Last night we had our annual gala. It was a fun night resulting from the culmination of much work on behalf of staff, board members, sponsors and volunteers. To everyone that supported yesterday evening’s Celebration of Family, we thank you!

The Please Touch Museum served as a spectacular backdrop for over 200 guests as we honored Rev. Dr. Lorina Marshall-Blake for her commitment to the way children grow up. Entertainment Chair Melissa Codkind along with her daughter Rachel and the Junior Friends of Adoption helped to ensure a fun event. In particular, Rachel’s personal video presentation truly captured the spirit of the Adoption Center and our work on behalf of vulnerable children. Our Master of Ceremonies Stan Hochman and fellow auctioneer Steve Highsmith encouraged lively bidding for one-of-a-kind items, secured by Auction Chair Bob Bechtold.

Celebration Chairman Rich Macha & Board President Bruce Davis paid tribute to our generous sponsors including:

Wendy’s – Lead Sponsor
Independence Blue Cross
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Sunoco Logistics
Cozen O’Connor
Margaret Jacobs Charitable Trust

Thanks again to everyone and we'll be posting pictures soon! 

Last week, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story on the incidence of truancy amongst its public school population. According to the story, nearly 15,000 children (10% of total enrollment) are truant from school on any given day. It went on to note that up to one-third of these children were currently living in foster care. This is just one more reason to invest more resources into adoption. What do you think? 

We have a few interns leaving us in the upcoming weeks. We’ve asked each to share their experiences, what they have learned and what will stay with them as they move forward.

Katie spent much time working with a Freddie Mac Foundation Wednesday’s Child Coordinator. She is an international studies at a local university.

Interning at the National Adoption Center/ Adoption Center of Delaware Valley has taught me things about domestic adoption and working for a non-profit. First and foremost, what a child needs comes before anything. In most cases what a child needs is a loving caring home. But, it goes beyond that. [While the Center is not ultimately responsible for matching, as we recruit we keep certain things in mind. ed.] The people here try to match the children to the right family. If there is a family that really wants to adopt a child and is qualified, but maybe works odd hours where the only time they’ll see the kid is on the weekends, it is not going to be a good match. These kids need somebody who is going to be around and interact with them on a constant basis.

Children also need fun. This is especially true when it comes to children in foster care; this is what NAC helps to promote in its recruiter sessions. During a Wednesday’s Child taping, I was able to see one kid go go-karting. The teenager enjoyed it so much, and it was a definite pleasure to see him be so elated about the experience.

Working at NAC has definitely been a fun and worthwhile experience. The people who work here are very patient and supportive, which is something you need to be in this line of work. They take the time and tell you step-by-step what needs to be done and how it needs to be done. It is a very efficient way of teaching people. 

As you've no doubt noticed, health care reform in the US passed a major hurdle last night. As part of the bill there are two items of importance to our community. The first is increased support for maternal health care. Healthier moms mean healthier babies! So this is good news for all concerned.

The second is this: "Expanding the Adoption Credit and Adoption Assistance Program. Increases the adoption tax credit and adoption assistance exclusion by $1,000, makes the credit refundable, and extends the credit through 2011. The enhancements are effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2009."

While adoption from the foster care costs little to nothing, this will hopefully encourage more people to seek out adoption in the first place. It will certainly help those who are adopting dometically from non-foster care sources too. Will this help sway your choice? 

We need your help, please! Adoption Center of Delaware Valley needs donation contributions for our upcoming Match Parties as gifts for attending children who are still searching for their forever family. We will have about 130 children from ages ranging from 8-18. We need items to include in a gift bag for each child. Items can include anything fromsummer items (beach towels, hats, sunblock lotion, etc.), school supplies (books, pens, folders, etc.), gift cards (food, clothes, accessories, VISA, etc.), tickets (amusement park, movie theater, sports game, etc). Monetary donations are also welcomed. 

In existence since 1972, the Adoption Center of Delaware Valley expands adoption opportunities for children living in foster care throughout the Delaware Valley (Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware), and is a resource to families and agencies who seek the permanency of caring homes for children. The Center has helped find families for more than 21,000 children. Our annual matching events bring waiting children and youth together with prospective adoptive families for a fun-filled day of guided interactions which serve as a catalyst in the cultivation of permanent life-long connections.

Please contact Sheina Martinez, Adoption Coordinator for any items you can provide at 215-735-9988 ext 311 or Any donations are tax deductible! 

Do you know an outstanding young person who spent time in the foster care system and whose perseverance, resilience and contribution to the community made him or her an inspiration to others? 

If so, please nominate that person for a 2010 FosterClub Outstanding Young Leader Award. 

For the third year, the FosterClub, a national network for young people in foster care, will honor100 of them for their success in overcoming ”challenging circumstances and are now finding different ways to give back to their community and disprove negative stereotypes about young people in foster care.” 

Nominees must be aged 16-24 as of May 1, 2010 and must have spent some time in foster care. Young people can nominate themselves or be nominated by someone they know. 

Deadline is March 15, 2010.

Further information and nomination form here. 

The Arizona House of Representatives approved legislation on Feb. 23 that would give married couples preference in adoptions. The measure, which supporters argue is in the best interests of children, now goes to the state Senate for consideration. Opponents of the 35-22 vote on HB 2148 said research shows that the children of single parents do very well and that, if enacted into law, the bill could undermine the permanency prospects of some children in foster care – especially those with special needs. Critics also characterized the legislation as a covert means of discriminating against prospective gay and lesbian parents, since only heterosexuals can legally marry in Arizona. 

What do you think of this Legislation? Is it discriminative? 

