Not all of us were infants when we were adopted. As such, in many ways I felt like the "step-child" of adoptees. The truth be told, I think that there are many who need to hear this message. For the first 6 years of my life, I was known as Charles Michael Murphy. My brother David, four years older, and I had many places to call home. We were born in Lake County (to the east of Cleveland) Ohio and lived in Cleveland as well (not the nice part). We went from home to home, without ever really having a true home. We spent time with three foster families (the Js, Bs, and Ks), all of whom were blessings for us. Finally, someone (our caseworker Cathy J.) found us a home. 

Dave and I were adopted by an amazing family in Bowling Green, Ohio. My parents, Richard and Joan Conrad, had two natural born children of their own and had decided that they would like to adopt a special needs child. They received a call indicating that a special needs child had not been located, but a special needs situation had arose. That special situation involved two boys who Cathy was desperately trying to keep together. Those two boys were us.

Through my adoption, I received a second chance in life. I went from having absolutely nothing to being adopted by a family where education was critical (dad was a V.P. and professor at the local state university and mom was a saint). More importantly, I was in a home that was stable and there was no longer any abuse, whether it be physical, sexual or substance abuse. But, waking up one morning with a new name, new parents, and a new home doesn't erase the harm that was done. In fact, I don't know that my parent's really knew what they were getting themselves into. Both Dave and myself were rebels and required a great deal of nurturing, discipline, structure, and therapy. When I say that we weren't easy on my parents, it is an understatement.

My parents stayed the course with us. I was somehow blessed with a great mind, quite surprising when you consider where I came from. However, with this bright mind came baggage. I never really tried in school, was always in trouble, and was your typical underachiever. I didn't go to college right after high school because I didn't feel 
like applying myself to academics. I tested out of 71 semester hours of college (about 2.5 years) and went back home to Bowling Green State University. After BGSU, I completed my Juris Doctor at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, and then went on to pursue and LL.M. (Tax) from Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Finally, this great mind was starting to work!

Having my mind start working didn't solve all of my problems. You see, I have considered myself to be very lucky. I have always thought of my adoption as an absolute blessing (and it is). However, by always focusing on the positive, I swept the emotional damage under the rug and never realized the tremendous impact those first 6 years had on me. It wasn't until a few years ago that I began to tackle these issues. Someone suggested I start reading books on adoption and predicted that I could probably relate to much of what was being said. They were right!! Tackling those issues has been an absolute blessing.

When I started my quest for books on adoption, I began to notice something. The vast majority of anything written on the subject dealt with the psychological impact on infants. What about people like me? What about those kids whose mom beat them and did drugs in front of them before giving them up? What about those kids who remember everything about who they were? How do we cope? Those answers, sadly, might consume only a few pages of the book, if at all. 

And, after reading 8 chapters geared toward those adopted as infants, we'd be lucky to find them.Leaving an entire group out of books is one problem. I have also learned that there are a lot of children "in the system" who are never adopted and "age out". But for a lucky break, I could have been one of those kids. Do those kids have value? YES!! Can they become productive members to society? I certainly believe so. 

There are a lot of people who want to adopt, but they mainly want to adopt infants. Even traveling around the world to do so. I think adoption is a wonderful thing and certainly don't want to sound like I'm being critical of those who desire an infant, but there are older kids here who need the same second chance that I received. And, this is how I want to help!! I want to give those other kids a little hope that their "forever home" can be a reality.

Can you help me do so? Are there benefits for the adopting family? You bet there are. My brother and I may have "baggage" but we are just as much my parent's children as my siblings who were natural born. In fact, I can't tell you how many people say to me that they've never seen an adopted child who is so much like the adopting father (for awhile, that wasn't a compliment, now it is the highest compliment). My own children know them as grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, etc. 

In short, we have completely assimilated into the family. When I make mention of my parents, there is no question in anyone's mind as to whom I am referring.

Contributed by Charles Conrad, JD 

Pennsylvania has some amazing teenagers who you may want to meet. Yes, there are teens who still long for a permanent adoptive family. On April 10, 2010 the National Adoption Center will host a Teen Matching Event. Several of Pennsylvania’s waiting teenagers will come together with families who are approved to adopt a teen. They will share an afternoon of fun, food and hopefully some new lasting connections.

