for all, If Congress does not act, the tax credit as we know it will expire on December 31, 2012. As the law currently stands, the adoption credit is not refundable for 2012 as it was in 2010 and 2011.

EXCITING NEWS!

On Friday, September 21, bills were introduced to both the House (HR 4373) and the Senate (S 3616) that could potentially accomplish the goal of an adoption tax credit that is inclusive, flat for special needs adoptions, refundable and permanent.

We need your help to show members of Congress that refundability helps foster care adoption and lower middle income tax filers. One of the most effective ways is to contact your Representative and two U.S. Senators to express your personal story of how refundability affects your adoption story.

(Click here to see if your Representative is already a cosponsor)

ACTION:

How Do I Know Who to Contact?

To find your Representative, go to: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/.

To find your Senators, go to: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.

If you are planning to call, you can call the Capitol Operator at (202) 224-3121. One you reach the Senator’s office, ask to speak with the legislative assistant who deals with the adoption or tax issues. (You will have to call back to reach the second Senator and Representative.)

What Should I Say?

To help you, The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) has provided: a fact sheet on the tax credit as well as a sample letter that can be used as a guide when emailing or calling your Senators.

We highly encourage you to share this announcement with other adoption advocates. The continuation of the adoption tax credit is vital to providing love, safety, and permanency to as many children as possible.

We hope you will join us in our advocacy efforts.


The National Adoption Center

Friday, September 21, 2012

Philly Fellow Update

continuation of Abi's experiences while being a Philly Fellow for us...

Sept 11, Beth and I went to UPenn’s Wharton School of Business to present the National Adoption Center to a Management 100 class as one of six potential non-profits that students could team with for a project. Out of eight of the non-profits, six are selected to participate in this project. We felt confident about NAC’s selection odds because NAC stood out—after all, without supportive families themselves the students might not have accomplished as much as they have, which is something I’m constantly reminded of when I hear stories about waiting children—and the organization participated in the Wharton assignment in previous years. The representative(s) of each non-profit spoke about their organization’s mission, what they envisioned the projects would look like, and what they expected the end result would be. Each 4.5 minute presentation was followed by 4.5 minutes of Q & A. Our presentation went very well, and a few students came over afterward to ask additional questions. Two of them spoke of how they had been personally affected by adoption.

Shortly after this, we found out that we were selected for the project! (It will be NAC’s third year working with Wharton students.) Our next meeting will be with the group of students with which we’ve been partnered. This is an important meeting where we will hash out ideas for the public relations event. We need to think about scale, audience, cost, location, feasibility, etc. Helping to plan and execute the event will be an educational experience for me, and I look forward to getting started. Whatever the event ends up looking like, our starting point as always is the goal of increasing public awareness of children awaiting permanent homes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

LBGT Adoption

In a New York Times article this summer, writer Sabrina Tavernise traced the recent increase in gay and lesbian couples adopting across the country. This is in the face of legal hurdles in many states that make adoption by same-sex parents an especially daunting process. What’s behind these numbers? And will the upward trend continue? In fact, advocates point to two primary reasons for the increase: the need for homes for children who are waiting for adoption, and growing acceptance among Americans of gays and lesbians. According to data from Gary Gates, a demographer from the University of California, Los Angeles, 19 percent of same-sex couples who were raising children in 2010 reported an adopted child as a member of the household, up from just eight percent in 2000. Gates estimates that four percent of the adopted population in the United States -- about 65,000 children -- live in homes in which the head of the household is gay or lesbian.

Researchers from the U.S. Census Bureau recently examined the demographics of same-sex couple households with children. By analyzing Census data, it was found that 26.5 percent of lesbian couples had children in their household in 2008, up from 22 percent in 1990. For gay couples, the figure rose from five percent to 13.9 percent. Of course, not all of these children were adopted, but the numbers do point to an increased tendency among same-sex couples to raise children, and adoption is one way to do that. The sad fact is, the barriers remain even though research shows that sexual orientation does not impact one’s ability to be a good parent. Research findings provide favorable evidence to encourage the continued increase in adoptions by same-sex couples.

Currently there are 107,000+ children in the U.S. foster care system waiting for families. Total foster adoption numbers had been on the rise each year until 2010, when fewer than expected took place. But as the number of adoptions by gay and lesbian couples grows, there may be new hope for many of our nation’s waiting kids.

