Russia Children's Ombudsman 'Shocked' by U.S. Ranch for Russian Adoptees

I've posted before (see here and here) about this Montana ranch,  where many adopted children from Russia are sent by their adoptive parents, but it didn't go over well with Russia's children's ombudsman:
Russia's children rights ombudsman has condemned a U.S. ranch, where troubled adoptees are held.

Pavel Astakhov has been visiting the Ranch for Kids, in the U.S. State of Montana, which is a respite care home that helps children, most of them from Russia, who have suffered disrupted adoptions.

"The very form of the children's being there is shocking. What is it, a pre-trial detention facility? A penal colony? Or a trash can for unwanted children?" Pavel Astakhov said, in comments carried by his official website.

All the children were removed from the facility just before Astakhov'a arrival.

"These children are completely isolated from the outside world, which is grounds for violating their rights. It has not been made clear to us whether the children receive the necessary help and treatment, which is why the condition of the Russian kids at the ranch causes concerns," Astakhov said.

Flashback: Why We Will Never Go Back to Branson

Orginally published in July of 2006. Joseph was twenty seven months old and potty training. Camille was six months old. My brother was about to leave for basic training and my parents had the brilliant idea to have "one last family trip" together. It was a nice idea in theory but in reality... no.


After spending the morning with friend's while The Caminator and I went to a training session, Joseph helped me pack the van. When Adam came home, we threw the last minute items in the car and headed towards Branson, a 2-3 hour drive.

About 3/4ths of the way there, I smelled... something. Adam did too and we made plans to stop ASAP to change Joseph's pull-up. Then we heared, "Uh-oh. Blankey poopy."

Uh-oh indeed. Adam pulled over at the nearest town and we saw The Mess. It was the Worst Kind of Car Trip Mess. We drove... and drove... and drove all over town looking for a Wal-Mart parking lot. We had planned to stop and use one billion diaper wipes to get Joseph and his car seat presentable enough for the measly hour left in the car.

Then I had a light bulb moment. A friend had used one of those coin operated hand-held car washes to clean her son's exasaucer. I gave this idea to Adam, who thought I was brillant. We drove around looking for one of those before finding one at a Conaco.

I pulled Joseph out of the van and used a bunch of wipes and a trash bag at my feet to clean him off. I decided I didn't love his 50 cent garage sale find shorts enough to keep them, so they went in the bag with the pull-up. Adam clipped Blankey to the floor mat clips and hosed him off. Let me tell you, a power spray realllly gets poop off a blanket. Joseph stood there, howling, "Bllllaaannnkeeeey!"

Adam dragged the car seat to the hose and sprayed it off too. We got Joseph's legs, calling out, "It's not child abuse! It's poop!" to passerbys. (They were headed towards the condom machine. Ironic?) One man meantion he had three children... and he was chuckling at us.

Thankfully, I always carry trash bags with me, so we put one on the seat, one on the car seat, a thin blanket and set the slightly less stinky Joseph on it. We suddenly agreed that we needed a new car seat for Adam's car, so we headed to KMart for the cheapest seat we could find.

One new car seat, a pack age of pull-ups, laundry soap, Fabreeze and a MatchBox car later, we were out of KMart. As I waited in line with our purchases, I heard a mother trying to encourage her teenage daughter to get her tounge peirced. The cashier had a tounge peircing and they were telling the daughter how awesome it would be. I really, really wanted to say something but I had a feeling they would just dismiss me as a hot, tired, poop smelling mother with a baby who was diving-bombing for my boob. Not that that was happening, or anything.

While Adam installed the car seat, I climbed in the back to nurse the Very Hungry Camille. The breeze was blowing and the night was cool, so the hatch and both doors were open. A car pulled kitty-corner to us and a man and his young daughter (10-12) got out. The gentleman said, "Ma'am?" so I answered, "Yes?" rather coolly. Who was this guy and why was he talking to me?

"Oh, I'm sorry, I was talking to someone else," he said very politely. I smiled and nodded.

After he finished his conversation, he walked past my car, turned his head to look back at me and said, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell earlier. I am very sorry."

I thought he thought he had disturbed Camille nursing, so I said, "Oh, you weren't yelling! Don't worry about it! I was just sitting back here, nursing my baby. You didn't bother us at all!"

The man turned beet red, I could see this even in the dusk, and started falling all over himself with apologizes. "I'm so embaressed. I didn't even realize you were doing that! I thought you were enjoying the cool breeze! I didn't see the baby! I'm so sorry!"

I was laughing and trying to reassure the poor guy. "No, I nurse anywhere! You have nothing to be sorry for!" and so but he just spun around and RAN into KMart! The poor guy; I think I must have scarred him for life!

We finally got into Branson late that night. I really, really wanted a shower but I laid down with Camille to nurse her to sleep. Joseph had ANOTHER blow out and we popped him in the shower. As Adam tucked him into bed, I climbed into the shower... and considered never coming out.

Surprisingly, we have traveled with the children since this trip. Not surprisingly, we have zero desire to ever go to Branson again.

