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10Aug

Need for Federal Funding for Post-adoption Services

The National Adoption Center supports the need for increased federal funding for post-adoption services. In a recent Congressional briefing given by Voice for Adoption (VFA), it was stated that post-adoption services are critical to helping adoptive families and children overcome the challenges they encounter. These services also help to influence families to adopt, by reassuring them that the services their children need will be available after the adoption is finalized. Since 2002, approximately 51,000 children are adopted from foster care annually.

Currently there are 130,000 children in the United States —1600 of them in the Delaware Valley —waiting to be adopted. VFA cites some disturbing statistics about these children:

  • 47% are nine-years-old and older
 
  •  Nearly 42 months is the average stay in foster care
 
 
 
  •  Children of color stay in foster care longer and have fewer adoptions than their white peers
  •  Nearly 90% of children adopted from foster care in 2006 had special needs
 
  • In 2006, more than 26,000 “aged out” of foster care
 

Post-adoption services include a variety of services, such as support groups, crisis intervention and family counseling. The need for these services is on-going. But it all takes money. Families who adopt children from the foster care system are generally eligible for a financial subsidy to support the basic cost of caring for the child. While medical assistance may be available, it does not always cover the special needs of these families and children

At present there are diverse federal funding sources for post-adoptions, some of which are matched by state dollars. However, VFA points out that there is no federal mandate or funding directed solely toward post-adoption services and recommends that federal funding for this purpose be enhanced and improved.

 


A priority for increased federal funding is to ensure that post-adoption services once again be part of the federal grants offered through the Adoption Opportunities program. The National Adoption Center has won many federal grants through the Adoption Opportunities funding both in recruitment and post-adoption services.

5Aug

August at the National Adoption Center

In an effort to stay ahead of the curve, and to help expedite the number of adoptions nationwide, the National Adoption Center is investing heavily in technology. Just in time for National Adoption Month in November, we will debut our Online Family to Agency Matching Service, designed to quickly help a potential parent identify the appropriate adoption agency for their particular needs. Users will also be able to post ratings as to that agency’s responsiveness. We are confident this will increase the level of accountability to you, their customers.

We are also in the process of developing an Application for use with iPhones. Users will have the ability to view videos and get other information about our work and make donations right from their phone.

The Center continues to lead the way by using technology to benefit our most vulnerable children. 

31Jul

Family Preservation 2.0

We are a family oriented country. Family is often spoken of as a sacred institution that must be considered when legislation is written, whether it is a matter of health care or taxes.

In the world of adoption, family is two-fold; there are the children’s families of origin and the families who are created through the adoption process. We know that there is a need to preserve the family of origin if at all possible but when this is not the reality we turn to the families who will make a child a member of their family through adoption.

The need to preserve families, however, does not end with the success of adoption. There are many adoptive families who struggle to parent the child they have adopted, especially those who adopted children with special needs from foster care. There is a need again for family preservation. Post adoption support for adoptive parents is critical to the continued health and well-being of the child who is adopted and to the newly-created family.

On July 16th, Voice for Adoption, a national advocacy organization that the National Adoption Center helped to found, held a briefing for Congressional members on the topic of post adoption services. There was powerful and moving testimony by adoptive parents, adult adoptees and child welfare professionals about the need for increased federal funding for post adoption services.

Post adoption services can range from parent support groups to therapeutic counseling for families to the continued services of speech and occupational therapists.

Particularly in these challenging economic times, post adoption services are critical to keep families formed through adoption from foster care together and to encourage those considering such adoptions that the support and services they need will be there for their family after they adopt.

Throughout the years, the Center has consistently promoted and expressed support for post adoption services for adoptive families and our policy states, “The National Adoption Center believes that the availability and accessibility of post-adoption services are vital to adoptive family preservation and advocates that all adoptive families be informed of post-adoption services.” It is time to make post adoption services a priority and to support our belief that our society benefits from children who are raised in families, not foster or institutional care. 

29Jul

A reaction to Orphan

Movies are not merely entertainment; they influence the way people think, feel, act and live their lives.

It is unfortunate that adoption which brings joy to countless families is so negatively portrayed in the film, Orphan. Even people in the entertainment field such as Madonna and Angelina Jolie who have been in the public eye because they have recently adopted children must be disturbed and disappointed at their own industry and the message that Orphan brings.

Since 1972, the National Adoption Center has helped find families for more than 21,000 children; what we hear from their adoptive parents is that their only regret is that they didn’t adopt sooner.

More than 130,000 children in this country live in foster care waiting for families to adopt them. We need movies that will enhance their chances of making that happen. Orphan has let them down…big time

Let us know what you think. 

27Jul

Wendy's Wonderful Kids Spolight!

Hello everyone! It’s Crystal again, with this week’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids child feature! This week’s feature profiles Tah’jeria, an engaging and sweet 13 year old!

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is a nonprofit 501(c)3 public charity dedicated to dramatically increasing the adoptions of the more than 150,000 children waiting in North America's foster care systems. Created by Wendy's founder, Dave Thomas, who was adopted as a child, the Foundation works to fulfill its mission by implementing result-driven national signature programs, awareness initiatives and advocacy efforts.

