Hopscotch Adoptions board member, Kristin Dadey, also member of the Phnom Penh Catholic community, comes from a large family which include deaf brothers and a sister. Now residing in Cambodia, she had the idea of producing a video about the Maryknoll Deaf Development Programme, to help promote its work and recruited her friend, Sita Verma, as a partner. Together they developed a project to produce a five-minute DDP video. Stay tuned!
Secretary of State, John Kerry, Remarks on National Adoption Month
Washington, DC: November 1, 2013
I have a niece named Iris, who is one of the most extraordinary young women I’ve ever known. From the day she came into our family, she has filled our lives with love and joy. And every time I’m with her, I am grateful my sister Peggy was able to adopt her from China years ago.
Every child needs and deserves to grow up, safe and sound, in a loving home. But sometimes that’s not the kind of environment a child’s biological parents can provide.
When parents or relatives aren’t able to care for children, adoption can help give kids the permanent families they deserve. And, when adoptive families are not available in the places where these children live, inter-country adoptions can help find them a loving home abroad.
I firmly believe that ethical and transparent inter-country adoption is a critical part of the international children’s welfare system. It helps ensure that kids receive the love and support they need to grow into healthy and productive adults. I’ve seen it firsthand. That’s why I worked hard in the Senate to help families navigate past roadblocks in the international adoption process. It’s also why I was proud to be a member of Senator Landrieu’s caucus on adoption.
Today the United States is one of 90 countries that are party to the Hague Adoption Convention – a set of internationally supported principles aimed at protecting both birth and adoptive parents and, most importantly, adopted children.
And thanks to a law President Obama signed this past January, one I co-sponsored when I was a U.S. Senator, today these adoptions are safer than ever. Every U.S.-accredited inter-country adoption provider – in every country, around the world – must adhere to a set of strong, universal standards that make the well-being of kids the top priority.
The State Department’s adoption website – adoption.state.gov – is a great resource for anyone who is interested in learning more. Our Bureau of Consular Affairs keeps this site updated with the latest country information sheets, adoption processes, and developments that may affect inter-country adoption.
Over the past decade, more than 200,000 children – from more than 100 countries – were adopted by American families. And as we mark National Adoption Month this November, the Department of State commits to doing our part to find loving homes for thousands and thousands more.
Photo: Timothy Archibald
San Francisco-based photographer Timothy Archibald began taking portraits of his autistic son, Eli, when the boy was 5 years old. “At the time, we weren’t doing a project; we were just being parent and son,” he tells Yahoo Shine. The photos were a way to help him understand his child. “Suddenly, when Eli started school, teachers, other parents — everybody — wanted to know more about him; why was he acting that way, why was he different from other students … If I take a picture, maybe I’ll see what everybody is so freaked out about. ” Archibald and his wife had noticed that Eli could fixate on mechanical objects for hours and get swept up into thunderstorm like tantrums, but had never before identified him as being on the autism spectrum.
From the beginning, Eli didn’t settle for being the subject — the project became collaborative and a way for father and son to communicate. “He didn’t want to be photographed; he wanted to share ideas and work with me,” Archibald says. Eventually, Archibald collected the images in a book, called "Echolilia: Sometimes I Wonder," which is available on his blog and refers to his son’s habit of repeating phrases that is typical of children with autism. When the book first came out, in 2010, the photos were controversial, he says. “There is an alarming quality to seeing this frail little boy looking even more frail.” Some people accused Archibald of being exploitative. Over time, attitudes have become more sympathetic, and just in the last couple of weeks, the series have resurfaced and gone viral. What we see is a father exploring the mystery of his son and a son whispering clues to his father.
A Good, Solid Grounding: How Stable Families Help Prevent Human Trafficking: by Natalie Tarasar, National Council for Adoption Constituent Services Intern
I figured that a quick search on Google would reflect an interesting social thought or emotion on the issue. The search for Child showed me pictures of innocence and joy; Adopted Child gave me mixed-race families and happiness; but Foster Child showed me both innocence and isolation, smiles and tears, open arms and fetal positions. Why were negative images mixed in with foster care?
Don’t get me wrong; I realize that a Google search is one step below Wikipedia on information credibility, but my little social experiment got me thinking about the importance of stable families for children.
The National Council For Adoption has always and will always promote the safe, stable, and loving forever families for every child. Families provide safety, warmth, love, shelter, support, encouragement, and social interaction-things that all children deserve. Our focus on the positive, loving placement of children has been so dominant in my mind every day at work, that I was absolutely floored to learn that trafficking was so common amongst children in foster care and could even occur amongst adopted children if appropriate reviews, supports, and laws weren’t available or enforced.
Keep in mind that perspective is important. Recently, the House Ways & Means, Human Resource Subcommittee held a hearing on Preventing and Addressing Sex Trafficking of Youth in Foster Care. Representative Slaughter shared there that most of the 400,000 children in the US foster care system are in loving and safe family settings. Families who have opened their hearts and homes to children who need them. Without diminishing the weight of this issue, remember that we are discussing the outliers.
Trafficking popped up again when NCFA was asked to attend the 43rd Annual Congressional Black Caucus on Modern Day Slavery: Human Trafficking in America presented by Representative Sheila Jackson. A panel of experts spoke about a system that sometimes fails to protect its dependents, though ironically its primary goal is to remove children from unsafe environments.
I was astounded by the statistics we heard there; in New York 85% of trafficked minors have either a social services or foster care background-the national number is close to 60% of trafficked youth. I wondered if it was the foster system itself that provided a segue for children to become victims of trafficking-or vice versa-if trafficked and high-risk youth were put into the foster care system. Which came first?
The answer is an unfortunate combination, which perpetuates the cycle for victims and makes this problem all the more difficult to solve. The entire premise seems to boil down to one descriptor: vulnerability.
Children’s dependency makes them highly susceptible to coercion. Add to that traumatic and sometimes indefinite transitions into placement, and the vulnerability increases. At the Preventing and Addressing Sex Trafficking of Youth in Foster Care hearing, Withelma Pettigrew, a previous foster child and trafficked survivor, testified that foster children like herself have difficulty creating meaningful and positive relationships, become accustomed to isolation, and are often not involved in making their own life decisions (location, social workers, schools, activities, friends etc.) A perpetual state of mental and physical transition like this only heightens their vulnerability to manipulative and dangerous exploiters. The foster care system can make it seem normal and acceptable that their lives be unstable and they may accept the dangers of trafficking as one more hard transition – making them far too easy a target. Congressman Paulsen quoted the Chicago Tribune; "Because many girls in foster care feel starved for a sense of family, experts say it is not uncommon for pimps to target group homes."
We’re grateful that many dedicated professionals-representatives, judges, lawyers, social workers, agencies, advocates, and others-work tirelessly to reduce the correlation between foster care and human trafficking. Every effort should be made to keep children safe while in foster care, this is essential. We think it’s our job at NCFA to remember to also emphasize that these are important, but only interim solutions.
Family is the forever solution. A loving, stable, permanent family and support system are the best protection and the best preventative measure to keep children out of particularly vulnerable environments. NCFA advocates for providing services so that families can be kept together whenever appropriately possible; it supports the reunification of children to their previous families; and of course our work focuses on creating families through adoption when appropriate. We think it’s important to review, educate, prepare, and support families to ensure that every child not only has a family, but thrives there. We believe that a permanent, nurturing forever family is the best solution and we don’t ever want to lose sight of that.