Sunday, November 30, 2014

Six Things My Adoptive Parents Did Right


By Lisa Cleary


To all of the parents out there thinking about adoption or in the midst of raising a child, this is for you.

More than 30 years ago, my parents decided to adopt after several unsuccessful attempts to have a third child. I use the loose term “adoptive” parents in that my parents adopted me, but they are just my parents – my real parents, the only ones I have ever known.

In recognition of National Adoption Month, I want to share what my parents did right with my adoption, as well as with navigating the waters of parenthood in general.

Read more.

SPAFA Holiday Social in NC


Please join us as we kick off the holiday by celebrating families of adoption.  Meet with friends old and new, welcome new families, and support each other in our special journeys to create a family. 

Note that Luisa's will be offering their full menu, however, costs incurred are the responsibility of each family.  SPAFA  will not be covering the costs due to limited funds as a non-profit.  Please visit our webpage at to RSVP.


Luisa's Brick Oven Pizza
1730 Abbey Place
Charlotte, NC.  28209

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanked for Service: Kybele Board Members

One of the most rewarding opportunities has come through serving on the Kybele board of directors for the past 10 years.   I am in awe of all that Kybele has accomplished under the devoted and visionary leadership of my dear friend Dr. Medge Owen.  Our first meeting, under the most stressful conditions, resulted in a deep friendship and collaboration to change women's healthcare in labor and delivery's regional anesthesia practice.  I'm so very proud of all that Kybele has done to change and save lives of the countless women and infants from many countries.  In particular, the countries where Hopscotch shares in vision and work to also change and sometimes save lives through intercountry adoption, have been the most meaningful experiences.  Thank you Medge and Kybele for this incredible journey we've shared together.  Robin  

Thanked for Service – Kybele Board Members


The following three board members have served for numerous years on the Kybele board of directors and have rotated off the board.  We would like to sincerely thank them for the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of service to our organization. Board service is a one of the most valuable contributions one can make to Kybele and the intellectual capital by our board members is invaluable. It has been a privilege and an honor to work with these three outstanding volunteers.     

6afe520031d99f1b768ba50186582910Helen Akinc (Winston-Salem, N.C.)

For the past six years Helen has served as an active board member, vice president for business operations, newsletter editor, and Conflict of Interest Committee member. Her strong writing, networking, mentoring and communication skills; ability to bridge cultural divides; intelligence; and wit have guided us through strategic planning, project streamlining, fundraising, committee forming, hiring, and team leader summit organization.  Helen is a local board member, residing in Winston-Salem, and we look forward to her continued volunteer support from time to time. Thank you, Helen, for helping us stay focused on advancing the organization.


0a8375428e8af92322a6393fbd1ab604 Virgil Manica, MD  (Boston, M.A.)

Virgil Manica has served on the board since 2007 and has been a team leader or co-team leader on programs in Romania, Republic of Georgia, and Armenia.  A native of Romania, Virgil is an OB Anesthesiologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.  Virgil has been a key player in initially developing these programs and has participated in numerous in-country conferences, lectures and training seminars.  He has also provided hands-on instruction, worked on networking and promotion, and helped to keep the Kybele store stocked with unique items from his travels abroad.  Virgil is an active member of the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP) and we look forward to his continued participation in the Romania/Moldolva programs.  Thank you, Virgil.


193ca4f0e988f7b385473929e636fd2a Robin Sizemore  (High Point, N.C.)

Robin has been involved with Kybele since 2004 when she met Medge Owen in the labor unit as Medge administered an epidural to Robin. Having mentioned to Medge that she had two adopted children from The Republic of Georgia (where Kybele would eventually start a program), they sparked a friendship that has lasted more than a decade.  Robin is the executive director of Hopscotch Adoptions in High Point, N.C., and while serving on the board has helped Kybele network with key leaders in both Georgia and Armenia. Thank you, Robin, for helping open new doors for Kybele. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

News from Armenia: Kybele's 5th Teaching Visits Continue to Advance Women's Healthcare

The following brief summary of the Armenia program's progress was submitted by Co-Team Leader Dr. Gordon Yuill.

246252d7b43f1ace981c3a74fd7776b3 Kybele Team members have made five trips to Armenia so far.  Initial visits were paid to Yerevan (in 2006, 2010 and 2012), but more recent trips included stops in Gyumri (2012, 2013 and 2014), Akhuryan (2012, 2013, and 2014), Dilijan (2012), Ijevan (2012), Novemberian (2012), Karabakh (2013), Artik (2014), Matuni (2014), Gavar (2014), Sevan (2014), and Hrazdan (2014).  Each trip has consisted of a one-or-two-day national conference in Yerevan followed by small-team visits to individual maternity clinics, where Kybele volunteers worked alongside the local physicians.  Through this process we have seen an increase in the use of regional anesthesia for cesarean section throughout and an increased availability of epidural analgesia for labor in some units.    

