We witness a miracle each time a child enters a life. But those who must make their journey home across time and miles, growing in the hearts of those waiting to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny. And placed among us by God's own hands.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Orphan Sunday

Today on Orphan Sunday churches across America spread the word about the plight of orphans both in the US and Worldwide. If every Christian in America stepped up to this calling to do something, the orphan crisis could end. Not every family is prepared for adoption but there are other ways to help by opening your home to a foster child, helping foster families in your community, volunteering at a local crisis nursery, supporting orphan care projects worldwide or visiting a orphanage in another country. What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

US Health Care Rankings Worldwide

Are you outraged by the status of our health care in the United States or do you still believe that we have the best health care in the entire world?

Here are some statistics to consider:

According to the WORLD FACT BOOK, published by the United States Central Intelligence Agency and easily accessed by anyone on the Internet at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html

Infant Mortality Rate:  (# of deaths of live born infants under age one year)
-5.9 deaths per 1,000 births
-The US ranking is 174 out of 224 countries
- That means that 50 countries do a better job at keeping infants alive their first year then the US
- Countries with the lowest infant mortality rates are Monaco, Japan, Bermuda, Singapore and Sweden
- The rates of infant mortality in these countries is half of that in the US!
  • ALL residents of Japan are required to have health insurance
  • Sweden provides National Health care to all
  • Bermuda offers a gov subsidized health care package to all residents
  • Monaco has compulsory state funded health care
  • Singapore has compulsory federal subsidized health care coverage for all 
Maternal Mortality Rate: (# of deaths of mothers when giving birth)
-21 deaths per 100,000 live births
- US ranking is 137 of 184 countries
- That means that 47 countries do a better job at keeping mothers alive during and after childbirth
- Countries with the highest maternal mortality rates are Estonia, Greece, Singapore, Italy, and Sweden
  • Sweden provides National Health care to all
  • Singapore has compulsory federal subsidized health care coverage for all 
  • Estonia has government provided health insurance funded from taxes
  • Greece offers national health insurance with residents also having the option to buy private insurance
  • Italy provides health coverage to all through a mix of public and private. Italy has a Department of National Health Service and doctors are paid entirely by this department.
Life Expectancy:
- In the US you are expected to live to age 78.2 years
- US ranking is 51 out of 223 countries
- That means that 50 countries have higher life expectancy then the US
- This is down from a ranking of 20th in 1990
- Countries with the highest life expectancy are Monaco, Macau, Japan, and Singapore
- They are expected to live 6 years longer or more in these countries
  • Singapore has compulsory federal subsidized health care coverage for all 
  • ALL residents of Japan are required to have health insurance
  • Monaco has compulsory state funded health care (highest life expectancy at age 78)
  • -Macau has a universally accessible single-payer system funded by taxes
Are you seeing some similarities in these countries? Anything that here in the US we do not have?

If you are still not convinced, that here in the US, we DO NOT have the best health care in the world then here are some more statistics. The World Health Organization ranks the health systems of its 191 member countries in the World Health Report which was released in 2000. The report indicated that:

- The US ranked number 38 out of 191 countries
- The top 10 ranking health care systems were: France, Italy, San Marino, Andorra, Malta, Singapore, Spain, Oman, Austria, and Japan. 
- Cuba which was ranked just below the US at number 40 was ranked number 118 for health care expenditures per capital

O.k. so what do sources inside the US have to say about our own health care system?
Well, the Huffington Post just put out a interactive article on August 30th, titled 
"The Most Efficient Health care Systems in the World" You can view it here:
In this article the question of why the US spends so much on health care with such poor outcomes is discussed with a comparison of other countries that do a better job then us. They state: "In other words, the world's richest country spends more of its own money on health care while getting less than almost every other nation in return."

Think about our spending in relation to this information provided by the National Institutes of Health in 2013 in a report titled "US Health in International Perspective; Shorter Lives, Poorer Health" Located here: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13497
"Of 17 high-income countries studied by the National Institutes of Health in 2013, the United States had the highest or near-highest prevalence of infant mortality, heart and lung disease, sexually transmitted infections, adolescent pregnancies, injuries, homicides, and disability. Together, such issues place the U.S. at the bottom of the list for life expectancy. On Average, a U.S. male can expect to live almost four fewer years then those in the top-ranked country."

