2012 Foster Youth Interns Make their Voices Heard!

CCAI’s 2012 Foster Youth Interns (FYI) had a message to deliver to Capitol Hill: Here us now! The group of 13 former foster youth felt that for too long their voices had gone unheard, so on July 31, they released their Congressional Report and delivered an accompanying presentation to a captive audience which included Members of Congress, Hill staffers and representatives from several child welfare organizations.

For those who were unable to attend, you can watch the full briefing here.

Former CCAI Foster Youth Intern RJ Sloke and Senator Mary Landrieu on Fox News Live

Yesterday, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Senate Co-Chair Senator Mary Landrieu & former CCAI Foster Youth Intern Harold “RJ” Sloke spoke to Fox News Live to raise awareness about the needs of children in foster care without families. Click on the image below to watch the full interview!

CCAI Angels in Adoption featured in Adoption Today magazine!

La Familia de Matthews

By Melanie Matthews

The  article was originally published in the September 2012 Issue of Adoption Today. Melanie and Jim Matthews are two of CCAI’s 2012 Angels in Adoption

 The Call:

“We have four kids for you, and we need to know tonight if you are interested, so please let us know in the next hour.” This is it! Our jaws are dropped, there are hugs, kisses and tears. We don’t know if we should stand, sit or call everyone we know. We are staring at each other, hearts racing, hands trembling. We are speechless, and there are no words. Within five minutes, we find our voice, one word, we call our agency back, “Yes!” our word is yes. Praise to God, yes!

Our Prayer:

We were married in December 2000, and that is when our adoption journey started. While discussing our future family, adoption was always a part of our vocabulary. We always knew we wanted a large family and felt in our hearts that all of our children would be adopted. In 2006, we started our paperwork for the adoption process. We were initially approved for one infant, and waited for our referral from Colombia. We were put on a wait list, so we waited, patiently, for years.

Our time was filled with work and hobbies. Running marathons, starting a photography business, finishing nursing school, running the youth ministry at the church, and learning Spanish occupied our wait time. As our wait time was being increased every year, we started talking again about the large family we had wanted. We started asking each other why we are on a wait list for one child, when there are groups of children who need a home? We started praying about a sibling group, praying if that is what was in store for us. We prayed that God would keep them safe, warm and loved. In November 2009, we started updating our paperwork, sure that this is what God had been planning for us. Our call was received in July 2010. It would be only three more months until we met our children!

November 2:

November 2 is our family’s “special day,” as we like to call it. This is the day we met our children for the first time. We met in a room with the social worker, lawyer and translator. We couldn’t concentrate, we could hear our kids in the other room during our meeting, laughing and playing. They were just one room away. Our tears of joy were flowing before we even saw them! That day we met our children 8-year-old Derly, 6-year-old Estefania, 5-year-old Jesus and 2-year-old Prospero. Our next four weeks were spent in Colombia, bonding and connecting as a new family, we could not wait to bring them to their new home.


Bringing the kids home and watching them experience new things was such a joy. Moving from Colombia to Minnesota was a culture change. Experiencing cold on their faces, and playing in the snow was new and amazing to them. Every day is an adventure in itself. Elevators, escalators, eating at McDonalds and swimming were all new to them. Just learning a new language from both sides has been a great and sometimes funny way of getting to know each other. Favorite colors, foods and stories, all the wonderful small details we get to learn from each other. We have had a fantastic year, with so much support from our family and friends. This is God’s plan and design for all of our lives.

One more:

In February 2011, just three months after being home, something did not feel right. I was looking at our family while cooking dinner. I said to my husband, “We are not all here, we are missing something.” After a night of prayer, we were felt led to write a letter to our agency which stated: “If our children have any more siblings, we would like to adopt them as well. We strongly believe in keeping siblings together.”

Only a month after sending this letter, we received a call from our agency. “Your children have an older brother and Colombia is requesting you consider adopting him.” Meet Jhon, age 10. Our call back “Yes, of course, yes.” In June, we traveled to Colombia to meet Jhon for the first time and reunite him with his siblings.

God’s Plan:

God works in mysterious ways. Our family started 10 years ago when we began thinking of adoption. At the time we changed our paperwork from a single child to a sibling group, all of our children had been born and were placed in the adoption agency, waiting, for us to bring them home.

If you are thinking of adoption and have any questions you can connect with us through our blog at www.matthewsadoption.blogspot.com.

Melanie Matthews has been married to her husband, Jim, for 11 years. The couple has been blessed with five children, 11-year-old Jhon, 9-year-old Derly, 7-year-old Estefania, 5-year-old Jesus and 2-year-old Prospero. The couple lives in Minnesota and Jim is a youth pastor and Melanie is a registered nurse. Melanie also enjoys photography on the side. Jim and Melanie always knew they wanted to adopt from the beginning of their marriage. Two trips to Colombia later, their journey to their children and becoming a forever family are complete. To read more about their journey, visit www.matthewsadoption.blogspot.com.

CCAI Angels in Adoption: Meet Gary and Janice Meyer

CCAI’s Angels in Adoption™ Program provides Members of Congress the opportunity to honor an individual, couple, or organization from their district that have made an extraordinary contribution on behalf of children in need of homes. The Angels in Adoption™ travel to Washington D.C. to participate in three days of events all designed to train them to use their personal experiences to affect change and to celebrate their hard work and dedication to adoption and foster care issues. The events include the Adoption and Foster Care Advocacy Fair, tours of DC and networking events, an award ceremony, legislative seminar and an opportunity to visit Congressional offices to share how adoption has affected their lives. 

This year, on September 12, CCAI will recognize actress Katherine Heigl, singer-songwriter Josh Kelley, and PEOPLE Magazine as the 2012 National Angels in Adoption™ for their dedication and commitment to adoption and foster care issues. They will be honored, along with local Angels in Adoption™ selected by 143 Members of Congress, at CCAI’s 14th annual awards gala in Washington, DC.

Over the next couple of days, we will be highlighting some of our Angels in Adoption Angels in Adoption™. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Angels Gary and Janice Meyer.

In 1988, Janice and Gary Meyer decided to provide a warm, nurturing, loving home to children in need and became foster and adoptive parents. To date, they have adopted seven children and are in the process of finalizing the adoption their eighth child.

All of the children the Meyers have adopted have extreme behavioral, mental health, and medical needs. When their son Austin was first placed with Janice and Gary, they were not sure if he had any vision. They immediately secured the needed services, which necessitated numerous 350-mile round trips from Salina to Kansas City so that Austin could receive the best care. The results of his testing were conclusive: Austin lacked all vision.

Today, Austin walks with a cane to assist with mobility and Janice has taught him braille. Despite the continued need for care, Janice and Gary never wavered in the process to adopt Austin. The same is true of their son Leon, who is blind, deaf, and confined to a wheelchair, with a severe brain injury resulting from shaken baby syndrome. Every three months, the Meyers take Leon to Wichita to see his neurologist and he is monitored for seizure activity and receives treatment to stimulate muscle dexterity. His adoption was finalized on July 30.

The Meyers’ ability to love and care for all of their children unconditionally and constantly reaffirm their commitment to them makes them true Angels in Adoption.

The Meyer Family