Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Inclusion: When A "Typical" Child’s Parent Made the Smallest Accommodation, What Happened Next?

Source: www.inspiremore.com

By Josh Starling


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Timothy was diagnosed with nonverbal autism when he was only two years old. As a result, every noise, distraction and emotional stimuli is multiplied ten fold. Though the now 7-year-old Timothy is well liked in school, his condition meant he was forced to turn down one too many birthday party invitations.

Recently, however, he got a birthday invite with a special note attached that brought his mom, Tricia, to tears. She took to Facebook to express her disbelief and gratitude.

Continue reading.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Why Now Is The Time To Drink Wines From Georgia (the Country)

Source: http://www.grubstreet.com

By Chris Crowley


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The main thing you notice about Mariam Losebidze’s 2014 Tavkveri is that it tastes like it’s infused with smoked fat. This is wine, albeit obscure wine, and wine tends not to taste like bacon. But Losebidze is one of only a handful of female winemakers from the country of Georgia — the former Soviet republic sandwiched between Russia and Armenia’s northern border — and her wines are unapologetically bold.

They were also, until recently, largely only available in her home country. But now some of America’s most progressive importers and sommeliers have turned their attention to Georgia, which produces wines that are unlike anything else.

Just as you might expect, plenty of Georgian wine is a far cry from grand cru Burgundies or the Pinot Noirs of California. For Western palates, much of it can seem, frankly, weird. In a lot of ways, the growing appreciation for Georgian wine is an extension of the continuing demand for so-called natural wines, the catchall term that refers to wines made with minimal processing, resulting in unpredictable, rustic wines where the makers — as opposed to the grape or region — are often the focus.

Continue Reading.

News from Armenia: You Can Call Me "Superman"!


Friday, August 5, 2016

Ohio Legislation Changes Terms for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Source: www.ohiohouse.gov

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State Representative Jonathan Dever (R-Madeira) yesterday announced Governor John Kasich’s signing of House Bill 158, legislation that removes “mental retardation” and its derivatives from the Ohio Revised Code and replaces it with “intellectual disability” and its derivatives. Representative Dever, the sponsor of House Bill 158, was on hand for the bill’s signing yesterday at St. Joseph Home, located in the City of Sharonville, Ohio.

HB 158 removes a negative connotation from the Ohio Revised Code without impacting the scope of developmental disability definitions. House Bill 158 also includes "intellectual disability" in the meaning of the term “developmental disability.”

Continue Reading.

Article from The Economist: Hundreds of thousands of children languish in orphanages. Adopting them should be made easier.

Source: http://www.economist.com/

Babies without borders 


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OF THE 2 billion children in the world, about 15m are parentless. Millions more have been abandoned. Most of these unlucky kids are cared for by other relatives. Others live temporarily with foster parents. But hundreds of thousands languish in state institutions of varying degrees of grimness. The youngest and healthiest will probably find local adoptive parents. For older or disabled children, however, willing adopters from abroad are often the best and only option. Yet the total number of overseas adoptions is dwindling (see article).

There is a reason for this. For decades cross-border adoptions were often a racket. In Romania after the fall of the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, thousands of orphans were adopted illegally. In post-civil-war Guatemala middlemen paid poor women a pittance to get pregnant repeatedly—or simply stole babies and sold them. When one country tightened the rules, the trade in babies moved somewhere laxer.

That trend has stopped. As countries have implemented the Hague Adoption Convention, passed in the wake of the Romanian exodus, they have stamped out the worst cases. Last year 12,500 children were adopted by overseas parents, about a third of the total just over a decade ago. The crackdown was necessary: babies are not goods to be trafficked. But many governments have gone too far. It is now too hard for willing, suitable parents to adopt needy children—and this hurts both the would-be adopters and, more importantly, the children.

Cambodia and Guatemala have stopped foreign adoptions completely; Russia has banned those by Americans. In many other countries the paperwork can take years. This is cruel. The early months and years of life are the most crucial. Depriving a child of parental love—inevitable in even the least dire orphanage—can cause lifelong scarring. The priority for any system should be to perform the necessary checks as quickly as possible and to place every child with foster or adoptive parents.

The Hague convention is a good starting-point. It says: first try to place an abandoned child with a relative; if that fails, try for a local adoption; and if a local family cannot be found, look overseas. Critics of international adoption point out that children who grow up in a different culture sometimes feel alienated and unhappy. This is true, but for many the alternative—growing up in an institution—is far worse.

When overseas adoption is a last resort, the children who end up with foreign families are the ones whom no one else wants: the older ones, the severely handicapped, members of unpopular ethnic minorities. In Guatemala only 10% of the children awaiting adoption are babies or toddlers without special needs. Few Guatemalans will consider taking the other 90%. Plenty of evangelical Christians in America would be happy to. It makes no sense to stop them.

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Creating a fast, safe adoption system should not be costly. Indeed, it should be cheaper than keeping children in institutions. All it takes is political will, as can be seen from the success of schemes in Peru and Colombia. Public databases that match children with good, willing parents work well locally in some rich countries. (Pennsylvania’s is praised, for example.) There is no reason why such systems should not be made international. Children need parents now, not next year.

Comment by Robin E. Sizemore 

“All too often foreign governments come to rely on UNICEF’s child welfare policy of de-institutionalization programs, which on the surface appear to be in the best interest of any child. However, what has resulted is a permanency plan of foster care, as the end goal for these children. Governments are all too happy to rely on subsidized programs and justify it to the beat of ‘keeping children’s heritage and culture’ over a child’s TRUE best interest, which is a loving, suitable, permanent family – wherever that may be. The preamble of the Hague offers that ‘a family environment’ is every child’s right – until that phrase is removed, and permanent family is made the single goal for every child, we can continue to expect governments to fail children through policy and practices counter to any child’s best interest.”

