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8Jul

Growing Up Without Family

Last week, I heard a talk by a young woman—I’ll call her Cindy-- who had spent most of her growing-up years in foster care. Her brother was shuttled among relatives. Neither was adopted. Their mother was an addict and had abused both children frequently. When her brother was 18, just out of high school, he went home to his mother for one last try. It didn’t work. Six months later, he committed suicide. 
Cindy never felt more alone. 

But it wasn’t the first time she missed having a home and a family. There were those Thanksgivings at college when she hoped a friend would invite her for the holiday. And she was reminded of all of lonely nights without a mom to confide in or a dad with a broad shoulder to brush away her tears.

Today, Cindy is happily married to a man who adores her. She has a good job and many friends. But nothing can fill the hole in her soul where her family should have been.

Her talk brought tears to the eyes of everyone who heard it. It made me think of all of the Cindys who never have the families they need and deserve. It made me wonder why birth parents are given so many chances to keep ruining the lives of their children.

It made me feel even more certain that adoption is the best option for a child whose birth parents have demonstrated over a period of time that they can’t or won’t give her a loving home. 

So many families want to adopt and have so much to offer a child. If our society cares about the futures of children as much as it claims to, it should welcome these families, taking the first step toward letting each child know that he or she is valued and deserves to be loved in a safe, nurturing environment.
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7Jul

Center Year-End Wrap Up

On June 30, the National Adoption Center concluded its 2008/09 fiscal year. And for the third consecutive year, we ended with a balanced budget. There are not many nonprofits that can claim that distinction in the current economic climate. It’s a testament to the many generous supporters who share our belief that “there are no unwanted children, just unfound families”.

More importantly, during our Annual Meeting last week, we announced the facilitation of 85 placements over the course of the last 12 months, a 60% increase over the previous year. 

The cost to find an adoptive family for one of these children is microscopic compared to the amount of money we spend to keep him/her in foster care. We once again urge our local, state and national leaders to make investment in adoption a priority, not a last resort.

Our goal next year will be to identify “forever families” for 100 children who currently languish in foster care. We thank you in advance for your support! 

2Jul

Wendy's Wonderful Kids Spotlight


Hi everyone! My name is Crystal Allen and I am the Center’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiter for Southern New Jersey, as well as an Adoption Coordinator. 
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. 

Jay, an engaging, creative and inquisitive youngster is a bundle of non-stop energy. He loves to ride his bike and scooter, play sports and involve himself in any activity that requires vigorous playing. Is it any wonder, that his favorite animal is the Cheetah! Jay loves to play the saxophone and is in the school band. He also sings in the choir. Jay makes friends easily, but feelings of loss and low self-esteem sometimes interfere in his interaction with peers and adults. Jay must be closely supervised around other children. Jay continues to deal with issues of loss, past trauma, impulse control and trust. Enrollment in a specialized academic program where Jay receives one-on-one support is assisting him in accomplishing academic goals. He is making progress in school. Jay would do best in a patient, highly structured, loving home that will support his therapeutic, emotional and educational needs. Being an only child or having older teenage siblings is highly recommended. 

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

24Jun

Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act

Roughly 26,000 youth each year “age out” of the foster care system when they turn 18years old. Many are unprepared to live on their own, especially without any support from a permanent family to help them as they struggle to find their way. 

One of the most important provisions of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, signed into law in October 2008, the option for states to extend supports and services to youth and young adults in foster care up to age 21. 

Another goal of the Act is to provide educational stability for children in foster care, many of whom move from school to school as their foster placements change. Studies have shown that youth do better academically when they are in stable home and school environments.

Among other provisions, the Act advocates for placing children in foster care with relatives, coordinating health care planning, and improving training opportunities for caseworkers, private agency staff, judges and others whose work impact on the welfare of children in foster care. 

