We All Could Use A Little Good News: Appointee To Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, Has A REAL Heart for Intercountry Adoption!

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After four long years, he’s home at last

By Lara Korte 

It was in spring 2012 when Jeffres and her then-fiance, Dave Kroffsik, began the process to adopt a child.

Jeffres specifically was interested in adopting from the Congo because she had followed the political unrest in the nation since the fall of President Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997. The Congolese government allows couples to adopt only if they have been married for five years, so instead of waiting, the two decided Jeffres would file as a single parent.

A few months later, in October, she was matched with Changa Changa, then 2 1/2. The couple thought they would be bringing him home within a year. But because of political unrest in the Congo and delays from the U.S. State Department prompted by safety concerns, Changa was not released from the country until April 2016.

Changa’s first visa was issued on Sept. 24, 2013. The next day, the Democratic Republic of Congo placed a suspension on the exit permits minors need to leave the country.

After negotiation through the U.S. State Department, the Congolese government agreed to honor cases that had been completed before the Sept. 25 ban. Jeffres and Kroffsik, confident they would be “grandfathered” in, flew to the Congo in November 2013.

Upon arriving at the orphanage, Jeffres said, she was “inwardly serene” because the adoption seemed to be on track.

“I thought we’d have all the time in the world, a lifetime, to get to know Changa,” she said. “I wasn’t really in any big hurry.”

Exit permits suspended

However, not long after arriving in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital, Jeffres learned that the Congolese government did not intend to honor its agreement to let adopted children like Changa leave the country with their adoptive parents.

While Kroffsik returned to the United States to resume work after three weeks in the Congo, Jeffres stayed for four months, trying to take Changa home. In February 2014, she returned to Wichita, alone.

In June 2014, reassured she’d be able to take Changa home, Jeffres returned to the Congo. But she again found herself alone on a flight home.

Exit permits are still suspended, according to the U.S. State Department, which strongly recommends against initiating an adoption in the Congo at this time. The department says the average time it has taken to release adopted Congolese children to their families has been 30 months.

The State Department also has a travel warning for the Congo, advising U.S. citizens to avoid non-essential trips to the country where “instability and sporadic violence continues.”

“Armed groups, bandits, and elements of the Congolese armed forces, primarily located in the North Kivu, South Kivu, and the new provinces of Bas-Uele, Haut Uele, Tanganyika, Haut-Lomami, and the eastern part of Maniema Province, are known to kill, rape, kidnap, pillage, steal vehicles, and carry out military or paramilitary operations in which civilians can be indiscriminately targeted,” the warning said.

Difficult and discouraging

Rather than become discouraged by red tape and roadblocks, Jeffres dived into them. She wrote letters, made phone calls and even organized a call-in day to the White House to implore President Obama to demand the release of the children to their adoptive parents.

In March 2015, the Congolese government created a special commission to review the pending adoption cases. But Jeffres said it became clear after a few months that the commission was not doing “any meaningful activity.”

Next, she traveled to Capitol Hill to advocate for the adopted children.

“I went to Washington four times to personally lobby my and other elected members of government,” she said.

Jeffres called her experiences in D.C. extremely difficult and discouraging at times.

But her actions were not entirely fruitless. In particular, she said, Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo and Sen. Pat Roberts helped secure the release of Changa.

“Thalia Jeffres and her family have shown incredible love and resolve during this entire process and I congratulate them on bringing their beloved Changa Changa home to Kansas,” Pompeo said in an e-mail. “It was immensely frustrating to all those involved to see a brutal dictator trying to use children as political pawns, but I’m so pleased to see this young child finally home with his family.”

‘I got my whole life back’

On April 27, through e-mails and phone calls, Jeffres learned Changa had been cleared to leave the Congo.

And on May 1, almost four years after they were matched, Jeffres picked up her son from Denver International Airport.

“I felt restored once I knew that he had cleared Congolese airspace,” Jeffres said. “I kind of felt restored to normal. I got my whole life back, not just my child.”

