Sunday, December 27, 2009

Closer to My Dreams: Let It Burn

 With time ticking away from 2009 to 2010, there have been many conversations about the past 12 months. Often about what has or has not happened. For me it has been bittersweet, meaning there have been highs and lows. The end of a relationship, yet new found freedom and direction. Unfortunately, for some, the past seems to linger too long causing issues in the future. While thinking about that dilemma, I was reminded of of a ceremony I wanted to perform along with a tool I was taught during my training to be a certified GriefRecovery Specialist. At times, we can be overwhemed by failures, grief, hurt, pain, and disappointments to the point of being paralyzed or depressed. I have been there too and it is a place from which you can emerge.

The song Let It Burn by Usher came to mind when I was thinking about the ceremony. It took that simple sentiment "let it burn" and applied it to the ceremony and thoughts of the past, since they are things no one can change. The only thing we can transform is our relationship to the past, the way we view it, and how much we allow it to effect our future.To make it simple, I call the ceremony, Let It Burn. The closer I get to my dreams the more stuff from the past emerges. But, if it is burned, it cannot come back. Anything that is burned cannot return.

There are things that haunt you. It may be the death of a mate, spouse, friend, relative, beloved pet, parent, sibling, or child. Some people have lost jobs, finances, health, relationships, and homes. Others have a change of life which may be hard to accept like empty nesters or grandparents who are now caring for their grandchildren. No matter what the situation it is all legitimate.

In the past year, there have been things you have said or done to yourself as well, which meant you no good. Maybe you were lazy about working out, spent little quality time with family or friends, or neglected your health. Only you know the answer to that. No better time than the present to Let It Burn. Let it go, get it off your chest. How? The following are instructions for your own LET IT BURN CEREMONY.

  1. Make a list of :
    •  people who have died in the past 12 months
    • things you regret doing or not doing
    • pains you were caused and by whom
    • pains which you have cause and to whom
    • express your disappointments
  2. Begin formulating your letter following this format:
    • Dear (YOUR NAME),  As I review the past year I have realized somethings I want to let go of to build a future of freedom.
      • LIST PEOPLE WHO HAVE DIED any apologies you want to communicate to them, thins you want to be forgiven for, things you want to forgive, and share other things you want them to know. If there are multiple deaths, repeat the same process for each. Please let whatever emotions you feel be alright both the lack of emotion and showing emotion. Know that writing this section does not mean that you will no longer think of that person, you are simply allowing yourself to move beyond the hurt and pain.
      • WRITE  ABOUT PAINS YOU WERE CAUSED by whom, what do you want them to know, and for what can you forgive them?
      • WRITE ABOUT PAINS YOU HAVE CAUSED to whom (including yourself), what were the pains/hurts, for what do you forgive yourself, for what do you want to be forgiven.
      • CLOSE THE LETTER however you feel comfortable, yet makes it clear you will no longer hold onto these things. You may use words like: Good bye, That's All, All is complete. Whatever you use should reflect you.
      • SIGN IT!
  3. Reread the letter either to yourself or aloud (to yourself).
  4. Prepare a safe place for a fire. Light the fire and place the letter in it. You may want to be silent during this time, pray, meditate, or recite the following:
    • I forever release you. I no longer hold the right to punish you or me. From this moment on there is freedom. From this moment on I  am complete.
  5. You may want to take a moment. However, following the last step, take another piece of paper and write at least 5 things you commit to being, doing, or having and by when you will accomplish these things. 
 Since you have burned the past you can create anything. While writing the letter be free with it. Have fun, make them things that will inspire and excite you. Keep it in a place where you can view it often, maybe post it on a wall or frame it. Share the letter with friends and family, those people who will support you.

 I share this because the past can be a crutch for individuals and families. My son, affectionately known as "the Boy", and I will be participating in this ceremony on December 31st together. He will have his own letter, though he is 10, which will express his feelings and thoughts. For parents, this is a great way to allow children to express their grief, upsets, disappointments, and feelings about their lives as well. It is also a phenomenal tool for parents, couples, and families to begin a new chapter. You may share the ceremony with firends and family for your New Year's celebration. If you participte together you may consider sharing what you forgive and want to be forgiven for with those in the circle. No arguing, it defeats the purpose. And then, LET IT BURN!

 Please be sure to go to www.sidneygaskins.webs.com or www.sidneygaskins.podbean.com in the New Year to get information for New Dawning, a grief recovery group beginning in the new year. Why not start a new year with a New Dawning in life too?

Goapele - Closer (Official Music Video) - Watch more top selected videos about: Goapele

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

OPEN ADOPTION: Estate Planning for the Adoptive Family

Estate Planning for the Adoptive Family

By Cheryl N. Smith, Esq.

My husband and I recently adopted a baby girl through domestic agency adoption. She is just the love of our lives and we have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of learning how to be her parents.

In addition to being a new adoptive mother, I am also an estate planning attorney, so after our daughter was born, I sat down to rewrite our Wills. I realized that the fact that we have an adopted child raised a whole host of questions which, even after nine years of practice, took on a whole new meaning to me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are several issues and decisions that parents in adoptive families must be educated about that do not exist in families with only biological children.

Estate Planning in General

Every parent that has a minor child needs to have an estate plan in order to ensure that child is protected and cared for, both personally and financially. An estate plan typically consists of a set of documents that set forth your wishes with respect to your person (i.e., health care decisions), your estate (i.e., financial decisions) and your children (i.e., guardianship decisions).

The documents include a Will, a Trust, a Health Care Proxy, a Durable Power of Attorney, and a Parental Appointment of Guardian for Minors. While a good estate planning attorney can walk you through what each of these documents does, there are additional issues specific to adoption that an adoptive parent must consider when establishing an estate plan. Some of these issues are discussed below.

Choice of Guardian

Choosing a guardian to care for your children in the event you become incapacitated or die is never an easy decision for any parent. But when you are an adoptive parent, it is even more complicated. The person you select to fill this role must be sensitive to the unique circumstances of your family, and it may require some extra thought and direction on your part to make sure your wishes are carried out.

Things to consider include making sure your chosen guardian has all the facts about your child’s adoption so that as appropriate, they can share this information with your child. Also, if you are in an open adoption, will the person you chose as guardian follow through with helping to maintain that open relationship? In my own Will, I specifically state that if a nominated guardian is unwilling or unable to maintain a relationship with our daughter’s birth parents, that they respectfully decline to serve as guardian, in which case the nominated alternates will step in.

