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Get Real provides teens in foster care a dynamic opportunity in a safe and supportive environment to listen and share their experiences and hopes for the future with others. These groups provide a safe place for participants with no judgement and to be themselves.

Adoption Network Cleveland uses a peer support model in much of its programming and Family Ties is no exception. Learn about our parent leaders, the Parent Advisory Team, in this article.

Bill Beagle, guest blogger, former State Senator and co-sponsor of Ohio’s Adoptee Access to Records legislation reflects on the process as we approach the fourth anniversary of Ohio’s long awaited “Opening Day” March 20, 2015 when 400,000 adult adoptees could finally apply for and receive their original birth certificate.

How much do you understand about LGBTQ2S, SOGIE and proper pronouns? One of our partners, Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, is looking for affirming families who want to foster or adopt LGBTQ2S children and youth. Learn more about the AFFIRM.ME. program and how you might become involved.

Guest blogger and adoptee Robin Zidek shares her story, a poignant reminder that adoption is a life-long journey and that “finding your people” is an important step to healing.

Nearly five years after finding his hobby, Marty Resnik uses his art to benefit local organizations. As an Adoption Network Cleveland member and donor, Marty continues to spread the word about the impact of our organization.

Linda Rogers attended Adoption Network Cleveland’s founding conference, and it altered the course of her life. 30 years later, she remains a strong supporter and member.

Adoption Network Cleveland recently spoke to staff at the Cuyahoga County Division of Children & Family Services, who provided insight to kinship family resources in Ohio and specifically in Cuyahoga County.

Lobby Day is an incredibly important part of our advocacy mission and Adoption Network Cleveland relies on motivated volunteer advocates to augment our voice to the state government.

The Weaving Cultures Transracial Family Group offers a setting where both children and adults can form relationships, find resources and spend time with other families who share similar experiences.

After being separated from her two younger brothers while they were in foster care sixty years ago, Karen decided to search for them with the help of Adoption Network Cleveland.

Adoption is complex, but Adoption Network Cleveland’s General Discussion Meetings are a safe place for all members of the adoption triad to gather for support, deeper understanding and hope. Elaine Hagan shares the impact that General Discussion Meetings continue to have on her life.

Every adoptee and birthparent is different. Consider working together at the outset to develop guiding principles for your adoption reunion.

Thom Nykamp, Vice President of Executive Compensation for Eaton, serves on our Board of Directors. Thom has been touched by the stories and wide expanse of programs Adoption Network Cleveland has to offer!

Adoption Network Cleveland’s program Reconnections helps alumni of foster care navigate the complexities of reconnecting with birth family. Advocate and foster alum Lisa Dickson of Foster ACTION Ohio weighs in on the importance of this support.

Adam and Amanda Deal epitomized hope and resilience during their journey to becoming adoptive parents and continue to promote family and love despite overwhelming health challenges. Adoption Network Cleveland celebrated Adam and Amanda through special recognition at the Annual Meeting 2018.

The Triad Advocate of the Year Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the adoption community as demonstrated by a specific accomplishment, project, program or milestone. Adoption Network Cleveland was pleased to honor three individuals this year for their contributions to the community including Dr. Elaine Schulte, Ms. Lori Scobee and Dr. Elizabeth Swenson.

The Triad Advocate of the Year Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the adoption community as demonstrated by a specific accomplishment, project, program or milestone. Adoption Network Cleveland was pleased to honor three individuals this year for their contributions to the community including Dr. Elaine Schulte, Ms. Lori Scobee and Dr. Elizabeth Swenson.

The Triad Advocate of the Year Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the adoption community as demonstrated by a specific accomplishment, project, program or milestone. Adoption Network Cleveland was pleased to honor three individuals this year for their contributions to the community including Dr. Elaine Schulte, Ms. Lori Scobee and Dr. Elizabeth Swenson.

Adoption Network Cleveland was pleased to welcome five new members as well as two renewing members to the Board of Directors for the next term. 

An important part of our work at Adoption Network Cleveland is to develop and impact state law relating to adoption and child welfare issues, and 2018 was no exception. The Ohio legislature convenes in two year cycles, and we were involved in several bills during the 132nd General Assembly for 2017-2018. Here is an overview of bills and outcomes, as well as a little about what is to come in our advocacy work.

Four members of the Adoption Network Cleveland Board of Directors retired at the end of their terms and were honored for their service to the organization at the 2018 Annual Meeting in November.

