TOUGH LOVE chronicles the lives of two parents, Hannah from New York City and Patrick from Seattle, who have been separated from their children by the state. Through vérité-style footage and exclusive access inside the child welfare courts, TOUGH LOVE captures an intimate, firsthand account of these parents' triumphs and struggles as they confront their past mistakes and attempt to prove to the system that they deserve a second chance to be parents. Throughout the film we will also hear from the foster parents who take care of these children, the judges who oversee these cases and the child welfare experts who have a clear understanding of how this complex system works.Learn more.
Friday, May 31, 2013
Considering hosting a child this summer? If your family lives in New York or North Carolina, Hopscotch can assist you with the necessary home assessment service. If you have not considered hosting before and want more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get started on a terrific and life-changing summer.
2013 National Adoption Conference and Prospective Adoptive Parents Day
2013 National Adoption Conference and Prospective Adoptive Parents Day
Professional Conference - Leading Change from Within: Aspire. Plan. Create.
Thursday - Friday, June 13-14
Join leaders in the field of adoption and learn what is happening at the forefront of adoption policy and practice, and how to play an active role in improving and safe-guarding adoption to better serve your clients. View the agenda here >> and Register here >>
Prospective Adoptive Parents Day - Explore. Learn. Adopt.
Saturday, June 15, 9:00am - 4:30pm
This exciting day is for those interested in learning more about adoption. Whether you're exploring your options, pursuing adoptions, or in the midst of the adoption process, this day is for you. With sessions ranging from Agency Selection and Understanding the Screening Process to Wait Gain: Getting the Most from your Pre-adoptive Wait, you'll leave with a sense of understanding and encouragement about your adoption.
Registration includes entry into all sessions, supplies, and lunch. Reservations are non-refundable.
Featuring Secretary David Wilkins, Tanya Wilkins, and Lucas Daniel Boyce!
Hotel & Accommodations
Buena Vista Palace
On the edge of Downtown Disney World
Room rate is $109/night plus tax*
Click here to make your hotel reservations >>
Two years ago, on vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains, I saw a white couple at a restaurant with their Asian daughter. Though her father told her to quit staring, I felt the girl’s eyes on me all through the meal. I smiled at her, feeling a strong sense of kinship, a pang of sympathy. As a child, whenever I saw another Asian person – which I hardly ever did – I used to stare, too, hungry for the sight of someone, anyone, who looked like me.
Adoption has changed in the 32 years since a social worker told my parents “not to worry” about my ethnicity. Thanks to many transracial adoptees who have shared their experiences, there is a greater emphasis on the importance of racial and cultural identity. Numerous books have been written on the subject, and excellent blog posts abound. Transnational adoption has inspired documentary films such as First Person Plural, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, Wo Ai Ni Mommy, and Somewhere Between.
While “colorblindness” in adoption has been widely challenged, however, not everyone is convinced – like the adoptive mother who recently told me, “I don’t see my son’s color. Race is just not an issue for us.”
Some people maintain that any cultural loss is unimportant compared to what children gain through adoption. But in both mainstream media and personal conversations about adoption, cultural and racial identity need not be pitted against a child’s right to love, safety, and security.
This unfortunate “either-or” framing of the issue finds frequent expression in discussions of transracial adoption. Michael Gerson—whose wife is a Korean adoptee—wrote in the Washington Post: “Ethnicity is an abstraction.... Every culture or race is outweighed when the life of a child is placed on the other side of the balance.” In a National Review article criticizing Kathryn Joyce’s book The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption, adoptive father David French dismissed “the ‘culture’” (note the mocking quotation marks) of internationally adopted children as “the culture of starvation, of rags, of disease, and of abandonment.”
Another common framing of transracial adoption suggests that America’s “melting pot” has made race less relevant. In her NPR review of Somewhere Between, a documentary following four women adopted from China, adoptive mother Ella Taylor wrote: “[T]he film makes it seem that these girls’ lives are dominated by worry about who they are and whether they’ll be emotionally crippled by conflicting allegiances. Adopted or not, few of us develop our identities in the abstract – least of all today’s adolescents, who… are far more nonchalant about racial difference, let alone adoption, than we boomers can ever be.” But even if Taylor is raising her own daughter in “a polyglot world,” not all adopted youth feel “nonchalant” about adoption and racial identity—nor should indifference be presented as the ideal.
“There’s no one way to experience being adopted, or being a teenager, or being a woman of color,” says Linda Goldstein Knowlton, director/producer of Somewhere Between and the adoptive mother of a daughter from China. “Being ‘race-blind’ – saying race doesn’t matter – could make a child feel as though an important part of her is being rejected.”
Some adoptive parents feel uncertain about how to discuss race with their own adopted children. Taiwanese adoptee Marijane Nguyen says that she doubts her parents were aware of how much she struggled with her identity. “They never asked,” she says. “Race in our household was never discussed. Because there weren’t many Asians in the community I grew up in, I always felt like I had some deficit because I wasn’t white.”
Louisville adoptive mother Amy Cubbage says that it is difficult to fully understand the challenges of transracial adoption until you are actually parenting. She and her husband recently transferred their six-year-old daughter to a more diverse school, and are now contemplating moving to a town with a larger Asian population. When they took their child to visit China for the first time since her adoption, Cubbage said, “We have never seen [our daughter] so at ease with herself… we underestimated her need to see where she’s from and see a place where everyone looks like her.”
Dr. Elizabeth Vonk, director of the MSW Program at the University of Georgia School of Social Work and an adoptive parent, leads a play therapy group for transracially adopted children. She notes that many parents find it easy and fun to introduce their children to their birth cultures, but may be less comfortable helping them explore their racial identity. “Racial socialization requires pushing beyond parents’ comfort zones to acknowledge racism, white privilege, and prejudice,” she told me. “I do still meet parents who are convinced that a colorblind approach is best. It is a belief system that makes positive racial identity development more difficult for their children.”
Even adoptees whose parents are willing to engage in meaningful discussions about race will inevitably have questions about their identity and needs their families might not be able to anticipate. Angela Tucker, an African American adoptee raised in a large, racially diverse family, credits her parents for taking her to African-American fashion shows and teaching her and her siblings about different cultures. Still, she said, she has struggled with knowing where she fits “within traditional Black culture,” a question that led her to search for her birth family. She and her husband recently secured the funding necessary to complete Closure, a documentary about Tucker’s adoption reunion.
We cannot have an honest discussion about transracial adoption if we aren’t willing to discuss race, prejudice, and privilege. Adoptees need to feel safe when we talk about the instances of racism we encounter. This may not sound easy—because it isn’t easy for white parents to raise children of color. But as the mother of two multiracial children, I can say that it’s not easy for parents of color, either.
Some people who plan to adopt across racial lines give me blank looks when I suggest that they closely examine their town, their neighborhood, their local schools, their social activities and community organizations before adopting outside their race. They bristle when I emphasize the importance of educating themselves about the persistence of inequality and the experiences of transracial adoptees and people of color living in this country. Sometimes they remind me that my experiences as a transracial adoptee aren’t universal—which is true—and therefore I don’t actually know what their adopted children will face.
Maybe I don’t, and I don’t know why adopted Asian kids stare at me. I just know why I used to stare.
Photo: The author, her mother, and their dog in 1983.
Last Thursday Senators Bob Casey and Mary Landrieu, and Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa introduced the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2013. These bills follow the successful effort to reinstate the adoption tax credit which Congress made permanent in late 2012. The Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2013 will expand the number of children benefiting from adoption by supporting adoptive families through full refundability.
