Friday, May 30, 2008
This will be a story that you will want to follow. I've added her mom's blog to our In Ukraine to Adopt links, and you can also go here Paul & Jeane - Blessed By a Child.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
This is an example of Unintended Consequences.
A couple of months ago, I posted about UNICEF regarding international adoption and the unintended consequence of dooming children to never being adopted.
Now recently, the Kiev Post brought to our attention a new proposed program of the Ukrainian government that would pay money to families when they have children. I recently posted on the population loss that Ukraine has been experiencing. On the surface, like in that Dilbert cartoon, it seems like bonus money might be a good way to encourage families to have more children, and provide the means to support them. Dig a little deeper, however, and you realize that this is probably not a good idea. Kelly Baehr explains it better than I ever could. This kind of program can actually increase homelessness and the number of social orphans.
Well, a politician can never go wrong with his constituents if he hands out money like the Easter Bunny. But I do hope they can come up with a better solution than encouraging people to "write themselves a minivan".
Monday, May 26, 2008
I also pause to think about those two children in a faraway place that will immigrate to this land of hope and opportunity, greeted by the Mother of Exiles.
The New Colossus
by Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Friday, May 23, 2008
I mentioned in an earlier post, here, that to better understand the adoption situation in Ukraine right now, it is helpful to get some background on the Ukrainian government. I have also been learning about the social conditions in the country, and the problems that the Ukrainian government is tasked with solving.
For the last 15 years, the population of Ukraine has been steadily falling. For the period 1992-2007, the population dropped by about 6,000,000 people. That is a staggering -12%!
I want to call your attention to the following report. It is very illuminating on the current social situation.
The Demographic Situation in Ukraine: Present State, Tendencies, and Predictions
By Ludmila Shanghina
April 6, 2004
It is against this backdrop that we adoptive parents find ourselves contending with Ukraine. The government realizes that their children are important, and for the most part, wants to do the right thing. But the population as a whole is unable or unwilling to respond to the government's call for domestic adoption. There is an enormous societal stigma against orphans. So, orphans are caught in the middle of this sad struggle. Now enter UNICEF, which comes in waving dollars to develop programs that reinforce the government's own tendency to keep their children "home". Government money is provided to foster families, with apparently, limited success. There are anecdotes of corruption in the system.
Anyway, the report was eye-opening for me. I suspect it will be for you, too.
I am listing highlights that I took from the article. I added my own emphases.
- The demographic situation in Ukraine is characterized by an accumulation of tendencies that are reaching crisis proportions. The population is decreasing, with an increase in the death rate among working-age people and a negative balance of external migration. Under these conditions, a deterioration in interethnic and interreligious relations in society is possible against a background of a worsening socioeconomic situation for most of the population.
- After 1993, a reduction in the absolute numbers of Ukraine's population began. Over the course of the years 1993-2000, the population of Ukraine dropped by 2.9 million persons, from 52.2 million persons to 49.3 million. Of that number, four-fifths of the losses have been due to natural population losses (an excess of the death rate over the birth rate) and one-fourth as a consequence of migratory processes (an excess of the level of emigration over the level of immigration).
- The causes of reductions in population numbers are: a reduction in the birth rate, an increase in the death rate, the unsatisfactory state of the health of the population accompanying the low quality of and insufficient access to the health care system in the country, and an excess of the level of emigration over the level of immigration.
- The reduction in the birth rate in rural areas of the country is reaching crisis proportions. According to data from the State Statistics Committee of Ukraine, out of Ukraine's 28,794 villages, not a single child was born in 12,673 of them in 1999. There are no children aged between six and fifteen in almost one thousand villages.
- Against this background of a falling birth rate, the number of abortions remains stable and high. According to data from the Ministry of Health Care of Ukraine, 470,000 abortions were registered in the country in 1999. As a point of comparison, the number of births in 1999 came to 389,200 persons. For 320 of each 100,000 women not giving birth as a result of abortion annually, the procedure ends in death.
- The birth rate coefficient in Ukraine is one of the lowest among European countries (including the post-Communist countries).
- In contrast to the birth rate, the death rate in Ukraine is one of the highest in Europe.
- The high death rate among working-age men is an especially alarming phenomenon, capable of causing significant demographic deformations. This level is estimated to be the highest in the world.
- Among the reasons for the high death rate among the working-age population since 1990, the most important is that of unnatural causes, including accidents, murders, and suicides. The main unnatural cause reflected in the death rate is suicide.
- The state of the health care system is also getting worse. The number of medical establishments is decreasing and the level of their financing by the state has fallen to a critical level.
