Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Local Mom Advocates for Adoption

The following article was printed in the "Bartlett Examiner" on 10/4/2009

Local mom advocates for adoption

By Anthony Louis Troyke

“Something was born in my heart, coming face to face with the plight of an orphan,” said Dina Ackerman, adoptive Bartlett mom and emerging adoption advocate.

Nine year ago, Ackerman and her husband began their journey into the world of adoption when they traveled to China to adopt 10-month-old Ana Lee. Without access to the roughly $20,000 necessary for the undertaking, the Ackermans set about fundraising, when a surprise inheritance made possible their dream.

Six years later, having since ceased working fulltime to care for Ana Lee, Ackerman felt called again. “My husband said: ‘Great. Where are we going to get the money this time?’” But in stepped a neighbor, who held a fundraiser for the adoption at Bartlett Hills, raising $7000. The Ackermans borrowed the rest from their 401k, and off they were to China to bring home 4-year-old Mia.

Ackerman, who advocates for both domestic and international adoption, acknowledges that she has often been asked why she felt compelled to opt for the latter. “Every adoptive parent needs to follow their own heart. Ever since I was a young woman, I’ve known about the ‘girl situation’ in China.” Also, two of Ackerman’s five siblings were adopted: the first happened to be half Korean, and the second was a Vietnamese baby saved from the aftermath of the Vietnam Conflict. “Perhaps my brothers influenced my decision subconsciously,” said Ackerman.
Ackerman also notes that Chinese adoption also has the advantages of being relatively straightforward, the children are mostly healthy, and it is easier to find an infant.

That said, Ackerman points out that right here in the United States more than half-a-million children languish in foster care, hoping to be adopted. That is why she is leading her adoption advocacy group, A Voice 4 His Children, in an new push to educate prospective adopters and to support current adopters.

Ackerman explains that several myths surround the adoption process, such as insuperable costs and reams of paperwork. But, one size does not fit all. In fact, adoptions from foster care are free, with stipends available to support the adoptive parents. “Our goal is to break down barriers and dispel the myths.”

Though she admits that international adoptions can cost as much as $20,000-30,000, Ackerman adds: “I didn’t have $20,000 either time I adopted. But letting that stand between me and a child’s life? That’s crazy! That’s a car or a couple of vacations.” A Voice 4 His Children is taking a multifaceted approach, one which includes a educational program at Bartlett Pubic Library next Monday, November 16, 2009, from 7-9 pm.

A Voice 4 His Children has also built a team of 50 adoptive households which meets monthly as a support group. Another group is just getting underway to support the first with financial aid and a revolving list of households offering respite care for the adoptive families.

Ackerman is also excited that the Village of Bartlett is recognizing the crucial nature of adoption awareness by passing a resolution this week, recognizing November as National Adoption Month.

“What’s important for people to understand is that anyone can support adoption and make a difference and raise awareness in ways great and small. Sure, you can adopt, but you can also donate a book about adoption to your school or library, or you can simply read an adoption book to a child.”

For more information, visit A Voice 4 His Children at its blog: or contact Ackerman directly at

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