For those of us residing in the Northeast (or any cold climate for that matter), the words “pitchers and catchers report in two weeks” is music to our ears. What better way to escape the winter doldrums than by fantasizing about spring training??
The following is a guest piece by one of our Board Members, Kelly Wolfington.
Back when our "home-made" son was 12 and our "home-made" daughter 7, my husband and I thought we were "born to be parents". (By the way I refuse to use the term "biological" or "natural" child... they seem so antiseptic and inaccurate... just what is unnatural about an adopted child? Our two children were such a joy and we loved the parent process so full with joyful rewards, the inevitable challenges notwithstanding.
So, one evening, when out to a romantic dinner, my dear spouse spontaneously asked, "If there were anything you could do to improve our lives what would it be?" Without hesitation I replied... another child... but this time I would adopt." He was stunned that I could be so quick and yet had never even shared this thought before. So, now it was his turn. "What his one thing you would do?" His response, "I don't have anything so why don't we go with yours." Thus began a 6-year odyssey trying to help the spirit of our next child find his or her path of destiny to us.
Having two "biological/natural" children already we figured we would have to go outside America's shores. Back then trans-racial adoptions were actually being reversed by some Courts. We were resolutely unwilling to have our family or our adopted child suffer the uprooting pain of such a tragic post-placement separation.
Upon completion of a home-study and the associated group sessions we were ready to begin. First Columbia. All our paperwork was approved (including fingerprints, tax returns and criminal records). Columbia then closed down its adoption program. Next to Bolivia. Same story. Next to Paraguay ... but their last rule was that both adoptive parents live in Paraguay for around 4-6 weeks continuously. We would not leave our home-made children for so long. Then... a miracle... my lifetime best friend told me of a local agency that handled quasi-open adoptions. I took our bushel basket of paperwork with me and in about 3 months a computer match was made for us with a woman anticipating delivery in January (only 2 months away!).
On January 12, 1991 our son, Adam, was born. On January 14 he was in our arms. We readied ourselves for another cakewalk through parenting. But, as our home-mades were meeting the challenges of adolescence, our young son, Adam, was traveling his own unique journey... with issues we simply did not anticipate, did not understand and had no adequate source for insight to unravel his difficulties. (Turns out the year he was born an amazing book was published that I discovered 18 years later and I am so thankful for this find.) Our adopted son was struggling unconsciously with a package of questions and confusions. Some seemed obvious... but these he denied.. such as a sense of abandonment. Others, it turns our could have been foreseen and even empathized into neutrality had we been aware and head he been able to articulate what was going on.
My coming articles will share what we have learned through life as adoptive parents. Howe we all benefited from communications, therapy and most of all, research and reading about the adopted child's tangled, often subconscious anxieties that translate into fear, frustration; even anger. Demystification has blessed us with the most powerful bond of love imaginable with and for our son, Adam. I hope some of what we have experienced will be helpful to others.
Today's post is a guest peice by our staffer, Nancy.
Trust. Five little letters. Big meaning. When one adopts, that word becomes HUGE. Trust is most definitely a part of the adoption process. The agency has to trust your intention to adopt and work on your behalf. You have to trust that the adoption agency you work with will approve you as adoptive parents. If you work with a lawyer, trusting him or her is also part of the process.
But most of all, I think you need to trust in yourself that you are ready for this commitment--no matter what comes! (And believe me, for some of us, lots of “stuff” comes!)
Many girls dream about their weddings and white picket fences, but I dreamed most about being a mother. When I had a nearly impossible time conceiving, I had to trust there was a way I would someday be a parent. For my husband and me, that miracle happened through adoption.
We were elated—the joy our daughter brought to our lives was unbelievable. We trusted that our “identified adoption” (the birth parents have a say in who adopts their child) would be relatively uncomplicated. We were referred to an agency and engaged them fairly quickly. We interviewed several lawyers and chose one with nearly a whole wall full of pictures of children he helped become adopted. (Seemed like his track record was nearly unparalleled.) We thought our adoption would be finalized with relative ease. What we did not know is that somewhat blind trust could have cost us our adoption.
Perhaps knowing a bit of our story will help anyone in the process, especially when facing snags, to trust the bottom line. What we could not have known was that our supposedly easy adoption would take nearly 18 months to complete—but given our circumstances, should have been done a lot sooner. The lawyer we trusted so completely had a staff member who unknowingly filed our paperwork in a dead file. That original paperwork was not found for over six months. Needless to say, this delayed our finalization!
We had five (count them---five!) social work visits which, at the time, was the norm in the state in which we adopted. We had a great rapport with our social worker, but since our case seemed to drag on, we found she had been transferred to another agency location and we had to start all over with a different social worker. Even though the agency had everything required in our file, the new social worker asked all the same questions, verified again and again the same details, needed updated clearances, as I remember, etc. More time. More hassle. I understood their need for thoroughness, but to us, it was rather daunting.
