We End Where We Began…

30 11 2010

To learn more about Joint Council’s National Adoption Month Advocacy Campaign-Click Here

Today, we are ending our 30-Day Challenge in the same place we began, in a childcare center in Johannesburg, South Africa.  Our story began with Mbali-Today it ends with Gabrielle, who passed away on June 26, 2004, the day after Mbali.  The story below was written by Thea Jarvis, who founded TLC, the day that Gabrielle passed away.  To read Thea’s story and the founding of TLC, click here.

Gabrielle passed away today.  Gabrielle’s story has been such a sad one from the beginning.   Her Mommy is a young girl who was found wandering around Baragwanath Hospital with the newborn baby in a duffel bag.   When a nurse from the psychiatry department noticed that the bag was moving she confronted the girl and called a security guard to check the bag, to confirm her suspicions.

They sent the baby and the Mom to TLC with the idea that Gabrielle should stay until the mother had received some counseling … Gabrielle was only a few hours old and the most beautiful baby.

Gabrielle’s Mommy’s story was one that is becoming more and more frequent.   The mother found out she was HIV+ and simply lost it!   She went crazy.   Gabrielle’s mother  tried to abort her baby, but when that didn’t work, she went  into labor, went to the hospital and delivered the baby.   She is still psychotic though, and has not shown any interest in the baby apart from the rare phone call.

Gabrielle has been a sickly baby from the beginning, even though she tested HIV-.  Gabrielle spent quite a few stints in hospital and always came home with the doctors scratching their heads and having no answers.   Her hospital file was full of question marks.

So, here we are today, our little girl has, like Mbali, taken her wings and gone home.  It was a shock for us .  It was so sudden, with Mbali we had due warning.   Even though Gabrielle was sickly we hoped that because she was HIV- we could put up a fight and win…because we usually do.   We did not expect this.   She drank her bottle.   Started screaming in agony and immediately died leaving us all in shock.  Good bye my little sweet girl!

Note: Rebecca, Joint Council’s Director of Programs and Services, will return to TLC  from December 15th – December 26th.  While there, Rebecca will be blogging and video-blogging at wwwbetheanswerforchildren.wordpress.com.

Today the task is simple- give yourself a big pat on the back and check out everything that Joint Council and you have accomplished this month through our I Am The Answer Campaign. You have successfully made it through the 30 day challenge! Congrats!





I Am A Mother…

30 11 2010

To learn more about Joint Council’s National Adoption Month Advocacy Campaign-Click Here

“I am a mother.”  It is with these simple yet profound words that Thea Jarvis, founder and president of TLC Ministries in South Africa explains her life’s work.  In 1993, Thea established TLC Ministries amid political turmoil, racial hatred, and a growing orphan crisis in South Africa.  Today in South Africa there are approximately 2,500,000 orphans.  Thea and her family have made it their life’s mission that they help as many of these children as possible.

In its first year TLC Ministries found two orphaned children a home – Thea’s.  Thea explains, “Our first two little boys were called Joshua and Reuel…We found them in Baragwanath Hospital amongst 40 other tiny, abandoned children.  A little Albino boy, Tommy, followed a year later.  He stole and melted our hearts.  Then at two years of age those stolen hearts were melted down even further and poured out into buckets of tears when he tested HIV positive.  That was our initiation, and first taste of the very bitter cross we were going to carry in this ministry.  After Tommy, came a little boy with cleft lip and palate and we called him Brendon.  He had been abandoned in the Johannesburg Hospital.  Soon after Brendon followed Crispin, who was born to a 13-year old street child.  She already had a one year old to cope with.  A second baby was too much for her.  Soon after Brendon and Crispin had joined our family, God put the ministry into full throttle and more and more babies started finding their way to TLC…Since that time we have been growing by leaps and bounds.  I have personally adopted 14 children in addition to my 5 biological children.  My eldest daughter, Joanna, has adopted four children and has one biological son.  My next daughter, Pippa has adopted seven little ones.  Then there are another 10 who have ended up with us for various reasons, have permanently joined our family, although they are not yet adopted.”

Thea and her family realized they alone cannot help the many children in need. So, after Brendon and Crispin joined the family Thea began to work to streamline the adoption process so that children who came into the ministry who could not be reunited with their biological family could be adopted both domestically and internationally.  Meanwhile, Thea and her family moved into a larger house on an expansive farm outside of Johannesburg.  The large house includes living quarters for Thea and all her children as well as a nursery which over 35 children call home until their family is found.  The nursery is staffed by dedicated and committed volunteers.   To date, Thea and the ministry she founded has managed to help place over 750 children into permanent, safe, and loving families.  Thea, her family, and her ministry are true heroes for the children of South Africa.