Jeffres and Kroffsik are no longer together. Jeffres said her ex-fiance knows Changa is home.

Ten days after arriving in the U.S., Changa was hospitalized with malaria he had contracted while in the Congo. Ninety percent of malaria-related deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, UNICEF estimated in 2012. For Jeffres, who had watched other Congolese children die while waiting for their exit permits, it was a reminder of just how close she had come to losing her son.

Changa’s passport now contains seven visas, six of which expired while he was waiting to be released from the Congo. Jeffres said when it came down to it, she was not willing to give up.

“The knowledge that Changa was alone in the world and that I was the only person on earth that was legally responsible for him had a very powerful effect on me,” Jeffres said.

# MikePompeo #SaveAdoption #HelpUsAdopt #MakeAdoptionGreatAgain

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Supporting Military Families in Adoption, by Laura Beauvais

By Laura Beauvais

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Military families have the potential to be outstanding adoptive families. They often have an incredible support network of friends. Military families tend to be flexible and adaptable and those are qualities that can help make great parents. The installments, where they often live, usually provide no-cost health care, including occupational, physical, and speech therapy, as well as counseling. Dental and vision care are usually provided with a co-pay. Even when military personnel move, the support systems are similar in the next location, so these families do not have to “relearn” what is available at the next location. If an adopted child has serious needs that cannot be met at an installation’s facilities, the military parent cannot be transferred to that installation, as outlined in the Exceptional Family Member Program.

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Two Adoptees’ Stories: Two Perspectives on Growing Up Adopted

Source: http://www.rainbowkids.com

By Katie and Jacob

Meet Katie

feat_smMy name is Katelyn, and my family and friends call me Katie. I am a junior in high school in North Carolina, where I am at the top of my class academically (with a 4.4 GPA). I am also a competitive gymnast and have committed to a full Division I scholarship at a wonderful university in my state. What people don’t know about me is that I was adopted – adopted from Novosibirsk, Russia.

I often wonder, “When people hear that, what do they think of?” Lately I am afraid that too many negative things, worries, and concerns run through people’s minds. I’ve learned that many people, including me, have heard many negative stories about adoption, and not enough success stories.

This is why I am here to share mine.

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Compassion in Action: A Beautiful Intervention On Behalf of a Child With Special Needs

Source: http://www.charlotteobserver.com

By Bruce Henderson

groner4She’s a shy Jewish woman from Charlotte. He’s a little boy, apparently African and Muslim, who was screaming aboard a transatlantic flight.

Their July 14 encounter between Brussels and New York made the eight-hour flight go easier for their fellow passengers. The virtually wordless connection – neither spoke the others’ language – also offered a lesson in compassion that has circulated widely online.

By her account, Rochel Groner, 33, is among the least likely people to make a public display. “I’m the type of person who would let somebody step on my foot for like a half- hour before I would say something,” she says.

But about an hour into the flight, a return home after Groner and her husband Bentzion chaperoned teens to Israel, Groner heard sounds of distress behind them. Not cries from a baby. Not a bored teen.

“It was just kind of a shrieking without any words,” Groner says. “I recognized it right away as a child with special needs.”

Read more here.

Deportation a ‘Death Sentence’ to Adoptees After a Lifetime in the U.S. by Choe Sang-Hun

Source: https://www.nytimes.com

By Choe Sang-Hun

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Remember to protect your children’s rights to citizenship if your child was adopted prior to 2000.  The consequences are devastating if you have not obtained your child’s US citizenship.

SEOUL, South Korea — Phillip Clay was adopted at 8 into an American family in Philadelphia.

Twenty-nine years later, in 2012, after numerous arrests and a struggle with drug addiction, he was deported back to his birth country, South Korea. He could not speak the local language, did not know a single person and did not receive appropriate care for mental health problems, which included bipolar disorder and alcohol and substance abuse.

On May 21, Mr. Clay ended his life, jumping from the 14th floor of an apartment building north of Seoul. He was 42.