The National Foster Care Coalition, in collaboration with several other organizations, has prepared Frequently Asked Questions about this Act and its implementation. We think it’s important to read them and learn more about what can be done to help children who “age out” of foster care to be on their own when they are not prepared to do so. The FAQ can be downloaded at http://www.nationalfostercare.org/pdfs/NFCC-FAQ-olderyouth-2009.pdf 

22Jun

Finding the Right Adoption Agency

Hi Everyone, My name is Christine Jacobs and I am the Program Director for the National Adoption Center and its regional affiliate the Adoption Center of Delaware Valley. I am really excited about a project our staff is working on to help families who want to adopt – an online service that would match families with the most appropriate adoption agency. 

We know from speaking with families that most may experience confusion when faced with the dilemma of selecting an adoption agency to start the process. Families we speak with want to know: How do I know which agency is best for my family? Does the agency work with single families who want to adopt? Will the adoption agency work with a member of the lesbian or gay community? 

The Center conducted research with families in the Delaware Valley in 2008 to find out if an online service that would match them with an adoption agency would be useful. It was clear from our research that families would welcome this type of service. So, we were able, with the support of several foundations in the area, to raise the money to build it! We hope to begin this service in the fall of 2009. 

With the online Family- to- Agency Matching service, families can look forward to ratings of adoption agencies by other families; the ability to match with an adoption agency on their family’s needs and more exciting features. It is our hope that this will reduce the amount of time to find the most appropriate agency from several weeks to 30 minutes! Do you think this would be a helpful service and do you have suggestions for other features you would like to see included? We welcome your ideas! 

19Jun

Father's Day Weekend

Here in the US it is Father's Day weekend. For many this is a positive day to show dad he's appreciated. For some, though, this can be a day of painful reminders. Remembrance of a father or father figure who has passed. Or the loss felt when a someone can't quite live up to being all a father can or should be. For those in the adoption world there is also range of feelings from positive to negative emotions. For those who have suffered through infertility there may be the loss of a dream. For others, there may be a feeling of the excited anticipation of an impending placement or already be filled with the joy of becoming a father. There might also be some tension surrounding the role of the birth father.

Whether you are a father or father-to-be, we wish you a wonderful weekend. Please also remember that during Father’s Day weekend, Wendy’s will donate 50¢ from every Frosty product sold to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DTFA), a national, non-profit public charity dedicated to dramatically increasing the number of adoptions of foster children in North America. Also customers can stop by Wendy’s and donate to the cause by purchasing a Frosty pin-up for $1 each. Online, you can design a Frosty eCard for Dad: Kids can go to FrostyCard.com to create a free custom Father’s Day eCard and Wendy’s will donate an additional 25¢ to the DTFA for every Frosty Card sent.

17Jun

Adopting from China

In 2007, the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) issued new, more stringent regulations, effective as of May 1, 2007, for foreigners wanting to adopt Chinese children. Children up to and including age 13 are eligible to be adopted. 

However, there are now fewer Chinese children available for adoption.. In 2005, there were 7983 children adopted by US citizens; in 2008, there were only 3911. Among the reasons: (1) The “one child per family” policy, in effect though 2010, had reduced the ratio of boys and girls.--114 males born for every 100 females as opposed to the normal ratio of 105 males to 100 females. As a result, the government began allowing a couple without siblings to have two children. (2) More Çhinese families can afford to adopt and are doing so. 

Therefore, the waiting period to adopt from China is lengthy, approximately 32 months from the time the US adoption agency submits the paperwork of the prospective adopters to CCAA to the time CCAA gives the parents its initial referral. The wait is not as long for children with special needs.

Once the prospective adopters receive and accept the referral, it takes four to eight weeks before the CCAA approves the couple to travel to China where they will spend about three weeks to complete the adoption process.

With the reduced number of Chinese children available to be adopted, the National Adoption Center is hopeful that more families will consider adoption of children in this country. More than 130,000 wait in foster care for a permanent family. Some of the children have been waiting for years. When families adopt these children, they say repeatedly that their only regret is that they didn’t adopt sooner. Contact us here at the Center for more information: 215-735-9988 or adopt.org 

12Jun

Teen Leadership Development Series

Hi everyone! My name is Crystal Allen and I am the Center’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiter for Southern New Jersey, as well as an Adoption Coordinator. One of my pleasures of my role is working with older New Jersey youth in foster care for the Center’s Youth Advisory Board and the Teen Leadership Development Series (TLDS).

