Sunday, May 13, 2012

It Wasn’t Always a “Hallmark” Holiday

Mother’s day, which only recently has been turned into a “Hallmark” holiday celebrating  the person one calls “mom”, historically was a symbolic and spiritual time when societies celebrated the Goddess and other symbolic manifestations of motherhood. The literal translation of celebrating your “mom” is a relatively new phenomenon.

Mothers and the qualities of being a mother can come from many different people and things in your life, not just the person who you might call “mom”.  

Sunday many will enjoy brunch or dinner with their mothers on one of the busiest restaurant days of the year, or breakfast in bed prepared by well-intentioned children; and sadly many of us will be feeling the deep loss of a mother, a not-so-happy day for some.  It’s complicated.

So in the spirit of ancient times, let us honor, celebrate, and reflect on those maternal qualities that thoughts of  motherhood elicits. Is it your mother? A close friend? A great Aunt? Your teacher? A peaceful place in the forest you go to meditate? What is yours?

Whether literal or symbolic, pause to reflect on what Mother’s Day means to you.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vision and Determination

Recently, I attended two events that demonstrated what can happen when someone has a vision and the determination to make it reality.

In recognition of its 40th year of creating families for children, the National Adoption Center inducted Carolyn Johnson into its newly created Adoption Hall of Fame. Carolyn, working from a wooden recipe box on her kitchen table, believed that no child was unadoptable; she gathered the names of children who needed families and prospective parents and began to make “matches.” From this beginning, she founded the National Adoption Center. Carolyn’s induction was held at the Center’s annual gala, Celebration of Family, in a room filled with children whose families had been created through adoption. I was thrilled to see Joyce Mosley and her son, Kevin. Joyce was the first single woman in Pennsylvania to adopt a child; Kevin, now 42, was two when his mom-to-be saw his photograph and description in The Philadelphia Inquirer. She says, “I knew from the minute I saw his face that he was going to be my son.” Kevin is now the father of two sons.

That Sunday, I attended another celebration, also focused on children—the official opening of the Miracle Field of Northhampton Township, Pennsylvania. Through the diligent efforts of a group of business persons, parents and media, children with special needs—even those in wheelchairs and on crutches—are now able to play baseball. I watched their first game with moist eyes. It was the culmination of a dream for these boys and girls who, for the first time, were able to swing a bat or hit a ball on a safe playing field. The field in Northhampton is one of 250 such facilities in the country, an undertaking that began a decade ago in a small town outside of Atlanta.

Both events made it clear that possibilities can become realities that make a difference in the way children grow up.   Peter, an eight-year-old who wears a leg brace, slid into the first base with a teenage aide at his side. He grinned at those of us cheering in the audience, letting us know that he had found his “home.”

Monday, May 7, 2012

Khalil Wimes

There has been a great deal of talk lately here in Philadelphia about the story of little Khalil Wimes. Khalil was found dead from head trauma March 19 when his birth parents brought him to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. His corpse weighed only 29 pounds and bore scars across his face and the rest of his body. Authorities believe Khalil suffered beatings at the hands of his parents for as long as two years. He had been removed from their care one week after his birth on Valentine’s Day 2006. By that time, the Department of Human Services had already removed seven of his older siblings from his parents’ care for neglect.

Khalil lived in the loving care of his foster parents until he was 3. They eventually hoped to adopt him. In 2008, over the objection of his social worker, his child advocate, and his foster parents, Khalil was returned to his birth parents. According to Family Court transcripts, the Department of Human Services endorsed reunifying Khalil with his parents since the couple had stayed off drugs for a six-month period, took a parenting class, and got an apartment. DHS monitored Khalil for one year after he was returned to them. Investigators believe the abuse started immediately after the monitoring ended.

Who’s to blame here? Clearly these individuals were unfit parents, yet a judge ordered Kahlil be returned to his birth parents, rather than stay with the loving foster parents who wanted to adopt him. When is reunification not in the best interests of the child? How can tragedies like this be avoided in the future?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thank You!

Last Wednesday night close to 300 people including board members, friends, and staff celebrated the National Adoption Center’s 40 years of creating families for children who have lived in foster care. Our guests enjoyed an impressive live and silent auction, remarks by media celebrities like Stan Hochman, Steve Highsmith and Vai Sikahema and heard from our first Adoption Hall of Fame inductees– child advocate, Alba Martinez and NAC’s founder, Carolyn Johnson. Check out the fun

This generous group along with our amazing Gala Sponsor’s, helped the Center raise close to $160,000 to support our life-changing services for children living in foster care.

In addition, for the first time a short historical video was debuted. The inspiring video, which was created by a team of Wharton students, follows the Center’s forty years of service. Enjoy!

A huge thank you to Wendy’s -  our Premier 40th Anniversary Sponsor!