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8Aug

The Anchor Project

contributed by our Program Director, Christine Jacobs
The Adoption Center has never had a program devoted to creating mentor relationships for youth in foster care --but soon we will! To build the most robust program we can we have been researching the best practices in the field by talking with colleagues who have their own mentor programs for youth in foster care, reading all that we can about other mentoring programs, participating in mentoring-focused conferences and training with MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership.

Adoption Coordinator Paige Roller and I attended the two-day training entitled "How to Build a Successful Mentoring Program Using the Elements of Effective Practice". In addition to a ton of good ideas and best practices, we met some great Philadelphia folks who are currently running mentoring programs. Ours is unique to the group of local mentoring projects as we will focus on serving youth in foster care.

Stay tuned as we build this program! If you are interested in mentoring a 12-20 year old youth in foster care email Paige at proller@adopt.org so we can alert you when our program is up and running in 2017.

30Jun

The Importance of Sister Act

“The children were in awe.” “Another child wanted to know when the next enrichment event would be so she could go.” “My favorite part was seeing the children’s faces intently watching the show.”

Once a year NAC hosts an event for about 20 youth in foster care called an Enrichment Event. These quotes illustrate a few reasons why we have worked with our partners in child welfare to organize these events. Over the years, we have noticed that many times the youth in care miss out on special days or trips that other children would usually experience with parents or extended family. Our goal for Enrichment Events is to make these children feel extra special, while exposing them to an experience they may not have access to otherwise.

This year’s event started out with lunch at Hard Rock Café in Philadelphia. The youth loved looking at memorabilia and chatting with friends while they had lunch. We then walked to the Walnut Street Theater to see Sister Act on stage. The kids laughed and enjoyed the show. All the kids agreed it was a great show!

The need for these types of outings is so great for many reasons. For example, none of the youths had been to a professional theater production before! More importantly, these youth need and deserve a fun day that is just focused on them. A day when we aren’t talking about foster care or adoption. The day is spent only focused on having fun and taking in an experience together. It was a great day had by all, and personally I feel blessed to be able to be a part of it!

1Jun

Stan Hochman Compassion-for-Kids Fund

The Adoption Center raised $140,000 for the Stan Hochman Compassion-for-Kids Fund which will be used, in part, to create a video raising awareness about the more than 100,000 children in this country who wait to be adopted. Stan worked on the Center’s behalf for more than 30 years to focus attention on the children who lingered in foster care while waiting for someone to give them a permanent home.

Most people knew Stan Hochman because they had read his sports columns in the pages of the Philadelphia Daily News for more than half a century or because they heard his brilliant broadcasts on television or radio. But few knew about his passionate belief that all children need to be praised, encouraged, loved and given opportunities to grow into happy, productive and strong adults. That’s why he supported the National Adoption Center, the construction of the Miracle League field where kids with disabilities could play baseball and soccer, and the Urban Youth Academy, opening in July, where inner city children will receive academic and athletic opportunities.

More than 350 attended the Adoption Center’s Celebration of Family which honored Stan and where the Stan Hochman Compassion-for-Kids award was presented to the Codkind Family—Melissa, Mitch, Rachel and Ryan—for their teamwork in expanding adoption opportunities for children whose parents can’t raise them.
It, indeed, takes a village of people like Stan and the Codkind Family to give children the lifetime of love they deserve.

26May

What Are You Doing This Weekend?

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is almost upon us and most people are thinking of BBQs, being with loved ones and honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. In Western Pennsylvania, some folks are not only thinking about the friends and family they will be seeing this weekend, but also the possible new family members they may meet on June 11th. On that day we will be holding a Match Event for homestudied families to meet teens living in foster care. Through a day of fun-filled activities, like an ice cream social and kickball, the teens and families will learn about each other. We also hope that a few of them will meet their forever families. If you’d like to join in please visits our site for registration information.

If you are not yet homestudied, but wish you too could participate, you can learn more about the adoption process on our website:adopt.org/learn. Start now and you might just have a new family member at your BBQ for Memorial Day 2017!

10May

Recap of the 2016 Celebration of Family

Our Celebration of Family was spectacular thanks to the support of so many! As a guest described, "[it was] Incredible to see so many people from all walks of life who are drawn together to celebrate what #FamilyIS... I was especially moved by the children and their parents, it was incredibly inspirational to see happy kids in forever homes."

We had tributes to our honorees, the Codkind family and Stan Hochman. For those of you who weren't there, please click to see the panel discussion about Philadelphia sports and Stan Hochman. Our award given to those who have made a contribution in the adoption sphere was renamed the "Stan Hochman Compassion for Kids" award as he showed much love for children. The Codkinds received the award this year for their tireless commitment to adoption - raising awareness and support for adoptions. Congratulations to them!

11Apr

Help Raise Awareness and Funds!

April 27 is our Celebration of Family Gala. We’ll be recognizing two members of our Adoption family – the late sportswriter Stan Hochman and The Codkind Family. This is our largest fundraiser of the year, providing much needed support to help find adoptive families for children living in foster care. We have some very cool items for auction including: tickets to the Stephen Colbert Show, VIP package to the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade along with VIP Breakfast; play golf at Merion, home of the 2014 US Open, Dinner at world-famous Chef Vola’s, Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers tickets and much more. Go to here for details.

