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We kicked this month off right, with a special visit to Louis Christian Wayne Robert Salon & Spa!  The event's theme was “Princes for a day”, Queen for a lifetime”. At the salon, the stylists donated their time to four amazing, previously-featured Wednesday’s Children who still need of a forever family. The youth received treatment worthy of superstars beginning with hair continuing with make-up services.

  
 

The Delta Sigma Theta sorority assisted as part of their community day of service. The Sisters spoke with the young women to learn each individual's interests and hobbies. The goal of each Sister was to make sure that these youth know that they are beautiful, important and amazing. 

 

NBC 10 was also there! They captured footage of this special day and interviewed each young woman about what family means to her. This will be broadcast on NBC 10 in the near future.

 

Capital Grille was next on the list of treats for the day. The restaurant's staff prepared delicious meals for all involved in this special day, while management picked up the tab! The Sorority Sisters then presented each young woman with a huge, personalized bag filled with goodies. When I spoke with the young women who participated that day, they were completely overwhelmed by the treatment they received. We'd we are grateful to all those who made this such a special day for these special young women!

 

 

Participating Youth

 

 

Cheilin, 18, makes friends wherever she goes. She is personable and very humorous! Cheilin has been diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy and uses a wheelchair to get around. In the future, she would like to be a psychologist. 

 

Ashanti, 17, likes to cook and look good. She is very fashionable. Those who know Ashanti say she is bright and sensitive. Ashanti can be shy when meeting new people and does not like to be the center of attention. 

 

Karimah, 15, loves to sing and dance. Church is really important to her. She is sweet and kind. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging on the couch watching football. 

 

Cassandra, 13, loves to sing and dance. She is proud of the Spanish language she knows and likes to show it off. She is humble and likes to try new things. 

Each of these teens has been featured on Wednesday’s Child. While they have not yet found a forever family, each is hopeful a family will step up soon. These youth represent the many more youth who deserve and are open to finding the love and care of a forever family. 

Will you be that family? 

written by Katie, our Development Manager, and now fully-initiated NAC co-worker
 

Last week I attended my first match party hosted by the National Adoption Center. Going into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was that match parties put youth seeking adoptive families and adults approved to adopt together in a pressure-free setting, in hopes that some “magic” will happen; that a family will form. 

The match party was held at Arnold’s Family Fun Center in Oaks, PA – a giant warehouse-like building that boasts go-karts, laser tag, an arcade and bowling…in short, a kid’s dream world. This party was designed for older youth and teens, an age group that is often overlooked in the rush for babies and younger children. 

Amid games of ski-ball and bumper car rides, I watched how the youth and prospective adoptive families interacted. I saw one couple in particular who really connected with two teens. They spent the entire day together – the wife and a girl of about 14 sporting ear-to-ear smiles while in line for laser tag and the husband battling it out on a seemingly never-ending video game with a boy who looked about 13. At the end of the party it was clear they had made an impact on one another. Pulling out of Arnold’s at the end of the day, I wondered if these sparks would catch; if I had witnessed the making of a family. 

 
April is a very important month for the National Adoption Center. Not only are celebrating our 40th anniversary, we’ll also be establishing our Adoption Hall of Fame, and inducting our initial two members: Carolyn Johnson, our founder, and Alba Martinez, formerly DHS Commissioner and  President of the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania. We couldn’t possibly have two more deserving individuals to bestow this honor upon.
 
April is also important because we’ve just completed nearly one year of strategic planning discussions. Our new Brand Promise – Creating Loving Families for Children in Foster Care Through Innovative Approaches to Adoption – is the ideas, feelings and beliefs we want people to associate with NAC. Our Brand Values are equally demonstrative of what drives our daily work: Innovation, Inclusiveness, Humility and Accountability. And our Brand Personality (our tone and style) is one of passion, optimism and approachability. Utilizing thisBrand Architecture we look forward to expanding our footprint and continuing the legacy of finding homes for our most vulnerable children and youth.

We will be celebrating NAC’s 40 years of service at its 2012 Celebration of Family: the Art of Adoption Gala on April 25th. One of the most anticipated features of the gala is the reveal and auctioning off of ten masterpieces, all inspired by adoption, but each one created by a different renowned Philadelphia artist. These artists range in their media anywhere from paintings, to prints, to sculptures, and even mosaics. All artists have had the opportunity to meet with adoptive families and their children, who are now out of foster care; an opportunity that has become essential to the inspiration of each work.

Some artists, like Perry Milou are pulling from other sources of influence too. This pop artist, who has been praised for his vibrancy, forward-thinking, and glamorous pop art, has had some personal experience with the world of adoption himself. Having known the hardships of growing up with a single parent, Milou was later fortunate enough to be adopted, thus thoroughly appreciating the stability and love of a forever family. He is thrilled to be a part of this celebration of adoption.