If you are in the Philadelphia-area and would like to learn more, we are holding an LGBT Adoption Cafe September 20. Details here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Power of One?

As an inner city elementary school teacher, my husband sees firsthand the staggering needs confronting youth in our community. Michael’s dad has been in jail since March; Isaiah is living with his grandma while his mother struggles to overcome her coke addiction; Samantha’s mom is struggling to pay the bills as a single parent.

How can we possibly overcome the poverty, violence, drugs, gangs, crime and homelessness threatening youth in Philadelphia and in so many other areas? Can one person really make a difference for these kids?

I admit I’ve been feeling pessimistic about it lately. It’s easier to just walk away from the problems; pack-up and move to the suburbs where I don’t encounter such stark need right on my own block.

But deep down, I believe that it actually is possible for one person to make a difference in the life of a child, because I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen a shy, withdrawn child who has been neglected at home blossom under the guidance of a caring teacher. I’ve seen the hope that a loving foster parent can instill in a teen who has known nothing but heartache. I’ve seen kids in the neighborhood embrace futures of hope thanks to the positive outlets at their local afterschool program.

So I say, yes, one person can make a major difference in the life of a child, whether as a teacher, baseball coach, mentor, or adoptive parent. When we are willing to be part of the solution we can make a significant impact in the way children grow up…one person at a time.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Resiliency

I am continually amazed by the resiliency of young people. Much more than us adults! An article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer sheds light on this fact through a story about Eric, a teen, who was brutally beaten throughout his life but in spite of it all delivered his high school’s valedictorian speech this past spring. Eric, a star student, will be a freshman at Temple University this fall! He is one of the lucky ones. There were adults – neighbors, foster parents, and teachers – who were paying attention and provided this young man a safety net when he needed it most. There are many, many other children like Eric who fall between the cracks. Their screams and pain go unnoticed; they are not helped along the way.

Over 400,000 U.S. children were removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect last year. The child welfare system’s first priority is to get these children into a safe environment and work with the families to fix the problems that resulted in the child being taken away. But this is not a smooth road. It is fraught with trauma, disruption, many times more abuse, confusion for the children, and the list goes on and on. So when I hear about young people like Eric, I applaud the adults that got involved and I give Eric a standing ovation for his amazing ability and powerful inner strength to rise above it all and walk the path toward a successful life.

Excerpt from the Inquirer article – Eric during his valedictorian speech:

“What seemed gracious beyond his years and experience was his praise for family members - biological and chosen – in the audience.

‘And on a special note to all the friends and family who are here for me today, I would like you guys to stand up and know that not only do I appreciate and admire you, but I want everyone here to admire you also because I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for all of you.’ “

We get a chance to meet incredibly resilient children like Eric at our match parties or a Wednesday’s Child  taping for example. Their positive demeanor and personal determination stops us in our tracks and makes us work even harder to find them safe and loving homes. We can all learn a lot from Eric’s story.

Read the full article.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Buffalo’s Connection to the National Adoption Center


authored by a student, Katlyn, who worked on our behalf last school-year, shared with permission from WomenElect 

By KatlynG1

There are 107,000 children in America waiting to be adopted.  In 1972, Carolyn Johnson founded the National Adoption Center with the belief that “there are no unwanted children, just unfound families.”  The center, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit, celebrated its 40th anniversary this April at the Celebration of Family: ART OF ADOPTION gala.  During this event, artists from the Philadelphia area created unique works of art based on the photos and stories of children living in foster care.  These pieces were auctioned off, with all proceeds benefiting the National Adoption Center.

The centerpiece of the gala was a commemorative video detailing the National Adoption Center’s vibrant history.  Team QUINTEssential, a team of nine students at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, created this unique feature presentation.  As a semester long assignment, Team QUINTEssential was responsible for sorting through 40 years of history to compile a compelling video that promoted adoption awareness.  During the course of their project, Team QUINTEssential had the pleasure of interviewing NAC’s founder, Carolyn Johnson.

Ms. Johnson currently resides in Philadelphia, but she was raised in Kenmore, New York and is proud to call Buffalo her home.  After graduating from the University of Buffalo, Ms. Johnson taught at Public School #31 for three years.  Since many of her students were foster children, Ms. Johnson “became aware of the many abused and neglected children in the city.”  After seeing an article in The Buffalo Evening News, featuring children waiting to be adopted, Ms. Johnson decided to adopt three children of her own.