To advocates of the rights of international adoptees, the suicide was a wrenching reminder of a problem the United States urgently needed to address: adoptees from abroad who never obtained American citizenship. The Adoptee Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, estimates that 35,000 adult adoptees in the United States may lack citizenship, which was not granted automatically in the adoption process before 2000.

Mr. Clay is believed to be just one of dozens of people, legally adopted as children into American families, who either have been deported to the birth countries they left decades ago or face deportation after being convicted of crimes as adults. Some did not even know they were not American citizens until they were ordered to leave.

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Christianity Today Reports on Tragic Guatemalan Orphanage Fire

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Christianity Today – March 2017 reported the following:

Earlier this month, a fire at an orphanage outside of Guatemala’s capital caught international attention. Forty children died of carbon monoxide poisoning and burns; the tragic event drew worldwide condemnation.

But the aftermath of the fire has given hope to those who work with the Central American country’s orphans. As the government turns to evangelicals for help, it seems the tragedy may spark the breakthrough many have been praying for.

In some ways, the tragic blaze—set intentionally by children locked in the overcrowded facility—was not unexpected by evangelical experts. In 2006, Orphan Outreach founder Mike Douris told the Guatemalan government that the orphanage’s design wasn’t a good idea.

The government went ahead and built it anyway—another link in a chain of wrong moves. For decades, Guatemala has had some of the worst child welfare practices on the planet.

In 2015, the country had the second-highest rate of child murders in the world. Of the crimes against children that get reported—including murder, rape, kidnapping—most go unpunished (88%). An estimated 2 in 5 children are malnourished. Among indigenous children, that rises to 4 in 5. Tales of overcrowding, abuse, and malnutrition leak out of orphanages like the one near the nation’s capital, Guatemala City, where dozens died in the recent fire.

The infamous orphanage, the Virgen de la Asunción, was built for 400 children but housed about 750. Inside, orphans were physically and sexually abused by staff and by other children. There were complaints about water leaks and poor food quality. Only 3 of the 64 security cameras in the building were working.

The conditions resemble fellow public orphanages, which house about 1,200 children in Guatemala. At least three times as many live in private orphanages (about 4,000), but that’s still a small fraction of the 370,000 orphans that UNICEF estimates live in the country. Since Guatemala has no foster care system and very few domestic adoptions, virtually every child removed from a neglectful or abusive situation is sent to an orphanage. Many more live on the streets.

In Armenia, ‘What Do You Want to Be?’ Is Asked in Infancy – NYTimes.com

Source: www.nytimes.com

By Bryant Rousseau

Image1Children in Armenia start thinking about their careers at a very young age — around six months or so.

When an infant’s first tooth arrives, typically in four to seven months, a celebration takes place known variously as the “agra hadig” or “atam hatik.”

As part of the ritual, objects symbolizing different professions are arrayed in front of a child: a microphone for an entertainer, a stethoscope for a doctor, scissors for a tailor or money for a banker. Whichever object the baby chooses first is thought to be a sign of where the child’s professional aptitude lies.

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Blaming The Parents Of Children With Special Needs

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

By Shawna Wingert, Contributor

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Since the day my first baby was born, I have felt responsible for my children’s differences.

Not responsible in the “I’m the momma so I need to help my child” kinda way (although I certainly feel that too).

Responsible in the “Why do you let him sleep with you instead of in the crib, eat the ice cream instead of the meat, allow him to make the mess, help him in the bathroom when he is almost ten” kinda way.

I have been blamed, at one point or another, for every single one of my boys’ differences. Moreover, as we have received diagnosis after diagnosis, I find the blame comes even more frequently now ― not less.

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Adorable Down Syndrome Baby Gets A Modeling Job With OshKosh B’gosh

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Click here to watch the video.

After a modeling agency snubbed this adorable baby’s photos because he has Down syndrome, people around the world reacted.

And now he’s got a job with OshKosh B’gosh!

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

Source: nytimes.com

By Nancy Hass

tiblisi-designers-slide-JVPY-master768 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.

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