Adoptive families share experiences City social services unit, private agency hold forum

March 09, 1997|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

About 40 adoptive families gathered yesterday in Northwest Baltimore to seek support and share their experiences at the first Baltimore conference for adopted children.

"We decided to come to this event because we thought it would be special," said Thomasine Martin, who has two adopted daughters. "Our 9-year-old doesn't understand what it means to be adopted. We thought it would help her to meet other adoptees."

The Kids' Connection Conference, held at Northwestern High School, was sponsored by the city Department of Social Services and Adoptions Together Inc., a private nonprofit child placement agency. It marked the beginning of a new collaborative effort by the agencies to improve postadoption services.

"Children need and want to talk about being adopted," said Debbie Riley, director of the Center for Adoptive Families at Adoptions Together. "This [Kids' Connection] program -- one of the few in the country that gives kids a chance to talk about their feelings about adoption with other adoptees -- can help build stronger families."

Last year, about 1,400 children were eligible for adoption in Maryland, Riley said. About 450 were adopted. For a small number, the adoption was not successful -- 1 percent to 2 percent were returned to foster care.

"That's why it's so important that we have programs like this," said Carolyn McQuaige-Howard, chief of operations for resources at the Department of Social Serivces. "Everybody talks about preserving biological families. But we need to preserve adoptive families,too," she said.

"Raising a child is always a journey, but raising an adopted child is a unique journey that twists and turns in different ways," Sheryl Brissett Chapman, director of the Baptist Home for Children, told the adoptive parents yesterday.

"Adopted children test their parents in subtle ways, to reassure themselves of their parents' commitment to them," said Chapman, who has three adopted children. "So you must establish a network that will allow you to have faith in your journey, to keep going on days when the journey seems too difficult."

Some of the children also learned a valuable lesson.

"I learned that I'm just like everybody else," said Kyra Pulliam, 6, who attended the conference with her mother. "I have a mommy and daddy that love me no matter what."

Pub Date: 3/09/97

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