I often recommend that adoptive parents prepare a letter, to be kept with their estate planning documents, spelling out the circumstances surrounding their child’s adoption and giving directions regarding continued contact with the birth family and anything else they feel is important about their child’s adoption.

Inheritance Rights

Before your adoption is finalized, your child has no legal rights to your estate. Depending on from where your child is adopted and the type of adoption you have, it can take anywhere from 6 months to a matter of years to finalize an adoption.

As soon as your child is placed with you, assuming it is intended to be a permanent placement, you should consider signing new Wills to include that child. Your will can include language that treats a child placed for adoption the same as a biological child or a child whose adoption has been finalized.


I always recommend that parents of young children leave their assets to a trust for the benefit of their child. It is never advisable to leave assets to a minor, first and foremost because legally they cannot take control of an inheritance, but also because leaving assets to a minor means continued court involvement and oversight until your child reaches the age of majority.

With adoption, and particularly open adoption, the need for a trust is magnified as there may be people other than your immediate family that have a direct interest in your child’s life and well being. Keeping assets held for your child in a Trust under the control of a Trustee that you have chosen (rather than being subject to judicial process) is the best way to protect your child’s interests and preserve your assets for their benefit.

Because a Trust is usually not a public document (as opposed to a Will which gets filed with the Probate Court), it also serves as a mechanism to privately set forth special financial considerations for your child, as further discussed below.

Special Financial Considerations

There may be costs associated with raising an adopted child that go beyond making sure they are clothed, sheltered, fed and educated. If your plan for your child includes annual visits with the birth family, or a trip to the country from where they were adopted, this is something you should spell out. If they were adopted internationally, and you want them to have exposure to the culture of their homeland, you should incorporate provisions in your Trust specifically directing your Trustee to pay for travel, cultural programs, or anything else that might be related.

Supplemental Needs Trusts

If your child has any disabilities or special needs, it will be even more important that you provide for him or her after you are gone. You should consider establishing a supplemental needs trust for your child to ensure that your child meet the financial eligibility rules for private or government assistance programs while preserving the assets you leave to him or her for needs not met by such programs.

Continued Planning

Finally, you should periodically review your estate plan with an experienced estate planning attorney. Changes in the law, your family structure or financial situation are all events that warrant a revisit of your plan as they can have a dramatic impact on your estate plan.

Cheryl N. Smith is an estate planning attorney at the law firm of Bass, Doherty and Finks, P.C. www.bassdoherty.com She is also mom to her beautiful daughter adopted at birth through domestic, open adoption. She can be reached via email at csmith@bassdoherty.com or via telephone at (617)787-8948.

Copyright (c) 2009 Cheryl N. Smith

Monday, November 23, 2009

NATIONAL ADOPTION MONTH: It Is How You Say It That Counts!

 In light of the absolutely great teleseminar with Nelson de Witt and Kevin Hofmann, I thought it would be great to address some of the language used in the adoption "world". During our teleseminar, Approaching the Search: Adoptees and Adoptive Parents Speak in which we addressed some of the issues that come up when adoptees want to begin looking for their brith family. One fo the subjects was the language used by both parties. The following is from USA Adoptions and gives some pointers and examples of the language used.


Choosing to use positive adoption language will help end the myth that adoption is second best. By using positive adoption language, you’ll reflect the true nature of adoption, free of stereotypes.
Below are some examples of positive and negative adoption language.
Positive Adoption Language
Negative Adoption Language
Birth parent
Real parents
Birth child
Own child
My child
Adopted child; own child
Make an adoption plan
Give up your child
To parent
To keep
Child placed for adoption
An Unwanted Child
Court Terminated
Child Taken Away
Child with Special Needs
Handicapped Child

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P. is a Certified Open Adoption Practitioner, an award winning author of 2 adoption books AdoptingOnline.com and Adoption: Your Step-by-Step Guide.  Mardie is also the talk show host of Let's Talk Adoption.com with Mardie Caldwell and the founder of Lifetime Adoption in 1986. She travels and speaks nationwide on adoption topics, family topics, infertility and writing. She has been quoted in and consulted for Parenting and Adoption magazines and has appeared on CNN, CBS, ABC, BBC, NBC, and Fox. Featured in Parade Magazine, Caldwell is an adoptive mother living in Northern California.

NATIONAL ADOPTION MONTH: Aging Out with Music in the Background

 As a former social worker and now adoptive parent the issue of adoption for children in the United States foster care system are dear to my heart. For those who have never met me, adoption is a part of my family. It never occurred to me that I would not adopt, at some point and when I had the opportunity I did. Never did I think about the specific age of the child, but simply my desire to be a parent and provide a loving family for a child.

Working in the field of social work, specifically in child protective services, you see many things. Yes, you see children who are sexually abused by adults and other children. Yes, you will see children who are neglected educationally and emotionally. Yes, you will see children physically abused in ways the majority of society do not believe exist or does not want to think about. It would be asolutely foreign for the average adult working a 9-5 middle clas job to consider the conditions under which many childen live. When they are removed from the environments, it becomes the job of the State to provide for that child. And at the time the parents are deemed unfit, the State now becomes the "parent" and, in fact, needs to prove itself fit.

 Unfortunately, the State, often fails these children. How? In an average home, at the point a child turns eighteen they have many basic skills: washing clothes, handling money, group interaction, maybe some job skills, and basic education. Not so for many children "aging out" of State care. They have been bounced around from home to home, maybe even institution to institution, and made the victim on many cases. When they turn eighteen, the road to normalcy has long sense been covered over with a trail of homes, social workers, failed grades, and broken relationships. Yet, the State says they are prepared to be adults and make in "the World". It is my contention that they are not prepared and the State is not doing a good job of preparing their own children for the World. Here some facts:

  • According to the most current AFCARS Report (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System Report), 19,509 children aged out of foster care during FY 2002 in the United States.
  • Young adults who stayed in care after 18 were more than twice as likely to be enrolled in a school or training program as those who had been discharged (67% vs. 31%).
  • Young adults who stayed in care after 18, who had a high school diploma or GED, were over three times as likely as those no longer in care to be enrolled in a 2- or 4-year college. (37% vs. 12%).
  • Compared to the 19 year olds still in foster care, those who left the system were more likely to have become pregnant.73
  • A study conducted with 216 emancipated foster youth attending a four-year university found that social support was an important factor in their educational success: nearly 87% had either a friend or family member to ask for help or advice if needed, 80% had contact with their birth family, and 60% still maintained relationships with their foster or kin-care parents.74
With all of the issues involved with teens, concerns about them fitting in, and even behavioral issues they are worthy of homes, families full of love, and committed to providing them with stability not just for a few months, but for life. If you are interested in adoption, please contact your local social services agency through National Child Welfare Gateway. If you are interested in facts about children in foster and out-of-home care, you may read at National Working Group on Foster Care and Education Fact Sheet.
While searching Facebook for groups or pages which address "aging out" I ran into an interesting musical. A musical about "aging out"? It is more than some silly view, but bring the feeling of a teen in care to the forefront with elegance, humor, and a candidness that I have never seen. It highlights the issues with which I have already spoken, but from the view of teens and young adults preparing to be emancipated or "aging out".

