Archive for 2011

Penn State Only the Most Recent Sex Abuse Scandal

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Every new sexual abuse scandal that develops over the Penn State debacle gets me angrier and more frustrated as a parent.

The psychology behind a supposed “authority figures” in a child’s life — say, a coach, a priest or a teacher — how does this abuser choose his mark?

As concerned parents, how can we avoid being witness to this in the future?

Doesn’t this Penn State  heartbreak devastate you?

Journalist Nick Bryant profiles child abuse scandals after years of research, and finds that the Penn State, Syracuse, and Poly Prep scandals are “eerily” similar to child abuse networks in Nebraska and Florida. Author of two books and an expert on child trafficking and sexual abuse, Bryant said the Penn State-Sandusky case bears the following parallels to other child abuse networks in the past.

According to Bryant, kids most at risk are:

  1. Victimized children are typically from lower-socio economic levels
    Kids abandoned or assigned to an umbrella organization for foster care services
  2. The person organizing the abuse has a strong personality, high standing in the community, and tends to believe he is above the law
  3. The abuse network tends to be covered up by denial and the “cult of personality” surrounding the organizer
  4. Any cover-up includes victim/witness intimidation

“The current Penn Scandal is so disheartening, because Penn State, law enforcement, and social services personnel were aware of Sandusky’s alleged abuse of children in 1998 and also in 2002, but they seemed to turn a blind eye,” Bryant said.

“Not only did officials in Pennsylvania turn a blind eye to child abuse, but Penn State and many of its affiliates continued to pour money into Sandusky’s children’s charity, Second Mile, until 2010,” he said.

Bryant took seven years to research and write one of the few commercially published books on child abuse networks and trafficking, The Franklin Scandal, which documents how socially influential organizations for disadvantaged children were plundered by child traffickers. He is the co-author of America’s Children: Triumph of Tragedy, addressing the medical and developmental problems of lower socioeconomic children in America.

Bryant must keep reporting and allow parents to help identify abusers once and for all!

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Part 2: Military Couple Fights to Adopt During Deployment

Friday, December 16th, 2011

After four years of infertility, Jessica and Greg from Arizona were shocked when a social worker put their adoption plans on hold because Greg was deployed for 10 months. All the paperwork and home study and hard work…

Jessica said, “We fought tooth and nail to become certified. Our social worker demanded we see a counselor and psychologist who both told her that they saw no reason why we could not pursue adoption. Here I was a new Army wife with a husband that was about to leave for 10 months. Would we end up in divorce, like she said, because military divorce rates are the highest?”

After basic training, Greg went to Officer Candidate School and then he left for basic training in June and wasn’t set to come home until April.  Greg was still in basic training when Jessica got a call of a newborn girl becoming available to them for via adoption.

“The day I was suppose to leave for Greg’s graduation was the day she was born. I hadn’t seen my husband for 10 weeks and I felt torn. Deep down, I had this bad feeling that something was going to go wrong and all I wanted was to see Greg.”

That adoption did fail for many reasons, and the couple moved onto private adoption with an expensive attorney who accepted the military family’s new circumstances. “We began working with him in the beginning of April and we were matched by the end of May. I do not recommend networking on your own… it is a roller coaster ride. Friends and family would tell us about every possible adoption situation, there were nine possible matches, but none came to fruition.”

The couple began working with yet another adoption agency because the attorney moved too slowly. “Through our  journey, I learned that there are a lot of agencies and lawyers who view expectant couples and prospective adoptive couples as dollar signs and nothing else. Adoption should be about the unborn child and finding him or her loving parents not how much money will be made once the baby is born,” said Jessica.

They began the private adoption process in November of 2009. We were certified on July 14, 2010 and baby Elle was born July 12, 2011…exactly one year later. “My husband and I were in complete awe when we saw our daughter for the first time. I will never forget seeing her in  for the first time and thinking she was the most beautiful, tiny baby.”

“We knew at that moment that every tear and all the heartache we endured didn’t matter anymore. She was our heart’s cry and because of her, we were parents.”

The brave couple, photographed on right with Elle, is now expecting baby number two via private adoption, and Jessica writes about her journey on her own blog.

I want to thank Thea Ramirez of Adoption Share for introducing me to Jessica and also for helping other families find their child through private adoption.

Who else has a great adoption story for Parents.com?

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Part 1: Military Mom Faces Infertility and then Adoption

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

I asked you, The Adoption Diaries readers, for a feel-good adoption story if you’ve been considering adoption. I wanted to know how long it took — once you knew you were not going to get pregnant — to consider adoption after grieving.

Jessica’s story below is amazing! Stay tuned for Friday when she gives us Part 2!

Jessica, 28, and her husband Greg, 34, live in Phoenix, Ariz. “It took us four years and four  months to decide to adopt. After my fourth and last miscarriage in February of 2009, I was ready to pursue adoption, but my husband was not. He was not sure he could love a child who was not biologically his,” said Jessica.

“In November of 2009, after five rounds of Clomid, I finally broke down and told my husband I couldn’t take it anymore. I missed the girl he married… I felt like a robot trying to get pregnant month after month, year after year. I could tell Greg was torn. He really wanted a biological child, but he also couldn’t stand seeing me in pain. I’m very blessed to have a husband who loves me dearly.”

