Partnership with Parenting Special Needs

Parenting Special Needs online magazine is now partnering with the us to feature children who wait to be adopted. In the current issue, you’ll meet Thomas, a three-year-old who now lives in a medical facility, but is ready to be discharged to a family that is committed to caring for him through adulthood and maintaining the services he needs for his optimum healthy development.

The magazine, which is published every other month, will continue to publish stories about children like Thomas, often members of an invisible population of children who live in foster care or special facilities because their birth parents cannot care for him. Thomas loves to smile and laugh, and enjoys warming himself in the sun while sitting in his specialized wheel chair. He likes hearing music and, like many children his age, he is comforted by the touch of his caregiver.

Sometimes, it feels daunting to find a family able to care for a child such as Thomas who has traumatic brain injury, cortical blindness and is prone to seizures

But there are people who want to share their capacity to love and embrace the challenges of caring for children with profound medical conditions. One such couple is Karen and Adam Owens who adopted Jayden, 3, whom they had seen on a “Wednesday’s Child” feature on Philadelphia’s NBC10. Jayden, too, has a traumatic brain injury from shaken-baby syndrome. He is deaf and breathes through a tube in his throat. But Karen and Adam believed they had something to offer a child with serious health issues. Karen has said, “I wish more people would adopt. All it takes is one person to say “yes. If not us, then who?


Phillies & Wednesday's Child Hit a Home Run!

We recently had an extra-special Wednesday’s Child taping. One of the children we work with, "Tommy", really loves the Phillies, so we reached out to see if they would be interested in hosting a taping. They welcomed the Wednesday’s Child crew and Tommy with open arms! The first place we went was the clubhouse. Tommy was able to walk around the room and see each player's locker space -a great way to imagine what it’s like to get ready for a game. We then walked the same path the players walk out to the field. Since it was not a gameday, the Park was ours. There is something truly magical about being able to be in an empty stadium, to be able to sit in the dugout, throw some pitches and even stand at home plate!

Tommy also got to view the World Series trophy they won in 2008. The Phillies were so generous to have us, we were also stunned at the awesome gifts they had for Tommy. The Phillies presented him with a personalized jersey, a bat signed by Ryan Howard, t-shirts, a backpack, Phanatic socks and more! We were all overwhelmed with their hospitality, and couldn’t have imagined a better day.

On the surface a Wednesday’s Child taping is just a really fun day that we take the kids on, but is so much more than that. I am always in awe of the bravery it takes for our kids to volunteer to be on television The closest analogy I can think of is dating. Imagine being interviewed about your likes and dislikes, what you want in a partner and then having that interview be boiled down to two minutes to be shown on television in the Philadelphia metro area! That’s essentially what our kids are doing, but in search of a family. While it is heartbreaking that any child is ever put in the position to have to try to find their own family, it is a reality we work with.

Before a taping, we always work with the children and their case managers to make it as easy as possible for them. We let them know what to expect, a prepare them for the events of the day. Personally, it is always my goal to find a great venue and activity for the child, giving them an opportunity other children don't get. I also find that when the child gets engrossed in the activity his nerves fade, and his personality shines. We work with great children who happen to be living in foster care, we wish to convey how special they are in each and every segment we film. Lastly, thank you, thank you, thank you to the staff at the Phillies for making this a day Tommy will always remember!

All videos of Wednesday's Child can be seen on NBC10's website.



Fore! This past Monday was the National Adoption Center’s annual golf tournament. Equal parts fundraising and friend raising, it was an enjoyable afternoon for a very meaningful cause. Nearly 100 players enjoyed spectacular weather on a terrific suburban Philadelphia course. Despite the craziness of the Pope being in town, the tournament itself raised almost $50,000 for the Center’s programs. Board member and committee chair Chris Noyes did a wonderful job explaining how important it is to be able to find adoptive homes for so many children who are languishing in foster care. In particular he noted how our Match Events have a 35% success rate, and Wednesday’s Child a 60% success rate. Congrats and thank you to all our generous players!

Photos from the day are on our Facebook page.


Serving the LGBT Community

A disproportionately high number of LGBT youth are in foster care, many having been abandoned by their families due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. These youth continue to struggle as they enter the child welfare system, where agency staff members often lack the skills and knowledge to provide them with the services they need and deserve.

An estimated 2 million LGBT adults are interested in adoption in the U.S. But, the LGBT community is often an untapped resource when it comes to finding families for children and youth in foster care. Agencies can significantly increase their pool of prospective foster and adoptive parents by ensuring they have the policies and practices in place to welcome and support LGBT resource families and recruit effectively for these families.

For these reasons, the National Adoption Center will be offering a region-wide one-day training next month to promote LGBT cultural competency among child welfare agencies. Adoption organizations across the country have recognized the importance of this work and use it to improve practice with LGBT youth and families.

