Sunday, December 30, 2012

An Adoption Law Only King Herod Would Sign

By Victor Davidoff |

After the State Duma passed a bill banning adoptions by Americans, journalist Valery Panyushkin wrote on Facebook, “I know of only two organizations in the world that scare their enemies by harming their own children: Hamas and the United Russia party.”

As a child welfare activist in addition to being a journalist, Panyushkin knows better than most how disastrous the situation is for Russia’s orphans. Today, more than 100,000 orphans live in state institutions, and about 11,000 are adopted in Russia every year. Children with cerebral palsy, other genetic conditions and HIV have it worst of all. Their chances of being adopted in Russia are nil. They are often denied basic care and grow up unable to speak or communicate. As  children’s rights activist Ksenia Fisher wrote on Twitter, “The last time I was in an orphanage, I remember what the kids with disabilities said. They all dream of being adopted by Americans. Otherwise, no one will take them.”

It is also well-known that the chances a child will die after being adopted by a family in Russia are almost 40 times higher than if adopted by a family in the West. In just a few days, more than 100,000 people signed a petition asking the Duma to vote against the ban. There was even opposition to the ban among some United Russia deputies, and the Kremlin was compelled to take unprecedented tough measures to tame their unruly deputies to vote for the ban. The deputies were given an ultimatum: Vote for the law or be ousted from the faction and lose your parliamentary seat. Deputy Alexander Sidyakin abstained, and he was asked to write a note explaining that the electronic voting system at his seat “broke.” Sidyakin refused and is now awaiting the party’s decision on whether his seat will be taken away.

That wasn’t the only dramatic moment in the debates. Vyacheslav Osipov, another United Russia deputy, had chest pains and didn’t attend the voting. But he left his electronic voting card with another party member. His colleague voted for him, and Osipov’s vote for the ban was duly registered. The twist was that by the time deputies cast their votes, Osipov had already died of a heart attack. Even the most rational mind would see a bad omen in a blessing from a dead man.

In the Russian blogosphere, the law was quickly dubbed “the law of scoundrels” and “the law of King Herod.” As television journalist Alexander Arkhangelsky wrote on his LiveJournal blog: “You can argue about whether the Magnitsky Act is good or bad. But you can’t argue about whether or not our orphaned children should be adopted by families that live in the country that passed the Magnitsky Act. Children are above political interests, sovereignty and citizenship. Any response that uses these children leads to dehumanization.”

The reaction of the country’s liberals could be predicted, but it was surprising to hear negative reactions from people who never disagree with the government. Even some members of the Russian Orthodox Church’s high clergy expressed criticism. On the Web portal “Orthodoxy and the World,” Bishop Panteleimon of Smolensk and Vyazemsk wrote: “It is unacceptable to make decisions that affect children based on political trends. All the laws passed by the government must be based on the interests of people. For the sake of people’s interests, you can even sacrifice the prestige of the state.”

Even more surprising was the opinion of Kremlin-loyal television commentator Mikhail Leontyev, whose anti-Americanism on a scale of one to 10 is a solid 11. Nonetheless, Leontyev came out against the law on his Odnako blog. While not renouncing his standard anti-U.S. rhetoric, he reasonably noted that “there are certainly problems with American adoptions, but not with American adoption in and of itself. Through these adoptions, about 50,000 children have gotten the help, care and love that they couldn’t have gotten in their homeland.”

Although passage of the law was formally motivated by concern for the health and well-being of adopted children, few deputies hid that their real goal was punishing the U.S. Liberal Democratic Party Deputy Sergei Ivanov made this very clear in his statement to the protesters: “We have a huge number of ill-wishers abroad. With this law, we can stop their activities in Russia.”

Just Russia Deputy Svetlana Goryacheva had an even more exotic justification for supporting the law. According to her theory, the U.S. is using these children to form an army to invade Russia. In her speech in the Duma on Wednesday, Goryacheva said that “60,000 children have been taken to the U.S. from Russia. And if even one-tenth of these orphans were used for organ transplants or sexual pleasure, there will remain 50,000 who can be recruited for war against Russia.” Josef Stalin would have applauded that speech with loud cheers of “bravo!”

Indeed, the Soviet government forbade foreign adoptions. They were first allowed during the warming of relations with the U.S. during the last years of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s rule. It looks like Putin’s time machine, set in motion at the start of his third term, is returning the country to that era. In the past year, inch by inch, Putin has been rebuilding parts of the iron curtain, creating obstacles to free flow of information and personal contacts. On the same day the law on adoptions was passed, the Duma also ratified a law prohibiting people with dual citizenship from heading Russian nongovernmental organizations. It is widely believed that this measure was taken against two people: Lyudmila Alexeyeva, who heads the Moscow Helsinki Group, and Tatyana Lokshina, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Moscow office.

Grigory Yavlinsky, a leader of the Yabloko party, wrote on his LiveJournal blog: “This law not only is cruel but also speaks of the Bolshevik nature and Stalinist roots of the Russian political system. This is capitalism with a Stalinist face.”

Now the only question is: How far back into the dark days of the Soviet Union will Putin’s time machine lead the country?

Victor Davidoff is a Moscow-based writer and journalist who follows the Russian blogosphere in his biweekly column.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Hopscotch State Department Conference Call Regarding Russian Adoption

The Hopscotch staff have just finished a State Department conference call and wanted to inform families that the Consul section of the US embassy in Moscow, will be working Saturday and Monday to process children's visa with same day processing if you have a completed I-600. In addition, the state department will be monitoring/responding to emails from any family in process with a referral from Russia throughout the weekend and holiday.

Saturday is a working day for the Russian government and our state department is urging families with the 30 day court required waiting period completed, to obtain any final documents by close of business on Saturday in order to allow them to process your child's visa prior to January 1, 2013 when the ban goes into effect.

The State Department is urging all families with an active case in Russia to connect with their office via email

There is a huge task force working tirelessly from virtually every state department office. Hopscotch appreciates the gravity of how serious this development is and the level of attention it has received from our government on behalf of American families and Russian orphans.

Our thoughts and prayers are with each of you during this most difficult time.

Robin, Sarah, Michelle, Megan, Heather, Elizabeth and the Hopscotch Adoptions Board of Directors. 

North Carolina Family Adopts Child From Russia

Glade Valley, NC -- Not being able to have a child is an emptiness that hundreds of thousands of couples know all too well. The dream of adopting fills that, but now, many families' dreams may no longer come true.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will sign a bill, which bans Americans from adopting Russian children.

Putin claims US authorities deny access to the adopted Russian children and that Americans suspected of violence towards Russian adoptees go unpunished.

Americans adopted close to 1,000 Russian children last year, according to U.S. State Department figures.

In 2007, Dawn and Keenan Mustin adopted their son Gavin from Russia.

"He was mine from day 1," explained Dawn. "There are not words to explain it; it's a wonderful connection and a beautiful thing that this is your forever child, and you will be a forever family and he will love you and you will love him and it will be no different than if you had given birth."