With a passion to find homes for “difficult to place children,” Ms. Johnson founded the National Adoption Center at her kitchen table using a wooden recipe box, which she divided into three sections: waiting children, prospective parents, and possible matches.  Ms. Johnson never imagined that her “home-grown” adoption initiative would become a prolific organization with forty years of success.  Named the 2011 nonprofit of the year by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the National Adoption Center has found homes for more than 23,000 foster children.  The National Adoption Center’s dedication to forming families is a mission that remains close to Ms. Johnson’s heart.

As evidenced by Ms. Johnson, women from Buffalo have the ability to accomplish extraordinary goals.  Created with the intent of helping women discover how they can make a positive difference in their communities, WomenElect encourages women to pursue their passions in the political arena.  Please visit www.adopt.org to learn more about the National Adoption Center.  Click on the link below to view the National Adoption Center’s latest video about adoption “match” parties.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZd3dAhM_4A&feature=plcp

Friday, August 24, 2012

It's Not Just Hair


from our marketing intern, Alexis Jackson

All parents are aware of the steep learning curve that exists when raising a child—including everything from “How do you protect them without sheltering them?”  to “How do you get them to eat their vegetables?” 

This learning curve goes for adoptive parents as well; however, the questions include “How do I help them with their emotional and developmental issues?”  “How can I get them to open up?”  And for transracial adoption the question of cultural consciousness is raised – an increasingly important question in light of the fact that approximately 40 percent of adoptions in America are transracial. 

A quick scan of online adoption blogs and message boards, will result in an endless number of posts from parents concerned about what to name their child, where to put their child in school, and what ethnic holidays to celebrate all in an effort to establish their children’s cultural consciousness.  Learning how to groom a different texture of hair, though noticeably absent from most of these posts, is a critical part of this cultural consciousness. 

A few examples: Actress Angelina Jolie sought advice on how to care for her Black, adopted daughter’s hair; and many recall the Sesame Street “I love my hair” video that the show’s writers created for his adopted daughter when she expressed a desire for long, blond, straight hair.

Hair carries a significant cultural identity, and learning how to care for a child’s tight curls or pin straight tresses teaches that child how to take care of him or herself while also sending positive, affirming messages about that little person’s texture and cultural identity. 

Even today, as a Black woman raised by Black parents, I struggle with the cultural part that my texture represents.  I’m constantly trying to straighten it or put extensions in it simply because I’ve been taught that caring for my hair meant straightening it to make it more manageable.  This personal struggle has led me to seek affirming and helpful messages and videos on Pinterest and YouTube.

During one of my most recent “Pinterest sessions, I found this website specifically designed for White parents of Latino(a) or Black children called Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care. The White administrator whose daughter is Black wrote “Hi, I'm Rory, and I write about pretty much everything you wanted to know about my journey learning to care for my daughter's beautiful, naturally curly hair. It's a chronicle of what I do and why I do it.” 

'Nuff said!

This site not only provides step-by-step tutorials on how to care for hair, but also includes testimonials and product-reviews.  After spending just a few minutes on this site, I had learned about three new products and two new ways to increase my hair’s moisture retention—all things my parents  never taught me.

So, whether it’s locked, in an afro, straightened, naturally curly, or chemically processed, learning how to take care of hair is important.  And since a lot of cultural identity is coiled up in our tresses, let’s appreciate it for everything it is and teach our children, nieces and nephews included, to do the same.
Since we’re all learning, I encourage you to share your hair stories. Everything from saving a bad hair day to helpful websites on the topic is welcome!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Single Parenthood


Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman recently said that women don't need equal pay because money is more important to men. So it’s no surprise that Grothman has now introduced Wisconsin Senate Bill 507 in early 2012. The Bill would require the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect. One-third of Wisconsin's parents are single parents. But the law was written to criminalize an even larger sector, as it applies to even non-married couples, including, of course, same-sex couples. The National Adoption Center will be keeping a close eye on this Bill, which we of course strongly condemn.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Our Philly Fellow's Continuing Story


Abi continues getting to know NAC

This is the beginning of my second week, but it feels like I’ve been here a little longer than that. My first week here (last week) I spent learning about the context of the work NAC does. The majority of the first day I worked on the online course “Foster Family to Forever Family,” which explains the foster-to-adoption process to individuals/families considering adoption. Through the course, I became familiar with basic adoption terminology, the legal steps required to adopt a child, ways of responding to some challenges unique to foster/adoptive children and families (e.g., determining what level of interaction is appropriate for the child(ren) to maintain with birthparents), and how the relationship between older adopted child and their adoptive parents/families is a special kind of a relationship.  