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

News from Ghana: Kybele Sponsored Three Nurse Managers of Ridge Regional Hospital, Ghana

Article by Yemi Olufolabi, MD

Using simulation to learn about acute maternal care.

In October, Kybele had the opportunity to sponsor three NICU nurses/nurse managers from Ridge Regional Hospital in Accra, Ghana.  Partially funded through a multi-year grant from the PATH organization, nurses Rebecca Agyare Asante, Vivian Koffie, and Fauziya Rabiu were able to spend a two-week observership at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., and they definitely packed a lot into their visit. The women were able to visit the Duke Neonatal Unit and all related wards, the Duke simulation center, the education center, and the maternity operating room. They attended clinical meetings, a neonatal resuscitation training session,  in-service training for new staff nurses, and safety rounds.  They also visited with Dr. Lisa Washburn from Wake Forest Medical Center in Winston-Salem, where they discussed current protocols and improvement potential at Ridge Hospital. In addition, they visited the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill maternity center, which is operated by midwives.   

Neonatal resuscitation simulation.

During all of this observation, the Ridge nurses had extensive exposure to a system that prevented and treated infection in babies.  Given that new breathing methods (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure - CPAP) were recently introduced at Ridge Hospital, a special session with nurses and respiratory therapists on the CPAP machine proved highly educational. Other important observations involved infant feeding techniques, customer care best practices, and the environmental factors that nurture optimal brain development.  The Ridge nurses were impressed by the dedication of the Duke nurses and their intensity of focus while caring for babies. The meticulous and attentive approach in the management of each baby really stood out for them.

Finally arriving at Raleigh Airport and meeting Dr Olufolabi.

The Ridge nurses returned home excited and reassured that they could further raise standards of care at Ridge Hospital. They resolved to make changes that would improve outcomes.  As a result of their visit, they planned to incorporate changes by sharing their experiences with their colleagues and ensuring infection prevention became a priority, because it is one of the major causes of maternal and infant mortality. The nurses promised to improve customer care practices by engaging parents and improving communication among staff through the use of technology and by refining old protocols or developing new ones.

While their visit was jam-packed with educational experiences, the nurses also had the opportunity for some fun by attending a local festival, shopping, and visiting with local nurses and Kybele team members.  They said they were grateful to those who made their stay such a memorable experience, especially the Duke NICU nurses, Christine Phillips, Dr. Ron Goldberg, Kybele and Yemi and Lola Olufolabi, who hosted them in their home.

See MORE PHOTOS of the Ridge nurses' trip to North Carolina.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Language Retention and the International Adoptee


The infant's brain retains language that it hears at birth and recognizes it years later, even if the child no longer speaks that language.

Vladimir Godnik—Getty Images

A new study study reveals that an infant’s brain may remember a language, even if the child has no idea how to speak a word of it.

The finding comes from a new study performed by a team of researchers from McGill University’s Department of Psychology and Montreal’s Neurological Institute who are working to understand how the brain learns language.

As it turns out, the language that an infant hears starting at birth creates neural patterns that the unconscious brain retains years later, even if the child completely stops using the language. The study offers the first neural evidence that traces of so-called “lost” languages remain in the brain.

Because these lost languages commonly occur within the context of international adoptions—when a child is born where one language is spoken and then reared in another country with another language—the researchers recruited test subjects from the international adoption community in Montreal. They studied 48 girls between the ages of nine and 17 years old. One group was born and raised speaking only French. The second group was bilingual, speaking French and Chinese fluently. And the third was Chinese-speaking children who were adopted as infants and later became French speakers, but discontinued exposure to Chinese after the first few years of life. They had no conscious recollection of the Chinese language. “They were essentially monolingual French at this point,” explained Dr. Denise Klein, one of the researchers, in an interview with TIME. “But they had been exposed to the Chinese language during the first year or two of their life.”

Read more.

News from Serbia: The Kybele Serbian team returned to Novi Sad, Serbia for its third visit!

Some of the Kybele team members and host staff in the labor and delivery area of the Klinika za Ginekologiju i Akuserstvo.

