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The September issue of Children and Youth Services Review provides a qualitative study of nine families going through the foster care adoption process; three of them have already dropped out. Researchers noted the factors that support completion: a caring, competent social worker; supportive family and friends; involvement in counselling or parent-support activities. They also identified hindering factors including poor worker performance; the time-consuming and daunting nature of the process; and matching parameters that were too rigid. They also found that families needed to hear from workers often during the long waiting process. 

The research recommends rethinking the manner in which agencies match children by having prospective parents check criteria they would accept or not accept and presenting only children who exactly match those criteria. Do you believe these suggestions will help expedite the process? 

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption released a new report outlining their 5-year rigorous, evidence-based evaluation and research, about their Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program (a child-focused recruitment model). DTFA's signature program, Wendy's Wonderful Kids (WWK), provides local adoption agencies (including us at the National Adoption Center) with grants to hire dedicated adoption recruiters who spend 100 percent of their job focused on finding waiting children forever homes. 

 
The report highlights that children in foster care who are served by the WWK recruitment program are 1.7 times more likely to be adopted than those not served by WWK. The research also highlights the impact of the WWK model is greatest among children who are older or those who have mental health disorders; a population of youth that have traditionally waited the longest for adoption or that are least likely to achieve adoption. The research, which was conducted by Child Trends, documents much-needed information about practices and policies that improve the likelihood of adoption for children in foster care.
this post contributed by our intern, Malini Ragoopath

According to recent reports by the US Census Bureau and the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, the number of lesbians and gay men adopting children has tripled over the past decade and continues to be on the rise. There were 6,477 same sex couples who had an adopted child in 2000; that number grew to an astonishing 21,740 by 2009. 

The National Adoption Center (NAC) is thrilled to hear of this development and can attest to rising interest in adoption by the LGBT community. During our most recent adoption match party in New Jersey, 50% of the families who attended were same-sex couples. Growing public acceptance of LGBT family life, coupled with more favorable legislation, as well the presence of more LGBT friendly adoption agencies all help to play a part in the growing interest of adoption by gay men and lesbians. 

In addition to match parties, NAC offers resources and services for the LGBT community. This includes our LGBT Adoption Cafés where we present the basics of adoption, provide representatives from LGBT friendly adoption agencies, as well as feature a lively panel discussion with real adoption professionals and adoptive LGBT parents. We also have our online service, AdoptMatch, where adoption agencies profile themselves and potential adopters match themselves with agencies that are the “best fit” for them. 

We are encouraged by the increased rate of LGBT adoptions and stand ready to be a resource for prospective families no matter what their sexual orientation. 

To see the full report by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, click the link below: 

http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/publications/2011_10_Expanding_Resources_BestPractices.pdf

this post was written by our MSW Intern, Liz Mehaffey
 

In 1955, unmarried graduate students Abdulfattah John Jandali and Joanne Carole Schieble gave their child up for adoption. Schieble hoped her baby would be given a better future. 

This child was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs, and grew up to become the legendary Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple, Inc. 

On October 5, 2011, Steve Jobs left behind a remarkable legacy, and a world that will mourn his loss for years to come. Often compared to Thomas Edison for the caliber of his inventions, Steve Jobs was a visionary, and most recently named “Most Influential Man of the Year” byAskMen

Stubbornly private in nature, Steve Jobs rarely mentioned his adoption. However, he was always quick to point out that his adopted parents werehis parents. When asked by the New York Times what he would like to pass on to his children, Steve Jobs responded, "Just to try to be as good a father to them as my father was to me. I think about that every day." 

In a 60 Minutes interview, Jobs remembered an interaction that many adoptees go through. When a childhood friend found out he was adopted, she asked, 

“So does that mean your real parents didn’t want you?” Ooooh, lightning bolts went off in my head. I remember running into the house, I think I was (sic) crying, asking my parents. And they sat me down and they said, “No, you don’t understand. We specifically picked you out.” He said, “From then on, I realized that I was not just abandoned. I was chosen. I was special.”