What is your best or worst memory of a vacation?
This was the best face shot we could get!
Such a girly girl! She was playing with her cord and wrapped it on her shoulder like a purse!!
Sunday, June 17th we find out that there is absolutely no way possible that Forrest is going to be able to take off work to go with me to the big appointment. It was something beyond our control, but now what do I do? Cancel after we have had this appointment for 4 weeks, go by myself, or try and find someone else to go with me. Forrest said cancel, but I was scared to. I knew I didn't want to go without him, but I also didn't want to cancel. In the end the only thing I could do was to cancel. Forrest is my husband, and I could not go to this appointment without him. I called first thing Monday morning and explained the situation. We rescheduled for July 2nd. Now we have to wait 2 more weeks. I don't do good with the whole waiting thing at all!! I called Forrest and told him when I rescheduled for and he just happen to say "to bad they can't see you tomorrow. I could go with you tomorrow morning." Well you never know unless you ask, so I got off the phone with Forrest and called the office back and asked. It was totally my lucky day!!!! Right after I called and canceled they had a lady call that was scheduled to come in Tuesday morning but she wanted to come in Monday morning. They just swapped our appointments! I called Forrest so excited about the news. This is a good sign, I just knew that everything was going to be ok. Tuesday, June 18th gets here and we had to go see good ole Dr. Pickens at Ruch Clinic first at 8:40. He is my regular OB/GYN that will hopefully be delivering Mary Martin. He is so awesome and down to earth, and about September I will start bugging the crap out of him to please be the one to deliver my baby! Haha! We will see if it works. Nothing special about that appointment because he knew we were going 3 floors down to see Dr. Schneider and have the fetal echocardiogram done that same day. We leave there and head downstairs. I had read up on this procedure and knew that it would take about a hour to do. We get there and go through all the usual  check in stuff, nurse calls me back, and then we wait for the ultrasound tech to call us back. We go back to the ultrasound room and I get all comfy on the table. The big screen tv comes on in front of us and we get to see everything, and Mary Martin was dancing around! The tech started from the top of her head and worked her way down checking EVERYTHING! They checked the blood flow, kidneys, brain, and measured her bones. Her little bones did measure smaller than 20 weeks, but with Down Syndrome that is to be expected. No biggie on that, she will just be a little shorty! Then we get focused on the heart. She stayed on the heart for a while. By this point our appointment is now at 1 1/2 hours. I'm not worried, this girl is just being picky I'm sure. Then another girl comes in to help out on trying to get a certain view, then Dr. Schneider comes in and is looking at the screen and talking to the techs. He starts making small talk with us, but by this point I'm to nervous to talk. He steps out of the room, and the other tech steps out. We are finally finished!!! I wipe my stomach and set up. Oops......she said, I forgot to look at one other thing. I lay back down, and she puts that probe on my stomach again. Now she is checking the umbilical cord. Why in the world would she need to check that? She starts that and I am laying on that table for another 30 minutes! She said something looked "different" about the blood flow going from the placenta to the heart. I really didn't think much about it because I had to go pee so bad! Haha!! This time we are really finished, and she takes us to my least favorite room in that office. I call it the "bad news room", but today it was going to be the "good news room!" Dr. Schneider comes in and delivers the verdict. He said, "We can't tell for sure, but it looks like there is some kind of heart problem. It will probably take several surgeries to fix. We are going to refer you to Dr. Joshi who is a pediatric cardiologist  at LeBonheur, and we are going to try and get you in ASAP. By this point Dr. Schneider s talking to Forrest and he has slid the box of tissue to me. I knew this was a possibility, but it still hurts. Then he proceeds to tell us that there seems to be some blood flow "restriction" and we are not sure if it is coming from the heart or placenta. The blood should be flowing smoothly, but it seems that it's not. He said the placenta could be "hardening" or the heart could be weak. They were not sure, but Dr. Joshi would be able to tell and let us know what we needed to do. DEVESTATED is how I felt. Her little heart is broken.......why can't it be my heart? We left the office with a ton of ultrasound pictures, a swollen face, red eyes, and a broken heart for mommy and daddy. Now we wait another week to find out what will happen next. God please help our sweet Mary Martin and heal her heart.
One proud Daddy!!!!

Ian Brown on The case for imperfection

The Boy in the Moon author Ian Brown gave a brilliant talk at Holland Bloorview last week. He captivated everyone. You must check out this short clip.

I am off for three weeks and one of the places I'm visiting is the L'Arche community that Ian speaks about in France.

My student Megan will be covering for me while I'm gone.

Happy summer! Louise

Growing Up the Ethiopian Child of White Parents

From chef & author Marcus Samuelsson at Huffington Post, a recollection about growing up as an Ethiopian adoptee of white Swedish parents:
In my book Yes, Chef you can see old photos of them: my Mom with her beautiful, long hair and my dark blonde Dad, sporting a stylishly scruffy beard. They were so cool, so ahead of their time, without even trying. So many of our neighbors and my friends couldn't understand what my parents had done in adopting us, especially children from Ethiopia, but the impact on our extended family was immediate. I had Canadian relatives and cousins from Korea. If we got into fights at school, it wasn't because we were adopted. If we didn't understand what a word meant, it wasn't because we were adopted. My mother made sure that fact never creeped into conversation and she didn't let it define us.

But that didn't mean we were oblivious to the fact that Linda and I had white parents and my parents had black children. This one time we were visiting D.C. and my mother had to take us kids and leave the city. She had been so excited to come to America, to buy copies of Essence and Ebony magazine so she could learn how to comb our hair and buy the products she needed to tame our unruly afros. But she was getting it from both sides -- white people couldn't understand what this Swedish woman was doing with two little Ethiopian children, and black people would be constantly asking her a thousand questions. This was the 1970's and there weren't celebrities adopting children from African countries. I was about eight years old at the time and I can remember thinking Anne-Marie was most disappointed because her expectations of that trip were not met; how times had changed when I accompanied my mom to a conference for adopted children and their families in our nation's capital some 30 years later.

* * *

A dozen times a week, easily, I am stopped on the street by someone -- most often a woman -- who tells me that she is the mother of an adopted child. More and more, over the past few years, these women have adopted a child from Ethiopia and they've read about me or seen me on TV and know my story. While I love to hear these stories, I always wonder when will be the time the "norm" will flip on its head again. Will there be black parents adopting white kids? I'm waiting for the moment when some rich Nigerian man decides he wants to adopt an Asian child. Is this happening yet and if not, what will it take to change the conversation? In an open-minded world, everything is a possibility.

NPN: Brightly colored suits can save lives

For years I have been posting a PSA about brightly colored bathing suits. They really do save lives! Pop over to NPN to read the article.
Well we are now at the weekend before our big appointment on June 18th. My emotions are going crazy. I know what every it is going to be will be God's will, but I pray that her little heart is not broken. As I try and make it through the weekend K-Love is a huge help, but there is one song that stands out to me. I have heard this song a million times but I have never really paid attention to what it was saying. This song was talking to me! It is a song by Matt Hammitt called "All of me" that he wrote for his son Bowen, who was born on September 9, 2010. Bowen was born with a serious and rare congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped. They have a blog you can check out called Bowensheart.com. I posted a link to the song and it was exactly how I felt.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARIe3PUgu84

Afraid to love, something that could break, 
Could I move on, if you were torn away?
I'm so close to what I can't control
I can't give you half my heart, and pray it make you whole

You're gunna have all of me, you're gunna have all of me,
Cuz you're worth every fallen tear, you're worth facing any fear
You're gonna know all my love, even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts, giving you all of me is where I'll start.

I won't let sadness steal you from my arms
I won't let pain keep you from my heart
Trade the fear of all that I could lose, for every moment I share with you

You're gunna have all of me, you're gonna have all of me,
Cuz you're worth every fallen tear, you're worth facing any fear
You're gonna know all my love, even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts, giving you all of mess where I'll start.

Heaven broke into this moment, it's too wonderful to speak
You're worth all of me, you're worth all of me
So let me recklessly love you, even if I  bleed
You're worth all of me, you're worth all of me

You're gunna have all of me, you're gunna have all of me,
Cuz you're worth every fallen tear, you're worth facing any fear
You're gunna know all my love, even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts, giving you all of me is where I'll start.


This song made me cry like a baby over and over and over again. I remember calling Forrest and just busting out crying and him reassuring me that no matter what we will get through this and if something is wrong with her heart we will make sure no matter what that she has the BEST doctors taking care of her. People tell us all the time that God picked the perfect parents for Mary Martin because if anyone can go through this it's us. Just when you think you are strong God reminds us just how weak we are. We are nothing without him! God did not choose us because we were strong people he chose us because we were weak but trusted in him! No matter what you are going through in life always remember that God is in control! Forrest is so much stronger than I am and sometimes I feel like he is walking along side God, but I'm having to be carried by God. This is a new journey for both me and him and our 2 boys. No one is guaranteed tomorrow and we know that at any given moment God could call our sweet Mary Martin home to be with him. Please remember us in your prayers as we go through this journey.