For 30 years Adoption Network Cleveland has put our values into action. Every day we work to pursue our mission through Inclusiveness, Collaboration, Courage and Trust.

January is National Mentoring Month, and one of our EMBRACE Mentoring Program mentors, Dan Leschnik, shares why being a mentor is so important to him.

Ayanna Abi-Kyles and Robert “Gib” Gibbons both serve as Family Support Coordinators, and Julius Jackson serves as a Permanency Navigator and Training Coordinator. Adoption Network Cleveland is incredibly thankful for their combined 30+ years of invaluable service.

Beyond parents, this book is also an important resource for adoption professionals, teachers, mental health providers, medical providers, advocates, and anyone whose life has been touched by, or has a relationship with, an adopted person.

Lyrical and informative, Cleveland native Karen Pickell, born and adopted in the late 1960s, intersperses snippets of her own experience with social history and contemporary politics to elucidate the lifelong perceptions, needs and rights of adopted people.

Dottie Klemm has contributed 30 years of service to Adoption Network Cleveland. Her efforts were recognized as the recipient of our 2018 Founder's Award, given in the spirit of volunteerism by which the organization was founded in 1988.

Children impacted by adoption, foster and kinship care may be triggered by family focused messaging during the holidays. Here are three tips for parents to combat the emotional triggers children may experience over winter break.

'Instant Family' delves into the dynamics involved in foster care and adoption on many levels and from multiple aspects, while also reminding us to keep our sense of humor.

As donors, we have many choices of who to support during the holiday season. When you make a gift to Adoption Network Cleveland, you become a part of our Network, changing the lives of individuals, children and families that are impacted by adoption and foster care.

Every adoptee’s choice to search, or not to search, for their birth family is equally valid and personal to their needs. Neither is right or wrong.

Heidi and Roy Shunk have relied on Adoption Network Cleveland Permanency Navigator Julius Jackson to move along a lengthy, but worthwhile, adoption process.

Online shopping is an easy way to support Adoption Network Cleveland. Sign up to give as you shop through AmazonSmile and iGive!

Annual Gift Card Drive benefits older youth who have experienced trauma, are in foster care or who have been in foster care.

Adoption Network Cleveland welcomes poem submissions for our Birthmother's Day Ceremony from birthmothers at all stages of the experience, and especially from those that are early in the journey.

As an adoptee searching for her birthparents in the 1990s, Kim Donato felt 'pulled' toward Adoption Network Cleveland by its grassroots culture. Since then, she's been closely involved as a member and has grown in ways she never imagined.

Adoption Network Cleveland advocates for increased supports for foster parents to improve retention of highly-engaged foster parents.

Transracial adoption as a phenomenon has a short, volatile history in North America. While the debate about the effects has been hotly contested, most people likely see the issue as a continuous aspect of adoption research.

Adoption Network Cleveland staff participated in training in September about Trust-Based Relational Intervention to enhance our programming and work with families.

Adoptee Becky Drinnen describes her desire for knowledge and connection to her biological roots as completing a puzzle. With the help of DNA, she finally put all those pieces in place.

It is important for those impacted by adoption to identify an adoption-competent therapist when looking for mental health support.

Youth aging or aged out of the foster care system face different challenges than their counterparts, so proper support systems are critical during their transition to adulthood. Bridges, run by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and Reconnections, run by Adoption Network Cleveland, are two programs that can provide support.

The emotional ESPN story of an NFL coach and an adoptee searching for his birthparents underscores the importance and continuing impact of Adoption Network Cleveland’s successful advocacy for adoptee access to birth records.

VISTAs are here to build capacity at Adoption Network Cleveland! Meet our new Grants and Donor Engagement VISTA, and Volunteers and Outreach VISTA.

The George Gund Foundation has been a consistent funding partner with Adoption Network Cleveland, supporting the organization’s advocacy work and programs since 1995.

After they adopted their son, parents Mary and Marty found the support and sense of community that they needed for their journey at Adoption Network Cleveland.

Individuals seek out volunteer experiences for several reasons. Here are three worth considering to make volunteering a part of your life.

For people connected to youth (or adults) who have experienced childhood trauma, reframing or looking at a situation from a different perspective can be critical.

Facing lifelong questions about where she came from, adoptee Kara Carter turned to DNA to aid a complicated search as she eventually connected with her birth family.

Using DNA to find an individual’s birth family has drastically impacted our Search Assistance program at Adoption Network Cleveland, and changed searches for birth relatives worldwide.

