Friday, December 30, 2016

Make-A-Wish Grants First Ever Adoption Wish to Our Hopscotch Family: Abigail’s Wish Came True!


Just in time for the holidays, Make-A-Wish® North Texas makes Abigail’s one true wish come true.

dde0e9d0cda1d53c099f21a084f18aa1 IRVING, TEXAS –– Make-A-Wish® is known for moving mountains to help fulfill the most heartfelt wishes for Wish Kids around the world. For Abigail, this was particularly true. Her wish is the first of its kind for Make-A-Wish and has been nearly two years in the making. It required stars aligning in a profoundly moving and certainly life-altering way.

Abigail was adopted from a Bulgarian orphanage by her parents Dorcas and Tony in 2013. She was 13 at the time and while she was obviously elated to join her new family in the United States, it was also bittersweet as she had to leave Caroline, her roommate and closest friend in the world, behind.

But that was not to be the end of their story. Diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis Abigail was granted a wish by Make-A-Wish North Texas. She deliberated only briefly. Would it be a trip to Hollywood or something else…something she had in mind with deep personal meaning? With her parents’ blessing, Abigail wished for them to adopt Caroline, still dreaming of a family. Make-A-Wish North Texas agreed to help facilitate and manage the logistics surrounding this most unusual wish. People around the world got involved to help, including the teams at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth and Hopscotch Adoptions.

Now, just in time for the holidays, Abigail’s wish is coming true. The girls will be reunited, now as sisters. Abigail summed up her feelings when she wrote, “Thank you God for telling me that I needed a sister!”
“How truly wonderful to be able to grant Abigail’s wish and at the same time make dreams come true for Caroline,” said Scotty Landry, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish North Texas. “This unique wish has been life-altering for all involved. We are honored to be able to help bring this family together for the holidays.”

“We were honored when the Grubaugh family chose Hopscotch to help bring their first daughter home from Bulgaria and when we were asked to be their placing agency for their second daughter, we were elated!” said Robin Sizemore, Executive Director of Hopscotch Adoptions,Inc. “We learned later on that their adoption was going to be realized through the support of Make-A-Wish North Texas chapter and that this was the first adoption, much less intercountry adoption, wish ever granted. The Make-A-Wish North Texas chapter is incredibly generous and truly listened to Abigail’s one true wish… to be the sister to her best friend left behind in Bulgaria. We cannot think of a more beautiful wish to be granted. We are ever grateful to everyone that generously supports Make-A-Wish, this is truly one of the most rewarding experiences for everyone involved.”

On December 21st, the family arrived in Dallas after a very long and exhausting day of travel. As Caroline stepped off the plane, she became a United States citizen and began her new life.

# # #

After two years in the making, Abigail’s wish is now a reality! Click here for photos.

Live from DFW Airport for a heartwarming homecoming! We celebrate Abigail’s wish for her family to adopt her best friend from the same Bulgarian orphanage she was adopted from 3 years ago. Join us in welcoming this new family of 4 home!

Welcome home Abigail and Caroline! We wish everyone a very happy holiday season. We know this will be one to remember for this family!

About Make-A-Wish® North Texas
Make-A-Wish North Texas grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Since our inception in 1982, more than 9,500 wishes have been granted throughout the 161 counties we serve. Our goal is to be a unique part of the treatment process. With doctors providing the medicine, and Make-A-Wish supplying the magic, we strive to create miracles in the lives of some very extraordinary children. For more information on Make-A-Wish North Texas, please visit

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Past Still Haunts Bulgaria’s Disabled Children by Maria Milkova


By Maria Milkova

Tsonka and Tenyo Tenevi with their daughter Teodora, six years after they were reunited under a programme to move disabled children out of isolated state institutions. Photo: Maria Milkova.

The residential home was new, the rooms clean and airy. But the lift to the second-floor bedrooms had not been working for months, so the children spent nights sleeping in their wheelchairs or on the sofa.

There were toys, too, but it was the television on the wall that captivated the children, while at the table, an elderly carer briefly, clumsily, held a child by the hair to keep her head steady as she fed her.

The carer was not rough or abusive. But there it was, in her untrained hand, in the broken elevator and the boredom, a reminder of the recent past, a period Bulgaria is trying to leave behind.

