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Did you hear about the teenager who still wants to be adopted? How about the 22 teens with the same desire? Then maybe you heard about the Older Youth Matching Event we held this past Saturday in Western Pennsylvania! Twenty two youth, (and their social workers) spent the day getting to know 11 families who are all interested in adopting teenagers!

Joshua Strelbicki, our “Master of Ceremonies” (also known as our group facilitator), led the families and youth in get acquainted games and exercises. The games were fun and allowed everyone to learn each other’s names and begin to find out what they may have in common. After stuffing ourselves with a hot buffet lunch, the kids, followed by the families, made a bee line for the fishing pond. Families helped the kids with fishing and also had a chance to chat with social workers. Later in the day we learned more about one another when the families and kids shared information about themselves in an activity called “Everyone Has a Voice.” We finished the day with the kids signing the t-shirts they each received and a closing ceremony where each youth was honored for their participation.

We are still reviewing the evaluations from the day, but here are a few comments we’ve received so far:

From a social worker: “The event was fantastic!”

From a family: “Thank you for a wonderful event on Saturday! We absolutely loved it!“

From a youth: (The question was “How would you describe today’s event to someone who was not here?) “That you have fun with other families and you meet kids in the same situation as you.”

From another youth: “Perfect. A+”

Now that the youth and families have made some connections, the next step is for the youth social workers, the families and their social workers to further look into whether a particular child and a particular family will be a good match for one another. We’ll keep you posted on future outcomes!

If you have a completed family profile/homestudy and would are interested in attending an older youth (ages 12 and up) matching event, we can keep you posted on upcoming events! Check our website for future dates and locations!

We are sad at the Adoption Center at the passing in April of our loyal volunteer, Patricia Mans. Pat was a volunteer at the Adoption Center for 20 years. Celebrating her 90th birthday this year, she was truly amazing and tireless! She traveled by public transportation from New Jersey to write the child waiting newspaper columns for the Center in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Tribune. Pat was feisty and determined to get her work done when she came to the office. However, she also sweetened the day for us. She usually made an entrance into each office to bring a small piece of chocolate and chat about how she was doing and always wanting to know if there were more children she needed to write about. We miss you Pat. You will always be remembered for your contribution to the work of the Adoption Center.

The Adoption Center is pleased to be partnering with Parenting Special Needs online magazine which brings you features about raising children with special challenges. The magazine is published six times a year.

In the current issue, Thomas is featured on page 30, click here to check this great magazine out!

As we all prepare to celebrate the holidays, we want to take a moment to give thanks to the extraordinarily generous organizations and individuals who support our efforts. The news for children and youth in foster care is not good; in fact the number’s keep rising. In Philadelphia alone, there are 6,000 kids in foster care and not nearly enough families to foster or adopt them. Our vision is that every child that cannot be raised by his/her family of origin has a right to be adopted into a loving, nurturing family. Our recent merger of the Adoption Center of Delaware Valley and the National Adoption Center provides even more clarity to this vision. From all of us at the Adoption Center, we wish you happy holidays, and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

We always enjoy bringing you up-to-date about what’s happening in the adoption world. Now we’re especially pleased to give you a front row seat on exciting changes we’ve made that will influence how we work with children and families.

You’ll see new branding: a new look and logo, a clear mission—to increase the number of children in foster care who move into adoptive families—and a vision that reflects the best of our achievements during the past 46 years and all that we want to accomplish in the future.

While the reach of our new, refreshed website is national, our programs, the ones that target children waiting for permanence in their lives, are regional. We embrace both by merging our two corporations—National Adoption Center and Adoption Center of Delaware Valley into simply the Adoption Center. Our goals this year are:

• Move 50 children into permanent families
• Launch a program to recruit, retain and educate prospective foster and adoptive families

We know you feel as passionately about the way children grow up as we do, and we’ll continue to tell you stories about children, families and what we’re doing to give them a better life.

Adoption means a lifetime of love, and we thank you for having helped give so many children the chance to experience it. Please visit our website, follow us on Twitter and look in on us on Facebook. As always, we welcome your comments and communication with us.

Jennifer and Jillian are teen sisters that we started to work with in 2017. From the start, Jillian was completely opposed to adoption while her sister was very open to adoption. The family that was fostering them wanted to adopt the sisters, but Jillian did not want to be a permanent member of this family while Jennifer was open to the idea.