Serbian Team Returns for Third Visit to  The Clinical Center of Vojvodina in Novi Sad, Serbia

Article submitted by Dr. Curtis Baysinger and Dr. Ivan Velickovic

The Kybele Serbian team returned to Novi Sad, Serbia for its third visit in as many years. Hosted by the Clinical Center of Vojvodina, team members Ivan Velickovic, MD; Ferne Braveman, MD; Curtis Baysinger, MD; Sarah Foggi, MD; Medge Owen, MD; and Lawrence Fordjour, MD, built upon work that had occurred during the previous two years with host Dr. Borislava Pujic and other staff members. As in past years, a weekend conference (which attracted participants from Serbia and other Balkan countries) was followed by clinical instruction by Kybele team members. For the second year, lecturers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. participated during the weekend lecture course only.

Dr. Velickovic demonstrating epidural placement techniques.

In contrast to past years where the five days of the visit focused primarily on clinical practice by the staff at the Novi Sad Center, practitioners from the surrounding community also participated, with host staff acting as instructors.  Thirty-seven regional blocks for labor analgesia were performed, using equipment donated by BBraun Serbia.

56f08ee9fbc65ee79e59edb7d86f6a3f Resident physicians who were rotating in obstetric anesthesia at the Novi Sad site were given hands-on training, as well as instruction provided both by Kybele members and host staff. The training model of host staff acting as instructors for resident hands-on training is not the current model for residency education at the Clinical Center.  The training may significantly change the current training practices going forward.

Protocols for regional labor analgesia, regional anesthesia for cesarean section, and regional opioid analgesia were developed with the host staff and were put into practice. Two mobile carts for storing supplies for regional anesthesia were donated by Kybele and both were stocked with supplies by the host.

Suggestions for evidence-based practice were made to staff obstetricians and neonatologists to help improve resource utilization and patient care. Return visits are planned for June 2015 and September 2015.  

During the visit, Pujic and Velickovic were interviewed on Novi Sad's morning talk show "Good Morning Novi Sad" and discussed the partnership between the Novi Sad Center and Kybele as well as the progress toward increased use of regional analgesia.  

See MORE PHOTOS of this recent Serbia program.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Closure the Documentary: Transracial adoption complexities and the necessity for closure


A documentary about a trans-racial adoptee who finds her birth mother, and meets the rest of a family who didn't know she existed, including her birth father.   A story about identity, the complexities of trans-racial adoption, and most importantly, CLOSURE.

See video.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Changing Landscape of Adoption


Ana Cruz (left), Cynthia Juarez (right), and their four-year-old child Tonali celebrate the approval of gay adoption in Mexico City in August 2010   © Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty

According to the nonprofit organization National Adoption Day, "more than 100,000 children in foster care [are] waiting for permanent families." And as society has changed, even globally (just consider how the traditional notion of what makes a "family" has evolved both socially and legally over the last ten years), the practice of adoption has transformed.

I spoke with Megan Lindsey, the director of public policy and education at the National Council for Adoption, about the specific ways relationships among people involved in the adoption process have changed—particularly when it come to "closed" versus "open" adoptions.

Read more.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Investigating Unlawful Adoptions


By Anne Marie Morgan


The Virginia Commission on Youth is scrutinizing the practice of finding new homes and transferring custody of adopted children—while bypassing state oversight and safeguards.

The practice—known as “re-homing”—was uncovered through last year’s Reuters and NBC News investigation, which found an underground market for adoptive parents who no longer wish to care for their adopted child.

Read more.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

THAT kid. You Know The One I'm Talking About.


Photo by Getty Images

When your kid is dealing with THAT kid or your kid is THAT kid.... think again.  In our home, we first consider all the possible reasons for THAT kid's actions and search for opportunities to empathize first rather than judge or exclude.  I hope we are raising kids that will forgive easily and support THAT kid with modeling good responses, and I hope that others will do the same should my kid ever be THAT kid.... and odds are he/she probably has.

Read more.

BEST Adoption Friendly Workplace

Click here to view the 2014 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplace winners

2014 Leaders by industry

2014 Leaders by size

2014 Leaders in Ohio

2014 100 Best press release

Adoption-Friendly Workplace works to make adoption an affordable option for every working parent. Our goal is to provide companies with the support needed to provide adoption benefits to employees and recognize the forward-thinking employers that already have adoption benefits in place.

What you need to complete the survey:

  • Contact information
  • Employer information
  • Adoption benefits policy information
  • Tax ID (optional)

Read more.

