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The following was submitted to us by a volunteer. She is someone who is considering adoption and is volunteering with us as one way to get to know more about adoption. This is a very honest post and these are her reflections on what she has observed and experienced so far on her journey.
 
 
Over the past couple of years, I have started to think seriously about adoption.  I'm 34 years old, married and have no children.  When I was younger, my thoughts on adoption were quite limited and I naively believed that three types of people adopted: those that couldn't have biological children, Christian missionaries and celebrities, like Mia Farrow.  I didn't give much thought to the reasons people adopted, and now that I've started to think about adoption, I find the reasons people adopt as unique and interesting as the people themselves.
 
I know a stay-at-home mom who had one child but wanted more.  Her doctor told her it was a miracle she was able to have the one, and a second child was just not possible.  She told me she considered going back to work, but that she lacked the passion for any specific job or field.  She was the most fulfilled raising her son (and being a mom) and she wanted to be able to continue her dream job of raising children and positively effecting their lives.  Within a few years, she had adopted four children (all siblings) and later adopted a fifth child who was also related but had been living at another orphanage!  The last time we spoke, she told me that she was living her dream.  
 
I also know a single woman who was tired and scared of being alone and decided to adopt.  She is rarely home due to her demanding job, and her daughter is largely being raised by a nanny, family and close friends.  Recently, her child has developed behavioral issues and a child psychologist has told her that some children "act out" for attention.  I have no doubt this woman loves her daughter, but her primary reason for adoption was to fill a void in her life.    
 
Similar to these two women, my interest in adoption is largely shaped by my life experiences.  I was fortunate to have a loving mom and dad who made their two children their top priority; both encouraging and disciplining us so that we could one day, as adults, make more right choices than wrong ones.  And as I entered by 30's and was confronted with difficult choices of my own -involving my marriage, my finances, my career -- it became more and more clear how many choices we all make that will deeply affect our lives.  
 
However, children waiting to be adopted did not have a choice in the matter.  For various reasons, they need families that will love them and nurture their potential.  I realize how fortunate I am that I did not have this obstacle in front of me when I was a child and eliminating this obstacle is something that draws me to adoption.     
One day, my husband and I would like to have children, whether they are biological or adopted. And although I did not choose my family, my hope is that if I choose to adopt, that choice will enable a child to be raised in a loving family and have all the opportunities I had growing up.
Frank is a dynamic 20-year-old with a great personality and a firm vision for the future. His goal is to own his own body shop and is preparing for it by taking part in his school’s auto mechanics program. In the meantime, he keeps busy with a variety of activities. He is passionate about sports and likes to spend time watching basketball, baseball and football games on TV. He also loves playing sports and participates in the Special Olympics in basketball, volleyball, softball and track and field.
 
Frank recently had the amazing opportunity to visit with the Philadelphia 76ers.  He was able to stand on the court to watch them practice before the game.  Mascot Hip-Hop and the Hare Raisers presented him with a huge bag filled with lots of goodies, including a personalized jersey. They also took time to shoot a few hoops with him.  Frank was very excited!  On the court, he met with former players World B. Free and Eric Snow. He then stayed to watch the game.  He was voted “Fan of the Game” and enjoyed watching himself on the JumboTron. 
 
The day was definitely a success!  Wednesday’s Child host Vai Sikahema later sat with Frank to talk about family. Frank longs for a family to call his own.  He has several months before he “ages out” of the foster care system.  Mildly developmentally delayed, Frank is learning to become an adult.  He is doing a great job in learning about finances and money management.  A supportive, patient, and loving family would help Frankon the right track to a good future. 

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.” 

We would like to invite you to become part of a very important initiative.

Since 2008, Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) has provided national leadership to a project to answer the call of the adoption community to build accessible, adoption competent mental health services across the country.

As a first step, C.A.S.E. convened a group of nationally recognized experts, including parents, who identified the competencies that mental health practitioners need – the knowledge, skills, and values that they should have. These experts helped to develop a definition of an adoption competent mental health professional.  A curriculum based on the competencies has been developed and the first group of mental health professionals is completing their training to be adoption competent in their clinical practices.  

Adoptive parents consistently report that their greatest post adoption support need is “mental health services provided by someone who knows adoption." We often hear parents, adopted persons, practitioners, and researchers say that services need to be “adoption competent” or “adoption sensitive.” Although the terms “adoption competent” and “adoption sensitive” are frequently used, there are not standardized, well-accepted definitions for these terms. 

The definition that we are currently using is based on what experts think, but we want to hear from you about whether this definition is the right one. 

If you are an adoptive parent, an adopted person, a birth parent, a member of an adoptive family, or a member of a family affected by adoption, please tell us what you think an "adoption competent mental health professional" is. Click here to take survey 

The National Adoption Center relies on contributions from the public and private sector to do its critically important work.  One of our best partners is Wendy’s. Following in Dave Thomas’ tradition, this month Wendy’s not only continues its customary fundraising efforts but also gathers it employees to conduct a holiday gift drive for kids in foster care in the tri-state Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware region. So many children and youth will have a brighter holiday season thanks to generous partners like Wendy’s. We hope you will frequent them this month and throughout the year, and thank them for their generous support.