The Mustin's adoption process was stalled when Russia temporarily closed the door on international adoptions.

"It was devastating... it's almost like your world comes crashing down," said Dawn. "The families right now are very devastated about what is happening to them. They may have met their child and they can't go back and get their child. Or they're preparing for their second trip and they may not be able to go get their child and they've already had a connection with that child so it would be very hard."

"For parents that are caught up in the mess, hang in there, there is a child there for you. Somewhere, God has a perfect child planned for you," said Dawn.

The Mustins are in the process of adopting a little girl from Bulgaria. They hope to make their first trip sometime next year.

UNICEF estimates that there are about 740,000 children without parental custody in Russia.

Today's Headlines Show the Need for the Donaldson Adoption Institute

To understand just how important the work of the Donaldson Adoption Institute truly is, look no further than today’s headlines:

Putin Signs Law Barring U.S. Adoptions
Internet Adoption in Need of Greater Regulation

Thanks to the support of compassionate and engaged people like you, the Institute is able to play a unique role in improving the lives of all the parties to adoption, especially children who need families. There are few better examples today than two of our current projects: developing best-practice standards to address the decline in intercountry adoptions and providing cutting-edge research and resources relating to the Internet’s historic impact on adoption.

Whether the beneficiaries are children in foster care in our country or in orphanages abroad, whether the issues relate to first/birth parents or adoptive parents or adopted persons, whether the question is about professional practices or better laws and policies, whether the people using our work are legislators or teachers or journalists, the Adoption Institute is there. Just Google either of the headlines above and you’ll see that we are making a real difference by being a voice of reason, a source of vital information and, most important, by working for systemic change that genuinely improves millions of lives.

As 2012 comes to a close, please consider making a tax-deductible, year-end contribution to the Adoption Institute by Dec. 31 so that we can keep our work going at this important time in adoption history.

Thank you and, on behalf of us all at the Institute, I wish you a happy and healthy New Year.


Adam Pertman
Executive Director

Russian Adoption Ban

In what we can only describe as a tragedy, earlier today President Putin signed the ban on intercountry adoption.  The law goes into effect on January 1, 2013 and while some details remain unclear, it is being reported that the law supersedes the bi-lateral adoption agreement between the US and Russia.  The status of the adoptions currently in-process is not assured at this time.

The closure of Russia to intercountry adoption follows what is now an all too familiar strain of tragedies.  Children in Vietnam, Nepal, Romania and too many other countries suffer the life-long effects of institutionalization due to the elimination of intercountry adoption as a viable option.  However unlike other closures which were generally based on child protection issues, the Russian ban is particularly stinging in that it is an act of politics, pure and simple.

As a professional advocate for children and the father of two Russian born children, this ban by the Russian government is a loss for my head and my heart….but most of all a loss for the children of Russia.

Best Wishes,

Tom DiFilipo

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Adoption Alert: Russia

Federation Council Approves Legislation to Ban Intercountry Adoption by U.S. Families

The Department of State continues to follow developments in Russia related to Federal Law No. 186614-6 and remains actively engaged in discussions with the Russian government regarding concerns that, if signed into law, this legislation will needlessly remove the opportunity for hundreds of Russian orphans to join loving families each year.  The Federation Council (the upper house of the Russian Parliament) approved the legislation in a unanimous vote on December 26 and it will now go to President Vladimir Putin for signature or veto.  The Department of State has not received any notice that adoptions to the United States are suspended, and both the Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services continue to work closely with Russian authorities on intercountry adoption issues as set forth in the U.S.-Russia adoption agreement. 

U.S. families currently in the process of adopting a child from Russia are encouraged to reach out to the Department of State at to provide information regarding where they are in the adoption process.  We encourage families to use the subject line “Intercountry adoption in Russia – family update.”  We will seek to provide information directly to families that contact our office through email as it becomes available.  Information regarding the passage of any legislation that affects U.S. citizens who are in the process of adopting a child from Russia will also be posted on

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Russia: Sign the Petition

Young Adoptee Responds to Ban on Intercountry Adoption in Russia

Sasha D’Jamoos is a young Russian adoptee with special needs who last week started Voice of the Child, a campaign to encourage the continuation of adoptions between Russia and the United States.  As part of his campaign, Sasha has published a letter and petition to President Putin. Please sign the petition and encourage others to do so as well. Click here to sign the petition and please forward to others who may be interested. Thank you for your support.

Best Wishes,

Tom DiFilipo

Friday, December 21, 2012

Adopted Children Greeted by Doctors who Specialize in Their Needs

Physicians specializing in adoption medicine are experienced at identifying and helping to care for the unique medical, mental and developmental needs of adoptees.


By Carolyne Krupa, amednews staff. Posted Dec. 17, 2012.

When Eleanor Rybicki first came to the office of Elaine Schulte, MD, MPH, in August, she was a frail and tiny baby — so small she didn’t register on U.S. growth charts for her age group.

Joseph and Kimberly Rybicki, who adopted Eleanor from a Chinese orphanage, were nervous, but Dr. Schulte quickly put their fears to rest.

“Eleanor was malnourished and understimulated, both cognitively and physically,” Kimberly Rybicki said. “She could sit up, but just barely. She was not crawling, and it was clear that she had not spent much time on her stomach. Dr. Schulte was very helpful. Because of the experience she has had seeing these children over the years, she didn’t panic.”

Dr. Schulte assured them that Eleanor’s condition was common for children who had spent their earliest months in institutions and advised them that the child would improve with proper care, love and stimulation.

As an adoption medicine specialist and medical director of the International Adoption Program at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, Dr. Schulte routinely sees children who come from challenging circumstances. She is one of about 65 physicians in 31 states who focus much of their practices on treating adopted children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Foster Care, Adoption and Kinship Care.

Adoption medicine is not a board-certified specialty. Most pediatricians see at least some adopted patients, but adoption medicine specialists have a specific interest in this patient population. Many have adopted children themselves, and they understand adoptees’ needs and focus on helping families meet those needs.

Most adoption medicine physicians are primary care doctors, or they specialize in infectious diseases or developmental-behavioral pediatrics, said Sarah Springer, MD, a general pediatrician with Kids Plus Pediatrics in Pittsburgh and medical director of International Adoption Health Services of Western Pennsylvania.

“It is definitely a focus of interest that is really interesting and fulfilling,” she said. “You get to know some amazing kids and some amazing families. It’s really fun to see kids blossom who may not otherwise have had the chance.”

Drawn to treating adoptees

Jane Aronson, DO, has treated adopted children for about 25 years. An infectious diseases specialist, she started getting inquiries from adoptive parents, and those questions increased as international adoptions spiked in the 1980s and 1990s. For many years, she had a primary care adoption practice in New York.

Though inspired by the children she treated, Dr. Aronson found that she also wanted to do something for children who weren’t adopted.

“I became aware that there were millions of orphans living in developing countries who weren’t getting the care they needed,” she said.

In 1997, she founded the Worldwide Orphans Foundation with the goal of improving living conditions for orphans around the world and helping them become healthy, independent and productive adults. The foundation has helped orphans in 14 countries and remains active in five.

