In this week's Newsweek there is an article entitled "Raising Katie." Click here to read the article. It describes an African American family who have adopted a Caucasian child.

The family is very open about the racism they experience when they are out with Katie. The family is open with wondering if raising a child from another race is the best thing for the child. They do try to provide here with elements of her culture, but realize that there is only so much they can do. In this case, it certainly seems that Katie found the best and most supportive home regardless of the race of those involved.

Transracial adoption issues seem to run on a cycle, sometimes the overall opinion is "get the best family regardless of race" and at other times it is "find the best same-race family." There are arguments on both sides. And the comments section of the Newsweek article certainly shows that many are still debating this issue. What do you think? 

This Wednesday the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article about our most recent Teen Match Party. To read the article, click here. The article not only covers the day's events, but also probes the reasons why those who were there participated. 

One story which touched me was about a couple with a college-aged child who felt they wanted to help more children, but didn't want to change diapers. Adopting a teen is perfect for them, allowing them to contribute while not putting them through challenges they do not feel prepared to handle. 

We also have a few match parties coming up, so look on our website for more information regarding those. They will be held in Pittsburgh and in the Delaware Valley region in the upcoming months.

Accompanying the story online is a poll regarding adoption. At this point in time, 67% state that they would be interested in adopting a teen or child. Another 7% would adopt a child. Remember we at the National Adoption Center are here for you. You can view our resources online: we offer information, via our online course and reference materials; support via our social network; and referrals, online or call us at: 1-800-TO-ADOPT. 

We here at the National Adoption Center are happy to announce that we have an online community. Go to here, or link from the Community tab on our main website. We invite all members of the adoption community -- professionals, birth & adoptive parents, potential parents, adult adoptees and all others to join our free online service. 

First and foremost we want the community to be a safe and comfortable place for people to share their adoption stories. We seek to provide information, support and education for those involved in the adoption process.

We see this community as a place for conversations, with us and with the community at large. We hope ideas for new programs, or policies that we should support or problems that need to be resolved are brought to light through the community. So come join us! See you online! 

Last week, for our Freddie Mac Foundation's Wednesday’s Child Program, Philadelphia, we had visit with Mayor Nutter. The taping was conducted with a Philadelphia child, Niesha. She wrote a school paper on Mayor Michael Nutter and her research sparked an interest in meeting him.

Their visit started out in the Mayor’s office where he asked Niesha questions about school, sports, family and inquired about her future goals. Niesha happily answered, but she also had the opportunity to ask several questions of her own. She asked about his education, the amount of work he did for the city and she also shared a secret she knew about him that most people don’t. She told him that she knew he used to be a DJ in his younger years. Well, Mayor Nutter was very shocked she had found this out and confessed he was indeed a DJ as a youngster! Wednesday’s Child host Vai Sikahema, Mayor Nutter, and Niesha all laughed.
The visit ended with Mayor Nutter allowing Niesha to sit in his official chair where he presented her with a new, old-school-style Phillies hat. For everyone, the day was a huge success!

For the past two days our entire staff, including volunteers and interns, along with members of Philadelphia's Department of Human Services have been involved in All Children, All Families training. This training was run by Ann McCabe, a consultant to the All Children, All Families Campaign and a licensed Family and Marriage Therapist and Ellen Kahn, Family Project Director at the Human Rights Campaign. The training provided us with training on LGBT Cultural Competency for Foster Care and Adoption Agencies. Modules included Foundations of Effective Practice with LGBT Parents, Putting Out the Welcome Mat: Establishing Agency Communications, Spaces and Recruitment Practices that Embrace LGBT Families.

Over the course of over 10 hours we were exposed to and got to explore the issues which face the LGBT community in general and specifically when going through the adoption process. We discussed the potential barriers to adoption, like the explicit prohibition in 9 states, and ways we could address the concerns of those facing these challenges.

On the positive side, we also looked at the strengths that LGBT individuals bring to the table when choosing to adopt. Many of those in the community have had to overcome obstacles, grief and loss like so many of the children and youths we see. This compassion and understanding can create a strong bond.

We will be using the training we went through to implement strategies to plan outreach to prospective adoptive/foster parents from the LGBT community. Center staff will also review all agencies materials to assess if the Center materials convey the message that the Center is a welcoming environment for LGBT prospective adoptive parents. 

From our friends at Voice for Adoption

Opportunities for former foster youth or adopted youth from foster care: 

Orphan Foundation of America is accepting scholarship applications for the 2009-2010 school year. Youth in foster care or adopted after their 16th birthday are eligible for college scholarships; the deadline is March 31, 2009. Visit for more information. 