 
Perry Milou’s portrait of his daughter Francesca

 

Milou recently met up with the Thomas family to learn about their adoption story as inspiration for his upcoming piece. Jonathan, 14, Alaina, 17, and Isaiah, 18, were adopted together by Jane and John Thomas only a few years ago, and the family is thriving. . . but it wasn’t easy. The teens had to overcome many past traumas of their foster care lives, physically, mentally, and emotionally. But now, with the support and guidance of their forever family, the three are as close to their adoptive parents as any biological child would be. And they’re happy! Alaina is always ecstatic about reporting the daily happenings of school to her mom each day, while Jonathan and Isaiah enjoy the typical brotherly rough-housing, especially with a new addition to the family, their baby brother Jordan.

Seeing these siblings begin to dream about the potential of their futures, Perry Milou is also dreaming up a work of art that could possibly capture and celebrate the extraordinary success of adoption stories that happen each and every day.

 
The Thomas family 

 

To learn about NAC’s gala and all of the participating artists go to the Gala's online home. 

Some lawmakers certainly think LGBT adoption is controversial. For example, our last blog post described Virginia’s “conscience clause” which allows any adoption agency, including state-funded agencies, to turn away qualified adoptive parents based on an individual’s sexual orientation.

(More on that specific case can be found here.)

The Christian Post reported that White House spokesman Shin Inouye released a statement about the Virginia bill from President Obama. The statement read: "While the president does not weigh in on every single action taken by legislative bodies in our country, he has long believed that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals based on their interest in offering a loving home, not based on discriminatory and irrelevant factors."

We agree. When children are raised by loving, supportive individuals, they typically thrive – no matter what the parent's sexual orientation might be.

This upcoming weekend we are inviting the LGBT community to an adoption educational event – the LGBT Adoption café. This FREE informational event on Saturday, March 31, 2012 from 10am – 1pm will be located at the Collingswood Community Center, 30 Collings Ave., Collingswood, NJ. 

Join us if you have ever considered adoption. Learn about the adoption process, listen to a panel discussion with adoptive parents from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, talk with adoption agency staff to learn more about children waiting for families. Complimentary light brunch. 

To RSVP contact Beth Vogel at 267-443-1873 or bvogel@adopt.org. Orclick here to register online.

 

Virginia’s General Assembly recently passed a state law which allows any adoption agency, including state-funded agencies, to turn away qualified adoptive parents based on religious and moral beliefs, including sexual orientation. The legislation codifies last year’s State Board of Social Services regulation to allow faith-based organizations to reject prospective parents based on gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and family status. While the prevailing debate mainly focuses on faith-based convictions to join children with gay parents, the sweeping language leaves room for further discrimination by private agencies on the basis of religious and moral criteria of their choosing. Governor Robert McDonnell signed this anti-gay adoption bill when it reached his desk. Virginia now joins North Dakota as the only two states having what is termed a “conscience clause” in law. This is in contrast to nine states which explicitly prohibit this kind of discrimination in adoption. Virginia state law already prohibits unmarried couples to adopt, but does allow single people to adopt, regardless of sexual orientation. 

There are approximately 1,300 children in Virginia waiting to be adopted and this law further limits the number of safe, loving and permanent caregivers that are available to them. The National Adoption Center STRONGLY rejects the premise that any prospective parent(s) should be rejected based on race, gender, religion and sexual orientation. What do you think? 

 
 
Not in this case. The board, volunteers and staff (present and former) at The National Adoption Center will take full credit for all four decades of its existence! We are forty years old and we are proud of it! 
 
 
Since our founding in 1972 our mission has been consistent – to expand adoption opportunities for children living in foster care throughout the United States, and to be a resource to families and to agencies who seek the permanency of caring homes for children.
 
In honor of this milestone we invite YOU to share 4 ways that you have impacted a child.
 
Ok, we’ll start…
 
  1. We have found homes for 23,000 children since 1972
  2. We are currently working hard on behalf of children like 11 year old Aphrodite  who wants a loving home to call her own
  3. We helped provide holiday gifts for children in foster care through the generous partnership with local Wendy’s franchises
  4. Due to our weekly WednesdayChild features on NBC10, 12 year old Nadir had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be on the court while the Philadelphia 76er’s held their practice, throw some hoops with host Vai Sikahema, and meet  some of his favorite players including Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, and Louis Williams!
 
Ok, now it’s your turn…… 

With just over 2 months to go to file 2011 taxes, we wanted to remind you about the Adoption Tax Credit. Information provided by Voice For Adoption.

