Youths who participated in the Diakon Adoption & Foster Care matching event pose for a group photo following their turns on the red carpet.

Fashion show matching event brings together waiting youths, prospective families

Topton, Pa.    Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Alisha describes herself as honest and helpful—and she wants a new family that exhibits those same qualities.

At 15, she has made great progress in overcoming trauma in her life and is now poised to be part of a “forever family” that will support her dreams and love her every step along the way, while also providing the stability, structure, and guidance she needs to be successful in life.

A year older than Alisha, Dominick says he is “adorable and lovable.” He enjoys school and Pokémon and believes people should be nice to one another, while expressing their emotions by talking. He says following that advice has worked for him—though he's not lived with a family for many years. He wants that situation to change.

Alyssa, also 16, has been nicknamed “Smiley” by coworkers because of her infectious smile. She describes herself as a “well-behaved but also loud girl with a never-ending fountain of words.” In fact, one day, she hopes to use that gift to be a mental health therapist—which is the reason she doesn't like to shop or spend money; she'd rather save it for college!

These three young people were among the 18 who recently participated in a fashion show matching event sponsored by Diakon Adoption & Foster Care. The event was held in the Henry Auditorium at The Lutheran Home at Topton, where a Diakon Adoption & Foster Care office is located.

The event has resulted in matches, “the most important thing.”

"There are currently 2,500 children and youths in Pennsylvania waiting to be adopted—to have a family to call their own," says Melanie Rehrig, permanency services supervisor at the Topton office. "The youths in the show were older, 10 and up. They have been waiting the longest and are the most in need so, as part of our Older Child Matching Initiative, we develop events such as this fashion show specifically to highlight them. Through such events, they can meet families and interact with them, and the families get to learn more about the youths."

In addition to Alisha, Alyssa, and Dominick, the event included, among the 15 others, Tyler, a talented 15-year-old writer who creates his own poems and songs ... Mikal, 17, who enjoys cooking, who enjoys music, performing, and reading ... and Samantha, 15, who hopes one day to become a stylist, nurse, or chef. She hopes to become part of a family with older siblings.

A youth available for adoption walks the red carpet at the Diakon Adoption & Foster Care matching event.

A youth available for adoption walks the red carpet at the Diakon Adoption & Foster Care matching event.


For the teenagers, though, the most important part of the event wasn't the new clothing, though many said they certainly enjoyed the shopping experience (one girl, an adoption staff member noted, chose a skirt because she had never owned one). Rather, the importance was about finding a family to call their own, one that will adopt them and provide the love and security for which they have waited so long.

"We do find," says Rehrig, "that when we get families and kids together, that interaction leads to more adoptions."

Similar events have resulted in matches, she adds, “and that is the most important thing.”

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