In 2009, a couple from South Carolina sought to adopt a child whose father is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, and whose mother was Hispanic. The girl, Veronica, 4, had been living in the Cherokee Nation with her father since she was 2. Before that, she lived with the adoptive couple. The biological father contested the adoption on the grounds that he was not properly notified. He won his case, and it received extensive coverage in the national media.
In October 2012, the adoptive couple petitioned the United States Supreme Court to review the case. SCOTUS issued a 5-4 decision, sending the case back to the state court of South Carolina for further hearings. In July 2013, the South Carolina court finalized the adoption of the child to the adoptive couple, but shortly thereafter the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the girl should not immediately be transferred from the custody of her biological father to the South Carolina couple who adopted her. 
This stay was lifted on September 23, and the child was turned over to her adoptive parents the same day, though further appeals by her biological father are said to be likely.


What do you think of this verdict? Was it in the best interest of the child?

We wanted to share this with you from our Georgia partner DHS/DFCS - State permanency unit.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Hilton Atlanta Airport
1031 Virginia Avenue, Atlanta, 30354

If you are interested in adopting an older child or a sibling group, please plan to attend the “Make It Happen” Statewide Adoption Match Meeting. Case managers from across the state will be presenting children who are waiting to be adopted through displays and video presentations. During the “Make It Happen” Statewide Adoption Match Meeting you may receive more information about a particular child or children through direct contact with their case manager or representative. An informational meeting will also be held for those families who are interested in beginning the adoption process.

For more information please contact your agency’s resource development case manager or Lisa Lumpe, DHS DFCS contractor, at or toll-free at (855) 289-0349.

This event is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Family and Children Services. To learn more about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, please call (877) 210-KIDS. 

Despite aligned nationwide efforts, some states are still over-relying on the use of APPLA (Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement) as a case goal for youth in foster care. The intent was for it be used only when other permanency options such as reunification, adoption, and kinship or guardianship care were ruled out. However, roughly 10 percent of children in care (more than 40,000 youth) are assumed to have this as their case goal. 

The National Adoption Center urges the public sector to restrict the use of APPLA as a permanency goal for youth in care, while at the same time ensure that proper investments are being made to secure other forms of permanency. For many youth with an APPLA goal both adoption and guardianship are achievable, and the reality is that many of these youth, some who are as young as 13, could be moved out of this status. We believe agencies and courts should be restricted in their use of APPLA as a goal. Investments should be made to facilitate the adoption of older youth who cannot return to their biological families. Attitudes must also be changed so that we all believe that older youth deserve and need a home as much as as younger children and that that family is achievable.

My name is Jin and I am a Development Associate intern at the National Adoption Center (NAC). This is my 4th month of internship, and I have been learning about NAC’s mission, organizational structure, and functions. Mainly, I have worked in the Development Team by fundraising, creating marketing materials, working on special events, and using a database. But this week I had the opportunity to see what the Program Team does.

One of NAC’s functions is to increase awareness of children in foster care. One way they accomplish this is through the Wednesday’s Child Program on NBC10, where they feature children in foster care with Vai Sikahema, doing what the children like to do. I had the chance to be a part of a Wednesday’s Child taping. In this case Jasper, the child to be featured, enjoyed cooking.

My task for the day was to take pictures of the taping. The Wednesday’s Child Coordinator and I drove to Sur La Table in King of Prussia Mall. The activity for the day was making homemade pasta. We arrived on site and met the staff from NBC 10 and Vai Sikahema.

The kitchen in Sur La Table looked very professional. Stainless steel countertops, cabinets, large sink, large gas stoves, pots hanging from the vent, and tasting tables, it looked like a kitchen that would be on Food Network channel.

Jasper walked in soon after with two social workers. He was a quiet and gentle middle school student. After brief introductions, Angie, Vai, and Jasper crowded around the stainless steel countertop and began cooking.

They started by creating the dough for the noodles by mixing eggs, salt, olive oil, and flour.



Which turned into dough…



Jasper rolled out the dough into noodles.




Jasper added garlic, onions, and basil...



... to a pot, to make his own marinara sauce…



Dishing it all up, he topped the noodles off with cheese…



But he doesn't like marinara sauce, so he chose to have pasta with butter.



The pasta must have been good, because he finished the whole plate. Actually, we all got to taste his pasta and it was delicious. I can’t help but imagine that Jasper was proud of his own cooking. He didn't show it much, but I’m sure he was glad that we all enjoyed the food that he made with his own hands. 


