Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How Adopting Kids With Special Needs Gave One Family New Purpose and Meaning

Children With Severe Disabilities Make Huge Strides In Adoptive Home and Give Family’s Life Meaning.

The love and devotion of an adoptive family made it possible for two children with severe physical disabilities to accomplish surprising success and change the lives of their family forever. Adoptive parents Marilyn and Charles Matthews have devoted their lives to helping their children with special needs accomplish more than doctors ever imagined possible.
The Matthews, from Union, West Virginia, adopted Bo at 18 months in 1985, Sarah as an infant in 1988 and Brandon through the CAP photolisting at age 4 in 1995. Both Bo and Brandon had severe physical needs that required around-the-clock care. Their doctors told the Matthews that the boys would never be able to communicate or hold meaningful relationships. The couple took the time to unlock the children’s true potential when many others had given up on them.
Marilyn and Charles were in their 40’s when they first adopted. They say they felt like complete “misfits” as Yankees from the north who moved to the remote mountains of West Virginia and adopted multi-racial children with special needs. They say some of their family and friends thought they were crazy to take in children unrelated to them with such significant health challenges. Not many understood them, in particular many of the children’s teachers and doctors, but the Matthews found their life’s meaning in adoption.
 “It gave us a different focus, a hope that things could happen that we never expected to happen,” says Marilyn. “I could see them growing. It was wonderful to see what they were able to do with what we were able to give them. I never had an experience before like that in my life, it gave us purpose, hope and the love was like no love you would get anywhere else.”

Earlier this year, on May 2, 2013, their son Brandon passed away unexpectedly at age 22.The loss was devastating to the Matthews family. Although they say they may never fully recover, they feel so grateful to have been part of Brandon’s life. “Adopting our son was one of the best decisions we ever made. He was a total delight in every way, in spite of his many challenges, he far exceeded all expectations in every important way. We were so blessed to have found him,” says Marilyn. Despite times of pain and hardship, they explain that adoption is the best thing they have ever done and want to encourage others to do the same.
-Story written by Melanie Schmidt, Adoption Supervisor at Children Awaiting Parents

Thursday, October 31, 2013


It's one of our favorite holidays here at Children Awaiting Parents (okay, I'm not sure that this is true for everyone but it's one of my favorite holidays here) and this year was no exception! With everyone in the office working towards becoming an agency and settling into new roles, we almost forgot but lucky for you, a few of us still celebrated. Happy Halloween!

Click here for last year's photos!

Melanie, Ilona & Kate

Monday, October 28, 2013


Congratulations to Lacy, and her parents, Jim and Dorothea! The family finalized their adoption last week and as you can see, there were smiles all around. We are so happy we were invited to share in this very special moment.


Lacy signing her adoption paperwork.

Lacy at the finalization.

Jim, Dorothea, Judge Kohout & Lacy.

Friday, October 4, 2013


Lacy and I hanging out
So a while back, we had a pilot program with a local agency, to certify families and help them find waiting children. One of our families was matched with a young girl in Nevada and the other day, I had the pleasure of meeting little miss Lacy. She was adorable and sweet and I'm so happy for the family. The adoption will finalize in a few weeks and our office couldn't be happier.

As for me - I got a sweet Lacy original on my dry erase board...yay for awesome kids!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Photo courtesy of
Children Awaiting Parents will be hosting a 12 week support group for children and teens that are freed for adoption in foster care. Children Awaiting Parents is inviting caseworkers to refer any children between the ages of 12-21 who might benefit from this group.  Based on the level of interest, we hope to have one group located in Rochester, NY and one in Syracuse, NY. The groups will be open to anyone who is able to be transported to these locations. 

The purpose of the waiting child support group is to prepare foster children for adoption while developing supportive relationships with other waiting peers. The group will address the hurt and loss in the children’s past that has resulted from languishing in the foster care system and provide lifelong tools and resources to help them cope. Friendships and trusting relationships among the support group will be encouraged through a discussion of adoption topics, and team building activities. The goal is to improve the youth’s ability to form connections with a pre-adoptive family and begin to better understand their feelings about their past. 
The group will allow children to understand that what they are feeling is common, they are not alone, and they are able to talk about their feelings in a safe environment. The children will have the opportunity to discuss topics including the process of adoption, birth families, foster parents, and aging out while learning to apply applicable CBT and DBT skills. Participating in the group is voluntary. Children can be at varying levels of adoption preparedness and have mixed or unclear feelings about adoption.

The waiting child support group will be run by Kristy Aquilla and Melanie Schmidt. If you have any questions or for a copy of the child referral form, please feel free to contact them at (585) 232-5110.

