On Monday we will be participating in the MLK Day of Service. Our project is to make quilts with the faces of the children we have or are still assisting in their journey towards permanence. Here are some pictures of the quilt in progress. In the first few you are seeing how each square for the quilt is made -- each image of a child must be transferred to the cloth. We wish to thank Sharon Kenny of Kenny’s Imprintables and her artist with a press, Brent.

Without their guidance, expertise and hot press we would not have been able to complete this project. Here's what the final pieces look like now:

On Monday we'll be at Temple University to complete the quilt with volunteers from Moore College of Art and local corporation. We post pictures and thanks after the event.

The motivation for this is MLK's example of service and compassion for his fellow man. We'll be sharing the following with those who come in person, but I'd like to share it with you now too.

An Adoption Tribute to Martin Luther King

This essay was written by a teenaged member of FAIR. His passion and understanding grew from experiences in his own family, built through birth and adoption.

As the nation celebrates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., people remember his message of bringing justice to all human beings through non-violent methods. Dr. King fought not only for the rights of African Americans, but for the rights of all the oppressed. Perhaps if he were alive today, he would be marching and fighting for the thousands of children without families.

The unadopted children face the same kind of dilemma the Blacks did in King’s time. Excluded systematically from the system which controls them, children are shuttled from foster home to foster home, often suffering abuse and neglect in the bureaucracy which cares nothing for their fate.

With the remembrance of Dr. King, we remember the origins of the civil rights movement, especially the quiet determination of Rosa Parks. Ms. Parks broke the chain of power which held her and her fellow Blacks repressed. Her message is mirrored by the families and parents who take children into their families. With quiet determination and tough decisions, parents silently break the chain of loneliness locking up a child. Many such parents have no such grandiose ideals; they simply want to parent a child. Neither did Ms. Parks identify her actions as historically monumental.

Ms. Parks and thousands of others went to jail for their actions and beliefs. Some paid with their lives, and nearly all paid with sweat and pain. Adopting is likewise often a struggle, a struggle to understand, a struggle of restraint, a struggle to love. Most adoptive parents can tell you their pain with unaccepting relatives, with children who tell them they don’t care about them, or with old histories buried in confused young psyches. But while the civil rights demonstrators had to learn no-violence to not fight back, parents must learn an even harder kind of non-violence: they must learn to love, nurture and understand.

Dr. King was a great man with enough room in his heart for all his fellow men. The unadopted children of this country would have a spokesperson who would bring their plight before the public and expose the injustice heaped upon them. Parents need to tell the world about adoption, especially the adoption of older and special needs children. Rosa Parks took her seat, but it took Dr. King to organize a boycott and desegregate the Montgomery buses.

The children need a Dr. King to stand up for them and demand their rights. Dr. King taught us enough that perhaps we can pull together and save the children. The civil rights movement fought to change the laws, the unadopted children need new laws to protect them. Martin Luther King had a dream. We need to keep that dream alive for our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters who do not share our families.

Here at the Center we've heard reports of, and assisted many families with varied adoption-process-related problems. Issues we've heard about are calls that never get returned, being passed over in consideration for a child for no stated reason(s), or other communication-related problems. I'm sure that there are other issues, but for now let's focus on communication. 

What problems have you faced in this area? I would welcome answers from both sides, the professional and the potential family. Do you have any concrete solutions to resolve these type of issues? How could the Center help you (again this is for people on either side of the equation)? How can we work together to solve these issues? 

This holiday season we were fortunate enough to be the liaison between some very generous people and youths who are in foster care. These are youths we recruit on behalf of, but who still are in care, not permanent homes during this holiday season.

Wendy's Crew members from local restaurants raised funds and then went on a shopping and wrapping frenzy! In the pictures you can see Wendy herself delivering packages with other Crew members and NAC staff. We thank Bob Bechtold and all the Crew for making this happen. 

Pam Lee, Association Account Executive, Marriott International guided the giving from Marriott International. Marriott & Renaissance Global Sales held an annual open house where gifts were collected. Many Marriott employees also went out and purchased additional gifts & all collaborated in wrapping to make sure each child got all that he or she listed. Here you can see the Marriott van delivering the gifts.

Our adoption coordinators then got to play Santa and deliver these gifts. Even driving late into Christmas Eve to ensure delivery didn't dampen the joy of seeing the youths open their gifts. One girl who asked for books remarked that "I'm going to read for the rest of the year!" A foster mother remarked that another boy's Christmas was made by receiving all that was on his wish-list. 

All in all, the children, families and coordinators shared smiles and lots of joy. Thanks to all who made this possible! 

Last night I had the pleasure in attending a workshop on using blogs to help nonprofits succeed. This event was organized by Philly NetSquared. It was a fun and exciting night. You'll see many of the tips I learned last night come into being here. Going forward, we are going to continue working together as a nonprofit community to help all of us reach the next level in our work. 

Some changes that will be coming immediately are: We'll bring more of the stories from the field, so you can see what we do on a daily basis to help children and youths find permanent homes. And we'll be including lot's more pictures and links. If you have any tips or ideas for topics you'd like to see us cover, leave a comment.

Remember to visit our home on the web: 

We here at the Center want to wish you and your family a happy and healthy 2009. This holiday season was a quite one in the adoption world, with little news to report. 

We have many exciting programs, events and virtual happenings planned for this year. So stay tuned!