Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Connected Child Conference March 6-7, 2009 - Winston-Salem, NC

This conference is a great opportunity to hear Dr. Karyn Purvis in person! Here is the registration form and more information below from an email I received Friday from Chuck and Sarah Ledford.

I want to remind families that The Connected Child conference is quickly approaching.  The conference is Friday, March 6th for pediatric professionals and the same conference will be presented to parents   / soon-to-be parents   / or "eventually I want to be a parent" individuals,  Saturday, March 7th.  Details can be found at
I would like to note than many of you completed the post conference evaluation following last years' conference.  The number one comment was for more information to be shared regarding the neuro chemical component to caring for our children.  Dr. Kellermann, a colleague of Dr. Purvis', who serves the children Dr. Purvis works with, to promote healthy neuro transmitters, will be participating in this conference.  We are extremely blessed to have him coming from Wisconsin to spend the weekend in our area.  Several families from Grace Connection (including ours) are already familiar with Dr. Kellermann's work.  Personally, he has been serving our children for about 18 months.  The Ledford family can give a huge "testimonial" towards his work!
So, please be sure to visit the website to purchase tickets.  The tickets are very reasonably priced.  If you discover at the last minute you need additional tickets, tickets can be purchased  at the door.  However, we need to have a firm number of attendees as a catered lunch is included in your ticket.
Thank you to Children's Home Society of NC, the Coalition of Licensed Private Adoption Agencies, ABBA fund, Caroline's Promise and Amazing Grace Adoptions for sponsoring this years' conference!  Please spread the word of the conference to other families.  This is not just for adopted families.  We are targeting all families as it is certainly applicable to every family!

Hope to see you there!
Sarah Ledford,
Author of The Brown-Eyed Girl Series and Co-Founder of Grace Connection, "connecting families through the world of adoption"

Monday, February 9, 2009

Financial assistance for adoption needed more than ever

I read this story in a Kansas newspaper this morning - the Lawrence Journal. Times are tough, but this story provides even more incentive for us to help families overcome the financial barriers through ABBA Fund and Hope For 100 partnerships with local churches. Christine does a great job covering many of the dynamics involved and unlike most reports, she mentions the adoption tax credit! Interest free (no interest) adoption loans provide a great solution for adoptive parents and then they can capture the adoption tax credit ($12,150 per child for 2009).
By Christine Metz

February 8, 2009

Parents are expected to make sacrifices for their children all the time. But for Vanessa and Brian Palenske, those sacrifices came long before the baby.

Since 2006, the Basehor couple has been saving money to adopt — bargain shopping, cutting back on vacations and dining out less frequently.

But a year into the process, the Palenskes have had to turn down several matches because the $25,000 they’ve saved up wasn’t enough. Much of the unexpected costs, which is sometimes $10,000 more, comes from the attorney’s finder fees.

“The price is so astronomical, and to be honest with you, that part has been extremely frustrating,” Vanessa Palenske said. “In my mind, it doesn’t make sense for things to be so costly because we are talking about placing a price on a life.”

Economy affects adoption

Because of the economy, some couples are putting adoption plans on hold.

Some potential parents are being more conservative and others have dropped out of the adoption process altogether, said Shawn Kane, executive director of American Adoptions, an adoption agency in Overland Park.

“We have families tell us that job layoffs or cutbacks is one reason, and others are just fearful of a future layoff, so they just decide to fall out of the process,” Kane said.

Meanwhile, there’s been an increase in women who are considering giving their child up for adoption, Kane said.

“The No. 1 reason why women contact us is almost always financial. A lot of times you are dealing with women who are single parents, a lot of times they have children so they already know how hard it is to parent. Fathers many times are not in the picture,” Kane said. “They definitely love the child and they want to make sure that child has a lot of opportunity, but I think there is a lot of guilt that they can’t provide the kind of opportunity that they would like to.”

Adoptions slowing

While economic hardships haven’t deterred some families from wanting to adopt children, Rodney Huey, a spokesman for the National Council for Adoption, said it has made the process harder.

“There are no figures, but intuitively it is down because everyone is under these hardships,” Huey said.

Last year, new regulations and practices were enacted as part of the Hague Adoption Convention, which has made international adoption more complicated.

Adoption agencies nationwide have folded — either victims of the economy or the tighter restrictions and shutdowns in overseas adoption, Huey said.

The drop in the number of agencies has made the wait longer for couples.

Credit crunch

Depending on the method of adoption and whether it’s a domestic or international adoption, the price can range from $10,000 to $40,000. Federal and some state tax credits are available to offset the cost.

In the past, potential parents could fund those costs by taking out a second mortgage on their home or getting a special “adoption loan.” But those sources of funding have tightened up with the recent credit crunch. And the stock market has taken a hit on their savings.

“The downturn has made money less available, made credit less available and it has slowed the process down,” Huey said.

The Walrods

Paul and Cherri Walrod of Eudora are among those who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on adoption and have gone into debt to do so. Along with their three biological children, the family includes three children adopted internationally. One-and-a-half-year-old Samara joined the family in October.

While still paying off debt from the adoptions, Cherri Walrod has seen the income from her home day care business drop by about $1,000 a month.

To help make ends meet, the family is looking at dropping their cable television, selling a vehicle and not eating out as much.

Despite the tightening budget, Cherri Walrod said she would do the adoptions all over again.

“Our plate is obviously full, but are hearts are, too,” she said.

Parents still interested

Not everyone is seeing a decline in interested parents.

Allan Hazlett, a Topeka attorney who does 30 to 50 adoptions a year, said his office is busier than usual.

“People who choose to adopt are willing to make whatever sacrifices financially necessary to do it, and it is expensive,” he said.

Among Hazlett’s clients are the Palenskes.

At the beginning of the process, Hazlett set out an itemized list on how much the process would cost, Vanessa Palenske said. But it’s the costs from other attorneys and agencies in matching the child with the parents that has been unexpectedly high.

They are still hoping for a child. In the past four weeks, they’ve been flooded with interest from birth mothers looking for adoptive parents.

Currently they have their fingers crossed on a 3-month-old baby girl.

After rushing their portfolio to an agency in Maine, they are waiting to hear whether the birth mother selects them.

Having saved a good chunk of money and with secure jobs — Vanessa is a clinical social worker and Brian is self-employed working in concrete construction — the couple wonders whether they will have an advantage over other potential parents in this economy. Still, their budget is limited.

“If this (baby) truly is meant to be ours, if this is whom God intends us to be matched with, then it will happen no matter what,” Vanessa Palenske said. “When the money comes up like that, then my thought is, then it wasn’t meant to be ours.”