Monday, April 30, 2012

Save the Adoption Tax Credit

As we announced last Thursday, the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group, of which Joint Council is a member of the Executive Committee, launched Save The Adoption Tax Credit.   Simply put – without reinstating the tax credit, many families finalizing in 2012 and all families finalizing in 2013 will lose over $13,000 in tax credits.

Obviously this will seriously impact the number of children finding a permanent family  through adoption. 
If you have not yet done so, I urge you to;
  1. ‘like’ the Adoption Tax Credit Facebook page
  2. Use email, websites, blogs and twitter to urge your clients and supporters to join Save The Adoption Tax credit by ‘liking’ our Facebook page
  3. Contact  Shari Cohey at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (shari@ccainstitute) and sign-up your organization as a member of the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group 
The launch of this initiative is only the first phase of our collective efforts.  As we move forward, we will be reaching out to you through our listservs, Facebook and emails.

For more details on this extremely important initiative, visit; and

Please join us today!

Best Wishes,
Tom DiFilipo

Congratulations to Chris and Michelle Harger!

Hopscotch celebrates the marriage of Chris and Michelle Harger. It was a beautiful service and her boys were so adorable. We wish for you and your family the happiness of a life time together. Congrats!!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Orphan Nutrition

Joint Council is proud to announce the launch of, a new website dedicated to providing information to address the nutritional needs of infants and children living in fragile and vulnerable circumstances.

Through our research with A Child's Best Start, an initiative of the Mead Johnson Nutrition Foundation, we know that there is a lack of resources and best practices on nutrition issues that affect children living in institutionalized settings in many parts of the world. will fit a real need in this area by acting as an international portal with access to a free library of nutrition resources, collection of training materials, and general information on common needs and nutrition issues among this population of children. 

The sites content has been developed with network partner The SPOON Foundation and the program's Global Nutrition Working Group of medical experts and academics in the field of child health and nutrition who provided guidance and input for the site.

We look forward to growing both the content and international reach of this site (including translating it into multiple languages) and will continue sharing updates on its new capabilities in the months to come.

While the new website is still under development, we encourage you to explore the many resources and leave feedback via our online survey

Save the Adoption Tax Credit!

The adoption tax credit is due to "sunset" at the end of this year unless Congress and the Administration act. In an effort to Save The Adoption Tax Credit, Joint Council has teamed up with other adoption advocates and we now we are asking you to do the same. 

So how can you join us?  And how can you help?

1) Take a look at the attached letter from the Executive Committee of the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group.  It includes our mission and what we are supporting in terms of legislation.  If you agree that we should Save The Adoption Tax Credit, then become a member of the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group.  To join, please contact Shari Cohey at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, at or (202) 544-8500.  Shari will help get your organization registered as a part of the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group.  (Individuals cannot join the Working Group, but keep reading to learn what they can do!)

2) Promote the Save The Adoption Tax Credit Facebook page!  Tell your colleagues, your families and your supporters about our collective efforts, Ask them to ‘like’ the Facebook page and then send it out to everyone they know!  Facebook will be the Working Group’s primary means of communicating and rallying the troops.  So be sure that you ‘like’ it and help us build a large and vocal constituency capable of influencing Congress.

That is all for now, but there is much more to come. 

See you on Facebook!

Tom President & CEO

SOAR Launches Chapter in Javakh, Georgia!!!

Our 22nd Chapter, in Javakh, joins the SOAR family in April 2012 and represents our first Chapter in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.

Javakh, an Armenian enclave, is the most underdeveloped and impoverished region of Georgia. It has the highest rate of unemployment and the lowest rate of state investment in the country. There is no industry, and agriculture is primitive. The roads and infrastructure in the region are non-existent, and it is easier to reach Armenia (to the South) than Tbilisi, Georgia's capital. Javakh is a geographic, economic and political island, almost cut off from the rest of the world.