Taking a Look at "Time Out" as a Means of Discipline


By Jennifer O’Neill34fb7868143c775898a1b49bf865ca1e725f329c
Photo by Michele Princigalli/Getty Images

Interesting article on discipline and how social scientists and parents view "Time-Out".  I would have loved to see an additional piece included on "Time-In" for those of us with kids experiencing attachment disorder.  Most families with children from institutional care or any traumatic beginning would better benefit from "Time-In".  How did this article make you feel about your own parenting and discipline style?

Read more.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Our First FREE Course for National Adoption Month


Infant Adoption Education: Learn More

Older Child Adoption Education: Learn More

Professionals Earn Staff Training: Learn More

Heart of the Matter Education
1508 SW White Ridge
Lee's Summit, MO 64081

I Hate Adoption.



We hear all about the adoptive parents side– how challenging it is, how difficult it is to raise traumatized children, but we never hear from the adoptive siblings point of view.  All my life I have heard of what incredible parents I have (and I do), but never once has someone told me what an “incredible job” I have done or what my thoughts were on having adopted siblings.  Mainly, because I was just a kid when it all begin.  I understand that, and that’s okay.  But I’d like to share my honest opinion on adoption.

When I was seven my parents started down the road of adoption, I was elated, so overwhelmed with excitement at the fact that I was going to have a new sister or brother.  I remember meeting them for the first time, and they felt like family.  We got along and we were happy.  Until the baby boy started screaming in the car and the little girl was cussing me out at bedtime.  I lost part of my parents the day my two new siblings got in the car and made the long journey home with us.  I lost a part of myself that I’ll never have back again- and although that’s hard, I am thankful for it.

Read more.

News from Georgia!

Congrats to our Hopscotch family on your two beautiful daughters!


Friday, November 14, 2014

More Discounted Courses for National Adoption Month

New Week. New Specials.

Check them out now.

You Asked. We Listened.

We asked what adoption-related topics you wanted to learn more about. We're taking that feedback to inform our 2015 webinars and courses.

In the meantime, this week's specials for National Adoption Awareness Month feature three courses and/or webinars that tie into the topics you identified.


3 of our Most Popular Courses & Webinars

This Week, Purchase:

Course: Adopted: The Identity Project. Real People Real Stories. Real Insight.

Recorded Webinar: Tired of Timeouts. Discipline, Attachment, & Adoption.

Recorded Webinar: Is It An Adoption Thing?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ballerina Dreams

Perfect for newly independent readers—the amazing true story of Michaela DePrince, one of America’s top ballerinas.

by Michaela DePrince

20685497 At the age of three, Michaela DePrince found a photo of a ballerina that changed her life. She was living in an orphanage in Sierra Leone at the time, but was soon adopted by a family and brought to America. Michaela never forgot the photo of the dancer she once saw, and quickly decided to make her dream of becoming a ballerina come true. She has been dancing ever since and is now a principal dancer in New York City and has been featured in the ballet documentary First Position, as well as Dancing with the Stars, Good Morning America, and Oprah magazine.

Young readers will love learning about this inspiring ballerina in this uplifting and informative leveled reader. This Step 4 Step into Reading book is for newly independent readers who read simple sentences with confidence.

Read more.

Raffle to Benefit Armenian Orphans

armenia We are raffling off four great items on November 14 to help raise money to benefit Armenian Orphans, they are:

  • A 30” Bronze Necklace & Engraved and Bronze Beaded Pendant Designed by Stephen Dweck. A $395 value donated by Simon Jewelers in High Point, NC
  • A $100 Gift Certificate from HYE Embroidery in High Point, NC. Donated by Rouben and Berjouhi Keshguerian
  • A $50 Gift Card for East Coast Wings on Tate Street in Greensboro, NC. Donated by Rouben and Berjouhi Keshguerian
  • A Bottle of Georgian Wine donated by Robin and James Sizemore
    1 ticket for $10, 4 tickets for $20, or 10 tickets for $50

Click here to buy tickets.

Raffle tickets can also be purchased in person at the SOAR Wine Tasting on Friday 11/14

Be sure to designate the donation to SOAR Raffle

Cutoff to purchase tickets is 5pm EST on 11/14/14


Download PDF for more information.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

30 Adoption Stories in 30 Days: Here Goes!


By Madeleine Melcher


I always knew I would adopt.  Not in an intentional “I’m going to adopt” kind of way.  You see, I was adopted and as I have likened it before, knowing I was adopted was always as normal to me as having a belly button-- It was just always there.

