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My friend Stacia L. Brown of BeyondBabyMama asked me to write an update about my life as the single adoptive mother of two.

October 12th is a seminal date in my family. It will mark my grandmother’s 90th birthday and the day my daughter came home. via BBM Revisits: Black Adoptive Mother Nefertiti Austin | beyond baby mamas.

Adoptee VanDerWerff writes that adoption is more and less interesting than non-adopted people think. This may seem an odd statement to make given the loss birth families experience and the loss of connection between adoptees and biological families. However, adoption is typically not fraught with tug-o-wars over the children and lots of families opt for open relationships with birth families. Adoption isn’t always rosy either, and VanDerWerff describes how adoptees deal with missing and meeting biological family members and suggests that most adoptees are ultimately satisfied with their adoptive families.

There’s a reason Clark Kent is our most famous fictional adoptee — and a reason so many adoptees (including me) strongly identify with him. He might love his parents and adopted world, but there will always be something that connects him to a secret history he carries in his heart. If there’s a common thread among the adoptees I’ve talked to for this article, it’s that weird link between known backstory and personal truth.

via Genes aren’t destiny, and other things I’ve learned from being adopted – Vox.

Delighted to share a list of myths about foster care. Hopefully, these will be put to rest for good.

With more than 100,000 children in foster care still waiting for permanent homes, an adoption such as Breanna’s is more than just a family milestone. It’s a sign that attitudes about adopting from foster care are starting to shift.

via Adopting from foster care: 6 myths that aren’t true – TODAY.com.

Oh South Carolina…smh

Typically birth mothers fight with foster parents to get their children back. In this “truth is stranger than fiction” (Mark Twain) narrative, Chris Emanuel had two fights: (1) the perception that men are strictly sperm donors and a source of revenue and (2) a judicial system that has been slow to recognize the rights of birth fathers to their children.

Luckily, this story has a happy ending.

Registering as a responsible father gave Emanuel the right to be notified of the adoption, but in order to actually gain custody of Skylar, he had to persuade the judge that he could provide for her.  

via A Father’s Struggle to Stop His Daughter’s Adoption – The Atlantic.

A friendly reminder…

Do not call, text, or email me a smiley face with the caption: “Happy Father’s Day.” I get it. Some women declare themselves mother and father. If that works for them, great. As for me and my home, I am and will forever be mama, mommy, and mom.

via Do Not Wish Me A Happy Father’s Day — mater mea.

Phillip Browning is the Director of the Department of Children and Family Services for Los Angeles County. Hear his interview about the numbers of children in foster care and how children come to the attention of the county. Though there are more Latino children in the system, African American children are over-represented. If you are interested in fostering and/or adopting, contact http://www.lacdcfs.org/shareyourheartla/ or 1(888) 811-1121.

Los Angeles has the second largest child welfare program in the country, after New York City, with about 36,000 children in the county’s care.

via Take Two | The state of LA’s foster care system, and one couple’s journey to become parents | 89.3 KPCC.

It’s pretty normal for children to fantasize that their real parents are king and queen of the world and that the people currently masquerading as mom and dad are last minute stand-ins. These flights of fancy are greater for adopted children, whose lack of blood ties and/or physical resemblance to adoptive parents impact them on a deeper level. Some children runaway and others act out. Either way, it’s not personal. Adopted children just want to be whole.

Adoptee Jennifer Leigh Peepas shares her quest for her birth mother.

