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22Aug

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.
16Aug

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.
16Jul

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.

 
 
9Jul

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!

6Jul

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.
4Jul

About Face: Independence Days

Here’s the dilemma: how does a parent be supportive when an adopted child spreads his or her wings and grows up? When looked at in the course of human events—…well, one can make an “about face”, parent to child. Even adoptive parent to birth parent. 

Liberating one’s child and encouraging them to “be who you are” and “be who you are meant to be” is daunting! When the child is age five or seven or even twelve, the parental controls are much more front and center in the lives of both parent and child. But it is through the teenage years (and especially beyond) that the real “about face” starts. 

A child’s about face is more about shifting their gaze from their parent’s face to those of their friends or perhaps a mentor—be that at church, through sports, the arts, or school. Though we may fight against it, they start to listen to voices other than their parents’ and this becomes more their norm. A parent’s voice might still be strong, but it isn’t quite as deafening or impressive or perhaps thought of as necessary to listen to as it once was. 

What about a child adopted as a teenager? He or she could make a huge about face and, instead, begin to listen to the voices of love they had not heard before, or for a very long time. Their about face could be life-changing in an instant! And that about face is life-giving and powerful for both sides. 

The beauty of the legacy forged in an adoptive home—no matter the child’s age—I’d say is mostly all about face! Face to face, an adopted child might be loved in ways they never would have had the adoption not taken place. Face to face, had they not adopted adoptive parents might never opened their own reservoir of care or grown in their ways of loving. 

An adoptive parent surely does not want to lose face by hearing, “You’re not my real parents,” particularly if this involves an about face by a child one has loved and raised. This is the vulnerability adoptive parents face by taking the risk to adopt. So, again, it is most all about facing this monumental choice. 

Such words—whether spoken verbally or conveyed through an adopted child’s facial expression—might cause an adoptive parent’s face to turn slightly from their child—yes, hurt, but encouraging them to grow up, while keeping the memories of their together times. 

I was once asked in a job interview, “What was the hardest thing you ever had to do?” I answered something about a job-related activity. In retrospect, I should absolutely have answered the hardest thing I've had to do in life was to allow my child to grow up! To make a change from parenting with tighter reigns to parenting with faith in my child as she faced forward in her own life. 

Doing so has taken an about face made in slow and painful degrees. I have come to think about birth parents. They did their about face when giving up their child. Not being able to live face to face with their child, they walked in a different direction. How many of them ponder “What if…?” and “I wonder what my child is like?” 

I see how wholly courageous that was and continues to be! My own about face—allowing our child to grow up by living through them turning their face from us to their own new world—has been hard. Yet it has given me a new respect of how birth parents feel.

Could I have been so idealistic or naïve about how very tough this stage of life would be? I marvel at how strong birth parents have been—whatever the reason—in doing their about face. You might wonder, if given the chance to do it again, would I? That I could face you, I would hope my eyes could convince you that being an adoptive parent has been the most blessed event ever. 

Still vulnerable? Yes. Truly. To be a parent—birth or adoptive—is full of lessons of facing one’s self, of loving, of being human—and humane! Being an adoptive parent might be an “about face” from one’s childhood dreams and wishes. But take it from one who knows: it is no less important, no less amazing. It is just one way of facing and living life!

2Jul

It Takes a Team!

 
Photo Credit: Cory Popp
 
An extra special thank you to the Jaws Youth Playbook for sponsoring our adoption match partyon June 23rd! 37 children and 25 families came out to the Riversharks’ Campbell Field in Camden, NJ, in hopes that they would make a connection.
 
[Side note: For those of you who don’t know what an adoption match party is, it’s an event that brings youth in foster care together with adults who have been approved to adopt for a day of getting to know one another. Match parties are a rare opportunity for the children and adults to interact one-on-one, and we often see “magic” happen in the form of a connection that may lead to adoption.]
 
Saturday’s match party included a fun day of healthy, sports-themed activities in line with the Jaws Youth Playbook’s mission to improve the overall health and wellness of at-risk youth, primarily in the Greater Philadelphia region. The kids enjoyed water ball tosses, relay races and a baseball clinic, and the adults kept up as best as they could too!
 
By the end of the day we had an impressive 71 inquiries from adults who were interested in learning more about the youth. It is our hope that many of these initial inquiries will progress to permanent adoptions and families!
 
This life-changing work wouldn’t be possible without our supporters, so we want to send out a huge thank you to Ron "Jaws” Jaworski's and the Jaws Youth Playbook, as well as the Riversharks for their incredible support. We’d also like to thank Wawa for sending 15 absolutely amazing volunteers out to help us make this a day the youth and families would never forget!
22Jun

Ode to Fine Lines

by Nancy, our database administrator

I have learned—okay, granted, I am learning—what to do about drawing and crossing lines when it comes to being an adoptive parent. 

As the mother of an adopted child who is in her twenties, I am learning that in defining an adoptive family’s borders, a parent’s and a child’s line choices might be wholly different, raising an eyebrow as to whether they even define the same “box”. 

Ever go into the borders options in a software program? Impressive what one can do to compartmentalize text, picture or section of a document! Tons of options, right? Lines can be dashed or straight. Curved or wavy. Narrow or thick. Then comes a choice about the thickness—from double to hairline—not to mention coloring those lines! Or whether to get fancy and use an art border—with options of little birds, push pins, globes and more. 

An adoptive parent for more than two decades, I have always been about creating large borders to define our adoptive family—neat, but thick, drawn intentionally with broad brushstrokes of epic proportion—simply because these worked for me. They are, granted, symbolic of how I wish our family would live—inside the lines of my definition of family. 