I can't help but think that every other industrialized country in the world is watching the US right now and literally laughing at our stupidity. It is time for us to get educated and fight for the health of our entire country. The data speaks for itself, there is a correlation between health care markers (particularly women's health and the health of young children) and the provision of health insurance coverage to ALL citizens. Public health research has long shown that when the health of our poorest citizens suffers then so does the health of those at the top. Now it is time for those at the top to stop being sold out to the lobbyists from big health care business and stand up for the health of every American. Because whether you like it or not, the current system is not working, and we are ALL in this together.

Friday, June 14, 2013

"Girl Rising" Hits CNN this Father's Day!!!!

Do you want to be inspired? Do you want to know what happens when a young girl in a impoverished country is given a education? Hope is what happens. Hope that she will break free from poverty. Hope that she will not be a part of the orphan factory. Hope that we can change the world one girl at a time. 

So this Sunday June 16th at 9pm ET/PT watch a portion of the documentary "Girl Rising" on CNN. This is what World Vision has to say about it: CNN will be airing the film Girl Rising this Sunday, June 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. World Vision is a film partner, and the CNN version will feature the story of a World Vision-sponsored girl: Azmera from Ethiopia (pictured above). Watch the heart-warming trailer. Azmera is one of several girls from around the world featured in Girl Rising, a film highlighting the obstacles girls face in the pursuit of education. Named one of the "hottest cause documentaries in years" by the New York Times, Girl Rising is directed by Academy Award nominee, Richard E. Robbins, and includes the voice talents of Hollywood stars Liam Neeson, Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Selena Gomez, Salma Hayek, Alicia Keyes, and Kerry Washington. Girl Rising is presented by 10x10, a global campaign to educate and empower girls around the world. Learn more about World Vision's partnership with 10x10 or consider empowering girls by giving a gift to the Strong Women Strong World Fund.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Repeated Pregnancy Loss: My Story

I have decided to share my story because I know there are other women out there going through similar experiences. I know that when you do go through this, you feel like no one else gets it and while they may try to offer words of support it is never enough. But I am here to tell you that I get it because I have gone through it far too many times, and here I am again. I have experienced 7 miscarriages and one full term pregnancy over the course of 14 years. Yes, that is right 7 miscarriages, and that is far to many for any women to endure. The emotions with each have been different as my awareness and knowledge has grown with each loss.

When I had my first miscarriage, I was completely in shock. I was a newly wed at age 24 and there was nothing unusual about my pregnancy until I reached 10 weeks gestation. I was sent in for a ultrasound that showed a little fetus but since the ultrasound technician did not tell us anything I still had no clue as to what was going on. So there we were sitting in the doctor's office when the he came walking in and announced that my baby had died two weeks earlier. How could that be? How could I not know that whole time? With shock came the horrible ability to hide away my emotions. After a few weeks of nothing happening I was scheduled for a D&C procedure. Something that I would now suggest avoiding at all costs. At a follow-up appointment I was informed that there was nothing genetically wrong with the baby so they had no idea why this had happened. Of course I still look back on every action that I had taken, and question what I had did wrong. Then unexpectedly came pregnancy number 2. Given the second pregnancy was so close to the first the same doctor told us that it was very likely that I would miscarry again. So I went along for a backpacking camping trip which had already been planned. This was something I really should not have done, but I was still living in the phase of "doing what others wanted from me" mode. By the time we returned from the trip I was bleeding and cramping. Same diagnosis, fetal demise at 8 weeks gestation. What followed was extreme grief, self-blame, anger and about every emotion in between.