The Adoption Tax Credit Working Group (ATCWG), of which we are a founding member, has worked to educate Members of Congress on the need to make the tax credit fully refundable. Visit the ATCWG’s website and Facebook page to learn more about refundability and the ATCWG’s efforts. The ATCWG will be developing talking points and advocacy strategies and will post more information soon to ask members of the adoption community to become fully engaged.
We extend our thanks to Senators Casey and Landrieu and Representative Braley for their leadership and work to ensure that the adoption tax credit is made refundable. We also thank the many Joint Council Partners who are members of the ATCWG and for their continued support.
P.S. Senator Landrieu’s statement on the legislation can be found below.
Dear Adoption Leader,
My husband and I are blessed with two precious, adopted children, and I know the Adoption Tax Credit encourages many others to consider expanding their own families through adoption. Although the tax credit was made permanent in January, the law did not extend the refundability provisions that applied in 2010 and 2011, allowing the full use of the tax credit.
Last week, I joined my colleagues to introduce the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act to make the Adoption Tax Credit fully refundable.
Without the tax credit being refundable, many adopting families can’t fully utilize the benefits of this credit to make adoption a reality. This change will especially help families that want to adopt foster youth, finally providing them with a permanent and loving family and ensuring foster care is only temporary.
I am committed to making the Adoption Tax Credit refundable and look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue to support families who make the wonderful decision to adopt.
The Daily Review: EDITORIAL: 'Adopt' the Tax Credit
May 28, 2013
The reality of adoption in America and its perception in the pop culture are widely divergent. Due to the publicity attending Russia's use of international adoptions for political purposes, and the attention that often attends adoptions by celebrities, the day-to-day issues often are obscured.
Coverage of celebrity adoptions leads many Americans to view adoption as the province of the wealthy, but according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a third of all adopted children live in households with incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Among households that adopt children from foster care, 46 percent are in that income range.
For many families, then, adoption poses a huge financial challenge. To help them, Sens. Bob Casey and Mary Landrieu, and Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa, have introduced the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2013.
A tax credit to encourage adoption was included in the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which was passed in January. Because a high percentage of adoptive families have low incomes, however, their tax burden is too low to make them eligible for the adoption tax credit.
The new bill would make the credit refundable to the adoptive parents despite their low tax burden, as it was in 2010 and 2011.
According to the IRS, of filers claiming the adoption tax credit in 2011, 62 percent benefitted from the refundability provision and 25 percent of all filers claiming the credit had adjusted gross incomes lower than $50,000. Clearly, refundability is an important incentive for families to adopt children.
Making the tax credit refundable will create some cost for the federal government, but it long has been demonstrated that the cost of such credits is substantially less than the aggregate costs to the government of foster care.
Congress, especially those members who claim a pro-life position, should vote for the credit to help make adoption as affordable as possible to as many prospective adoptive families as possible.
Please contact Sen. Landrieu at the office nearest you.
May 28, 2013
On May 24, 2013, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) signed the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Convention). This is the first step for South Korea in becoming a Convention partner. Adoptions between the United States and South Korea, however, are not yet subject to the requirements of the Convention and relevant implementing laws and regulations. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which will be designated as South Korea’s Central Authority, there is no set date when South Korea will deliver its instrument of ratification or when the Convention will enter into force with respect to South Korea. We will continue to keep you informed through adoption.state.gov as we receive additional updates.
Update on Intercountry Adoptions in Guatemala
Joint USCIS-State Delegation to Guatemala
May 29, 2013
During the week of May 13, 2013, Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs traveled with USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas to Guatemala for meetings with Guatemalan government officials of agencies directly involved in adoptions, including the Procuraduría General de la Nación (PGN) and the Guatemalan National Council on Adoption (CNA). They also met with members of the Supreme Court, the Ministerio Publico (MP), the Ministry of Social Welfare, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Their visit provided an important opportunity to meet recently-appointed Guatemalan officials and emphasize that the timely and transparent resolution of all the remaining pending transition adoption cases in the best interests of the children remains a top priority for the United States.
The meetings were also an opportunity to review the progress on completion of these remaining cases following recent administrative and personnel changes in the Government of Guatemala. In the last several months, the Guatemalan government has accelerated its completion of cases, and fewer than 100 pending transition adoption cases are awaiting resolution as of the date of this notice. Twenty-nine cases have moved to CNA’s Acuerdo process, and nine cases have concluded with the immigration of the adopted children to the United States with their U.S. citizen parent(s). Guatemala also completed an additional four cases under the notarial process and these children have joined their families in the United States. Some cases have concluded with the child’s reunification with a biological family member in Guatemala.
Officials at the PGN, which has the authority to complete the investigations in the pending cases, report having 52 cases in various stages of investigation. The PGN has received renewed funding for its investigators, allowing them to continue their work with a goal of completing these investigations within two months. Once it has completed an investigation, PGN will request a hearing with a Guatemalan court judge for a determination of the child’s adoptability , or reunification with biological or extended family. It is also possible, though not likely, that the judge will order the case to conclude via the notarial process. According to the Guatemalan Supreme Court, there currently are no backlogs at the courts in Guatemala City, so that legal process should proceed without delays. The cases with court decrees of adoptability will go to the CNA for evaluation of their eligibility for completion of the adoptions through the Acuerdo process.
The USCIS and Consular staff of the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City are in constant communication with the Guatemalan officials responsible for adoption procedures. U.S. Embassy staff monitor and promote Guatemalan progress in resolving the remaining cases by attending the semi-weekly meetings of the technical group where these authorities work through the cases. Prospective adoptive parents may contact USCIS directly at Guatemala.email@example.com, and the Immigrant Visa Unit of the Consular Section directly at AdoptGuatemala@state.gov, in order to inquire about the status of individual adoption cases.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
The purpose of this guide is to support adoptive and foster families by strengthening the abilities of pediatricians to:
- identify traumatized children,
- educate families about toxic stress and the possible biological, behavioral, and social manifestations of early childhood trauma, and
- empower families to respond to their child's behavior in a manner that acknowledges past trauma but promotes the learning of new, more adaptive reactions to stress.
About the Film
From 2000-2008, China was the leading country for U.S. international adoptions. There are now approximately 70,000 Chinese children being raised in the United States. Wo Ai Ni Mommy explores what happens when an older Chinese girl is adopted into an American family. This film reveals the complicated gains and losses that are an inherent aspect of international, transracial adoption.
In 2007 Donna and Jeff Sadowsky of Long Island, New York submitted their dossier to adopt eight-year old Fang Sui Yong from Guangzhou, China. From the very first moment Sui Yong meets her new mother, Donna, we get a real sense of the emotional confusion and loss Sui Yong experiences, as adoption workers translate their first words of communication. This day will change Sui Yong’s life, forever. Language, habits, food, everything she knows will never be the same. Her new life in America is filled with happiness and confusion. As she struggles to survive in this new world, we witness her transform into a lively, outspoken American. Sui Yong has become someone neither she nor Donna could have imagined. In a sense, she’s the same girl Donna met in Guangzhou all those months ago – and yet she’s utterly different.
Last week Senator Mary Landrieu chaired the Senate Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs’ unprecedented hearing on U.S. Foreign Assistance for Children in Adversity. While our participation was limited as the hearing was held the same day as our Symposium, many of our colleagues with whom we have been working on the U.S. Action Plan for Children in Adversity testified and were present for the hearing.