FosterClub is accepting applications for its 2009 All-Star internship. Eligible applicants are between the ages of 18-24 and have spent time in foster care, including young people that have been adopted from foster care. Interns will travel and mentor their peers in the system. Applications are due March 1st, please visit: 

Many people are wondering how our tanking economy is affecting adoption. Are fewer people inclined to adopt in these troubled times? Does the availability of adoption subsidies for children in the foster care system make this kind of adoption more affordable? What about those who have spent big bucks to adopt a child from another country? 

The answer is that it is too soon to tell. Certainly, many of those who have been able to bear the cost of international adoption, which can be considerable, and of adoption of infants in this country, which is often costly, may not be able to do it now. However, the need for a child is so strong for most people thinking about adoption that they may cut down on other expenses before postponing the addition of a child to their families.

On the other hand, there is little cost to adopting a child from this country’s foster care system. These children who are mainly of school age through teenagers need permanent families; many have been waiting for a long time for parents to give them the security and stability that all children need and deserve. The current economic climate may work in their favor. 

Let us know what you think. 

This past Monday Chris Jacobs and I had the pleasure of presenting at the Child Welfare League of America's National Conference. What we were discussing is the appropriate use of interactive technologies such as this blog to address our mission. Here at the National Adoption Center we want to expand the adoption opportunities of children living in foster care throughout the United States, and is a resource to families and to agencies who seek the permanency of caring homes for children. This website and blog are one way we do that.

Last night many of our staff participated in another method of outreach. This was an event leading up to a match party we are holding in March. Teenagers are the focus of this match party. To prepare them for the event, and to assist them in general, we hold a series of pre-match-party events. At these events the youths can meet each other face to face, they are introduced to the facilitator of the match party and build social skills in activities he runs. Also, the entire group were were entertained by a Hip-Hop dance company, FaceLess. 

Through each of the programs and services we offer, we keep our mission in mind. We truly belive in finding permanent solutions for the children and youths in the foster care system. We want to assist those people who want to adopt become educated and prepared to be great parents. Please share with us your ideas about new programs or services we can provide to assist us in our mission. 

SaraKay Smullens is a social worker, family therapist and author who practices in Philadelphia. She is our guest blogger for today.

It is a moment etched forever. My husband and I were in a New York theater; it was intermission. Returning to my seat I saw a woman about a decade younger than I am. She was kissing an adolescent seductively on the neck, as she rubbed her back. The young girl pulled away, and the woman slapped her hard across the face. I had no idea of the history of this adult and child. Was the older woman a mother, a caretaker? I waited until I saw where both were seated and left the theater to call the police. By the time they arrived, the play was over, and I could not find either the older woman or the adolescent.

This incident unnerved me because I have worked for so long with children and teenagers who suffer at the hands of both caretakers and family members. I know one thing for sure: abusive parents grew up in abusive homes. Without intervention, these cycles of abuse intensify as generations pass. Children in abusive homes are in danger, and unless the parents receive intensive help which they have taken seriously and to heart, that will not change.

If you witness child abuse, call the police or the department of human services in your area. Many have a child abuse hot line. These families need a lot of help. Over the years, I have urged our city officials and those leading child welfare programs to train a team of professionals—lawyers, police, physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, therapists—that a vulnerable family could rely on, a team that could be there for them 24/7 when they face inner terrors or dangerous choices. And I have urged also that experienced supervisors be there with consistency for this team because working with these families is draining, unnerving and unsettling.

For the sad reality is that some biological parents can not or will not ever know how to provide homes that are safe and caring. While no one likes to see children separated from their parents, sometimes there is no better solution than finding a loving family to adopt the child and give him or her a better life. When adoption is necessary, the family and the child do not require an exact cultural match. What is necessary is a home offering love and safety. What better example of this than our 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, who spent the bulk of his formative years cared for, protected and loved by his white maternal grandparents.

Meanwhile, if you witness an incident not sufficient for police or child welfare agency intervention, but nonetheless disturbing, there is something you can do. For instance, if you see a mom demeaning a child in a public place, it is probably not smart for you to confront the mom immediately. I suggest waiting until things have settled down. At that time, you can approach the parent and say something like, “I have been noticing what a beautiful child you have. You are just so fortunate.” The parent may be stunned at your kindness and the compliments you offer. And you may be putting a drop of kindness into a painful void that could help the parent see her child and herself in a new light. 

We wanted to remind everyone of a partnership the National Adoption Center has with a local newspaper. We work with the Philadelphia Inquirer to feature a youth who is ready for adoption from the foster care system. This feature appears every Monday.

Here is a link to today's featured youth, Ashley. You may read all about her by going to the Inquirer's website by clicking here.