Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Breaking News for Babies: Congress Passes Mental Health Reform

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Congress Passes Mental Health Reform
Legislation Includes Grants for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

Huge news for infant and toddler advocates! Today, Congress passed broad mental health reform legislation, including new grants to promote infant and early childhood mental health! Rolled into the larger 21st Century Cures Act, the legislation was passed along bipartisan lines.

Spearheaded by ZERO TO THREE and advocates across the country, the inclusion of the infant and early childhood mental health grants signals that Congress has now recognized the need to begin comprehensive mental health reform where the foundations of strong mental health are laid – with young children, starting from birth. Specifically, the provision:
  • Authorizes $20 million for grants to develop, maintain or enhance infant and early childhood mental health promotion, intervention, and treatment programs.
  • Ensures that funded programs are grounded in evidence and are culturally and linguistically appropriate.
  • Allows funds to support:
    • age-appropriate promotion, early intervention, and treatment services;
    • training mental health clinicians in infant and early childhood mental health;
    • training for infant and early childhood mental health clinicians to integrate with other providers who work with young children and families; and
    • mental health consultation in early care and education programs. 
“This is an important victory toward improved infant mental health prevention, identification and treatment – and the first time the needs of very young children have been recognized by Congress,” said Matthew Melmed, Executive Director of ZERO TO THREE. “We are extremely grateful to the Congressional champions on this issue, including Senators Bill Cassidy and Chris Murphy, Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray, and Chairman Fred Upton and Ranking Member Frank Pallone for recognizing that babies’ mental health matters and fighting for them throughout this process.”

Click here to read ZERO TO THREE’s full statement.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law soon.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Reminder: Certificate of Citizenship Fees Increasing Set for December 23!

Certificate of Citizenship fee is doubling on December 23rd for adopted children. If your child is still in need of their Certificate of Citizenship, we encourage you to act now to get this permanent document of their U.S. Citizenship. In the following video, NCFA chats with McLane Layton and Christine Poarch, experts in the Child Citizenship Act and immigration law for adoption. They share why the Certificate of Citizenship is important and why you should act now to get yours before the price increase. You’ll also find answers to some FAQs that can help you complete the N-600 form for the Certificate of Citizenship yourself. A huge thanks to Christine Poarch and McLane Layton for joining us and sharing their expertise!

Click here for more information.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Georgia’s Emerging, Avant-Garde Designers to Know!

Source: nytimes.com

By Nancy Hass

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Strictly speaking, Nata Janberidze and Keti Toloraia began their creative collaboration in a vacuum. When they started designing objects and interiors a ­decade ago, fresh out of art school, their hometown Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, a small country on the Black Sea that spent much of the 20th century as part of the Soviet Union, had no creative community for two young designers to gain inspiration from, or any local market for the one-of-a-kind groundbreaking pieces they designed under the distinctly Western, purposefully plain name Rooms.

Continue reading.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hopscotch Adoptions’s Families Have A Lot To Share!

Source: www.focusonthefamily.com

By Crystal Kupper

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She peered out from the baby carrier and immediately ducked back in, petrified by the sparrow flitting above. I hadn’t yet told Guyana we were at a zoo, with even scarier animals than sparrows. Of course, I couldn’t fault my new daughter’s reaction to outside experiences too much; nearly all her five years had been spent in five rooms at an Armenian orphanage.

We strolled around the zoo in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital city, trying to get used to each other. Guyana’s 24 pounds barely registered with me, though I was intensely aware of her deadweight legs smashed crooked, all thrown out of whack by her many physical challenges.

Natives stared with beautiful dark eyes. It isn’t normal to see people with disabilities in public in this corner of the world, especially not a miniature, halfway-paralyzed spitfire kangaroo-pouched against an American woman. I felt as if we were a zoo exhibit ourselves.

But then an old lady stopped us, asked Guyana in Armenian who I was. My daughter stopped shrieking over the terrifying ducks and deer long enough to proudly announce, “My mama!”

Yes, I thought in awe. I am your mama, and you are my girl. Forever. 

Continue reading.

The guide: 24 top places to eat, shop and see in Georgia’s stylish capital

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An intoxicating blend of ancient and modern, Tbilisi is bursting with architectural gems, tucked-away eateries and late-night hangouts. Little wonder then, that visitors are flocking there. Here’s our edit of the city’s finest attractions.

Continue reading.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Update on Intercountry Adoption Proposed Rule Advocacy!

Hello Everyone!

SaveAdoptionsNormalLogo Keep making calls – there are some new names coming in, but we could still use many more. Just a reminder that offices now have until MONDAY to get signatures on that letter. So, keep up that polite persistence.
Some news you may have already heard is the Small Business Administration letter and comments have been publicly shared.  A tremendous amount of gratitude for their advocacy and support in opposing these overreaching and detrimental proposed changes.  This might be info that is helpful to your Members of Congress to hear! Attached is a sample letter (thanks to MLJ Adoptions) using that resource. Check it out and consider using it yourself if you find it helpful.

Finally, these are the names who have signed onto this letter as of a few hours ago… If yours aren’t on here, another outreach might be helpful. And a quick thank you to the staffer is always remembered, if they did sign on.  Share, share, share! 

Senate
  • Blunt
  • Klobuchar
  • Risch
  • Wicker
  • Tillis
  • Thune (Tentative)
  • Lankford
House
  • Lawrence
  • Franks
  • Huizenga
  • Mullin
  • Barr
  • Stewart

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Save Adoptions: Follow up with your Members of Congress!

