Florida Ends Ban on Adoption by LGBT Community

A Florida appeals court today struck down a state law barring gay people from adopting. The decision affirms an earlier family court ruling in the case that would allow Martin Gill to adopt two foster children he is raising with his partner. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Florida, which represent Gill in the case, called the decision a victory for the thousands of children waiting to be adopted in Florida. As the appeals court recognized in its opinion, the scientific evidence shows that “there are no differences in the parenting of homosexuals or the adjustment of their children. . . [and] the issue is so far beyond dispute that it would be irrational to hold otherwise; the best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption.”

The National Adoption Center wholeheartedly supports this landmark decision and only wonders why it wasn’t enacted sooner. 


The Tragedy of Aging Out

Thirty thousand children leave foster care each year without any family. The technical term for this is "emancipation." The better description is "unconscionable failure."

In most states, children leaving foster care at 18 (or 21 in some places)receive a small one-time payment -- in New York City it’s $750, not even enough for a security deposit on a small apartment. It is not uncommon for a social worker to drive that 18year old to a homeless shelter for his or her first night of "emancipation." According to the largest study ever conducted of kids who had aged out of foster care, by their mid-twenties, only half of these young adults were employed. Nearly 60% of the men had been convicted of a crime. Two thirds of the women were receiving food stamps.

The great tragedy of kids aging out of foster care is just how unnecessary it is. The system for adopting children from foster care is badly broken. Look at any child aging out and you will see lost opportunities -- the 9-year-old whose worker didn't return phone calls from a prospective parent, the 12 year old who wasn't placed because terrific potential parents lived in another state. The 14 year old the state decided to prepare for "independent living" rather than focus on adoption. 
Children come into foster care because a state determines there is abuse or neglect. When the state decides that a child can't go home and terminates parental rights, that child becomes, in both a legal and moral sense, our child. 


Wendy's Wonderful Kids Spotlight - Juwon & Tyrek

At my last visit with brothers, Juwon and Tyrek, I asked them what they wanted in a Forever Family. By the end of the visit, I walked out of their foster home with 2 pages worth of notes about what they dreamed their adoptive family would be like. 

Both were very enthusiastic about expressing what they would want in a Forever Home. Some characteristics they wanted in a family were: To have a mom and a dad, to live in a nice quiet neighborhood, to have other siblings if possible, they must be a sports loving family, must like music including at least a little bit of hip hop, must like going on vacations and playing video games. Juwon wanted a house big enough to not get in trouble for making noise when playing his drum set. Tyrek wanted a family who knew how to make really good food, and could help him learn how to play the guitar. 

By the end of the list, the boys started getting silly, listing that they wanted flat-screen TVs in all rooms of the house, a refrigerator filled with root beer in their bedroom, and a go-cart track in the back yard. I told them that would probably not be possible, but hey you never know! 

The boys are adorable and so funny. They need a home where they can grow up together. These brothers are very close and look to each other for support. If you would like more information about Juwon & Tyrek, please contact me, Amy Cressman at 215-739-9988 ext. 319 or at


Census Report on Adopted Children

In its first-ever profile of America's adopted children, the U.S. Census Bureau said today that Census 2000 data show that adopted children under age 18 tended to live in households that were better off economically than those of biological children. 
For example, the bureau said, adopted children lived in households with a median income of $56,000 a year versus $48,000 for biological children, and 78 percent of adopted children lived in homes that were owned by their adoptive parents versus 67 percent of biological children.

The report, Adopted Children and Stepchildren: 2000, examines the characteristics of the nation's 2.1 million adopted children and 4.4 million stepchildren. For the first time, the Census 2000 questionnaire included "adopted son/daughter" as one of the options under the relationship-to-householder question separate from "natural born son/daughter" and "stepson/stepdaughter”.

The data are designed to assist agencies that serve adoptive families such as the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse of the Administration for Children and Families. The data also may inform policy-makers who develop legislation related to adoptive families such as the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, and the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993. 


Affording College

We often hear that potential adoptive parents, especially those already fostering children, are reluctant to adopt fearing college costs. The thought is that there is more support available if the child is never formally adopted than if he or she is.

If this concern is holding you back from creating a permanent relationship with a child, please read on. First there is The Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act, which states that when a child age 13 or above is adopted from foster care, the adoptive parents' income does not have to be factored into any federal financial aid application. This means the student will be considered independent and only his or her income (if any) will be considered when figuring out financial aid. For more information go to this Voice For Adoption Factsheet.

Next there are also many scholarships available from both state and private programs. For a very complete listing click here for the Child Information Gateway's College Scholarship and Tuition Waivers page. An additional resource is here:

Read more about the Education Training Voucher (ETV) program here. ETV awards grants to current and former foster youth to help pay for college or specialized education. In most states, eligible students may receive grants of up to $5,000 per academic year.

And also, another great resource is to be found here, the Orphan Foundation of America. (This is for children from foster care, not the strict definition of orphans, i.e. biological parents may still be living.)

Hopefully this information will help you make the choice to adopt easier for your family! 


Biking with Pfizer!