Being an adoption medicine specialist means focusing not just on the unique medical needs of adopted children, but also on their mental, behavioral and developmental health, said Dr. Aronson, who has two adopted sons from Vietnam and Ethiopia.

“Most pediatricians and family doctors are not aware of the issues of adopted children,” she said.

Dana E. Johnson, MD, PhD, a professor of pediatrics with the divisions of neonatology and global pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School, got into adoption medicine after he and his wife adopted their son from India in 1985. At the time, it was difficult to find anyone specializing in treating adopted children. Many adoption agencies seemed to deny that the children had any special needs, he said.

“When we first posed the idea of an international adoption clinic in 1986, we were told no one needs it, because these kids are doing so well,” Dr. Johnson said.

Orphanages provide a rough start

Children who are institutionalized can have a variety of emotional, developmental or behavioral problems, said Dr. Johnson, who has visited orphanages in Russia, Romania, India, China, Nepal and Kazakhstan. Such children don’t receive needed stimulation early in life. They are seldom touched, and that can lead to problems such as trouble with personal contact or balance. The longer children are in an institution, the worse their problems, he said.

“Early institutionalization is catastrophic,” Dr. Johnson said. “What a child really needs is a family as early as possible.”

For many adopted children, the challenges begin before they are born, Dr. Aronson said. They may have birth defects, or are born underweight or premature, because their biological mothers did not get appropriate prenatal care or used drugs or alcohol while they were pregnant.

Many adopted children also come with emotional challenges because of their experiences. Dr. Schulte said many adopted children have attention, learning and behavioral issues. They often struggle with anxiety issues akin to posttraumatic stress disorder.

Because of these children’s unique needs, physicians should perform comprehensive evaluations of newly adopted children, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics’ clinical report in the January issue of Pediatrics.

“There are so many issues that we as pediatricians may not normally think about,” said Veronnie Faye Jones, MD, PhD, MSPH, the report’s author. She is a pediatrics professor and an associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. “There may be genetic predispositions that you may not know about. A lot of these kids may have unsettling pasts, and there may be a lot of issues that are lingering for them.”

More than 100,000 children are adopted in the U.S. each year, including about 22,000 international adoptions, the report said.

Increasingly complex cases

Dr. Springer said it’s important to educate physicians about the needs of adopted patients. She routinely sees children with physical, mental or developmental disabilities, such as complicated heart problems and neurodevelopmental disabilities.

“We work hard to help educate all physicians about what the needs of these kids are, and to help them understand that — while they may look as healthy as all the other kids walking into your office — you need to consider the trauma they may have experienced,” Dr. Springer said.

International adoptions have decreased in recent years as countries like China and Russia have increased restrictions. As a result, more special-needs children are being adopted from abroad, Dr. Springer said. “The numbers of kids are way down, but the complexities of their needs are way up,” she said.

Adopting a healthy child from China can take several years, so the Rybickis adopted a child with special needs. They selected from a list of special needs they thought they could handle. They were matched in March with Eleanor, who was born with a cleft lip and palate, and held her for the first time Aug. 6.

“The nanny walked up and just handed her to us. It was completely surreal,” said Kimberly Rybicki, a registered nurse in the cardiac progressive care unit at Cleveland Clinic. “There is nothing that can prepare you for that experience.”

Eleanor’s lip was repaired in China, and she had surgery to fix her palate in mid-November. Dr. Schulte has been a guiding force through it all, Rybicki said. Early on, she ordered several tests to make sure Eleanor didn’t have any other health issues and brought her up to date on vaccinations. She also helped the Rybickis find the best way to solve Eleanor’s sleep problems as she adjusted to her new environment.

“Dr. Schulte was very, very helpful in helping us know what to do and what to expect,” Rybicki said. “Adoption in and of itself is a special need. You want a primary physician who understands the needs of your child.”

Resilient young patients

Like Eleanor, many of Dr. Schulte’s patients are malnourished and understimulated initially. Dr. Schulte became an adoption medicine specialist after adopting two girls — now 15 and 16 — from China in 1997 and 1998. In 2007, she started Cleveland Clinic’s International Adoption Program.

Dr. Schulte said it’s incredible to watch her patients’ resilience as they grow and flourish with their new families.

“One of the greatest pleasures for me to observe as a physician is to see what happens between the first visit and the follow-up visit [four months later],” said Dr. Schulte, also chair of the Dept. of General Pediatrics at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital and professor of medicine at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.

Dr. Johnson said the specialty can be rewarding and challenging. In one instance, a family he worked with was preparing to pick up their child in India when the government raided the orphanage. The adoption was delayed, and the child spent more than six months in a government institution. Her growth stagnated as a result, Dr. Johnson said.

When the family finally brought her home, she was put into therapy. Now a teenager, the girl is thriving. She plays the violin and speaks at fundraisers for international adoption.

“She is a star and just a shining example of how resilient children are and how important families are,” Dr. Johnson said. “It is just enormously gratifying to see something like that.”

Dr. Springer, who adopted two children in the U.S., said as many as 75% of her patients are adopted or in foster care. They provide many inspirational moments.

“You see miraculous changes in kids all the time,” Dr. Springer said. “With the right family and the right support, kids can do more than you would ever imagine.”

Correction to Article: 2011 brought only 9319 children home through international adoption.  The number quoted in this article reflects 2004 statistics.

Russian Adoptees Finding Their Voice

Young Adoptee Responds to the Ban on Intercountry Adoption in Russia


Sasha D’Jamoos is a young Russian adoptee with special needs who just yesterday started Voice of the Child, a campaign to encourage the continuation of adoptions between Russia and the United States.  As part of his campaign, Sasha has published a letter and petition which he will personally deliver to the Russian Embassy in Washington DC on Wednesday, December 26th.

Sasha has asked for our support, and yours, in publicizing his campaign and requesting that as many individuals as possible sign the petition.   I told him that he could count on us - that we would as an organization and coalition, support them in helping other children find what they found, a safe, permanent and loving family. 

Sasha’s letter and petition can be found at Voice of the Child.   Please consider encouraging your colleagues, clients, families and friends to sign the petition today.

Best Wishes,

Tom DiFilipo

Adult Adoptee Survey Talking Points: Their Perceptions of Benefits of Open Adoption

Heart of the Matter Seminars' co-owners Julie Drew, BA and Katie Prigel Sharp, LMSW conducted a survey of 218 adult adoptees on the topic of open adoption.  A full report, Adult Adoptees' Views on Open Adoption, will be released soon.  This short article  provides a brief summary of one of the key topics in the survey, followed by a series of Talking Points meant to spark further thought and discussion.  Results from our survey will be used in our upcoming online course on open adoption entitled.Opening Up About Adoption: What is it and is it right for you? scheduled for release early 2013!

Learn more about the participants here.