AGING OUT is a new rock musical that tells the stories of “the ones nobody wanted” - 18 year olds who are aging out of the foster care system into independent, adult life in one giant, scary leap - unlike “normal” teenagers who get to enter adulthood with baby steps and family supporting them on the way.

We meet 13 of these teenagers as they meet each other, in a one-day “Independent Living Program” class taught by a social worker who starts out trying to teach them the “basics” of checkbooks and resumes but constantly discovers more in her students than she bargained for. 

AGING OUT (book and lyrics by Tara Redepenning and Hillary Rollins, music by Darin Goulet) was developed in 2009 by UC Irvine in conjunction with the Academy for New Musical Theatre (ANMT). The UCI cast just recorded the AGING OUT cast album, which you can listen to right here (and also on Facebook).

Coming soon: video clips from the September 2009 staged reading of the show at UCI.

We also welcome your comments and questions! If you’d like to be on our mailing list, send us an email that says so, on the comments and questions page. Or become a Fan of AGING OUT on Facebook.

If you are a producer, theatre or producing organization interested in supporting the development of AGING OUT, please contact us about opportunities to become involved.

NATIONAL ADOPTION MONTH: Lifelong Issues in Adoption

Lifelong Issues in Adoption

By Deborah N. Silverstein and Sharon Kaplan
Adoption is a lifelong, intergenerational process which unites the triad of birth families, adoptees and adoptive families forever. Adoption, especially of adolescents, can lead to both great joy and tremendous pain. Recognizing the core issues in adoption is one intervention that can assist triad members and professionals working in adoption better to understand each other and the residual effects of the adoption experience.
Adoption triggers seven lifelong or core issues for all triad members, regardless of the circumstances of the adoption or the characteristics of the participants:
  • Loss
  • Rejection
  • Guilt and shame
  • Grief
  • Identity
  • Intimacy
  • Mastery/control

Clearly, the specific experiences of triad members vary, but there is a commonality of affective experiences which persists throughout the individual’s or family’s life cycle development. The recognition of these similarities permits dialogue among triad members and allows those professionals with whom they interface to intervene in proactive as well as curative ways.

The presence of these issues does not indicate, however, that either the individual or the institution of adoption is pathological or pseudopathological. Rather, these are expected issues that evolve logically out of the nature of adoption. Before the recent advent of open and cooperative practices, adoption had been practiced as a win/lose or adversarial process. In such an approach, birth families lose their child in order for the adoptive family to gain a child. The adoptee was transposed from one family to another with time-limited and, at times, short-sighted consideration of the child’s long-term needs. Indeed, the emphasis has been on the needs of the adults – on the needs of the birth family not to parent and on the needs of the adoptive family to parent. The ramifications of this attitude can be seen in the number of difficulties experienced by adoptees and their families over their lifetime.

Many of the issues inherent in the adoption experience converge when the adoptee reaches adolescence. At this time three factors intersect: an acute awareness of the significance of being adopted; a drive toward emancipation; and a biopsychosocial striving toward the development of an integrated identity.

It is not our intent here to question adoption, but rather to challenge some adoption assumptions, specifically, the persistent notion that adoption is not different from other forms of parenting and the accompanying disregard for the pain and struggles inherent in adoption.

However, identifying and integrating these core issues into pre-adoption education, post-placement supervision, and all post-legalized services, including treatment, universalizes and validates triad member’s experiences, decreasing their isolation and feelings of helplessness.


Adoption is created through loss; without loss there would be no adoption. Loss then, is at the hub of the wheel. All birthparents, adoptive parents, and adoptees share in having experienced at least one major, life-altering loss before becoming involved in adoption. In adoption, in order to gain anything, one must first lose – a family, a child, a dream. It is these losses and the way they are accepted and, hopefully, resolved which set the tone for the lifelong process of adoption.

Adoption is a fundamental, life-altering event. It transposes people from one location in the human mosaic into totally new configuration. Adoptive parents, whether through infertility, failed pregnancy, stillbirth, or the death of a child have suffered one of life’s greatest blows prior to adopting. They have lost their dream child. No matter how well resolved the loss of bearing a child appears to be, it continues to affect the adoptive family at a variety of points throughout the family'’ live cycle issues of burgeoning sexuality and impending emancipation may rekindle the loss issue.

Birthparents lose, perhaps forever, the child to whom they are genetically connected. Subsequently, they undergo multiple losses associated with the loss of role, the loss of contact, and perhaps the loss of the other birthparent, which reshape the entire course of their lives.

Adoptees suffer their first loss at the initial separation from the birth family. Awareness of their adopted status is inevitable. Even if the loss is beyond conscious awareness, recognition, or vocabulary, it affects the adoptee on a very profound level. Any subsequent loss, or the perceived threat of separation, becomes more formidable for adoptees than their non-adopted peers.

The losses in adoption and the role they play in all triad members lives have largely been ignored. The grief process in adoption, so necessary for healthy functioning, is further complicated by the fact that there is no end to the losses, no closure to the loss experience. Loss in adoption is not a single occurrence. There is the initial, identifiable loss and innumerable secondary sub-losses. Loss becomes an evolving process, creating a theme of loss in both the individual’s and family’s development. Those losses affect all subsequent development.
Loss is always a part of triad members’ lives. A loss in adoption is never totally forgotten. It remains either in conscious awareness or is pushed into the unconscious, only to be reawakened by later loss. It is crucial for triad members, their significant others, and the professional with whom they interface, to recognize these losses and the effect loss has on their lives.