On June 29th, Pfizer ended its leadership conference, held at the Sheraton Hotel in Philadelphia. As part of the conference, there was a team bike building challenge partnered with Teamworx to compete in building 10 bikes. Everyone had a blast! The even more exciting part of the program was when Pfizer staff learned they had actually built bikes for 10 waiting children in the foster care system. The 10 children, coming from PA, NJ, and DE were all very happy to receive new bikes to take home as their own. The children also received helmets to keep them safe. Pfizer worked with Teamworx to make this successful event happen.

Most waiting children in the foster care system have probably never owned anything of their own as they unfortunately often get moved from home to home in effort of finding their forever family. If you would like to make a donation to the National Adoption Center in effort to continue its mission of recruiting for waiting children and supporting prospective families, please contact Ken Mullner to learn the different ways of making that a reality. 

Thanks so much to Pfizer and Teamworx for their amazing dedication to some very special children in our community. Pfizer also graciously presented the National Adoption Center with a check of $2,500. 



Reunification Day

Many cities across the country recently celebrated the first Reunification Day to recognize the accomplishments of those who help parents regain custody of children placed in the foster care system. 

For years, the goal of reunifying children in foster care with their families has received short shrift. Even though most children come to the attention of child protective services for allegations of neglect, many are removed abruptly from their homes and placed with strangers. Once in foster care, they see their parents and siblings infrequently, change placements too often and receive inadequate medical and mental health treatment. Their parents rarely receive the help they need and they lack a meaningful voice in court. 

Keeping children in a harsh and often dangerous environment at home, or placing them in a stranger’s care. The Adoption Center believes an expedited adoption is the ideal option. What do you think? 


Hot Match Party With Positive Results!

Think back to your childhood in the summertime! Do you remember hours spent outdoors playing with friends? 

That’s just what the Adoption Center’s Camp Match Party was like! We had more than 50 children, ages three to 17 who are waiting for their forever family, and 45 prospective adoptive families enjoy an outing to Tall Pines Day Camp in Williamstown, New Jersey on Saturday, June 26th. 
Our wonderful volunteers, most from Wawa, led the children and families around the campgrounds to play a variety of games and go on a hayride. The families got to see the children do what children do best, play! Many of the adults told us they enjoyed the activities at the campsite and, despite the heat, most of the adults were eager participants in the games with the children. The children and families all had a great time.
They also shared lunchtime together and got a chance to sit in the shade of the pavilions to talk and get to know one another. Families had opportunities to talk privately with the children’s social workers to express their interest and learn more about specific children. Ice cream and ices for dessert topped off a great summer day outdoors for everyone!
There were over 150 inquiries on the children from the families in attendance and we are hopeful for many potential matches that will become adoptive placements! 


Featured Child: Wednesday's Child

Talented and focused, Larnie is going to be a great musician one day. He is learning to play the guitar and loves it. At the age of 15, Larnie is a typical teen. He likes R&B music, watching movies, and eating! In the 10th grade, he does well in school and gets along well with his teachers and peers. Enrolled in regular education classes, he enjoys science and math. In the future, he would like to attend college and become a biochemist.

Larnie recently had an amazing opportunity to meet Philadelphia’s local band Octane at WMMR studios. The band surprised Larnie with a brand new guitar! He played his new guitar with the band for a few songs and they were all impressed with his skills. Larnie writes his own songs and practices all the time. The members of the band gave Larnie some tips, and encouraged him to continue writing and practicing. As another surprise, WMMR gave Larnie tons of new CD’s to add to his collection.

The day was definitely a success! Wednesday’s Child host Vai Sikahema later sat with Larnie to talk about what he wants in a family. He expressed that he needs a family that will be supportive of his dream of being a musician. He knows that it will take a lot of hard work, and he needs a family to keep him motivated and show him unconditional love! All families will be considered. 


Access to Original Birth Certificates

overnor Quinn of Illinois recently signed into law provisions for adult adoptive children to finally receive their original birth certificates. In the viewpoint of the National Adoption Center, making birth record information more accessible to adopted adults is a good thing and very important.

We receive numerous phone calls and emails from adult adoptees about the question of search and reunion with birth family. Often the first step is locating the original birth certificate. Adults who were adopted as infants or young children are the most common group of people searching for adoption information and birth relatives and most often the search is for the birth mother. When we can, we provide search resources to those who want to search but, unfortunately, the legwork is really up to the adult adoptee. The Center’s public policy supports the rights of adoptees to their original birth certificates and all medical and historical records. 

The new law in Illinois has some provisions on openness; effective immediately all children and parents involved in an adoption that took place before 1946 can get their birth certificates, however, for those in later situations, the state is going to spend one and half years notifying birth parents and adoptive adults that they need to contact the state to let them know if they wish to be found. After Nov 15, 2011, those involved in adoption can request birth certificates and if no other party has filed an objection, the birth certificate will be sent. 

Some adult adoptees just have to find their birth families to answer the questions about where and who they come from and what genetic traits they inherited. Others decide to leave Pandora’s box closed. They all deserve what those of us who are not adopted just take for granted; the ability to get access to their personal information when and if they want it.