Learning About Diligent Recruitment and the NRCDR During National Foster Care Month

By Britton Slagle, Grant and Staff Writer

What is diligent recruitment, and who is the NRCDR?

Diligent recruitment is a comprehensive, multi-faceted systematic approach to recruiting, developing, supporting, and retaining a pool of resource families who can meet the needs of children and youth in foster care.  The implementation of comprehensive diligent recruitment programs can improve placement stability and permanency outcomes for children.

The National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment (NRCDR) works to assist States, Tribes, and Territories in developing and implementing data-informed diligent recruitment programs in order to achieve improved outcomes. They provide free technical assistance, resources, and other support to help child welfare systems recruit, develop, and support foster, adoptive, and kinship families.  NRCDR supports States, Tribes, and Territories with:

  • Developing and implementing comprehensive, data-driven recruitment plans
  • Improving retention of foster, adoptive, and kinship families
  • Learning about effective recruitment, development, and support strategies
  • Partnering with community stakeholders and private provider agencies to strengthen recruitment and retention efforts

What is the connection between NRCDR and The Adoption Exchange? Continue reading

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The 5 Essential Traits of GREAT Volunteers

By Jen Padgett, Events & Volunteer Coordinator

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a great volunteer?

I have been volunteering off and on with different organizations for almost twenty years, and I’ve never once wondered if I was a great volunteer. It was not until I became a Volunteer Coordinator that I began to see the difference between good volunteers and great volunteers.

Perhaps you are like me and you just assumed that all volunteers who show up are great volunteers!

Over the last ten months of working with the volunteers at The Adoption Exchange, there are five traits that stand out among our great volunteers.

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It’s National Adoption Month! Do you want to adopt? This is how!

By Jessica Hartwig, Adoption Recruitment Specialist

Today more than 427,000 children are waiting in foster care in the United States; more than 111,000 of them are available to be adopted. Each year more than 20,000 of those waiting children will “age out” of care, putting them at greater risk of homelessness, underemployment, health challenges, and great emotional loss throughout their entire lives.

Because of these staggering numbers, November is recognized as National Adoption Awareness Month in the United States.  In 1995, President Bill Clinton expanded National Adoption Awareness Week to the entire month of November.  As of 2016, National Adoption Awareness Month has been celebrated for 21 years! Child welfare advocates and U.S. leaders celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month to pay tribute to the thousands of adoptive families who make sacrifices and open their homes to youth living in the nation’s foster care system.

Many people choose to begin pursuing adoption during National Adoption Awareness Month. If you are ready to begin your adoption journey, read on!

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You Gave Me The Most Special Gift and I Have Questions

By Jessica Hartwig, Adoption Recruitment Specialist

In my personal experience with ‘foster to adopt’ adoption, we did not have the opportunity to meet our daughter’s birth mother.  She walked out of the hospital after she gave birth.  We took our baby home at six days old and had faith that she would ultimately be our adoptive daughter.  Very little information is known about our daughter’s birth parents.  The identifying contact information that her birth mother completed within the hospital was false.  Birth father is unknown.  The only birth parent information that my husband and I have to share with our daughter is the fragmented account that one social worker who had met her told us within days of our placement.

This experience is common among public agency adoptions. However, a few public agency adoptive parents and many parents who adopt through a private agency do get the privilege of meeting a birth family member. During your adoption journey, should you have the opportunity to meet a birth mother or birth family member, I would suggest that you be prepared to ask the questions that you and your adopted child may need to know now and/or want to know in the future.  Continue reading

Foster Parenting: It is not about us, it is about what is best for the child

By a Foster Parent

As a trainer for new foster and adoptive families, I always say, “It is not about us, it is about what is best for the child.”  There are so many tremendous rewards to building relationships with biological families.  In my role as a social worker and trainer, I emphasize the importance of the relationship between foster/adoptive families and birth families.   However, as a foster parent, I have had the joy of experiencing all the benefits myself.

In early summer 2005, my husband and I took placement of a precious one-month old baby boy, who I will call Sean.  Just before Sean’s birth, his parents’ rights were terminated to his older sister. We were selected as Sean’s foster family by the agency because of our willingness to adopt him in the event that his parents were not successful in completing their treatment plan.  We were overjoyed and excited about becoming parents and the prospect of possibly adopting Sean.  Despite our own history of infertility and deep desire to adopt a child, my husband and I knew that our role as Sean’s foster parents was not to fulfill our own wishes.

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A Day for Wednesday’s Child

By Ben Lusz, Director of Events and Volunteers

Celebrate [sel-uh-breyt] verb

Definition: To observe or commemorate with ceremonies of festivities

I have been with The Adoption Exchange for a few months and one of the best parts of working here is hearing the intercom make a beep followed by an announcement to all staff. This wonderful announcement includes the name of a youth, his or her interests, and wait for it….the announcement of their placement with an adoptive family! This announcement is followed by each staff member making noise, hooting, and CELEBRATING this happy moment of this new addition to a family.

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Adoption is part of my 2016 New Year’s Resolution! How do I start the process? Where do I begin?

By Jessica Hartwig, Adoption Recruitment Specialist

Adoption is a journey that is often referred to as a “roller coaster” ride.  I’ve taken the ride and it’s worth the ups and downs!  No matter how you choose to grow your family through adoption, “patience,” “personal reflection,” “diligence,” and “faith in miracles” are usually lessons learned through this emotional ride.

Begin your plan with research.  You will find that there are several different options in choosing your adoption plan.  You’ll want to gather as much information as possible to help you decide whether you prefer to work with a public or private agency, or if you want to adopt a child from another country. Research and knowledge is the key to feeling great about your final adoption decision.  No matter what route you ultimately take down this path, I suggest that you conduct interviews with your top three private adoption agencies, attend orientation at your public department of child welfare offices, and speak with other pre- and post-adoptive families and inquire on their experiences.  Take a few weeks to fully research your options because “knowledge is power” in this extremely important decision.  You should feel very confident about the path you choose to take and how you grow your family through adoption. Continue reading