Talking Points

  • "Having access to medical information"  was most often reported as "very important".  With medical advances in genetic testing do you think this will become less important over time?
  • Does an open adoption always guarantee accurate and complete medical information?
  • What does the phrase "knowing where I came from" mean to you?  How is it different than "knowing why I was placed for adoption"?
  • With all the focus on identity and adoption, does it surprise you to see that so many adult adoptees reported it as not a benefit or of little importance?
  • Do you think some of these would have been more important or less important to these individuals when they were children?
  • Do you think there is a connection between identity and self esteem?
  • Consider the how evenly distributed the responses are to "having ongoing contact with birth family members".  Why do you think there is such a wide range of responses?  Do you think this speaks to the individual nature of open adoptions?
  • Do you think the responses to "knowing who I look like" would be different if we had asked children?  Adoptees who are part of a transracial family?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Joint Council - ACTION REQUEST - Russia

As noted in an email (below) from Natash Shginian, the Russian media is looking for stories of Russian adoptees which will highlight the positive results of living in a safe, permanent and loving family.  If you know of an appropriate family or adoptee please have them contact Laris Mason, Executive Director of International Assistance Group and member of the NCFA Board of Directors.  Larisa can be contacted at

Larisa is hoping to collect pictures, short stories and pertinent facts regarding the child’s and family’s adoption.

Recognizing the urgency of the proposed ban on intercountry adoption, please respond to Larisa by close-of-business on Friday, December 21st.

Thank you for all that you do for the children we serve.

Best Wishes,

Tom DiFilipo


Dear Colleagues:

We all are very concerned by the critical situation in Russia regarding the possible ban of adoptions by American families proposed by the Russian Government.

I believe that using the Voice of the Child is the most important action right now. Governmental officials as well as representatives from the adoption agencies and other Non-Governmental Organizations cannot have the same strength as the voices of the children.

Children have the right to speak out and they will be listened to. We are working with the media in Russia to bring the Voice of the Child loud and clear to the Russian public and to the Russian government.

If you have any families who have adopted children with special needs, or children who were saved and are thriving because of international adoption, please, ask them to provide pictures of their children and a short story (half page) with any important or pertinent facts regarding the child’s medical condition and their past history. They will be published in the Russian media. Please, send the information by Friday to Larisa Mason, the member of the board of directors of NCFA specializing on Russia - We are working together on this very urgent matter. We also plan to have a few spokesmen - the adopted children - who will represent the entire community of other adoptees. They will write letters and everyone can sign. They also will speak through the social media.

JCICS is involved and Tom is working on this matter as well.

This is a way of protesting the proposed legislation and is a hope to stop the Russian Governmental action.

Best Regards,

Natasha Shaginian-Needham, M.D.
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Happy Families International Center, Inc.
Co-Founder of Artist Foundation in Russia Producer

News from Bulgaria

Four Hopscotch families traveled to Bulgaria this month to meet their children through our Waiting Child program.  A total of seven children were matched to these four families.  Two more families are awaiting I-800 approval to complete their adoption.  A very Merry Christmas indeed!

News from Armenia

Congratulations to our Hopscotch family on their successful court hearing for TWO beautiful Armenian children!!!  We are so very happy for all of you!!!!

News from Ghana

Visa Approved!!!  Our Hopscotch family will travel to pick up their son next week, just in time for Christmas!!  Congratulations!!!

Expectations and Realities: Parenting an Adopted Child with Special Needs

Live Webinar
Thursday, January 17, 2013
7:00PM Central
Q&A: 8:00PM

While preparing to adopt your child with special needs you likely read every article and took every class you could. But now that you’re a family, is it different than what you expected? What’s the biggest difference? What are you still working out?

Let us know and then tune in for a webinar Thursday, January 17 as Martha Osborne, founder of, adopted person and adoptive mom discusses your top disconnects between expectations vs. realities of raising a child with special needs. Martha will also discuss how families have handled these differences and resources to help you work through them.

Click Here to send us information on your experiences.

Overwhelmed for the Holidays: An Adoptive Parent's Guide to Navigating the Holidays

Traveling, family gatherings, holiday foods and music are all special parts of celebrating the holidays. But for many children, especially those with sensory sensitivities or who may have only recently come into their adoptive home, the frenzy of the holidays can push them beyond their ability to cope. For parents this can mean many meltdowns and power struggles. This webinar will help adoptive families:
-Understanding your child's capacity to cope
-Teach your children self-regulation skills
-Find ways to remember their birth family during the holidays

Learn more and register for the webinar here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Orphans In Morocco, A Documentary

Over the last few months a number of stories about the crisis in the orphanages in Morocco were published by international media. There were  also reports on a proclamation by the current Islamist government that seems set to hinder progress - the stopping of foreign adoptions, including Moroccans living abroad. But this is an issue that will not go away until concrete steps are taken to bring Morocco into the modern world where adoption is seen as an act of compassion, not a problem to be eradicated. Assisting this process are activists, some more enlightened politicians and hundreds of thousands of Moroccan women. And now a new film will add weight to the calls for change.

The documentary, BASTARDS, is about illegitimate children and the fathers who abandon them. By following single mothers fighting for justice, the documentary addresses big social issues through small human stories….heart-warming and heart-breaking stories captured in the raw, as Moroccan men and women clash about sex, children, marriage and money. It's a surprising contemporary documentary that touches anyone who has loved or been betrayed. The filmmaker is Deborah Perkin


In the West, a documentary about single mothers, and children abandoned by their fathers is no big deal, but in Muslim countries, where unmarried sex is illegal, the stakes are incredibly high. This timely film captures stories from the cutting edge of Islam.

Illegitimate children in Morocco are outcasts, non people, bastards ... but recent legal reforms give single mothers the right to register their children, either alone, or by persuading the father to recognise the child in court. Registration on the state birth register means access to education and health care, and a respectable position in society. BASTARDS follows single mothers battling for these rights for their children.


The radical Casablanca charity L'Association Solidarite Feminine opened its case files to us, and the Moroccan Ministry of Justice granted unprecedented access to film in the Agadir courts. The production team Deborah Perkin (former BBC Senior Producer) and Nora Fakim (former BBC Morocco Correspondent) lived in a Casablanca slum for two months to be amongst the single mothers they were filming. This is a rare glimpse into a hidden world.

In most Muslim countries a documentary like BASTARDS would be unthinkable....but thanks to brave campaigners and a socially tolerant king, Morocco has led the way in social and legal reforms that help single mothers and their illegitimate children to secure a future.


Rabha El Haymar’s story is the spine of the film. She is a single mother and her daughter is illegitimate because under Morocco's family law reforms, her traditional marriage as a child bride was not legal. She battles through the courts to legalise the marriage, to register her daughter and to force the father to accept his child. We witness extraordinary scenes.… the courtroom lies of her child’s father, verbal abuse from her child's grandfather, Rabha's confrontation with her mother asking why she married her off so young, and finally her triumph in the courts.

Along the way, we also meet larger-than-life Fatiha, tirelessly pressing the father of her child for maintenance, law student Naim, a young man who is distressed about growing up with the shame of illegitimacy, Saida who was rejected by her family and almost gave birth at a police station, and Kultum who is too young to be a mother following her rape, and is struggling with the responsibility.