Please be aware Adoptions from South Africa and TLC Ministries to the U.S. are currently not open.

You can follow Thea on her blog at http://thea-jarvis.blogspot.com/ or to learn more about TLC Ministries go to their website at www.tlc.org.za.  TLC is celebrating the Christmas Season by sharing the story of one child everyday until Christmas, check these stories at http://seasongiving.blogspot.com/ or

Please Note: Rebecca, Joint Council’s Director of Programs and Services will spend from December 15th – December 26th with Thea at TLC.  While there Rebecca will be blogging and video-blogging at http://www.betheanswerforchildren.wordpress.com.

Today the task is simple- give yourself a big pat on the back and check out everything that Joint Council and you have accomplished this month through our I Am The Answer Campaign. You have successfully made it through the 30 day challenge! Congrats!





Give Yourself A Pat On The Back!

30 11 2010

When was the last time you really made a difference in the lives of others?  If you participated in our 30-Day Challenge, then you made a real difference every day in November! Whether you checked out our blog daily, caught up over the weekends, or looked back towards the end of the month, your involvement has changed the lives of thousands of children.  Our estimates indicate that you, as part of our community, helped over 6000 children this month!   Below are the highlights of what our community accomplished during our 30-Day Challenge. After you read today’s final stories about Gabrielle and TLC Ministries and complete your 30 day challenge- Celebrate and feel free to pat yourself on the back!

1) Remember Song?  Well, because of his story on our blog, he found a family!  After reading about Song, a family has come forward and has begun the process of adopting him.  In only a few short months he will be living with a loving family.

2) Together our efforts helped ensure that the International Adoption Simplification Act passed Congress.   Your emails and phone call to Congress helped eliminate two big barriers which were preventing children from becoming part of an adoptive family.  Passage of the International Adoption Simplification Act helps over 2,200 children next year alone!

3) Although we haven’t yet been able to ensure the Help Haiti Act passed Congress (please keep calling your Representatives!), together, we raised enough awareness.  CNN’s Anderson Cooper joined in by doing a story about the Help Haiti Act!

4) Well over 100 individuals wrote on the Facebook page of Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva, asking for her to advocate for the 65 Kyrgyz children who are still waiting to be with their forever families. We showed so much support that she responded! Check it out here.

5) Together we helped raise over $600 for Haitian Roots, $2 at a time.  How?  Simply by commenting on the SixSeeds blog!  Haven’t done this yet?  There’s still time.  Click here to raise $2 for Haitian Roots by reading the blog and commenting.

6) By suggesting to your friends that they should ‘Like’ Joint Council on Facebook, we expanded our community by 87 people!

7) Thanks to your social networking, our photo contest is off to a great start!  There’s been a record amount of submissions so far!  To learn how to submit photos, click here.

8.) With your help we’ve raised over $5,285 which will be used to  to continue our efforts to ensure more children live in permanency, safety and love!  Haven’t donated yet?  Click here to do so.

 

9) Be The Answer shirts are being worn by fathers, mothers, children, and child advocates in states all across the USA.  Purchasers of these shirts are showing their Be The Answer pride from the California coast all the way to New York City!  Want a t-shirt?  Check them out here.

10) Joint Council received over 95 stories for the 30-Day Challenge!  Sixty of these stories were viewed over 17,000 times on our blog.  Together, we raised awareness.  Together, we have shown the face of children who found a family through adoption.  Together, we gave voice to children who wait alone. Together, We Are The Answer!

Although the 30-Day Challenge will end, the needs of children will not.  So what’s next?  Here’s a quick highlight of what we already have planned for December…

1)      A $20,000 matching grant for every donation made in December.  Your end of year tax-deductable donation will go twice as far in December!  More details coming soon…

2)      A blog post from Joint Council’s President & CEO regarding his recent child advocacy trip to Russia.

3)      Joint Council advocacy trip to Ethiopia, with daily blog posts and updates from our travels!

4)      Rebecca will be working with orphans at TLC in Johannesburg, South Africa.  Stay tuned for her posts and video blogs!

And this is just the start…check out our blog throughout December to see what we as a community are doing and how you can join in!  Because as you know, Being the Answer for Children doesn’t end in November – it’s a year round commitment! Don’t forget to read the final 2 stories of November.

As always, thank you for your continued participation and support of Joint Council and the children we all serve!