The Javakh Chapter will serve as a liaison to the local population SOAR supports. The Javakh Summer Day Camp is directed by Very Rev. Fr. Babken Salibyan of Holy Cross Armenian Church and is located in the Diocese Center of the Holy Cross Armenian Church in Akhakalak, Georgia. The camp serves approximately 250 healthy Armenian children, who are mostly social orphans, living at or below poverty level in the nearby villages.

Please visit to become familiar with their local Board of Directors.

Welcome Javakh!

News From Armenia

Hopscotch family in Yerevan issued a visa today!  Hurry home sweet baby boy.  Thrilled for our family - Congrats!!!!

News From Armenia

Successful registration of a beautiful little girl with special needs today!!!  We could not be happier for this child.  Is your family considering a child with special needs?  Contact if you are.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Music of Mariam Matossian

Mariam Matossian: Nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award (Outstanding World Music Album of the Year for her album In the Light) and two Canadian Folk Music Awards (Traditional Album of the Year for In the Light and Best New/Emerging Artist) in 2008, Mariam Matossian is an example of the musical treasures that exist in the world next door. Vancouver born and raised, Mariam has been collecting traditional Armenian folk songs and creating her own melodies since she was a child and initially, singing them mainly in her community. Most of the traditional songs she sings have been passed down through her family -- songs that have been favorites of her grandmother and her mother, and now they have become her own favorites.

Read More>

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Armenian Genocide Memorial April 24, 2012

Your Dancing Brown Eyes

April 22nd, 2012
by Mariam Matossian

Your dancing brown eyes,
dark lashes
have grown dim
your once swollen cheeks
starved, skeletal
Your parched lips,
with tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth,
try to utter a word:
Cries of anguish deafen you
Where is the music of your childhood that
marked your days and nights?
The hypnotic rhythms of the dumbek,
oud and
That provided the soundscape for your blissful youth?
You take a step
dragging your dirt covered blistered bruised feet
across the desert
Straining ahead
Muscles cramped
you remember the taste of figs, the juice of pomegranate dripping down your
Your protruding belly once filled
now empty,
You close your once dancing brown eyes,
long dark lashes heavy with dust and tears and sweat, meet.
Your close your five year old eyes
And remember what was.

By Mariam Matossian "for my grandmother, upon reflecting on her journey during 1915"

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Waiting Child Video

Every child on this Earth deserves to grow up in a loving family.  Those of us who have adopted children from institutions, orphanages, or other less than ideal places to grow up, understand how true this is: A family makes all of the difference in the life of a child.

Every one of us who has adopted a child older than infancy, or one who may have been labeled "special needs", has adopted a Waiting Child.  A child who would have grow up unloved, without real hope for a future, without the basics of human connection. 

When I think of all of the children who still wait in institutions, I can’t help but think, "But for the grace of God, there my children could also be growing up."  We have 5 children adopted at different ages, from various orphanages and backgrounds.  Two happened to have been listed on RainbowKids, but ALL were waiting children.  No one was tucking them in at night, greeting them with kisses in the morning, celebrating their very existence in the world.  

I’m going to ask you today to be part of a miracle. I’ve seen enough miracles happen in this work for children to know that they aren’t often accompanied by booming voices from on-high. Most of the time Miracles happen when people (mostly moms) come together for a common goal, and despite all obstacles, make that goal happen, help that child get adopted, promote that special cause, run that race, pray that prayer: Get involved and make a difference. It makes no difference whether or not your child was listed on RainbowKids. This project is about demonstrating to people how amazing, "normal", and perfect our children really are. That adopting a child with a special needs label, or children older than infants, is a great option for families.

In just a few short weeks, RainbowKids will be featured in the major media in a very positive way.  Over one million people who may never have been exposed to International adoption will watch a TV show that will highlight our work.  We want to take advantage of this exposure by producing a 3-4 minute video that highlights the joys of adopting Waiting Children.  We need your help.

Over 11,000 children once featured on RainbowKids have found families. Thousands more have been placed through our network of nearly 70 supporting adoption agencies.  All were “waiting children”. Non-infants, some with special needs, others waiting due to age , gender, or other reasons. Help us to get the word out that special needs and waiting children are wonderful!  So many families fear the label “Special Needs” and never look into what that really means.