23Mar

Event Wrap-up: Art Match Event

A beautiful, sunny, Saturday morning and we were waiting outside the Art Center of Northern New Jersey for Ruth, the director, to open the doors. We were all ready for the day of art to begin. Our Art Match Event with prospective adoptive families and New Jersey youth was planned months ago and it was finally going to happen!

The families arrived first and we had the opportunity to meet with them separately and tell them about the day and answer their questions about match events. All families were new to events like this -where they met youth in person who were available for adoption. Once the youth arrived everyone mingled and we played an ice breaker, people bingo. I was fun to see everyone have to ask, “Have you ever been to Asia?” Only two of the families could answer this question, so it took some time before we had two winners, one family and one youth.

We sat down and ate lunch together and then broke into groups of youth and families, one group for collage and one for still life drawing followed by water color painting. Then we switched the youth from one activity to the other so they could interact with the new families and do the other art activity.

The New Jersey staff who brought the youth to the event got to meet separately with the families and talk about the youth they had brought while the youth worked with clay downstairs. We had some very talented youth at this event whose art in every medium was phenomenal, including the clay masks they made. The Art Center was delighted with their talent and was going to fire their masks and a New Jersey staff member was going to make sure they got their completed art work.

Families who were there expressed their desire to come to other match events held for New Jersey in the future and how excited they were to have met such awesome youth! There were many inquiries and it is always promising that the work we do at the National Adoption Center on behalf of New Jersey could result in a forever family for the youth who are waiting for a permanent, loving home.

1Mar

Older Youth Still Need Family

contributed by Santina Devine, Spring Program Assistant

I’ve been working on a project this spring for the National Adoption Center in Philadelphia. My work involves helping to plan two “Match Events” for older youth in the foster care system and families interested in adopting teenagers.

Teens in the foster care system face greater odds of being adopted, simply because of their age. They may have been in the system longer, and have a harder time adjusting to life with a new family. Despite these challenges, it’s vital that these teenagers make connections with families so that they have a social support system before they “age out” of the system at 21.

Remember what it felt like to be out on your own in the working world or at school for the first time? It’s exciting and frightening at once. Imagine going out into the world with no one to support you, no one to call when you had questions or needed advice? It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

Match events provide a fun and low-key way for teens and prospective families to meet each other. Maybe a family will feel a connection with a certain teenager or vice versa. Even if no potential matches are made, it’s a valuable experience for all involved. Teens get to see that they aren’t alone in their situation, and get to spend the day with other kids who “get it.” Families get a chance to meet these kids and gain a better perspective on what it means to adopt a child, and what some of the challenges might be.

As a mom, this whole situation seems pretty complicated. My heart goes out to the children in foster care who may grow up without a steady support system. I also feel for adoptive parents who face not only the challenge of parenting (!), but earning the trust of a child or teen who’s been through some rough experiences.

I asked my program manager, “Who adopts teens?” She said a study had been done a few years back, and that two common traits of families emerged from the data. Families who had successfully adopted teenagers tended to be part of a religious or spiritual community and had already raised their own kids. This makes sense since these folks have parenting experience and the support of a larger community.

So what do you think? Are you up for the challenge, or do you know someone else who is? If so, learn how to get started here: Ten Step Overview. Let’s also keep both the kids and families in our thoughts and wish them well.

24Feb

Resource Families Needed!

Thanks to a generous grant from the Connelly Foundation, the National Adoption Center will be recruiting desperately needed resource families for the thousands of children and youth who are in foster care (a resource family is another expression to use when referring to foster parents). The work we’ll be doing will focus on particular police districts in the City of Philadelphia and unfortunately, the need far outweighs the supply. In great part due to the epidemic of addiction, there are more children coming into the system than families willing to take them in. It’s our hope that we can help to alleviate this problem with targeted recruitment, in both English and Spanish that can prevent these vulnerable children from ending up in group settings. Research has shown that custodial children fare far better when in a family setting. We hope of course that these resource families turn into adoptive families, the best form of permanency there is. We will be announcing these events via local publications as well as social media, so stay tuned for details.

16Feb

Interested in art? Thinking about adoption?

Interested in art? Thinking about adoption? If your answer was "yes", then you need to be at our next Match Event!

For those that aren’t familiar with Match Events, it is a carefully-planned event designed to bring together children waiting to be adopted with approved, home-studied families interested in adopting. The youth participate in an entertaining day that focuses on them and also gives them the chance to meet other youth who are waiting to be adopted. Families also participate in the activities and meet all the youth one-on-one. These events enable youth to participate in the effort to find their adoptive families while giving them a day full of fun. Saturday, March 12th we will be hosting another awesome Match Event for New Jersey youth. The youth at this event will be ages 10 and up and the activities will center on being creative and making art.

These events are specifically for children awaiting adoption. We understand the desire to want to be a resource for these youth but for safety reasons, we only invite families who have completed a homestudy. In short, a homestudy is a process that is completed with a local adoption agency and ensures that your family is ready to adopt. Space is limited and the event is March 12th, so if you’re a homestudied or licensed family interested in attending this event please contact Anna Coleman at 267-443-1867 or at acoleman@adopt.org.

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