April 27 is our Celebration of Family Gala. We’ll be recognizing two members of our Adoption family – the late sportswriter Stan Hochman and The Codkind Family. This is our largest fundraiser of the year, providing much needed support to help find adoptive families for children living in foster care. We have some very cool items for auction including: tickets to the Stephen Colbert Show, VIP package to the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade along with VIP Breakfast; play golf at Merion, home of the 2014 US Open, Dinner at world-famous Chef Vola’s, Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers tickets and much more. Go to here for details.
A beautiful, sunny, Saturday morning and we were waiting outside the Art Center of Northern New Jersey for Ruth, the director, to open the doors. We were all ready for the day of art to begin. Our Art Match Event with prospective adoptive families and New Jersey youth was planned months ago and it was finally going to happen!
The families arrived first and we had the opportunity to meet with them separately and tell them about the day and answer their questions about match events. All families were new to events like this -where they met youth in person who were available for adoption. Once the youth arrived everyone mingled and we played an ice breaker, people bingo. I was fun to see everyone have to ask, “Have you ever been to Asia?” Only two of the families could answer this question, so it took some time before we had two winners, one family and one youth.
We sat down and ate lunch together and then broke into groups of youth and families, one group for collage and one for still life drawing followed by water color painting. Then we switched the youth from one activity to the other so they could interact with the new families and do the other art activity.
The New Jersey staff who brought the youth to the event got to meet separately with the families and talk about the youth they had brought while the youth worked with clay downstairs. We had some very talented youth at this event whose art in every medium was phenomenal, including the clay masks they made. The Art Center was delighted with their talent and was going to fire their masks and a New Jersey staff member was going to make sure they got their completed art work.
Families who were there expressed their desire to come to other match events held for New Jersey in the future and how excited they were to have met such awesome youth! There were many inquiries and it is always promising that the work we do at the National Adoption Center on behalf of New Jersey could result in a forever family for the youth who are waiting for a permanent, loving home.
contributed by Santina Devine, Spring Program Assistant
I’ve been working on a project this spring for the National Adoption Center in Philadelphia. My work involves helping to plan two “Match Events” for older youth in the foster care system and families interested in adopting teenagers.
Teens in the foster care system face greater odds of being adopted, simply because of their age. They may have been in the system longer, and have a harder time adjusting to life with a new family. Despite these challenges, it’s vital that these teenagers make connections with families so that they have a social support system before they “age out” of the system at 21.
Remember what it felt like to be out on your own in the working world or at school for the first time? It’s exciting and frightening at once. Imagine going out into the world with no one to support you, no one to call when you had questions or needed advice? It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.
Match events provide a fun and low-key way for teens and prospective families to meet each other. Maybe a family will feel a connection with a certain teenager or vice versa. Even if no potential matches are made, it’s a valuable experience for all involved. Teens get to see that they aren’t alone in their situation, and get to spend the day with other kids who “get it.” Families get a chance to meet these kids and gain a better perspective on what it means to adopt a child, and what some of the challenges might be.
As a mom, this whole situation seems pretty complicated. My heart goes out to the children in foster care who may grow up without a steady support system. I also feel for adoptive parents who face not only the challenge of parenting (!), but earning the trust of a child or teen who’s been through some rough experiences.
I asked my program manager, “Who adopts teens?” She said a study had been done a few years back, and that two common traits of families emerged from the data. Families who had successfully adopted teenagers tended to be part of a religious or spiritual community and had already raised their own kids. This makes sense since these folks have parenting experience and the support of a larger community.
So what do you think? Are you up for the challenge, or do you know someone else who is? If so, learn how to get started here: Ten Step Overview. Let’s also keep both the kids and families in our thoughts and wish them well.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Connelly Foundation, the National Adoption Center will be recruiting desperately needed resource families for the thousands of children and youth who are in foster care (a resource family is another expression to use when referring to foster parents). The work we’ll be doing will focus on particular police districts in the City of Philadelphia and unfortunately, the need far outweighs the supply. In great part due to the epidemic of addiction, there are more children coming into the system than families willing to take them in. It’s our hope that we can help to alleviate this problem with targeted recruitment, in both English and Spanish that can prevent these vulnerable children from ending up in group settings. Research has shown that custodial children fare far better when in a family setting. We hope of course that these resource families turn into adoptive families, the best form of permanency there is. We will be announcing these events via local publications as well as social media, so stay tuned for details.