We need your photos and video clips!  Our video will be divided into 3 parts:

  • Part 1: Photos of orphanages, plus very short video clips of children, all ages and races, saying "I was a waiting child".
  • Part 2: Explanation of what Special Needs really means, and tons of photos of children who carried this label.
  • Part 3: A wrap up, inviting people to Take Another Look at Waiting Children

Use your phone, ipad, camera, etc and either video tape your child saying "I was a waiting child" or just being adorable (15-30 seconds at most, please), OR send a photo of your child.

No names of children or countries will be used. Our video will be used on the website, to advocate for the adoption of waiting children. The idea is simply to get people past their fear of the "Special Needs" label, so that their hearts may be open to adopting a waiting child.

It is incredibly EASY to participate. A link to upload your media will be sent to all who request to join in this project to help children. It is truly a one-button process, exactly like uploading a photo to facebook or saving a document to your computer. Please join us in making a miracle happen for the waiting children. Because once, your child, like mine, was one of them. Email Your Link Request.

Thank you.
Martha Osborne

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Help Needed: Open Adoption Survey

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As many of you know, we are in the process of creating a new course for prospective adoptive families considering open adoption. We have been fortunate to have talked with many adoptive parents, birth mothers and adoption professionals, but have not found many adult adoptees.

We feel it is crucial for adoptees' voices to be heard in this course! To that end, we've created a brief online survey to be completed by adult adoptees (age 18 and up. The survey focuses on exactly what sort of contact/visits were had with various members of the birth family (in open adoptions), the benefits, the challenges and what they would say to families who are in the early years or just thinking about an open adoption.

We are asking for your help in reaching these folks by distributing the following link to the survey:

Aside from sending the link to previous clients you've worked with, we'd like to ask you to send the link to your current families (as they may have friends or relatives with grown children who were adopted), place the link on your website and in your social media feeds such as Facebook and the like.

We appreciate your help and look forward to sharing the results and the new course with you and your families!

Mary Michele Hawkins
Heart of the Matter

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In Memory of Evan

We miss you Evan and rejoice in your memory - all that you have brought to so many people.... priceless and cherished moments.

Tourism in Georgia

WHAT IS Light It Up Blue?

Join Autism Speaks in celebrating World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and Light It Up Blue to help shine a light on autism. Whether it's your front porch or your local city hall, an office party or a banquet, the whole world is going blue to increase awareness about autism.

Light It Up Blue, in its third year, is a unique global initiative to help raise awareness about the growing public health concern that is autism. Iconic landmarks around the world will Light It Up Blue to show their support.

Join us now and help shine a light on autism.

Vote for US - Congress to pass resolution on Armenian genocide!

Cast your vote for Congress to pass resolution on Armenian genocide.

The Tbilisi Chalice Goes Home

Archbishop Songulashvili (L)
and Rev. George Reed
The church of which I’m a member, Pullen Memorial Baptist in Raleigh, has had a partnership for many years with First Baptist Church in Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia (formerly part of the Soviet Union). The pastor with whom we’ve had the closest contact, Malkhaz Songulashvili, has now become the Archbishop for Baptists in Georgia. (You did not read that wrong. Baptists in the Republic of Georgia have bishops and an archbishop!) Malkhaz was at Pullen on November 13 to preach and lead in the celebration of Eucharist.

Malkhaz has been courageous in his advocacy and practice of nonviolent action as Georgia has gone through its “Rose Revolution,” which moved Georgia away from authoritarian government and toward democratic reform. The Church of England honored his leadership in September 2005 when he was awarded the Lambeth Cross by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Sunday’s service was a deeply moving one, which he and Pullen pastor Nancy Petty had crafted to focus on the liturgy of the church in Georgia, but also in ways accessible to Baptists in North Carolina. So, we had incense, but no wine!

