The children, part of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Special Needs Adoption Program (SNAP), will join the U of L cheerleaders to hold up letters spelling C-A-R-D-S before the team’s match-up against the University of South Florida at 2 p.m. Saturday in Freedom Hall. Their participation is part of the Adoption Awareness Game, sponsored by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
The late Thomas, founder of the Wendy’s restaurant franchise, was adopted. He started the foundation to promote adoption nationwide for children in foster care.
Every ticket holder to Saturday’s game will receive a brochure about SNAP and the Dave Thomas Foundation.
Karen McKiernan, a SNAP specialist for the cabinet’s Jefferson County office, said SNAP will have an information booth in the hall’s foyer for guests who want to learn more about public adoption.
The children at the game, ages 7-17, are all in the state’s care and waiting for adoptive families.
“Kids these ages are really a good representation of who SNAP is working to find homes for,” McKiernan said.
Adoption has gotten a lot of attention lately.
McKiernan and the SNAP children have taped public service announcements that will run on Louisville’s WDRB-TV before and after the game. She’ll do a live interview before Saturday’s game for WDRB and WHAS radio.
Moses, one of the SNAP children who will be at the game, will be interviewed during the second half. His professional portrait – a picture of him flying through the clouds with a basketball – will also be on display Saturday.
McKiernan also appeared on radio’s “Rick Pitino Show” this week, and SNAP cosponsored an adoption fair in Louisville last weekend.
The publicity is just what the SNAP program needs, said Dr. Eugene Foster, undersecretary for Children and Family Services.
“With 400 children waiting for permanent, safe homes, the Adoption Awareness Game may help Cardinal fans who want to learn about state adoption and maybe make one of these children a part of their family,” he said. “It’s also a good chance for these children to have fun.”
Cabinet Secretary James W. Holsinger said Governor Ernie Fletcher’s administration is committed to finding loving families for the state’s foster children.
“Anytime we can increase awareness to the number of children ‘waiting in the wings,’ we are moving those children one step closer to adoption. It is a priority of the Fletcher administration to find safe, permanent homes for these children as quickly as possible,” according to Holsinger. “The Adoption Awareness Game helps us achieve this goal.”
McKiernan said there may be a misconception about the typical profile of the state’s SNAP kids.
While some of the children have certain emotional and medical needs, “a special need could be as simple as their age,” she said.
Older children, children with siblings and teen-agers are considered harder to place.
“Minorities over 3 or non-minority children over 7 are considered special needs, “she said. “Those are still young children,” McKiernan said. “And teen-agers still need a family. Even grown adults still rely on their families.
“There are as many special needs as there are children,” she said. “The ultimate special need is that there is no family for a child who needs one.”
U of L’s 1980 NCAA championship team will also be recognized at Saturday’s game.
The game will be broadcast on Louisville’s WHAS radio 840-AM; on SIRIUS satellite radio, channel 148; and on Louisville’s WDRB-TV.
For more information about adoption, log onto the SNAP home page at http://chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/dpp/Special+Needs+Adoption+Program+%28SNAP%29.htm, or call (800) 928-4303.