POSTED ON NOVEMBER 15, 2006:
One week after "Christmas for Kids" Campaign begins, our readers' generosity is evidentThe need is even greater in this, the second year, Urban Tulsa Weekly sponsors a drive to benefit children in state's custody
Wow. We kicked off our Christmas for Kids campaign last week, and the response we've received has been encouraging. By Monday morning's deadline, six days into our drive to provide gifts to and raise awareness of the great needs of children in foster care, readers had pledged to provide gifts for more than 40 children "adopted" from our "Giving Tree".
Twenty-four of the children were claimed in the first two days of the campaign. We congratulate your generosity as we continue to stress the need these children face.
To recap, Urban Tulsa Weekly is teaming up, for the second year in a row, with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to sponsor the "Christmas for Kids" campaign.
The campaign provides Christmas gifts for children and teenagers living in temporary and permanent foster care. DHS hopes to provide gifts for the 1,400 children living in the Tulsa County Shelter, foster homes, group homes, in-patient settings, contracted settings and reunified homes.
UTW hopes to provide, with generous support from our readers, at least 100 of those gifts.
Last year, UTW exceeded its goal of 100 gifts donated by providing, with our readers' help, gifts for 106 children and an additional $1,500 in gift certificates for teenagers.
Donna Hendrix, OKDHS Child Welfare Volunteer Coordinator, said that, though the state provides funds for the daily needs of children in foster care, none is available for Christmas gifts, and foster parents who provide homes to these children cannot always afford Christmas gifts.
That's where we come in, Tulsa. This year, with the generosity we've already seen, we expect many more than 106 children will be served. At this point, we're only 59 away from our goal of 100.
How to Give
Every week you'll see a Christmas tree decorated with numbers representing a child in DHS custody. Alongside the child's corresponding number is his or her Christmas wish list (confidentiality is required in these situations, hence a number rather than the child's name).
Choose one or two gifts to buy, then bring them to Urban Tulsa Weekly's offices, at 710 S. Kenosha. Do not wrap the gift, but affix somewhere the number of the child for which the gift is intended.
If you'd rather, you may also buy non-specific but oft-requested gifts and bring them to our offices unwrapped. Gifts that are always needed include car seats, dolls, infant toys, pre-school educational toys, bicycles and tricycles, games, remote control vehicles, sleeping and overnight bags, bath/body items, cassette/CD players and radios, electronic hand-held games, sports equipment and jewelry.
Sometimes overlooked in campaigns like these are the needs of older children in DHS custody, who tend to want and need clothes, music and make-up. For these children and others, DHS recommends buying gift certificates to Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl's, Ross, Gordman's, Old Navy, or Woodland Hills or Promenade Mall.
Last year, we were overwhelmed with the generosity of our readers, who not only provided fantastic gifts for these children, but also took extra initiative, such as including an abundance of batteries when the toy required it.
Christmas Is A-Coming
The deadline to make your donation is December 12. Please bring all donations to our offices at 710 S. Kenosha in downtown Tulsa between 7th and 8th Streets. For information or inquiries, call 592-5550 and ask for Siara or Nancy or E-mail email@example.com, with "Christmas for Kids" as the subject.
In addition to but separate from the "Christmas for Kids" Campaign, UTW will spend the month promoting adoption awareness for children in permanent foster care, with children available for adoption showcased each week. The photos of the children (which are different from the children on the Christmas tree) are provided by Waterworks Photography, who formed a partnership with DHS to provide exposure of children who have been in foster care for an extended amount of time and are in need of good homes.
The photos you'll see are part of a photographic exhibit called "The Heart Gallery Exhibit," which will travel the state to offer various communities an opportunity to get to know children who are in need of adoption. Each of the professional photographers who shot the exhibit got to know the children they photographed in order to represent their true spirits in the photographs.
Right now and through December 31, the exhibit is on display at the Shawnee Mall in Shawnee. From there, it will move to the Marland Mansion in Ponca City.
If you are interested in finding out more about adoption or adopting one of the children seen in Urban Tulsa Weekly, contact Jane Eneff at DHS, 581-2552.
We urge you to open your hearts and pocketbooks this holiday season and assist our children in having a very merry Christmas.
Home is Where the Heart Is
Meet Kodie E.
Kodie is an adorable, happy two year-old who likes to listen to music and to be held. Kodie needs a family who will love him and meet his unique needs.
Meet Ty H.
Ty is 16 and a lover of basketball. He's an intelligent, natural-born leader, hoping to earn a sports scholarship to allow him to attend college. Ty would love to be a part of a family who shares his enthusiasm for sports.
Meet Justin, Kristen & Laura M.
