Our daughter found her birth/first family. And when they responded—in kindness with no doubt a good dash of curiosity—they invited her to visit. She took them up on the invitation. (And yes, gut reaction: I was thrilled for her—and them—but, at the same time, died a little inside.)
While I experienced a wall between us and some quite palpable distance before she went, the months since her return, much to my surprise, there seems to be emerging a unique and different closeness—she calls a bit more often to tell us news and even asks our help now and again.
The Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF) strives to increase philanthropy and grantmaking to support the community needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight-allied communities. DVLF advances philanthropy for the LGBT community through endowment building, fundraising, community outreach and education.
Getting to the Semantics
There is currently a movement in the state of Virginia where progressive gay and lesbian groups are urging Governor Bob McDonnell to support a proposed non-discrimination provision for the current adoption policy in Virginia. The change has to do with simple semantics. It calls for a modification of the language of the policy, which currently excludes unmarried couples from adopting. The new proposed language would prohibit delaying or denying someone the chance to adopt based on race, gender, sexual orientation or religion. This provision does nothing more than ensure that a person who seeks to adopt a child is not denied the opportunity simply because of who he or she is or what he or she believes. One positive outcome from this change is that hundreds of homes could potentially welcome children from the foster care system desperately waiting for a family.
The National Adoption Center has, for decades, been an advocate for the LGBT community and their rights to adopt. Through our proactive programs, we help spread the word to the LGBT community about their opportunities to adopt and welcome them as potential adopters. There are currently 5,000 children up for adoption in Virginia and we see the gay community there as one that widens the pool of prospective parents for these waiting children.
Governor Bob McDonnell currently not supportive of the language improvement and has until Saturday to give his official recommendation to the Social Services Board which has the final say in the matter. You can help push this provision forward by writing to Governor Bob McDonnell via his website (listed below) and urging him to lend his support. You can also visit the website for Equality Virginia, a leading gay rights group in Virginia, and send a letter to the Chair of the State Board of Social Services via a link on their homepage (link also listed below).
Write to Gov. Bob McDonnell:
Learn more about the National Adoption Center LGBT Initiative at:
Adoptive Families magazine recently surveyed its readers on the type and cost involved in their adoptions during the previous year. With over 1,800 parents responding, the 2009-2010 Cost of Adoption Survey reported the following mean costs: newborn (agency-$33,793, attorney-$31,465); international adoption (ranging from $28,254 in Ethiopia to $49,749 in Russia): and U.S. foster care ($2,704 and receive monthly subsidy averaging $604). Does the cost of adoption play a significant role in the type chosen?
Last week I had the chance to take three boys to a radio show to talk about the kind of families they hoped might adopt them. The boys were not the young school-aged children I often take to this show. One was 11, the other two were were teenagers—14 and 15; all of them still hope that there may be a family that will want them.
Teenagers often go unnoticed by prospective adopters. Some don’t know that teenagers are available to be adopted. Others hesitate to adopt an adolescent, believing that they can’t have much impact on the way he or she will grow up. I wish those skeptics could have been with me last week and listened to what the children said:
Shahid, 15: I want a family that will always care about me and will be there for me. I would give them love and make them proud of me.
Cinque, 11: I’m imaginative and like to think things through. I want to be an archeologist when I grow up and hope I will have parents to encourage me. My biggest hope is that soon I will be in a good home.
Zamir, 15: Having a family is so important to me. It’s what I want more than anything else. I would be a good son, help around the house and be kind to them and to other people. I haven’t given up.
More adoption agencies are focusing on teenagers. They know what happens when children “age out” of foster care without a permanent family. Teenage pregnancy rates soar. Drug and alcohol abuse are common. Their rates of crime, delinquency and mental illness escalate. That’s why the National Adoption Center has been holding adoption “match” parties for teenagers. Its next one, funded by the Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption Network (SWAN) is scheduled for Saturday, March 26 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Philadelphia.
People who have adopted teenagers say they wish they hadn’t hesitated…they wish they had done it sooner. “I can see how my son has changed since he has been with my partner and me in a stable home,” says Edward. “He can focus more on his schoolwork and his grades have improved. And he no longer worries that one day he’ll have to pack his bags and move on to the next home. He knows he’s here to stay.”
Meet Traquan! He is a respectful and outgoing 12-year-old with a passion for sports, matchbox cars and art classes. He is well-behaved and enjoys school, but above all he loves animals (especially dogs)! He would like to work in a pet store when he gets older, and he dreams of one day running his own animal shelter.
For Traquan, the location of his Wednesday’s Child taping was a no-brainer: an animal shelter! Traquan spent the day with Wednesday’s Child host Vai Sikahema and the crew at PAWS (Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society), a no-kill organization that cares for cats and dogs in need of homes. Traquan had the chance to play with Coco and Fred, two sweet and adorable dogs up for adoption. Traquan also held tiny kittens that craved attention while he and Vai chatted about his hope to find a family that loves animals as much as he does. He finished the day with a tour of the facility to get a better idea of how a shelter operates. Even though Traquan couldn’t take any animals home with him, he left knowing that the shelter would take good care of them until they could find their forever home!
The most memorable moment of the day was when Traquan revealed that he feels a special connection with foster animals because they are a lot like him. Just like Traquan, they are all waiting to go home to a good family that will keep them forever. He would take them all if he could, but first he needs to find his own loving and supportive family—pets preferred!
Will you be that family for Traquan?
I read with great interest an article the other day which noted that race should no longer be a key criterion for social workers seeking adoptive families for children in foster care in Great Britain, stressing that the priority must instead be to quickly find a child a new home. Issuing new advice to those working on adoptions, and dismissing critics including the National Association of Black Social Workers in the United States, Education Secretary Michael Grove, himself adopted as a child, is moving Britain closer in line to its European neighbors, who largely disregard a child’s ethnicity. What do you think?
Meet Darius, 18 and Shaquan, 16! Darius has a genuine love for computers while Shaquan is an aspiring rapper with a passion for poetry and hip hop. While these two brothers have a diversity of interests, they share a love for one thing: basketball! In school, they both do very well and participate on the basketball team.
Darius and Shaquan recently got to spend the day with Wednesday’s Child host Vai Sikahema and the crew at Funplex! The boys spent the day living the dream of most teenagers: playing fun games and chilling out! Darius and Shaquan challenged Vai to a game of air hockey before they all raced around the go-kart track. Laser tag was also a hit! Basketball was the final event before the trio headed for lunch.
Darius and Shaquan’s day at the Funplex was a blast for everyone involved! Now the boys are looking to find a family that will adopt them together. If that’s not possible, then they at least want a family that will allow them to maintain their special sibling bond.
Will you be that family for Darius and Shaquan?