The house, in the Benkovski suburb of the capital Sofia, was one of almost 150 built in Bulgaria over the past six years to house up to 12 disabled children each, replacing the isolated, over-crowded and under-funded state institutions where such children were once held far from the wary eye of society.

Continue reading.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Kids who Need the Most Love Will Ask for it in the Most Unloving Ways by Katie Malinski


By Katie Malinski

kids-who-need-love-quote I snapped a picture of this quote on the wall at the Magellan International School the other day, and posted it on Facebook.  A week or so later, it had been shared by 68 people, and viewed by nearly 7000.  Obviously, this quote resonates for many of us.

One of the first things I tell most parents that I work with is that behavior is a communication, and that understanding the message in a child’s behavior is incredibly helpful for changing those behaviors.  To put it another way, something is behind or underneath unwanted behavior; triggering or motivating or strengthening it.  Those hidden drivers are usually unmet needs of some variety.  When parents can identify what those unmet needs are, they typically find that those underlying needs are needs they want to support.  In other words: the behaviors are unwanted, but the needs driving those behaviors are understandable!

Continue reading.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Breaking News for Babies: Congress Passes Mental Health Reform


Congress Passes Mental Health Reform
Legislation Includes Grants for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

Huge news for infant and toddler advocates! Today, Congress passed broad mental health reform legislation, including new grants to promote infant and early childhood mental health! Rolled into the larger 21st Century Cures Act, the legislation was passed along bipartisan lines.

Spearheaded by ZERO TO THREE and advocates across the country, the inclusion of the infant and early childhood mental health grants signals that Congress has now recognized the need to begin comprehensive mental health reform where the foundations of strong mental health are laid – with young children, starting from birth. Specifically, the provision:
  • Authorizes $20 million for grants to develop, maintain or enhance infant and early childhood mental health promotion, intervention, and treatment programs.
  • Ensures that funded programs are grounded in evidence and are culturally and linguistically appropriate.
  • Allows funds to support:
    • age-appropriate promotion, early intervention, and treatment services;
    • training mental health clinicians in infant and early childhood mental health;
    • training for infant and early childhood mental health clinicians to integrate with other providers who work with young children and families; and
    • mental health consultation in early care and education programs. 
“This is an important victory toward improved infant mental health prevention, identification and treatment – and the first time the needs of very young children have been recognized by Congress,” said Matthew Melmed, Executive Director of ZERO TO THREE. “We are extremely grateful to the Congressional champions on this issue, including Senators Bill Cassidy and Chris Murphy, Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray, and Chairman Fred Upton and Ranking Member Frank Pallone for recognizing that babies’ mental health matters and fighting for them throughout this process.”

Click here to read ZERO TO THREE’s full statement.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law soon.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Reminder: Certificate of Citizenship Fees Increasing Set for December 23!

Certificate of Citizenship fee is doubling on December 23rd for adopted children. If your child is still in need of their Certificate of Citizenship, we encourage you to act now to get this permanent document of their U.S. Citizenship. In the following video, NCFA chats with McLane Layton and Christine Poarch, experts in the Child Citizenship Act and immigration law for adoption. They share why the Certificate of Citizenship is important and why you should act now to get yours before the price increase. You’ll also find answers to some FAQs that can help you complete the N-600 form for the Certificate of Citizenship yourself. A huge thanks to Christine Poarch and McLane Layton for joining us and sharing their expertise!

Click here for more information.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Georgia’s Emerging, Avant-Garde Designers to Know!


By Nancy Hass


Strictly speaking, Nata Janberidze and Keti Toloraia began their creative collaboration in a vacuum. When they started designing objects and interiors a ­decade ago, fresh out of art school, their hometown Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, a small country on the Black Sea that spent much of the 20th century as part of the Soviet Union, had no creative community for two young designers to gain inspiration from, or any local market for the one-of-a-kind groundbreaking pieces they designed under the distinctly Western, purposefully plain name Rooms.

Continue reading.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hopscotch Adoptions’s Families Have A Lot To Share!


By Crystal Kupper


She peered out from the baby carrier and immediately ducked back in, petrified by the sparrow flitting above. I hadn’t yet told Guyana we were at a zoo, with even scarier animals than sparrows. Of course, I couldn’t fault my new daughter’s reaction to outside experiences too much; nearly all her five years had been spent in five rooms at an Armenian orphanage.