As you can see, we finished the plate!


It was a meaningful time for me, because I was able to meet a child that I was helping. As a Development Associate, most of my time is spent at the office. The work I do indirectly benefits the children by supporting the organization financially. But sometimes that’s hard to remember at the office. So it was good to finally see a child that I have been indirectly serving.

But I imagine the day to be very meaningful to Jasper as well. He was eager to learn about cooking throughout the day. And Angie, the instructor, gave him helpful tips about cooking and let him do most of the work. Sometimes instructors are impatient and end up cooking in place of their students, but Angie stepped back and let Jasper enjoy cooking.

I hope that Jasper continues to explore, experiment, and grow in cooking, that it becomes a hobby, and maybe even a career. But more importantly, I hope that he finds a family that is committed to loving and caring for him, because he’s a great kid. (and look for his taping to air on NBC10 in Philadelphia soon!) 


It’s always heartening to hear how many towns, cities and states are using Matching Events to identify adoptive homes for children in the United States foster care system. A core service of the National Adoption Center, we were one of the very first organizations to utilize this unique recruitment opportunity. These “parties” are a proven way to connect children with prospective adoptive parents. Just this morning I read about a daylong recruitment program in South Carolina called "The Voyage for Permanence for Our Waiting Children," where more than seventy-four potential adoptive families and foster parents, along with almost ninety foster children, came together to answer questions and introduce potential family matches.

While kids played games and ate cotton candy and snow cones, adults had the chance to mingle with representatives from the Division of Social Services, therapists, families who have already adopted and other adoption experts. Speakers and panels, made up of both adults and children, answered questions and eased fears over the process, and what potential adoptive families could expect upon bringing a child into their home permanently.

The National Adoption Center is a renown leader in the adoption field, and will continue to spread the word about Matching Events to more communities across the country.

I read a story today in the Baltimore Sun about the path that city’s director of social services would like to take. She said, “We intend to be the first urban child welfare system with no children placed in foster care. We believe it is possible to have a child welfare system change the nature of its work and keep children safe at home with their families.” She proposes that social welfare systems be paid to keep families together rather than “take someone’s kid away.”

This a noble goal; unfortunately, often it does not work. We have seen children, even with family support and social services intervention, remain in environments that are unhealthy and unsafe. While the first choice is always to preserve families, it must be recognized that this may not be possible. This “new” approach to child welfare may be just wishful thinking. 



We are known for hosting matching events to assist youth in foster care in finding their forever families. For more than 25 years, these events have been a core service we offer  in the tri-state area of Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. We host match events designed for specifically for the youth we are serving at that time; for example, we have held events for teens only and for sibling groups only.

Until recently, our events have been face to face, providing the opportunity for interaction between youth, families and workers. What we have learned from our experience hosting these events is that everyone is not appropriate to attend (this includes youth and families). Some youth are quiet and reserved and don't take well to the socializing that comes with an event. Some youth are not physically able to attend, like some of the youth we work with who are medically fragile. The term "medically fragile" means that the youth has a disability, is in stable condition, but is dependent on life sustaining medications, treatments, equipment and has need for assistance with activities of daily living. The disabilities may be due to an accident, illness, congenital disorder, abuse or neglect.

 We believe that "there are no unwanted children...just unfound families" and that all children deserve recruitment opportunities. One way that we have been able to include all youth in the match event process is by participating in online match events. Crystal, one of our Adoption Coordinators, recently participated in one of these parties, presenting six youth from her caseload. Via a webinar format, she shared photos, fun facts and personal stories about each youth. One youth who was featured was Rashawn, pictured above.

Rashawn, or Ra Ra as he is affectionately known, is a handsome and rapidly growing teenager. Ra Ra is nonverbal and legally blind but he is good at distinguishing different sounds and can recognize people by their voices. Ra Ra is affectionate, friendly and loves attention. He can be quite charming and is known for getting his way by batting his eyes and smiling.

Ra Ra had a traumatic brain injury as a baby. He requires assistance with daily living tasks such as bathing, feeding, dressing and toileting. Ra Ra resides at a pediatric medical facility and attends a special education school.

Ra Ra uses a wheelchair but he prefers to crawl about on his own. He enjoys pet therapy and especially likes dogs. Ra Ra has a feeding tube but takes most of his meals orally, eating pureed food. While at school, Ra Ra is learning to feed himself using a special spoon.

