Originally created 03/11/01

Video helps link children, parents



Lorilynn and Craig Warner sat in front of the television Saturday, intently watching what was happening on the screen, but it wasn't a movie, a sitcom or a game show.

The couple was in a classroom at Augusta Technical College watching children talk about themselves and their hopes of finding adoptive parents.

Adoption video conferences sponsored by the Georgia Department of Human Resources Office of Adoptions are held every other month at different locations around the state.

On Saturday, the children were in Atlanta at an adoption party at Georgia State University and took turns in front of the camera, while others were making crafts, playing games and eating pizza.

Prospective parents also were gathered at sites in Athens, Columbus, Macon, Savannah and Thomasville for the event.

Although some people think the program sounds a bit like a Home Shopping Network for children, it is a solution for prospective parents who want more than a short biography on paper.

"I liked it a lot because it's a lot better than a picture; you get to see how they react," Mr. Warner said after watching his first teleconference. "You just really get to see the kids uncensored and unfiltered."

The teleconference is interactive. An interviewer asked the children questions, and the Warners could talk to the children through the two-way video hookup.

Marti Smallwood, regional adoption coordinator for the DHR Office of Adoptions, has been working in the adoption field for more than 30 years and sat with the Warners during Saturday's event.

She admits that occasionally she has trouble accepting the video conference.

"I don't like the concept, even now," she said. "But I see how it works."

Most of the interviewees are older and part of a group of siblings, which makes them harder to place. Having them interact with one another and with prospective parents in real time lets personalities shine through.

The children didn't seem to mind the system at all.

In fact, some were dancing and singing for the camera, hoping to catch the eyes of a future mom and dad.

Reach Lisa M. Lohr at (706) 823-3332.

Future events: The Department of Human Resources will hold other adoption parties and video conferences May 19, July 14 and Sept. 8. For more information, call Lisa Lumpe at The Recruitment Solution, (877) 242-5774, or Marti Smallwood at (706) 855-3463.