We felt the first social worker had been accepting of us as a couple and trusted our desire to adopt and raise our daughter (who was already in our home). Our social worker had seen the three of us together, and she told us she felt we were solid! The new social worker was nice, but much more aloof. We (I) didn’t trust that we had the same foundation or footing with her. I remember at the end of her second visit, receiving no obvious verbal clues, wanted to boldly ask, “Well, do you approve us or not?” It was a nerve-wracking time to say the least. (By the way, I did end up asking her—calmly and over the phone—and she laughed softly, “Of course! It’s obvious you three are a family!” So much for being afraid to ask questions!)
We had to trust that even though we were (what felt to us) “scrutinized” (twice, mind you), things would work out. Perhaps you will trust me when I say: sometimes blind trust needs to take a back seat to trusting in yourself. It is perfectly within your rights to ask questions and advocate on your own behalf, should that become necessary.
Case in point! When we didn’t hear from the lawyer for a long time, we naturally just “trusted” that things were okay. No phone call from his office with a court date, or more questions we needed to answer. No nothing. Then one day we received papers from his office that indicated our case was being terminated for lack of our response. Terminated? What? We weren’t terminating the adoption! We had gotten a verbal approved on our homestudy, so the agency and the social worker weren’t “terminating” it. I was in contact with the birth mother and knew she wasn’t terminating it. What in the world--?
Our lawyer matter-of-factly told us that he didn’t have our signed papers. Excuse me? We signed and had sent them in months ago. Good thing for my gotta-keep-a-copy-of-all-documents philosophy. I made a copy of our copy and hand-delivered them that day!
Oh. Their mistake, they said. So sorry, they said. And a few days later, we received our original paperwork with a scrawled note that it had been misfiled. Someone probably had to root through a bunch of files to find it!)
Trust is a powerful word. No one is infallible. “Stuff” comes! So if there is too much silence as you are in the adoption process, going with your gut is critical. I would say: trust most of all in your desire to create your forever family--and do your best to overcome the odds of Murphy’s and assorted other laws that might keep you from your goals of parenting a child. (And remember, that child is counting on you!)
If you feel you are playing “Wheel of Fortune” in your adoption process and need a vowel to solve the puzzle, you don’t need Vanna to help! Remember “U”/”you” are in the very center of T R _ S T!
Juwon, 13 and Tyrek, 10, are brothers who share similar interests. Enrolled in regular education classes, they do well in school and get along with their teachers and peers. Aspiring musicians, they dream of one day playing in a band together. Juwon and Tyrek also like playing sports and watching funny movies in their free time.
As fans of music, Juwon and Tyrek met up with Wednesday’s Child host Vai Sikahema at the School of Rock. There they had a great opportunity to test their skills. Juwon loves the drums while Tyrek is a guitar player. They got a private practice session with a staff member at the school. After getting warmed up, the boys got on stage with Vai ready to rock! They also got to meet the kids in the school’s house band, who all reminded the brothers to keep practicing and encouraged them to follow their dreams.
The day was definitely a success! Vai later sat with the boys to talk about family. Both Juwon and Tyrek long for the day they will be adopted. They hope for a loving and caring family who live in a safe neighborhood. All families will be considered.
Will you be that family for Juwon and Tyrek?
Meet 12-year-old Aaliyah. This beautiful preteen can be described as fun, loving, and energetic. Aaliyah likes to draw, jump rope, and dance. In the 6th grade, she does well in school and really enjoys art class. In the future she would like to become a doctor or nurse so she can help others.
Aaliyah recently met up with Wednesday’s Child host Vai Sikahema at Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum for a day of fun and excitement. Aaliyah had a great time pretending to be Vai’s doctor. They did grocery shopping and toured the SEPTA portion of the museum. They played the large piano and overall simply had a great time.
The day was definitely a success! Vai later sat with Aaliyah at the cafeteria where they shared a meal and spoke about family. Aaliyah says race does not matter. She wants a family that will love her, play with her, and encourage her dreams for the future.
Will you be that family for Aaliyah?
|Chris Jacobs, Program Director, Ken Mullner, Executive Director and Gloria Hochman, Communications Director|
I really enjoyed myself at the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s Excellence awards dinner dance on November 18 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Center City. The Center was honored as the non-profit of the year. We received our award, along with 11 small businesses recognized for their excellence, before 600 community leaders. We were the lone non-profit among a sea of for profit businesses. It was an interesting experience. The group of professionals we were celebrating with was all very different. For example, some included Center City restaurant owners, sellers of motorcycle parts, as well as technology innovators. At first I couldn’t understand what, if any, similarities our organization had with these other small businesses. Then I started listening to their stories.
Each group was being recognized for their creativity, vitality, stability and relevance. And what I realized was that we had a lot more in common than I originally thought. Each business began with a dream – ours was no different. NAC’s founder started in 1972 with a wooden recipe box on her kitchen table because she saw a need and wanted to fill it. Thirty eight years later, we have helped more than 22,000 children find their “forever families”.
Although our organization was the only one providing a social service to the region and beyond, we all had some things in common - a dream, flexibility to stay relevant and adjust to better serve our constituents and a drive and desire to be successful. “We are proud to have received this prestigious recognition,” says Ken Mullner, the Center’s executive director. “But there are still children—115,000 in the country and 1600 right here in the Delaware Valley—who count on us for their futures. We are committed to our belief that ‘there are no unwanted children…just unfound families.’ We will continue to find them.”