Over time, her adoption recruiter worked with Jillian to understand her reason for being opposed to adoption. Developing an understanding of her reluctance was vital, as she was not only preventing herself from finding an adoptive family, but was also keeping her sister from doing so. Her recruiter discovered that Jillian's fear was the because of the word "adoption" and ultimately her fear of the unknown. With exploring and discussion Jillian started to become more open to exploring adoption.

While the recruiter worked with the sisters, she also worked to find a family who would be a good fit for them. Linda Jones indicated her interest in the sisters via an online-photolisting inquiry. Linda was a single woman, living hundreds of miles away, and wanted to adopt both girls. Over time, with work, Jillian became interested in learning about Linda. Quickly she even began talking about Linda as if she was already her mother. After the first visit with Linda, "mom" is how the Jennifer and Jillian referred to her. Visits continued and eventually all agreed to proceed with the process of adoption. This family legally became a family in July 2018 when the adoptions were finalized.

*Names have been changes to protect the privacy of those involved.

National Adoption Month is a time where we celebrate adoption from the foster care system. We have many exciting things planned - so keep tuning in all month to see what is coming up next!

For more about the origins of National Adoption Month, check out the Children's Bureau fine website.

On Saturday March 17th we had the opportunity to co-sponsor our first match event of the year with SWAN (Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network). This Philadelphia-based match event focused on older children (10+). We returned to beautiful Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phillies for an eventful day. We had a wonderful turnout of children and families. Most of the youth and families arrived feeling excited and a bit nervous. This mixture of feelings is normal for an event such as this one. With help of our wonderful facilitator Josh, we began doing activities to help ease the group into the day.

The day began with separate meetings for the families and the youth. In these smaller groups, the participants met one another, got an overview of the day, and a chance to get their questions about the day answered. Our Master of Ceremonies, Josh, led the youth and families through a variety of icebreakers and team-building games. These started off as a way to get the group comfortable with one another, and then grew as opportunities for everyone to get to know each other on a deeper level. The kids and families had fun completing the activities together. After a morning full of activities, we enjoyed a buffet style lunch with Philly Cheesesteaks, and a surprise visit from Phoebe Phanatic. Phoebe and the youth took a surplus of group photos in our photobooth, trying on a variety of props and poses.

At the end of the day the group was surprised with a “behind the scenes tour” of the stadium. Afterwards, the youth participated in an activity we call “Everyone Has a Voice.” This event highlights the youth in attendance. The youth and Josh sit in a circle, while all adults sit around them. The adults are asked not to respond or react to answers, and allow the youth to share openly without judgement. We wrapped up the day with ice cream and smiles all around!

Our most generous long-term relationship is with Wendy’s, an organization whose values highlight "Give something back". With them, you can support our work by going into your local Philadelphia-area Wendy’s and buying a key tag for $2. This entitles you to a FREE Jr. Frosty with each purchase throughout all of 2018 and proceeds benefit NAC. This fundraising vehicle has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the National Adoption Center over the years. Sales of the key tags, which began January 1, runs through March 4th.

Wendy’s is also the premier sponsor of our annual Celebration of Family Gala and our Fall Golf Tournament. Anthony Romeo, president of the Wendy’s Philadelphia Co-op is a NAC board member. We are eternally grateful for their support and hope you’ll frequent their restaurants as you support our mission to find adoptive homes for children and older youth languishing in foster care. Dave Thomas believed strongly in adoption and his legacy is carried on to this day by the great folks at Wendy’s. We would be hard-pressed to come up with a more generous partner than Wendy’s!

Hello everyone! My name is Sami Rovins, and I recently joined the National Adoption Center’s team as an Administrative Assistant. I am thrilled to be assisting in the planning and implementation of three Matching Events for older youth to meet potential adoptive families in the state of Pennsylvania!

I have been working in the field of nonprofit development, communications, and fundraising for four years, but the world of adoption is entirely new to me. As I walked to the NAC office on my first day, I worried about how much I had yet to learn. However, over the course of my first month at NAC, I have found my new colleagues to be incredibly welcoming, patient, and supportive. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the kindness, dedication, and humor my coworkers bring to NAC’s office. As a result, my first weeks at NAC have already been an enormous learning experience.

I am so excited to witness as our Older Youth Matching Events develop and take shape. I felt very encouraged when I learned recently that NAC’s 2017 events have already produced successful results for at least two youth attendees. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of this year’s Matching Events, and looking forward to my future as an Administrative Assistant at the National Adoption Center!

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