Every trip to the city was a chance to possibly glimpse them or their trail, and if we’re being honest, finding them was becoming more and more about finding her. My. Real. Mom. She could be anyone, anywhere! The lady with the cool beehive in line at the bank. The one with the pixie cut and the bicycle who rode alongside our station wagon and waved back at me when I waved to her.

via When My Mom Was an Astronaut — The Archipelago — Medium.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a wonderful memoir by Journalist Caroline Clarke. Although “Empire” is the 21st century Black “Dynasty”, “Postcards from Cookie: A Memoir of Motherhood, Miracles, and a Whole Lot of Mail”, is the book version. Filled with classism, teen pregnancy, mother-daughter conflicts, secrecy and Hollywood drama, it is also the only adoption memoir by a Black woman. Hopefully I’m wrong and missed a few titles during my endless Internet and library catalog searches. Anyway, her memoir confirms what I’ve been saying for years: 1. Black people do adopt, and 2. the Black adoption experience is complicated.

Enjoy!

Award-winning journalist and host of Black “Enterprise” Business Report Caroline Clarke’s moving memoir of her surprise discovery of her birthmother—Cookie Cole, the daughter of Nat King Cole—and the relationship that blossomed between them through the heartfelt messages they exchanged on hundreds of postcards.

Postcards from Cookie: A Memoir of Motherhood, Miracles, and a Whole Lot of Mail: Caroline Clarke: 9780062103185: Amazon.com: Books.

Here is the latest installment of my adoption journey.

While some may see looking exactly like your adopted daughter as a blessing, it may complicate the talk about her origins, as Nefertiti Austin writes.

via When Should I Tell My Daughter She’s Adopted? — mater mea.

I received an email from the Los Angeles Opportunity Youth Collaborative regarding paid summer internships. Priority is given to current and former foster youth.

See below:

1. Summer 2015 Los Angeles County Arts Internship Program

107 nonprofit arts organizations are hiring 134 current college students for 10 week paid internships this summer from June – August. Please share this list with former foster youth currently in college, your staff and community partners.
· Attached please find the list of available opportunities listed in alphabetical order by organization as well as important program information for students interested in applying to the program. The list will be posted on the website on March 30, 2015, so former foster youth have an opportunity to apply to jobs a few weeks before the general college population. We encourage interested students to apply immediately to all of the internships of interest to them. Beginning March 30, the updated list and any program announcements may be found at http://lacountyarts.org/internship.html. The online list will be updated weekly as positions are filled through mid-May.

· Daveion Thompson, a former foster youth currently in college who participated in the program a few summers ago, is featured in this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKXn56pXJbs – he gives a great overview of what the program has meant for his career.

· For more information, please see the attachments: “Internship + Flyer+ 2015,” Internship_infostudents 2015,” and “2015+Los+ Angeles+County+Arts+Internships+3.16.2015.” Or, please feel free to call or email Anji Gaspar-Milanoic, Professional Development Programs Manager at P: (213) 202-3981; E: amilanovic@arts.lacounty.gov.

2.
Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Experience 2015 in our Nation’s Capitol

Announcing the 2015 Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Experience Washington, DC – May 18-21, 2015

Are you a young person between the ages 18-24, who has experience in the foster care system (specifics below) and a passion to affect change and gain leadership skills?
If so, we invite you to let us know you’re interested in being a part of the 2015 class of the Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Experience in our nation’s capital!
Call for Interest Forms is open until March 27, 2015 for Congressional Shadow Experience 2015!

What? The Shadow Experience is an all-expenses paid opportunity for young people with personal experience in the foster care system to spend time with their Congressional representative, as well as White House officials, in Washington, D.C.

When? The dates of associated travel and events are Monday, May 18th through Thursday, May 21st, 2015.

Why? Participating in the Shadow Experience allows youth and policymakers to meet and learn from one another. Young people in and from foster care will be able to speak to and learn about Congress and the White House while gaining a “hands-on” understanding about how the U.S. government operates on a daily basis. Members of Congress are able to listen to the stories of young people and gain a well-rounded understanding of the experiences of youth in foster care, which will help them as they pursue policies that impact all youth in the foster care system.

Additionally, youth are invited to participate in many activities with policymakers including committee hearings, press events, and meetings. Congressional Shadow Day on May 20 offers young people and Congressional Members the opportunity to work together to improve the foster care system for the benefit of those that are or may have been system involved.

