Helping Kids in Need Around The World
By Inna Pecar - Founder, KidsFirst Adoption Services

The great missionary Mother Teresa once said, "Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty." She was right.

Today, millions of orphans live in institutional care around the world. These children are waiting for families and I believe we, both as individuals and business leaders, have a shared responsibility to help them find a home.

International Adoption Awareness Week is coming to central Indiana from March 17-24. The week will include a series of free seminars for people interested in learning more about adoption options and special financial assistance available through Foundation grants. The week will also focus on educating Hoosiers about how they can support kids in need even if they are not interested in adopting.

Education is the key. In recent months, high-profile adoptions by Angelina Jolie and others have generated increased interest in the process. That's good news for kids in need, but these celebrities have also led some to believe this option is cost prohibitive. Fortunately, Congress has established adoption tax credits. In 2007, the credit totals $11,390 for those with a modified adjusted gross income of $170,820 or less.

I am glad that our government supports domestic and international adoptions through tax credits. And I believe that is one of the reasons why the number of international adoptions has grown in recent years.

According to statistics from the U.S. State Department, the number of immigrant visas issued to orphans coming to the U.S. has increased by more than 150 percent over the last decade. In 2005, nearly 23,000 immigrant visas were issued to orphans coming to America, with China (7,906), Russia (4,639) and Guatemala (3,783) leading the way.

As you can imagine, domestic and international adoption proceedings can be intimidating. That is why it's important for prospective parents to research their options and evaluate the various agencies that specialize in placing children in need. When people are researching international adoption as an option for starting or growing their families, the most common questions are often about: 1) the amount of time it takes to adopt a child; 2) the cost; 3) the health of the child; 4) options regarding the gender and age of the child, and 5) how many adoptions the agency has helped families complete.

These are all questions that will be addressed during the following International Adoption Awareness Week seminars:

March 17 from 10 a.m. - noon
KidsFirst - 8580 Cedar Place Dr. Suite 120 Indianapolis

March 20 from 6-8 p.m.
Fishers United Methodist Church - 9690 E. 116th Street, Fishers

March 22 from 6-8 p.m.
White River Christian Church - 1685 N. 10th Street, Noblesville

March 24 from 10 a.m. - noon
East 91st Street Church - 6049 E. 91st Street, Indianapolis

International Adoption Awareness Week is also about educating individuals and business leaders on ways they can help make a difference in the world. One way is for business travelers to donate their frequent flyer miles to help families pay for the travel associated with international adoption.

Another way to help is by supporting a new Foundation grant program that provides financial assistance to families adopting older children and kids with special needs. Last year, the KidsFirst Foundation provided financial assistance to a hearing impaired couple residing in Indianapolis. They adopted a hearing impaired girl from Kazakhstan and they are now a beautiful family.

In the weeks ahead, the KidsFirst Foundation will also provide financial assistance to a couple from Kokomo adopting a little boy that will undergo foot surgery when he arrives in the United States. And many more stories like this are in the works.

The stark reality is that older children and kids with special needs are too often left behind. That is why the work of the KidsFirst Foundation is so important.

To learn more, go to http://www.kidsfirstadoption.com or plan to participate in one of the free informational seminars slated for next week. Or, contact us at 317-843-2300 to get more information and to register.

To learn more about how you or your business can support the KidsFirst Foundation, go to www.kidsfirst-foundation.org.

Mother Teresa was right when she said, "loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty". This is our opportunity to make a difference by connecting deserving kids with families that can provide the love, care and permanence they need.

Inna Pecar attained a Masters in Education in the Ukraine. She immigrated to the United States in 1991 and attained a Masters of Social Work from Indiana University. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Inna and her husband, Steven Pecar, founded KidsFirst Adoption Services, LLC in 1998. Since that time, they have helped place more than 500 children in loving homes. Today, they place children from Russia, Kazakhstan, Guatemala and China.
Currently, more than one million children live in orphanages in the former Soviet Union. Only about 15,000 are adopted each year.
The KidsFirst Foundation has already made a difference in the lives of many children and families.