Greg was always very supportive  and even Jessica’s parents and in-laws were there to nurture and support the couple. “I knew deep in my heart that God’s plan wasn’t for me to conceive. I knew that I was going to be a mother and I knew my husband was going to be a father, but I knew I wasn’t going to get pregnant.”

Jessica said, “I spent many years as a nanny and many of the families I nannied for had adopted children in their families. I never put the two together but I think God was preparing my heart for adoption long before I even knew my husband.”

They began the adoption process in November of 2009 and began a home study with social workers immediately.

“And then my husband received long-awaited word that he was accepted into the army! We were never sure if he would be accepted because he injured his knee a few years back. It took many months for us to know if he would be accepted and by or not.”

By March, Greg was officially property of the United States Government and all adoption paperwork was put on hold! “Our social worker explained that the high rate of divorce during deployments was astronomical, and she thought the process would not be fair to an adoptee. We were crushed,” said Jessica. But the couple refused to give up on domestic adoption. They started looking for a more supportive agency.

Stay tuned on Friday for the happy ending!

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I Love Being a Mom… but I am Exhausted!

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Aren’t you? If you tuned in on Friday, you know that my family is pretty stressed with all the holiday travel (flying back east from Los Angeles is tops on my stress-out list), and finally filling out foster care paperwork and preparing for our initial 24 hours of foster care training through the County of Los Angeles. It starts in early January.

My husband and I have to do 24 hours of foster care (to adopt) training on consecutive Thursday nights for six weeks. Another stress-out for me (besides shopping and planning for Santa!) is finding a babysitter who can sit with our bio son Sam from 6 – 10 pm every Thursday in January and part of February so Darrin and I can train during these intensive foster events.

I also work from home, volunteer on Mondays at my son’s school, do rescue dog training twice a month, and teach 2-3 fitness classes each week. Did I mention I work and try to stay married too?

In exasperation, I tapped author and registered dietitian Ashley Koff, co-author with Kathy Kaehler of the fabulous new book Mom Energy: Live Life Fully Charged. They provided great ways to sidestep stress on Monday but now these savvy moms urged me to find my primary “energy thief” during the day. Great advice for all parents everywhere!

Ashley said, “You try hard to keep jugging all the balls up in the air but your juggling leaves you exhausted emotionally and physically. Despite knowing what’s best for you deep down, you struggle with gaining control and what’s important in your life. You must start limiting the things that decrease your energy on a daily basis.”

Excellent time management will change my energy life, she says. Try these steps too:

  1. Make to-do lists and prioritize your life.
  2. Don’t skip meals or start any kind of crash diet if you’re exhausted; it’ll make your energy drain even worse.
  3. Exercise and stretch regularly to jumpstart stamina — this can mean only 20 minutes most days of the week!
  4. Ask for help and use family charts to organize your whole life.
  5. Create healthy routines and stick to your schedule.
  6. Don’t OD on caffeine and sugary sodas; these are quick fixes that hurt your body in the long run. (Although a cup or two of coffee each day is fine!)
  7. Finally, see your doctor to rule out hormonal shifts or other conditions that may affect your overall energy level.

Thanks Ashley and Kathy! Please tell me your adoption story or foster care wishes here, and have a blessed holiday.

Photo credit at fun book party: Adam Southard of AES PhotoLA

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Get More Mom Energy During the Holidays!

Friday, December 9th, 2011

I admit it: Between Thanksgiving and shopping and moving through the adoption process I am utterly exhausted. Emotionally exhausted! I already eat pretty well and tend to sleep at least seven hours overnight, but my whole body and my emotions simply feel depleted. I think the cost of filling out my paperwork and imagining all the terrible things that could happen to our family during a foster care situation is keeping me very stressed out.

For help, I tapped my mom friend Ashley Koff, co-author with celeb trainer Kathy Kaehler of the fantastic new book Mom Energy, what exactly I can start doing to feel less anxiety over the adoption process and soothe stress over the holidays!

Here’s what Ashley said, “Stress is going to be apart of our lives and our bodies are designed to fully handle it…if we learn how to turn it off and allow the body recovery time. I rely on magnesium-rich foods like whole grains and greens, as well as cacao –  yup, that means good-quality chocolate — to turn off the body’s stress response at the cellular level.

“It won’t numb you  but it will help to reduce the effect of stress on the body.” Adequate magnesium (in whole grains, steamed greens, veggie-rich salads) helps tune off your body’s stress responses and allows for more muscles relaxation and the ability to fall asleep.”

Ashley said, “Becoming fully charged doesn’t require a complete shift in your lifestyle, and you shouldn’t start denying yourself something you enjoy.” (Like that extra glass of vino with dinner during the holidays.) And this energy shift should not cost a dime!

Ashley said, “Energy equals heath. Energy imbalances are at the root of many health problems in our society, especially for do-it-all moms. Let’s focus on optimizing your energy naturally so you perceive yourself as dynamic and clear-thinking.”

Ashley’s quick list of easy stress zappers for the holidays:

  • Graze on smaller meals more frequently to maintain adequate energy and calories.
  • Drink 8-10 glasses of water and green tea to hydrate and flush your body regularly.
  • Sleep 7+ hours per night. Aim for more, busy moms!
  • Lift weights at least twice a week to rev your metabolism and create leaner muscles.

Tune in on Monday again when Ashley and her co-author offer more energy-up strategies to help moms (and all busy parents) cope throughout the holidays.

Photo credit: Ashley Koff photographed by David Carlson Photography

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