Posts Tagged ‘ lisa milbrand ’

The Problem With the Russian Adoption Ban

Friday, December 28th, 2012

More than 60,000 kids from Russian orphanages have found families in the U.S. since the Russian adoption program began more than 20 years ago—but now Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking to put an end to one of the most popular international adoption programs for American families. And that’s a big mistake for everyone—especially the thousands of Russian children who will end up growing up in the sterile, stifling orphanage environment, rather than the embrace of a loving family.

If you look back, there have been rumblings of a ban for the past several years. Russian officials are angry about the 19 Russian children who died in the care of adoptive parents here in the U.S. (as they should be), and are concerned that some children have ended up in institutions here, after their parents deemed them too difficult to manage. And when Torry Hansen sent her son back to Russia in 2010, after she deemed him “dangerous” to her family, Russia halted all adoptions until some major diplomacy smoothed things over. But this new move, in retaliation for an American law that proposed sanctions against human rights violators from Russia, seems like it will be much harder to undo.

The biggest tragedy of this ban is that it means that 1,000 more children each year will join the 700,000 other orphans currently wasting away in Russian orphanages, with no opportunity to join a family. (Children only become available for international adoption in Russia if there’s no one available in the country to adopt them.) The effects of institutionalization are well documented—including problems attaching and developing relationships with others, and pervasive developmental delays. These are the kinds of things that the support of a loving family can help a child overcome. But these kids will never have that possibility, thanks to a government that’s all too willing to sacrifice the lives of these children out of spite for an unpopular American law, the Magnitsky Act.

It also means that 1,000 American families each year will lose the opportunity to become parents—a fact that’s going to be even more devastating for the thousands of families who are currently in process to adopt from Russia, and may have already seen a picture or even visited with the child that they hoped to adopt. And it means even more people will be looking to adopt domestically, as there are very few viable options for international adoption at this point.

In a perfect world, these kids would be able to stay with their birth families, and everyone who wants to become parents could. And if kids needed to be adopted, they would always find themselves with the right parents, who will treat them well and ensure that they are loved and supported. Yes, there have been abuses (on both sides) in the Russian adoption program, but the good that’s been achieved for the many happy families created through this international adoption program far outweighs the negatives. Let’s hope that Russia’s leaders can keep their children’s best interests in mind—and consider repealing this act, before it’s too late.

Mark III Photonics / Shutterstock.com

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28 Acts of Kindness—for Sandy Hook

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Last week’s tragedy left so many of us drowning in sorrow and feeling helpless to do much about it. What on earth could we do to make things better, when confronted with such an overwhelmingly sad event? It’s not like Hurricane Sandy, when you could pitch in to help a neighbor clean out their home, or donate toward helping those who lost so much rebuild. There’s nothing we can do to help the families affected in Sandy Hook get back what was lost.

And that’s when I read about Ann Curry’s brilliant plan—to accomplish acts of kindness in honor of those who died. Many people are doing 26 kindnesses, for the children and teachers who died at the school. Others are including Nancy Lanza, the mother of the shooter who also lost her life. I’m choosing 28, in part because there can’t be enough kindness in the world, and in part because I believe strongly that Adam was a victim of his own, untreated mental illness.

I’m hoping to accomplish all of my 28 in the next week, before the new year…and I’m drawing inspiration from the Twitter feed #26ActsofKindness. So far, I’ve managed four:

1. Sent an extra gift and a heartfelt note to my daughters’ teachers (we already went in on group gifts for them with the rest of the class).

2. Donated to Toys for Tots in honor of the students of Sandy Hook.

3. Hosting a friend’s daughters over for the afternoon, after her regular babysitter fell through.

4. Left a Starbucks gift card and a note on a random car in our school’s teacher parking lot.

(Actually, I could kind of count #5, which was—against my better judgement—caving and getting an Elf on the Shelf for my daughters, who have been begging for one all week. Because basically, this week, I’d probably get them a pony if they asked.)

Imagine if we all committed to doing just a few acts of kindness this week…maybe it would become a habit. Let me know if you’re on board—and share your  ideas for sharing the love.

Photo: Margaret M Stewart /Shutterstock.com

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Teach Your Kids (And Yourself) What to Do if You’re in a Situation Like Sandy Hook

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

One of the things that makes the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary even more horrifying to me is that the school seems to have done everything right—the building was locked and had a camera surveillance system, the teachers were well-trained in emergency procedures—but it still didn’t prevent Adam Lanza from getting in and killing 26 people.

Safety experts like Trevor Pyle, who has worked with many top disaster and emergency service agencies, stress that the tragedy could have been much worse. “The teachers and staff did the right thing, and their actions saved countless lives,” he told me in an interview.

There are certain behaviors that could make it more likely for you (and your child) to make it out of a situation like that alive—like six-year-old Aidan Licata and his friends, who ran when the opportunity presented itself, or one little girl, the only survivor from her classroom, who played dead. Here’s what Pyle suggests:

For kids:

• Tell them to listen to their teachers and school staff members. They receive extensive training on what to do and how to take care of the children. So tell them to recognize when the teacher is serious, and follow directions.

• Make sure that they pay attention during the drills, and know what to do when they are told to evacuate.

• Tell them to tell an adult if something appears to be “weird,” and that they aren’t going to get in trouble if they are wrong. Better to be safe than sorry. If they see something, make sure they say something.

For adults:

• Always know where at least two exits are. If you can, escape. If you can’t, hide. If you have to, fight with everything you have.

• If you can run, bring everyone you can with you. Get out of the building, and don’t stop until you find cover. Warn other people away from the building and call 911. Report your location. When cops arrive, keep your hands clear and don’t approach them. They aren’t there to rescue you, they are there to stop the shooter.

• If you have to hide, close and lock the door, turn out the lights, and mute your cell phone. Don’t move until the cops arrive.

• If you have to fight, improvise a weapon and attack. Target the shooter’s head, and torso. Do not hesitate, and don’t stop until he is down.

Hopefully, this is the kind of information you won’t ever have to use—but it may just save your life.

For more information and resources regarding the Sandy Hook Tragedy, visit the following on Parents.com:

Photo: © Vividz Foto/Shutterstock.com

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