Friday, October 31, 2008

Family Growth Patterns

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

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

LGBT Adoptions

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 27, 2008

No Smoking for PA Foster Parents

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

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

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

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

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Instead of Candy This Halloween

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

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

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

Monday, October 20, 2008

WHYY seeks stories of people over 50 for series

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 17, 2008

Foster Family to Forever Family

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Transracial Adoption Study

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

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

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

Monday, October 13, 2008

Raise Me Up Campaign Launched Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 10, 2008


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

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

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Economy and Adoption From Foster Care

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

Monday, October 6, 2008

Match Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 3, 2008

LGBT Adoption

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

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Helping Families Before Foster Care

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