Our next doctor's appointment wasn't until June 17th and that was going to be to have the fetal echocardiogram done. "I can do this" is what I kept telling myself. I would have a whole week of nothing but good, great conversations with people, encouraging cards and emails from friends, and then the very next week I would hit rock bottom. I remember feeling things like "Everyone should feel sorry for me." "Poor pitiful me, I can't believe I'm having to go through this." "I just don't think I'm strong enough to do this." "I didn't plan on having a special needs child." Well guess what......NO ONE PLANS ON HAVING A SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD!!! You are chosen by God to be this child's parents and you should feel honored. After picking myself up from several meltdowns and with a tip from a very special friend I came across this:

Welcome to Holland

           When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip-to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
           
           After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

          "HOLLAND?!?!" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed ti be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

          But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they  haven't taken you to a horrible disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine, and disease. It's just a different place.

         So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

         It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around......and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills......and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

         But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy.....and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

         And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away......because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But......if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things.......about Holland!

That story really made me stop and re-evaluate everything. I wasn't enjoying this special gift that God had given us. I think my situation is bad, but I can have children. What about all of the couples that can't have children and would love to have a baby even if it was a special needs baby? God does not give you what you can not handle. We think we know our limits, but he is the only one that truly knows that. Nothing is ever suppose to be easy, and me and Forrest both know that, but we have each other and God to lean on during this time. I truly believe that we were given this gift as a way to minister to others. She is going to bring great joy to our family and she could possible change the world one day! Please keep Mary Martin in your prayers as we are praying for a healthy heart!!!!



Immediately after finding out we were referred by Dr. Schneider to the Down Syndrome Association of the Midsouth. He sent us there so that we could get educated and find some support groups and just talk to people with DS children. Forrest and I were both super happy about everything, and for me I didn't need any support groups.  That was for people that were not ok with the results.......we were completely fine with everything......right?? I mean how bad could this be? Our child is just going to look different and it might take her a little longer to learn certain things, but I am going to be on top of it! I called the DS Association and spoke with Allison the Director. She was so very nice and told me about her daughter and their journey. I gave her our address so that she could mail us out some books to read and use to get prepared with. She even gave me her cell phone # and said for me to call her at anytime if I ever needed to talk. I thought that was very nice, but knew that I would probably never have to call her. I'm sure she was thinking that deep down I was not ok with everything.

We got books!!!! I called on a Tuesday and we got a package in the mail on Friday! I was so super excited to rip open that box, take out those books and start reading......or so I thought! I started reading stuff like "1 out of 691 births amount all races will be DS", "About 4000,000 Americans have DS", "The current life expectancy for people with DS is about 60." Not bad! Still excited!!! Then I got to chapter 2 and reality started to hit. Monitoring your pregnancy post-diagnosis was the title. This is when they started talking about needing extra ultrasound.....no big deal Forrest LOVES him some pictures! Next we will need to get a "fetal echocardiogram"......hmmm that sounds like something to do with the heart? Let me keep reading I'm sure it's something different.....WRONG! An estimated 40-60% of babies with Down Syndrome have some type of heart defect. The vast majority are correctable by cardiac catheterization or surgery, or resolve on their own or with medication. That's where I stopped. This test was to check the heart, because something could be wrong with her heart. That's a major organ. She can't live without a heart. I slowly started feeling myself start to panic. I started thinking "Ok Christy calm down and just flip the page." I flip the page and that's where the list of possible specialists were: Geneticist or Genetic Counselor, Perinatologist, Developmental pediatrician, Pediatric cardiologist, Gastrointestinal specialist, Lactation consultant.........now I'm in full on panic mode! The crying has started and I don't know if I can do this. I put the book down and try to forget about it, but that will be impossible. I fully understand now why everyone was trying to give me numbers to counselors....I NEED THEM!!! I called Dr. Schneider's office first thing Monday morning and had a complete melt down on the phone with him. He assured me everything was going to be fine and yes he called me in something to help with the anxiety. We were going to the doctor every 2 weeks and now we have to wait 4 weeks. What if something is wrong with her heart? These next 4 weeks will be the longest 4 weeks of my life!!!

We found out the day after Mother's Day that our sweet little angel was going to have Down Syndrome, and that we were going to have a GIRL!!! Not many people get to find out at 14 weeks that they will for sure be having a boy or girl, but we did!!! Our results came back with an extra 21st chromosome and it was XX......meaning girl!!! Forrest came home at lunch that day with a pink teddy bear and gave me the news! We wanted to wait to tell everyone, because we were not ready to talk to everyone about the Down Syndrome, but we did want to come up with some cute way to tell our family. Things didn't exactly work out quite like we had planned, but here is what we had planned:

We are having a baby,
   and that's no maybe.
It's been a long road,
   but I think we finally cracked the code!
We will have some ups and downs,
   but we're always going to smile and never frown.
Down Syndrome is the name,
   rocking an extra chromosome is the game.......

And MARY MARTIN DUNLOP IS HER NAME!!!!!
We are going to have a Down Syndrome Princess!!!! I bought blue and yellow rhinestones (DS colors) to glue on the tiaras to show our support! 

Last Day of Chinese Language Camp!



Well, this picture pretty much says Maya enjoyed her third year of Chinese Language Camp!  Zoe didn't attend, doing Ballet Camp instead, but she had to be in the picture, along with our friends L & L, who've been attending almost as long as wee have.  Making the tshirts was one of the camp activities, with the character for "dragon" and Chinese name on the front.

As part of the open house for parents, each child had to tell something about Chinese culture -- Maya explained the invention of fireworks and their role in Chinese New Year celebrations.


The class also put on a kung fu demonstration.



The kids also showed off their craft projects -- paper cuttings of the Chinese zodiac signs, dragon boats, opera masks, fans, etc.


Proud mommy moment -- for the third year in a row, Maya got one of the few "Certificates of Excellence!"

I'm a big fan of this program, which is FREE as part of the federal government's strategic languages initiative.  Click here to see if they have a similar program in your area.  In addition to Chinese, the program teaches other "strategic" languages, including Arabic, Dari, Hindi, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu.

Australia to Stop Adoptions From Ethiopia

Reporting by ABC (Australia) News:
The Government says it has had issues with the program for several years, including too few children being successfully adopted.

But the president of the Australian African Children's Aid Support Association, Mark Pearce, says the Government has given up too easily.

"People are just devastated and in shock about the decision that's been made... it doesn't fit nicely in the way that Australia might want something to be done and I think they've decided it's all too difficult for them," he said.

Mr Pearce says up to 100 families in the program, including his own, have been left devastated by the decision.

He says he and his wife had been trying for six years to adopt a second Ethiopian child.
"We're still processing it in our minds and our hearts at the moment and we're still quite shocked and upset by it all," he said.

The adoption group says it will lobby the Federal Government to have the program reinstated.