Birth Parent

Adopted Person

Adoptive Parent

"I don’t know why but I always miss the supervised visits right before we go to court."

"You don’t love me anyway – I’m out of here."

"I know my son George will blow it right before his birthday party again."


Feelings of loss are exacerbated by keen feelings of rejection. One way individuals seek to cope with a loss is to personalize it. Triad members attempt to decipher what they did or did not do that let to the loss. Triad members become sensitive to the slightest hint of rejection, causing them either to avoid situation where they might be rejected in order to validate their earlier negative self-perceptions.

Adoptees seldom are able to view their placement into adoption by the birthparents as anything other than total rejection. Adoptees even at young ages grasp the concept that to be "chosen" means first that one was "un-chosen", reinforcing adoptees’ lowered self-concept. Society promulgates the idea that the "good" adoptee is the one who is not curious and accepts adoption without question. At the other extreme of the continuum is the "bad" adoptee who is constantly questioning, thereby creating feelings of rejection in the adoptive parents.

Birthparents frequently condemn themselves for being irresponsible, as does society. Adoptive parents may inadvertently create fantasies for the adoptee about the birth family which reinforce these feelings of rejection. For example, adoptive parents may block an adolescent adoptee’s interest in searching for birthparents by stating that the birthparents may have married and had other children. The implication is clear that the birthparents would consider contact with the adoptee an unwelcome intrusion.

Adoptive parents may sense that their bodies have rejected them if they are infertile. This impression may lead the infertile couple, for example, to feel betrayed or rejected by God. When they come to adoption, the adoptors, possibly unconsciously, anticipate the birthparents’ rejection and criticism of their parenting. Adoptive parents struggle with issues of entitlement, wondering if perhaps they were never meant to be parents, especially to this child. The adopting family, then, may watch for the adoptee to reject them, interpreting many benign, childish actions as rejection. To avoid that ultimate rejection, some adoptive parents expel or bind adolescent adoptees prior to the accomplishment of appropriate emancipation tasks.

Birth Parent

Adopted Person

Adoptive Parent

"I don’t tell anyone about the child I relinquished – they’d say, ‘how could you give away your own child’ and have nothing to do with me."

"I can’t imagine that no one in all of China wanted me – I must be pretty weird."

"Well, God didn’t like me very much – I could never birth a child."


The sense of deserving such rejection leads triad members to experience tremendous guilt and shame. They commonly believe that there is something intrinsically wrong with them or their deeds that caused the losses to occur. Most triad members have internalized, romantic images of the American family which remain unfulfilled because there is no positive, realistic view of the adoptive family in our society.

For many triad members, the shame of being involved in adoption per se exists passively, often without recognition. The shame of an unplanned pregnancy, or the crisis of infertility, or the shame of having been given up remains unspoken, often as the unconscious motivator.

Adoptees suggest that something about their very being caused the adoption. The self-accusation is intensified by the secrecy often present in past and present adoption practices. These factors combine to lead the adoptee to conclude that the feelings of guilt and shame are indeed valid.

Adoptive parents, when they are diagnosed as infertile, frequently believe that they must have committed a grave sin to have received such a harsh sentence. They are ashamed of themselves, of their defective bodies, of their inability to bear children.

Birthparents feel tremendous guilt and shame for having been intimate and sexual; for the very act of conception, they find themselves guilty.

Birth Parent

Adopted Person

Adoptive Parent

"My mother said I broke her heart when I got pregnant. I’m just no good."

"If I was better my birth parents would have kept me – I guess I cried too much."

"If I were good enough to be a parent, God would have given me a baby."


Every loss in adoption must be grieved. The losses in adoption, however, are difficult to mourn in a society where adoption is seen as a problem-solving event filled with joy. There are no rituals to bury the unborn children; no rites to mark off the loss of role of caretaking parents; no ceremonies for lost dreams or unknown families. Grief washes over triad members' lives, particularly at times of subsequent loss or developmental transitions.

Triad members can be assisted at any point in the adoption experience by learning about and discussing the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (Kubler-Ross 1969).
Adoptees in their youth find it difficult to grieve their losses, although they are in many instances aware of them, even as young children. Youngsters removed from abusive homes are expected to feel only relief and gratitude, not loss and grief. Adults block children’s expressions of pain or attempt to divert them. In addition, due to developmental unfolding of cognitive processes, adoptees do not fully appreciate the total impact of their losses until their adolescence or, for many, until adulthood. This delayed grief may lead to depression or acting out through substance abuse or aggressive behaviors.

Birthparents may undergo an initial, brief, intense period of grief at the time of loss of the child, but are encouraged by well-meaning friends and family to move on in their lives and to believe that their child is better off. The grief, however, does not vanish, and, in fact, it has been reported that birth mothers may deny the experience for up to ten years (Campbell 1979).

Adoptive parents’ grief over the inability to bear children is also blocked by family and friends who encourage the couple to adopt, as if children are interchangeable. The grief of the adoptive parents continues as the child grows up since the adoptee can never fully meet the fantasies and expectations of the adoptive parents.

"As night follows day – grief follows loss."

Birth Parent

Adopted Person

Adoptive Parent

"When I had my second child, I could only think about the one I gave away."

"I feel angry and since I can’t talk about it, I’ll show you by my actions."

"I already told Andy about his adoption – he’s known about it all of his life I can’t understand why he’s acting out now that he’s 12."


Adoption may also threaten triad members’ sense of identity. Triad members often express feelings related to confused identity and identity crises, particularly at times of unrelated loss.

Identity is defined both by what one is and what one is not. In adoption, birthparents are parents and are not. Adoptive parents who were not parents suddenly become parents. Adoptees born into one family, a family probably nameless to them now, lose an identity and then borrow one from the adopting family.

Adoption, for some, precludes a complete or integrated sense of self. Triad members may experience themselves as incomplete, deficient, or unfinished. They state that they lack feelings of well-being, integration, or solidity associated with a fully developed identity.

Adoptees lacking medical, genetic, religious, and historical information are plagued by questions such as Who are they? Why were they born? Were they in fact merely a mistake, not meant to have been born, an accident? This lack of identity may lead adoptees, particularly in adolescent years, to seek out ways to belong in more extreme fashion than many of their non-adopted peers. Adolescent adoptees are overrepresented among those who join sub-cultures, run away, become pregnant, or totally reject their families.