We strolled around the zoo in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital city, trying to get used to each other. Guyana’s 24 pounds barely registered with me, though I was intensely aware of her deadweight legs smashed crooked, all thrown out of whack by her many physical challenges.

Natives stared with beautiful dark eyes. It isn’t normal to see people with disabilities in public in this corner of the world, especially not a miniature, halfway-paralyzed spitfire kangaroo-pouched against an American woman. I felt as if we were a zoo exhibit ourselves.

But then an old lady stopped us, asked Guyana in Armenian who I was. My daughter stopped shrieking over the terrifying ducks and deer long enough to proudly announce, “My mama!”

Yes, I thought in awe. I am your mama, and you are my girl. Forever. 

Continue reading.

The guide: 24 top places to eat, shop and see in Georgia’s stylish capital

An intoxicating blend of ancient and modern, Tbilisi is bursting with architectural gems, tucked-away eateries and late-night hangouts. Little wonder then, that visitors are flocking there. Here’s our edit of the city’s finest attractions.

Continue reading.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Update on Intercountry Adoption Proposed Rule Advocacy!

Hello Everyone!

SaveAdoptionsNormalLogo Keep making calls – there are some new names coming in, but we could still use many more. Just a reminder that offices now have until MONDAY to get signatures on that letter. So, keep up that polite persistence.
Some news you may have already heard is the Small Business Administration letter and comments have been publicly shared.  A tremendous amount of gratitude for their advocacy and support in opposing these overreaching and detrimental proposed changes.  This might be info that is helpful to your Members of Congress to hear! Attached is a sample letter (thanks to MLJ Adoptions) using that resource. Check it out and consider using it yourself if you find it helpful.

Finally, these are the names who have signed onto this letter as of a few hours ago… If yours aren’t on here, another outreach might be helpful. And a quick thank you to the staffer is always remembered, if they did sign on.  Share, share, share! 

  • Blunt
  • Klobuchar
  • Risch
  • Wicker
  • Tillis
  • Thune (Tentative)
  • Lankford
  • Lawrence
  • Franks
  • Huizenga
  • Mullin
  • Barr
  • Stewart

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Save Adoptions: Follow up with your Members of Congress!


On Tuesday, we asked you to call Congress and ask them to sign a letter expressing concern about the Department of State proposed intercountry adoption regulations. So far, even though several Congressional offices have called the co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition of Adoption with questions, the letter only has signatures from three Senators and four Representatives. If you made a call, send a reminder email to your office’s staffer today (click here to see our sample follow-up email). If you haven’t made a call yet, it’s not too late. Make a call today – all signatures must be in by Monday, November 21st, but calls should be done sooner so Congressional staff have time to take a look and get it approved by the Member of Congress. before the deadline to sign.

Being an advocate is easy! We chatted with Ashlie H. and Lydia T. who both called their Members of Congress this week. Here’s how it went!

You made some calls on Advocacy Day. Can you tell us about those?

Ashlie: I made calls on Advocacy Day to the offices of Congresswoman Susan Brooks and Senator Daniel Coats. Before this, I hadn’t been passionate about something enough to call my representatives in office so this was my first experience. While calling Susan Brooks’ office, I was caught off guard because someone actually answered the phone. I was expecting a machine. They were very nice and asked questions about the reason for my call and we joked about how I was flustered at first because I wasn’t expecting a live person. They were very nice. For Senator Coat’s office, I did leave a lengthy voicemail but I was a pro by this point so it was easy to state the reason for my call and why I was concerned.

Lydia: I am first an adoptive mother and second an adoption professional. I called Congressman Todd Young’s office and while I didn’t speak directly with someone, their office did take my name and information and promised I would hear back from them. I also left a message with Senator Joe Donnelly’s office about the current issues.

Lydia and her family pose for a pic.

Why was it so important to you to call your Members of Congress?

Ashlie: I have the privilege of being called "Mommy" by two of the most beautiful children from Bulgaria. Adoption has grown and completed our family. I feel strongly that all children belong in a loving, forever home and the Bible calls us all to advocate for those who have no voice. When I was calling, I was calling for the children without a voice. I feel that adoption is already so hard, so lengthy, so expensive… it’s easy to turn your back on the idea. Unfortunately, turning your back on that idea will rob so many of the greatest joys. International adoptions have decreased by 75% since 2004 AND over 80% of people who have thought about adoption did not follow through because of the expenses and time involved. I cannot fathom why our government deems it necessary to add more time, fees, and regulation to an already long and expensive process. This will deter even more families from following through, and it’s the children who suffer. I wish those sitting behind a desk thinking up these new regulations would go and visit orphanages all over the world. Then they would see the need. They would ask why it was so hard. Why these children do not know the love of a family. It’s heartbreaking and we must do something.