The most difficult part, with these first miscarriages, was that friends and family did not really get it. Those who came to visit still expected me to entertain and pretend like nothing was wrong. After all I was young and I was told by everyone that I had plenty of time to have another baby. When I became pregnant, the third time, I found a new doctor who put me on progesterone pills and I did everything I could to take care of myself. To our surprise I made it to 12 weeks gestation and beyond. On November 27th I delivered a 9 pound 12 ounce baby boy via C-section. Since I had no complications during my pregnancy, other then being on the border for gestational diabetes, the docs had no reason to believe that there was anything wrong with either one of us and so life went on as any young couple with a new baby.

I wish I could say that I savored every minute of my pregnancy with my son. I wish I could say that it was completely planned and stress free. But the truth is I spent the entire time worried about bills, worried about becoming a mother, worrying about everything. I had just finished my masters degree and had only been working for a year when I became pregnant again. Several months into my pregnancy my husband was offered a slot into a graduate school program and accepted. This meant that we had to sell our home, get new jobs (while hiding a pregnancy) and move five hours away. Since I had not worked for the agency for a full year, before giving birth, I was not granted full rights under FMLA. My maternity leave was unpaid and we had to pay the premium for our health insurance, in full, while I was off of work. I had just got off the phone with the HR director when I was wheeled out of the hospital with my newborn son and I cried the entire time. I had to return to work just 6 weeks after having a C-section. My son entered day care when he was 8 weeks old. I will never forgive myself for that, but thankfully his daycare was in the same building that I worked, so I was able to visit him on breaks. If I knew then that he would be my only newborn I would have savored every moment, every breath. The grief that I have over my regrets around his first year of life are insurmountable. At the time I was just doing what I needed to do to survive and pay the bills on time.

Fast forward five years later and we decide it was time to add to our family. Since I had a previous history of miscarriage I was given a early ultrasound at 8 weeks gestation. Right away concern was present because the fetus was not developed as far along as it should be, but there was a faint heartbeat. I was filled with hope, only to be crushed when two weeks later the baby was gone, vanished before my very own eyes. Then came pregnancies five, six and seven over the course of a couple years. Each time I became pregnant I was filled with excitement and very brief peace, then the anxiety washed over me like a big dark waive. I rested as much as possible, cut out the caffeine and any alcohol. Took my vitamins and my progesterone supplement. Got some exercise, but not to much. Read everything I could about how to prevent a miscarriage. And despite this there was really nothing that I could do. Each pregnancy ended in the same diagnosis, a Blighted Ovum and Missed Miscarriage. A Blighted Ovum is defined by the American Pregnancy Association as what happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall but the embryo does not develop. Because a pregnancy sac and early placenta is still formed the pregnancy can proceed into the fist trimester with pregnancy symptoms.

I am not sure what is worse, not being able to get pregnant at all, or getting pregnant and going through all the early pregnancy symptoms only to find out that my baby will never grow into a baby after all. There will be no heartbeat, not fetal pole to be seen on that very early ultrasound. This felt like a very cruel joke from biology. The ultrasound experience, meant to be a positive time when you get to see your baby for the first time, became a time of trauma and terror for me. With each pregnancy they would order a ultrasound only to find a empty sac, or a sac with a yolk but no baby. Each time they would determine that it was to early to call it and reschedule me back in two weeks. I can tell you that trying to live your life while wondering whether or not the baby inside of you will thrive and grow,  is nothing less then excruciating. Now imagine talking with other pregnant women who declare what a miracle it is to have God weaving the child within them. With each pregnancy, I could barely sleep, could barely talk to anyone, became irritable with others, and extremely anxious. I have prayed and pleaded with God and asked more times then I can count "Why me?".

Over and over again the best OB doc in town told me that it was just "bad luck", that the odds of having anything chromosomally wrong with either one of us was extremely rare. Well, I was already falling into the extremely rare camp. Statistics indicate that if your first pregnancy miscarried, you have only a 13% chance of miscarrying again. Also at the 13% chance is having another miscarriage, even after a live birth and subsequent miscarriages. The rate of miscarriage with each single pregnancy is as high as 10 to 30%. But only 1 to 2% of women will experience three or more miscarriages in a row. Lucky me.