The hearings were live streamed and are now available as a webcast. Due to the length of the hearings we have broken down the various testimonies and questioning so that you can view all of the hearing or specific witnesses. The entire hearing is well worth watching but recognizing everyone’s time constraints we have highlighted just a few sections that we feel you would find particularly interesting and relevant.
We extend our thanks to Senators Leahy and Landrieu for convening this unprecedented hearing and for bringing the needs of children living without family care to the attention of Congress.
Senate Hearing on U.S. Foreign Assistance for Children in Adversity
The following are coding tips for evaluations involving screening and anticipatory guidance related to trauma and other mental health/developmental concerns.
Download the guide here (PDF)
Another day, another headache for the Internal Revenue Service.
This time, the federal agency is being accused of mishandling the tax returns of adoptive families.
A report from the IRS's Taxpayer Advocate Service says that 90% of families who claimed the adoption tax credit during the 2012 filing season had their returns flagged for further review. Nearly 70%t had at least a partial audit of their tax return.
But the majority of the cases where the tax credit was audited — more than 35,000 returns in all — resulted in no changes.
The Taxpayer Advocate report says the IRS's handling of the adoption tax credit was a essentially a nightmare.
"The IRS's misguided procedures, and its failure to adequately adjust these processes when it learned its approach was seriously flawed, have caused significant economic harm to thousands of families who are selflessly trying to improve the lives of vulnerable children," said the report.
Among those families are Jake and Elfie Dotson of Clarksville. They've been dealing with the IRS for more than a year, trying to finalize their 2011 tax return.
Jake Doston is expecting a refund of several thousand dollars, which will help offset the $11,000 in fees they paid for the adoption. He says that because the IRS hasn't approved the tax credit, the agency claims the Dotsons still owe taxes.
"The IRS is telling me that I owe them money they haven't paid me, plus interest and penalties," he said.
The problem with the tax returns started in 2010, with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often known as "Obamacare."
That law changed the way the IRS handled the tax credit for adoptions. It raised the maximum credit to $13,170 per child and made the credit refundable and retroactive. That meant the credit could could boost a family's tax refund by thousands of dollars.
In the past, many families had not qualified for the full credit. But the new rules made more families eligible for larger refunds, said Becky Wilmoth, a registered tax return preparer for Bills Tax Service of Centralia, Ill.
"A lot of people were able to go back and amend their returns from past years," said Wilmoth, who specializes in returns for adoptive families.
The new rules meant the total amount of money refunded jumped fourfold.
For the 2009 tax year, 81,430 taxpayers claimed the adoption tax credit, for a total of $280.6 million. For 2010, 110,591 taxpayers claimed $1.2 billion in credits. In 2011, 51,539 taxpayers claimed $668.1 million in credits.
"I don't think they knew there were that many adoptive families out there," said Wilmoth.
Wilmoth said most families who had trouble with the IRS didn't get a full-blown audit, including interviews with IRS agents. Instead, they got a review of the paperwork for their adoption tax credit. That still causes a lot of anxiety, she said.
But most families eventually got their tax refunds, with interest. According to the IRS report, the median refund for the adoption tax credit was more than $15,000.
"Yes, they had to wait," Wilmoth said. "But you are also talking about a lot of money."
An IRS spokeswoman said that in the past, other refundable tax credits had led to fraud. So the agency was trying to prevent that from occurring with the adoption credit.
"The IRS implemented the adoption credit program with an approach that balanced the objective of paying legitimate credits in a timely manner with that of ensuring that claims were accurate," Michelle L. Eldridge, chief of National IRS Media Relations in a statement.
"Our experiences and lessons learned from other refundable credits taught us that high dollar credits have high risk and the potential for fraud. We must ensure delivery of the credit to those entitled while protecting the government's interest in minimizing exposure to fraud."
News of the adoption audits fueled more online criticism of the IRS. The agency already is under fire after it apologized for targeting Tea Party groups and pro-life groups that had applied for tax exemptions. There does not seem to be any political motive behind the adoption credit audits.
Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of the National Council for Adoption, said he thinks the amount of money involved in the refunds was the issue. He also thinks there were fears that some people might misuse the credit.
That didn't prove to be the case. The IRS disallowed less than 2 percent of the total tax credits claimed, according to the Tax Advocate Service report.
"The good news is that the kind of people who adopt children don't try to cheat on their taxes," said Johnson.
Holly Spann, the Tennessee representative for the American Adoption Congress, said in an email that she was disappointed to see that "such a large number of adoptive parents are going through so much unwarranted analysis by the IRS and having their refunds short-changed...."
Adoptive families who had their tax refunds delayed said that complying with the IRS's requirements was complicated.
David French of Columbia, Tenn., a blogger and lawyer for the American Center for Law and Justice, said that he and his wife, Nancy, filed for the adoption credit in 2011, after adopting their daughter from Ethiopia. Over the summer, they received a letter from the IRS requesting more paperwork, including receipts for their expenses.
They were able to send copies of the receipts for their plane tickets as well as the fees they paid to their adoption agency. But most of their expenses while traveling in Africa were paid in cash.
"Even your hotel doesn't take a credit card in Ethiopia," he said.
Families who adopt from overseas often run up tens of thousands of dollars in debt to pay for the adoption. Getting the tax credit can make it easier for middle-class families to adopt, said French. The median income for taxpayers who got the adoption credit was $64,000.
The adoption tax credit is no longer refundable, which has made it easier for taxpayers who claimed the credit for 2012. Wilmoth said only two of her clients have had their credits reviewed this year.
That may change if the credit becomes refundable in the future. Senators Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Mary Landrieu, D-La., along with Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, introduced the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2013 on Thursday, to make that happen.
Jake Dotson said he'd just like to see his troubles with the IRS be over. He said most people already have a negative view of the agency, because no one likes to pay taxes. The recent controversies have made things worse.
"Nobody trusts them," he said.
Smietana also reports for The Tennessean in Nashville.
A Guide for Foster and Adoptive Parents
All children need homes that are safe and full of love. Children who have experienced severe trauma may need more. Early, hurtful experiences can cause children to see and react in different ways. Some children who have been adopted or placed into foster care need help to cope with what happened to them in the past. Knowing what experts say about early trauma can help you work with your child
Download the guide here (PDF)
By Daniel Allott & George Neumayr
Until recently, if a pregnant woman wanted to determine the genetic health of her baby, she had to endure a series of crude and invasive tests. Early in her second trimester, she would be given a blood test called the triple screen, which measures levels of three hormones in her bloodstream. The results of that test, combined with other factors such as the mother’s age, weight, and ethnicity as well as information gleaned from a high-definition ultrasound, provided a clue to whether her baby was at risk of having a chromosomal disorder (such as Down syndrome) or a neural tube defect (such as spina bifida—shown in the image to the left—or anencephaly). If the fetus was found to have an elevated risk, the woman would be offered a diagnostic test, either chorionic villus sampling (CVS), at 12 to 14 weeks, or amniocentesis, at about 18 weeks.
Both tests are extremely uncomfortable, not to mention risky. Because they require the extraction of fetal cells present in the placental tissue and in the fluid in the amniotic sac surrounding the fetus, a needle needed to be inserted, either through the woman’s abdomen or up her vaginal canal. The procedures carry a risk of infection and an approximately 1 percent risk of miscarriage.
