Conference on adoption aims to foster good matches

July 28, 2000|By Melody Holmes | Melody Holmes,SUN STAFF

Like pregnancy, the adoption process takes about nine months.

That's one of the messages officials want to convey to potential adoptive and foster parents being recruited this week at the Omni Inner Harbor hotel, where the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) is holding its 26th annual conference.

The conference, which opened yesterday and runs through Sunday, is expected to bring more than 1,500 social and child welfare workers and prospective adoptive parents to Baltimore.

"We sometimes get parents who are looking to adopt who come to the conference, and that's a source of recruitment," said Diane Riggs, a spokeswoman for NACAC.

Those attending should be warned, Riggs said, that they cannot walk into the conference and come out with a child. "Adoption is a long process, " she said.

The conference's main goal, Riggs said, is to establish relationships among prospective adoptive parents, social workers and adoption agencies. "Networking is a great thing here," Riggs said. "This is a place where adoptive families can come and interact."

The NACAC estimates that about 500,000 children in the U.S. live in foster homes.

The conference will feature an exhibit with photographs and information on children available for adoption. Most of the children in the photos are from Baltimore, where roughly 6,000 are in foster or kinship care, Riggs said.

Officials hope the conference procures a number of parents with homes for the children in the photos and others in foster homes, she said.

Among the speakers will be children who have been adopted, social work experts and parents who have adopted. Other speakers will focus on specialized topics.

Tomorrow, Gloria King, executive director of the California-based Black Adoption Placement and Research Center, is scheduled to give a presentation on adopting African-American children - a growing majority among children in need of permanent homes.

"I see that there needs to be targeted recruitment of [black] families and social workers," King said. "I have a special desire to outreach to my own community, because I feel we should be leaders in the placement of [black] children in permanent homes."

King hopes her presentation will dispel the myth that African-American families don't adopt.

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