Be The Answer for Kyoo Bin

29 11 2010

To learn more about Joint Council’s National Adoption Month Advocacy Campaign-Click Here

Despite the efforts by public interest groups and government entities in Korea and abroad to support and encourage parenting by single-birth mothers, domestic adoption, and birth family preservation, close to 10,000 children continue to be lost, abandoned, left to be found, and relinquished by single and married birthparents every year in South Korea.  Last year, only 24% of these children were placed with permanent families (in Korea and internationally).   There is a loud outcry by those who oppose inter-country adoption of Korean children as they make the claim that because Korea is a modern, developed nation, Koreans should be taking care of “their own children”, but the reality is that Korean attitudes and emotions towards orphans, homeless children, and domestic adoption are not receptive to this argument.  When the birthfamily cannot be preserved as a permanent solution for the child, domestic families are not stepping up, to the degree that is needed, to provide permanent Korean homes for these children.  In these cases, international adoption is the path through the child’s basic right to a family can be realized.

Kyoo Bin* was born to a young single woman in August of last year.  Unlike the majority of single birthmothers who are ostracized from their schools, families, friends and communities with no financial, emotional or physical resources, Kyoo Bin’s birthmother sought out her own parents (with whom she had been estranged) and received their counsel and support while making a decision as to her child’s future.  Based on her own belief that she was emotionally incapable of being responsible for her child, but also due to the lack of financial support available and because of social barriers that exist for single mothers (lack of access to re-enter high school, lack of affordable and available regular daycare, difficulty in securing a safe, stable, single-parent conducive job, strong traditional beliefs against women with children marrying, etc.), the birthmother decided upon adoption for her son.  Also very important in the decision for adoption by the birthmother were the real issues that Kyoo Bin would have had to face as a child (and later as an adult) being raised by a single mother in Korea.  These challenges include discrimination and social stigma that result in significant (of a much higher degree than anything experienced by adoptees in the US or European countries) denial of access to jobs, education, marriage, and family acceptance/belonging.  (The lifelong prejudice and denial of access to basic social and economic rights is even greater for children who grow up in Korea with no permanent families and who have been identified as having “orphan” status.)

Born at nearly full-term and healthy, Kyoo Bin has been in the care of a loving foster family since shortly after he was relinquished on the day of his birth.  Kyoo Bin is an active, bright-eyed child who I have had the pleasure to meet with his case worker and foster mother.  After having recovered from transient tachypnea at birth, Kyoo Bin has been healthy, but continues to show delayed motor skill development.  Cerebral Palsy, Fragile X syndrome, and Prader-Will Syndrome have all been ruled out as any potential cause for Kyoo Bin’s delays.  Now, over a year old, Kyoo Bin is not yet walking, but crawls well and pulls himself up.  He is positive, easy-going, and quite social while his favorite place to be is on his foster father’s knee.  Kyoo Bin enjoys playing with his toys, but has started to exhibit head-banging behaviors one time per day if at all.  His aging foster parents are providing him with a loving, but temporary home.  The hope of Kyoo Bin’s birthmother and her plan for him was that he would thrive and be able to meet his maximum potential.  This will only truly be possible when he is in a permanent family.

*Name of child changed to protect identity and at the request of the Korean adoption agency.  If you are interested in adopting Kyoo Bin, please contact Jane Lee at jlee@chsfs.org

Be The Answer For Kyoo Bin and other children by Watching Joint Council’s Be The Answer Video. Share your thoughts on the video by leaving a comment on YouTube.





The Answer for Evyn

20 11 2010

To learn more about Joint Council’s National Adoption Month Advocacy Campaign-Click Here

Happy National Adoption Day from Joint Council. Watch the video below as Bryson and Emily share their journey to adopting their daughter Evyn from Ethiopia.

Find and Attend a National Adoption Month Event in your area. Email Joint Council at betheanswer@jointcouncil.org with what you did. Include pictures so we can share them with our followers!





Update: Ukraine

19 11 2010

As reported by the U.S. Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues, the Ukrainian legislature is preparing to vote on a bill (4313) that would suspend all intercountry adoptions from countries that do not have bilateral agreements with Ukraine.  This would appear to include new and pending adoptions from the United States.  In Ukraine, a bill must pass two votes in the Rada and be signed by the president for it to become law.  At this time, bill 4313 has passed the first vote with an overwhelming majority, thus showing favor towards the suspension of intercountry adoption from Ukraine.  We expect that the second reading could take place in the next few weeks.  It is our understanding that if bill 4313 is approved after the second reading, it could be signed into law as early as the end of 2010.  The approval of this bill would also mark the beginning of the implementation of The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption (The Convention) in Ukraine.