All Children – All Families, a project of the Human Rights Campaign, will provide the training so agencies can achieve safety, permanency and well-being by improving their practice with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth and families. Participating agencies can work to meet ten key Benchmarks of LGBT Cultural Competency – from client non-discrimination policies and inclusive agency paperwork, to staff training and creating an LGBT-inclusive agency environment. Once these benchmarks are met, the agency is designated a “Leader in Supporting and Serving LGBT Youth and Families” and awarded the All Children – All Families Seal of Recognition. The

National Adoption Center was the first organization in the region to receive this seal and this is the second time NAC has offered this training.

The National Adoption Center is pleased to be able to offer this training at no cost thanks to the generous support of Wells Fargo.


Join the Conversation!

The National Adoption Center has formed a Digital Strategy Task Force to address the changing world of technology and how it impacts adoption. More specifically, how can NAC be the center of the online adoption conversation? Chaired by Allan Frank, former chief technology officer for the City of Philadelphia and former NAC board president, the group consists of several members of the board of directors as well as the appropriate staff. The Adoption Center has always been a leader in using technology to increase the number of children who get adopted from foster care. In fact, back in the early 2000s NAC created the first online photo listing site in the country – Faces of Adoption. Now called AdoptUSKids and managed by the federal government, it has played a significant role in helping the National Adoption Center find forever families for more than $23,000 of our most vulnerable children. Join us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to join the conversation!

Adoption Match Event

As day broke over Camp Agawam on June 13th, the weather was not looking very friendly. Storms the night before had knocked power out in many areas nearby. The ground was wet but the fish were still swimming in the pond.

As seventeen youth (together with their social workers) and nine families pulled into camp, the atmosphere filled with excitement and anticipation. The weather soon got in the spirit of the day and cleared up. We were ready to start the annual National Adoption Center/SWAN (Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network) older youth matching event.

These youth and families spent the day together, getting to know one another through team-building interactive games, fishing, kickball and other activities. The youth participated in an activity called “Everyone has a Voice” that allowed them to express their thoughts and feelings about being a teenager and their desires for their future. The adults got to listen and better understand the youth through these heartfelt, often articulate expressions.

Families and teens alike expressed their enjoyment of the day. Many families expressed an interest in learning more about the youth. As time goes by, we will keep you posted on any successful outcomes from the day. As the day finished, the sun was shining brightly over Camp Agawam.

Glory on egg-shells day-oh (Gloria in excelsis deo)

It sucks, walking on eggshells.

As an adoptive parent, I felt I had to do it many times. It’s downright uncomfortable. None of us want to break those delicate membranes, for egg yolks run and are messy. And bits of shell can lodge in the most annoying places. And to keep peace, I did it.

What is curious is that our adult adoptive daughter finally told me that during her childhood and teenage years felt she had to do the same thing.

And what do you know?--each of us was walking gingerly on the I-don’t-want-to-hurt-your-feelings-or-your-pride “eggs” (issues). Unbeknownst to me, she felt she could not always “be herself” because she knew I was: 1) a sensitive soul, 2) an uber sensitive parent, 3) an incredibly over-the-top sensitive and protective-of-our-only-child adoptive parent.

So for years, rather than just walking softly, she (and I) began to dance ‘round the eggs by skirting emotions. Other kids ranted, “I don’t want you to be my mother. I hate you.” I never heard those words from her. At least not audibly. Could I tell she was struggling? Sure. But not wanting to probe and potentially be hurt, I kept silent.
So sometimes the dances intensified. She finally told me recently that even though she witnessed friends doing that to their parents on occasion, she could not bring herself to hurl those words for she knew (rightly so) that they would wound me too deeply. Thinking back now, I saw her bite her lip more than once. Sometimes her pain must have been so great.

But she chose silence. So, on the eggshells, she continued to walk. And other times, danced around it all. Me, too.

I have observed that many biological children don’t feel the need to dance around or walk on eggshells. Even if they shouted at their parents, the words wouldn't penetrate their parent’s shell the same way as it would an adoptive parent’s.

A sensitive soul herself, this adoptee, stopped before she railed. I was unaware she was dancing alone in her world while I did the same in mine. Delicately tip-toeing on the eggshells every day – oh. I am grateful for her kindness, but I am truly sorry it took her so long to “be herself.”

As an adoptive parent, my dances consisted of my agonizing over the “family” issue which was hard to bring up at all, much less without tears. (The all-too-familiar adoptive parent struggle: even if or when you know your birth family, will you still consider your dad and I to be your family?)

And so my soft treading and dancing continued, too.

If you are an adoptive family and this sounds like something happening in your life, perhaps you could look for signs in yourself and your children.

Perhaps your kids are suppressing their emotions. Perhaps you are, as well. As parents we probably wouldn't want to call attention to the fact that we struggle not to be ourselves in deference to how it might make them feel. All the while hearing the strains of “Gloria” as we do our best to find in our home peace, good will to all those abiding there. I am now of the option that we find the glory when we honor our rightful position for we are, by rights, parents and our adopted child is really our child!