In his 20s, Jobs conducted a search to find his biological family. Through that search, he found his biological sister, Mona Simpson. As the years progressed, he became closer to his sister, often displaying the books she authored in his office, and calling her frequently. 

Adopted children come in all shapes and sizes, both young and old. And through adoption, foster children are given the opportunity to flourish and grow, and become part of a family that can love and support them. The Center understands that families are created through love, support and care. As an adoptee, and speaking for the Center, we believe that “There are no unwanted children, just unfound families”™. 

contributed by intern, Abbigail Facey 

 
Understanding one’s identity is a process that takes time to fully appreciate. For many it takes years to understand not only who they are but how their lives correlate to the functioning of the greater society. “How do I fit in the world?” is a question generations before us have pondered and one that will likely be contemplated for years to come. "What makes me unique, different from everyone else, and valuable to the world?" - question echoed throughout the ages. 
 
Personally, I have found that the process of understanding my identity is directly correlated to the connection I have with my family. They have impressed upon me the importance of staying associated with others, honoring the aged, valuing hard work and dedication, and reaching out to those in need. While each family may have varied values and belief systems, I believe each of those value systems significantly impacts the development of one’s identity. To understand one’s identity is to develop a purpose driven life.



 
I believe that the National Adoption Center helps youth to do just that; develop a connection to the world and understand their identity in society. How? By championing adoption for all children in need, even the older youths, thus working to ensure that every child can have permanent connections to family. I would not be where I am today had it not been for the direction, guidance, care, and influence of my parents. I believe every child deserves the influence of parents who will offer the love and support a child needs especially in their formative years. 
 
I am absolutely thrilled to be interning for an organization that cares so deeply about the development of youth. The Center works, not only for the betterment of young people, but society through its programs that work to prevent incarceration, homelessness, and high school dropout. (All of which occur at higher rates for those children who age out of the system.) It is my hope that through this internship I will learn the success stories of adopted children and their parents. I hope this in turn will help me to know more about the process of adoption, and may lead me to consider adoption for my family in the future.
this post contributed by our intern, Malini Ragoopath
 
Children can sometimes be cruel to one another; especially to other children who are different in any way. Sexual orientation, physical appearance, family income status, and even being adopted are just some of the reasons children may be bullied by their peers. This behavior is detrimental to children’s self esteem and confidence and can lead to fatal consequences.
 
The recent suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year old teen from Williamsville, NY who committed suicide this past week, is a disturbing wake up call to a problem that has been on a steady rise over the last few years. Rodemeyer had been bullied about his sexual orientation by his classmates for sometime, but was determined to overcome it and help other troubled teens in the process. Jamey became well known after posting an inspirational video on YouTube for other bullied children as part of the “It Gets Better” campaign.
 
We all know that no two people have exactly the same experiences or life stories and understand that being different should be embraced and not ridiculed. We all come from different walks of life and have unique stories that enhance our individuality. Some children who have been in foster care may be bullied for not having the “normal” mom or dad and can feel self conscious or have low self-confidence because of their “different” experiences. They may be teased, ridiculed, or picked on. It can be even more difficult for an adoptee who is also gay, lesbian, transgender, or a different race from their adoptive parents. More so than not, the main reason a child allows themselves to be bullied or even bully their peers is because of low self esteem or underestimation of their “value”. It is even more vital that parents of these adopted children be active in their child’s life, talk to them about bullying and encourage them to not be afraid of reporting this behavior.
 
Help your adopted children understand and value their individuality. Do not underestimate the power of a parent’s influence and talk to you child about bullying. Whether you suspect your child is being bullied, or may even be the bully, the same lessons should be passed on. Try to remind them of their value and distinctiveness and make them aware of the consequences of his or her actions and words. Be engaged and make sure you are aware of the anti-bullying policy set forth by your child’s school. Since you cannot be two places at once, try to take preventative measures at home and at school. Though you may be giving your child all your support at home, school is still the place where bullying may occur. We here at the National Adoption Center believe that by talking to your children, giving them the tools to help them from being bullied, and being engaged with your child’s school about anti-bullying you can help put a stop to this odious behavior. 

this post was written by our MSW Intern, Liz Mehaffey

 
A bipartisan bill entitled The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (S. 1542/HR 2883) has just been passed unanimously by the Senate.  Earlier last week, the bill was passed by the entire House of Representatives. The bill is currently awaiting the signature of the president.
 