It is Joint Council’s opinion that that while this change may promote long-term protections for vulnerable Ukrainian children, immediate implementation without the proper safeguards is not in the best interest of Ukrainian children in need.  The Hague Guide to Good Practice clearly expresses that ratifying countries should access and strategically implement The Convention, rather than prematurely ratify.  The Guide to Good Practice also states that Intercountry Adoption should not be suspended during the period in which The Convention is implemented.  It is clear that passage of bill 4313 is not in line with the recommendations of The Hague Permanent Bureau and will effectively end intercountry adoption in Ukraine for an undetermined amount of time and, therefore, eliminate a viable option for children in need of families.

Joint Council and its Member Organizations remain committed to the children and families of Ukraine. We continue to work closely with both the U.S. and Ukrainian governments for the best interest of each child.  Joint Council urges the Ukrainian government to implement The Convention in accordance with the Guide to Good Practice.  Further, if the Ukrainian government chooses to continue down its current path, we urge the creation of a ‘grandfather’ provision, which would allow adoptions currently in process to continue.

We continue to seek clarity on the bill and continue to work with our colleagues in the Ukrainian and U.S. governments to ensure every child’s right to a family, the proper implementation of The Convention by the Ukrainian government and, if necessary, the creation of a ‘grandfather’ provision.  Joint Council will update our website and blog as soon as more information becomes available.  Interested individuals are encouraged to sign up for Joint Council updates regarding Ukraine by clicking here.





Update: Help Haiti Act

18 11 2010

The last week has been full of twists and turns for the Help Haiti Act.  Monday it was on the Congressional calender for a vote, then removed.  Tuesday and Wednesday we discovered that the House Democratic leadership intended to tie a somewhat controversial piece of legislation, the DREAM Act, to the Help Haiti Act (click here for more information).  Doing so could mean that the Help Haiti Act might not pass this year and would have a long upward fight in 2011.  Today, however, we have seen a little bit of light.  Sen. Reid announced that he plans to introduce the DREAM Act into the Senate.  Doing so would likely mean the DREAM Act would not be tied to the Help Haiti Act.

Politics can change very quickly here in Washington and everything could change again tomorrow, or later today. Therefore, over 1200 adoptive children from Haiti without a clear path to citizenship need you to continue to to call and email your Representative, asking them to support the Help Haiti Act.  Please don’t forget to ask your friends and family to do the same.  The children need a loud and powerful voice – the voice of thousands of America’s granting them the right every U.S. adopted child should have – citizenship.  So, please keep the phone calls and emails coming!

How You Can Help


Today, as early as possible, please do the following:

1) Contact via phone and/or email your Representative and respectfully request their support of the Help Haiti Act.  For detailed information regarding the legislation, please read below.  To find your Representative, please click here.

2) Once you have contacted your Representative, please let us know by e-mailing betheanswer@jointcouncil.org.

3) And the new step…ask your friends and family, post on your facebook page, blog and twitter.  Ask them to call their Representative and request their support of the Help Haiti Act and email the support to betheanswer@jointcouncil.org.

4) Follow our blog for updates on the Help Haiti Act until it passes – betheanswerforchildren.wordpress.com

As always, we extend our appreciation for your continued partnership with Joint Council and your anticipated participation in supporting the Help Haiti Act.

What is the Help Haiti Act (H.R. 5283)?

The HELP Haiti Act was introduced by Representative Fortenberry in response to the needs of 1,200 children who entered the U.S. through Humanitarian Parole after the earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010.

Using Humanitarian Parole to unite children with their adoptive families was a true act of humanitarianism.  Unfortunately, a barrier still exists which causes significant and undue delays in providing American citizenship to these children.  This is especially critical for older children who continue to ‘age out’

This bill grants no special considerations to the children but rather places them on the same path to citizenship enjoyed by all other internationally adopted children.





We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program…

16 11 2010

Yesterday the Help Haiti Act and the International Adoption Simplification Act were both on the House calendar for a vote.  While the International Adoption Simplification Act passed, the Help Haiti Act was unexpectedly removed from the voting calendar.  Additionally, it is not currently on the calendar for a vote either today or tomorrow.  The Help Haiti Act will provide citizenship to Haitian children who came into the United States after the January 2010 earthquake on the Humanitarian Parole Program (for more information, read more about the Help Haiti Act below).  Joint Council and our colleagues are still determining the reason behind the removal of the Help Haiti Act from the calendar.  However, in the meantime, if the Help Haiti Act is going to pass before the end of the year the children need your help…and the help of everyone you know.  Over 1,200 children from Haiti do not have a clear path to citizenship without the passage of this bill.  So what can you do?

