Children's Voice Mar/Apr 2006

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Eye on CWLA

Elementary Students Empty Their Pockets for Katrina Kids Fund

About 600 Minnesota elementary students set a weekly goal last October to empty their pockets of all their spare change for CWLA. When the 26 classes, kindergarten through sixth grade at Wyoming Elementary School, Wyoming, Minnesota, totaled their big plastic buckets of change, the end result was a $5,000 donation to CWLA's Katrina Kids Fund.

CWLA awarded the funds to Raintree Children's Services in New Orleans, a member agency that continues to recuperate from Hurricane Katrina's effects on the foster care and residential services it provides. Raintree used the money from Wyoming Elementary School to purchase Christmas gifts for the children it serves.

"CWLA seemed like a perfect beneficiary because it was about kids raising money for kids," says Nicci Malm, a member of the Wyoming Elementary School PTA, which organized the school's Coins for Katrina drive.

Members of the school's PTA learned about CWLA's efforts to help child and family serving agencies affected by Hurricane Katrina through CWLA's website. Malm says the PTA was particularly happy to see that 94c of every dollar raised for the Katrina Kids Fund goes directly to hurricane-related activities rather than administrative costs.

Local businesses in Wyoming, located about 25 miles north of St. Paul, also pitched in, pairing up with classes and matching their totals. At the end of each week, the class that raised the most coins received a prize. One class got to spray-paint the principal's hair purple for homecoming; another danced the Hokey Pokey with the principal, which was broadcast on the school's television station.

At the end of the month, the school's fifth grade class beat out the kindergarten by about $10 as the schoolwide winner. The class enjoyed an ice cream party as its prize, feasting on ice cream donated by a local grocery store.

Along with their donation, Wyoming Elementary's students also sent colorfully decorated cards and well wishes to the children served by Raintree. Malm says the students hope to strike up a regular correspondence with the children served by the agency.

CWLA Joins Coalition Examining International Adoption

Over the past decade, Americans have adopted more than 70,000 children from Russia and other Eastern European countries, including Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine. The number of intercountry adoptions could drop, however, if Russia and other countries in the region impose severe restrictions as a result of recent child deaths in the United States.

Over the past few years, at least 13 toddlers have been beaten to death within nine months of arriving in the United States from Russia and being adopted by two-parent families. Reacting to these cases, Russia has threatened a moratorium or severe restrictions on international adoption. Other countries are also contemplating restrictions or have already imposed them, including Romania, which passed legislation in 2005 prohibiting international adoptions.

CWLA has joined a coalition of nongovernmental organizations working to determine what additional safeguards can be implemented to maximize the protection of internationally adopted children. Other coalition members include the Adoption Exchange Association, the Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children, Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoptions, the Joint Council on International Children's Services, and the National Council for Adoption, as well as some 30 licensed adoption agencies.

The group convened for the first time last summer in Washington, DC, to discuss the issue with child welfare experts. Following the meeting, the coalition sent a letter to Maura Harty, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Consular Affairs, to convey its concern and to request that the U.S. State Department continue to hold diplomatic discussions regarding the positive option of international adoption.

The coalition is updating guidelines for international adoption. CWLA has provided its Standards of Excellence for Adoption Services as a resource for the project.

"This will be an ongoing effort where we study what we are doing well and what could be improved on," says Meghan Hendy, Executive Director of the Joint Council on International Children's Services. "Many agencies are doing excellent work preparing and supporting families, but we need to share those resources and tools so everyone can benefit."

Topics that will continue to be addressed include screening of prospective adoptive parents, preplacement education and preparation, and post-adoption support.

Adding a Dash of Family and a Pinch of Love

Recipes for chicken, meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, desserts, and more desserts are available in the new cookbook, Voice for Adoption: Recipes and Memories, published by Voice for Adoption, a grassroots organization cofounded by CWLA.

Voice for Adoption began selling the cookbooks as a fundraiser during the 2005 holiday season. By mid-December, nearly 1,000 of the 1,500 cookbooks printed were sold. "They're going like hotcakes," said Ada White, Director of Adoption for CWLA and member of the Board of Directors for Voice for Adoption.

Selling for $19.95, the cookbooks feature photographs, more than 500 recipes, adoption stories, and memories submitted by adoptive parents, adopted adults, children's advocates, legislators, celebrities, and others. The cover and inside pages also feature pictures of 10 older children waiting to be adopted. Readers are encouraged to go to www.adoptex.org to learn more about the children and others like them.

White said the response to the fund-raiser has been so positive that plans for a second cookbook are in the works. Recipes people wanted included in the 2005 cookbook, including one from Senator Hillary Clinton, continued to come in, even after the deadline.

Voice for Adoption is a coalition of 100 national, state, and local adoption organizations that develop and advocate for improved adoption policies. Founded in 1996, the organization educates lawmakers, media outlets, and the general public about children in state custody and the families that come forward to adopt them. To order a cookbook, while supplies last, visit www.voiceforadoption.org.

Opportunities

For the CWLA Conference Calendar, click here.


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