I was fourteen months old when the nice man from the agency rolled up to my parents’ apartment building in Germany.  I was delivered to my parents in a yellow Mercedes that day.  “I saw her and I just knew she was for you” he told them in broken English, when he called the day before, to let them know I would be theirs.  “Theirs”.  That word alone would set some adoptees in a tailspin, but for me it is a word of love, of belonging.  You see, they were MINE, too.  FAMILY. It is the strongest of connections and for me that did not require biology.

Ever since I can remember, I have loved the mother that kissed my boo-boos, helped with science projects and dealt with my “teen girl hormones”.  The mother that, until the day she left this earth, thought of my sister and me first and always. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be? Loving your children with all of your heart, with no thought to DNA?

Read more.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

How does your family celebrate adoption?


20020829092839_105 How does your family celebrate adoption?  Do you have traditions, rituals, or stories to share? If you have not yet incorporated any, check these suggestions out:

  1. Write a letter to the editor whenever you see a positive or negative story concerning adoption.
  2. Find an adult adoptee who would be willing to be a mentor for your child. Arrange for them to get together on a monthly basis.
  3. Ask your local TV or radio station to broadcast a segment featuring a waiting child in your state
  4.  Rent a video that portrays adoption in a positive light for your family to watch and discuss. Try Immediate Family, Losing Isaiah, or Secrets and Lies
  5. Plan craft activities or holiday ornaments incorporating designs from your child's heritage. For recipes, crafts, activities, and other ideas, see

Read more.

Hopscotch Adoptions: Here Comes The Son with Love from Armenia


See Video.

Our First FREE Course for National Adoption Month


Infant Adoption Education: Learn More

Older Child Adoption Education: Learn More

Professionals Earn Staff Training: Learn More

Heart of the Matter Education
1508 SW White Ridge
Lee's Summit, MO 64081

Saturday, November 8, 2014

8 Myths and Realities About Adoption

Debunking typical myths surrounding adoption.  You'll be surprised!


  • As of the 2010 Census, there were 1.53 million children under age 18 in America who joined their family through adoption, 2.4 percent of all children in that age range the U.S.
  • In the U.S., there are 5 million people today who were adopted. More than 70,000 children are adopted each year.
  • 40% of all Americans have a personal connection to adoption; 65-84% view it favorably.

It's Coming... ‪#‎WorldAdoptionDay‬!


Friday, November 7, 2014

Second FREE Course for National Adoption Month

Infant Adoption Education: Learn More

Older Child  Adoption Education:   Learn More

Professionals Earn Staff Training:  Learn More

Heart of the Matter Education | 816-246-1100 | |
1508 SW White Ridge
Lee's Summit, MO 64081

Tbilisi Street Food - National Geographic Discovers Georgian Cuisine



Disclaimer: I have no clue why the producers of this video chose music so far from anything possibly known to Georgia. Georgian music is so beautiful and unique, why this crazy stuff?   If only you could delete the music sound track, Turkish captions and keep the visuals and Georgian speaking subjects it would be perfect. 

National Geographic TV Programme Street Food Around The World visited Georgia. Focusing on the most widely used ingredients, Ishai Golan had 25 hours to taste all the foods Tbilisi's streets had to offer.

"Despite a turbulent past, Georgian cuisine has maintained an exceptional variety of foods. Ishai has 24 hours to taste all the foods Tbilisi's unique streets have to offer", National Geographic website reports.

"According to an ancient Georgian legend, representatives of all the peoples came before God as He was about to distribute land to each. Only the Georgians, who were busy eating and drinking, did not attend. When they did finally appear before God, He said to them, “Now you come? I have already distributed everything”. To which the Georgians replied, “We were celebrating in Your honor with food and drink…” and they invited God to join them. God enjoyed himself so much that he gave them the plot of land that he had kept for himself. Thus it is called “God’s Acre”.

Read more.

Kybele, Inc in action in Ghana


See Video.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lusie Santangelo One of the First Recipients


By Allison Norlian

RIT Professor Launches Movement Creating Online Global Network: Lusie Santangelo One of the First Recipients!


Rochester, NY (WROC)- A Rochester Institute of Technology professor has created an online global movement that started with one YouTube video comment.

Dr. Jon Schull, a research scientist in magic said he was searching the web a year and a half ago when he came across a YouTube video from South Africa. The man in the video was a carpenter and he had just lost a few of his fingers because of an accident.

"He had been told prosthetics cost tens of thousands of dollars and are really hard to get if you have a hand but no fingers," Schull said. "He did searching and found my now friend Ivan Owen, a puppet maker for movies, together they spent a year designing an adaptive device thats much more primitive then this."

Read more.