Lydia: It was important to me, again, as an adoptive parent to create an awareness of the proposed changes because I know from firsthand experience what a family means to children who are waiting around the world. Also, as an adoption professional, I wanted my representatives to understand what an impact this could make to the future of adoption, and what is in the best interest of a child.
If I sit back and do nothing children will suffer, my job could be at risk and even worse children could lose what the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has legally  determined as their right to a family. Because I have witnessed what neglect, abuse, and trauma have done to impact my children, I can’t sit back and not do all I can to protect children who do not have the love, security and protection that a family offers.

Ashlie and Mr. H. with their two children.

What are you going to do next to help bring change for intercountry adoption?

Ashlie: I have been sharing links and ways to advocate for children on my social media pages, as well as within adoption forums and groups with other adoptive parents. I have sent emails to my State Rep and State Senators and have made phone calls on behalf of the orphans all over the world. In the meantime, I will continue to tell our story in hopes that it inspires another family to grow their family through adoption. As a family we will donate to families in-process when we can and we will continue to help other families in-process with questions and help in whatever way we can post-adoption.
Here is a photo of our family. Our adoption from Bulgaria took just shy of two years from start to home. We have been home since Oct. 30, 2015. Our children are healthy, silly, happy, doing well in school, making friends and are constantly keeping us on our toes. Life is good and I pray that many other families will be able to know the joy of adoption. It’s miraculous.

Lydia: I have shared with my family, friends and client families how anyone can make a difference in the life of an orphan – by speaking up and giving them a voice. While international adoptions have been on a significant decline, sadly the number of orphans continues to grow. We have a responsibility to children everywhere to give them opportunity to their right to a family.

Follow-Up Matters!

If you called your Congressional offices, take a moment to follow-up with them via email to remind them to sign the letter to Secretary Kerry by Monday, November 22nd. Keep your follow-up quick and concise! Below is a sample email. If you don’t have the email address of the staffer who handles international adoption issues, no worries! Just the call the Congressional office again and ask for an email address.

Dear [name of the staffer you spoke with]:

I was just checking back to see if you’d had a chance to ask Senator/Representative XXX about signing the letter expressing concern about the Proposed Intercountry Adoption Regulations. We really hope to have his support on this issue. Let me know if I can provide any information that might help.
Please contact any of the following offices by Monday, November 22nd to sign on to this important letter.

House of Representatives
Office of Rep. Trent Franks (R)
Contact Chelsea Patterson:
Office of Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D) 202-225-5802
Contact: Alex Huang:

Office of Senator Roy Blunt (R) 202-224-5721
Lauren McCormack:
Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) 202-224-3244
Lindsey Kerr:
Thanks for supporting adoption and let me know if you have any questions!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Did you make the call? Advocacy Day! Don’t quit!

SaveAdoptionsHero3 As you may know, the U.S. Department of State has proposed new regulations that may significantly impact international adoption. While National Council For Adoption supports some of the themes these proposed regulations set out to address, the impact of these rules is worrisome to adoptive families and adoption professionals.

That’s why we need your voice on November 15th for a special Adoption Advocacy Day!

What’s it all about?

“If adoptive families had any idea of what was going on, I think they would be outraged … We’re so busy just doing paperwork for adoptions that frankly we barely have time to fight this.”
– Lucy Armistead, Adoption Professional

We encourage you to learn more about the proposed regulations! NCFA has highlighted our top concerns about these regulations and The Federalist has published a detailed article examining the concerns of adoptive parents and adoption professionals.

We have an opportunity to provide feedback on these regulations. This week, Congress drafted this letter to the Department of State expressing their concerns. In order for this letter to have maximum impact, we need as many Representatives/Senators to sign it as possible!

Make a difference on 11/15!