Interested in art? Thinking about adoption? If your answer was "yes", then you need to be at our next Match Event!
For those that aren’t familiar with Match Events, it is a carefully-planned event designed to bring together children waiting to be adopted with approved, home-studied families interested in adopting. The youth participate in an entertaining day that focuses on them and also gives them the chance to meet other youth who are waiting to be adopted. Families also participate in the activities and meet all the youth one-on-one. These events enable youth to participate in the effort to find their adoptive families while giving them a day full of fun. Saturday, March 12th we will be hosting another awesome Match Event for New Jersey youth. The youth at this event will be ages 10 and up and the activities will center on being creative and making art.
These events are specifically for children awaiting adoption. We understand the desire to want to be a resource for these youth but for safety reasons, we only invite families who have completed a homestudy. In short, a homestudy is a process that is completed with a local adoption agency and ensures that your family is ready to adopt. Space is limited and the event is March 12th, so if you’re a homestudied or licensed family interested in attending this event please contact Anna Coleman at 267-443-1867 or at email@example.com.
In February, the National Adoption Center, in partnership with the State of New Jersey, will complete an eighteen month program whose goal was to achieve permanent connections for older youth in foster care. NAC’s outstanding Program team worked with a caseload of twenty youth and developed teams of support for each child by unearthing past relationships. In some cases it was a teacher, a principal or even a coach that at some time was in the child’s life. These teams met monthly and provided much needed support for youth who were about to age out of care without a permanent connection. The culmination of this initiative was a spectacular luncheon retreat where everyone involved celebrated the connections that were made. Will these turn out to be lifelong connections? Will some end up adopted? We hope so. At the very least, they showed these courageous youth that they were not alone in the world; that there were indeed caring adults in their life who could offer, love and encouragement.
On January 8th, we hosted New Jersey’s first matching event of the year. It took place in Maple Shade, New Jersey at a popular bowling alley. For this event we were able to be of service to twenty youth who are in foster care and twelve families who are looking to adopt. The age group of the youth at this event was from twelve and up. The reason we choose to service this particular group of youth is because as you become older while in care, the chances of being adopted by a family begins to decrease. This is the unfortunate reality for some youth in foster care. It is also unfortunate that families who are looking to adopt are not particularly interested in adopting older youth. This is why our matching events are so important to us. We use these events as a platform to let families know that there are older youth who need forever families and they would love to be a part of yours.
Towards the end of the event we had families come to us and say “If I had known this event was for older youth I wouldn’t have attended; but I am so glad I did.” Even if you are a family looking to adopt younger youth, I would encourage you to give older youth a chance. You just might meet one that could change you and your family’s life for the better. Hope to see you at our next matching event!
The National Adoption Center and Wendy’s kicked of its hugely successful key tag campaign on January 4. Buy a key tag for $1 at all participating tri-state (PA/NJ/DE) Wendy’s restaurants between now and February 16 and receive a free Jr. Frosty with any purchase through December 31, 2016. What a great way to support the Adoption Center’s mission to find loving homes for children in foster care while snacking on a truly delicious desert. The key tag campaign has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for NAC over the years! We love Wendy’s!!
Parenting Special Needs Magazine, a bi-monthly online publication, has partnered with us to feature children with whom we work. Each issue will feature a photo and description of a child who waits to be adopted. The child featured in this issue is 17 and has Down syndrome. He is one of a growing number of teenagers who still hopes for a family to give him a permanent home.
When we opened in 1972, most children waiting for families were younger, mainly 5 or older, and many sibling groups even included toddlers. That was a time when adoption was considered mainly for babies and married couples who could not conceive biologically.