Robin E. Sizemore
Executive Director of Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc and Adoptive parent

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Urgent Call to Action for Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016

Download Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016 (PDF)

Dear Board Members and Concerned  Families:

If you believe The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption has failed to live up to its potential, leaving millions upon millions of children in need of a permanent family globally, this legislation will better serve the desperate needs of this population of children and change the catastrophic trajectory of intercountry adoption.  Below is a simple statement you can simply copy and paste into your senator’s contact email.  You can find your senator’s contact web link and phone information here.

“Dear Senator ______, 

This week, Senators Roy Blunt and Amy Klobuchar plan to introduce the Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016, which is a significantly re-tooled and simpler version of two former pieces of legislation: Families For Orphans Act and the Children in Families First Act. Senators Blunt and Klobuchar have circulated the legislation to their colleagues in the Senate and are seeking additional co-sponsors before they introduce it THIS week; hence the urgency of the matter. Passage of the Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016 has the potential to change the current concerning trajectory of intercountry adoption in the US. The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption has failed to live up to its potential. Millions upon millions of children are in need of a family globally, and this legislation will to better serve the desperate needs of this population of children. 

As an international adoption professional, and more importantly, a mother through international adoption, it is important to me that our Senators care about orphans and support them through legislation that will pave the way for permanency through adoption to be a viable option for American families. I am asking for your immediate and urgent help.  Senators Blunt and Klobuchar have circulated the legislation to their colleagues in the Senate and are seeking additional co-sponsors before they introduce it THIS week; hence the urgency of the matter.  Please call contact either Lauren in Blunt’s office or Lindsey in Klobuchar’s office and co-sponsor the Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016.

If you want more information on the bill contact Senators Blunt and Klobuchar’s office and hopefully we can count on you to let them know you will co-sponsor this invaluable bill that will change the lives of children and families all over this world. 

Without passage of this legislation, you can expect more of the same failed approach by the US Government on Intercountry Adoption.  Respectfully, ____________”

Here is what National Council for Adoption’s Executive Director has to say about this important legislation:
For many years, NCFA has worked to bring much needed legislative reform to intercountry adoption.  Our previous support of the Families For Orphans Act and the Children in Families First Act did not result in their passage.

This week, Senators Roy Blunt and Amy Klobuchar plan to introduce the Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016 (see attachment), a significantly re-tooled and simpler version of the two former pieces of legislation, yet something very affirmative to promoting intercountry adoption among other viable permanency solutions. 

The Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016 will accomplish many important objectives:
· It will re-enforce Congress’ and the American people’s commitment to intercountry adoption when this is the appropriate option for a child to have a family.

· It re-prioritizes and affirms the U.S. Department of State’s responsibility to be better advocates for this population of vulnerable children and opens doors of opportunity for them to be adopted by qualified American citizens.

· It provides the U.S. Department of State mission-specific instructions regarding their role in advancing the cause of intercountry adoption when no other domestic solution is available for a child to have a family, including establishing priorities that seem inherent in appropriate Hague Convention implementation.

· It creates better communications between several U.S. Government offices charged with carrying out various international child welfare activities and services, among them domestic and intercountry adoption options – and creates, in our opinion, more accountability and cooperation between the U.S. Department of State, other government offices, and the U.S. Congress.

Passage of the Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016 has the potential to change the current concerning trajectory of intercountry adoption in the US. The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption has failed to live up to its potential.  Millions upon millions of children are in need of a family globally, and this legislation will to better serve the desperate needs of this population of children.  Because the legislation is nearly all affirmative and mission-specific, it only requires a reallocation of existing resources without significant costs, while at the same time giving the U.S. Department of State a new mandate to better assist orphaned and abandoned children in need of a family and the American citizens who want to open their hearts and home to these children through adoption. The very same mandate we believed was given in 2008 when the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption was implemented in the U.S.

I am asking for your immediate and urgent help.  Senators Blunt and Klobuchar have circulated the legislation to their colleagues in the Senate and are seeking additional co-sponsors before they introduce it THIS week; hence the urgency of the matter.  Please call your Senator NOW (there is not yet a version in the House that is coming soon) and ask them to contact either Lauren in Blunt’s office or Lindsey in Klobuchar’s office and co-sponsor the Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016.

We have spent years working to this point.  If you support intercountry adoption and want to see key reforms to how the Department of State views its mission as Central Authority and a better implementation of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, then you really need to call your Senator and secure their support.  Without passage of this legislation, then you can expect more of the same approach by the US Government on Intercountry Adoption. 

Also, the following Senators were previous supporters of CHIFF.  It would go to reason that they’d be inclined to support our new bill.  If one of these Senators is your senator, then please remind them of their previous support CHIFF:

Roy Blunt (MO) – already supporting
Richard Burr (NC) –  already supporting
Robert Casey (PA)
Thad Cochran (MS)
Christopher Coons (DE)
Kristen Gillibrand (NY)
James Inhofe (OK)
Angus King (ME)
Mark Kirk (IL)
Amy Klobuchar – already supporting
Carl Levin (MI)
Edward Markey (MA)
Claire McCaskill – (MO)
Bernard Sanders (VT)
Charles Schumer (NY)
Jeanne Shaheen (NH)– already supporting
Debbie Stabenow (MI)
John Thune (SD)
Elizabeth Warren (MA)
Roger Wicker (MS) – already supporting

Chuck Johnson President and CEO
National Council For Adoption
225 N. Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
T: 703.299.6633 | F: 703.299.6004