This bill directly affects foster care youth by reauthorizing past legislation, and extending until FY 2016 current policies and procedures that promote and provide stability and support for foster youth.  If the bill did not pass, the programs and waiver authority would have expired September 30, 2011.  This would result in the foster system losing almost $700 million to benefit foster care children.
 
This bill reflects The Center’s mission by encouraging permanency and support of our foster youth.  According to Representative Geoff Davis “The goal of these programs is to keep families together, while ensuring that children are protected from harm”.
 
This bill provides care for foster youth until their 21st (compared to their 18th) birthday, and creates support systems for the youth, by providing for them both mentally and physically. More significantly, this money from the bill helps youth reconnect to families, by encouraging kinship care, increasing sibling adoption placements, and reconnecting them with their biological families.  (If you want to read more detail about the bill you can go here: http://geoffdavis.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=259454)
 
Since the bill will be implemented at no additional cost, Senator Hatch stated, “By not adding to the deficit, this bill provides a fiscally sound approach towards identifying solutions to many of the problems plaguing the child welfare system today.” The Center supports the passage of this bill, and encourages more legislation to be passed to support our foster youth.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services recently stopped referring foster care and adoption cases to Catholic charitable groups and said it is planning to move all existing cases to other agencies. The action stems from a clash between Catholic doctrine and the state's new law granting the right for same-sex couples to seek civil unions. Catholic agencies have refused to license same-sex couples in civil unions as foster parents — a position state officials say is a deal breaker. The National Adoption Center fully supports the actions taken by Illinois as there should be no impediments to finding secure, loving homes for children in foster care. Where do you stand?

Michael and Frank with Umpire Tichenor

On Friday, July 29th, participants from the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program got the chance to not only attend a Phillies game, but also received the VIP treatment from the UMPS CARES Charities and Phillies staff. 

The day started off with a tour of the media room, where Michael and Frank (both New Jersey youth awaiting adoption) got the chance to sit in the “hot seat” usually occupied by Phillies' Manager Charlie Manual for interviews after the game. We then got to go onto the field to watch the visiting team (Pittsburgh Pirates) during batting practice. While on the field, umpire Todd Tichenor talked to everyone about his experience with becoming an umpire, and the importance of making good calls on the field and in life. Todd even showed everyone how the umps are able to view instant replays. As the tour concluded, we were all lucky enough to run into Phillies outfielder, Shane Vicotorino who gave us a quick hello. 

Michael and Frank with Recruiter Crystal

Everyone was able to stay for the game. We had great seats near home plate where Todd was located. He made sure he found where we were seated and gave us a thumps-up during the game.

UMPS CARE Charities is a 501(c)(3) non-profit established by Major League Baseball (MLB) umpires to provide financial, in-kind and emotional support for America’s youth and families in need. Through our youth-based programs, professional baseball umpires enrich the lives of at-risk youth and children coping with serious illness by providing memorable baseball experiences, supporting pediatric medical care, and raising awareness for foster care children waiting to be adopted. 

The Adoption Center of Delaware Valley would like to thank the UMPS CARES Charities, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the Philadelphia Phillies organization (especially Ryan Hayes) for making this a fun and memorable day for everyone! 

While most Americans are breathing a sigh of relief that the debt-ceiling ‘crisis’ is over, the damage it could cause to U.S. children may be just beginning. Few mainstream economists believe the bill signed by the President will do anything to jumpstart a sluggish economy or create jobs. That means a continuing rapid rise in child poverty rates, and with that, more children and youth will be lost in “the system”. And with the deal’s commitment to cut trillions more in federal spending in the coming decade, it’s unimaginable that children will be spared even more cuts. 

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