How You Can Help
Today, as early as possible, please do the following:

1) Contact via phone and/or email your Representative and respectfully request their support of the Help Haiti Act.  For detailed information regarding the legislation, please read below.  To find your Representative, please click here.

2) Once you have contacted your Representative, please let us know by e-mailing betheanswer@jointcouncil.org.

3) Ask your friends and family, post on your facebook page, blog and twitter.  Ask people to call their Representative and request their support of the Help Haiti Act and then let us know about their support by emailing betheanswer@jointcouncil.org.

As always, we extend our appreciation for your continued partnership with Joint Council and your anticipated participation in supporting the Help Haiti Act.

What is the Help Haiti Act?

The HELP Haiti Act was introduced by Representative Fortenberry in response to the needs of 1,200 children who entered the U.S. through Humanitarian Parole after the earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010.

Using Humanitarian Parole to unite children with their adoptive families was a true act of humanitarianism.  Unfortunately, a barrier still exists which causes significant and undue delays in providing American citizenship to these children.  This is especially critical for older children who continue to ‘age out’

This bill grants no special considerations to the children but rather places them on the same path to citizenship enjoyed by all other internationally adopted children.





The Answer for Manuel

9 11 2010

To learn more about Joint Council’s National Adoption Month Advocacy Campaign-Click Here

We set out for an older toddler boy. Boys often are forgotten, many people thinking girls are easier.  With two birth-daughters we knew that this wasn’t true.  The thought of a forgotten or neglected boy needing a stable, loving family drew us to our decision.

Manuel is a total teddy bear, charming, smart and loving.  He came home to us at age 5 with scars, parasites, and tuberculosis.  He had size 4 clothing even though he was 5 years old.  Despite this he still had a bright smile and a loving lasting hug that everyone enjoyed, this was the start on our adventure into older toddler adoption.

Our road trip into parenting Manuel began wit stabilizing his health.  Reports from Guatemala showed Manuel needing food, he was behind developmentally; he was clumsy, and his verbal skills needed some help.  Once home it was the quest to encourage eating when hungry and getting used to food at regular times.  Treating his ailments fell into the mix with pre-school to work on manners.  Manuel had an instinct to leave us when he pleased, in crowds or our front yard.  Sad to ween this independence, we taught him its best to be with Mommy and Daddy and that with us there’s always food and love and no need to ask for it from others.

Manuel suffered constantly with flu and colds that had me worried that he’d never actually attend a full month at school!  Our physician came to explain that Manuel needed time to build up his immunity.  That malnutrition is not overcome with just eating but our endeavor would take several years because malnutrition is at the cellular level and we had a long way to go to build up our sons system.

After being home for two years did we realize his vision was poor, another possible effect of malnutrition?  Manuelito had double vision and was legally blind but we hadn’t realized it.  It was hard not to feel guilty, our eye doctor reassured us that many families don’t realize their kids have a vision problem until there is a problem in learning at school.  Manuel is now in cool Spiderman spectacles with the double vision corrected he’s on his way to correctable vision.

None of these setback’s have been easy but somehow we find our way to brush ourselves off and continue on loving and caring for our son and try not to be bitter about these struggles.

With all that I have learned about malnutrition my thoughts wander back to Guatemala and all of the children who won’t receive the love and care that they deserve.  I think what if Manuel was still there, would he be begging on the street? Would he be alive? It hasn’t been easy with Manuel, I won’t sugar coat adoption or parenting.  Bringing Manuel home has taught me more about the human condition that I could ever know by any other fashion.  Whether he knows it or not he’s made my heart grow wider and stronger, he’s made me a more accepting person, and to Manuel I am forever grateful to have him be my son.

This was The Answer for Manuel, Be The Answer for another child by visiting the Guatemala900 website and signing up to receive updates on the children waiting in Guatemala and what you can do to help.





The Answer for Rose

8 11 2010

Rose turns 13 today! All of us here at Joint Council want to wish Rose a Very Happy Birthday!

To learn more about Joint Council’s National Adoption Month Advocacy Campaign-Click Here

Adoption was The Answer for Rose.  Help other children who don’t yet have an answer by helping one of the many, many wonderful organizations working in Haiti, Haitian Roots.  Six Seeds will donate $2 to Haitian Roots for every comment left after this article! Each comment has to have a unique email address, but if you have more than one address, you can comment more than once.  It’s a simple and easy way to help orphaned children get the education they need!








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