For many couples in our society a sense of identity is tied to procreation. Adoptive parents may lose that sense of generativity, of being tied to the past and future, often created through procreation.

Adoptive parents and birthparents share a common experience of role confusion. They are handicapped by the lack of positive identity associated with being either a birthparent or adoptive parent (Kirk 1964). Neither set of parents can lay full claim to the adoptee and neither can gain distance from any problems that may arise.

"Who the hell am I?"

Birth Parent

Adopted Person

Adoptive Parent

"I’m a parent, but not a real parent – I never know how to answer when people ask, ‘do you have any children?’"

"If I can’t belong anywhere else I can belong to the Crips or the Moonies."

"I cringe when people ask, "Do you have any children of you own?"



The multiple, ongoing losses in adoption, coupled with feelings of rejection, shame, and grief as well as an incomplete sense of self, may impede the development of intimacy for triad members. One maladaptive way to avoid possible reenactment of previous losses is to avoid closeness and commitment.

Adoptive parents report that their adopted children seem to hold back a part of themselves in the relationship. Adoptive mothers indicate, for example, that even as an infant, the adoptee was "not cuddly". Many adoptees as teen state that they truly have never felt close to anyone. Some youngsters declare a lifetime emptiness related to a longing for the birthmother they may have never seen.

Due to these multiple losses for both adoptees and adoptive parents, there may also have been difficulties in early bonding and attachment. For children adopted at older ages, multiple disruptions in attachment and/or abuse may interfere with relationships in the new family (Fahlberg 1979 a, b).

The adoptee’s intimacy issues are particularly evident in relationships with members of the opposite sex and revolve around questions about the adoptee’s conception, biological and genetic concerns, and sexuality.
The adoptive parents’ couple relationship may have been irreparably harmed by the intrusive nature of medical procedures and the scapegoating and blame that may have been part of the diagnosis of infertility. These residual effects may become the hallmark of the later relationship.

Birthparents may come to equate sex, intimacy, and pregnancy with pain leading them to avoid additional loss by shunning intimate relationships. Further, birthparents may question their ability to parent a child successfully. In many instances, the birthparents fear intimacy in relationships with opposite sex partners, family or subsequent children.

Birth Parent

Adopted Person

Adoptive Parent

"It always hurts – but somehow I pick men who will hurt me again."

"The only think I know about my birthparents is they had sex at 14."

"I wonder if I love my son as much as I would if he were born to me?"


Adoption alters the course of one’s life. This shift presents triad members with additional hurdles in their development, and may hinder growth, self-actualization, and the evolution of self-control.

Birthparents, adoptive parents, and adoptees are all forced to give up control. Adoption, for most, is a second choice. Birthparents did not grow up with romantic images of becoming accidentally pregnant or abusing their children and surrendering them for adoption. In contrast, the pregnancy or abuse is a crisis situation whose resolution becomes adoption. In order to solve the predicament, birthparents must surrender not only the child but also their volition, leading to feelings of victimization and powerlessness which may become themes in birthparents’ lives.

Adoptees are keenly aware that they were not party to the decision which let to their adoption. They had no control over the loss of the birth family or the choice of the adoptive family. The adoption proceeded with adults making life-altering choices for them. This unnatural change of course impinges on growth toward self-actualization and self-control. Adolescent adoptees, attempting to master the loss of control they have experienced in adoption, frequently engage in power struggles with adoptive parents and other authority figures. They may lack internalized self-control, leading to a lowered sense of self-responsibility. These patterns, frequently passive/aggressive in nature, may continue into adulthood.

For adoptive parents, the intricacies of the adoption process lead to feelings of helplessness. These feelings sometimes cause adoptive parents to view themselves as powerless, and perhaps not entitled to be parents, leading to laxity in parenting. As an alternative response, some adoptive parents may seek to regain the lost control by becoming overprotective and controlling, leading to rigidity in the parent/adoptee relationship.

Birth Parent

Adopted Person

Adoptive Parent

"It all happened to me – I guess I was just born a victim."

"The most important decision of my life was made without my say – it doesn’t make sense so why don’t you understand that I’m no good at cause and effect thinking."

"I tried everything and still didn’t have a child – so I don’t really feel entitled to ACT like a parent."



The experience of adoption, then can be one of loss, rejection, built/shame, grief, diminished identity, thwarted intimacy, and threats to self-control and to the accomplishment of mastery. These seven core or lifelong issues permeate the lives of triad members regardless of the circumstances of the adoption. Identifying these core issues can assist triad members and professionals in establishing an open dialogue and alleviating some of the pain and isolation which so often characterize adoption. Triad members may need professional assistance in recognizing that they may have become trapped in the negative feelings generated by the adoption experience. Armed with this new awareness, they can choose to catapult themselves into growth and strength.

Triad members may repeatedly do and undo their adoption experiences in their minds and in their vacillating behaviors while striving toward mastery. They will benefit from identifying, exploring and ultimately accepting the role of the seven core issues in their lives.

The following tasks and questions will help triad members and professionals explore the seven core issues in adoption:
  • List the losses, large and small, that you have experienced in adoption.
  • Identify the feelings associated with these losses.
  • What experiences in adoption have led to feelings of rejection?
  • Do you ever see yourself rejecting others before they can reject you? When?
  • What guilt or shame do you feel about adoption? What feelings do you experience when you talk about adoption?
  • Identify your behaviors at each of the five stages of the grief process. Have you accepted your losses?
  • How has adoption impacted your sense of who you are?
This article was can be read along with other information at FAIR - Families Adopting In Response.



While searching the web to see what other people were saying about Suzanne Berghaus I came across the The Transracial Korean Adoptee Nexus blog. The site’s focus is on Korean Adoption and Pan-Asian identity issues it also looked at other adoptee related news. The goal of the site is to “empower transracial adoptees to speak out and speak with each other.”
kadnexus makes a an excellent point in his post about the story.
"Once again I find myself coming back to this idea of identity where transracial adoptees exist within their own space of identity. Just as many are torn between the duality of American/White culture (that they were raised on) and their birth country’s culture, it seems that trying to classify the nuanced situations ofadoptees as either immigrant or refugee is too complex.
We are still considered Asian by appearance, conform to various stereotypes of the already pervasive and systemic virus of over-achievement, yet we also have been raised within middle to affluent White Christian America-raised on many of the same values and logic that most Whites use to manipulate programs such as affirmative action, andracialize people of color. We are inherently taught how to socialize with mainstream white society, communicate with impeccable English, and are given the resources needed to survive. I realize that quite a few of us turned out “ok” but I think it was an interesting analysis that really considers the privileged status from which we come from as Asian American adoptees."
I think he makes a great point. Where do transracial adoptees fit in? While many of of benefit from our up brings at the same time it alienates us from our own people. My comment to him was that to white people I am Hispanic and to Hispanics I’m a gringo/white. Where does that leave me? With out a defined culture perhaps.