To be honest, the first few days were quite emotional for me as I read some of the success stories on file and thought about how trying it is for older children seeking permanent homes. As someone who has been with my birth family from day one, I could not imagine the difficult road that had led some of the kids to foster care in the first place, and how they could manage to keep hope alive when dealing with the uncertainty of their living situation on top of the ordinary challenges one faces as a child growing up and trying to process the world. How does one recover from this kind of experience? Can one speak of “recovery” at all? Anyway, these are questions that I’m sure I will revisit as I continue on at NAC.


The first day also marked the end of a long period of anticipating what the office would be like. I didn’t know if it would be too quiet, too noisy, the staff interactive or consumed with their own work, the room too cold…Right off the bat I read that this is a comfortable and inviting place. (FYI The noise level has generally been fine, but the temperature can be rather cold though it is better than the first two days.) The staff members are also very approachable. Last, I was able to speak to about half of them individually to learn about what their specific roles are, how and when they got started at the organization, and new developments/future directions of NAC. 

I was actually most nervous the second day here because I had gotten quite a bit of information on NAC by that point but was not sure how to organize it mentally. And although I know most non-profits can always benefit from more helping hands, I didn’t know what I could offer to NAC. Yet, once I started to read some documents about NAC and talk to staff, the picture of what the organization does became more coherent and the needs of the organization more clear. In addition to the projects that my supervisor, Alex, spelled out for me, I was able to identify some other areas where I think I can be helpful. 

I look forward to getting involved in projects in different areas so that I can learn more about the inner workings of NAC, and know all that I need to know to do the best I can help it reach some of its goals. Working here also provides the opportunity to learn about how a non-profit is sustained and its services kept relevant in an increasingly competitive market, which will be useful if I continue non-profit work in the future. NAC is at a critical period in its history where it is trying both not only to expand its offerings but to carve out a more distinctive space for itself in the foster-to-adoption sector, and I am excited to assist the organization, in whatever way I can, to move forward in realizing this vision.

As for me, I hope to be a valuable team member at NAC. A successful year for me would be one in which I play a significant role in helping the organization build capacity and expand/strengthen its service provision. I also hope to generally learn something new each day I’m here, and use what I learn to inform my future studies and career pursuits. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Introducing Our Philadelphia Fellow

Greetings all! I want to formally introduce myself since I hope to contribute more to this blog throughout my year of service at the National Adoption Center/Adoption Center of Delaware Valley. My name is Abiodun (Abi) Azeez, and I recently graduated from Princeton University (class of 2012) with a degree in Public and International Affairs (Public Policy). I’m serving as a Strategic Advancement Associate at NAC, where I will be working in several different areas including website development, public relations, and fundraising. 

While I intend to go on to graduate school in the near future, I knew that I could benefit a lot from spending some time after undergrad working in the “real world” to get a clearer sense of my professional direction. I also wanted to spend more time in Philadelphia, my hometown, working in the non-profit sector because I had an invaluable experience working at one in this city in the past and feel that there are a lot of opportunities in the non-profit sector for graduates here. This is what motivated me to apply for Philly Fellows—an organization that connects a select number of graduates to work opportunities in non-profit organizations in Philadelphia—which ultimately matched me with NAC. I am happy to be working at NAC, and am even more excited (after some initial nervousness and uncertainty about what exactly I would be doing) now that I have completed my first full week of work. 

I had no prior experience, academic or otherwise, with foster care or adoption before coming to NAC. But, as aforementioned, I am interested in child welfare and saw this as a good opportunity to learn more about the policies, challenges, future directions, etc. of the foster care and adoption systems. In addition, I wanted to see what unique role NAC plays in promoting the adoption of foster children. NAC serves older children in foster care, some of whom have special developmental, emotional, health, and other needs. I wondered how the organization has been able to find families for these kids when, as the organization recognizes, younger (infant, toddler) children have been popularized in the media. I quickly learned that at the heart of NAC’s success in promoting the adoption of older foster children lies is its child-focused recruitment strategies— Freddie Mac Foundation's Wednesday’s Child, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, and match parties, to be specific. As time goes by, I am gaining knowledge of other steps NAC is taking to better respond to the needs of foster and adopted children, and prospective and adoptive families to ensure that these children are able to thrive in safe, healthy forever families. And, even though I’m new here, I am excited about where the organization is planning to go in the future.