L'Association Solidarite Feminine's founder Aicha Chenna has given her working life to supporting single mothers to bring up their children with dignity. Her tireless campaigning has gradually changed social and legal attitudes. In BASTARDS we meet her and her equally feisty female colleagues, the social workers and lawyers who work on the frontline with single mothers.


Sex outside marriage may be illegal in Muslim countries but that doesn’t stop it happening. Inevitably, without sex education, or easy access to contraception or to legal abortion, unwanted illegitimate babies are born. With 6500 babies abandoned every year, Morocco faces a crisis, but instead of taking a punitive approach, it encourages single parents to be reconciled and their children to be legitimised. Radical reforms in 2004 to its family law code, the Moudawana, put Morocco at the forefront of developing human rights for single mothers and their illegitimate children. You can read an English translation of the Moudawana here.


Deborah Perkin explains:  I wouldn't pretend that I predicted the Arab Spring, but in 2009 I did work out that Morocco was pushing ahead with democratic reforms and that something interesting was happening in Muslim North Africa. It all started with a holiday with my mum. We had a tour of Morocco and found that everywhere we went women wanted to talk to us, take photos with us, ask us what we thought of their country. This was a completely different experience from traveling in the other Muslim countries we had visited, where women were much less visible in the workforce and on the streets. And so began my passion for Morocco and its people, which led to me putting my all into making this documentary.

When I got home I searched the internet and discovered that Morocco had many women's rights and human rights organizations. They had campaigned for legal reforms which eventually became law in 2004, amending the Family Code, the Moudawana. Child marriages were outlawed with the age of sexual consent for men and women set at 18, polygamy was virtually outlawed, and women's child custody rights improved. Single mothers could register their children alone, choosing a father's surname from a state list if the father refused to give the child his name - and once registered, children are entitled to education and healthcare.

I didn't want to make an issue-based report on legal reform but a moving documentary showing personal stories of women using the new law. Eventually I found Aicha Chenna and L'Association Solidarite Feminine. She and her staff welcomed me in to their radical charity, set up in the face of death threats from conservative Islamists, but working all the time to reintegrate single mothers into society, and make sure their illegitimate children have the best possible start in life. Their work became my obsession. I had to make a documentary with them and the women they support.

Playing Games with Children’s Lives

Posted by Dawn - December 18th, 2012

It all sounds depressingly like a children’s game of tit for tat.

Tit: The US Congress passed a bill which was signed into law last week that imposed sanctions on Russia for human rights violations. The law is the Magnitsky Act, named after the Russian whistle-blowing attorney who uncovered massive governmental fraud and died in prison of suspected abuse.  Specifically the Magnitsky Act imposed travel restrictions and financial sanctions on an unreleased list of Russians suspected to be involved with Magnitsky’s death.

Tat: In what appears to be retaliation for the Magnitsky Act, the Russian Parliament introduced and approved a bill imposing similar restrictions on an unspecified list of US officials. All’s fair in love and war and politics, I suppose, but now Russia is threatening to broaden the bill to include American adoptive parents accused of abusing their children adopted from Russia and the US judges who imposed what the Russians believe to be lenient sentences. In addition, and here’s where it gets “interesting”, the new proposal would ban adoption of Russian children by Americans. Yes, you are correct that the new bilateral adoption treaty between the US and Russia just went into effect; and yes, you would be further correct that this proposal, if enacted, would obliterate that treaty. The bill will receive a second reading this week, and a third reading is planned for later this month, after which it would pass to the upper Parliamentary House.

Double tat: The Russian bill is unofficially named after Dima Yakovlev, the toddler adopted from Russia who died of heat stroke in 2008 after his father left him in a car. The father’s acquittal on involuntary manslaughter charges sparked outrage in Russia.

That’s the problem with tit for tat games—they always escalate. With kids it starts with “you can’t stand next to me in line” and escalates to “you’re not invited to my birthday party” (the 8 year old girl equivalent of the death penalty). With governments the stakes are much higher and the escalation more dangerous.
Adoptions have been controversial in Russia for some time. It is understandable. No country wants to think that it can’t take care of their own. In 2006 I wrote an article for the Christian Science Monitor about US children, primarily African American children, being placed abroad for adoption. The reaction from many was outrage and horror. People Magazine picked up the story and caused a further stir. I get it.

I don’t know enough about the backstory to the Magnitsky Act to have an opinion, but I can at least understand why Russia is upset. Nobody likes a hand-slapping. As President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov said “What did the Americans hope for — did they hope we would just swallow [the Magnitsky Act] ? It causes indignation.”

But my understanding stops when some Russian politician tries to tie adoption into this retaliation. I’m inclined to agree with State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell: “I think it stretches the imagination to see an equal and reciprocal situation here.”

Whether Russian like it or not or admits it or not, they have a problem finding homes for children in state care. Russia also has a problem with the quality of care it is able to provide for these children and a higher than average incidence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which makes exposed children much harder to parent. Stopping international adoptions to the US doesn’t do squat to help these problems. It can only serve to make them worse.

At least some in Russia agree. “The logic is to be ‘an eye for an eye,’ but the logic is incorrect because it could harm our children who cannot find adopters in Russia,” Education and Science Minister Dmitry Livanov commented on Twitter. The Russian Foreign Minister has stated today that he is not in favor of banning adoptions to the US, which is good news indeed, but the tendency to use adoption as a political football regardless whether they will actually be banned may scare adoptive parents away from considering Russian adoption. The end result is not good for the thousands of Russian children growing up in state care.

Russian Parliament Proposes Ban in Retaliation for the Magnitsky Act; International Politicking Would Force Orphaned Children to Pay the Price

As reported by the National Council for Adoption:

December 18, 2012 – Alexandria, VA – Legislation has been introduced in the Russian Parliament that would ban intercountry adoptions with the United States. This radical amendment to the Dima Yakovlev Law was proposed as retaliation against U.S. passage of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, a bill that imposes sanctions against Russian officials perceived by the U.S. to be guilty of human rights violations in Russia.

Among the sanctions is a prohibition on Russian criminals visiting the United States.

This threatened ban on intercountry adoption comes after years of discussion between Russia and the United States to address areas of needed reform, strengthen protections and increase accountability, and better serve adopted children and adoptive families. Recent negotiations resulted in a bilateral agreement between Russia and the U.S., which went into effect on November 1, 2012.

"Orphaned children could become collateral damage in this round of international politicking," says Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of the National Council For Adoption. “The proposed Russian amendment is a punitive, excessive, and highly unfortunate reaction to a U.S. policy that has absolutely nothing to do with intercountry adoption. The opposition of some Russian politicians to the Magnitsky Act, which prevents Russian human rights violators from entering the U.S., should not threaten the possibility of adoption for orphaned and vulnerable Russian children. NCFA and other U.S. adoption advocates are pleading with Russian officials to do the right thing for the more than 700,000 children currently living in institutions in Russia who deserve loving families of their own.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, while displeased with the Magnitsky Law, promised an “adequate and not excessive” response. “Banning intercountry adoption is excessive,” says Johnson. “Russian orphans are counting on their President to hear their voices.”

