I just had an opportunity to read a new policy brief from the National Center for Policy Analysis entitled Adoptions from Foster Care. In it were the same frustrating barriers to adoption we see all the time: Untrained and Overburdened Caseworkers, Lack of Outreach to Potential Adoptive Parents (including very poor customer service), Difficulties of Interstate Adoptions and Lack of Subsidies for Adoption and Foster Care. One thing that NCPA did cite was the potential of reinstating institutional child care, otherwise known as Orphanages. A 2003 survey of over 800 orphanage alumni indicated that “nine out of ten respondents say that they would have preferred to have grown up in an orphanage rather than in foster care”. What do you think of this very controversial idea?
Policy Report: Adoption from Foster Care
A Place Called Home
While watching the news last week, I saw a story that caught my attention. It was about the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Horse, and millions of people in China were streaming home to be with family. The news called it the largest migration on the planet as millions of people are traveling. For some, who are migrant workers in cities such as Beijing, it is the only time that they get to be with their families. They have endured separation for a year or more as they work to better the lives of the family members they left behind.
The trains are so crowded with people that some go into a lottery just to get a ticket for home. Home can sometimes be more than ten hours away by train. There is a Chinese saying, “Rich or poor, get home for the holiday.” The travelers know that when they reach home they will see their loved ones, share meals with their family, and enjoy the firework celebrations. They endure the hardships of cramped, difficult travel and are elated that they are going home.
I thought about how much it means to me to see my family and be surrounded by them. Then I thought of the children in foster care for whom we work at the National Adoption Center. Those who, through no fault of their own, no longer have their families and are still waiting for that luxury of having a place they can call home. It made me proud of the work that we do every day to find just one more child in foster care what they each deserve; a secure home and a loving family.
“Unadoptable is Not Acceptable.”
Every child deserves to live in a loving, permanent family. That’s the reason why adoption is the preferred option for children whose parents are not able to care for them.
The policy, known as APPLA—Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement for Children does not work in the children’s best interests. It is just another way of providing temporary care that is not labeled foster care; but it does not give children the legal and emotional benefits of being part of a permanent family.
New draft legislation attempts to restrict the use of APPLA by not allowing any youth under 16 to have APPLA as a goal. It also requires that ongoing efforts to find a permanent family be documented.
We believe it does not go far enough. We agree with Voice for Adoption, the national organization that advocates for improved adoption policy, that APPLA cases be reviewed every six months (it is now 12). We support the requirement of a report one year after APPLA is enacted for a child that would (1) determine the number of children in that state with a goal of APPLA; (2) the ages, gender, race and special needs of those children; (3) why other permanency options such as kinship care or adoption were not considered to be in the child’s best interest; (4) information about the youths’ involvement in the decision to pursue APPLA and other permanency options.
Children, especially teenagers, often need the encouragement and support of their social workers to help make them aware of and understand fully the benefits of a permanent family. No child should be “written off” as unadoptable and relegated to APPLA as another holding area until he or she ages out of the foster care system. As the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption insists, “Unadoptable is not Acceptable.”
Philadelphia's Wednesday's Child
Comcast in Philadelphia
I was excited to hear that Comcast Corporation is building a brand new 59 story tower in center city Philadelphia. Dubbed the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, this massive investment once again highlights the tremendous impact technology has on our lives. It also reaffirms our vision that the use of technology can expedite the number of adoptions across the country. The National Adoption Center has always been a leader in the use of technology, and our innovative Wednesday’s Child USA initiative, along with our growing Adoption Community reasserts that.
Elvis at the Insectarium
Elvis is 15 years old and loves animals of all kinds. We took him to the Instectarium to learn all about bugs! And he had a blast. The best part was when Vai was speaking with him and Elvis tricked him into eating an insect larvae!
There is even a huge exhibit of live cockroaches! Elvis was a bit put off by that, but who wouldn't be? He was intrigued by the scorpions and asked many questions about them.
Elvis is looking for a structured family who can guide him into adulthood. Here is his video.
Supporting LGBT Families
Pope Francis recently called for a rethink in the way the Catholic Church deals with the children of gay couples, warning against "administering a vaccine against faith". "On an educational level, gay unions raise challenges for us today which are sometimes difficult to understand," Francis said. Though the Church has often been in conflict with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community over its opposition to same-sex marriage and to homosexuality, Francis has drawn praise for attempts to be inclusive. You may have read that in July he reached out to gays, declaring that "if someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?"
The National Adoption Center believes that no one should be excluded from adopting due to race, religion or sexual orientation. That’s why we’re proud to be one of only a handful of organizations nationwide that has received the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) All Children-All Families Seal of Recognition as a leader in supporting and serving LGBT Youth and Families.
New Look, Same Dedication to Mission
We hope you enjoy our brand new website which debuted last month. Available in a desktop, tablet and mobile version, the site brings to life all the beautiful children on whose behalf we work. If you haven’t already, do take the time to go to the Meet the Children section in particular. I think you’ll be impressed with their heartwarming stories. All of these children dream of having a permanent family that will always be there for them, a family to give them a lifetime of love. Also take the time to note our generous sponsors. We simply couldn’t do our work without them. Lastly I encourage you to go to our Giving page. We hope you’ll consider supporting the National Adoption Center during this holiday season.
In these times of great economic distress, we would like to salute one of our more generous corporate partners. Wawa, a terrific chain of mid-Atlantic convenience stores, recently contributed $110,000 to the Adoption Center. These funds represented the total dollars contributed by its New Jersey Customers via in-store collections in the 3rd Quarter of 2008.
Many of Wawa’s core values are universal:
Do the Right Thing
Do Things Right
Passion for Winning
In the US at this time, we all need to follow their path and value people, embrace change, do the right thing and do things right. Our country and her people would be so much better for it.
The Adoption Center recognizes Wawa for their generous support and would love to hear more stories of extraordinary giving in these extraordinary times.
Behind the Scenes with Amanda
Greetings! My name is Amanda and I am a Program Intern here at the National Adoption Center. This internship fulfills the last requirement needed to obtain my degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State University, but more importantly allows me to gain “real world” experience outside of the classroom. In the short six weeks that I have been with NAC I have learned so much about the field of adoption and what goes in to finding the perfect family for a child in foster care.
One family recruitment tool that is coordinated by NAC is “Wednesday’s Child.” I had the exciting opportunity to attend a Wednesday’s Child taping and meet Jose, the featured Wednesday’s Child for that week. I’m not sure why but I had expected something to set Jose apart from a typical teenager growing up in their birth family. I thought maybe he would look different or act different, or do something that would make it obvious that he lives in a foster home. Looking back, I feel embarrassed that I thought any of that. Jose was your average teenager; nose buried in his cell phone, listening to music on his head phones, and updating his Facebook status to let his friends know that he was at lunch with the Vai Sikahema. He was polite and very well-mannered. Nothing about Jose’s appearance or behavior indicated that he was going through one of the toughest things a child could face.