His response was that “America is all about pidgeon-holing people into picking sides (similarly for biracial people) we are made to feel as though we HAVE to choose sides to be legimitate individuals” I completely agree with this. Growing up I remember one of my friends of a mix racial background “picked” a side that people thought was wrong. She was given a lot of crap for not acknowledging her “black” heritage.
I guess why question is: Isn’t this what America is all about? What makes America great is that it has become this melting pot of culture. That we have all these different points of view and life experiences. Why should we be made to feel like this is a bad thing?

Kadnexus’ goal is to “empower adoptees to feel this space as their own-I think that our identity is unique.” I think is a great goal since a big part of being a transracial adoptee or biracial individual is picking sides.

Nelson de Witt, was born in El Salvador, adopted by parents in the America, and is often a speaker on the topic of transracial adoptions. He is social entrepreneur, photographer and digital native with a passion for life. Separated from my family in the Salvadorian Civil War, adopted by a family in America, he was reunited with his biological family 10 years ago. He now works to combine business principle with social objectives. Nelson has a blog Ana’s Miracle dedicated to sharing his story of adoption and encouraging open dialogue within adoptive families.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Approaching the Search: Adoptees and Adoptive Parents Speak

 Tuesday, November 17, 2009 from 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM (ET)
Addressing the topic of adoptees searching for their birthparents can be touchy for both the adoptee and their adoptive parents. There are concerns on both sides. This open forum and teleseminar features two adoptees and an adoptive parent. Our intention is to address the sensitive topic of searching for biological parents from both the adoptee and adoptive parent perspective with empathy, understanding, and straight conversation. A few topics that will be addressed:
·         Adoptive parent fears
·         Adoptee fears of addressing parents with the desire to search
·         Terminology used
·         How to prepare for the conversation
·         Process of addressing biological parents as part of the adoptee
·         Non-threatening ways to address biological parentage with adoptees for adoptive parents
If you are considering adopting, have adopted, are an adoptee, or work in the field this is a call you will want to attend. It will provide a level of conversation, perspectives, and tips that will make a difference. Be sure to bring your questions, thoughts, and concerns to this fabulous gathering of speakers willing to share their experiences and advice with you.

Your Speakers

Sample picture
Sidney Gaskins, adopted her son, when he was 3 years old. She is a former social worker, who was able to adopt a child from State foster care. She is no stranger to adoption, there are 4 people adopted in her family which made it easy for her to make the choice to adopt. Sidney is an advocate for adoption, children in foster care, and healthy family relationships. She has chosen to dedicate her blog The Pulse to bringing awareness to the need for adoption and foster care support through a 30 Day Blogathon.

Sample picture
Nelson de Witt, was born in El Salvador, adopted by parents in the America, and is often a speaker on the topic of transracial adoptions. He is social entrepreneur, photographer and digital native with a passion for life. Separated from my family in the Salvadorian Civil War, adopted by a family in America, he was reunited with his biological family 10 years ago. He now works to combine business principle with social objectives. Nelson has a blog Ana’s Miracle dedicated to sharing his story of adoption and encouraging open dialogue within adoptive families.

Sample picture
Kevin Hofmann, is the biracial son, of a white mother and black father. Kevin was immediately placed in a foster home and adopted by a white Lutheran minister, his white wife and their three white children. Rising from these struggles is an inspiring story of a transracial family who grew up in one of the most racially volatile cities in America and survived. Now married with two sons of his own, he hopes to help encourage transracial families by sharing his experiences through humor and naked honesty. You can read more from Kevin at My Mind on Paper, his blog.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NATIONAL ADOPTION MONTH: Outstanding Leaders Awarded

100 current and former foster youth receive national honor for personal achievement and community service.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – One hundred young people who have been in foster care were named Outstanding Young Leaders of 2009 in celebration of National Foster Care Month. The recipients from all across the U.S. were honored by FosterClub, the national network for youth in foster care, for their leadership, accomplishments, educational achievement, and community service
“Advocating for better policies – and lives – for children and youth in foster care is my passion,” said Wilfredo Soto, a 19 year old Outstanding Young Leader from Connecticut. “As a foster youth, I know what it feels like to be abandoned, stigmatized and traumatized. I am dedicated to creating positive change for children who have experienced what I have.”

Photographs and personal stories of each of the 100 Outstanding Young Leaders can be viewed on the FosterClub website at: www.fosterclub.org. The Young Leaders include:

• 21 year old Kimberly Snodgrass. After shuffling in and out of foster care, Kimberly was adopted at age 16. Although she did not attend school full-time until age 11, Kimberly graduated from high school with honors and is currently a senior at UC-Irvine. She has written two books on her experiences in foster care and has been accepted to Harvard University, where she hopes to receive a Masters degree in Education and work in the non-profit sector helping foster youth. “Look out for Kimberly,” her nominator said. “She WILL be making a difference.”

• 16 year old George White. George entered foster care at age 2 after his father died. Though he has 13 siblings, he has not seen them in many years. A high school junior, George is an aspiring film-maker who has shot and directed videos for Apl.De.Ap of the Black Eyed Peas and for the nonprofit organization Peace4Kids.

• 20 year old Cedric Riley. Cedric spent 7 years in Ohio’s foster care system before being adopted. Cedric has received more than $150,000 in academic scholarships at Ohio State University. He often serves as a motivational speaker and in 2008 Cedric hosted a statewide rally titled “Success Is a Choice.” Cedric says “I’ve dedicated my life to making a difference in the lives of foster youth by providing hope and encouragement through my life story.”