Further, since amniocentesis and CVS are administered so late in pregnancy, they often placed a mother in a critical moment of decision right around the time her fetus might be able to survive outside the womb. “By the time you got the diagnostic results, you were probably pushing up to 20 weeks,” says Arthur Caplan, head of bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center, “and you were almost edging over viability by the time you were having a discussion about what you found.”
Given these factors, it’s not surprising that only about 2 percent of pregnant women undergo prenatal genetic screening and diagnosis.
But those days are coming to an end. The ultimate objective of prenatal genetic testing is definitive noninvasive diagnosis, and advances in technology place us on the verge of attaining that goal. Experts in genetics and bioethics we interviewed variously referred to this new technology as “an enormous breakthrough,” a “godsend,” a “revolution,” a “perfect storm” and a “game-changer” that could put us “in an entirely different universe.” Nobody knows exactly what that universe will look like. But one thing is increasingly clear: It promises to be very inhospitable to unborn babies with disabilities.
SCIENTISTS’ UNDERSTANDING of the roots of genetic diseases has grown dramatically since the mapping of the human genome a decade ago, and so has diagnostic technology. First came the discovery that pregnant women’s blood contains small amounts of fetal DNA. In the last two years, scientists have developed a method for examining this “cell-free” DNA in order to identify a host of conditions. The new technique—called NIPT (non-invasive prenatal testing)—is superior to the old invasive tests in a number of ways. For one thing, it’s noninvasive. Since it’s a simple blood test, the woman’s uterus remains untouched, so there’s no risk of miscarriage. And the test can be done as early as nine weeks into gestation, which is an especially attractive feature for women who would consider abortion. That threshold could drop to as little as five weeks. While at present NIPT can test for chromosomal disorders only, it will soon be able to detect many more conditions—including single-gene diseases such as Tay Sachs and cystic fibrosis. It is also likely that NIPT will soon be able to detect risk factors for DNA-based diseases that develop later in life, such as breast cancer and Alzheimer’s, as well as hundreds or even thousands of non-disease characteristics, including personality traits.
Medical groups currently recommend that NIPT be used only as a screening test for high-risk women, and that women follow up positive screens with diagnostic tests such as amniocentesis. But if NIPT proves as accurate as early clinical trials suggest, it will almost certainly replace the old tests entirely. “Most in the field believe it will be diagnostic in 5 to 10 years, or earlier,” says Hank Greely, a law professor and bioethicist at Stanford Law School. “That’s a revolution.” Soon, Greely believes, with a simple blood test, “We’ll be able to know as much about a 10-week-old fetus as we know about anyone.” Four firms currently offer NIPT. In March, one of them, Natera, launched Panorama, a test that purports to be able to identify more chromosomal abnormalities with greater accurately than any other non-invasive prenatal test. Tens of thousands of women have already used it. Caplan, the NYU bioethicist, predicts that it will become a routine obstetrical procedure within three years. “I think very quickly it will be offered to every pregnant woman because it’s so noninvasive,” he said, “if for no other reason than hordes of malpractice attorneys will be running around saying ‘offer that or we’re going to sue you.’”
NIPT boasts another attractive feature: Women won’t have to pay for it. Sequenom, which markets a prenatal test called MaterniT21 Plus, claims that 15 percent of Americans already have insurance plans that cover the test. And new insurers regular announce their willingness pay for it. Experts also suggest it will eventually be universally covered by Medicaid, which is the largest payer of maternity related services in the country. Most states’ Medicaid programs already cover such prenatal genetic screening, and some states even provide funding for abortion in cases of fetal abnormality.
Academic studies show that even under the old regime of invasive prenatal testing, many women aborted disabled babies. A 2012 synthesis of 17 international studies estimated that once prenatal diagnosis is made, anencephaly has an abortion rate of 83 percent and spina bifida of 63 percent. An earlier review of 20 academic studies found abortion rates of nearly 100 percent for spina bifida and anencephaly, 74 percent for Turner syndrome (a chromosomal disorder), and 92 percent for Down syndrome.
Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal abnormality, occurring in 1 in 691 births in the U.S. But, owing to prenatal testing, births of babies with Down syndrome are much less common than they used to be. A British study found that the number dropped 21 percent between 1989 and 2003. And a 2012 Danish study showed that the introduction of a national prenatal screening program halved the number of babies born with Down syndrome. Keep in mind, these declines occurred even as more women began to delay childbirth past age 35, after which women are appreciably more likely to conceive a child with Down. (The British study estimated that the number of women conceiving children with Down grew 51 percent.)
Declines in the U.S. have been less severe but no less astonishing. In 2004, researchers estimated that in the absence of prenatal diagnosis and abortion, Down syndrome births would have increased 56 percent between 1989 and 2001. Instead, they decreased by 7.8 percent.
These numbers are staggering. But the bigger story is the precipitous decline that’s about to take place.
A recent study estimated that two-thirds of pregnant California women who were offered a noninvasive screening opted to take it. If that fraction holds true across a broad population—about 4 million American mothers give birth each year—then once NIPT becomes widely accepted and available, the number of fetal genetic diagnostic tests performed annually in the U.S. will rise from 100,000 to about 2.6 million.
Mark Bradford, president of the Jerome Lejeune Society, which advocates on behalf of people with Down syndrome, says that NIPT foreshadows a future “bleak for children prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome or some other chromosomal abnormalities.” NIPT could stamp out some DNA-based conditions almost entirely. Denmark has had a national prenatal screening program since 2004 that, according to the Copenhagen Post, could make it “a country without a single citizen with Down’s [sic] syndrome in the not too distant future.”
It’s not a leap to think that before too long—Caplan believes perhaps another decade—babies with disabilities won’t be the only ones targeted. “We’ll start to see people aborting based on musical ability or mathematical ability, disposition to depression, narcissism, gender orientation,” he says. “We may all think that parents and society are very interested in diseases. But I’m here to say that they’re also very interested in personality and behavior.”
EUGENICS IS THE IDEA that selective breeding can improve the human race, that the so-called “unfit” can and should be bred out of existence or eliminated. Charles Darwin’s half-cousin Francis Galton introduced the term eugenics in the 1880s. “What nature does blindly, slowly, and ruthlessly,” he wrote, “man may do providently, quickly, and kindly.”
It’s also a term that’s hard to avoid when thinking about advances like NIPT. Understanding the implications of NIPT requires an appreciation of the cultural, legal, and political changes that are driving demand for the new technology.
Support for eugenic abortion pervades the culture of elite opinion-makers. “It does not seem quite wise to increase any further draining of limited resources by increasing the number of children with impairments,” Princeton professor Peter Singer has argued—a once-outré view now held by many academics, journalists, judges, politicians, and doctors. “It would be morally wrong to choose to have a child with disability,” British professor John Harris told the BBC in 2012. According to Danish psychologist Helmuth Nyborg, “the 15 to 20 percent of those at the lower levels of society—those who are not able to manage even the simplest tasks and often not their children—should be dissuaded from having children.” Bob Edwards, the embryologist who created the first test-tube baby through in vitro fertilization, argued in 1999 that eugenic abortion is not only a right but a duty: “Soon it will be a sin for parents to have a child that carries the heavy burden of genetic disease. We are entering a world where we have to consider the quality of our children.”