The Facts:

  • Since 2003, families who adopted a U.S. child with special needs from foster care could claim a federal adoption tax credit even if they had no adoption expenses (as long as they met the fairly generous income requirements). 
  • Children who receive adoption assistance/subsidy benefits are considered children with special needs. Even families who receive a deferred subsidy ($0 per month but medical coverage through the subsidy program) are eligible. 
  • All adoptive families (except those who adopted a step-child) are eligible for the credit, but those who adopt children other than those with special needs must have—and be able to document, if requested by the IRS—qualified adoption expenses. 
  • For 2010 and 2011 the credit was made refundable. If parents who adopted as long ago as 2005 had credit to carry forward into 2010, that amount of the credit also became refundable. In 2010 and 2011, parents can claim the credit even if they don’t have income or any tax liability. 
  • The amount of the credit for 2011 is $13,360 per child. 

The Information: 
IRS Form 8839 Instructions: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i8839.pdf 
IRS Form 8839: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8839.pdf 
IRS – adoption tax credit FAQ’s:http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=231663,00.html 

Tools & Resources from the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC): http://www.nacac.org/taxcredit/taxcredit.html
contributed by Abbigail Facey, Program Intern
 
As the teens enter the room one can feel the excitement building. It takes these thirty young people only a few minutes to gain their composure, survey their surroundings and strike up conversation with neighboring youth; the hum of chatter and laughter quickly begins to fill the room. Amidst this sea of budding friendships, prospective parents and adoptive families offer nervous smiles, and firm handshakes, as they attempt to begin conversation with these lively young people.
 
“For some prospective parents, this is the first time they have attended a Match Party,” explains Crystal, an adoption coordinator with NAC. “While they are excited to finally meet face-to-face with children, versus reading their bio or viewing their picture—there is a certain level of anxiety that each family faces.”
 
NAC – which expands adoption opportunities for children living in foster care – has led the way for 25 years in facilitating matching events, designed to introduce prospective parents to older youth who hope to be adopted. By focusing on teenagers, NAC’s goal is to eliminate the sense of competition often present between older youth and younger children at typical matching events.  
 
“When children of all ages attend match parties, families tend to  inquire more about the younger kids, those under 10,” says Sheina, an adoption coordinator at NAC. “That wasn’t fair to the older kids.” 
 
For Sheina, the best part about the Teen Match Parties “is seeing families who originally were interested only in children under 8 years old, having great conversation with a 12 year old and completely change their outlook.”
 
At these parties, the youth spend quality time with their peers who face similar challenges; they are able to express their feelings and show their personalities in a safe and supportive environment. Myenisha, a child who attended a Match Party, said “You get to meet families and other kids in the same situation.” This connection helps children understand that, while they may be experiencing significant transitions within their lives, they are not alone.  “The children tend to be relaxed at the event because they have been prepared by their Case Manager or Adoption Recruiter,” says Crystal.  “We let them know that they always have support and are not alone.”
 
NAC’s latest Match Party this past Fall was at The Funplex in East Hanover, New Jersey. After having created 14 similar parties with her team over the past three years, Allen said “We have it down to a science.  We were initially worried about there being too many distractions for the kids at the event, but it worked out really well.”
 
One way NAC's staff prepares teenagers for the Adoption Party event is through two pre-party events, led by a motivational group facilitator. These events assist teens in becoming more comfortable and confident about moving forward with the Match Party.
 
The process of finding qualified prospective adoptive parents poses a greater challenge for NAC—unfortunately, a smaller percentage of prospective families consider adopting older children. Even with the realities of a smaller pool of families interested in teens, NAC has a long and successful history of success.  These are teens who might still be lingering in the foster care system alone, who instead successfully found a forever family. 
 
 “The hard work put into the event is well the worth the effort,” Sheina said. “The entire office does a lot to prepare for the event—the paper work, the calls made for monetary donations is all worthwhile to see parents and kids engaged in conversation. The ultimate goal of our efforts is to create a match between prospective parents and children.”
 
That effort does not go unnoticed by the children attending the event. Thalia who attended described the party as, “awesome… because there’s a lot of people who care about you.”
 
As NAC approaches its 40th year anniversary, Thalia can be sure that those who care about her and her story will continue to work toward finding the perfect home for her and others who need someone to make a difference in the way they grow up.  

There are about 500,000 American children in the foster-care system on any given day. Of these, 100,000 will be or already are available for adoption. Few are orphans. In fact, most still have at least one birth parent. However the parent is unable to care for his/her children through circumstance, such as having a tough addiction problem. Or maybe the parents neglect the children or, worst of all, maybe the children were abused - leaving social workers and the courts no choice but to place them with foster parents who can provide a safe haven and genuine, though temporary, care. Many of these kids have "special needs." They may be older or paired with a brother or sister. Some may be physically or emotionally fragile. But no child is "unadoptable."

There are many great parents out there who are eager to open their homes and their hearts to these wonderful boys and girls. How can we bring these parents and kids together? What will it take to help the thousands of American children in foster care? There's no easy answer, and each child in each state presents unique challenges because, unfortunately, adoption laws vary from state to state. We can, however, do a lot to make it easier for waiting kids and parents to connect and build families. Every child deserves a home and a loving family. By improving adoption process, we help the children find the permanence they need. 

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