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids is a signature program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption that combines the fundraising of Wendy's and its customers; aggressive grants management of the Foundation, and the talent of experienced adoption professionals throughout the nation and in Canada to move children from foster care into permanent, loving adoptive homes. As a WWK Recruiter for Southern New Jersey, I recruit for 14 of the most amazing children and youth in the DYFS foster care system, using child-specific recruitment strategies. Each of my blog post will be dedicated to a child that I work with.


Energetic, sweet and charming, Tah’jeria enjoys her weekly swimming and dancing lessons. She also likes to play dress up, ride her bike and go to the park. She takes pride in her appearance and in her room in her group home. Tah’jeria craves attention, affection and approval from adults and loves to please them. She frequently compliments the staff at her residence about their appearance or cooking skills.

Tah’jeria is in a self-contained classroom where she receives additional services to improve her language skills. Her ability to focus and stay on the task at hand is increasing. Through therapy she is gaining self-esteem and is becoming more aware of her feelings.

This little girl has experienced much trauma and loss in her young life and as a result has much anger, frustration and sadness. She would benefit greatly from a patient “forever” family that would provide unconditional love and would be understanding of and a good advocate for her special needs. Tah’jeria’s continued contact with her brother and sister has been a consistent positive experience for her, therefore it is important that the family support continued contact.

Tah’jeria will also be featured the week of June 27th on NBC 10 Wednesday’s Child with host Vai Sikahema. She had a “once in a lifetime” experience when she got to spend the evening with 15-year-old Los Angeles native Kimberly Anyadike, the youngest African-American female pilot to fly solo cross country, as well as some of the original Tuskegee Airmen. Make sure to check out Tah’jeria and her “wonderful” Wednesday’s Child feature.

If you would like information on Tah’jeria or the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, please do not hesitate to contact me at callen@adopt.org or 215.735.9988 Ext. 346. 

24Jul

College Costs

Teens in foster care no longer have to choose between being adopted and receiving financial aid to attend college. Under a new law, The Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act (FAFSA), youth adopted from foster care after their 13th birthday will not have to include their parent’s income in determining their need for financial aid. 

The FAFSA provision, which takes effect this month (July 2009), allows teens to seek financial aid for the 2009-2010 school year. Youth adopted before the new law are also eligible.

FAFSA is good news not only for youth but for families wanting to adopt them. Until now, many families fostering teens hesitated to adopt them if it meant denying them a college education.

According to statistics reported for the fiscal year ending 2006, the latest year these figures were available, 510,000 children of all ages were in foster care. Of these, 129,000 were waiting to be adopted and about a quarter of them were 13 and older. Only 11% of teens 13 and older were adopted.

Statistics have consistently shown that youth who are adopted out of the foster care system are more likely to attend college and have stable and productive lives. With this new law, the hope is that more teenagers will be adopted and that their dreams will include both a college education and a loving home. 

21Jul

Making a Difference in a Child's Life

Sometimes late, late night TV provides a different breed of “info-mercial.” The Oprah Winfrey Show does a rebroadcast in our area during the overnight hours, and a few days ago, disgruntled that I couldn’t sleep, I tuned in to the second half of a show filled with “info”-rmation which has undeniably impacted my heart. 

The show’s topic was the effects of child neglect. The part I watched focused on a couple who adopted a child after seeing her at a Heart Gallery event. An adoptive mother myself, I was drawn to watch the unfolding of the story of how then eight-year old Danielle had been found living in deplorable conditions with her biological mother. The child was severely neglected, but her mother did not even consider asking the assistance of human services. The hard facts: at the time this child’s case came to light, she was nearly 9 years old, drank from a baby bottle, wore diapers, was afraid to be touched, obsessed over food because she was underfed, and had “terrible twos” tantrums. 

Even before she married, something in Diane’s heart told her that adoption was a thing she was “supposed to do.” And Bernie said he simply “knew” Danielle should be part of their family. 

Diane and Bernie already had a family of 4 biological sons, most of whom were grown and out of the house by the time they were introduced to Danielle. Did they take a risk by adopting her? Sure. Has it been easy for them or their other children? If you go to www.oprah.com and watch the video, you will see that making Danielle part of their family has been and is challenging. But as Diane told the TV audience: she saw a person somewhere in the blank stare of Danielle’s eyes. 

Danielle was removed from her biological mother’s care but, considered a difficult child to place in foster care, was slated to be institutionalized. At the time of the adoption, this “special needs” 8-year old was considered to be have a developmental age of 6- to 18-months. After more than a year and a half with her adoptive family, that age was assessed as an 18- to 36 month old. Even though her development is lagging, she has made progress. She has learned to use the toilet. She is working on eating by herself. She swims. She cuddles. She has grown--because she is loved, thanks to her “forever family!” 

Moving hearts with stories of passion and compassion is a lifework of Oprah. It would be my hope that Oprah and other TV hosts would continue to bring “info”-mercials of this caliber to raise awareness about children who need acceptance and love. 