Justin is 14 and likes taking piano and keyboarding lessons and playing basketball and soccer. Thirteen year-old Kristen is a confident, self-sufficient young lady who is artistic and a good communicator. Laura is a dynamic 12-year-old with lots of potential for growth who is eager to please. They would all like to be a part of a family who will appreciate their unique differences and love them forever.
Adoption Myths and Misunderstandings
By Holly Wall
Saturday, Nov. 18 is National Adoption Day, and Urban Tulsa Weekly continues our series on adoption as well as our Christmas for Kids campaign, providing children in the state's custody with Christmas gifts.
This week, we're addressing adoption facts and myths. I was appalled to stumble across www.keepyourbaby.com, a Website condemning adoption, calling it a big-business industry that does not have the well-bring of the child in mind.
Promoters of the site advocate "natural families," saying a woman who places her child for adoption is "giving her baby up." The following are excerpts taken directly from the site's "Myths and Facts" page, regarding whether or not adoption is in the best interest of the child involved.
The best thing you can do for your baby is to keep that child in its family of origin. Infants have already bonded with their mothers in-utero. They are traumatized by the loss of the one person they associate with security.
If you "place" your child for adoption, he or she will grow up in a family of strangers, who don't look or act like he or she does. Your child will always wonder why they "weren't good enough" for you to keep. "Open adoption" hasn't been around for long enough for any studies to show that it is less harmful to adopted people than is "closed adoption."
The attitude behind such notions as those above is both appalling and out of touch with reality. Recent studies, like the one compiled in 1999 by the University of Minnesota's Center for Twin and Family Research, called the Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study, have shown that children fare just as well in adoptive homes as they do in biological ones.
The study concluded that there was virtually no difference in the psychological functioning between children raised in adoptive families versus those raised in biological families.
The study reported more conflict between parents and adopted children but that the conflicts did not result in greater behavioral problems, and parents and children felt equally attached to one another in adoptive families as they did in biological families.
The study also found relationships between siblings in all types of families (where both children are biological, both are adopted and where there is a combination of the two) were unaffected by adoption and that adopted siblings, although lacking genetic connections, were psychologically similar.
Adoptive Families Magazine (www.adoptivefamilies.com) is a helpful resource for adoptive families and those who want to learn more about adoption. The following list of myths and facts about adoption was borrowed from its Website.
Myth: There are very few babies being placed for adoption.
Fact: 20,000 or more U.S.-born infants are placed for adoption each year -- as many or more than the yearly average number of international adoptions.
Myth: Adoption is outrageously expensive.
Fact: Adoption is often no more expensive than giving birth. Costs to adopt domestically average $15,000, before the $10,000 Adoption Tax Credits and benefits that many employers offer.
Myth: It takes years to complete an adoption.
Fact: The average time span of adoption is one to two years. The majority of domestic and international adopters who responded to a recent poll by Adoptive Families completed their adoptions in less than a year.
Myth: Birthparents can show up at any time to reclaim their child.
Fact: Once an adoption is finalized, the adoptive family is recognized as the child's family by law. Despite the tv news' sensationalizing a few high-profile cases, post-adoption revocations are extremely rare.
Myth: Birthparents are all troubled teens.
Fact: Most birth-parents today are over 18 but lack the resources to care for their child. It is generally with courage and love for their child that they terminate parental rights.
Myth: Adopted children are more likely to be troubled than birth children.
Fact: Research shows that adoptees are as well-adjusted as their non-adopted peers. There is virtually no difference in psychological functioning between them.
Myth: Open adoption causes problems for children.
Fact: Adoptees are not confused by contact with their birthparents. They benefit from the increased understanding that their birthparents gave them life but their forever families take care of and nurture them.
Myth: Parents can't love an adopted child as much as they would a biological child.
Fact: Love and attachment are not the result of nor guaranteed by biology. The intensity of bonding and depth of emotion are the same, regardless of how the child joined the family.
Adoption is a difficult choice many women are faced to make because they love their children and want the best lives possible for them. It's not an easy decision; and sometimes the birthmother is left feeling guilty afterwards.
She should be appeased to know, however, that she made the best decision possible for her child, leaving him in the hands of a family who is capable of loving, nurturing and providing for him. And adoptive parents want nothing more than to love and take care of a child; that's why they endure the sometimes difficult process of adopting.
In the case of DHS adoptions, the birthparents did not choose to place their children; rather, the state chose for them, opting that adoption by another, more capable family is the only way to ensure the child's safety.
Whatever the case, there are many children here in Tulsa who need adoptive homes. The Internet offers a plethora of resources for families and individuals seeking more information about adoptive.
And we here at UTW hope that we can help with this series. Next week, look to hear about one family's story of completing the adoption process.
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