Copyright 2002 www.sun-sentinel.com

[ May 27th 2002 ]

This isn't Angelina Jolie's kind of adoption. While the actress's much-hyped difficulties in adopting a Cambodian child have earned her headlines, about 600 children await adoption in Broward County. Officials with the Department of Children & Families and the Children's Services Council are hoping a new advertising campaign will change the future for those kids. Themed "Adoption in Broward: Easier than ever," the campaign has budgeted $300,000 to tap television, radio, print, outdoor and movie theater advertising to reach prospective adoptive parents for 600 foster children, said Jack Moss, district administrator for DCF.

The adverts, including a 12-minute promotional video on adoption in Broward, were previewed at a DCF and Children's Services Council gathering last week. The campaign debuts June 1, and was created pro bono by Zimmerman & Partners Advertising, Fort Lauderdale. The campaign will run through the summer and fall, at which time the department will seek renewed funding to continue the campaign, Moss said.

The agency was brought on board and the campaign was planned about two months ago, before the case of missing child Rilya Wilson emerged, Moss said. The new campaign comes as the district hopes to streamline the adoption process, Moss said. The courts are preparing to expedite termination of parental rights proceedings, which could mean more children available for adoption more quickly. A process that used to take more than a year could be pared down to six months, he said. "The next logical step is we're going to have more kids available for adoption than we would have in the past," he said. "So we want to publish [so people can] know what the benefits of adopting kids through the DCF are."

Among those benefits are faster processing and adoption times than working with private adoption agencies or foreign adoption services, as well as savings up to $30,000 in fees and costs associated with private or foreign adoptions, Moss said. In some cases, the department also provides adoption subsidies, low-cost or free medical care and paid college tuition, he said. "There's virtually no cost of adopting a child from the department," he said.

Questions related to the cost of adoption, to processing times, child background, birth parent involvement, education and financial support, and other issues were some of the 20 questions the agency developed on its own before creating the campaign, said Ron Fabbro, director of the retail division with Zimmerman. Some of the questions, which are woven into the advertising copy, were raised by agency employees who are adoptive parents. "The impression is adopting [locally] is a tough thing to do," Fabbro said. "But that's absolutely not true. We needed to get that out in the campaign."

Piggybacking on this campaign is a new effort to recruit foster parents, Moss said. Upward of 70 percent of all foster parents eventually adopt foster children, he said. The goal of the campaign is to get prospective adoptive parents to call the county adoption phone number and inquire about adopting a child, Fabbro said.

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