Single parenting in the world of disability



Maria Niembro talks candidly about the challenges of raising her son Francesco, 7, as a single parent and offers practical advice for other parents flying 'solo.' Maria is a member of Holland Bloorview's family advisory. Thanks Maria!

RARE gives voice to people with Down syndrome

 

Canadian playwright Judith Thompson’s RARE debuts on July 5 as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival. The play stars nine adult actors with Down syndrome. Through a montage of monologues, members of the ensemble tell their stories in their own words. While Judith helped to curate and fine-tune their work, the play was mostly written by its performers. BLOOM spoke with Judith about the production process, and what audiences can expect. Photo by John Gundy.

BLOOM: Describe how the play was written.

Judith Thompson: We basically start for weeks and weeks of rehearsals just sitting in a circle. I’ll say ‘Let’s talk about childhood memories.’ Everybody has a story. And I have to have a script assistant on a computer getting this down.

Sometimes I ask things like ‘If I feel like a wet street on a hot day, what do you feel like?’ Their answers have been amazingly creative. Nick felt like tall sexy grass. All their images are incredible. James felt like a diving eagle. They just came up with these themselves. It’s absolutely important to me that it’s their words. They might give me a few and I’ll keep asking until I get one that really reflects who I think they are.

BLOOM: What have been the joys and challenges of working on this project?

Judith Thompson: The joys are daily because there’s so much good humour. There is, in (the Down syndrome) community, a greater emotional openness, I will say that. That is a difference that I see…They’ll give you a hug and say I love you. They’re open and out there.

We’ve been instructed to be closed in order to succeed in this society we’ve constructed. We can’t suddenly burst into tears; we have to shove it down. Even though members of the theatre community have more emotional access, the performers that I’ve met with Down syndrome – I think ‘Wow, you should lead theatre classes.’ But that same emotional availability though, if somebody’s upset, can cause problems. Somebody who doesn’t have Down syndrome may hold it in or hold a grudge, but in this community they just burst into tears right there and fall on the floor. That’s a challenge because we have to keep going with rehearsal. I never lower my expectations. We just have a hug, and we talk about it, and then we move on.

BLOOM: What are some of the things you’ve learned through this experience?

Judith Thompson: Before, I tended to just think ‘Oh, (people with Down syndrome) are God’s special angels,’ and painted them all as lovely and warm and sweet. I’ve learned to think ‘No, they’re as complicated and prickly and difficult and wonderful as you or me.’
There was a dynamic that had to shift. I was treating them unconsciously like a younger sibling or something. But I’m an adult and so are they… So they’re not cute, don’t condescend to them. They’re people of profound and complex thinking.

BLOOM: What are you hoping the performers will take out of this?

Judith Thompson: That they own it…and that they’re writers as well as performers. That’s why it was really important to me that it’s their words and they create it. Putting them in another show as performers is one thing. But they’re creating it. And so for them to have that agency I think is extraordinary for their confidence generally. They can actually make change and not be passive. So often people with disabilities are made unintentionally to feel passive. But they are making themselves visible. I’m just the guiding hand, and they are out there telling their stories to the world. No one is telling it for them.

BLOOM: Could you give me a couple of examples of what stories performers will be telling?

Judith Thompson: One of the performers talked about how his greatest wish is to have sex. He’s 22, he’s allowed to say that. And I’m not sanitizing anything that way. And nobody laughs. I mean yes, he’s a 22-year-old male, of course he does.

They also talk about the fact that about 97 per cent of parents, when they find out their baby is going to have Down syndrome, terminate the pregnancy … Krystal actually wrote a letter to pregnant women that she delivers on the stage that is so heart wrenching, and it’s basically saying ‘Keep your Down syndrome baby.’

They talk about their struggles. And they’re very much invested in their families. Some of the parents have said ‘Why is it such a serious play?’ And I’ve said ‘It’s every bit as funny as it is serious, but I’m not here to entertain.’ There’s enough of that around. There’s nothing wrong with entertainment, but that’s not what I do. Theatre has to hold a mirror up, it has to illuminate, it has to make what is invisible visible, and what is silenced, heard. And they are doing it, in their voices.

RARE tickets can be ordered online.
Forrest insisted that the nurse give him a hospital band also! He said he was not leaving without me! He was so awesome the whole time I was in the hospital. I know that couch was very uncomfortable, but he made it work!
These are our first pictures at the High Risk office with Dr. Schneider. Look at that sweet little hand!!!
We can't wait to kiss all over those sweet tiny feet!!!
The first of MANY 4D ultrasound pictures!

Advertising in Adoption, Texas Edition

From my own backyard:
A mother accused of trying to sell her infant son insists she was simply trying to put him up for adoption.

In a jailhouse interview with News 8, Brittany Hill, 26, says she never wanted to make any money off her son.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I sell a child,” she told News 8. “A child is not an animal or a dog on the street.”

She posted the classified ad online several weeks ago on the website PennySaverUSA.com. The ad said she was “in search of an [sic] great family for my son... I can no longer care for him the way he needs to be.”

“I'm working with an adoption agency so there is an adoption fee they have set up,” the ad continued. “I believe its $6,500.”

Hill said she wanted to alert potential parents that an adoption would likely cost thousands of dollars.

“This is how much you’re going to have to pay for an attorney, living, medical -- all that stuff,” she said. “You can’t just say, ‘Oh, here’s your baby for free!’”

Hill said she stumbled across the website while Googling ways to put a child up for adoption. She decided to offer her child after noticing families posting ads wanting to adopt or take in foster children.
One problem with the mom's defense is that, even if she wasn't going to sell the child, it is against the law in Texas to merely advertise a child for adoption unless you are a licensed adoption agency.  (See Tex. Penal Code 25.09.)  So even if she wasn't selling the child, she committed a crime.

But what about all those people she saw advertising that they wanted to adopt?  Is that a crime, too?  The Penal Code says that it's an offense if a person advertises that they "will . . . obtain a child for adoption." Does that apply to a prospective adoptive parent advertising that they wish to adopt?  The Texas Attorney General, in response to a request for an opinion from the bill's sponsor says it's unclear:
You next ask whether section 25.09, Penal Code, prohibits a prospective adoptive parent
from advertising that he or she wishes to adopt a child. Section 25.09 prohibits a person, other than a licensed child-placing agency, from advertising that the person “will place a child for adoption or will provide or obtain a child for adoption.” The phrase “will. . obtain a child for adoption” could plausibly be read to refer to a person who seeks to adopt a child. Parts of the statute’s legislative history indicate that such a reading was intended. During a hearing on House Bill 1091 before the House Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family Issues, a witness asked you, as the bill’s sponsor,whether the provision would prohibit prospective adoptive parents from advertising that they wished to adopt a chi1d.s You stated repeatedly that the provision was intended to do so. You made reference to the committee’s interim report, the impetus for House Bill 1091, which recommended legislation that would ban “baby wanted” advertising.