Professionals working alongside traumatized victims listen to heavy narratives frequently, which can sometimes cause a phenomenon called vicarious trauma. There are a few simple and effects steps to both prevent and soften the effects of vicarious trauma.

Most people know that mentoring a young person can have profound, lifelong outcomes on a young person's life. Mentoring also impacts mentors in ways you may not think.

A new mediation program for foster child placement will allow for more effective permanency planning for youth, while maintaining as many positive permanent connections for the child as possible.

Volunteers are involved in every aspect of the organization, and make us who we are. Many of our volunteers, like Maureen Heffernan, have been with us for a decade or more. Learn about her in this Q&A.

Have you received that dreaded call from the principal’s office at your child’s school before? Many children who are in adoptive, kinship and foster families face challenges in school. Here are six online educational resources that will help you support your child’s success in school.

When Jennifer Zisk-Vitron came to Adoption Network Cleveland: The Ohio Family Connection, in 2014 as the Youth Services Program Coordinator, she immediately saw the impact her work had on others.

Our community events are a time for the organization to re-engage, educate and share with the individuals and families we serve. They use the time to reconnect and share their struggles as well as accomplishments with each other. This is where we collectively develop our sense of community: people with shared experiences coming together to support one another.

Do yourself a favor and read as little as possible about 'Three Identical Strangers' before seeing the film. But make sure you see it if you have the opportunity. Like any well-told documentary, the film raises more questions than it answers.

Transitioning into foster or adoptive care is an immense, overwhelming experience. Keeping siblings together during these transitional times is imperative to temper trauma, but currently is not the legal precedent in Ohio. That's why Adoption Network Cleveland is pushing to change this through Ohio House Bill 448, writes Betsie Norris.

Young adults aging out of foster care can now turn to Reconnections, a new service from Adoption Network Cleveland, for help and support reconnecting with select members of their birth families.

The “zero-tolerance” policy that separated children from their parents attempting to immigrate to the U.S. along the Southern border lacks humanity and may cause lifelong trauma, writes author and adoptee Barbara Robertson.

Recognizing that the needs of birthmothers have shifted, volunteer leaders of Adoption Network Cleveland's Birthmother Support Group announced that they will conclude the bi-monthly group meetings.

Searching for your origins can be a daunting task, as Patti Solomon realized in 2001. With no idea where or how to start the search, she contacted Adoption Network Cleveland, and has been a supporter and donor ever since.

When Adoption Network Cleveland: The Ohio Family Connection launched a new website in April, it unveiled a new model that grouped its programs into four hubs based on the children and families the organization serves, to more clearly identify the groups that benefit from the organization's services.

It wasn't until his parents passed away that Adam decided to search for his birthmother. Aided by Ohio's Adoptee Access to Records Law and resources from Adoption Network Cleveland, he eventually found her, and the reunited pair are eager to "deepen our relationship in the years ahead."

Do you need legal representation if adopting from a private agency? Is there any legal recourse if a family feels they were misled about their options? What legal options are available to families if they feel a school district is not considering/planning for a child's special needs? We answer those questions and others in this FAQ.

Birthmother Charlotte used to fear that her son would “reject her for giving him up and not having the courage to keep him.” After decades of wondering, he found her and made the phone call a year ago that lifted Wells' spirits and brought her relief — and reunited them.

Paige Strickland's book 'After the Truth' discusses not just reunion and relationships with her birth family, it also highlights the way those interactions impact others in many areas of an adopted person's life.

For adoptive children and youth in a kinship family (care provided by relatives), mentoring reinforces their family stability as they discover their sense of self and their place in the world.

Sponsored by State Representatives Sarah LaTourette and Janine Boyd, and championed by Adoption Network Cleveland: The Ohio Family Connection, Ohio House Bill 448 would safeguard sibling relationships for children and youth in foster care and adoption.

As Adoption Network Cleveland celebrates an important anniversary this year, I find myself recounting the snapshots of the last 30 years of my journey and of this life-changing organization.

Visitors to the Adoption Network Cleveland website will notice a brand-new look and layout. They'll also notice a new tagline, Adoption Network Cleveland: The Ohio Family Connection, signifying the extension of the organization's services reaching beyond Northeast Ohio, and beyond adoption.

Because of the importance of adoption, we thought we would shine a spotlight on the worthy cause of taking personal responsibility for the welfare and enjoyment of another human being.