An ideal family for Rashawn is one with a medical background or an interest in learning how to provide for his medical care. 

To know more about Rashawn, contact Crystal by phone at: 267-443-1867 or by email at:

Growing up as a young man plagued with drug abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse all before the age of 12 years old; I would have never thought I would be able to sit in an office helping youth in the foster care system become adopted. Some would say I lived a life of extreme hardship and they are impressed with how things have turned out for me. I would say that I was fortunate to have a family that was willing to help me comprehend life and a system that had a plan.

Growing up in a home with a father that struggled with his emotions and a mother that would now be diagnosed mentally retarded would not necessarily be thought of as an unsafe environment. However, when this is paired with emotional abuse of being cursed at and degraded by words that are unimaginable, the picture starts to become clearer.

The memories I have of my childhood are not full of warm beds, hugs and kisses from mom and dad, food on the table and clean clothes. My hardships started with my brother and I being molested by who was a so-called family friend. I was 4 or 5 and my brother was 7 or 8. These actions continued for almost 3 years when everything came to a head when my brother told an uncle what was happening. As young kids we thought this was normal interaction between adults and young children. Later investigations happened and the man was imprisoned for 15 years. I could look at this as one success, but my story continues with even more hardship. 

My parents went into debt and I started living in poverty. My parents made $12,000.00 a year to support a family of 6. My dad started to lose control and started throwing hot cups of coffee and anything else he could grab at my siblings and me. This behavior escalated and soon my brothers and I were being disciplined with twigs off of trees, belts and at one point 2x4 boards. My mother did not know how to control her emotions due to the emotional and physical actions from my father so she started yelling and cursing at him. With all the chaos around us (my siblings and me) we started to fight with each other. My parents’ home, which was a trailer, became riddled with holes and broken windows. My brothers and I would throw each other into walls, through windows and even over the banister onto concrete. Our lives were out of control and we eventually found peace, by starting to do drugs.

I was now in the 5th grade and remember going to school after smoking marijuana for several hours in a car. The peace I thought would take me away from the chaos of my parents, from not having food and living in a home full of holes and now cockroaches was short lived once I came down from “paradise” and had to face the real world alone. My troubles escalated and became worse. I stopped going to school and started seeking out sex, drugs, alcohol and food. I would find myself going into stores and stealing food and clothing to satisfy my hunger and to replace the rags I was wearing. I remember my issues getting so bad, I missed 97 days of school, worked under the table making money building pools, could drink almost a case of beer a night, would smoke cigarettes and marijuana, stole almost everything I had, and starting giving myself tattoos all before I was 12 years old.

It was at this time that the child welfare system stepped in asked for a court hearing and filed a petition for me to enter foster care. My perception was “this is the beginning to the end of my life.” Later looking back I realize this was the starting of the new life I longed for. I started living with a family who was willing for me to make mistakes in order for them to show me how to cope with the outcome. This family showed me what it meant to have unconditional love. They never scolded me or threw things at me when they were frustrated. They talked through situations and achieved an outcome in a positive manner. My resilience to my old way of life helped me to embrace the positive changes that were being shown to me. I entered the foster care system at 12 years old and aged out when I was 21 years old. Through the 9 years in foster care I learned how to make a complete change in my way of life. There were struggles along the way and tears of frustration and joy, but I learned what it meant to have a family that loved a person for who they were.

I was asked when I was 16 if I would like to be adopted and I said no. My father had signed off his parental rights and now custodianship was held by the state. My foster family vowed to keep me in their home and provide for me as long as I wanted to be part of their family. The laws at that time did not allow adoptive parents to have assistance or any benefits after they adopted. Due to this, my foster parents would be required to pay for everything for me including my dream to attend college and this was one of the reasons I was reluctant to be adopted by them. I did go to college, and realized that everything I learned within the foster care system prepared me for college and to now work in the child welfare system.

What I lack not being adopted is the permanent connection and the feeling that I belong to a family. This lack of connection does get overwhelming and sometimes make me angry or well up with tears. However, it does not damper the success that I have made in my life and has only increased the fire that I have to work with children in foster care and help them become adopted. The joy and passion I have with working in my job helps me to have a sense of completeness when a child is adopted. I live by a motto that I have passed on to several children I work with, and the motto is this “Dreams become goals and goals become a reality.” All my success and the dreams I succeeded in are credited to a family that saw beyond the eyes of a child and a system that had a plan and knew what can come from such a determined young man.