On the other hand, the phrase ‘will. . obtain a child for adoption” could also be read to refer to the act of acquiring a child for someone else to adopt. Other parts of the legislative history support this construction. The Juvenile Justice Committee’s report on House Bill 1091 states: “The bill amends Penal Code Chapter 25, stating that a person commits an offense by advertising in the public media that they will place a child in adoption, or provide a child for adoption.“ And, in explaining House Bill 1091 on the floor of the House of Representatives, you stated that the bill “amends chapter 25 of the Penal Code creating an offense to advertise in the public media that a "child will be placed for adoption or provide a child for adoption.” Thus at least two explanations of the bill to the legislature omitted any reference to application of the prohibition to prospective adoptive parents. While the bill’s sponsor may have contemplated a different construction, when interpreting a statute a court must seek to effectuate the “collective” intent of the legislators who enacted it.” In doing so a court normally focuses on the literal text of the statute, which in this case we think is susceptible to more than one understanding. In light of the ambiguity in both the wording of the statute and its legislative history, we cannot predict how a court would rule on this question. Moreover, we believe this ambiguity makes the statute susceptible to a challenge that it is unconstitutionally vague.
So, a placing birth parent can't advertise without violating the criminal law, but a prospective adoptive parent can probably get away with it. Why is that, I wonder? Obviously the concern about advertising the placement of a child is that it might allow baby selling.  But don't "baby wanted" ads risk baby buying?

States take a variety of positions on advertising in adoption -- you can find a quick primer here.  I'll write more about other states some other time. . . .

Writing Prompt: New Beginnings

In light of my new writer website, the writing prompt for this week is New Beginnings. If you blog, I do hope you do consider joining the writing prompt. Just write a blog post about new beginnings (limit the word count to 500 words) read the post that linked before you, and make sure you link back to THIS POST.

You have until Friday, hope you join in!

Busted


















What do you do if you and your partner disagree on how to handle an issue with your child?

Let's say it's an issue that rankles, so one day you bring it up at a meeting with a social worker you're seeing for your child. And the therapist pretty much sides with your partner and even suggests that it would be helpful for you to get therapy (which you've already had lots of). She asks you if you were to let go of the vigilant worrying you do for your son, what would be left? What would be underneath? And she suggests that maybe it would be grief or maybe it would be something else.

If you're me, you sit on it for a while and do nothing.

Then you ask a friend who's seen the same social worker for her child what she thinks. "You're talking to the wrong person if you think I'll talk you out of therapy," she says. "All I do is therapy!"

Then, because you're so stubborn, you convince your partner that a second therapist, a cognitive-behaviour therapist, should weigh in on the matter. You're pretty sure this therapist's opinion will be more in line with your own.

So off you go. The second therapist suggests that this is more to do with you, your relationship and parenting styles. She isn't willing to criticize your partner's approach. She feels the issue is something you together should keep an eye on, but at this point she isn't red-flagging it and she isn't supporting your version of how to handle it (that hubby follow your precise recommendations).

Which brings you all back to the point that maybe there was something to what therapist number one had to say about you. That maybe the 'problem' isn't outside you, but within you, something that you have to take a closer look at.

Meanwhile, hubby is sitting on the couch, fighting heavy eyelids to stay awake and focused on therapist number two. "She never got to the point," he says afterwards. "I didn't really understand why we were there."

Busted, you think.