When the Today Show in 2012 tackled the subject of prenatal testing, NBC’s chief medical editor, Nancy Snyderman, nonchalantly called the embrace of eugenic abortion “pro-science” and thought it a “great way to prevent diseases.” She added that prenatal testing “gives parents a chance to decide whether they’re going to continue that pregnancy or not. This is the science of today. It is running fast into the future.” Washington Post columnist Melinda Henneberger has noted that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s view—“More children from the fit, less from the unfit”—is widely held by members of the cultural elite. Henneberger wrote that this new form of eugenics is seen by them as not only “ethically superior to the bad old days of forced sterilizations—this time, it’s optional—but perhaps even morally required. I certainly have friends who see it that way: Wouldn’t we be negligent, one of them reasoned, not to lay the best possible foundation for the health, intelligence, and blue-eyed enjoyment of our children?”
These opinions are far from passé among judges. In 2009, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opined in an interview with the New York Times that one of the rationales for the Roe v. Wade ruling was to promote eugenic abortion. “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of,” she said. In 2012, a Massachusetts probate judge ordered that a Catholic 32-year-old woman (known simply as “Mary Moe”), who was deemed mentally ill by the state, be forced into an abortion even if it meant that she be “coaxed, bribed or even enticed by a ruse.” The judge also directed the abortionist to sterilize the woman without her permission. According to court documents, the judge stated that “if Moe were competent, she would not choose to be delusional and therefore would opt for an abortion in order to benefit from medication that otherwise could not be administered due to its effect on the fetus.” The decision was overturned by the Massachusetts appeals court.
The medical community has long fostered the culture of eugenic abortion. Benjamin Carson, the pediatric neurosurgeon whose appearance alongside President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year sparked headlines, has noted the attitude amongst his colleagues and lamented its corrupting power over anxious couples. “Almost all women in this nation now receive ultrasounds during the course of their pregnancy and you know, a number of things can be picked up on those ultrasounds, one of which is hydrocephalus,” Carson said in 2006. “And almost uniformly, when there is an indication of hydrocephalus a recommendation for termination is made.” Of patients who reject this automatic advice, he said “a significant number…end up with children who are normal.”
In his book Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity, bioethicist Leon Kass wrote that “at my own university, a physician making rounds with medical students stood over the bed of an intelligent, otherwise normal ten-year-old boy with spina bifida. ‘Were he to have been conceived today,’ the physician casually informed his entourage, ‘he would have been aborted.’”
Reflexive support for the tools of eugenic abortion isn’t restricted to the members of the political, medical, and scientific elite, however. The general public increasingly approves of it, too. A 2012 poll found that, by a two-to-one margin, Americans support the use of prenatal testing as well as insurance companies’ duty to cover it. A 2011 Gallup poll found majority support for legal abortion when there is evidence that the baby “may be” physically or mentally impaired. And a 2006 poll found that 70 percent of Americans believe a woman has a right to abortion if a “serious defect” in the baby is found.
“People are going to the doctor and saying, ‘I don’t want to have a handicapped child, what can you do for me?’” Charles Strom, medical director of Quest Diagnostics, a company that sells prenatal genetic tests, has told the New York Times. As Tufts genetic scientist Diana Bianchi told Kaiser Health News about NIPT, “I don’t think anybody really anticipated that the consumers would drive [demand for NIPT) as much as they’re doing.”
As you read this, there are lawyers waiting in the wings to swoop down and file “wrongful birth” lawsuits against doctors
who fail to flag defects in an unborn child. Physicians can be sued and forced to pay for the estimated lifetime costs of raising and caring for the disabled child.
A majority of states now allow such suits. Last year a jury awarded an Oregon couple almost $3 million after their child was born with Down syndrome despite the fact that a prenatal test had come back negative. In 2010, a jury awarded a Florida couple $4.5 million after a doctor failed to identify their child’s missing limbs in an ultrasound. Such parents will often note that they “dearly love” the child whom they would have aborted had the doctors just given them the right information. In some states, the surviving tot can even file a “wrongful life” lawsuit.
WHILE THERE IS broad public support for NIPT, numerous polls have shown that the public is also concerned that it will foster discrimination against people with disabilities, and that women might be bullied into undergoing the test. Much depends on whether and how informed consent is obtained.
“I think there’s a growing sense that informed consent is nice and necessary, but it’s largely illusory in practice,” says Maxwell Mehlman, a law and bioethics professor at Case Western Reserve University. “People don’t understand as much as you hope they do.”
Greely, the Stanford bioethicist, has written, “If NIPT requires just one more tube of blood from the mother—and just one more signature on one more form—how can we ensure that parents understand what they are consenting to? Already some who get results of blood-based screening tests for the risk of Down syndrome are shocked to learn they ever agreed to the test.”
The question then becomes: Who’s going to talk to women about the test results? The assumption is that genetic counselors will guide women with affected pregnancies. But if current estimates are correct and the number of women tested skyrockets into the millions, there simply won’t be enough genetic counselors to go around.
A bigger problem is that the information genetic counselors convey is often biased or incomplete. Surveys of medical school deans and residency directors show clinical training regarding people with disabilities is not a priority. A 2008 survey of American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists fellows found that only 36 percent felt “well-qualified” to do prenatal genetic counseling. Brian Skotko, a board-certified medical geneticist and co-director of the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, conducted a study of 141 mothers who had received a definitive prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. According to Skotko, most said that “doctors did not tell them about the positive potential of people with Down syndrome nor did they feel like they received enough up-to-date information or contact information for parent support groups.”
None of this is surprising given the growing utilitarian emphasis in medicine. One survey of 499 physicians who deliver prenatal diagnoses found that only 63 percent said they “tried to be as unbiased as possible when delivering a prenatal diagnosis.” One in 10 even admitted to actively urging women to abort. A Hastings Center survey found that 80 percent of genetics professionals polled said they personally would abort a pregnancy involving Down syndrome.
Further, studies suggest pregnant women often defer to their doctors when they receive a diagnosis. An offer of testing can be interpreted by patients as a recommendation. In one German study, 25 percent of women stated that they opted for prenatal diagnosis because their physician wanted it; 36 percent thought that it was an almost mandatory part of routine maternal care; and 16 percent had either not given consent for the test or could not remember giving consent.
Complicating the question, and potentially exacerbating the new push for eugenic abortion, is the prospect of direct-to-consumer (DTC) prenatal genetic tests. These are tests that can be picked-up at CVS or Walgreens, or ordered on-line. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is grappling with how much to regulate DTC tests, which as medical devices must undergo federal scrutiny. An FDA spokeswoman says that though the agency is providing guidance to DTC companies, it hasn’t yet cleared any tests to be sold in pharmacies or online. But some experts are skepticical about the FDA’s ability to regulate what, according to one estimate, will become a $1.6 billion industry by 2017.
“If you’re looking to [government] regulation to handle prenatal genetic testing, don’t sleep so well at night,” Caplan said. “Like it or not, I think the pressure to use it, the pressure to sell it, the pressure to apply it—both from government and from business—is going to be pretty strong. It’s already strong. It’s going to get stronger.”
THE CULTURE OF eugenic abortion will have implications for the living disabled too. It is likely to lead to fewer resources and less institutional support for people with genetic conditions. Research and drug companies might turn their attention away from disabilities they expect will be wiped out by prenatal diagnosis and abortion. Federal financing of Down syndrome research has plummeted in recent years. As Down syndrome researcher Alberto Costa said to the New York Times in 2011, “The geneticists expect Down syndrome to disappear, so why fund treatments?”