How can you help?

Contact your State Representatives, Congressmen/Congresswomen, and Senators (visit to find your representatives) and ask them to stop this from happening.  Below you will find samples from NCFA for you to use. Please personalize it. Congressional offices especially value hearing the unique voices of their constituents. You may cut and past the following text (be sure to personalize the letter at the bold and italicized points):

 Dear President/ Senator/Representative ____________________:

I am writing to alert you to an urgent concern regarding adoption. Congress recently passed the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act and President Obama signing into law on December 14, 2012.

In response, Russia's legislature, is considering legislation this week that is being referred to as the Dima Yakovlev Law, named after a Russian-born child who died in the care of his adoptive parents. This law would ban from visiting Russia anyone involved in the case of Dima Yakovlev or other Russian born adopted children who died in the United States. What is of most urgent concern is that a recent amendment to this law would also end Intercountry Adoption between Russian and the United States. I believe it is absolutely important to protect the rights of every child and there should be a measured response to the death of each of these children. We mourn the loss of these Russian-born children with the Russians as they were also dear to us as American children. However, it is important to note that these children are a tiny minority. Many thousands of Russian born children have been adopted and thrived in the love and care of their American families. If intercountry adoption between Russia and the United States were to close, many thousands of children would likely languish in orphanages instead of finding their way to safe, loving, permanent families in the United States.

Now, let me tell you our story, [tell them how adoption has impacted your family, what outcomes may have been if your child could not have been adopted]. If intercountry adoption between Russia and the United States closes, other children like [your child's name] will not be able to find their way to the many U.S. families willing and waiting to call them their own.

Please ask President Obama to contact President Putin of Russia and ask him not to allow this amendment to become part of Russian law. U.S. diplomacy at this time is essential to save the lives of many young Russians waiting for a family of their own.

[Your Name]

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Internship Position Available at Joint Council on International Children's Services, Alexandria, VA

Looking For A Summer Internship?  It Is Not Too Early To Apply.

Internship Position Available at Joint Council on International Children's Services, Alexandria, VA

Who We Are
The Joint Council team is a small, collaborative group of professionals who work together closely while maintaining individual responsibility for designated projects.  Joint Council’s office consists of six full and part-time staff and two to three interns working in the heart of Old Town Alexandria right outside of Washington D.C.  It is a fun, vibrant office, with a youthful atmosphere while still providing a professional workplace experience.

This is a great opportunity for college or graduate students to gain hands on experience in the field of children’s welfare.  In the past, our interns have been young professionals and students interested in such areas as: social work, international relations, law, government relations, and even exchange students.  We have a wide range of opportunities. Please see Information below for specific internship opportunities.

Ideal Candidates
Interns receive the opportunity to learn about a variety of issues that impact child advocacy, orphan care and adoption issues.  Ideal applicants would have an interest in international child welfare issues and advocacy.  Candidates should be detail-oriented, self-starters, and organized professionals or students who will provide general support in communications, research, and projects.  This position also requires strong communication skills, initiatives, and multitasking.  A working knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite is vital.  Knowledge of website development/maintenance is a plus.  If you have any other skills/talents that may be helpful, make sure to include it in your resume.

Open Positions
2013 Partnership Intern: For an individual interested in assisting with Joint Council’s Partnership program and annual Partnership campaign.

Duties could include such tasks as:
  • Solicit partner renewals, respond to partner inquiries, and perform other work to support partner retention objectives
  •  Process partner forms and payments, maintain accurate database and website information
  •  Produce regular partner updates and partner feedback reports, and assist with partner projections and tracking reports
  •  Coordinate delivery of business leader and supporter benefits
  • Write, update, and revise partner-related mailings
  • Maintain updated partner policies and procedures
  • Perform other related duties as required, including assistance with partner recruitment
  • Maintain and update partner listservs
  • Other duties, as assigned
2013 Symposium Intern: For an individual interested in assisting in implementing and participating in Joint Council’s fundraising and outreach events.

Duties could include such tasks as:
  • Responsible for assisting in implementing and participating in organization’s fundraising events, including online and in-person events, during internship.
  • Responsible for assisting in implementing and participating in the organization’s 37th Annual Child Welfare Symposium to occur in May 2013 in New York.  (Travel details and onsite experience tbd).
  • Assist with planning of special events, including meeting with event committees, developing community resources, generating new ideas and attending event meetings. Work with development staff to increase quality of events.
  • Assist with special event mailings, publication design, logistical tasks for events, phone calls related to donations, and other tasks as determined necessary by development and event staff.
  • For the Symposium: Assist with tracking all workshop presenter materials (bios, class descriptions, AV needs, VIP badges/registration) and contacting them about their workshop times and locations; Collect presenter materials and prepare for workshops; Prepare Room Host materials for every workshop; Assist in meeting presenters the day of conference and directing them to their assigned workshop location.
  • Outreach, marketing and material development for all events. Additionally, intern will have the opportunity to work on projects involving marketing design, strategic planning, and social media strategy during the Symposium, allowing for valuable experience in the field of communications.
  • Other duties, as assigned

Please note: As Joint Council is a small work environment, all interns and staff help with everyday duties such as answering phones, taking messages, responding to email requests, database management, formatting mail merges, handling UPS/FedEx pickups, and photocopying.

How to Apply
Submit a one-page resume, cover letter, and writing sample via e-mail to: Rebecca Harris at Please make sure you include your contact information and the days of the week you are available to work (not binding, but your best guess).  Let us know if you are particularly interested in an aforementioned project, or if you have your own ideas of how you can help advocate for children and what you want to gain from your experience at Joint Council.  Please put “Joint Council Internship” in the subject line.

A Couple Notes
  •  Joint Council Internships consist of a minimum of 25 hours per week a six month commitment.  However, we prefer year-long internships.
  • Internships are unpaid positions but can meet credit criteria for undergraduate or graduate practicum with approval from the respective college or university.
  • Applying early is strongly encouraged as candidates are selected on a first come first serve basis.

Mental Health Association: Guidelines and Resources to Help in Responding to Impact of Event

The Mental Health Association Greensboro joins Americans in mourning the loss of those killed in the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims.
We understand events like this will impact so many families and communities in our nation. Parents may be facing difficulty knowing how best to discuss these events with their children. Many people may at be experiencing increased feelings of fear and anxiety.

Mental Health America has issued guidelines to help Americans respond and cope with tragic events, which can be found at

To guide discussions about the shooting, MHA offers the following suggestions for parents as they communicate with young people in the area and across the nation:

Talk honestly about the incident, without graphic detail, and share some of your own feelings about it.
Encourage young people to talk about their concerns and to express their feelings, and validate the young person's feelings and concerns.

Limit television viewing. It can be difficult to process the images and messages in news reports.
Recognize what may be behind a young person's behavior. They may minimize their concerns outwardly, but may become argumentative, withdrawn or allow their school performance to decline.