We hosted two similar events last year. Teens, prospective parents and social workers alike enjoyed the day. And best of all, some new families were formed as a result of the events.

This year our event will be held in Lancaster, PA. We welcome you to join us if you have an approved home study and are interested in adopting a teen! Click here to view the invitation.

The Teen Matching Events have been made possible through the generous funding of the Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN).

For more information or to register, please contact Julie Marks, Teen Project Manager, at 215-735-9988 x367 or at Or register online here. 

Alaina, Isaiah and Jonathan

An adoption success! As the Wednesday’s Child Coordinator, it is great to see positive results. When I was told a sibling group of three needed to be featured on Wednesday’s Child in 2006, I naturally thought- "Oh boy, this is going to be a tough one." Three! What a number. To place one child is hard enough. With the help of Wednesday’s Child and many other forms of recruitment, the Thomas family decided they would inquire about the siblings. After all, Mrs. Thomas, after raising four children knew she still had more mothering left inside. She and her husband decided to start the adoption process. 

In 2006 the sibling group was in desperate need of a home. They were featured on Wednesday’s Child and several families inquired. The Thomas’ homestudy was reviewed and the family became a match from there. The Thomas family grew from four children to seven children in just a few months. 

The Thomas family feels they are very blessed with the new additions to their home. Alaina, Isaiah and Jonathan are very happy to be in a loving home where they know they are accepted. They now enjoy activities such as biking, hiking and playing video games in the family room. 

If you have ever thought about adoption but needed a good story to motivate you to make the call, here is one. We need more Thomas families. The children need more Thomas families. People that still have parenting left inside of them or those who wish to become parents for the first time. We need people to open their hearts, doors and commitment level and adopt a waiting child. 

February 08, 2010


Here at the National Adoption Center, we’ve been following closely the recent events in Haiti. While we are encouraged by the seemingly limitless number of people who want to adopt these “earthquake orphans”, we are equally aware that there are nearly one-half million children and youth in our own nation’s foster care system that also want and deserve a family. Many of these children have been in care, waiting two years or more years for a permanate home. We hope this tragedy will encourage more people to open their homes to children in need. And we hope many prospective parents will look within our own borders to create their forever families. 

This month, I am adding a new child to my Wendy’s Wonderful Kids caseload. He will be the youngest child in my program by far; Camron is only 4 years old. Though he is so young, Camron has been waiting to find a Forever Family for over a year. Sadly, he is the victim of shaken baby syndrome. Because of this, Camron has many special medical needs, which have made it difficult to find the right family for this endearing little boy. 

Camron is a happy child who greatly enjoys being the center of attention! One of his favorite activities is playing with others. Camron has limited vision and is unable to talk. However, he does speak his own language, especially when excited or happy in his surroundings. The most effective method of communication with him is through touch. Thus, Camron is happiest in water and outdoors. Vibrant and content, he is the most “chatty” when camping outside. At home, when not playing, Camron is normally quiet in his crib. Camron loves to snuggle and greatly enjoys attention. He loves interacting with others, especially when people gently "rough play" with him.

Camron is wheelchair bound and receives a lot of physical, occupational, and speech therapy. He also works with a deaf/blind teacher. He is starting to use touch cues to help him prepare for things being done to him (for example, hands together means he wants to play with a ball), though he is still limited in his sight tracking.

It will be hard work to find the right family for him, but his Delaware social worker and I have decided that this is the year to find Camron his home! We are ready to work hard to find his Forever Family. If you have experience with special needs children and are looking to adopt, you may be the right parent for him! I know the right family is out there for Camron; one who is ready to give him all of the love and attention he deserves. 

For more information about Camron contact me, Amy Cressman, at 215-735-9988 ext. 31. You can also email me at

Americans frustrated by the usual lengthy wait of at least 18 months to bring their adopted children home from Haiti have been given a helping hand by the United States government.

On January 18, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the U.S. Department of State announced a humanitarian parole policy allowing orphaned Haitian children to enter the U.S. temporarily on an case-by-case basis, to ensure that they receive the care they need. The policy applies to children who have been adopted by U.S. citizens or who have been matched to prospective adoptive parents who are U.S. citizens.