In between my pregnancy losses, life went on. My husband finished two masters degrees and I completed my PhD. We bought and sold several houses and moved multiple times. I changed careers from working in community mental health to school psychology. We also adopted two children, as those of you who read this blog know. We had always planned to adopt in addition to having biological children. So that part of the puzzle really took no thought at all. We decided very early on that fertility treatment was not the plan for us. I love all of my children with every bone in my body yet I continued, and still do, grieve in silence over the loss of my babies. I sat by while my co-workers had babies, and had no choice but to contribute to the baby showers that happen every year when you work in the schools. I spoke up for my rights when my employer tried to deny me the same leave benefits for a adoption as for the birth of a child. I said nothing though, when the administration and secretary staff, at two different schools, failed to recognize my adoptions  yet turned around the same years and held school wide baby showers for the other women giving birth.

I silently held the chip on my shoulder that has grown bigger and bigger over the years. I learned to ignore the insensitive comments and jokes that others make about pregnancy. After all, people who do not know me well, have no idea that we have experienced multiple pregnancy losses, because we have one biological child.  I turn my head in public when I walk by teen mothers, or any pregnant women for that matter. I try not to talk publicly about the cruel reality of fertility. Why is it that so many women who do not take care of themselves; who smoke, or drink when pregnant, even use drugs, are able to carry one pregnancy after another to term yet I cannot? And then there are the doubts that this places on my Christian views. Could this really be the plan that God has for all of us? That so many educated, healthy women could want a baby and not be able to have one, while so many children are born into neglect, abuse and poverty? All these questions, all these emotions, all this self-blame is enough to drive a person crazy and at times it has.

And so it was not until the age of 36, and six miscarriages, later that I finally made a appointment for myself and my husband to see a genetic specialist. We were tested for everything under the sun with all coming back normal except one little thing, the rarest thing of all. It turns out that my spouse has what is called a Balanced Chromosomal Trans-location, located on chromosomes 13 and 17. This means that one little piece of chromosome 13 broke off and switched places with chromosome 17. This happened before his birth. It can be a genetic anomaly, it could be hereditary, but it also could be caused by radiation exposure to either his father or mother. A trans-location can be un-balanced, as in a specific form that causes a sub-type of Down's Syndrome. Other chromosome trans-locations, on specific chromosome markers, have been linked to causing types of lymphoma, thyroid cancer, leukemia, even schizophrenia. His type of balanced trans-location causes no problems with the adult carrier but increases the risk for miscarriage, as well as the risk for having a child with a severe disability. It turns out that myself, and my unborn children, get to pay the price for something that I had nothing to do with. A chromosomal condition is extremely rare. Of the 2% of women who experience three or more miscarriages, only 2-5% of those couples will be found to have a chromosomal abnormality as the reason. I probably have as good of a chance at winning the lottery, but this is the fate that has been handed to us.

With this news came relief as well as frustration. We were told that our odds are as follows: 33% chance for a miscarriage, 33% chance for a child with a severe disability, and a 33% chance for a healthy child. Given that we had no idea that we had this condition, we were clearly relieved that our son was born healthy and free from any disabilities. The frustrating part was that our miscarriage rate was up to 86%. We were given three options; 1) stop getting pregnant, 2) keep trying and take the risks, or 3) seek in-vitro treatment with pre-genetic screening of the fertilized embryos. Considering the last option would cost about $40,000, or more, for a course of three in-vitro attempts with pre-genetic screening, and the fact that my age already reduced the chance of a healthy pregnancy (also ruling us out any money back guarantee or reduced costs egg donation fertility treatment programs) we clearly did not choose the last option.

After all of that news we tried to move on with acceptance and appreciation that we were perhaps rather lucky after all. But here I am writing this because I have now experienced miscarriage number 7, Blighted Ovum number 4. And this one is hitting me harder then any of the others. Maybe because the whole process has been traumatic. This time, as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I not only worried about miscarrying, but I also worried that the child could have a serious disability. I researched what prenatal genetic tests were available. I was again scheduled for a early ultrasound and it took two more over the course of several weeks before receiving the final blow at 9 weeks gestation. The hardest part is accepting that I will never carry a baby again. The statistics are clear, a 88% miscarriage rate with a very high probability of having a child with a severe disability. Even if we sought out fertility treatment now, or a sperm donor, my age increases the risks for miscarriage and genetic abnormalities.