I have not, though, been unwilling to use color or even art in making those borders. I’d be okay with hot air balloons. Or maybe birds in flight! And I’ve considered whether a peacock blue, emerald green or a line of light lemon is more representative of us. But whatever I am willing to concede in design, I never thought of decreasing the size of the line from the standard 36 point (although, admittedly, I was ready to do a double line border, for extra measure.) To me, these borders formed a fortress—a protective gate, of sorts—to keep our family safe, albeit encased. And, in my way of thinking, this was a good thing. 

Our daughter, however, has quite a different idea about her family’s borders. Ever the artist, she selected the finest brush tip available when crafting the lines of her life/our family beyond the growing up years. Quite majestically, and with purpose, she began producing her creation—rounded edges, with the narrowest possible border. Barely discernible. At least when one looks from certain angles. 

 
With panache and perhaps a bit of gouache (or maybe Witeout), she ever-so-carefully first erased some of the line thickness I had painstakingly drawn. Not only is she one of the freest spirits you’d ever meet, coming to know her birth family members opened her heart and steeled her resolve to re-making the borders. 

As a result, her lines defined not a box as much as a container with an open top—much like a fishbowl—which she could swim in and out of, at will. This is a lovely concept in many ways but, nonetheless, still stirs up emotions in me. 

This can be an extremely sensitive issue for adoptive parents who, more than likely, struggle with the element of feeling worthy to be parent in the first place. (Okay, I speak for myself.) Perhaps it goes with the territory. What does an adoptive parent do when confronted with an unspoken of invisible tug-of-war with birth family members? For the sake of their child I can’t imagine either side wants to make parenting a competition—adoptive vs. birth family members. But, the adoptive family wants to still be considered a place for their adopted children to continue to swim—at least some of the time. (Hence, the the thick, safe borders!) 

Yet when an adopted child finds another bowl to swim in, the adoptive parents will feel something about it. Maybe wondering what to say. What not to say. Adoptive parents still want to be on their child’s radar screen for they are raising their child(ren)—protecting them, caring for them and doing their best for them. Yet they can surely understand that an adopted child has natural curiosity to discover their roots. Seeing their genes and mannerisms in siblings and birth mothers/fathers might give them a much needed sense of fullness as they discover their own life journey. At the very least, it might quell their inquisitiveness. 

Not that adoptive or birth parents wish to totally displace or usurp each other’s positions, but feelings can get raw—on both sides. No parent wants to be rejected. Sensitivity in the adoptive process is par for the course. And it doesn’t necessarily end when the adopted child turns 18, 21, or—who knows—maybe even 40. It is natural for adoptive parents to preserve the family unit they created. And with a legacy of caring for and raising their child, adoptive parents don’t want to be left with only memories. 

Since there is a great amount of searching going on these days through the internet and social media options and more adoptive parents might find themselves in similar circumstances, perhaps I can offer some perspective— 

Adoptive parents who watch erasure of the thick lines of their family’s borders because of search and reunion will most likely experience a sense of loss—however long it lasts. Whether verbalized or not, there can be outrage or jealousy or deep sadness, none of which is necessarily helpful to voice to their child. But I think it is okay to acknowledge these feelings. 

Should you see it happen, consider joining that revolution! That apron strings will be cut aside, you can serve yourself and your child by doing the same: thin the lines! Let go of the need for fortress thick borders. For by refusing to take this lead, you might be crossing a fine line. 

I realize that our daughter needs this freedom to swim in and out, at will. As much as it scares me, I have willingly begun erasing some of the thickness of our borders in concert with her. Admittedly, this is a big step for me. It isn’t without some tears, some loneliness and wondering. It isn’t without mustering a whole lot of faith. Yet, to me, it is the heart of any parent to do the best for their child—no matter what it takes in sacrifice on our part. 

Learning what our child needs at any age is part of the parenting process, even when they get older. Perhaps especially when they are older. To insist on “because I say so” might mar the future, barricading one in their fortress, and making it hard for their child to find a way to swim in. 

After all, depending upon the angle, fine lines (even those thinned by the noblest of intentions) –however faint—still do exist!

20Jun

Making News

 
The National Adoption Center is thrilled to be featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s June 20, 2012 publication! The article highlights our 40 years of service to children and youth living in foster care and supporting prospective adoptive parents. Over the last four decades the Center has found homes for 23,000 children living in foster care nationwide and 3,800 in the tri-state area.

Click to read. 

13May

It Wasn’t Always a “Hallmark” Holiday

 

Mother’s day, which only recently has been turned into a “Hallmark” holiday celebrating  the person one calls “mom”, historically was a symbolic and spiritual time when societies celebrated the Goddess and other symbolic manifestations of motherhood. The literal translation of celebrating your “mom” is a relatively new phenomenon.

Mothers and the qualities of being a mother can come from many different people and things in your life, not just the person who you might call “mom”.  

Sunday many will enjoy brunch or dinner with their mothers on one of the busiest restaurant days of the year, or breakfast in bed prepared by well-intentioned children; and sadly many of us will be feeling the deep loss of a mother, a not-so-happy day for some.  It’s complicated.

So in the spirit of ancient times, let us honor, celebrate, and reflect on those maternal qualities that thoughts of  motherhood elicits. Is it your mother? A close friend? A great Aunt? Your teacher? A peaceful place in the forest you go to meditate? What is yours?

Whether literal or symbolic, pause to reflect on what Mother’s Day means to you. 

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