When you Google the definition of family it will tell you that it is “a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.” Although this definition applies to some of the aspects of what a family is, I will argue that this isn’t an all-encompassing definition of what family means to all the people in our lives.

In June 2015, when I was 45 years old, I found out that I had two siblings I did not know about. My father called to say that a woman had contacted him claiming to be his biological child.

It's the time of year for charitable giving campaigns through employers around our community. See more details here for the best ways to give to Adoption Network Cleveland through one of these payroll deduction campaigns. As always, we appreciate your support!

Presented here are two more articles written by families in our Weaving Cultures Transracial Adoptive Family Group. He Adopted Us is written by Natalie and James: We are a racially blended family formed from the blessing of adoption. My husband is Caucasian, I am Indian American, and our adoptive son is Caucasian. At three, when Krishna first began to note his own physical differences from mine as his mother, i.e. hair and skin color, we started our first conversations about adoption. His first words on the topic were, “I adopted you.”

Race Does Matter is written by Lori McCarthy: In May of 2007, my husband and I sat our three sons down. They were nine, 13 and 15 years old. They had all been adopted as infants. They were all Caucasian. My husband and I are Caucasian. We asked the boys, “What have you always been asking for?” One boy said, “A puppy.” One boy said, “A PlayStation.” One boy said, “A sister.” We said, “Well, it looks like you will be getting a sister.” They were all so excited, and we went on to tell them, “Well, she may not look like us. She will be African American.” They were still very excited and one of the boys said, “We don’t care if she’s purple.”

Two families share their experiences of transracial parenting. Introduction by Kevin Hofmann, author, transracial adoptee.

Fifty years ago this August, my eventful life began. I was the product of an affair between my white mother and black father, and at the insistence of my mother's white husband I was immediately placed for adoption...

This Search and Reunion Story was first featured in our Summer Guidance Newsletter. "She Never Forgot About Me" tells the story of Anthony Boey being reunited with his birthsister. He calls his reunion "the best Christmas gift of all time."

This blog post tells the search and reunion story of adoptee and Adoption Network Cleveland member, Mike Holley. This story was first featured in our 2017 Spring Guidance newsletter.

This week's blog post features the story of Adoption Network Cleveland staff member, Traci Onders. Impassioned by her own experiences, and eager to help others on their own journeys of reunification and discovery, Traci joined the organization that helped her connect with her own birth family, Adoption Network Cleveland. Read more to hear the whole story.

This heartfelt story tells of how a birthmother, adoptee, and adoptive father experienced the Birthmother's Day Ceremony.

This blog features the story of Linda Kuba and Sister Maurice, the nun who helped give Linda information that was essential for Linda to find her original name. Read more to hear Linda's touching story.

In this blog series that we are sharing more Stories of Synchronicity in adoption reunion – fun and surprising “coincidences” that often seem too uncanny to be coincidence. In Part Two, we share stories on FAMILIES, SMALL WORLD, and NAMES. This series originally ran in Adoption Network Cleveland’s Spring 2017 Guidance newsletter.

You’ll see in this blog series that we are highlighting synchronicities in adoption reunion – fun and surprising “coincidences” that often seem too uncanny to be coincidence. In Part One we share one of Executive Director Betsie Norris’ personal synchronicity stories, plus others about TALENTS and PLACES. Watch this space next week for synchronicity stories on FAMILIES, SMALL WORLD, and NAMES. This series originally ran in Adoption Network Cleveland’s Spring 2017 Guidance newsletter.

Each day, through the generosity of donors, Adoption Network Cleveland fulfills its mission of connecting and empowering individuals, organizations, and communities impacted by adoption and foster care, and providing a source of healing for those in need. And thanks to the foresight of our board and leadership team, the Adoption Network Cleveland Endowment Fund was established with the Cleveland Foundation to help strengthen our long-term financial stability by augmenting external funding sources.

At Adoption Network Cleveland, we have a staff of diverse backgrounds and experiences. We'd like to share some of our stories and personal history with you. Starting off these stories is Julius Jackson. Julius has been with Adoption Network Cleveland for more than a decade, bringing his talents to the organization as our Adoption Navigator. Learn more about Julius and his story!

In the final part of our 3-part series on siblings in adoption, we hear the stories of Kerry and Kevin Gladish, adoptive siblings who didn't know they were adopted until much later in life. We also hear the story of Linda and Jeff Ivanoff, adoptive parents of a sibling group of 3 children. We hope you enjoy!