The world of adoption has changed. So has society. Today, the younger children we saw 40 years ago find homes more easily. But we are worried about the adolescents who will soon “age out” of foster care without the permanent families they need and want.
The kinds of parents considered as potential adopters have changed too. Single people are eligible to adopt; so are members of the LGBT community. It is recognized that many kinds of people can be excellent parents and help a child realize his/her potential.
Because so many of the Center’s children have special needs, we welcome the opportunity to work closely with this magazine. It reaches families who already have special children, appreciate their qualities and gain so much satisfaction from their achievements.
Here’s the link to the magazine: Parenting Special Needs Magazine
Lisa and Chris Jacobson of Lehigh Valley, PA had been through multiple disappointing rounds of fertility treatments. Even though Chris had a child from a previous relationship, his son only visited on weekends, and the couple yearned to be full-time parents.
Lisa’s mother lived across the street and had been a foster parent for 13 years. Fifteen-year old Jasmine had been in and out of foster homes for nine years when she moved into Lisa’s mother’s home. Jasmine agreed to do Wednesday’s Child and attend a matching event in the hopes of finding a forever family.
“It made me sad that Jasmine was going to an event handing out flyers to get people to adopt her,” said Lisa. “I came home and told my husband that Jasmine was the child we were meant to adopt.” Chris agreed immediately.
It was Good Friday, March 2013. Lisa asked Jasmine what she was looking for in potential parents. “What about people like us?” asked Lisa. Jasmine agreed that Lisa and Chris were the type she wanted to which Lisa replied, “No, what if we asked you to be adopted by us?” Within six months Jasmine was officially their daughter.
What was your reaction when the Jacobsons said they wanted to adopt you?
Jasmine: The first thing that came to my mind was, “Why would you want to adopt me?” I was so surprised. After being taken from my mom, being in care for so long and experiencing a failed match I had started to think that no one would ever want me.
How has your life changed since becoming part of the Jacobson’s family?
Jasmine: It’s so different. I had to get used to being hugged and loved and having things given to me because before I had to do everything on my own. I had to get used to people caring and worrying about me. Now I get to be a regular teenager too. I can do things like after-school activities, visit a friend’s house, and attend football games. I also have my driver’s permit.
How has adopting Jasmine changed your life?
Lisa: When first having struggles with infertility, I told my friends that I couldn’t adopt because there was no way I could love a child that wasn’t biologically mine. Truth is I fell in love with Jasmine right away. Jasmine knows I would die for her. I don’t feel any different about her than anyone else in my family. I actually think I love her more knowing where she came from and what she went through
Chris: It’s wonderful being a full-time dad and experiencing everyday life with my child and doing things together. It’s a joy to see her grow and to help her grow. Jasmine captured my heart right away. She’s such an amazing, well-rounded person. She’s definitely Daddy’s Girl and has me wrapped around her finger.
What surprised you?
Lisa: The actual adoption process didn’t take a lot of money or time. Jasmine moved in and in six months it was done. It wasn’t as hard as we had heard people talk about.
What would you say to people who are hesitant to adopt an older child?
Jasmine: When you adopt an older child you are changing the life of someone who grew up in poverty. You get to care for and love someone who is so vulnerable.
Chris: Go for it head first. Go in with a full heart and open mind and just do as much as you can for the child. Love them as much as you can, give support and be there for them.
Lisa: You are changing the life of a child whom others won’t give a chance. We aren’t saying it was always easy. We went through challenges together, but the end result is really worth it.
Lisa continued: Under my high school yearbook photo I included a quote that read, “I want a job that I don’t need, but a job that needs me.” Well I didn’t need to be a mom, but the job needed me. Being Jasmine’s mom was the job I was talking about all those years ago
Today Jasmine is a high school senior applying to colleges to fulfill her dream of becoming a social worker. Soon she will turn 18 and also become a big sister—within two months the Jacobsons will adopt the baby boy of a former foster youth who lived with Lisa’s mother.