Not all of us were infants when we were adopted. As such, in many ways I felt like the "step-child" of adoptees. The truth be told, I think that there are many who need to hear this message. For the first 6 years of my life, I was known as Charles Michael Murphy. My brother David, four years older, and I had many places to call home. We were born in Lake County (to the east of Cleveland) Ohio and lived in Cleveland as well (not the nice part). We went from home to home, without ever really having a true home. We spent time with three foster families (the Js, Bs, and Ks), all of whom were blessings for us. Finally, someone (our caseworker Cathy J.) found us a home. 

Dave and I were adopted by an amazing family in Bowling Green, Ohio. My parents, Richard and Joan Conrad, had two natural born children of their own and had decided that they would like to adopt a special needs child. They received a call indicating that a special needs child had not been located, but a special needs situation had arose. That special situation involved two boys who Cathy was desperately trying to keep together. Those two boys were us.

Through my adoption, I received a second chance in life. I went from having absolutely nothing to being adopted by a family where education was critical (dad was a V.P. and professor at the local state university and mom was a saint). More importantly, I was in a home that was stable and there was no longer any abuse, whether it be physical, sexual or substance abuse. But, waking up one morning with a new name, new parents, and a new home doesn't erase the harm that was done. In fact, I don't know that my parent's really knew what they were getting themselves into. Both Dave and myself were rebels and required a great deal of nurturing, discipline, structure, and therapy. When I say that we weren't easy on my parents, it is an understatement.

My parents stayed the course with us. I was somehow blessed with a great mind, quite surprising when you consider where I came from. However, with this bright mind came baggage. I never really tried in school, was always in trouble, and was your typical underachiever. I didn't go to college right after high school because I didn't feel 
like applying myself to academics. I tested out of 71 semester hours of college (about 2.5 years) and went back home to Bowling Green State University. After BGSU, I completed my Juris Doctor at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, and then went on to pursue and LL.M. (Tax) from Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Finally, this great mind was starting to work!

Having my mind start working didn't solve all of my problems. You see, I have considered myself to be very lucky. I have always thought of my adoption as an absolute blessing (and it is). However, by always focusing on the positive, I swept the emotional damage under the rug and never realized the tremendous impact those first 6 years had on me. It wasn't until a few years ago that I began to tackle these issues. Someone suggested I start reading books on adoption and predicted that I could probably relate to much of what was being said. They were right!! Tackling those issues has been an absolute blessing.

When I started my quest for books on adoption, I began to notice something. The vast majority of anything written on the subject dealt with the psychological impact on infants. What about people like me? What about those kids whose mom beat them and did drugs in front of them before giving them up? What about those kids who remember everything about who they were? How do we cope? Those answers, sadly, might consume only a few pages of the book, if at all. 

And, after reading 8 chapters geared toward those adopted as infants, we'd be lucky to find them.Leaving an entire group out of books is one problem. I have also learned that there are a lot of children "in the system" who are never adopted and "age out". But for a lucky break, I could have been one of those kids. Do those kids have value? YES!! Can they become productive members to society? I certainly believe so. 

There are a lot of people who want to adopt, but they mainly want to adopt infants. Even traveling around the world to do so. I think adoption is a wonderful thing and certainly don't want to sound like I'm being critical of those who desire an infant, but there are older kids here who need the same second chance that I received. And, this is how I want to help!! I want to give those other kids a little hope that their "forever home" can be a reality.

Can you help me do so? Are there benefits for the adopting family? You bet there are. My brother and I may have "baggage" but we are just as much my parent's children as my siblings who were natural born. In fact, I can't tell you how many people say to me that they've never seen an adopted child who is so much like the adopting father (for awhile, that wasn't a compliment, now it is the highest compliment). My own children know them as grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, etc. 

In short, we have completely assimilated into the family. When I make mention of my parents, there is no question in anyone's mind as to whom I am referring.

Contributed by Charles Conrad, JD 

Pennsylvania has some amazing teenagers who you may want to meet. Yes, there are teens who still long for a permanent adoptive family. On April 10, 2010 the National Adoption Center will host a Teen Matching Event. Several of Pennsylvania’s waiting teenagers will come together with families who are approved to adopt a teen. They will share an afternoon of fun, food and hopefully some new lasting connections.

We hosted two similar events last year. Teens, prospective parents and social workers alike enjoyed the day. And best of all, some new families were formed as a result of the events.

This year our event will be held in Lancaster, PA. We welcome you to join us if you have an approved home study and are interested in adopting a teen! Click here to view the invitation.

The Teen Matching Events have been made possible through the generous funding of the Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN).

For more information or to register, please contact Julie Marks, Teen Project Manager, at 215-735-9988 x367 or at Or register online here. 

Alaina, Isaiah and Jonathan

An adoption success! As the Wednesday’s Child Coordinator, it is great to see positive results. When I was told a sibling group of three needed to be featured on Wednesday’s Child in 2006, I naturally thought- "Oh boy, this is going to be a tough one." Three! What a number. To place one child is hard enough. With the help of Wednesday’s Child and many other forms of recruitment, the Thomas family decided they would inquire about the siblings. After all, Mrs. Thomas, after raising four children knew she still had more mothering left inside. She and her husband decided to start the adoption process. 

In 2006 the sibling group was in desperate need of a home. They were featured on Wednesday’s Child and several families inquired. The Thomas’ homestudy was reviewed and the family became a match from there. The Thomas family grew from four children to seven children in just a few months. 

The Thomas family feels they are very blessed with the new additions to their home. Alaina, Isaiah and Jonathan are very happy to be in a loving home where they know they are accepted. They now enjoy activities such as biking, hiking and playing video games in the family room. 

If you have ever thought about adoption but needed a good story to motivate you to make the call, here is one. We need more Thomas families. The children need more Thomas families. People that still have parenting left inside of them or those who wish to become parents for the first time. We need people to open their hearts, doors and commitment level and adopt a waiting child. 

February 08, 2010