I cannot re-do my experience of pregnancy, there will be no second chances. The grief is extreme. I am angry and I am bitter. I want to go back in time and take the entire year off of work when my son was born. I want to remember every time he wiggled and kicked my belly. I want to do everything differently. And not necessarily for him, because he is now a intelligent, healthy and well adjusted 12 year old. Having him in daycare early has not, after all, caused him to have a attachment disorder or anything else. I want to re-do that time for me. Because I feel like I have missed out on so many things that I briefly took for granted. You only get to live life once, and all of this, I never expected it to be part of my story. I am left again screaming "Why Me!"

After the grief settles I know that my sanity will come back. I will again believe that God gives all of us our experience for a reason. I will be reminded that if I had not had these miscarriages then maybe I would not have adopted my children, or jumped on a plane to counsel orphans in Haiti. I will remember that my loss makes me a more compassionate mental health provider. I will try to turn my grief into compassion, my brokenness into a powerful force to do good. But it is so hard to get to that point. It is hard to work through the dark clouds and the demons that make me want to hide from the world and become swallowed in my own misery. But most of all it is hardest to get past the anger. And even once I get past the anger it is hard to loose that little chip that will always be a part of me. That part of me that will always have to look away when I see a pregnant woman and that will cringe every time I have to go to a baby shower. I understand that the grief will always be with me. When I have a client who has experienced loss, I explain that it does not come in clean stages. Grief is more like a spiral. You might feel shock, then sadness, anger and eventually some form of acceptance but it comes and goes, it gets better and gets worse. And life is what happens in between.

And so if you are out there and reading this because you have experienced infertility, or a miscarriage, or multiple pregnancy losses please know that you are not alone. Know that your emotions are normal and o.k. Don't act like nothing is wrong because that is what everyone else is comfortable with. Don't let anyone tell you that your baby was not really a baby and that you should be relieved. If you have other children, biological or adopted, don't feel like it is not o.k. to still grieve for your unborn child. If one of your living children died from a accident or disease, people would not discount the loss and tell you to just appreciate the other children that you have. Please, please, don't wait as long as I did to get the proper testing to find out why, because it may not be to late for you. And most importantly DO NOT blame yourself, ever.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

New Adoption Education Website Launched

Please spread the word:

The National Council for Adoption has launched a new website today in Honor of National Birth Mother's Day. It is called "I Choose Adoption" and located at ichooseadoption.org The purpose of the website is to provide information to women who are unexpectedly pregnant and considering their options. Adoption is a very real choice that sadly many women may not choose because they don't know their options. Most domestic adoptions now are open or semi-open adoptions where the birth mother gets to see or receive information on how their birth child is doing. There are places on the site for birth mothers who have chose adoption to give their stories and for adoptive parents to also provide their stories. It is a win/win situation with the choice of life in a family who is ready to raise a child. As the website points out, "Adoption is not giving your baby away, it is giving your baby a chance"

On the main page the following Did you know fact is posted:

How ‘Bout Dem Apples
Steve Jobs was born on February 24, 1955 to two University of Wisconsin graduate students who gave him up for adoption. Smart but directionless, Jobs experimented with different pursuits before starting Apple Computers with Steve Wozniak in 1976. Apple’s revolutionary products, which include the iPod, iPhone and iPad, are now seen as dictating the evolution of modern technology.