During National Adoption Month, help us celebrate adoption by using your voice to create a better future for children living outside of family care. Call your Senators and Representative TODAY and ask them to sign their name to the Congressional letter by Friday, November 18th.
Here’s how to be an awesome adoption advocate:

Step 1. Call your Representative and both Senators. (Yes! All three! Find contact information for your Members of Congress here.)

Step 2. Ask to speak with the person who handles international adoption issues.

Step 3. Make it personal! Introduce yourself and your connection to adoption. Educate the staffer about the Department of State’s proposed regulation changes that will impact intercountry adoptions. Staffers juggle dozens of issues every day, so they may not have heard about these regulations. This is your opportunity to inform and educate! (Here is an example of what to say on your phone call.) Remember staff time is limited, so be clear and concise.

Step 4. Ask their office to sign the congressional letter to Secretary Kerry expressing concerns by Friday, November 18, 2016. They can contact any of the following Congressional offices to sign on:

House of Representatives
Office of Rep. Trent Franks (R)
Contact Chelsea Patterson:
Office of Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D) 202-225-5802
Contact: Alex Huang:

Office of Senator Roy Blunt (R) 202-224-5721
Lauren McCormack:
Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) 202-224-3244
Lindsey Kerr:

Step 5. Ask for the staffer’s email address! This way, you can:
  1. Thank them for talking to you. Kindness Counts!
  2. Forward them the letter with written instructions. (See our follow-up email template below!)

Dial the phone first! Then use social media to boost the impact!

The BEST way to make your voice heard is by calling. It’s easy and only takes minutes! Social media posts are largely ineffective and emails or letters can be overlooked in a mountain of messages. Here are tips from former staffer Emily Ellsworth on how to be an effective advocate, and why phone calls are the best method of communication. Social media is a great way to educate your friends and family about this issue.  
Get the word out by sharing this Adoption Advocacy Day post TODAY. Tell Congress why adoption matters to you!

Sample Follow-Up Email

Dear [name of the international adoption staffer],

Thanks for taking my call today! I hope Representative/Senator XYZ will support this letter to prevent the Department of State’s proposed regulations from negatively impacting adoptive families.

Join Senators Blunt and Klobuchar and Representatives Franks and Lawrence (the Congressional Coalition on Adoption co-chairs) and others in this important effort to support adoptive families.

Please contact any of the following offices by Friday, November 18th to sign on to this important letter.

House of Representatives
Office of Rep. Trent Franks (R)
Contact Chelsea Patterson:
Office of Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D) 202-225-5802
Contact: Alex Huang:

Office of Senator Roy Blunt (R) 202-224-5721
Lauren McCormack:
Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) 202-224-3244
Lindsey Kerr:
Thanks for supporting adoption and let me know if you have any questions!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Podcast Regarding Sibling Adoption

BLG%20Kid%20Stock%205 Creating A Family Podcast: Our guests to talk about sibling adoption are Kimberly Offutt, a social worker at Bethany Christian Services and Erin Q. Nasmyth, a licensed clinical social worker with Hopscotch Adoptions, who has spent spent the last ten years working with families and children in the foster care system, in child mental health, and supporting families in adoption.

Orphan No More!

0u7KI6C Amazing testaments to how long children are waiting for the one thing every child should have – a forever family.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

USCIS Fee for Certificate of Citizenship Will Increase on December 23, 2016

Fee Changes from USCIS Hague and Non-Hague Petitions and Certificate of Citizenship


On Monday October 24, USCIS published its final rule outlining changes in their fee schedule for services, including those for several adoption-related services.  You will note small fee increases for I-600/600As, I-800/800As, and a near-doubling of the fee to obtain a certificate of citizenship (N-600), which increases to $1,170.  The fee increases go to into effect on December 23, 2016. If you are filing any adoption related petition, be sure to reference the new fee schedule.  All this is very disappointing given the broadly expressed opposition to increasing the N-600 and that Congress even made their objections known.
Click here for more information.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Help Us Ask for Change


Dear Families and Friends of Adoption:

The National Council For Adoption has a blog to help families and friends through adoption understand the ramifications of the new Proposed Intercountry Adoption Regulations.  If you find it helpful and you want to encourage others to join us in giving voice to orphaned children around the world, please share this on your own social media. 

With encouragement,

*A very special thanks to our friend Nicole Skellenger, of MLJ Adoptions, who significantly supported the drafting process on this blog post!


What’s Happening?