Monday, July 16, 2012

2012 Golf Classic: Tee Off for Kids

The National Adoption Center’s 2012 Golf Classic: Tee Off for Kids is coming up on October 3rd, and we’re looking forward to one of our best tournaments yet! We’ll be honoring our 40th anniversary and celebrating the occasion at a new venue – the top PGA-rated course at Radnor Valley Country Club in Villanova, PA.

The day will include a barbeque luncheon, the chance to win a Mercedes with a hole-in-one, and an awards banquet featuring an open bar, gourmet dinner and live auction.

But the golf classic is about more than 18 holes and a fun day out of the office. It’s an opportunity to make an impact for the nearly 110,000 U.S. children living in foster care who hope for a family to call their own.

In fact, one of Radnor Valley’s golf professionals is an adoptive father we know well. Nelson Ranco and his wife Ellen adopted Ezra from foster care four years ago. Ezra had spent much of his childhood in foster care before moving in with the Rancos when he was 13. Ezra quickly melded into the family.

“We adopted Ezra to give him a family and for him to know he would have a family for the rest of his life,” Nelson said.

Today, Ezra is 17 years old and a senior in high school. He loves art as well as sports, and dreams of playing football in college.

It is for youth like Ezra that the National Adoption Center exists. So encourage your friends, coworkers and neighbors to come out and support this worthy cause. You won’t regret it!

For tickets, foursomes and sponsorship info visit www.adopt.org or call Katie at 267-443-1874.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Notes from NAC’s Development Department

Today we give you all a glimpse into the world of nonprofit fundraising...

Nonprofit organizations depend largely on public funds – government contracts, grants from foundations, corporate gifts and individual donors. The more diverse an organization’s funding base the better, because it can be dangerous to rely too heavily on one source of income. Many nonprofits experienced this firsthand during the recent recession because government funding, foundation giving and corporate support took major hits.

Contrary to what you may think, individual donors are the largest source of funding for nonprofits, comprising about 70% of the sector’s nearly $300 billion worth of contributions! Individual donors also prove to be the most loyal, since they continue to give even during tough economic times. That shows how important it is for nonprofits to connect with individuals like you!

So, while I still spend much of my time writing grants to local foundations and while we still hold our government contracts in high regard, it’s also important to share our story with individual donors in a powerful way.

I encourage you to learn more about the National Adoption Center’s story by perusing our website; get to know the children we serve, the families we have created and the work that has yet to be done for the nearly 110,000 youth across the U.S. who are waiting for the love and stability of a family.

P.S. – you can become part of our story by making a gift today!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Adopting From Fostercare: Benefits You Might Not Have Known About

If you are thinking about foster adoption or are currently an adoptive parent, it is important for you to know some of the benefits that you and your adopted child are eligible to receive.

Did you know:
  • That foster adoption costs you little to nothing compared to private adoptions that may cost you between $5,000 - $40,000 (including international and domestic infant adoption) 
  • State and federal assistance programs offer financial help to adoptive parents of eligible children to help offset medical fees and any other necessary costs that may arise during the adoption process and throughout your child’s life until he or she turns 18. Types of financial assistance may include: 
    • Monthly government subsidies and reimbursements (Federal and State)
    • Special loans and grants 
    • Paid medical coverage for children (Medicaid card) 
    • Visit this site for more information about the Federal IV-E Adoption Assistance. Program guidelines. State assistance programs vary by state. Check your individual state guidelines on this website. 
  • Adoption Tax Credits : Families who adopt children from foster care under the responsibility of a Title IV-E agency are eligible for a one-time tax credit of up to $13,000 to help offset court costs, legal and travel expenses, and other miscellaneous fees directly related to a legal foster adoption. 
  • Employer Adoption Benefits: A growing number of companies have begun to offer benefits to employees who adopt. These benefits can include financial reimbursement for legal fees, agency fees, and post-adoption counseling. Some employers even offer paid leave time, and help finding resources and referrals if you desire more information or support. 
  • Scholarships: Many organizations and foundations have scholarships in place specifically for children adopted from the foster care system. This will ensure a bright future for your child and help secure a higher education for him or her. 
  • Probably the greatest benefit of adoption from foster care is providing a child the priceless gift of a loving, safe and permanent home.