Not posted on the website but clearly the first thought that had come to my mind: 
What if Steve Jobs' birth parents had chosen abortion as their option? Can you imagine a world without Apple?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

UNICEF Halting Adoptions

I have mixed feelings about the organization UNICEF. I think they do a lot of good and honestly I do understand where they are coming from with their anti-adoption stance. I don't think that children should be relinquished for adoption in third world countries just because the birth family cannot afford to take care of the child. Then when we as Americans (or any other industrialized country) come in and adopt the children, it certainly does look like the wealthy taking advantage of the poor. But here is the thing, international adoption is WAY more complicated then that. The vast majority of children are not relinquished for just one reason, but multiple reasons. That is why everyone needs to work with reputable adoption agencies and there needs to be strict government oversight of the orphanages and adoption facilitators in the child's birth country. Adoptions from Ethiopia did get out of control very quickly, however the government has done a decent job of pulling in the reins and really examining the system.

And so it is my opinion that it should be up to the birth family to decide whether or not they can truly provide for the needs of the child over the LONG Term. Here in the US, it is not unusual for a child who is placed in foster care to go to a extended family member (aunt or grandparents) only to have those same family members come forward and tell DSS that they simply are to overwhelmed to care for the child. Then the child ends up in the US Foster Care System and if they are lucky they are able to be adopted by their foster parents. The countries with the most orphans don't have this social service safety net. In a perfect world every birth family in every place on this earth would have the resources to get the help they need to raise a healthy, educated, and functional child despite their adverse circumstances. BUT we do not live in a perfect world. So when the birth family can no longer care for the child, if they cannot go to a orphanage, they simply give the child to another family to take care of him or her with the agreement that the child will assist the new household in some way. It is truly a form of socially accepted child slave labor, and it has been happening forever. With no education, no access to healthcare, or proper nutrition or social services the child becomes one more victim of the greed within their own country. And what happens when the girls become teenagers? Well they continue the cycle of the orphan crisis just as the boys end up living on the streets.

UNICEF apparently thinks they can keep birth families intact by paying extended family members to take back children who have already been relinquished to a orphanage. The problem with this is that as soon as money is involved no one can be sure that the family is taking the child back for the right reasons. And what happens when the pay off from UNICEF stops? Are they going to pay for that child's school fees, medical care, and work training program or college education? Where would my children be today if UNICEF had stepped in and stopped me from becoming their mother, when neither one had a mother any longer. This exact scenario just happened to this family:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Monopoly on the World's Food Chain

Re-posted from this article http://www.panna.org/issues/pesticides-profit/chemical-cartel, Did you know?....
"When a handful of corporations own the world’s seed, pesticide and biotech industries, they control the fate of food and farming. Between them, Monsanto, Dow, BASF, Bayer, Syngenta and DuPont control the global seed, pesticide and agricultural biotechnology market. This kind of historically unprecedented power over world agriculture enables them to:
  • control the agricultural research agenda;
  • dictate trade agreements & agricultural policies;
  • position their technologies as the “science-based” solution to increase crop yields, feed the hungry and save the planet;
  • escape democratic & regulatory controls;
  • subvert competitive markets;
…and in the process, intimidate, impoverish and disempower farmers, undermine food security and make historic profits - even in the midst of a global food crisis."

I find it strange that the US media is totally ignoring this issue. Heck most people don't even know what GMO foods are or who Monsanto is. What it comes down to is that one huge company owns the majority of the copyrights on GMO foods. Research is beginning to show that GMO foods are damaging to animals and plants and since there are no FDA requirements to label GMO foods you have no idea what you are actually eating and feeding your children. GMO crops are made to be resistant to certain adverse growing conditions which can then lead to problems if/when something does prop up and destroy the crop. By using only a few GMO crops rather then diverse heirloom crops, which originated where the crops are actually grown, the genetic pool for our food is literally shrunk which puts our worldwide food supply at risk. This is not just a US issue, GMO crops are being introduced all over third world countries as the solution to hunger and famine but the use of GMO's come with a high price and risks to the environment as well as health.

Photo: Check out the Right to Know GMO website where our common goal is to support state-level GMO food labeling initiatives by providing a venue for collaboration between respective initiatives and the broader national movement. 

Through our coalition partners we will work together to empower people across the United States to educate their communities on the risks associated with genetically engineered (GMO) foods and advocate for strong laws that protect citizens, farmers and families.