I guess you can never have too much therapy.
These are pictures we got when we had our PAP A screening test done. Daddy loves hime some pictures!! I swear it looks like baby D is sucking their thumb!!!!
"Children too are a gift from the LORD, the fruit of the womb, a reward." Psalms 127:3
What an awesome gift we have been given!
Our first ultrasound of Baby Dunlop!
Forrest swears it's a BOY!
The Dunlop Family is growing by 2 Feet!!!
On March 18, 2012 we found out that we were expecting a sweet bundle of joy! Baby Dunlop  was what we started calling him/her. We kept it a BIG secret for several weeks. We wanted to go to the doctor and make sure everything was ok before we started telling everyone. Forrest was about to bust at the seams! He was so excited and full of joy from the very start. Me,on the other hand, well I was a little different. I was scared, nervous, and very anxious. We hadn't exactly planned this pregnancy, but I knew that God had planned something for us. Our first visit went great, but the nausea/vomiting had already started! I kind of expected it because I was sick during my first pregnancy. I sucked it up and tried my best to not let anyone know that I was getting sick because we wanted to tell our friends and family in a neat "family" way. With the help of my cousin we took "feet" pictures and sent everyone cards that showed our feet and an extra pair of shoes. It said "The Dunlop family is growing by 2 feet!" I was so excited when we mailed them and then took our family out to eat to pass them out. It seemed like I was getting more excited! At my second doctors appointment we got to see Baby Dunlop for the first time. He/She is 9 weeks old and Forrest SWEARS it's a BOY! Of course it is way to early to tell, anything can change! We also noticed that I had lost 13 pounds. That raised a little red flag and Dr Pickens decided to draw some lab work to check my thyroid. I was not expecting a phone call the very next day!! When Dr Pickens himself called me, I felt so special..........My doctor called me not the nurse! And on top of that he must have had them rush my lab results........very VIP! Well that wasn't exactly the case ....at all. The lab report came back so fast because it was very abnormal, and he was calling me himself because he would rather tell me the dreaded news than his nurse. I received this news on a Wednesday afternoon, and I was fortunate enough to be able to get in to see an Endocrinologist that next Tuesday. Sometimes it really pays to have GREAT friends that work at doctors offices!! We had 2 very important doctors appointments lined up for April 17th and 18th..... I am now 10 weeks along. We both were going and we knew we were going to get some answers and relief. Well, tragedy hit us for the first time on April 13th when Forrest's PaPaw passed away. He lived a wonderful great life for 88 years and we all knew that it was time for him to go home to be with the Lord. The funeral was going to be in Brookhaven,MS and it was scheduled to be on Wednesday April 18th. Deeply torn and not sure exactly what I should do, my husband made a tough decision and decided that I needed to stay at home and go to both doctor's appoitments. Forrest stayed in town to go to the Endocrinologist appointment with me. We get to the office on the 18th early to do all of the paperwork and not to mention my anxiety was through the roof! I break out in a sweat, started crying, and threw up twice all before I even got called back! If I didn't have friends that work there, that understood what I was going through, I'm sure they would have thought I was crazy!!! We get called back and Dr. Cunningham came in and before she did anything else she wanted to do a thyroid ultrasound just to rule out anything else. I wasn't to fond of having to lay down with my legs higher than my head........not good for a sick pregnant person, but sometimes you have to do what you got to do! Everything looked great, she sat me up and began to examine me. After she did her full work up, she sat down in front of me and began to explain my lab finding. Basically what she told me is "I'm not putting you on any medicine." or at least that is all I heard at the time!! She explained that because my freeT4 was normal putting me on medicine could compromise the baby's thyroid. For a split second I thought she just didn't want to put me on any medicine, but then when I snapped back to reality I saw that she truly did care about me and my baby. The verdict........No medicine, this pregnancy related hyperthyroid problem peaks between 8-12 weeks, so basically try and tough it out for 2 more weeks and hope it gets better! They draw more blood before we leave, and I throw up 2 more times. I headed to work and my husband headed to Brookhaven, MS to be with his family. Every hour he was calling me checking on me! The very next day I was scheduled to go back to Ruch Clinic and see Dr. Pickens. Not wanting to go alone my sister went with me. Right before they called me back I got sick (this was becoming the story of my life). They got my weight and I was down 4 more pounds, and my blood pressure was slightly high. The doctor said that was probably due to the fact that I had just gotten sick. I knew that I was trying to do all that I could do, but I'm sure Dr. Pickens was wondering if I was just being a wimp! Ha! This is when the "talk" came! He basically told me that if I didn't start eating and drinking (which I was) then I was going to have to go into the hospital for fluids, and if it got really bad we would have to do a feeding tube. He was very nice in giving me all my options. We talked about doing a PAP A screening test and he agreed that with everything going on that would not be a bad idea. He wanted to follow up with me in about 10 days. Due to scheduling conflicts with the test and his schedule I had to see the Nurse Practioner. Her name is Leslie and she is a doll!! They call us back and we got to see our little baby again on ultrasound! They took all kind of measurement and took lots of pictures. I still did not feel good. We went back and waited to see Leslie. She came in and I immediatly started crying. Ugh!! I felt like a BIG BABY!!!! I started explaining to her that emotionally this being sick all the time was wearing me down and I wasn't sure how much longer I could keep going on like this. She was very comforting and assured me that it would get better. she wanted me to follow up with Dr Pickens in 2 weeks. We had more labs drawn before we left as part of the screening test........I just THOUGHT I was beginning to feel like a pin coushin! I made an appointment and continued on my way. I pretty much had it down as to what I could eat and what I could not. Meaning what would hurt coming back up and what would not. I knew I was not getting the nutrients that my body needed, but I was not sure what else I could do. By the end of the week, im 13weeks now, I was still sick and so emotional. My sister, being swiper the sneaky fox that she is....Ha!....called my doctors office and explained the situation to the nurse. The nurse called me and said that they wanted to see me Monday (5/7) morning. They were concerned about how emotional, anxious, and depressed I was. I stayed in the bed all weekend and didn't do a thing. I did not feel like moving. Monday could not get here fast enough, but little did I know that when Monday came I would wish it hadn't! Finally Monday, May 7th!!!! Forrest met me at Ruch Clinic at 10. OUr appointment wasn't until 10:30, but if I was going to feel bad I might as well feel bad at their office. The nurse called us back, and first thing is "let's get your weight." I was thinking to myself "I was only down 1 pound last week, I'm sure this week I probably haven't lost any." Boy was I wrong. Blow #1 I was down 6 (SIX) more pounds in only 6 days. That's when I broke down and started crying. Dr Pickens came in and he knew I didn't feel good. He said the fact that I was now down 25 pounds ( im only 13 weeks) is pretty extreme and he wanted me to go see Dr Schneider who is a High Risk OB/GYN ....TODAY! I knew that was coming even though I tried to fight it. Then came Blow #2. That's when Dr Pickens informed me that my PAP A screening test for Down's Syndrome came back positive. My heart stopped...........I felt like I quit breathing for a minute. What did he just say? I'm here because I'm sick, does he realize that? He MUST have the wrong chart, nothing is wrong with my baby. I'm the one that is sick!!! I didn't realize how hard I was crying. He began to explain that for my age, my risk for having a Down's Syndrome baby should be 1 in 300. However since my screening came back positive that increased my risk to 1 in 57. TERRIFIED does not even begin to describe how I felt at that moment. I have seen this little baby on ultrasound moving and flipping, did Dr Pickens see that? Because if he had then he would know that my baby was perfect! He left the room and went and called Dr Schneider himself. I tried to take that time to get myself together.........it didn't work. He came back and said they were going to see me today at 1:30 and he was 3 floors down. Dr Pickens told us there was futher testing the high risk doctor could do if we wanted to know for sure. My answer was YES YES YES. I knew I wanted to know if something was going to be wrong with my baby. Did it matter.......NO, but I wanted to be prepared to give the best care I could from the beginning. Forrest on the other hand didn't want to jump into any testing. His thinking is "it's just a screening and they have false positives all the time." He was very right, but I wanted to know if it was a true or false positive on our baby. This is me, not a friend, or a friend of a friend, it was ME! Forrest called my work and told them I was not going to be at work because of the doctors appointment. We get to UT High Risk Group early, fill out all the paperwork, and then wait. I must say the paper work made us both stop and think! High Risk means they want to know everything about you and your family!!! They called us back and we go for more ultrasounds. We have more pictures of Baby Dunlop at just 13 weeks than most people have the whole pregnancy! We saw perfect hands, perfect feet, perfect body, head, everything was just so perfect. Then we got to see our baby on 4D!!! I'm not going to lie at 13 weeks it was kind of creepy looking, but none the less I was in love!!!! She printed off lots of pictures for us and then took us to a conference room to wait on the doctor. We just stared at the pictures in awe. Dr Schneider came in and introduced himself, and let me just say he is one of the nicest people I have ever met. We went over the nausea/vomiting and decided the best route to take would be to admit me into the hospital for a few days to get me plenty of fluids and some vitamins. I was upset but ready to get some rest and get better. Then we moved on to the "positive PAP A" which I was hoping we could avoid. He told us again that we should be a 1 in 300, but we were at 1 in 57 with the positive screening. However, during their test they found a Cystic hygroma on the baby and that put me at more of a 1 in 5 chance. My heart stopped and I stopped