- The so-called social illnesses - such as tuberculosis, syphilis, or HIV/AIDS - are spreading.
- About nine thousand people die from tuberculosis annually.
- Syphilis is encountered in Ukraine almost a hundred times more frequently than in the countries of Eastern and Central Europe.
- Ukraine, in the opinion of experts from UNAIDS and the WHO, has the "most dramatic" epidemic situation with regard to HIV/AIDS among the countries of the former USSR.
- Ukraine is the leader among European countries with about 500 new cases [of HIV/AIDS] being registered monthly.
- 95 percent of parents of rural children do not ask for medical aid due to the distance to medical establishments or due to an inability to pay.
- The dynamics of the basic socioeconomic indices for 1990-2000 testify to a sharp decline in the quality of life for the overwhelming majority of the country's population.
- Having work does not guarantee a good standard of living.
- 27.8 percent of the population (13.7 million persons) was considered to belong to the category of the impoverished, and 14.2 percent (almost 7 million persons), to the category of the destitute.
- Under conditions of spreading unemployment and poverty, the number of marriages is going down (the index of the number of marriages per 1,000 persons fell from 9.3 in 1990 to 5.5 in 2000). This leads, if not to a decrease in reproduction of the population, then to the growth of incomplete families and the spread of social orphans.
- The worsening socioeconomic situation in the country, the spread of unemployment, and the low price of labor compels people to migrate from Ukraine temporarily in search of work or to leave Ukraine to take up permanent residence in countries with more favorable employment conditions.
- The unfavorable socioeconomic situation and the constant threat of unemployment and destitution are powerful factors in spreading a socially depressed condition in society. This in turn has an extremely unfavorable influence on the demographic situation by reducing the birth rate and growth.
- The extremely high death rate for working-age men is also bringing about a distortion in the population structure by sex. In Ukraine, the noticeable excess of the number of women over the number of men begins in the age groups after thirty years of age. With each year, this point is dropping lower down the age pyramid, which will lead to a distortion in reproductive activity-a further drop in the birth rate, an increase in the number of births outside of wedlock, and accompanying increases in the number of incomplete families and social orphans.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I made an update to the DossierDates spreadsheet to include this document, and it also indicates that you should put in your own PoA lifetime.
I also decided to pull out the FBI Fingerprinting documents from the main section, because, while they are important, they are not actually part of the dossier.
I should have emphasized before that this spreadsheet is specific to the United States, due to some of the documents it refers to. If you are from another country, such as Canada or Italy, and wish to see this modified for your country's requirements, please contact me.
You can find the updated version 1.2 files here.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Overseas Adoption Is Dream Come True For South Dakota Family
By DeAnn McClure, P&D Correspondent
Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, Yankton, SD
July 28, 2003
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
If you downloaded the original one (I note that there were already 15 downloads today), I recommend that you grab this one. There's enough changes that it would be worth your while.
UPDATE: There is a newer follow-up post here.
For some time now I have been meaning to put together a spreadsheet to help me track the documents in our dossier and when they expire. I am making this available to you if you use Excel.
It allows you to enter your submission date, or any date if you don't have one. Then you enter in the individual dates from your various documents. This is typically the oldest date on the document if there is more than one on it. Please note, I have some dates already entered in, but they are for illustration only. You will need to enter your own dates in.
I have the number of months until expiration for the documents set by default, but you can change them. I have two alert levels, yellow and red, which are configurable but are defaulted to 30 and 14 days.
Now, this is important. You can only use the spreadsheet if you agree to the following disclaimer. If you do not agree to it, then you may not use it.
- I am merely providing the spreadsheet as a convenience to you.
- I provide no warranty that it is suitable for any particular purpose.
- You assume all risks associated with using the spreadsheet.
- You will not hold me responsible for any loss of adoption opportunity or any other adverse condition due to any direct or indirect failure or misuse of the spreadsheet.
- The document lifetimes and 6-month SDA policy that I entered by default are believed to be correct to the best of my knowledge, but may in fact be incorrect, or may change in the future.
- The documents I have listed by default may not apply to your specific adoption situation.
- Your dossier may contain documents other than the ones I included.
- Due to the customizable nature of spreadsheets, I cannot be responsible for the accuracy or innaccuracy of any data entered therein.
- If you find a problem with the spreadsheet, I will be happy to take a look at it. However, I don't guarantee that it will be fixed, or fixed in a timely manner.
UPDATE: These spreadsheets have been updated to version 1.2.