Together we will achieve a society in which we bring back democracy to our food and agricultural system.

Join us wherever you are to help us achieve GMO labeling.

This the newest post from "Food Democracy Now!": 
Obama signed the Monsanto Protection Act into law yesterday! Join Food Democracy Now! in demanding Obama urgently issue an executive order to support the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. We have over 250,000 signatures in support of this action so don't let your voice go unheard! Sign now to deliver the American voice to Obama:http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/sign/stop_the_monsanto_protection_act_seize_congress/

Photo: Obama signed the Monsanto Protection Act into law yesterday! Join Food Democracy Now! in demanding Obama urgently issue an executive order to support the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.

We have over 250,000 signatures in support of this action so don't let your voice go unheard! Sign now to deliver the American voice to Obama: http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/sign/stop_the_monsanto_protection_act_seize_congress/

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Key to Happiness

We watched a great documentary on Netflix tonight, "The Happy Movie". Aside from a few drawn out stories, they did a overall nice job of highlighting the research findings and theories in the fields of Neuroscience and Positive Psychology. Truly the keys to happiness are not found in money, selfishness, technology, or doing the same things that you have always done. Happiness can come from many sources but the biggest ones are exercise, spiritual beliefs and practices, relationships, meditation or "flow" (getting lost in a activity), trying out new things (to challenge your brain) and (a REALLY big one) helping others. The more we reach outside of our own little lives (and not through the Internet) through real, tangible, physical activities and relationships the more truly happy a person will be. And so I challenge you to get out there, get moving, try new things, live in the moment, give back in a big way, and grow your spiritual beliefs. It might be uncomfortable and challenging but the reward in the end is living a happy, fulfilling and meaningful life.

Check out the documentary for yourself at: http://www.thehappymovie.com/

Monday, February 25, 2013

South Africa Opens to International Adoption?

Now this is interesting:

The following article is reposted from the Johannsburg Child Welfare Website at


NEW YORK, NY, Nov 06, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Spence-Chapin Services for Families and Children announces the launch of their South Africa adoption program in partnership with Johannesburg Child Welfare Society (JCW), an organization that has been at the forefront of providing direct services to children and families in South Africa since 1909.
Spence-Chapin is one of only two U.S. organizations authorized by The South African Ministry of Social Development's Central Authority (SACA) to process adoptions from South Africa with United States families under the Hague Adoption Convention. Spence-Chapin's South Africa adoption program will focus on finding homes for both boys and girls (including sibling groups) ranging from approximately 18 months old to school-aged. Spence-Chapin has made a commitment to recruit families for children who have historically been harder to place, including children who are HIV positive. Their South African partner is also particularly interested in the opportunity to place children into African-American families. Having been at the forefront of domestic African-American adoption since 1946, this is an excellent fit with Spence-Chapin's mission.
JCW provides direct services to children aged 0-18 and through their various programs, centers and initiatives, effectively reaches more than 40,000 beneficiaries on an annual basis. The organization is run according to the highest corporate governance parameters, and Spence-Chapin is proud to be partners with such a valuable child welfare organization who shares their passion and commitment to permanency for children. Due to factors like a high standard of care for children and well-established and ethical adoption procedures, this program will appeal to a wide variety of prospective adoptive parents. Spence-Chapin is currently accepting applications from families who are interested in adopting from South Africa.
Spence-Chapin's primary objective is to provide adoption and adoption-related services of the highest quality. Founded in 1908, Spence-Chapin has found loving homes for more than 20,000 children. Its adoption programs include South Korea, China, Moldova, Bulgaria, Colombia, Morocco, South Africa, and the U.S. The organization offers free services and counseling to pregnant women throughout New York City, Long Island, and Northern and Central New Jersey, and post-adoption counseling services to all adoptive families through its Adoption Resource Center - including those who have worked with other agencies or an attorney.
For more information, visit www.spence-chapin.org
And to learn about the regulations and statistics for International Adoption from South African to the US go to: 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Not Just Black History Month...