It is strange to contemplate a world with many fewer people with disabilities. After all, people with disabilities have more opportunities to live long, healthy, fulfilling lives than ever before. Every week seems to provide a new heart-warming story of a high-school girl with Down syndrome voted prom queen or a boy with autism getting a chance to play on his varsity basketball team. And any public mention of the “r-word” elicits roars of protest. But deep prejudice exists and is often rooted in conceptions about what it means to live with a disability. The assumption is that people with disabilities inevitably lead unhappy lives and overburden their families and society—in short, that their lives are not worth living.
A 2007 study of Dutch women who aborted pregnancies of babies with Down syndrome found that 92 percent felt their child would not be able to function independently. Eighty-three percent said the burden of raising such a child would be too heavy, and 73 percent cited the burden on their other children.
But people with disabilities, and those who spend time with them, tell a much different story. It is a story that “has changed dramatically in the last 40 years,” says Ellen Clayton of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University. In a generation, advances in health care have extended the average life expectancy of people with Down syndrome from 25 years to 50. Educators have made significant gains teaching people with disabilities the skills they need to live and work independently. In a survey of 284 people with Down syndrome, Skotko found that 99 percent felt happy with their lives, 97 percent liked who they were and 86 percent said they could make friends easily. Only 4 percent expressed sadness about their lives.
And there’s growing evidence that people with disabilities provide something unique and meaningful to those they encounter. Numerous studies have shown that children with disabilities help cultivate the virtues of kindness, patience, and empathy in family members and friends. In a national survey of caregivers, more than two thirds said they found their role rewarding. In 2011, Skotko released the results of two polls showing that the vast majority of parents and siblings of people with Down syndrome loved and had positive feelings for their child/sibling, and that they overwhelmingly felt they were better people because of them.
It’s worth pointing out that prenatal genetic testing can be used for good as well as for ill. By detecting abnormalities early in the pregnancy, testing allows mothers to choose medical facilities with the necessary resources to perform their deliveries. It can also give parents time to prepare psychologically for the birth of a child they may not have expected. But diagnosis and subsequent abortion does not prevent disability. It prevents the birth of a person with a disability.
Some experts go so far as to say that NIPT will “change the way we think about having kids.” Precisely how it does so may ultimately depend on society’s response to a simple question: Is the world really better off without people with disabilities?
Heather Taylor is the Family Coordinator at Hopscotch Adoptions, an adoption agency with a special program for adopting international children with Down syndrome. Taylor said her 3-year-old daughter, Ava, isn’t defined by having Down syndrome. “Yes, she does have an extra chromosome,” Taylor said, “but first and foremost she is a child—a whole, complete person who deserves the same respect as any child.”
The state-run, Hangzhou-based newspaper Dushikuaibao said police became suspicious when they found baby toys and blood-stained toilet paper in the 22-year-old woman's rented room, in the building where Saturday's rescue occurred in eastern China.
The woman, whose name was not revealed in state media reports, confessed to police when they asked her to undergo a medical checkup.
The woman told police she could not afford an abortion and secretly delivered the child Saturday afternoon in the toilet. She said she tried to catch the baby but he slipped into the sewer line and that she alerted her landlord of the trapped baby after she could not pull the child out, the state-run, Jinhua-based Zhezhong News said.
Video of the rescue of Baby No. 59 — so named because of his incubator number in the hospital — was shown on Chinese news programs and websites starting late Monday and picked up worldwide, prompting both horror and an outpouring of charity on behalf of the newborn. The mother's reported confession raises questions about whether she intended to abandon the baby, while suggesting that she was desperate and did not know what to do.
Zhezhong News said the woman is a high school graduate who works at a restaurant in the Zhejiang province city of Jinhua. She said she became pregnant after a one-night stand with a man who later denied any responsibility. The woman did not reveal the pregnancy to her parents. She also said she wanted to raise the child but had no idea how to do it, according to local reports.
Firefighters were called to the residential building in the Pujiang area of Jinhua to rescue the baby, which was trapped in the L-joint of a sewage pipe just below a squat toilet in one of the building's public restrooms.
In the video, officials were shown removing the pipe from a ceiling that apparently was just below the restroom and then, at the hospital, using pliers and saws to gently pull apart the pipe, which was about 10 centimeters (about 3 inches) in diameter.
The baby, who weighed 2.8 kilograms (6 pounds, 2.8 ounces), had a low heart rate and some minor abrasions on his head and limbs, but was mostly unhurt, according to local reports. The placenta was still attached.
News of the baby's ordeal was met with horror and pity by bloggers on Chinese sites. Most speculated that the child had been dumped by his parents down the toilet. The rescue prompted an outpouring from strangers who came to the hospital with diapers, baby clothes, powdered milk and offers to adopt him.
Dushikuaibao said the mother was present throughout the entire rescue and expressed her concern for the child, thought that didn't initially rouse suspicion of the police.
Police initially said they were treating the case of as possible attempted homicide, but it was not immediately clear whether the mother would face criminal charges.
Local police refused to comment, saying the case is under further investigation.
In China, unwanted pregnancies have been on the rise because of a lack of sex education and an increasingly lax attitude toward sex. Young men and women often are engaged in unprotected sex, and abortions have become increasingly common, with abortion services widely available.
Sociologist Li Yinhe said more than 70 percent of China's young adults have had premarital sex, but that Chinese schools typically shy away from sex education and teaching about contraception because teachers don't want to appear to condone premarital sex.
"The public also is very ambiguous over whether you are committing a murder when you kill an infant or abandon it," Li said.
The landlord of the building told local media earlier in the week that there were no signs that the birth took place in the restroom and she had not been aware of any recent pregnancies among her tenants.
The baby's mother told police she cleaned up the scene in the toilet after the delivery and that she had managed to hide her pregnancy by wearing loose clothes and tightly wrapping her abdomen, Zhezhong News said.
Enter by May 31, 5pm EST!
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
"Why Don't You Have Your Own Baby?"
"How do I respond to family members who ask this? I've just started telling people I'm adopting, and have already been asked three times."
-- posted by xpinkxjennx to U.S. Foster Adoption Waiting
Expectant Moms and Prenatal Care
"The two EMs we've been matched with so far have had no prenatal care. Is this common? Hoping to hear others' experiences."
-- posted by Lovesunflower to U.S. Newborn Waiting Parents
Second Thoughts About a Second Adoption
"I'd recently started to wonder whether we are an only-child family. Then I held a friend's 1-month-old daughter, and the tears just started welling up..."
-- posted by Lyds780 to Waiting to Adopt
Nesting and Considering Buying a Crib
"Something has kicked in during the last few weeks...a mural has gone up and now I'm looking at cribs. Anyone find a crib brand or style they love?"
-- posted by KirstenMartyAdopting to U.S. Newborn Waiting Parents
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Camp FreeSpirit is an inclusive day camp for all abilities, ages 2 and up. Camp is led by Deborah Meridith, a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, NC Licensed Recreational Therapist, and PATH registered instructor.
Camp FreeSpirit Highlights
- Learn how to groom, tack, handle, and ride a horse this summer!
- Learn about
- Learn about other farm animals
- Grow a plant and learn about herbs, owers, and horticulture
- Enjoy time the animals!
- Camp is from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.
- Drop-off from 8:00-9:00 a.m.