Blair, 14, is an active and friendly teen who loves playing basketball and baseball. Blair gets along well with both his peers and instructors in his 9th grade special education class where his favorite subject is Math. He loves animals and hopes to develop this passion in to acareer as a K-9 Police Officer. 

Blair recently spent the day with the New Jersey State Police K-9 Unit at their K-9 Academy where he had the opportunity to observe the extensive and ongoing training process that both officers and their canine partners must undergo in order to prepare themselves for the job. Blair observed and assisted with some basic walking drills where he called out commands to the officers and their canines. After watching the dogs perform numerous other drills, Blair watched as Vai put on the padded arm and acted as a decoy in the decoy training component 
of the Academy.

After successfully completing his first day of Canine Training, Sgt. Charous and the rest of the team presented Blair with a t-shirt, water bottle, and a hat to remember his day at the NJ State Police K-9 Academy. Following the day of training, Vai and Blair discussed what Blair is looking for in a family. Blair is looking for a permanent home with a family who cares about and respects him. As an animal lover, Blair would also love a family that has pets.

For more information visit http://wednesdayschild.adopt.org/

What can I do to raise adoption awareness?

I recently read an article about a remarkable, sixth-grader from Bowling Green, Kentucky named Noah. Noah learned a simple fact about kids in foster care that bothered him and from that he became inspired to spreading awareness about foster care and adoption. Noah learned that when kids are forced to move from home to home during their time in foster care, most of them carry their belongings in trash bags since they do not have proper luggage or backpacks. After hearing this troubling fact, Noah decided to organize a bag-collection drive so that kids in foster care could have proper luggage to make their moving process easier. Noah’s actions are ideal for this season of giving and a perfect way to help celebrate National Adoption Month this November. 

Many of us want to help spread the word about foster care and adoption, but don’t know where to start. Here are a few ways that you can help:

Be Creative: Create fliers detailing the need for foster homes and ask to leave them in places of business. Don't forget contact numbers to your local foster care agencies.

Donate: Gather basic supplies and donate to your local foster or adoption agency. Call ahead and find out what they need. Many need school supplies, shoes, clothes, toys or bags.

Mentor: Through Big Brothers Big Sisters you can meet with a child 2-3 times a month and make a huge difference in his life by spending time with him. Not every child in the program is in foster care, but many are. 

Volunteer: Many organizations that provide services for foster youth need volunteers to do many different duties. Some may include wrapping holiday/birthday gifts, sorting through donations, reading to the children or even playing games. Find out what your local children's organization needs are and see what you can do to help. 

Involve Your Community: Ask your place of worship to offer a special prayer or sermon for children in foster care waiting for adoption.

Be Charitable: If you are unable to donate your time, donate some much needed funds to a credible, non-profit organization focusing on the needs of children. Every penny counts when it comes to helping children in foster care. 

Eleven year old Noah is making a big impact - how can you?

Is there anything that you are doing or ideas that you have that are not listed above? If so, let us know! We’d love to hear your ideas.

To find out more information about Noah’s cause, visit:

www.acasefordignity.com 

This is National Adoption  Month and I look back 38 years to the day the National Adoption Center opened its doors.  It was a time that adoption was mainly for babies and no one knew whether anyone would consider adopting a child with Down syndrome or cerebral palsy, a child who was blind or a family of children who wanted to stay together.  Today, after having helped create families for 22,000 children, I think about the dramatic changes that have made that possible.  Among them were increasing interest in adoption from the federal government, the initiation of adoption subsidies, adoption events where prospective adopters could meet children waiting for families, focus on teenagers with the recognition that there are families who are interested in adopting them, the advent of adoption through the Internet, the rise of social media empowering would-be adopters to become more savvy when approaching agencies, and the advent of the Center’s  AdoptMatchprogram which allows those interested in adoption to connect online with welcoming agencies, then rate the service they receive.   The Freddie Mac Foundation and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption continue to make substantial contributions to making a permanent home reality for so many children.  So are media throughout the country who in print, on the air and online spread the word that 115,000 children in this country still wait for families.  The National Adoption Center is unwavering in its belief that “there are no unwanted children…just unfound families.”  It will continue to find them.

Happy Monday everyone! After a great weekend here in Philly, there is no better way to start the week than with a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids spotlight!

 
This week, I’m featuring Thomas, a smart 17 year old who is awaiting his forever family. Like most teenage boys, Thomas loves to hang out with his friends, talk to girls, listen to music and spend time on his computer. What many don’t know about him is that he is a gifted writer focusing on poetry and music lyrics. He’s even had some of his work published in his school’s magazine! Thomas says that his writing is a creative and positive way to express himself.  He keeps a collection of his songs in a book that he has been working on since the 7th grade.
 
When Thomas grows up, he has dreams of joining the marines for two reasons. One reason is to serve his country, and the second reason is to make his family proud. Thomas would like to have a forever family that likes to travel to different places. He needs a family who will listen, care, and respect his dreams and aspirations for his future. A forever family will give him the stability and structure he needs to know he is being supported through every move he makes.
 
If you are interested in becoming Thomas’ forever family, or becoming the forever family for any of our Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, please contact Crystal Allen atcallen@adopt.org or 877-799-6900.

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