I would hope they would also showcase that levels of child “neglect” are often much more subtle than in Danielle’s case. That, for example, there are presently over 125,000 children and teens in foster care awaiting adoption, and that some of these children have been in the “system” for years. I imagine how powerful it would be for TV audiences to hear firsthand from a teen what it is like to be shuttled from home to home, school to school. Or to listen to a 9 year old talk about living in a group home. Or how a child of any age who longs for a family feels about not being hugged on a regular basis or rarely, if ever, hears the words “I love you.”

While it is sometimes fun to see big name celebrities talk about their lives with TV hosts, and other times great to watch the hosts cook and dance, I feel it is topics like this—weighty, meaty, relevant to a change of heart and perspective for our country and world—that can propel humanity forward knowing that we each make history by our choices every day. 

As a team member of the National Adoption Center, I personally answer calls daily from people who are curious about what it takes to extend the borders of their family and adopt a child in need of a loving, permanent home. Many people don’t know the benefits of adoption. Whether a person is single, in a committed relationship, gay, straight, lesbian or bisexual, they can choose adoption. Our motto is “there are no unwanted children, only unfound families.” 

This family inspired me. They, indeed, made history through their choice. There is no question: children with special needs are in need! Armed with the right “info”-mation, an answer can be clear: adoption is a great choice! Are you ready to take the chance and make it yours?

written by Nancy Barton 

17Jul

LBGT & Adoption

Today I want to blog about LGBT families! For those of you who don’t know what LGBT means, here is the breakdown: L-lesbian, G-gay, B-bisexual and T-transgender. As you know, the National Adoption Center has earned its seal by the Human Rights Campaign for being culturally competent in working with LGBT families. 

Since the seal was awarded, I have been receiving numerous emails and phone calls to inquire about LGBT adoption. I am the Center’s primary LGBT Adoption Advocate, and being awarded the seal has increased awareness in the community. This has been an enlightening journey for all involved. From my perspective, I didn’t realize how many folks thought adoption was barred for them. For members of the LGBT community, they can now actually consider growing their family via adoption. 

I, and others here at NAC, have been able to educate families about the possibility of becoming parents for the first time through adoption. Some families have taken the next step and been referred to an agency to begin that process.

If you are or know a member of the LGBT community who would like information on adoption and foster care, please do not hesitate to call me at 215-735-9988 ext 311.

If you want to post a comment about our seal, LGBT adoption, or advocacy, please feel free………..

written by Sheina Martinez 

15Jul

Cost of Florida’s Ban on Adoption by LGBT Individuals and Same-Sex Couples

The ban against adoption by gay, lesbian, bisexual individuals and same-sex couples in Florida costs the state over $2.5 million each year, according to a report written by Naomi G. Goldberg and M. V. Lee Badgett of The Williams Institute. The writers concluded that prohibiting LGBT individuals and same-sex couples from adopting means that 165 children must remain in foster care or have other adoptive homes recruited for them. If the ban were lifted, the authors estimate that both adoption and foster care by LGBT individuals and same-sex couples would lead to 219 children being adopted and save Florida $3.4 million dollars in the first year.

On March 9 of this year, both the Florida House and Senate introduced bills (HB 413 and SB 2012) that would repeal the state’s statutory ban on “homosexuals.” We hope that these bills will be enacted so that members of the Florida GLBT community will be able to experience the joys of parenthood that are possible in almost every other state. 

The National Adoption Center has always welcomed members of the LGBT community and for many years has worked with gay men and lesbians interested in adopting children from the foster care system. Thanks to the generosity of the Wachovia Foundation, we are now embarking on an ambitious adoption initiative to: (1) spread the word to members of the LGBT community about the children who need permanent families and encourage them to consider adoption and (2) work with adoption agencies to create friendly environments with LGBT individuals and couple who wish to pursue adoption. 

13Jul

Wendy's Wonderful Kids Spolight


Hello, my name is Amy Cressman the newest employee of the National Adoption Center. I am the Recruiter for the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program in Delaware. Over the past month, I’ve been having a great time starting to meet the kids on my caseload. My fellow Wendy’s Wonderful Kids’ Recruiter, Crystal, had the great idea of featuring a child on the Center's Blog each week, so I am going to follow her footsteps and do the same! 

Last week, I met Gerard, who just turned 13 years old last Friday! Right away, Gerard was open and friendly talking to me about his life and what he wants in a forever family. Gerard loves all things sports especially football. But not only is he a sports lover, he also loves sitting down and taking the time to read a good book. He loves books about history, and social studies is his favorite subject in school. He is proud of his good grades, and thinks he might want to be a lawyer when he grows up (if he doesn’t get into the NFL of course!). Gerard spoke about wanting an “All American” family who will be as active as he is! He also wants a family who is involved in church and the community. A smart and articulate teenager, Gerard is very optimistic in one day finding his new forever family. 

If you would like more information about Gerard, or the Wendy’s Wonderful Kid’s program, feel free to contact me at acressman@adopt.org or at 215-735-9988 x319. 

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