Who? Eligibility: Individuals who are eligible to participate meet the following criteria:

Will be 18-24 years old on May 20th, 2015
Spent time in an out-of-home placement (foster care, group home, kinship home, etc.)

Have a willingness to play a leadership role for youth and alumni of foster care

How? Selection Process

The Shadow Experience Interest Form Deadline is March 27, 2015. Forms received by that deadline will be the first considered for placements in the Shadow Experience Program.

Selections are made primarily based on each participant’s congressional member interest and availability. Some participants will be matched to congressional members that represent districts where the participant has spent time in foster care.

The Shadow Experience team will begin making selections April 1st and will continue to make selections throughout the month of April. You will be contacted, whether or not you are selected, prior to May 1st. Some selections could be made after May 1st, depending on congressional member availability.

Please Note: Completing the interest form does not guarantee selection to attend the Young Leaders Training Academy/Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Day.

Before the Shadow Day on May 20, all participants will attend a mandatory two-day Young Leaders Training Academy (May 18 & 19) to prepare for their meetings with policymakers. This training will include an overview of federal foster care policy, practice in strategic sharing, and team building.

The Interest Form for Shadow Experience 2015 is available here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/10NrYm-yQ0EmvhRzCZBEuMKBAzPvprXSCYzxJKqqb7EM/viewform

The National Foster Youth Institute (NFYI), along with our partner organizations, is proud to sponsor this annual event which brings young people from across the country to Washington D.C. for an all-expenses paid experience.

Please contact info@nfyi.org with any questions.

3. Happy Trails for Kids is a summer camp program for youth in foster care (see attachment):

Happy Trails is hiring camp counselors for the 2015 summer camp sessions. They are looking for motivated, energetic, qualified camp counselors who work well with children and are team players. The core programming of Happy Trails centers around a week-long overnight summer camp. **Preference for former foster youth applicants.

· Application deadline: Friday, April 17 2015

· Interviews: Saturday, May 2nd and Sunday, May 3rd

· Mandatory Training:

o Staff Training: Saturday, May 16th

o Junior Counselor Training: Saturday, May 23rd

o All Staff-All Day Training: Sunday, June 7, 2015

· Camp Session 1: June 21-June 26 (Sunday-Friday)

· Camp Session 2: June 28-July 3rd (Sunday-Friday)

· Attached please find position descriptions and application packets-“2015 Happy Trails-Counselor +and + Floater+Application+Packet+Clean”

o Please complete all forms and return to September Sucher, Happy Trails Camp Director via (E) September@happytrailsforkids.org or via fax: 1-888-741-5297

o If you have any questions, please feel free to contact September at (310) 650-5943.

§ Applications will be considered on a first received/first considered basis.

4. Your Place, Your Rules (see attachment):

Fostering Independence with Junior League of Los Angeles is hosting its next workshop” Your Place, Your Rules,” for young women between the ages of 16 and 21 who are, or were formerly in, foster care. Having your own place is one of the most exciting parts about becoming an adult. You finally have the freedom to do what you want, but that comes with a lot of responsibility, like paying bills and signing contracts. Come learn about the basics of independent living at an informative and fun workshop with tons of tips.

· When: Wednesday, April 1st from6 to 8:30 pm

· Where: Alliance for Children’s Rights-3333 Wilshire Blvd Suite 550 Los Angeles, CA 90010

· RSVP: Stephanie Lopez (P) 213. 368.10.10 (E): s.lopez@kids-alliance.org

5. ManifestWorks Application:

ManifestWorks is now accepting applications for its next cycle of workshops. Enrollment is now open. ManifestWorks is a job skills program with an emphasis on pursuing entry-level work in the entertainment business.

To apply: Go to: http://www.manifestworks.org/manifest-works and fill out the application. After your application is received, you will receive instructions about scheduling your Consultation Interview.

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