In Pennsylvania, there are more children and youths with special needs waiting to be adopted than children adopted through traditional programs. Yet the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a lot of support in place, from financial assistance to continuing advocacy and counseling to help make these adoptions not only feasible but also extremely rewarding.
In addition to its direct service, Diakon manages Pennsylvania’s Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network (SWAN), a network of robust support from the many groups and individuals involved in foster care and adoption.
The plan. We all have one. This idea in our head about how our life is going to be. My plan was wonderful. I was going to marry the man of my dreams. We were going to get pregnant soon after with our first child and then every two years or so after that we would add another little person to our family until we felt complete. Perfection right? But, you see, that was Monica’s plan, not God’s plan.
It took me until about our fourth miscarriage to realize my “plan” wasn’t going to happen. So what do we do now? We want to be parents. The fertility specialist can’t figure my strange body out! Now what? Adopt? At this moment I just needed someone to call me Mommy. And adoption felt so natural to me because it was something I always dreamed of doing later in life.
It was a dark and stormy night…
While this may be one of the most clichéd first lines in literature, it appropriately describes the start of the 22nd annual Pennsylvania Permanency Conference.
The hot July night before the conference began, a quick but powerful storm ripped through Lancaster County, leaving must of the region without power including the Lancaster Host Resort & Conference Center, home to the conference. In addition to power, water usage and air conditioning were lost. It was a very long night.
A less-hardy group may have packed it in, but certainly not all of the individuals at the conference—who are dedicated to bringing together waiting children with loving adoptive and foster families. Understanding that coming together was more important than everyday amenities, conference attendees, staff and hotel employees never lost faith.
People remained in good spirits and weathered the conditions. Eventually, when electricity was restored, people were able to shower, and the conference center cooled down, the event got fully under way with the apt theme of “Finding Futures.”
You’ve probably seen those commercials on television about AdoptPAKids and, at the end, a reference to Pennsylvania’s Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network—or SWAN.
Since 2000, Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries and Family Design Resources (FDR) have partnered to administer services to children in Pennsylvania’s child-welfare system under a contract with the Commonwealth. SWAN was created to eliminate barriers that prevent children from finding permanent homes.
And so it’s not just about adoption.