breathing. Numb from head to toe and crying uncontrollably the doctor started handing me a tissue and started talking to Forrest. It would do him no good to continue to look at me and try to talk to me. He did say it was a VERY small cystic hygroma and most of the time they go away on their own, but it could be something. In high risk we learned that there is no mild, moderate, or severe case. They diagnosis and give you best case and worst case scenario. They do not know the severity of it until the baby is actually born. He discussed Down's Syndrome, Turner's syndrome, SMA, and various other chromosome defects that the cystic hygroma could be a precurser to. The worst news of all was that MOST of the diagnosis he discussed with us had a grim outlook. Would our baby even make it to term? Would he/she only live a short while after birth? They gave us several options, 1. you can do nothing and wait until the baby is born, 2. There is a blood test that is very new in the United States that test chromosome 13, 18, and 21 (which are your major syndromes).It is about 96% accurate, only thing is with it being so new, insurances don't really cover it 3. CVS which is Chorionic Villus sampling. That is 99% accurate, and it has been around forever. Basically you have to between 10-13 weeks and what they do is stick a needle through your abdomen, through the uterus, and take a very small sample of the placenta. We had to give them an answer ASAP. If we wanted to do the CVS we had to do it that week, otherwise we would have to wait until I was 15 weeks and do amniocentesis. The doctor did not put any pressure on us but did make sure that we understood that if we waited that would only prolong the results. We both knew immediately that we wanted to do the CVS testing. The nurse and the nurse practitioner came in and told us they were going to walk us downstairs to be a direct admit. We checked into the hospital and went to our room. The nurses came right in and got started on the IV's! I had a swollen face, a sick stomach, and a racing mind. Friends and family came up that night to sit with us and check on me which was very sweet. I got sick, surprise surprise! They gave me some phenergran through the IV which kind of excited me because I knew it would knock me out! That didn't happen! The nurse practitioner and Dr Schneider came in and checked on me which made me feel better. They were very optimistic that everything was going to be fine. What they saw was so very minor they were not really worried. After everyone left we decided to get some rest. Poor Forrest had to sleep on the hospital room couch! I'm not really sure what time it was but after a while of me flipping and flopping in the bed he got up and went to the nurses station and told them that I was going to need that sleeping pill that Dr Schneider had ordered for me! HaHa! Not real sure if that was for my benefit or his! Either way I got a few hours of sleep. Tuesday came and went, I did get a shower which made me feel a lot better. I was getting very tired of laying down and having to turn around and get up, unplug my IV machine, roll it to the bathroom, come back, untangle all the cords, plug it back in, and lay back down only to repeat it in 15 minutes. I was able to get more sleep Tuesday night, but I was up bright and early Wednesday morning anxious to go. The nurse came in around 6:30 and started the discharge papers. We had everything packed up and we were ready to head downstairs! I got a wheel chair ride downstairs around 7 am. We didn't have to be at Dr Schneider's office until 7:30 so we walked over to the cafeteria and I got a little bit of oatmeal, and a plain jane pancake. I ate a little of both, enough to where I didn't feel like I would get sick during the procedure.  We got to the office and they took us straight back to the same bad conference room we were in on Monday. I think I even asked if they had any other room we might could go to........joking of course!  Dr Philllips came in and introduced herself, and explained the procedure inside and out. We signed all the waivers and went over all of the risks, and benefits. Out the door, down the hall, and back to the ultrasound room we go. They asked if it would be ok if a 1st year student resident  stood in the corner to watch, and we were perfectly ok with that. They would not be assisting in anything, and this office had done us a huge favor by working us in ASAP I felt like the least we could do is let someone watch so they could learn and help people in the future. They started with the ultrasound, and she asked me how I was feeling. I was not feeling my best, but I was ok. The ultrasound tech told me I was having a contraction. A WHAT!?!?!? I'm only 13 weeks this is not suppose to be happening this early. Does that mean I am fixing to go into labor? My mind was racing and I started to get upset. Forrest was right next to me trying to calm me down, and the tech looked at me and asked me "Did you even know you were having a contraction until I told you?" That made me stop and think.......no I wasn't feeling anything. Then she told me that pregnant women have contractions all the time and never know it. It's completely normal. She showed us on the screen what a contraction looked like and what she needed it to look like.I layed there  for a few minutes trying to calm down. Finally everything was where it needed to be and we could get this party started. Dr Phillips came in and gave me a little shot in my tummy to numb the spot. Really I could have done without that, but I guess some people think it helps. She made sure the ultrasound was in the right spot and she stick thee needle through my stomach, and then gave it an extra push to get through my uterus. That was definitely a different feeling! Since I have the weirdest pain tolerance in the whole wide world I laughed! To our surprise my intestines got in the way.........so embarrassing! LOL!! They could not get to the placenta from that spot so she had to take the needle out and start over in a different spot. Thank goodness second time was a charm! She did what she needed to do in retrieving the sample and out the door she went. She did say she wanted me to also be tested for SMA which is Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Having just read a blog about a family that went through this it scared me a little. But better to find out now than later. The SMA test was much easier, they just drew some more blood from my arm. I was just discharged from the hospital, had a needle through my stomach, and blood drawn from my arm. I looked like a walking band aid!!! We left and headed home. I was so ready to get in my bed and have my blanket and pillows. We took my prescriptions to the pharmacy and dropped them off for Forrest to pick up later. I was soooo ready to see all of my babies and kiss all over them. Joncarlo came home from school and all I wanted to do is hold him. Thursday came and I went back to work. Of corse everyone was glad to see me, and see that I was better. I left out all the "testing they did on the baby" part when everyone asked how I was doing. Honestly we didn't know what was really going on and I didn't want to talk about it until we knew something for sure. Joncarlo played ball all weekend so it kept us busy and kept me from thinking about things. Don't get me wrong, I thought  about it, and I was very scared, but I had two other boys that needed me. The Spikes had the best weekend ever in baseball!!! I almost cried I was so proud of how Joncarlo played! Our weekend was cut short with Hunter because of Mother's Day. Of course I wanted to keep him and have my whole family all  weekend, but I knew his mom wanted to spend that special day with him. I didn't sleep much Sunday night, I knew Monday was literally right around the corner. Forrest kept reassuring me that everything was going to be fine it was such a minor thing that they saw, but deep down I had to prepare myself for something. I felt it was better to prepare for the worst and receive the best than prepare for the best and receive the worst. I did catch myself thinking "I'm only 32 and this doesn't happen to people this young." Monday morning I got up and went to work as usual. I took the kids to school, did my normal stuff at their house, and then left. As I was leaving I  text Forrest and said "Please keep your phone on in case the doctors office calls." HE was the one that was going to get the call with the results of the CVS and SMA. I was going to go home fix a lunch and go into the office early, but then I decided to be lazy and watch TV for a minute. I usually have a 2 hour break in between my Zeni babies and the office. I turned on the TV and picked up the iPad to start journaling. All of a sudden I heard the garage door open. I knew it had to be Forrest, and I was guessing that he had to run home to pick something up. He walked in and the second I saw him my heart stopped. Had they already called?? Immediately I asked him if he had heard anything. He didn't say anything. I ask again and I started crying. I think that  was a natural reaction, to cry. I didn't know if it was good or bad but I knew that he knew something. He sat down next to me on the couch and put the iPad on the coffee table. With tears in his eyes and a smile on his face he looked at me and said everything is going to be ok. I knew everything was going to be ok but I knew in my heart that something was wrong. I prayed that it be the best of the worst. He said we are going to have  a very special more than perfect baby.........we are going to have a Down Syndrome baby. Yes I was crying, but at the same time I wanted to jump up and down and celebrate! My baby is going to live!!!!!  We called all of the family and told them the news, and everyone was excited for us. Throughout all of this we have been blessed to have the most amazing support group stand with us and be there for whatever we need. There will be a lot of changes in our future, and this will be a challenge, but we are ready. God placed his hand directly in our lives by giving us special Baby Dunlop! Anyone can choose to be pregnant, but only God chooses who he gives the special one to! We will have a lot more doctor visits than normal because we are now seeing  2 doctors, and we are very well aware that there is a strong possibility that Baby Dunlop will have to have heart surgery as an infant ( heart problems can be part of downs syndrome). While we are praying for a healthy heart we are ready for the path that God has chosen for us. When reading this at no point do we want you to feel sorry or sad for us. We are more than happy with everything, and actually feel as if we have hit the lottery! Please pray for us and Baby Dunlop as we embark on this journey. Down syndrome is also know as Trisomy 21 because there are three chromosomes on the 21st chromosome instead of two......and He or She is going to ROCK that extra chromosome!!! Sometimes you  never knew you wanted something until God gives it to you, and that is so true for us! Thank you for all of the love, support, and prayers! We will keep everyone posted on Baby Dunlop's heart as we find out!! Oh and Baby Dunlop says "Be Down with Down's!"