What caught me off-guard and deeply affected me was Malkhaz’ telling of the purpose of his trip to the United States. It seems that the Baptist church inTbilisi, the capital of Georgia, had had a communion chalice dating back to the time of the church’s founding in 1868. (It was the first Baptist church in all of what would be the USSR.) In 1928, the church inTbilisi gave the chalice to a Baptist congregation in Moscow as an expression of their oneness in the faith, even in the face of differences between Russians and Georgians. Shortly after the end of World War II, a delegation from the United States visited the Soviet Union at the invitation of Soviet leader Josef Stalin. The delegation was invited to visit the Baptist church in Moscow, and the church gave the Americans a treasured possession, the chalice from Tbilisi, again as a symbol of the power of faith to overcome differences. So it ended up in the United States, was labeled the “Chalice of Peace” in some circles, but then pretty much disappeared.

Archbishop Songulashvili is completing his doctoral dissertation at Oxford. In doing research on the history of Baptists in Georgia, he came across information about the 1946 American visit. Further research found a reference to the chalice, and he was able to trace it to Mercer University in “our” Georgia, the US state. Someone there in the Mercer library had a vision of a chalice in a little-used room in the library (Malkhaz noted that she was not a woman given to visions!). When she went to the room she had visioned, there was a chalice, but it was labeled as Russian, not Georgian. It turned out to be the missing Tbilisi chalice, mislabeled because the Americans had gotten it in Moscow. Mercer has given it back to the Baptist church in Tbilisi, and Malkhaz is in the States to receive it. He came to Raleigh to celebrate communion, using the chalice, with his brothers and sisters at Pullen.

Are you still with me? Why was this particularly moving to me? Malkhaz mentioned in telling this story that a letter which led him to the chalice was from a “Dr. Newton.” My mind went spinning.

One of my grandfathers was a Baptist preacher in Georgia. He died at a relatively young age, almost twenty years before I was born, from an infection that antibiotics would cure today. I don’t know much about him, though I was given the name “Joseph” – the “J.” in “J. George” – as a tribute to him. One of the few pieces of his history that I have is an obituary noting that my grandfather’s funeral was preached by his close friend from seminary, Dr. Louie Newton. Louie Newton went on to be president of the Georgia Baptist Convention (the one in the US), president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and vice president of the Baptist World Alliance.

Could it be?

You know I wouldn’t be going through this story in order to tell you that the “Dr. Newton” was somebody else! I can’t tell you the emotions I sensed as I put my hand on the chalice to receive communion. The tangible, physical tie to someone who was a close friend of the grandfather I never knew . . . Well, it was a moment I’ll never forget.

But, wait, there’s a little bit more. Special music Sunday morning featured a piece for violin and handbells that included the hymn It Is Well with My Soul. Though I had grown up in a church with a large music program, I had not known that hymn until I came to Ridgecrest (the Baptist assembly near Asheville) as a high schooler and heard it for the first time. I loved it. Still do. When I returned home from Ridgecrest, pulled out a hymnal, and played the hymn for my parents (this “new” hymn I had “discovered”), my dad was quick to say that it had been his father’s favorite hymn and had been sung at his funeral. That would be the service Dr. Louie Newton had led.

The inscription on the chalice reads “Drink from it, all of you!” In addition to these poignant reminders of my dad and of his dad, Sunday’s service was a powerful witness to our oneness in Christ, stronger than barriers of language, distances of geography, and differences in styles of worship.

–George Reed, Executive Director

This Week's Creating a Family Show

Back home and back to work. Morocco was wonderful and seeing my daughter was even better. Before I went, I thought talking with her via Skype was pretty darn good. Now it seems like a pale comparison.

Radio Show: How the Environment Affects Fertility and Conception

Can your environment affect your fertility? What everyday chemicals and toxins should you avoid when you are pregnant? Join our guest, Dr. Tracey Woodruff, Director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment at the University of California San Francisco to discuss how the environment affects your fertility and pregnancy.

We accept questions in advance. Email questions to Listen or download the show after 1:00 Eastern Time tomorrow from

Blog: Is Your Child’s Love Enough to Make Adoption Worth It?