Keep the dialogue going even after media coverage subsides. Continue to talk about feelings and discuss actions being taken to make schools and communities safer.

Seek help when necessary. If you are worried about a young person's reaction or have ongoing concerns about his/her behavior or emotions, contact a mental health professional at their school or at your community mental health center.

Your local Mental Health America Affiliate (Mental Health Association of Central Carolinas, Inc.) can direct you to resources in your community.

Mental Health America's website has a number of additional resources on its website to help provide support and perspective to those directly affected by the tragedy and the nation as a whole. 

Please click here to download  Finding Resources to Help Children and Families "Deal"

The Mental Health Association in Greensboro is in its 73rd year of identifying and addressing mental health needs in Greensboro. The Association seeks to maximize the mental wellness of individuals, families, and our community through education, services, and collaboration with mental health professionals. We offer free services to the general public which include information and referral, Wellness Academy classes, support groups and one-on-one peer support services.

Monday, December 17, 2012

IAC 235 Results

The following referrals were issued in IAC Session 235 which was held on November 9, 2012. Download the PDF here.

Watch 'A Home for the Holidays' on CBS this Wednesday

On Wednesday, CBS will air the 14th annual "A Home for the Holidays." This powerful special shares stories of foster care adoption and features performances from some of America's top musical talent. We at the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption are proud to be a part of this event since 1999 with our partners, Wendy's, CBS, Triage Entertainment, Goldsmith Entertainment, and the Children's Action Network.

This year, the stories of four exceptional families who have been touched by adoption will be featured along with a segment that gives a voice to children in foster care still waiting to find permanent and loving homes to call their own.

These inspirational stories will be accompanied by performances by Rascal Flatts, Phillip Phillips, Rachel Crow, Matchbox Twenty, and Melissa Ethridge. Celebrity personalities Kevin Frazier, Wayne Brady, Jillian Michaels and Julie Chen also will present.

During the show, talk with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption on Twitter about foster care adoption by using the hashtag #AHFTH. We'll be around during the show to answer any questions you have about adoption from foster care and to discuss the special.

Join us Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. ET to see the joy of having a family through the eyes of a child -- not just for the holidays, but forever.



716 Mt. Airyshire Blvd.
Suite 100
Columbus, OH 43235

Hopscotch Family Signing Their 1-800 Package Today

Dancing Crane's Georgian Theater of New York Performs "Sarke"

Dear Friends,

This Wednesday, December 19, following their several very successful performances last year, Dancing Crane's Georgian Theater of New York will perform "Sarke". Please take a look at the announcement below for more details.


Nino Aduashvili
Executive Director
Georgian Association in the USA, Inc.

Dancing Crane’s Georgian Theater of New York is pleased to present Lika Bakhturidze Sirelson’s “Sarke” at the Cherry Lane Theatre in Manhattan’s lower West Side. Sarke premiered in 2010 and performed in 2011 at the Midtown Theatre Festival in Manhattan and in Toronto’s York Woods Theatre.

*A Mother and Daughter's Face Off Over The Future*
in Dancing Crane Company’s presentation of the Georgian Drama *SARKE*

written by Lia Bakhturidze Sirelson
performed at The Cherry Lane Theatre

38 Commerce Street, Manhattan, NY
8:00 p.m.

For tickets ($30) please call 347-257-2741 or visit our website

Our production is supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council.

SARKE SYNOPSIS: A mother determined to provide for her child and a daughter who wants to follow her heart. This tale of generational differences and perceptions is brought powerfully to life in Lia Bakhturidze Sirelson's family drama *Sarke*, (The Mirror) as performed by Dancing Crane's Georgian Theater of New York, New York's only Georgian theater company. Directed by Ramaz Zurabashvili.

Cast: Khatuna Ioseliani, Tsitso Kapanadze, Lika Bakhturidze Sirelson, Natalia Goderdzishvili, Irakli Shengelia, Giorgi Potskhveria, Nika Muradeli, Natia Nebunishvili, Mari Mredlishvili

Veriko, an elderly woman living in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital city, has fallen upon hard times. She is determined her daughter Tako marry a Georgian immigrant she believes to be rich, and who has just returned from America to seek a bride. If this comes to pass, Veriko reasons, her child will never know the fear of poverty, a fear she herself has lived with all her life. Tako however loves another, but is so cowed by years of her mother's steamroller-like domination she lacks the courage to say how she really feels. As mother and daughter prepare for a fateful dinner party, the guests including a gossipy neighbor, an unemployed alcoholic, a political activist and a poor relation from the country, secrets are revealed and words which cannot be taken back are heatedly exchanged. It falls to the most unlikely of wise men to truly put things into perspective.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Groundbreaking report on Internet's Historic Impact on Adoption

Press release and PDF of the Adoption Institute’s new report, "Untangling the Web: The Internet’s Transformative Impact on Adoption," are now available for downloading. To read all this on our website, click here. Also, the following are links to some of the media coverage it is receiving (also including CNN, NPR and the Wall Street Journal):

NY Times | USA Today | Christian Science Monitor | Associated Press (on Huffington Post)

I’ve also written my own piece for Huffington Post, which should be up later today or early tomorrow, and am scheduled to be on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” at 3 p.m. next Wednesday, 12/19.

Adam Pertman, Executive Director
Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
120 East 38th St, New York, NY 10016
212-925-4089/ 617-332-8944
617-763-0134 (direct cell)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Adoption Expert Webinar: Establishing a Healthy Feeding Relationship

Since adopting your child, have you faced any challenges with feeding?

Underweight...overweight...hoarding...selective anxiety...everyday power struggles at meal and snack times? Learn how to transition to a healthy model for raising competent eaters.

Join Katja Rowell, M.D., aka "The Feeding Doctor," at 1 PM TOMORROW, December 13, as she answers your questions. Click here to read more and post your questions in advance (or submit questions if you won't be able to attend.

Click here to register for the webinar.

Adoption Tax Credit

I'd like to thank our Hopscotch family for their continued advocacy for the Adoption Tax Credit, set to expire December 31, 2012, unless made permanent.  Below is the response to the family from Senator Brown (D) of Ohio. If you have not contacted your congressman, please do so today.   

"Thank you for sharing your support for the adoption tax credit.

The Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee Act would prevent the adoption tax credit from expiring.  Any legislation that sensibly encourages trustworthy parents to adopt children deserves thoughtful deliberation.  Adoption can have an amazing impact on a child’s life and we must responsibly expand its role in our society.

Should this legislation come before the Senate for a vote, I will support it and work to ensure that it serves the best interest of children and hard working parents.

Thank you again for being in touch with my office."


Sherrod Brown
United States Senator

Monday, December 10, 2012

I'm Waiting for You...

80th Anniversary of the Georgian Association

On Wednesday, December 12th, 6-8 pm the Georgian Association in the USA, in partnership with the America-Georgia Business Council, will celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Association. Senator Lugar will be present at 6:00 pm to receive an award of appreciation for his unwavering support of Georgia.