In talking with adoptive and other parents, I believe now that all parenting could be considered dancing, but adoptive parenting and adopt-eeing in general might brings up some extra sensitive and raw emotions. Don’t we simply want to know—am I a good enough parent/son/daughter? Deep down, each parent and child, each human being is seeking acceptance.

Perhaps what any adopted child who is walking on eggshells or dancing around the eggs is really hoping their parents would magically perceive: “I don’t know if you can handle it if I, like friends raised by blood mothers and fathers would say ‘I hate you’ (in this moment) or ‘I wish you weren't my parent’ (in this moment) because actually this really has nothing to do with you, but I am frustrated that I got a B- on my test. Please understand me!”

And, on the other side, are adoptive parents walking and dancing at the same time wondering whether their child would somehow ‘get’ them whether or not they verbalize the biggest crisis in their hearts: “Can I tell you how much I hurt when I don’t know which family—us or your birth or friend/peer family—you will ultimately choose, or through what circumstance you will choose that one? Because we understand your desire to know them, to even be with them, but—just the same—we love you and want you to still love us and accept our love as one true and bona fide child—no matter what?”

Learning that she danced, and knowing how it felt to dance myself gave me perspective. Because she could be as honest as she has, I have decided to do the same. She has become much more herself. She voices. My husband and I voice, too.

And to that I say: Glory-be!


Keeping You In The Loop

You may have noticed that you are no longer receiving a National Adoption Center newsletter.

Current and future trends in how people communicate tell us that attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and organizations need to get their messages across in a more compact way. To this end, we’re going to begin to send out small online vignettes about individual children and families involved in the child welfare system. We think this will be the optimal way to create public awareness about the plight of children in foster care, and why they so desperately need a family to adopt them. Of course, some of our messages will also include a way for you to contribute financially to our mission.

We hope you will like our new way of sharing our work with you. Perhaps it will even prompt you to contribute your own adoption story, by sending it to us . We’d love to hear from you!


Older Youth Adoption

How old is too old to look for a family? At 31 years old, I still need my parents. Think about it, when was the last time you reached out to your family? Was it your parents, a sibling, an aunt or uncle maybe a cousin? Did you call them? Did you text them? Did you see them at a holiday gathering?

For me, I talk to my mom almost daily. A quick text, a short check in, something as simple as trying to get a dinner idea. My parents were there on my high school graduation- my mom holding an embarrassing “Congratulations Princess Paige” sign. They drove me to drop me off at college. They listened to me homesick on my telephone calls. They picked me up and brought me home over holiday breaks. They sent me care packages. They gave me advice on my first job, my first apartment and my first car. My parents were there on my wedding day. My dad walked me down the aisle; we had a father/daughter dance. My parents were there when my children were born. They were a phone call away when I had a panicked, new-mom moment.

I have a place (in reality, too many places) to go on holidays. Our holidays are scheduled around visits with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. Even though we may sometimes grumble through some visits, or have tired, whiny kids at the end of the day, I have somewhere to go. I have a place that is familiar and warm. When I walk into my parent’s house, I smell home. When I walk into a holiday dinner, I know my Gramma’s dishes will be prepared perfectly.

Recently we have had the opportunity to feature older children on our TV segment, and in print. The most recent was youth 19 years old, almost 20. The immediate response from some was to question why we are still working on behalf of an “adult”. It is true that these children can vote, join the military, buy cigarettes, etc., but they are still looking for their family.

Without finding a family, who is there embarrassing, I mean cheering, them on at their high school graduation? Who is there with advice on how to get a job, budget their bills, pay their taxes? Who is there to share in their joys and help them bear their sorrows? Where do they go for Thanksgiving? Who hands down family recipes to make their favorite meals?

We are committed to helping these children find a family for as long as we can. Whether you are 5, 18, 35, or 95 you still need a family.


Not two people, families or situations are exactly the same…

Never have I been more cognizant of this “opener” than I am right now. I am a member of the Board of National Adoption and I have leaned on my fellow board members and our staff for insights into adoption ever since our son, Adam, came into our lives in 1991, just two days after his birth. I read and continue to read books on Transracial Adoption --our two older children are “home mades”, Adam is our gourmet take-out featuring flavors of South Africa, Polynesia and Western Europe, a complex - gourmet "take-out”. I have learned that asking for insight is essential…but advice is the tricky one…because nothing is ever precisely the same. Right now I am fresh into experiencing living without the physical presence of my soul mate…the father of our three children and the wind beneath my wings. He crossed over Christmas, 2014, in his sleep. Family and friends are so supportive but I know that even those I know well who are in my “same” situation cannot deliver a formula for coping, re-framing, living in the present. It has to be my unique crafting that forms my vision for now and the future. This is what is hardest and what is also the most reassuring. So, know there is no ONE way to address issues of adoption, relationships, love or loss. Your solutions must be your own and while you would be well advised to reach out for “insight” the beauty of your family and adoptive success is unlike that of anyone else on this planet. Just remember, you can be the wind beneath your children’s wings…never pulling them down, ever lifting them up and always encouraging them to fly on their own. They will grow and thank you for this…and more.