As an intern with NAC, I was afforded the exciting opportunity to participate in the agency’s Adoption Café. This Adoption Café was designed to showcase a specific type of child within our network. The potential adopters that we invite is carefully chosen by NAC professionals along with the input of a team of New Jersey’s Department of Child Protection and Permanency workers. It was collectively decided that a Café dedicated to highlighting the process as well as the joys of adopting medically fragile children would be greatly beneficial! The event took place this past Saturday, April 12, 2014 and the forum for our café was The Burlington County Public Library in Westampton, New Jersey.
Unfortunately, many families are unaware of the diversity of challenges, espeicially medical, that face children in the Tri-state area that are living without their forever family. To this end, our event provided this type of information and more in a series of workshops offered throughout the afternoon. Many parents were surprised to learn that there are outside supports available to families during and after the finalization of an adoption. The families learned and understand that they are not “in this alone”. These supportive services are readily available for all. For example, DCPP workers discussed the ways that they provide ongoing supports and assistance to adoptive parents. In addition, we sponsored a workshop in which current adoptive families of special needs children shared their feelings, experiences and advice to those considering embarking on a similar journey. The exchange of ideas and information was very enlightening to all of the participants.
Many of these children are medically fragile due to abuse and neglect at the time of their birth or shortly after. These adorable youngsters simply long for that unconditional love and support that so many of us take for granted.
I feel very privileged to have been a part of this very special day. It is so rewarding to be involved in the process that results in the improvement of the lives of children who need loving homes. I admire the families that open their hearts to eagerly love and support our kiddos. A truly rewarding and amazing experience!!
contributed by Elly Gerhardt, Program Intern