In part two of our 3-part series on siblings in adoption, we meet Ralph Demsey, an adoptive father, and Drew Murphy, a birth father in an Open Adoption.

This is the first post of a three-part series of blog posts looking at sibling stories from our Winter newsletter for our members. First, Executive Director Betsie Norris introduces her view on siblings in adoption and her personal sibling story. In the second part, we hear the story of Barbara Robertson reconnecting with her biological sister, Lisa.

My siblings and I had always known about our baby sister, "Alice." We also understood why our parents decided to place her for adoption. Our mother, bless her heart, was stricken with a disease that was eventually diagnosed as Parkinson's Disease. It already directly affected her ability to care for the six children she was raising. On January 26, 1949, Alice was born in Columbus, Ohio and was never brought home from the hospital...

Adoption has definitely changed how we define our family. When we first began our adoption journey, we knew the terms "open" and "closed" adoption, but not much more than that. We learned so much from Adoption Network Cleveland, especially from hearing the feelings and experiences of other adoptive parents, birthparents, and adoptees...

When you Google the definition of family it will tell you that it is “a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.” Although this definition applies to some of the aspects of what a family is, I will argue that this isn’t an all-encompassing definition of what family means to all the people in our lives.

Volunteering has afforded me the opportunity to just do what I do best – talk with people, volunteer my time at events, and share my experiences with my fiancé as they progress. Adoption Network Cleveland is one of the few organizations that offer opportunities and experience with heart and mind.

I first heard about the Adoption Network Cleveland when I moved to Cleveland for a job. I was looking for ways to get involved in the community and working with the Adoption Network Cleveland really stood out to me. It was their mission statement that really resonated with me and why I wanted to volunteer for them. I truly believe in their mission to “provide a source of healing for those in need,” specifically those impacted by adoption and foster care.

My mind didn't naturally switch from birthmom to mom like I thought it would. For weeks I worried that maybe this child would be better off without me too. That maybe I made a mistake thinking I could actually do this whole mom thing.

I adopted each of my three children from foster care. Seventeen years ago, I adopted a sibling group of two sisters, who were then 9 and 4, and now are 25 and 21 years old. I met my son when he was four days old and he is now 11 years old.

A few will argue that Indiana Lawmakers passing a new bill to give thousands of adoptees, previously barred by Statute, equal rights under the law to their original birth certificates 'could' be problematic.

Why?

This past year, we had the opportunity to attend the Adoption Network’s Adoption 101 Workshop. We had been considering the path of adoption for quite some time, but we knew very little about the process, especially where to start! When we first read about the workshop, we thought it held a lot of promise for us. Scheduled conveniently on a Saturday morning into the early afternoon, the workshop fit well with our busy schedules.

The reunion with my birth mom has been quite the journey. Even since the adoption records opened up in March 2015, I've been a sponge learning everything I can about adoption. It’s not like I recently discovered my adoption status. I’ve known for about 40 of my 48 years that I was adopted. It was just a thing. A label. It was an answer to the questions on the medical history. Don’t know, adopted.

My heart was racing and my hands were sweaty as I entered the OB office this past March. I noticed that my normally calm husband was fidgeting in his seat next to me as he grabbed my hand and we started answering the nurse’s questions and she typed them into her computer.

The nurse was extremely kind and very down to earth as she ran through her list of questions while logging in our medical histories. I was getting more and more anxious as the questions kept coming, dreading the one I knew she was going to ask.

And before I knew it, she asked it. “Is this your first pregnancy?”

I was adopted in 1979 by a couple of wonderful individuals. Those two people, my adoptive parents, have shaped the person I have become today. Their kindness and generosity towards others has allowed me to be able to share these same values with my own children. I start off by mentioning my parents because I feel the need to let you know that this piece of paper won’t change my relationship with them and it won’t magically change me either, but what it will do is fill a void that has been there all of my life.

So, who really cares about an original birth certificate? It’s just a piece of paper. You know who you are. You know who your “real” parents are. Your parents love you; they made you who you are. You don’t need anything else.

Changes in Ohio’s adoption law impacts what information Ohio adult adoptees (born in Ohio and adopted between the years 1964 and 1996) will have access to. Beginning on March 20th, adult adoptees will be able to request their original birth certificate, which will most likely include information that will greatly assist in the initial stages of the search process.

Our Impact This Year (Oct. 2018-Sept. 2019)

  • People Served

    508

  • Volunteer Hours

    522

  • Donors and Members

    437

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