Couple works for children worldwide; Adoption, aid inquiries continue in tsunami`s aftermath

Date: 2005-04-20

Daily Camera, The (Boulder, CO)
Author: Kate Larsen Camera Staff Writer

Lisa Novak wants people to know that the children in tsunami-stricken regions still need help, but so do the millions of others abandoned and orphaned each year around the world.

Novak and her husband, Marty Claar, are working hard to help the tens of thousands of orphaned children in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia, and numerous other regions. They are raising money to help build at least one orphanage in Thailand.

The Erie couple runs the Boulder-based Claar Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping orphaned and abandoned children around the world. The charity was inundated with inquiries from people eager to adopt children following the Dec. 26 disaster. Nearly five months later, the calls are still coming.

"In the last six months, with all of the tsunami stuff and adoptions, we`re really overflowing," Novak said.

Earlier this year, Novak resigned from Erie`s Board of Trustees to devote more time to her work, which has increased nearly 40 percent since the tsunami.

While families must wait at least a year before children from the tsunami region are available for adoption, Novak said the disaster spurred several immediate and positive local effects.

Many people motivated by the images of children strolling aimlessly on debris-covered beaches are now interested in adopting from other regions. And the percentage of fertile couples adopting internationally is on the rise, Novak said.

Jennie Bowser said she and her husband, Merle, had discussed adoption prior to the tsunami, but the disaster sped up the process.

"When I saw that and those kids I thought 'Oh, my gosh I wonder if can help those kids,'" Jennie Bowser said.

The couple has their own 15-month-old son, and could have another child. But they`d rather adopt.

"Once you really become aware of the plight of children around the world, I don`t know how you could not do it," Bowser said.

The couple is considering adopting a child from Guatemala or perhaps China, she said.

While more couples like the Bowsers have stepped up since Dec. 26, there are still concerns, Marty Claar said.

The level of volunteerism and spontaneous donations for tsunami victims has dropped off significantly, he said. The need for long-term aid is still there.

"The obstacle we hit with this disaster is the desensitization," Novak said. "It`s really hard to continually keep in your life the pain of needy children."

There`s often a short supply of clothing, vitamins and school supplies for needy children all over, Novak said

"In any given year, there are 6 to 7 million kids under the age of 7 who are legally adoptable," she said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Kate Larsen at (303) 473-1361 or larsenk@dailycamera.com.

Caption:
Marty Claar, vice president of the Claar Foundation, separates donated school supplies for tsunami victims Friday afternoon at his office in Boulder. The foundation helps with relief efforts and adoption requests for orphans around the world.

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