- Afternoon care is an additional $10.00 per child per day
- Non-refundable registration/reservation fee: $25.00
- Camp fee: $175.00 per week (includes a daily nutritious snack and craft supplies)
- Limited number of scholarships are available
2013 Camp FreeSpirit Sessions:
July 29-August 2
Brandi Jordan, MSW, IBCLC For the past decade, Brandi has been helping new families grow, adjust, and find balance. Brandi is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Pediatric Sleep Specialist, Newborn Care Specialist and a Certified Postpartum Doula. She holds a BA in Child Development and a Master's of Social Work from USC. In 2009, she opened The Cradle Company Parenting Center and Boutique, a Los Angeles resource center for parents. Brandi's work as a consultant, group leader, and in-home practitioner has lead her to develop a unique philosophy of parenting, fondly named Practical Parenting™, a pragmatic, practical and healthy approach for the "whole" family.
Hannah Halliwell has worked supporting mothers and babies as an advocate, educator, and friend in Mexico, Ghana, Guatemala and here in the US for over ten years. After the birth of her first son, Hannah became a certified birth doula, studied childbirth education under the amazing Julie Freitas, and became a Certified Lactation Educator/Counselor (CLEC). While supporting mothers and their partners in childbirth, Hannah also ran a small nonprofit organization which provided assistance to orphanages in Mexico. Hannah went on to work in the cardiac ICU at Cedars-Sinai. Above all, Hannah is the proud mother of three incredible children.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
The Donaldson Adoption Institute is conducting a new study exploring the experiences and needs of different types of adoptive families (e.g., heterosexual versus LGBT families; in-racial versus transracial families; and families involved in varying levels of openness). By increasing our knowledge about adoptive family diversity, we hope to enhance training of adoption professionals and improve services for children and their parents.
Participants will fill out a 30 minute questionnaire either online through Survey Monkey, by email, or by postal mail. This is a confidential survey, requiring no sharing of identifying information. Participation is strictly voluntary and respondents can end their involvement in the research at any time without consequence.
The research, which is headed by David Brodzinsky, Ph.D. and Jeanne Howard, Ph.D., has been approved by the Institutional Review Board of Illinois State University. If you are interested in taking part in this study, or finding out more about it, please contact Dr. Brodzinsky (510-985-1772), or simply click on the hyperlink to access the survey online.
Thank you for your help and for your commitment to improving the lives of children through adoption.
Adam Pertman, Executive Director, Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
David Brodzinsky, Ph.D., Research Director, Evan B. Donaldson Adoption
Jeanne Howard, Ph.D., Research and Policy Director, Evan. B. Donaldson
The State Department has not yet added South Korea's joining the Convention to its updates.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Don't forget this terrific website!
Friday, May 24, 2013
Camper Application OverviewCampers must be between the ages of eight and seventeen. A camper who desires to attend more than one week may do so only if space is available. The maximum capacity provision of the camp will be strictly enforced. Therefore, to ensure registration in your preferred week, please apply early. Priority will be given to early registration.
AYF Summer Camp Registration Fees
- $425 per camper
- $50 sibling or additional week discount will be applied
- $25 late fee for applications received after May 31, 2013
- $25 roundtrip bus service from Alex Pilibos Armenian School, Hollywood
- $200 non-refundable cancellation fee. Minimum of one week notice is required for all cancellations.
Online Application Checklist - Read Prior to Starting Online Application Below1. Create an Account - Enter the parent email address and password on the first page to create your family account. The email and password may be used at later times to log back in and make changes to camper applications.
2. Family & Camper Personal Information - Have a photo of the camper ready for upload before starting the application.
3. Doctor & Health Information - Have a photo of the camper's Medical Insurance Card ready for upload before starting the application.
4. Activity Waivers - The application includes two activity waivers. The Rock Climbing Waiver is mandatory and the Airsoft Waiver is optional.
5. T-Shirt Contest: Submissions may be uploaded through the online application. The winner of the contest will have their design on all AYF Summer Camp 2013 t-shirts and attend the week of their choice for free. Winner will be refunded their payment when the winning design is chosen, so please submit payment with the application to ensure registration for the camper's preferred week. In honor of AYF Camp's 35th anniversary, this year's t-shirt contest will be themed "vintage". The design be 5 colors and have “AYF Camp 2013” and “Est. 1977” on it. (Designs can be uploaded with application, mailed in, or emailed)
6. Payment - Parents may choose to pay with Check, Cash, Money Order or Credit Card. Please select your choice and follow the directions on the application.
7. All applicants will receive a CONFIRMATION email from our office within ONE week of registration. We will also contact parents if applications are incomplete (missing information or payment).
A modern day Folktale From Armenia, is based on a true story. The Armenian proverb unites three best friends and one beautiful cow in the modern day folk tale about sharing, caring and responsibility. The book, for fifth and sixth graders, reminds us how small acts can change the world for the better. Written by Page McBrier and illustrated by Stefano Vitale.
America's Christian Credit Union believes every child deserves a forever family. Their adoption loan program has helped place over 700 children in loving homes. In addition to adoption loans, ACCU provides effective banking solutions to individuals and ministries that empower them to reach their financial goals while expanding God's Kingdom. They have an extensive range of financial services and products, including checking, savings, mortgages, car loans, and investments. Every dollar entrusted to ACCU gets reinvested to build churches and fund ministries. ACCU members have led the fight against human trafficking, fed the homeless, nurtured the next generation of believers, and provided orphans with forever homes through their special Adoption Loan Program. They feel called to promote the cause of the orphan, and stand ready to help Christian families open their homes to needy children worldwide. Learn more by downloading this flyer.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
In the car...in the kitchen...at bedtime...it can happen when you least expect it - your child asks you a question about adoption and you don't know how to answer it. As much as you prepared for this, when it actually happens it can be very difficult.
Maybe you haven't talked about adoption yet, the answer is tough to hear or you just don't have enough information to answer your child's questions. But your answer matters. Talking matters.
Join us for a webinar featuring Pat Johnston, Author and Publisher, as she discusses:
- Common questions kids start asking and when
- How and when to share the tough stuff
- Answering questions with limited information
Creating A Family will host a panel of four adoption professionals to talk about how mental and physical health issues in pre-adoptive parents are treated by adoption professionals in domestic and international adoption, and what pre-adoptive parents need to know.
May 21, 2013: View the "Hearing on a Review of US Foreign Assistance for Children in Adversity" chaired by Senator Landrieu (D). This hearing is in regards to a new National Action Plan for Children in Adversity which is setting the stage for children in foreign countries to have strong beginnings, families first through all possible options, and protection from violence, abuse and exploitation.
Forward to the 1:03:03 mark of the video to hear the Dr. Susan Bissell, Chief of Child Protection, Program Division for UNICEF respond to Senator Landrieu's pointed and thought provoking questions. Senator Landrieu asks questions about UNICEF's budget allocation toward permanency efforts for unparented children, methodology and inability to account for the true number orphans living outside of parental care, narrowly defined as a single orphan (one parent living) or a double orphan (both parents living).
Thank you to Chuck Johnson, President and CEO of the National Council For Adoption (NCFA), for sharing the link and keeping us informed.
Around this time two years ago, we received our last update on Rex from Yerevan. It had been six long months since we'd held him and a court date still was not in sight for us. Looking at these pictures then made me so sad, but seeing them today breaks my heart even more because I know Rex's personality and expressions now and recognize the tremendous pain, loneliness and frustration he must have been feeling when these photos were taken.
Today, just two short years later, Rex ventured on his first field trip with his classmates, teachers, and a pack of parents at his side. Watching him enjoy the day, I couldn't help but think of those photos of him in the pink turtleneck and struggled to hold back the tears. What a difference it has made for this wonderful boy that we found him, were entrusted with his care, and granted the privilege to call him our son.