Tonight is the premiere of The Fosters, a show on ABC Family that tells the story of a lesbian couple and their diverse family. The comedy-drama is about two women raising a "21st-century" multi-ethnic mix of foster and biological children. The conservative group One Million Moms condemned the executive producer, Jennifer Lopez, and the show, encouraging audiences to boycott it. The group is against shows with lesbian themes, stating: "While foster care and adoption is a wonderful thing and the Bible does teach us to help orphans, this program is attempting to redefine marriage and family by having two moms raise these children together." They issued the following statement: "Obviously, ABC has lost their minds. They haven’t let up so neither will we. ABC’s Family Channel has several anti-family programs, and they are planning on adding to that growing list." In response, ABC subsequently backed the television show, saying The Fosters "perfectly merges with the network’s groundbreaking storytelling and iconic characters and will feature depth, heart, close relationships and authenticity." Will you be watching The Fosters

From Monday, May 13th through Wednesday, May 15th, I had the pleasure of attending the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Summit. Wendy’s Wonderful Kids is the signature program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, an Ohio based organization whose goal is to implement proactive, child-focused recruitment programs targeted exclusively on moving America’s longest-waiting children from foster care into adoptive families (DTFA).
Attending the Summit is nothing new for me as I have been a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiter for 4 years and 9 months. In the months leading up to the Summit, I was at my usual level of excitement. I wondered which recruiters from around the country and Canada I would see again, who had exciting adoption stories to tell, and who would our speakers and panelists be. About two weeks before the Summit, my DTFA Grant Manager sent an email out with the agenda. I quickly browsed through, but at the end of the agenda, something caught my eye.

Keynote: Saved by adoptionShawn Hessee, Rolling Through Adversity – Confined to a wheelchair with cerebral palsy, Shawn, considered unadoptable, was adopted by his preschool teacher.

This keynote topic spoke to me, so much that I immediately emailed my grant manager to thank her for including Shawn in the Summit. To provide some background on why I was so excited to hear from Shawn, I will share a little about the youth on my caseload.
I serve a caseload of 10 youth—8 boys and 2 girls. Of the 10, 5 are considered medically fragile, 2 have autism and 1 has Down syndrome. Most of them at one time or another has been considered unadoptable. Recruitment for them has not been easy, and despite feeling personally defeated on their behalf, I know that I must continue on in the search for their forever families.
Fast forward from the time my grant manager sent the email to May 15th. I have just experienced two days of powerful presenters—doctors, child welfare specialists, recruiters and youth who have aged out of care—all people who have been affected by foster care and/or adoption. Finally it was time to hear Shawn’s story. I already knew Shawn’s story would hit home with me, but I do not think I could have imagined the impact he would have on me, my kids, and my work in adoption recruitment.
Wearing a stylish suit and an award winning smile, Shawn commanded the audience from the start of his presentation. He shared his story from birth to present day. Sharing his ups and his downs, his victories and losses, he spoke about his families (biological, foster and adoptive), his passion for wrestling, his work history and his current profession. When Shawn was young, he wanted to wrestle, so the coach gave him a chance. Shawn was expected to work out and train just as the other wrestlers, despite having leg braces. He trained hard and prepared for his first match, which unfortunately he lost. He would actually go on to lose all of his matches, completing his high school career at 0-80. He remarked that as a society, we live in a world that tends to value wins over losses. Looking in from the outside, Shawn is by no means a loser. He is an inspiration.
He left the audience with the message that his mission is to help children embrace the challenges they face. As he wound down his speech, tears began to flow from my face. He provided us with an hour of inspirational words to last a lifetime. After his presentation, I stood in front of the entire audience and with tears flowing even harder now, thanked Shawn for sharing his story. He too makes me want to help children embrace their challenges and succeed in life.
After the presentation, I asked Shawn if I could give him a hug. He smiled, let me know that he loved hugs, and we embraced. Although I had just met him, I felt like I knew him forever. I quickly asked if I could remain in touch, as I knew I’d have my days where I felt as if I was failing, and could use his words of encouragement. Again he smiled, and let me know that I could reach out to him for support anytime. And I think he truly meant it, as we exchanged information and are now Facebook friends and follow each other on  Twitter.

Even as I write this, I can’t help but to tear up again. Not because I am sad, but because I know the potential that my children have and know that they have a “wonderful” role model in Shawn. He has truly made an impact on me.