In a comment on a previous blog, a prospective adoptive parent said, “All I was really looking for was some reassurance that I wasn’t guaranteed to make some child miserable just because I could never be biologically connected to them.” An adult adopted from Taiwan as an infant, responded:

"You are looking for the reassurance that love is enough in adoption. While I wouldn’t say adoption in itself equals a life of misery for any child, I do wonder if knowing that a child who has been given a ton of love and “the world” (metaphorically speaking) and who still ends up not liking adoption, would be considered “enough.” That is to say, if the child dearly loves his/her parents, and the parents love that child to the end of the earth, yet all this love in the world is not enough to prevent the hurt caused by adoption, then is it still worth it? To read my response, go to

Community Discussion: Should we be offended by one-line adoption joke in the movie, The Lorax?

"Got an email from a mom who was offended by a one-liner in the movie The Lorax. She was there with her 2 kids-both adopted and was uncomfortable, altho the kids didn't react. What do you think: offensive or overreacting?

"Joke" set-up: Rich, bad guy visits the young hero’s house. As the mom introduces her son to the rich, evil man, the man says something polite to the boy. Mom chuckles and replies, “You want to adopt him? Just kidding!” According to my emailer, the line got a good laugh. It seems like it was just a throw away line going for the quick easy laugh, but she thought it was totally unnecessary since it added nothing to the story."

Join in and share your sage wisdom or hear what others have to say at the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group

Creating a Family Resources

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Romania New Adoption Law in Effect

April 10, 2012 |

The Romanian Office for Adoptions announced that its new adoption law went into effect on April 7, 2012.  The new law allows for intercountry adoptions of Romanian children by relatives of the fourth degree of kinship, the spouse of the child’s natural parent, and Romanian citizens who are habitually resident abroad.

Please be aware that the U.S. law implementing the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Convention), the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA), requires prospective adoptive parents to be U.S. citizens in order to be eligible to apply for intercountry adoption using U.S. procedures.  This means that Romanian citizens legally residing in the United States will be able to adopt from Romania only if they or their spouses are also U.S. citizens.

Moreover, the U.S. Hague Adoption Convention accreditation regulations (22 CFR 96) provide that in each Convention adoption case, an accredited agency, a temporarily accredited agency, or an approved person will be identified and act as the primary provider.  More information on the role of U.S. accredited ASPs and the role of U.S. accrediting entities is available on the Department’s adoption website,  

The Department of State has provided information to the Romanian Office for Adoption about the U.S. requirement for a primary provider to serve in each Convention adoption, explaining the critical monitoring and oversight role of U.S. accrediting entities in ensuring that ASPs remain in substantial compliance with the IAA and the Convention.  We look forward to the opportunity to expand our cooperation with Romania as Convention partner countries.

An Insider's Guide to Identity and Adoption

An Insider's Guide to Identity and Adoption Real Life Stories. Expert Advice!  Join us on May 22, 2012 for a guided discussion on the impact adoption has on identity formation. A panel of adult adoptees will share personal stories from their childhood and teenage years, reflecting back on how adoption factored into their identity formation. Lead by Dr. Gina Samuels, a researcher, educator and adopted person, the panel will give adopted parents practical insight into how they can best support their children to form a healthy sense of self. Learn more.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Make Adoption Costs Fully Refundable in the 2012 & 2013 Tax Years

Why This Is Important

The average cost to adopt a child is any where from $25k - $35k or more. Currently, for the 2011 Tax Year Adopting families are eligible for

*A maximum of $13,170 for 2011 returns

*Fully refundable as long as the adoption is initiated in 2011 or before, and finalized before the end of 2012 (domestic) or was finalized in 2011 (international)

But in 2012 the Tax Credit is going to change:

*A maximum of $12,170 for 2012 returns only

The 2012 Tax Credit will not be refundable for adoptions initiated after 2011, which means a large number of families may not be able to get any of the $25k- $35k back and possibly prevent people from adopting a child at all.

In 2013 it all goes away, no tax credit at all.

We are petitioning to extend the tax credit as currently stated in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, so that more money is available to families allowing them provide a financially stable home to the adopted child.

Sign the petition.