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Today we got word that one of our youths, Miguel, is going to tonight's Phillies playoff game against the Cinicinatti Reds. Besides the hope of another amazing game like Roy Halladay's no-hitter, this is exciting news because it is a promise kept. Earlier this year, the Phillies hosted Miguel at Citizens Bank Park to fullfill a dream of his--meeting the Phillies. He and NBC10's Vai Sikehemia took a tour of the stadium and then went to the clubhouse where they met Mike Sweeney. Sweeney presented Miguel with his personal bat that had handwritten on it words of encouragement for this young man. They all then headed to the field where the entire team was practicing. Miguel met many players, including Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. 

Exciting enough, right? Well during this visit a member of the Phillies' PR staff promised Miguel playoff tickets if the Phillies made it. The Phillies played hard and made the playoffs and the promise was not forgotten. Miguel will be at tonight's game. 

While promises to any person, especially a child are important, in this case think of how much more this means. How many times have the adults in Miguel's life let him down? His parents were unable to keep the unspoken promise of parents everywhere to take care of their childern no matter what. What other promises, big or small, have been made to this child only to end up broken? This action is one adult's effort to prove to Miguel that many people do keep their promises, that he isn't forgotten. What can you do to help remind these children that they matter and that what is said to them is important? (And go PHILS!) 

Last week, I visited with my newest youth added to the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Program for Southern New Jersey. This was my second visit with Frank, a talkative, friendly 20 year old, who despite his age, still wants to find his forever family. Like most youth Frank’s age, he loves sports (especially the Phillies and the Eagles), cars, and girls. Also, like most youth in foster care, Frank is very close to aging out of the foster care system without finding his forever family.

Despite his biological parents’ rights being terminated over 9 years ago, Frank is still waiting for a family. Frank has a sibling who was adopted, but adoption efforts were never pursued for him. When I first met Frank, he immediately was open to receiving child-specific recruitment. Frank knew the type of family he wanted and even where he’d like to live.

On my second visit with Frank, he greeted me with a warm smile and a high-five. He eagerly told me that he found more states in which he would like for me to search for a family for him. On my previous visit, he had told me that I could look only in NJ, PA, DE and NY. This time, as we searched through a college football book that divides the teams by their divisions and states, Frank now let me know that he was open to me finding a family in 27 states. He shared with me that after he thought about it, it wasn’t so much the location of the family, but finding the right family for him, wherever they may be.

As I explained to Frank that I would do my very best to locate families for him, I also had the task of explaining to him that finding a family may not happen, mostly due to his age. Frank then looked up at me and asked, “Do you know who Michael Oher is?” I told him that I did, saying that he’s a professional football player (not wanting to focus on the movie about his life, or the fact that he had been adopted as a teen). Frank then looked up at me again and asked, “If Michael Oher can be adopted, why can’t I?” That question immediately made my heart feel heavy and my eyes water. Frank was right. Why couldn’t he still be adopted? Frank is a great young man, who deserves a loving family just like everyone else. His question immediately lit a fire under me…and made me want to put 200% effort into finding him the family that he deserves. Frank would love a family who is “nice” and likes sports. This future auto mechanic is open to being with a single-parent or a couple. Race is unimportant.

When I reviewed Frank’s files, it clearly states that he has expressed an interest in being adopted, but unfortunately, Frank is one of many youth who fell through the cracks of the foster care system. In 2009, 29,471 children aged out of foster care (according to AFCARS). It is my hope, that Frank will find his forever family, because we here at NAC believe, “there are no unwanted children, just unfound families" ™

For more information on Frank, or other Wendy’s Wonderful Kids participants from Southern New Jersey, please contact Crystal Allen, callen@adopt.org or 215-735-9988, Ext. 346. 

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. 

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. 


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 acressman@adopt.org

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. 


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: CollegeScholarships.org

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! 


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. 

SMART 

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? 

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! 

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