Recently, the Department of State (DOS) proposed new regulations that may significantly impact international adoption. Since 2004, international adoption has declined dramatically (by almost 75%). If the regulations pass, they have the potential to drastically change and further decrease the number of international adoptions, cause some adoption agencies to close leaving families with less options, and potentially lengthen the processing time of adoptions that do take place.

While NCFA supports some of the themes these proposed regulations set out to address, like improved education and high ethical standards, the impact of the proposed rules is worrisome to adoptive families and adoption professionals. Yet, we have an opportunity to ask for change! These rules are proposed and are not yet binding. Everyone may provide comments between now and November 7th to provide feedback on any concerns you may see.

Learn more.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

How to Obtain a Social Security Card for Your Adopted Child

How to get a Social Security card and prove U.S. citizenship for a foreign-born adopted child


Parents of adopted children born outside the United States need Social Security numbers for their children. The law recently changed and these children "automatically" become U.S. citizens. But here's the problem. The child does not have any proof of U.S. citizenship and Social Security requires proof of U.S. citizenship for the child. You only have immigration documents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). What do you do now?

Bring us the documents issued by DHS when the child arrived in the United States. We'll assign a Social Security number, but the record will not show the child is a U.S. citizen. Later, when you get your child's U.S. citizenship document, bring it to us and we'll update your child's record to show his or her U.S. citizenship. If your child already has a Social Security number, the number does not change when we update the record.

You can use your child's birth certificate to prove his or her age, but you still need an identity document for the child. Social Security must always see the original document or a copy that is certified by the agency that issued the original document. Documents you can use when you apply for a card for an infant or young child include:
  • The adoption record
  • A United States DHS immigration document
  • Doctor, clinic or hospital records
  • Daycare center or school records
  • Religious record (e.g., baptismal record)
In addition, when you apply for a card for a child, we must also see proof of your identity and that you are the proper applicant.

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000, effective February 27, 2001 grants an adopted child, immigrating to the United States, "automatic" citizenship. The parent may apply for proof that the child is a U.S. citizen. If you want the Social Security record to show that your child is a U.S. citizen, apply for a Certificate of Citizenship from DHS or a U.S. passport from the Department of State for your child. We can use either document as proof of your child's U.S. citizenship.

If you want to complete the application for a Social Security number before you visit a local office, go to Application for a Social Security Card.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Megan Has Left The Building! It’s Been A Great 6 Years.

Megan%20Gardinier%20bye%20edits%202016 On behalf Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc., we would like to express our immense appreciation to Megan Gardinier, for her service, leadership and contributions in furthering our mission in serving vulnerable children, from around the world.  Megan’s dedication and commitment to the staff, Board of Directors, families and children has been remarkable and remains invaluable.

Not only have we enjoyed six wonderful years with Megan, ‘holding down the fort’, we know our families have appreciated her and will miss her too.  Thank you to the many that have taken time to express kind words to her this week – this meant the world to her and us too! 

Many of you already know Sherry McGregor.  So, fear not, Sherry has taken over Megan’s big shoes and we know you’ll love working with her too. 

Good luck Megan!!! Team Hopscotch.

P.S. If you are wondering where Megan ran away too….. she is pursuing her dream as a hair stylist.  If you’re in town and need a trim or blow-out, you can visit her at Ego Hour. A fabulous salon and they are lucky to have her!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Heart of the Matters Website and Courses are Updated and Refreshed

October 2016

Course Spotlight: Because They Waited

  • Quality: 10 hours of Hague compatible education

  • Refreshed:  Renewed with updated resources

  • Convenient: Mobile access

The Because They Waited™ education system is online with modules covering topics pertinent to individuals adopting a baby or an older child, internationally or through foster care.  Modules present "The Science" in a user friendly format, followed by "The Parenting" which offers concrete parenting tools.   "Wrap Up and Resources" as well as study materials are also provided for each topic.

Topics covered include:
Promoting healthy brain development
Sensory processing and sensory integration
Parenting to a child’s "real age" vs. chronological age
Understanding the internal alarm
Building attachment
Race and Culture

Contact us at for a copy of the table of contents for Because They Waited.

More quality adoption education 


Heart of the Matter Education  816 246-1100

Friday, September 30, 2016

Adoption Alert: Ghana accedes to the 1993 Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption – September 29, 2016

Finally!!!  Let’s hope for a smooth transition.  More and more children are waiting for families as the days go by.  