I am not a fan of months or days being devoted to a specific topic, not because the topics are not important, but because many of them are so extremely important that they should be a en-grained part of our society. And so I have mixed feelings about Black History Month (or also called National African American History Month) which occurs in February. Let me clarify that I think it is valuable because sadly many people do not know much about the role of African Americans in US history. For our family in particular, and this piggy back's my last post, I think it is crucial that my children receive exposure to positive African American role models. Because of that I am glad for Black History Month and the events that are sponsored in February to celebrate, honor and remember (sadly not much going on locally here though). What I wish is that it did not end in February. My hope is that someday the role of African Americans, and other ethnic groups of people as well, will play a equal part in what our children learn in social studies at school and what is written in the history books. What is special about this year is that it marks the 150 year anniversary since Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to end Slavery in America, hence the description given for this year "At the Crossroads of freedom and equality".

If you are looking for some resources for info on Black History Month here are a few places to go:




And as a side note, Nike came up with a line of shoes to honor this years Black History Month, Yes, Nike is not well known for their worldwide employment standards and sure this is a way for them to make money but in a some way I actually appreciate a company honoring the importance of this year's Black History Month. They have assigned the campaign the slogan of "Be Bold, Be True". Clearly Nike understands that many African Americans take great pride in being identified as African American. I can only hope that my two African American children can Be Bold and Be True to themselves (but they don't have to buy shoes for hundreds of dollars to do so :) I would love to get the pic as a poster for my son's room though....

Nike Basketball   BHM Black History Month 2013 Collection

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Half-Time Show: Power or Oppression for Women?

Great post from another adoptive mom who saved me the effort of putting this complicated subject into words. My personal opinion is that Beyonce's performance was not that of a woman of power, but of a woman doing exactly what she needs to do to "sell out" to the male dominated society. Despite criticism I stand firm in my belief that performances exactly like this are not the image that I want my daughter to grow up with. I have my own dream for little girls and boys, of all shades and colors, and it is that they can be viewed as successful and powerful without having to sell out to what society wants or tells them to be.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

This book was written by a fellow Rwanda adoptive father. All proceeds support the RubyMyles Fund, a small grant program for prospective adoptive parents in need of financial support. If you have been touched by the miracle of adoption, especially of a child from Africa, please consider purchasing this book and helping a great cause.                          http://www.pop-theadoptionbook.com


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Orphan Sunday: What are you Waiting For?

I was honored to witness a miraculous thing this evening. The Esther's Hope Ministry at Mission Community Church of Gilbert, AZ hosted a celebration for families who are fostering, have adopted, or are interested in either. http://www.mission68.org/ Everything but the food was completely free including bounce houses, face painting, balloons, cotton candy, petting zoo, pony rides, a picture booth, and live music. The miracle was getting to see so many happy, smiling kids of all sizes and colors. When I think about the conditions that my two adopted children  were in years ago, I am simply speechless at the metamorphosis that has occurred before my very eyes. See, children don't just need their basic needs to be met, although that is certainly important, they also need the love and security of a family. The amazing thing is, that not only have they changed, so have I. For as many sacrifices that I have made, financially, emotionally, physically; the joy and abundance of love that I have received back from my children is ten fold. When Pat Robertson made his comments about adopted children being "weird", he was clearly very misinformed. We are all weird in our own way, and the vast majority of the most self-centered, poorly motivated youth that I have worked with were not adopted children. Has our path in international adoption been easy? Definitely it has not. With each of our children, we have had to work through different losses, histories, and memories that haunt them even if they cannot remember. We gave everything we had for Vanessa and we did not end up being the best fit to be her forever family. But in the process we did witness and facilitate incredible change and growth, change that helped prepare her for the family that was meant for her.

And so today on Orphan Sunday, I challenge you to answer the call that has been given. How can you make a difference to the 147 million orphans on this earth? It could be adoption, or foster care. But it could also be to sponsor a child internationally, to volunteer or mentor locally, or to support another family who you know who may be wanting to adopt or foster but are faced with the financial roadblock. It only takes one to make a difference one child at a time.