“Despite the hardships and setbacks these Outstanding Young Leaders faced, they have already achieved great success. As importantly, these inspiring young people are committed to making a difference for the children and youth still in foster care,” said Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA), chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Income Security and Family Support Subcommittee which has jurisdiction over the nation’s child welfare system. “They serve as tremendously effective mentors and role models for youth still in foster care and are working hard to improve the foster care system and the lives and futures of the children in its care.” McDermott has been a dedicated advocate for foster children and introduced and championed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act that was signed into law last year and represented the most significant reform in the child welfare system in over a decade.

“What motivates me is knowing that my success is not about me. My success, my story and my hard work will pave the way so that others can have a chance to reach their dreams,” said Keisha Shelton, a Howard University junior and Outstanding Young Leader. “Just because we are in foster care, we shouldn’t get an unfair shot at life...We deserve more.”

Foster care was designed as a temporary solution to remove children from abuse and neglect, but children often languish in foster care before returning to their families, joining new adoptive families or living permanently with relative caregivers. More than 26,000 young people “aged out” of foster care last year without a permanent family to rely upon. Research reveals that many youth who “age out” of foster experience homelessness, unemployment, incarceration or illness – fewer than 3% of youth who age out of foster care graduate from college and nearly 1 in 5 become homeless.

For more information about FosterClub’s Outstanding Young Leaders and to read the bios of the 2009 recipients, visit www.fosterclub.org.

ABOUT FOSTERCLUB: FosterClub is the national network for young people in foster care. FosterClub's mission is to improve life for young people in foster care through a national network that is built for youth and powered by youth. The organization is founded on the principle that young people in and from foster care deserve to be connected, informed, inspired and represented. At the FosterClub Web site, www.fosterclub.org, youth ask questions and get answers. They discover other successful former foster youth, share opinions about their foster care experience, get recognition for overcoming obstacles, and connect with supportive adults.


November is National Adoption Month. Please consider the opportunity to adopt, foster, mentor, or be an advocate for children in foster care. You may also have the desire to provide clothing or supplies to foster children, you can do that through Clothing Our Youth. We collect gift cards and share them with a designated charity which provides supplies, free of charge, to foster parents for the children. Today is the perfect day to donate.

Monday, November 9, 2009


As a child growing up in a broken home, it was extremely hard for me to create and hold onto healthy relationships. Bouncing from parent to parent and town to town made it very difficult to stay in touch with any of the friends that I had in school or any of the families neighboring me. Until I entered foster when I was age 12 I had no idea what a healthy relationship was supposed to look like. I was kidnapped from my mom by my dad at the age of five and was released at the age of seven. In those two years I was put through hell. In my memory of this period, my dad tortured me mentally, physically and emotionally by not allowing me to eat, sleep or use the bathroom. If I was allowed to sleep, I slept on a filthy couch where the dog slept. The “room” they dead bolted me into was a box-filled storage space that had a pair of sliding doors connecting the room next to it. My dad’s girlfriend had drilled holes in the doors so she could spy on me making sure that I did not sit or lay on the floor.

After two years of the torture my dad finally returned me to my mom. When I arrived at my mom’s house she was so excited to see me that she would not let me out of her arms. I was just as excited to see her because I was finally away from the abuse; but after just a few good years with my mom, the abuse started again. She became an alcoholic and a prostitute. She would bring home random men on a nightly basis who would verbally abuse me. When she got drunk she would get mad at me and begin throwing objects such as glass cups, forks, knives and anything else she could get her hands on. Luckily I was able to dodge the objects, but at the age of eleven it was scary. She also had a bad habit of driving under the influence, which caused us to get into multiple car accidents. Due to my mom’s drinking problem she would spend her entire paycheck on alcohol that resulted in us being evicted from our homes and my mom losing her jobs. After losing our last house we moved in with one of my sisters and on my birthday my mom found a trucker and left for California.
Because of the abuse I was put through as a child I was not able to get close to anyone when I entered foster care. I had a lot of issues when it came to trusting anyone that I met in my life and it was especially hard for me to trust men since all I went through with my dad was two years of bad experiences.

I remember a conversation that I had with my foster mom when I entered the home at age 12 and it involved my education. She was well aware of how unstable my educational situation was growing up and she assured me, unless I chose differently, that I would stay in the same high school all four years. I was very excited to hear of this because I had a hard time maintaining relationships because I moved and switched schools so much. But as time went on and my foster mom continuously introduced me to her friends and family I began trusting people again and was able to feel that I wasn’t in danger of losing everything. I never had the ideal family to look up to; simply meaning father, mother and some kids. That all changed when my foster mom had introduced me to one of her friend’s son when I was about 12. Our relationship grew quickly since we were on the same cycling team and since our parents were good friends. We soon became inseparable and I would spend quite a bit of time at each others houses. This is where I began noticing what an ideal family was supposed to look like. I looked up to my best friend’s dad as the man I should role model. My foster mom always reminded me of this as well. Having that role model really helped me mature into the man I am today.

As mentioned before, until I entered foster care I had no idea what a real family was supposed to look like. Entering foster care required me to create my own family. When people that weren’t aware of my situation would ask about my parents it was difficult for me to disclose that I only had a mother. They would then express their curiosity and ask the status of my father and I would then discuss my situation as a foster youth. Creating my family within foster care was surprisingly easy. I quickly became accepting of my situation realizing that where I was in life was where I fit best. I was happy, loved and for once in my life, stable. This was only possible with the support and encouragement that I consistently received from my newfound family. To this day I consider my foster mom as my mom and my best friend’s family has supported me as if I were one of their own. Because of this support it has shaped the values and morals and has heightened my sense of maturity shaping me into the man I am today.

FosterClub All-Star Jeremy Long, age 21, spent 5 years in Colorado’s foster care system. With foster care being new to both Jeremy and his foster mom, they met the challenge together. He is currently a senior at the University of Northern Colorado majoring in communication and enjoys spending time with his dog and in the company of friends in his free time. Jeremy spent last summer participating in FosterClub’s All-Star internship, where he worked to promote awareness, advocate, and provide motivation to his younger peers still coming through the foster care system. FosterClub is the national network for young people in foster care. Read more about Jeremy and other young leaders of FosterClub at www.fosterclub.org.

November is National Adoption Month. Please consider the opportunity to adopt, foster, mentor, or be an advocate for children in foster care. You may also have the desire to provide clothing or supplies to foster children, you can do that through Clothing Our Youth. We collect gift cards and share them with a designated charity which provides supplies, free of charge, to foster parents for the children. Today is the perfect day to donate.


