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gender differences ’
Friday, January 6th, 2012
Part 2: On Wednesday, we heard from outspoken adoption advocate Rachel about her family’s adoption of two African-American daughters, Ella, 3, and Emery, 1. Like Rachel, I’ve heard many people say “Race doesn’t matter” or “I teach my kids to be color blind.”
But when you are really in the middle (like I am right now!) of it you quickly realize that’s simply not how the brutal world works.
This beautiful family waited 14 months for their first child because they were only open to a white, healthy child. A few months after they “changed our openness,” the couple was painting their kitchen one Saturday and received The Call. They headed out of state to meet their newborn daughter.
Then when Ella was two, they did it all over again! The day after their second homestudy was complete, they got a quickie call about a newborn daughter. It certainly pays to be open to transracial adoption!
Rachel says it best below after two successful and joyful transracial adoptions:
“My family is transracial and we are proud of it. There’s plenty of prejudice in society against people of color. What a disservice to all families by not teaching your children about race.
I think people are scared to approach the subject with their kids because they don’t know what to say or how to say it.”
Open Adoption blogger Rachel also suggests:
- Download books on race from the library and read together.
- Celebrate a race-specific holiday (Chinese New Year, for example).
- Go to a festival or museum that highlights a specific culture.
We do a lot to affirm our childrens’ racial identity. We buy African American Christmas decor, art, and toys. We take them to visit their birth families. Our kids are not only another race, but they are adopted! However, we wake up every morning just like every other family and get ready for the day.”
In closing, Rachel made me cry. She said, “It’s my honor to do these things for my children.”
Send me your happy adoption story today. And thanks to Rachel for being such an outspoken advocate for domestic and open adoptions of any kind!
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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:
- Victimized children are typically from lower-socio economic levels
Kids abandoned or assigned to an umbrella organization for foster care services
- The person organizing the abuse has a strong personality, high standing in the community, and tends to believe he is above the law
- The abuse network tends to be covered up by denial and the “cult of personality” surrounding the organizer
- 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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Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
After reading a horrid news story about an 11-year-old Philadelphia girl who was repeatedly raped by an older foster brother, I began scouring records and state governmental agencies to glean stats on sexual abuse in foster homes across the country.
The most recent clinical studies I found were from 2005 — but many national adoption experts say that young kids are in jeopardy all over America when they are placed in foster care. My family is seriously considering adopting a foster daughter through Los Angeles County in the future (for those of you just tuning in) and so this subject affects me deeply.
This in from adoption blogger Sharon: “Most of the girls that I deal with have been raped and molested in the foster homes that they were in,” said independent child advocate and blogger Sharon McGinley. An advocate for kids aging out of foster care, she says the system is broken, and that the people from group homes and kids caught in foster care situations are afraid that reporting this level of widespread sexual abuse in foster homes would jeopardize their federal funding.
If that’s not bad enough, early abuses may harm the overall health of that woman for the rest of her life: Women who were repeatedly sexually abused as girls have a 62 percent higher risk of heart problems later in life compared with women who were not abused, U.S. researchers said on Sunday at the American Heart Association symposium.
Compared to women who weren’t molested or raped as children or teens, women who reported:
* Repeated episodes of forced sex in childhood or adolescence had a 62 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease as adults.
* Severe physical abuse in childhood or adolescence was associated with a 45 percent increased risk of cardiovascular events.
“The single biggest factor explaining the link between severe child abuse and adult cardiovascular disease was the tendency of abused girls to have gained more weight throughout adolescence and into adulthood,” said Janet Rich-Edwards, Sc.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study.
The team analyzed data from a study of more than 67,000 nurses. Nine percent of these women had reported severe physical abuse and 11 percent reported being raped in their childhood or adolescence.The team found that repeated episodes of forced sex in childhood or adolescence translated into a 62 percent higher risk of heart attacks and strokes later in life. Much of the increased risk was related to coping strategies such as overeating alcoholism and drug abuse.
Physical abuse also took a toll. Women who had been beaten in their youth had a 45 percent higher risk of heart trouble. Mild to moderate physical or sexual abuse was not associated with increased risk.
Stay tuned for more indignation!
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Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
Please enter our fantastic competition for a child cover model for sister publication for American Baby Magazine. It’s tough to be a supermodel like my son Sam, shown here on the right. But why not your kid?
Recently, Maggie reached out to me to tell me she was in touch with her daughter, a child she had placed for adoption at birth. Maggie was only 16 at the time, but received emotional support from her parents that helped me make courageous decisions. Maggie, 37, from Fleming Island, Florida, said, “ I did think about my daughter everyday. My family was able to see her at the agency before she was adopted and we took a lot of pictures. I had them in an album. The photos were very comforting when I would feel guilty or doubt my decision.”
Maggie eventually came to terms with her decision. She is now a married mother of four. She is also very involved with her first daughter’s adoptive family. She says, “Her parents have welcomed my whole family into theirs and we have done the same to them. We visit each other several times a year, text daily and talk as often as our crazy schedules allow.”
Maggie says, “I thank them for raising her as I could have only imagined in my wildest dreams. They are a beautiful family. I do not for one minute regret my decision to place her for adoption. Being a part of my daughter’s life now is so fulfilling.”
And courageous Maggie ends with, “I love what you are doing with your ongoing story, Nicole.”
Thank you back, Maggie. I think it’s loving and harmonious that both families communicate regularly. I’d love to hear from other well-adjusted adoptive families out there!
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Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
I talk to parents who are imminently waiting to adopt a baby or adults who are themselves adopted. Here is a refreshing interview with my fitness friend, Carolyn.
Adopted domestically through Sacramento, Calif. foster care at age one, Carolyn, now 34, was adopted into a home with a mother, father and an adopted older sister, age 7. Schooled in California, and a happy child, Carolyn has become an animal rescuer and dog trainer. She is also a personal trainer based in Los Angeles. I rarely see her without a huge smile on her face!
Carolyn McGuire, 34, grew up knowing she was adopted because her older sister was adopted and her adoptive parents were truthful and loving if not especially stable. (Carolyn’s adoptive father announced he was gay when Carolyn was only a teen, and the family went through volatile changes as dad came to grips with his sexuality.)
Her adoptive parents also encouraged Carolyn to find her biological family and emotionally supported her journey as she searched.
Sadly, in her late twenties, Carolyn discovered she was too late to meet her real mom: Her biological mother was a schizophrenic who had died of cancer several years before.
Carolyn nonetheless went on to nurture an affectionate relationship with her biological grandma and uncles. And she remains close with her sister.
Carolyn says, “It was hard to know that my biological mother was schizophrenic and died without knowing me. This condition makes me worried for my future children; I wonder if my boyfriend is disinclined to have children with me because of biology?”
Great advice from a beloved adopted daughter
Carolyn says, “Adoption without support from your new family or even your old family is an empty feeling that sets you up for failure. In my case, therapy helped and also my biological family helped me grieve when my adoptive parents died.
“My adoptive father, although he went through great emotional upheavals in his life, was also my lifeline and soul mate. My father claiming me as his daughter irrevocably changed my world,” she says.
Carolyn says, “You don’t have to be biologically tied to someone to have that whole, spiritual connection that helps guide you through life.” She encourages all frustrated parents to keep hope alive.
“As an adopted daughter, I am telling you to hang in there and change a life. She or he is definitely out there waiting, just like I was.”
Thanks Carolyn, for being so honest. If you’d like your adoption story posted here, please write in under Comments. (She’s photographed above with one of her dogs.)
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