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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.

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!

 
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!

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!

 
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. 

 

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. 

 

Recently, I attended two events that demonstrated what can happen when someone has a vision and the determination to make it reality.

In recognition of its 40th year of creating families for children, the National Adoption Center inducted Carolyn Johnson into its newly created Adoption Hall of Fame. Carolyn, working from a wooden recipe box on her kitchen table, believed that no child was unadoptable; she gathered the names of children who needed families and prospective parents and began to make “matches.” From this beginning, she founded the National Adoption Center. Carolyn’s induction was held at the Center’s annual gala, Celebration of Family, in a room filled with children whose families had been created through adoption. I was thrilled to see Joyce Mosley and her son, Kevin. Joyce was the first single woman in Pennsylvania to adopt a child; Kevin, now 42, was two when his mom-to-be saw his photograph and description in The Philadelphia Inquirer. She says, “I knew from the minute I saw his face that he was going to be my son.” Kevin is now the father of two sons.

That Sunday, I attended another celebration, also focused on children—the official opening of the Miracle Field of Northhampton Township, Pennsylvania. Through the diligent efforts of a group of business persons, parents and media, children with special needs—even those in wheelchairs and on crutches—are now able to play baseball. I watched their first game with moist eyes. It was the culmination of a dream for these boys and girls who, for the first time, were able to swing a bat or hit a ball on a safe playing field. The field in Northhampton is one of 250 such facilities in the country, an undertaking that began a decade ago in a small town outside of Atlanta.

Both events made it clear that possibilities can become realities that make a difference in the way children grow up.   Peter, an eight-year-old who wears a leg brace, slid into the first base with a teenage aide at his side. He grinned at those of us cheering in the audience, letting us know that he had found his “home.”

There has been a great deal of talk lately here in Philadelphia about the story of little Khalil Wimes. Khalil was found dead from head trauma March 19 when his birth parents brought him to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. His corpse weighed only 29 pounds and bore scars across his face and the rest of his body. Authorities believe Khalil suffered beatings at the hands of his parents for as long as two years. He had been removed from their care one week after his birth on Valentine’s Day 2006. By that time, the Department of Human Services had already removed seven of his older siblings from his parents’ care for neglect.

Khalil lived in the loving care of his foster parents until he was 3. They eventually hoped to adopt him. In 2008, over the objection of his social worker, his child advocate, and his foster parents, Khalil was returned to his birth parents. According to Family Court transcripts, the Department of Human Services endorsed reunifying Khalil with his parents since the couple had stayed off drugs for a six-month period, took a parenting class, and got an apartment. DHS monitored Khalil for one year after he was returned to them. Investigators believe the abuse started immediately after the monitoring ended.

Who’s to blame here? Clearly these individuals were unfit parents, yet a judge ordered Kahlil be returned to his birth parents, rather than stay with the loving foster parents who wanted to adopt him. When is reunification not in the best interests of the child? How can tragedies like this be avoided in the future?


We kicked this month off right, with a special visit to Louis Christian Wayne Robert Salon & Spa!  The event's theme was “Princes for a day”, Queen for a lifetime”. At the salon, the stylists donated their time to four amazing, previously-featured Wednesday’s Children who still need of a forever family. The youth received treatment worthy of superstars beginning with hair continuing with make-up services.

  
 

The Delta Sigma Theta sorority assisted as part of their community day of service. The Sisters spoke with the young women to learn each individual's interests and hobbies. The goal of each Sister was to make sure that these youth know that they are beautiful, important and amazing. 

 

NBC 10 was also there! They captured footage of this special day and interviewed each young woman about what family means to her. This will be broadcast on NBC 10 in the near future.

 

Capital Grille was next on the list of treats for the day. The restaurant's staff prepared delicious meals for all involved in this special day, while management picked up the tab! The Sorority Sisters then presented each young woman with a huge, personalized bag filled with goodies. When I spoke with the young women who participated that day, they were completely overwhelmed by the treatment they received. We'd we are grateful to all those who made this such a special day for these special young women!

 

 

Participating Youth

 

 

Cheilin, 18, makes friends wherever she goes. She is personable and very humorous! Cheilin has been diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy and uses a wheelchair to get around. In the future, she would like to be a psychologist. 

 

Ashanti, 17, likes to cook and look good. She is very fashionable. Those who know Ashanti say she is bright and sensitive. Ashanti can be shy when meeting new people and does not like to be the center of attention. 

 

Karimah, 15, loves to sing and dance. Church is really important to her. She is sweet and kind. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging on the couch watching football. 

 

Cassandra, 13, loves to sing and dance. She is proud of the Spanish language she knows and likes to show it off. She is humble and likes to try new things. 

Each of these teens has been featured on Wednesday’s Child. While they have not yet found a forever family, each is hopeful a family will step up soon. These youth represent the many more youth who deserve and are open to finding the love and care of a forever family. 

Will you be that family? 

written by Katie, our Development Manager, and now fully-initiated NAC co-worker
 

Last week I attended my first match party hosted by the National Adoption Center. Going into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was that match parties put youth seeking adoptive families and adults approved to adopt together in a pressure-free setting, in hopes that some “magic” will happen; that a family will form. 

The match party was held at Arnold’s Family Fun Center in Oaks, PA – a giant warehouse-like building that boasts go-karts, laser tag, an arcade and bowling…in short, a kid’s dream world. This party was designed for older youth and teens, an age group that is often overlooked in the rush for babies and younger children. 

Amid games of ski-ball and bumper car rides, I watched how the youth and prospective adoptive families interacted. I saw one couple in particular who really connected with two teens. They spent the entire day together – the wife and a girl of about 14 sporting ear-to-ear smiles while in line for laser tag and the husband battling it out on a seemingly never-ending video game with a boy who looked about 13. At the end of the party it was clear they had made an impact on one another. Pulling out of Arnold’s at the end of the day, I wondered if these sparks would catch; if I had witnessed the making of a family. 

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