American Couple Jailed in Ghana for Suspected Child Trafficking for Adoption

There's been a lot of gossip on various adoption blogs (like here and here and here, for a small sampling) about this case, but this, from the AP, is the first "official" media report I've seen:
Police in Ghana say an American couple was recently detained on suspicion of child trafficking after trying to board a plane with four children they are trying to adopt.

Comfort Miah, an official with the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, told The Associated Press: "They say the children were adopted and we are investigating to find out if this has been properly granted by a court of proper jurisdiction."

Sol and Christine Moghadam from Irvine, Calif., were traveling with their two biological children and four adopted siblings from Ghana. They were stopped Friday at Accra's airport.

On their blog and in a video created on their behalf, the couple says they were forced to spend Friday night in jail. Their two biological children were placed in an orphanage. As of Tuesday, they had still not been allowed to leave Ghana.
For the family's blog mentioned in the article, click here.

Cerebral Palsy - And Adoption Story

“I hope to adopt someday."

The sentiment was real, yet my idea of adoption was romanticized and I lacked a real understanding of adoption.  I pictured bringing a shy, malnourished, lonely child to my home who would transform into a healthy and happy little person because of the love of our family.

I must confess that when we adopted a child with cerebral palsy I also had unrealistic expectations of the changes we would see in her mobility. I mistakenly thought that she would be taking independent steps as soon as six months after bringing her home due to weekly physical therapy, stretching, and the love of our family. I saw other kids that had been adopted accomplish such things, and surely, our daughter would too.

What I did not understand about adoption, and more specifically, the adoption of a child with special needs, was that we were dealing with more than the emotional aspect of a neglected child, we were also dealing with a disability that we had never lived with before, and the disability was hard. We stepped into a world of wheelchairs, MRIs, therapy, and countless doctor appointments. We thought we were ready, that it would be easy since we had a biological daughter with Down syndrome, yet, we felt challenged and stretched and often times wondered if we had made a mistake. 

To continue reading CLICK HERE. My article is published at specialneeds.com

Mom backs real blended food for tube-fed tot





















By Jennifer Han

My twins Andrew and Eleanor were 28-week preemies. Andrew came home from the hospital with three stomach surgeries under his belt and significant brain damage. The brain damage caused cerebral palsy and epilepsy, which put him at risk of aspirating and made feeding difficult.

At 21 months he had a fourth surgery to place a G-tube to ensure he was getting nutrition safely and in hopes of boosting his calories.

Andrew, I was told, could no longer eat real food. Instead, his diet would be a formula
that was described as nutritionally complete, but which I discovered is made up of 53 per
cent corn syrup.

The G-tube solved the problem of getting formula into Andrew, but it exacerbated his
reflux and vomiting. Andrew spit up every ounce, retched, lost weight, never slept and
stopped smiling. Instead of producing stools, he had green diarrhea once or twice a week.
He was on the brink of total dehydration and doctors suggested more surgery: a J-tube,
nissen-fundoplication or GJ-tube, but with the caveat that they might not work.

Then, while scouring the Internet for stories about children with severe reflux, I came across something called the blenderized diet.

In this diet, vegetables, fruits, grains and meats are blended in a super high-speed
blender until they become liquid, then fed through the g-tube.

Families out in the blogosphere said that real food had a calming effect on their children’s
stomachs and as a result, stayed down.

I had no idea that real food was a possibility with a G-tube!

This diet – which was never presented to us as an option by our medical team – has given
us our boy back.

The blenderized diet isn’t new or radical. Feeding tubes have been around for decades and patients were once fed mostly blenderized food. In the 1970s commercial formula was introduced; hospitals embraced the convenience and never looked back.

I told our doctor and nutritionist that before we did any more surgery, I was going to try
the blenderized diet. They weren’t happy. They said they had never had a patient go this route and that formula was best. With some reluctance, our medical team agreed to a trial.

The first week of the diet, Andrew did not spit up once. By day four, he was completely
off formula and having nice bowel movements one to three times a day. He went from taking multiple 10- to 15-minute catnaps a day to a single one-to-three hour nap. He started sleeping 10 to 11 hours straight through the night with no feedings.

At his weigh-in two weeks after the start of the diet, he had lost a few ounces. I was
disappointed, but knew that as the body adjusts from a mostly-sugar diet to real food,
this was common.

Ever since, Andrew’s been gaining weight!

He may spit up once a week or so but it’s usually if he’s overtired or constipated.

Now that Andrew’s body is responding in a healthy way to real food, it’s clear that
formula didn’t agree with him. We are bewildered and beyond pleased at how amazingly fast, drastic and profound the change has been. Not only is the blenderized diet treating Andrew’s severe reflux but it’s made him happier and healthier and prevented further surgery.

We know this diet isn’t for all children with severe GI problems. However, I believe medical staff should present it as a treatment option along with standard surgeries.

While the blenderized diet is a foreign idea to most North American hospitals,
there are a few – like Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Cincinnati Children’s –
that recommend it. In fact, in a 2010 study by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, 75 to 100
per cent of 33 children with failed nissen fundoplications who trialed the blenderized
diet showed an immediate reduction of 50 per cent or more in reflux and vomiting.

For Andrew and our family, the blenderized diet has been life-saving.

Before beginning any change in your child’s diet, run it by your medical team, as it’s
important that you have a supportive doctor and dietician to guide you.

Blenderized diet resources

Homemade Blended Formula Handbook by Marsha Dunn Klein

Ainsley Rae blog: great practical tips from a mom

Blended Food Resource Group

Facebook group for the blenderized diet

Andrew’s first blenderized recipe

This one comes out to about 34 calories per ounce. His Elecare formula is 30 calories per ounce. In the other recipes I’ve come up with, ratios for protein/grains/oils/veggies/fruits stay the same. I just swap different foods each time. His blends tend to be between 30 to 40 calories per ounce.

3 cups of roast chicken 700 calories
1 cup orange juice 100 calories
1 cup soy milk 100 calories
2 slices of whole wheat bread 200 calories
1 cup blueberries 70 calories
1/2 cup broccoli 40 calories
1 cup spinach 60 calories
1 tablespoon of olive oil 120 calories
1/3 cup apple sauce 60 calories
1/2 cup peas 60 calories
1/2 banana 50 calories
1 container pureed pear 45 calories

Total Calories: 1645

Read about Andrew and Eleanor and the latest edition to the Han family at The Early Birdies.