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On Tuesday, we asked you to call Congress and ask them to sign a letter expressing concern about the Department of State proposed intercountry adoption regulations. So far, even though several Congressional offices have called the co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition of Adoption with questions, the letter only has signatures from three Senators and four Representatives. If you made a call, send a reminder email to your office’s staffer today (click here to see our sample follow-up email). If you haven’t made a call yet, it’s not too late. Make a call today – all signatures must be in by Monday, November 21st, but calls should be done sooner so Congressional staff have time to take a look and get it approved by the Member of Congress. before the deadline to sign.

Being an advocate is easy! We chatted with Ashlie H. and Lydia T. who both called their Members of Congress this week. Here’s how it went!



You made some calls on Advocacy Day. Can you tell us about those?

Ashlie: I made calls on Advocacy Day to the offices of Congresswoman Susan Brooks and Senator Daniel Coats. Before this, I hadn’t been passionate about something enough to call my representatives in office so this was my first experience. While calling Susan Brooks’ office, I was caught off guard because someone actually answered the phone. I was expecting a machine. They were very nice and asked questions about the reason for my call and we joked about how I was flustered at first because I wasn’t expecting a live person. They were very nice. For Senator Coat’s office, I did leave a lengthy voicemail but I was a pro by this point so it was easy to state the reason for my call and why I was concerned.

Lydia: I am first an adoptive mother and second an adoption professional. I called Congressman Todd Young’s office and while I didn’t speak directly with someone, their office did take my name and information and promised I would hear back from them. I also left a message with Senator Joe Donnelly’s office about the current issues.

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Lydia and her family pose for a pic.

Why was it so important to you to call your Members of Congress?

Ashlie: I have the privilege of being called "Mommy" by two of the most beautiful children from Bulgaria. Adoption has grown and completed our family. I feel strongly that all children belong in a loving, forever home and the Bible calls us all to advocate for those who have no voice. When I was calling, I was calling for the children without a voice. I feel that adoption is already so hard, so lengthy, so expensive… it’s easy to turn your back on the idea. Unfortunately, turning your back on that idea will rob so many of the greatest joys. International adoptions have decreased by 75% since 2004 AND over 80% of people who have thought about adoption did not follow through because of the expenses and time involved. I cannot fathom why our government deems it necessary to add more time, fees, and regulation to an already long and expensive process. This will deter even more families from following through, and it’s the children who suffer. I wish those sitting behind a desk thinking up these new regulations would go and visit orphanages all over the world. Then they would see the need. They would ask why it was so hard. Why these children do not know the love of a family. It’s heartbreaking and we must do something.

Lydia: It was important to me, again, as an adoptive parent to create an awareness of the proposed changes because I know from firsthand experience what a family means to children who are waiting around the world. Also, as an adoption professional, I wanted my representatives to understand what an impact this could make to the future of adoption, and what is in the best interest of a child.
If I sit back and do nothing children will suffer, my job could be at risk and even worse children could lose what the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has legally  determined as their right to a family. Because I have witnessed what neglect, abuse, and trauma have done to impact my children, I can’t sit back and not do all I can to protect children who do not have the love, security and protection that a family offers.

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Ashlie and Mr. H. with their two children.

What are you going to do next to help bring change for intercountry adoption?

Ashlie: I have been sharing links and ways to advocate for children on my social media pages, as well as within adoption forums and groups with other adoptive parents. I have sent emails to my State Rep and State Senators and have made phone calls on behalf of the orphans all over the world. In the meantime, I will continue to tell our story in hopes that it inspires another family to grow their family through adoption. As a family we will donate to families in-process when we can and we will continue to help other families in-process with questions and help in whatever way we can post-adoption.
Here is a photo of our family. Our adoption from Bulgaria took just shy of two years from start to home. We have been home since Oct. 30, 2015. Our children are healthy, silly, happy, doing well in school, making friends and are constantly keeping us on our toes. Life is good and I pray that many other families will be able to know the joy of adoption. It’s miraculous.

Lydia: I have shared with my family, friends and client families how anyone can make a difference in the life of an orphan – by speaking up and giving them a voice. While international adoptions have been on a significant decline, sadly the number of orphans continues to grow. We have a responsibility to children everywhere to give them opportunity to their right to a family.



Follow-Up Matters!

If you called your Congressional offices, take a moment to follow-up with them via email to remind them to sign the letter to Secretary Kerry by Monday, November 22nd. Keep your follow-up quick and concise! Below is a sample email. If you don’t have the email address of the staffer who handles international adoption issues, no worries! Just the call the Congressional office again and ask for an email address.

Dear [name of the staffer you spoke with]:

I was just checking back to see if you’d had a chance to ask Senator/Representative XXX about signing the letter expressing concern about the Proposed Intercountry Adoption Regulations. We really hope to have his support on this issue. Let me know if I can provide any information that might help.
Please contact any of the following offices by Monday, November 22nd to sign on to this important letter.

House of Representatives
Office of Rep. Trent Franks (R)
Contact Chelsea Patterson: chelsea.patterson@mail.house.gov
Office of Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D) 202-225-5802
Contact: Alex Huang: alex.huang@mail.house.gov

Senate
Office of Senator Roy Blunt (R) 202-224-5721
Lauren McCormack: lauren_mccormack@blunt.senate.gov
Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) 202-224-3244
Lindsey Kerr: lindsey_kerr@klobuchar.senate.gov
Thanks for supporting adoption and let me know if you have any questions!