On September 16, 2016 Ghana deposited its instrument of accession to the Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption Convention (Hague Adoption Convention) with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  The Convention will enter into force for Ghana on January 1, 2016.  We will post additional information as soon as it is available.

Adoption Alert: Ghana accedes to the 1993 Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption – September 29, 2016

Finally!!!  Let’s hope for a smooth transition.  More and more children are waiting for families as the days go by.   


On September 16, 2016 Ghana deposited its instrument of accession to the Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption Convention (Hague Adoption Convention) with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  The Convention will enter into force for Ghana on January 1, 2016.  We will post additional information as soon as it is available.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Challenges of International Adoption: What Happens When Adoptees Can’t Adapt

An interesting article (insert puzzled look).  The storyline is oddly ‘late to the party’…. I do not know of any family that would withhold a child’s story, identity, history or culture.  The story’s content reads as if this was written in the 1950-1970’s, certainly not present day.  Adoption is celebrated, never hidden. 




Bringing a child home is a life changing event, but when that child has crossed borders to come into a family’s life the challenges of upbringing may sometimes be insurmountable.

From the end of World War II until 2004, the number of international adoptions by Americans rose steadily, and in 2004 almost 23,000 children were adopted from overseas. Children arrived from China, Russia, Guatemala, South Korea, Ukraine, Colombia and Ethiopia. Over the past decade there has been a rapid decline in many of the receiving countries.

This may be due, in part, to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The treaty imposes mandatory waiting periods, residency requirements for adoptive parents and a preference for domestic adoption.

Continue reading.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

SAVE ADOPTIONS: Take Action Today!!! – please share this with every family member and friend possible.

Take Action Today!

Adoption advocacy is critical in helping uplift children and bring families together.

Recently, the Department of State issued a series of proposed changes to regulations for intercountry adoptions which will have profound negative impact on your ability to bring a child home and far worse, a child’s right to a permanent and loving family.

The public comment period ends on November 7. The proposal states that implementation would begin immediately.

Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc. and members of the National Council for Adoption have carefully reviewed the proposed regulations and conducted an independent cost analysis to determine the real impact on adoptive parents. The proposed changes will further negatively impact waiting children-often medically fragile children-who need to be brought home sooner, not later. 

If you have already adopted a child, would your child have benefited from coming home sooner? Absolutely!

If you have not yet brought your child home, do you feel an additional extended wait is in the child’s best interest? Absolutely not!

The authors of the proposed regulations failed to consider the tremendous financial burden which will be passed on to families like yours.  Adoption is financially beyond the reach of many families today.  Additional costs will tragically result in fewer families being able to adopt children, leaving more waiting children without hope. The regulations will require a significant increase in expense for agencies to remain operational and compliant.

Hopscotch and other concerned agencies are formulating a reply to these changes during the public comment period, but your voice and support matter now too.

You can read the proposed rules in their entirety on the Federal Register.

More importantly, we thank you for taking action by Signing the Petition or Adding a Comment. Your voice matters. Collectively, we can stand up for every child’s right to grow up in a loving family. We can be each waiting child’s voice.

Please contact us with any questions.

Sign the Petition

(This link directs to, a collaborative website supported by adoption advocates which has been established to share a petition against the proposed rules. The goal is to obtain 100,000 signatures during the public comment period)

Add a Comment

(This link directs to the proposed rules on www.federalregister.govwhere there is a large Green button to Submit a Comment. These are the formal comments which will be reviewed by the Department of State)

Highlights of the Proposed Rules
The Department of State (DOS) proposes…

To require a second level of accreditation, called Country-Specific Authorization (CSA).
The DOS intends to determine which countries would be subjected to CSA and block agencies access to country programs.

To set the compensation for in-country representatives.
The service providers and partners we work with are attorneys, social workers, and other professionals who have their own businesses, nonprofits, etc. and have the right to fair compensation for their country, region, and amount of work contributed to adoption cases.

To require families adopting internationally to go through state foster care training.
While the MAPP system is preferred for foster care training, it does not address the many specific educational requirements for parents adopting a child internationally. Feedback from local government agencies suggests that adding an influx of adoptive parents into the already limited MAPPs training sessions would create backups and leave both domestic and international children in care for longer than necessary.