Friday, September 27, 2013


Are you a student interested in learning about non-profit work, advocacy strategies, public policy, and child welfare adoption issues? As an intern you will have the opportunity to work in a unique non-profit environment, gain invaluable knowledge and experience and work on meaningful projects that will help raise awareness about children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted. Interns will have an opportunity to attend relevant policy briefings and conference calls.

Click here for more information

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Cris Beam became a mother at 28 years old.

At the time, her daughter was 17 years old.

Cris writes an excellent article in The New York Times, discussing her experience in becoming an adoptive parent to a teenager. She equates parenting a teenager to, "driving a race car on a slick track with no brakes" and recognizes that, "you just have to hold on through the curves."

Click here to read Beam's article.

Photo courtesy of The New York Times


Today's guest blogger is our awesome new intern, Kristy Aquila. Kristy has been training with Melanie Schmidt, our Wendy's Wonderful Kids Recruiter, to work directly with our kids to find them permanent loving homes.

Kristy and her fiance, Dan

My name is Kristy Aquila and I am the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter at Children Awaiting Parents. As a WWK recruiter intern I am not only responsible for finding families for children, but I also write assessments for the children that will highlight some of their traits that may have been forgotten or overlooked by all the negative things that have been reported. While meeting with the kids once a month I try and discuss with them what adoption means for them and how they feel about being adopted and entering a new home.   

I am not adopted myself and I do not have any adopted children of my own, but I discovered Children AwaitingParents through my graduate program. I knew I wanted to find an internship in adoption where I would be bringing families together but I did not know what would be available in Rochester. After researching adoption in the Rochester area I was blown away by the work Children Awaiting Parents has done! After meeting with Melanie and Mark it was clear that the staff was very passionate about the work they were doing and I became eager to join the team!

I am in my second year of the MSW program at Roberts Wesleyan College. In graduate school I am in the Child and Family concentration. Working with children has always been a passion of mine!  Before returning to graduate school, I worked at Hillside as a Youth Care Professional. I loved working with the kids and developing strong connections with them.  I felt I was making a difference just by being a support to them through all their ups and downs. However, I wanted to make more of a difference in these children’s lives. This was when I decided to go back to school for Social Work. 
In my personal life I recently just got engaged to a wonderful man as of 1 month ago! I have no pets of my own but I often look after my parents newly adopted puppy! I am looking forward to one day loving and spoiling a young lab/husky puppy of my own! 

Thursday, August 29, 2013


The New York State Office of Children and Family Services is sponsoring a foster/adoptive parent training seminar on Saturday, October 5 at the Holiday Inn in Liverpool, New York.

The following is a list of workshops they'll be offering.

  • A Parent's Perspective on Living with Attachment Issues
  • Foster Fathering
  • The Unique Challenges Faced by Relative Caregivers
  • No More Drama: Positive Communication Skills for Parents of Teens
  • Making Sense of a Youth Coming Out as LGBT/Q While Maintaining Your Sanity and Sense of Humor
  • Fear and Control
  • Understanding Child Sexual Abuse Part I
  • Understanding Child Sexual Abuse Part II

Participants can get a PDF of workshop descriptions and registration form emailed to them by contacting us at You can also register for the event by clicking here. Registration ends soon so don't put this on the back burner!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Have you ever wished that you could have a cool, hip dude come in to your home and mentor your teen? Ya know, tell them about personal responsibility and making good decisions...and they might actually listen?

Photo courtesy of

Well it's your lucky day!

We here at Children Awaiting Parents are huge supporters of teen motivational speaker, Josh Shipp. He doesn't send us money or ask us to post anything - we just think he is one awesome guy (this is not the first time we've written about him) who does a lot for our youth and we want everyone to be aware of his programs. Below is a clip of him giving a "graduation speech" to those teens who graduated in 2013.

Josh offers up his advice in an approach he refers to as "in your face, but on your side." In his online mentoring program, your teen will receive a weekly video directly from Josh, on everything from taking responsibility to earning your parent's trust. His speeches are direct, entertaining, funny and enjoyable. And for $19 a month and the option to cancel at anytime, you really have nothing to lose. Josh was a former foster child so his advice can hit home with a lot of the children we serve, as well as those youth who have not spent time in foster care.

Friday, August 23, 2013


Mariana is a sweetheart who waits for her forever family. A focused soccer player, she enjoys showing off her natural athletic abilities.

Want to learn more about Mariana? Click here to visit her page on our website!

Photograph by Lori Griffith

Thursday, August 22, 2013


We here at CAP know that families come in all shapes and sizes and recently, we came across a great story about a little lamb who found healing and friendship with his adopted family. You can read the story about Mark, the little lamb healed by family, here.

Not Mark but still cute! This photo is courtesy of

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Meet fifteen-year-old Veanka Howard. She has moved from 100 different foster homes and has now found her forever home.

Click here to hear her story and hear her sing!

Photo courtesy of