As a child I remember seeing Running Brave, starring Robbie Benson. It is basically the story of the American Indian that overcame adversity to go on to win the 10,000 meter long distance race in the Tokyo Olympics, which is extraordinarily inspiring. Most often, in school, I was used to hearing stories of discrimination between White and Black. This gave me a new perspective on the issue of diversity and discrimination of other peoples. His story is significant in many ways, the discrimination to which he was subjected and that he overcame being torn between two cultures: American Indian and White American. At the age of 13, Billy found himself orphaned.While attending Haskell Institute, which is now known as Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas; he gave up boxing to focus on running. As a former foster child, or as it was put in his day "child in care", I have always found his story extraordinary and inspiring. You never know who you are fostering.

Thank you to FosterClub for their permission to use this article. FosterClub is the national network for young people in foster care and is headquartered in Seaside, Oregon. The organization’s mission is to lead the efforts of young people in and from foster care to become connected, educated, inspired and represented so they can realize their personal potential and contribute to a better life for their peers.

Many consider it the most sensational race ever run in Olympic History. It was the 10,000 meter race at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. No American had ever won the event. And no American was expected to win the event that year. Australia’s Ron Clark who was world famous in the event was favored to win, with second place expected to be taken by a Tunisian runner. Experts felt that any of the runners were capable of third place – there wasn’t a stand-out. The American Olympic Team sponsors had so little faith in Mills that he was initially refused a pair of running shoes because they only had enough shoes for those who were expected to win.

The race started out as predicted. The Australian and the Tunisian broke away from the pack at the beginning of the race and stayed in first and second position for nearly the whole race. For the USA, a Native American Marine named Billy Mills was back in the pack- so far that he looked completely out of contention. Although he was near last, Mills had not given up on himself and was performing as he always did during his years of practice for this event: “The sleek Native American…(was)…running as smoothly as the wind, without effort, in perfect control”.

Suddenly on the last stretch of the final lap, as if he had planned the race just as it was unfolding, Billy Mills stepped up his smooth pace, began to overtake the pack, recovered from a near stumble, closed in on the two leaders, then at the last possible minute, streaked pass them. Unbelievably Mills took the tape! America had won gold in one of the biggest upsets in Olympic History. Billy Mills crossed the finish line with a record setting time of 28 minutes 24.01 seconds.

That day in Tokyo, with Olympic Gold around his neck, Billy Mills became a national hero. In 92 years of Olympic History, no American had ever won the 10,000 meter run.
But his spectacular win did not give a hint of the obstacles Mills had overcome in his life.
Billy Mills was born June 30, 1938. He was born on the reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, desolate, poverty stricken and even today considered the poorest county in the United States. Billy’s mom was one quarter Sioux and died when Mills was seven years old. His dad, who was three quarters Sioux died when Billy was 12.

One of the big problems with this background was that being part Lakota Indian and part Caucasian made Billy “mixed blood” in the Indian community, which was very unacceptable. In the white community being Indian was unacceptable, also. Billy was an outsider and he had no mom or dad to help him deal with the rejection he experienced.

After the loss of both his parents, Mills was sent to a boarding school on the reservation as a child in care then later to another boarding school in Lawrence, Kansas. He took up running as a way to deal with not being accepted. “I would run five or 10 miles on weekends to get away from everybody else. And I cried. I’d be crying while I was running. A half-blood and an orphan – you couldn’t get much lonelier than that”.

The summer after his high school freshman year, Billy worked on the reservation and lived out of his old car. One morning when he awoke, he recalled something his Dad told him: that the only thing between him and success was hard work. Since his Dad’s passing, Billy had been running as therapy for his pain and loneliness. Suddenly the running took on a new dimension.

Billy looked at running in a new light. He began to see that he had talent as a runner and with hard work, his achievements in track could become his ticket to acceptance. By his senior year, he earned a track scholarship to the University of Kansas. At the University, he built a successful athletic career excelling at track and even won some fame as a runner.

During this time Mills made his first attempt at his longtime dream: to be a member of the USA Olympic Team. When he didn’t make the 1960 squad, he was discouraged and he gradually began to let go of his dream to compete in track. He was giving up on his personal life, too. He felt that he was being judged unfairly because he was Native American. He didn’t feel accepted by students and faculty, even with his own classmates and coach. 3 When he returned to the Reservation in the summer, he felt rejected again, accused of taking on the white man’s life. He felt he didn’t fit in anywhere.

Upon graduation from the University of Kansas, Billy married his long time sweetheart and took a commission in the United States Marine Corps. He says: “All my life I felt like I didn’t belong. The Marine Corps said ‘You belong’”. To this day, Mills encourages youth to consider the Marines. “I always mention the Marine corps in my speeches because it had such an influence on my life. The Marine Corps and sports were the only places I felt like I belonged, like I had a home…. The Marine Corps is a tremendous opportunity for anyone who is interested in a challenging career. It’s a great place to learn discipline, dedication, focus, mission accomplishment, honor, and gain career experience. Not to mention the pride one gets from being called a Marine.”

While in the Marines, Mills was not selected at first for the Marine Corps team training for the Olympics. Billy took his case to the commanding officer and after declaring his conviction that he felt he could win the 10,000 meter race, he was assigned to the All-Marine Track Team. Remembering his Dad’s words about hard work, Billy trained by running nearly 100 miles a week.
The rest is history. Billy went on to unbelievably conquer all previous Olympic records and for the first time in history, won the 10,000 meter run for the USA. Reports say that the crowd and his coach and wife were so stunned by his come from behind finish that, in the ensuing emotions, Billy couldn’t run the traditional victory lap.

Where is Billy Mills now? 

Bill Mills is now 71 and still making an impression on the World. He is the National Spokesperson for Running Strong for American Indian Youth®. Along with Nicholas Sparks, Billy co-authored the book Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Understanding. The book teaches life lessons about hapiiness through Indian legends. Today Billy travels over 300 days every year. He visits American Indian communities throughout the U.S. and speaks to American Indian youth about healthy lifestyles and taking pride in their heritage. He remains married to his wife, Pat, of 45 years and is the father of 3 children.

November is National Adoption Month. Please consider the opportunity to adopt, foster, mentor, or be an advocate for children in foster care. You may also have the desire to provide clothing or supplies to foster children, you can do that through Clothing Our Youth. We collect gift cards and share them with a designated charity which provides supplies, free of charge, to foster parents for the children. Today is the perfect day to donate.