Costs of the Proposed Rules
Country-Specific Authorization (CSA) application, per country program = $1,500

Hopscotch operates 9 country programs as primary provider. Total cost, if each country were subjected to CSA = $13,500

Materials and training so home study preparers could offer assistance with MAPPs training for those families not able to take county-offered sessions = $4199

The adoption community believes these proposed changes will limit adoptions, leaving more children without a forever family.

Thank you for taking action today!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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


By Josh Starling


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

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

Continue reading.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

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


By Chris Crowley


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

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

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

Continue Reading.

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

Friday, August 5, 2016

Ohio Legislation Changes Terms for People with Intellectual Disabilities



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

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

Continue Reading.

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


Babies without borders 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment by Robin E. Sizemore 

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

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

Thursday, July 14, 2016

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

Download Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016 (PDF)

Dear Board Members and Concerned  Families:

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

“Dear Senator ______, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 8, 2016

Extending Our Deepest Condolences: News of Abdul Sattar Edhi’s Passing


By Saadia Qamar

A file photo of Abdul Sattar Edhi. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: The founder of country’s largest welfare organisation, Abdul Sattar Edhi, died Friday at the age of 92, his son confirmed as tributes swiftly poured in for the humble man almost unanimously revered as a national hero.

“Abdul Sattar is dead,” his son and heir to his charitable empire Faisal told AFP.

“My father was suffering from severe kidney problems and both of his kidneys had failed,” he said.

Continue reading.

Friday, July 1, 2016

A Big Shout Out to our NC Senator Richard Burr

A Big Shout Out to our NC Senator Richard Burr for signing the letter in support of opposing the Drastic 95% USCIS fee increase!!!!

How to Make A New Citizen? #Adopt!

What could be more patriotic than making a waiting child a new US Citizen, through the gift of adoption?  Happy Birthday America!  We love you!


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Nappies For Nork 2016 - Your Change to Make a "Change" in Armenia!


Nappies For Nork 2016

Last year, through the great generosity of many donors, we raised $12,000 for SOAR to purchase diapers for Nork orphanage in Yerevan.  For eleven months, thousands of diapers were delivered to the children living there, but the funds will run out after the final delivery this month.

Therefore, please join us in Nappies For Nork 2016, a collaboration of SOAR, Hopscotch Adoptions, and adoptive mom Viviane Martini whose son lived at Nork from early 2009 until summer 2011.

Learn more.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

ACT NOW! Ask Your members of Congress to Sign Letter Opposing Drastic USCIS Fee increases for Adoption


Please call now!

Congressional staff need time to alert the Members of Congress and communicate their interest to the leading offices by noon tomorrow. If you haven’t reached out yet, please pause for a few minutes and do it right now.

I also want to encourage you, if at all possible, to pick up the phone and call first (instead of just emailing or using an online form). We know that reaction time and processing time is slower and level of concern is slower to email and online forms. Congressional staff also report that concern seems higher when people actually make the call. Make the call! Congressional staff are friendly and helpful – you just may make new friends in your Senators’ and Representative’s offices!

Please see tips below on all you need to know!

NCFA Members,

Ask your Members of Congress to sign this letter regarding USCIS’s proposed adoption fee increases. The deadline to sign this letter is noon on this Thursday, June 30th. We’ll have to ask fast!

We encourage you to take 15 minutes to call the DC office of both of your Senators and your Representative. (Find them here.)

Here are some basic suggestions for that call:

1. Ask to speak to the person who handles international adoption issues

2. Ask them to ask their boss to sign the letter increasing USCIS fees for adoptive families

3. Tell them to contact the offices of Senator Blunt, Senator Klobuchar or Representative Franks by noon on Thursday, June 30th to sign the letter.

4. Ask for the staffer’s email to forward them a copy of the letter and explain how to sign on. (Check out the sample email below!)

5. Don’t forget to send that followup email! Polite persistence helps get the job done!

You can send something like the below email to finalize your request:


Thanks for taking my call today! I hope Representative/Senator XYZ will support this letter to prevent burdensome USCIS fee cost increases from impacting adoptive families.

Join Senators Blunt and Klobuchar, Representative Franks and others in this important effort to support adoptive families.

Please contact,, or by noon on this Thursday, June 30th to sign on to this important letter.

Thanks for supporting adoption!

Megan Lestino
Director of Public Policy & Education
National Council For Adoption