Tens of thousands of Haitian children have been orphaned by the devastation. Even before the quake, there were 380,000 orphaned children in Haiti, according the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Stirred by the plight of these children, Americans throughout the country have responded with an outpouring of offers to take them into their homes. In Pennsylvania alone, in the two days after Governor Ed Rendall brought 53 orphans from Port-au-Prince to Pittsburgh, the Allegheny Department of Human Services received 430 phone calls from people wanting to become adoptive or foster parents for them. In Philadelphia, over 300 such calls have come in to the National Adoption Center since the airlift from Haiti.

The National Adoption Center applauds those who want to open their homes and hearts to these deserving youngsters. However, we hope families keep in mind that there are other children who are also deserving of a loving family—the 130,000 children across the country in foster care waiting for permanent homes. Sixteen hundred of them are in the Delaware Valley.

For a free information packet regarding adopting children from the foster care system, call 215-735-9988, or visit the website at

This is the most recent information we have on the children in Haiti whose lives have been upended by the devastating earthquake that hit that country. For some children—several hundred—adoptions were in the works at the time of the earthquake. The safety of those children is in question, and efforts are being made to locate the paperwork associated with their adoptions. 

A group of 53 children was brought to Pittsburgh, PA. by Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell. They had been living in a Haitian orphanage run by two sisters, formerly from Pittsburgh. The children are now in custody of the Allegheny County Children and Youth Services and will be placed in foster homes after they leave Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital where they were taken from the airport.

Most of those children already have adoption plans in place. For the others, it will take considerable time to learn whether or not they have family alive in Haiti and whether they will eventually be available to be adopted. If they are to be adopted, prospective adoptive parents will need home studies which can be conducted by a licensed adoption agency. 

Contact us for additional information or you may contact the Allegheny County Children and Youth Services—412-473-2000 or Three Rivers Adoption Council—412-471-8722 or Media may contact Gloria Hochman at 215-588-0506.

Each year thousands of Americans seeking to add to their families by adoption look overseas to fulfill their desires. However, this route is becoming increasingly difficult. In the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, foreign adoptions were down by more than a quarter from the previous year.

China, the major source of foreign adoptions by Americans, is more and more focusing on domestic adoptions and has imposed stringent requirements for people outside the country. Russia, too, is promoting adoption at home. Guatemala has closed its borders to foreign adoption while reforms to the system are being made and it is not certain when Americans can again adopt from the country.

Hopefully, Americans thwarted in their efforts to adopt internationally will look homeward to the 130,000 children in the United States now languishing in foster care waiting to find “forever” homes. 1600 of them are in the Delaware Valley.

These are usually not infants and many families may be reluctant to take on the care and raising of children whose ideas and attitudes have already been formed. The majority of these children are school age and many of them are teens. However, they desire and deserve the same kind of attention and love showered on infants or younger children. Some of them are siblings who need to be adopted together.

Adoptive parents do not need to have a specific income and they do not need to own their own homes. Many of the children are eligible for financial subsidy. Please contact us if you would like more information about adopting children out of the foster care system. Call today for a free packet of information, 215-735-9988 or visit us at


Adoption and the AdoptionCenter have no better friend then Wendy’s. And there’s no better way to show your support of Adoption then by stopping by your nearest Philadelphia-area Wendy’s location and purchasing a Frosty Key Tag for $1.00. Then show your key tag and get a free Junior Frosty with any purchase for all of 2010. Proceeds benefit theAdoption Center and will help us match more vulnerable children with their forever families then ever before! Thank you Wendy’s! 

2009 has been a busy year at the Center. We've had multiple match parties, with great kids and potential parents in three different states! We've had Freddie Mac Foundation's Wednesday's Child tapings most weeks. These feature Vai Sikahema of NBC-10 interviewing and usually playing alongside one of our youths waiting for a permanent home. We built and launched a new website to support this thriving, national program.

We also launched AdoptMatch, our online matching program that brings families together with the adoption agency appropriate for them. Mainly regional to Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, in 2010 we will roll this out across the country., our online community, is also a thriving place to get and share information and support regarding adoption. Thanks so much for all those who contribute to the conversations there! We also wanted to thank all of our readers and contributers for a fun year of blogging.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday season! See you in 2010!