Rex loved the hayride, especially when the trees made a roof over our wagon
Rex at Pioneer Village, building a fire and cooking
Enjoying the giant ball pit
Braving the super fast, long slide
This is the face of adoption, the face of a boy who is loved by his family, the face of a child receiving the best possible care for his medical and developmental needs, the face of happiness. This is the face that makes my heart sing every single day.
Glendale – Five Star Cinema
Beverly Hills – Laemmle Music Hall
Encino – Laemmle Town Center
Burbank – AMC Burbank
Fresno/Clovis – Sierra Vista 16
Boston – AMC Methuen
Detroit – AMC Forum
Philadelphia – AMC Hamilton 24
DC – AMC Rio
Something to Consider for your next Census 2020 Report
Date: 2010 US Census
Very soon you will receive a U.S. Census form in the mail, which is a simple questionnaire comprised of only ten questions (see sample and instructions attached to this e-mail). We encourage you to complete the form for your household, and mail it back by April 1, 2010. For the Georgians living in the United States, this is a once in a decade opportunity to ensure that your Georgian ethnic background is shown. Indication of your ethnic background this helps estimate the number of the Georgian population in the United States.
To indicate that your ethnic background is Georgian, please carefully answer question #9 on the Census Form - check "WHITE" and then "SOME OTHER RACE" and finally, write "GEORGIAN" in the last field. By doing so your Georgian identity will be recorded as a separate subcategory.
The United States Constitution obligates the Federal Government to conduct a census every 10 years. Information collected for the census will help to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. Furthermore, accurate data about the size of the Georgian-American community can be important to the Representatives, when they vote on issues that are very important to us, and to the U.S. foreign policy in regards to Georgia.
Collected data is also used to allocate the federal sum in the amount of $400 billion to improve living conditions of the residents of the country, and reconstruct and expand America's transportation and social infrastructure, including hospitals, job training centers, public schools, senior centers, bridges, tunnels and other-public works projects and emergency services.
Please share this information with your extended family and friends, and urge them to participate in U.S. Census 2010. Thank you in advance.
The privacy of your personal information is protected under federal law (Title 13 of the U.S. Code).
This applies to Armenians as well.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Making Credit Refundable Would Extend Benefits to More Families
In 2011 62% of Filers Benefited from Refundable Credit
Washington, DC –Today U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Congressman Bruce Braley (D-IA) introduced the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2013. The bill would make the Adoption Tax Credit fully refundable. Making the tax credit refundable would extend its benefits to more Americans. According to IRS data, 62% of filers in 2011 benefited from the refundable Adoption Tax Credit.
“Making the Adoption Tax Credit refundable will support and encourage adoption by assisting families with some of the costs,” Senator Casey said. “The Adoption Tax Credit has been a proven success in increasing families’ ability to offer permanent homes to adoptive children. Making the credit refundable will allow more families to experience its benefits.”
"My husband and I are blessed with two precious, adopted children, and I know the Adoption Tax Credit encourages many families to consider expanding their own through adoption," Senator Landrieu said. "Without the tax credit being refundable, many adopting families can’t fully utilize the benefits of this credit to make adoption a reality. This change will especially help families that want to adopt foster youth, finally providing them with a permanent and loving family and ensuring foster care is only temporary. I am committed to making the Adoption Tax Credit refundable and look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue to support families who make the wonderful decision to adopt."
“The Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act makes the tax credit even better by making it refundable,” Congressman Braley said.” “That means more families can take full advantage of the tax cut, providing a better incentive to families considering adoption. That will help more children in need end up in loving homes.”
The adoption tax credit was made permanent in the American Taxpayer Relief Act in January 2013. However, that law did not extend the refundability provisions that applied to the adoption tax credit in 2010 and 2011. The Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act will restore the refundable portion of this critical support for families wishing to adopt.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, one-third of all adopted children live in families with annual household income at or below 200 percent of the poverty level. Despite the common misperception that only wealthy families adopt, nearly 46 percent of families adopting from foster care are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Many of these families’ tax burdens are so low that they cannot benefit from the adoption tax credit at all unless it is refundable.
Preliminary 2011 data indicate that nearly 62 percent of families who filed for the adoption tax credit benefited from refundability. Forty-one percent of families who benefited from refundability (25 percent of all families who took the tax credit) had adjusted gross incomes under $50,000.
These data indicate that a refundable adoption tax credit plays a significant role in lower-income families’ ability to adopt and support a child from foster care. Older data from a 2006 study cited by HHS demonstrate a significant financial benefit to society, as well: the cost of adoption and permanency is significantly lower than the cost to federal, state and local governments to provide long-term foster care.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Teach and Learn with Georgia (TLG), a progressive education movement initiated by the Georgian government, recruits native English speakers to co-teach English alongside local English teachers in public schools throughout the country of Georgia. TLG aims to improve Georgia's nationwide English language proficiency in an effort towards further globalization.
Teach and Learn Georgia is now recruiting new TLG volunteers for the academic year 2013-2014. Please check out our extensive benefits and apply now!
It has been quite a journey.
In 78 days, we visited 60 cities during an 18,000 mile bus ride. The journey ended with a mile and a half walk making a statement that adoption is an important and viable solution for kids without parents. The tour succeeded in identifying and forming the core membership of the UN-STUCK MOVEMENT. The tour was supported by over 850 volunteers and the Step Forward for Orphans March was literally a critical step forward with individuals traveling from 37 states to participate.
The STUCK tour was beyond description. We met and interacted with compassionate people who care about making wrong things right. The reception and treatment we received in every community was humbling and inspiring. I will never forget the graceful human decency that enriched my life. I am a better man for the experience and especially for the friends I have made during the STUCK tour. More importantly, I connected with thousands of passionate people that can create a force to produce the outcome of a family for at-risk kids.
A powerful will to produce change was linked together during the course of the tour and the UN-STUCK MOVEMENT was born. Movements are very effective agents of social change, but they are not created out of thin air. They have a life cycle: they are created, they grow, and they either succeed or fail in producing real results. Our movement, like all movements, requires a vision, leadership, money and staying power. Movements begin to succeed when they are able to mobilize sufficient resources to take action.
How we make an impact is up to us
We must take responsibility for leadership, make sacrifices and hold ourselves accountable to ensure we do produce results. As I have said before, the UN-STUCK MOVEMENT will be a results-driven effort.
Once we procure the necessary funding, a sampling of our next steps are:
- Open our Washington, DC office, hire full-time staff and build necessary infrastructure.
- Establish 50 BEB state organizations and plan UN-STUCK marches in each state for May 2014.
- Plan and organize the Summit of Nations meeting to take place in Fall 2014.
- Launch iAdopt International Advisory Services and begin to facilitate cross-border knowledge sharing.
- Produce success story series as a revolving weekly feature on our web site.
To facilitate on-going communication we will have an regularly scheduled UN-STUCK MOVEMENT Stakeholder conference call the first Tuesday of every month at 4 PM EST. Our next call will be June 4th. An email will be sent in advance with call-in information.
To ensure the success of this movement, we encourage open communication. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time, for any reason.
Things you can do TODAY to keep the momentum going are:
1. Promote STUCK. It is important to continue to expose the issue! You can do so by leveraging your social media lists and encouraging as many as possible to invest 82 minutes to learn about this issue at STUCKDocumentary.com.
2. Help us connect with sources of funding. Our continued success will be a function of funding.
3. Expand awareness, interest and support in your community. Be bold and innovative to organize future events.
I consider it an honor to be part of this team and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you.
Founder, Both Ends Burning