Location: St. Regis Washington D.C., 923 16th and K Streets, N.W.

Dress code: Business Attire / Military Service Dress

While attendance is free of charge, we welcome your tax deductible contributions to the Georgian Association.Your financial support will help the Association continue to raise awareness of Georgian issues through cultural events, congressional outreach and public relations. Please, follow the link for formal procedures on how to make a donation. Thank you in advance.

If you have not yet sent your RSVP, please send it to Ms. Nino Aduashvili at

Georgian Association in the USA, Inc.

The Georgian Association in the United States of America was founded in 1932 by Georgian immigrants following Russia's occupation of Georgia in 1921 and the unsuccessful insurrection in 1924. Founders of the Association were dedicated Georgians hoping to reestablish an independent democratic state of Georgia. The Association has assisted in maintaining public awareness of Georgia and preserving Georgia's identity and culture. The Association has provided a forum for discussing Georgian issues and has been a unifying entity for Georgian concerns. The Georgian Association is a nonpartisan nationwide membership organization of Georgian-Americans and friends of Georgia that advocates for Georgia and Georgian issues in the U.S. It is the oldest organization in the U.S. representing the Georgian American community. Its mission is to strengthen and support the Georgian-American community on a national level and to support an independent, democratic and prosperous Georgia.

Friday, December 7, 2012

News from Armenia

SIX Hopscotch families are preparing for a wonderful start to their New Year.  We expect court dates for all six families in mid to late January.  Congratulations!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Webinar! Expectations and Realities: Parenting an Adopted Child with Special Needs

Thursday, January 17, 2013 
7:00PM - 8:00PM 
Central Time
Q&A: 8:00PM

We need your input!  If you are the adoptive parent of a special needs child, let us know the biggest difference between what you expected and what you are experiencing

Then, join us for a webinar to discuss what you told us!

Guest Speaker: Martha Osborne, founder of, adopted person and adoptive mom.

Martha will discuss YOUR top 3 disconnects between the expectations and realities of raising a child with special needs. 

She will also give examples of how families have handled these differences and resources to help. Click here to let us know what you'd like Martha to discuss.

Don't forget to..... REGISTER

Food For Thought: The Impact of Poor Nutrition in Early Development

Dr. Dana Johnson, renowned international adoption physician, shares the results of his research on the common physical, cognitive and behavioral impacts of poor nutrition on internationally adopted children.

Take Food For Thought for only $10!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc Honored as 2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

New Award is Based on Positive Online Reviews

High Point, North Carolina December 4, 2012 – Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc. announced today that it has been honored with a prestigious 2012 Top-Rated Award by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews about nonprofit organizations.

“We are excited to be named a Top-Rated 2012 Nonprofit,” says Robin Sizemore, Executive Director of Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc.    We are proud of our accomplishments this year, including assisting more children with non-correctable special needs into permanent families.

The Top-Rated Nonprofit award was based on the large number of positive reviews that Hopscotch Adoptions received – reviews written by volunteers, donors and clients. People posted their personal experience with the nonprofit.  For example, one person wrote, “I adopted two beautiful children internationally, both through Hopscotch Adoptions, and we are a grateful Hopscotch Family! Their teams, both here in the US and in-country, are wonderful to work with and, both times, really made the process very special.”

Being on the Top-Rated List comes at an important time of the year, as donors look for causes to support during the holiday season.

"We are gratified by Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc for its work,” said Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits, "They deserve to be discovered by more donors and volunteers who are looking for a great nonprofit to support."

Being on the Top-Rated list gives donors and volunteers more confidence that this is a credible organization.  The reviews by volunteers, clients and other donors show the on-the-ground results of this nonprofit.  This award is a form of recognition by the community.

About Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc
Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc. (“Hopscotch”) is a not for profit, international adoption agency authorized in New York and licensed in North Carolina as a child-placement agency. Hopscotch is dedicated to helping children in need of families, through both humanitarian efforts and through adoption into permanent, loving homes. Hopscotch was accredited by the Council on Accreditation as a Hague Accredited agency in February 2008, and thus follows both U.S. and Hague Convention policies and regulations regarding international adoption.

The fundamental belief of Hopscotch is that each child has the right to a lifelong, loving family. We recognize and support efforts that can allow children to safely remain in their original families and, where this is not possible, to be adopted in their countries of birth. When these options are not available, however, we believe that children should be placed internationally with adoptive parents who can provide a nurturing and stable permanent family. Sometimes, sadly, children do not meet the legal standards for international adoption and are subject to institutional life. In these cases, Hopscotch supports their needs through directed humanitarian assistance that improves their quality of life. It is these children and these adoptive parents that Hopscotch serves.

About GreatNonprofits
GreatNonprofits is the leading site for donors and volunteers to find reviews and ratings of nonprofits. Its mission is to inspire and inform donors and volunteers, enable nonprofits to show their impact, and promote greater feedback and transparency.

Media Contact
Robin E. Sizemore, Executive Director

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cash Lovell Stables & Riding Academies: Thoughts from our Ghana Trip

A stream of warm sewage ran through the place. And yet, the children's uniforms, like the beautiful souls wearing them, were clean. Their hair was perfectly tended, their faces lit by excitement and the brilliant white from their eyes and teeth.

They hugged us. Over and over again. They took us by our hands and showed us their school, their library, their classroom, their outhouse, and their prized water spigot.  In a village called La, on the outskirts of Accra, Ghana, we found ourselves. The children called us abruni, which means white man. What do you think of abrunis? I asked them. "Rich and beautiful."

Read more.

An opportunity to learn with SPOON: Upcoming Classes

Feeding and Nutrition Considerations for Children with Special Needs: An overview

Feeding and Nutrition Considerations for Children with Special Needs: An overview - Live Webinar   

Event Date: Thursday, December 6, 2012 | Noon - 1:00 p.m. (Central Time) 

Intended Audience: Prospective Adoptive Parents, Adoptive Parents, Child Welfare Professionals   

Fee: $15 per participant; separate registration required for each participant.

When adopting a child who has been identified as having a special need, there is more to consider than just the medical or behavioral diagnosis. One of the basic, foundational issues that must be addressed immediately is the child's feeding and nutrition, which will almost certainly be more of a challange than for a child without an identified need.

The goal of this presentation is to offer parents an overview of the aspects of feeding and nutrition that are unique to children with special needs including those with Sensory Processing Disorder, low muscle tone, cerebral palsy, and cleft lip and palate.

 Learn More & Register...

Friday, November 30, 2012

Check out our Hopscotch Family on the Pamper's Facebook Page

National Adoption Awareness Month may be coming to an end, but the special bond between parent and child will last a lifetime.

Visit Pamper's Facebook page.

Last Day of National Adoption Month

If you are like me, I love nothing more than a lingering celebration.  While today is officially the last day of National Adoption Month, it's never too late to share some beautiful reminders of what adoption means in our lives every day, all year long.  Thank you Hopscotch Family for this stunningly beautiful story of your family!!