The mission of the Youth Advisory Board is to empower youth in foster care to make positive decisions that will impact their futures. Adoption Coordinators meet with a group of 15 teens on a monthly basis to discuss topics such as, life skills, college and trade school preparation, coping skills, laws that affect youth, permanency and adoption. 

An extension of the Youth Advisory Board is the Teen Leadership Development Series (TLDS). The objective of the TLDS is to provide NJ teens in foster care with an opportunity to build their leadership and communication skills to reach and educate the public about issues of teens in foster care.  The teens will be able to use their enhanced communication skills to (1) participate in a Speaker’s Bureau, addressing prospective adoptive parents, government officials, and adoption conference attendees or at meetings of groups involved in adoption (2) assume leadership roles at ACDV Match Parties (3) serve as facilitators for future ACDV training sessions for youth in foster care. 

Participants of the TLDS have already met with facilitator, Christopher Ridenhour, as part of a training to be Teen Leaders at the Center’s Match Party held on May 30th. Their next meeting will be held on June 30th, where they will meet with Dr. Chuck Williams, a graduate of the foster care system, to begin preparation for public speaking engagements. 

If you would like information on the Youth Advisory Board, the TLDS, the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program or the teen participants, please do not hesitate to contact me at callen@adopt.org or 215.735.9988 Ext. 346. 

11Jun

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

According to AARP, currently more than 2.4 million grandparents have taken on the responsibility of raising their grandchildren. Of these, 29% are African American 17% Hispanic/Latino; 2% American Indian or Alaskan Native; 3% Asian and 4% White. 34%live in households without the children’s parents present; 71% are under 60 years of age; 19% live in poverty. 

The reasons for grandparents becoming caretakers are many. Perhaps the children’s parents are working or in school. More often, however, there are more serious issues, including substance abuse, child abuse or neglect, mental or physical illness, divorce, abandonment, death, and incarceration.

As an increasing number of grandparents commit to kinship caretaking, the demand for support and information about their special challenges is also growing. There are many questions that need to be answered. 

What are the legal issues involved? Is it better to become a legal guardian, seek custody, become a foster parent or adopt?

Is financial assistance available? What government programs can help? What about income tax credits?

Will it be necessary to move? If, so is there any special housing for grandparents raising grandchildren?

How to explain to grandchildren about their parents? 
Is legal custody needed to enroll a grandchild in school?
Is help available to pay for a grandchild’s medical bills?
Are there any support groups for grandparents?
What resources are available?

Answers to these questions and further information can be found on the AARP website www.aarp.org. and other websites. 

If you are a grandparent caring for a grandchild, we would like to hear from you. 

8Jun

Tee-Off for Kids!

Save the Date!

Tee-Off for Kids! 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ACE Club, Lafayette Hill, PA

Attention Golfers: the 2009 golf season is upon us! As you dust off the clubs, make tee time reservations at your favorite courses and work on lowering that handicap, the National Adoption Center’s Development staff is preparing for another fantastic day of golf at the ACE Club in Lafayette Hill, PA. 

Why not cap off what is sure to be your best golf season yet by participating in the Center’s Tee-Off for Kids! golf outing on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at one of the most premiere, beautiful and challenging courses in the Delaware Valley? The ACE Club is a serene and secluded 311-acre environment easily accessible from Center City Philadelphia and the outlying suburbs. The Club features a Gary Player Signature design measuring 7,500 yards from the tips. With five tee placements on each hole, it was created to accommodate the most discerning golfers of today and the equipment and ball technologies of tomorrow. 

Cocktails, dinner, a silent and live auction and awards for on-course contests will follow.

To learn more about how you and/or your company can get involved, please contact the Center’s Development Manager, Michelle Smolka, at 215-735-9988 ext. 343 or email her at: msmolka@adopt.org.

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