Excel 97-2003 Format
Excel 2007 Format (Save as .xlsm instead of .zip)
If you have a bug report, enhancement suggestion, need help, or just have a comment, please post it. I get an email when someone posts, so I will be sure to see it.
UPDATE: There is a newer follow-up post here.
Friday, May 16, 2008
And Baby Makes One
By Margaret Philp, Social Policy Reporter
The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada
Saturday, April 19, 2003 - Page F6
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I'm posting about an old newspaper article concerning hosting. So, if you're familiar with it and don't want to rehash it, you may want to skip this post.
A while back I came across this article in the NY Times, called A Taste Of U.S. Family Life, But Adoption In Limbo (NYT might require a login, try alternate sites here and here). It talks about the pro's and cons of hosting orphans in the United States, without the stated intention of adopting them. I know there are many people (a majority?) that really don't have the intention to adopt the kids, and I believe the kids are told up front that this is just a visit. But really, who could blame the child for getting his hopes up that maybe someone would adopt him?
On the other hand, others are specifically looking at hosting as an opportunity to find a specific child to adopt. But even so, there are no guarantees. The SDA will have the final say. The adoptive parents will have to be very persuasive that they should be allowed to adopt that specific child (without their facilitator with them). The article alludes to favors or donations that might be required to get a favorable referral. And since you can't "reserve" a specific child, there is competition. I have wondered about how much info to post on this blog about Sergei and Valya. Is someone else going to see the information here about them and beat us to the SDA? You cannot blame an orphan for agreeing to go with the first family willing to adopt them. The second chance may never come. There are 1,000 things that can disrupt an adoption, no matter how hard you try. Some time ago I went back to my posts on Sergei and Valya and edited out some information. I have personally corresponded with someone by email who forbade me to say anything about the child they want to adopt.
But what if you go to your SDA appointment with absolutely no idea of a child ahead of time, other than perhaps a desired age range? This is also risky. Recently, the SDA has been telling adoptive parents that there are NO healthy children available for adoption. This is an outright lie and it angers me. I absolutely do not fault any family that decides not to adopt a child with severe medical problems. The family needs to talk about this ahead of time and be in agreement that they are called for these children. Some families are only getting one chance at the SDA, which severely limits the opportunity for a successful adoption.
Overall, I guess, I would have to say I'm neutral toward hosting. I know some of you reading this had a great experience. Others have not. I agree with this post about Dr. Rosini, the director of Frontier Horizon: it is a gamble.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
I just have to post my favorite picture of Nancy and Mark, taken on Mother's Day 1998. Mark was 3.
Babies Don’t Keep
By Ruth Hulbert Hamilton, 1958
Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due,
Lullabye, rockaby, lullabye loo.
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo,
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo,
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs;
Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
In recent months, our family has been the unfortunate recipients of chaos in Ukrainian adoption. From our vantage point in America, things just don't make sense, and we are left scratching our heads in wonder at the seeming heartlessness of a ministry that seems to be doing all it can to keep kids in orphanages.
Recently, I've been hitting the internet looking for articles to help me understand how the SDA got to where it is today. But to understand the SDA, we need to first learn something about Ukrainian government, who the players are, and recent history, especially since the Orange Revolution.
I found an article that I am studying and I want to share it with you. I think it gives a pretty good overview of what is going on with President Yuschenko, Prime Minister Tymoshenko, and the Parliament. I'm going to read this over and over until I can keep everything straight. Class is in session.
UKRAINE: Ungovernable As Always
Global News Blog / Inter Press Service
Friday, May 2, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
A perfect blossom is a rare thing.
You could spend your life looking for one.
And it would not be a wasted life.
Katsumoto, The Last Samurai
I did not spend my life looking for the perfect blossom, but I did spend a few minutes. A couple of days ago I took a picture of some blossoms on our plum tree in the yard. I note today that the petals are already falling off. The blooms are lasting maybe a week tops.
It reminds me of how fleeting life is. Do I focus on what is important, or do I waste it chasing after vanity?
A hundred years from now
It will not matter
What my bank account was,
The sort of house I lived in
Or the kind of car I drove
But the world may be different
Because I was important
In the life of a child.
Monday, May 5, 2008
According to President Yushchenko's official website, a couple of weeks ago he held "a gathering dedicated to problems of orphaned, disabled, homeless children and large families."
He also "urged the Government and local authorities to work out a complex and effective system of children protection" (emphasis mine). I would imagine that someday they will be looking at joining the Hague Convention, which requires really good child tracking. Sorry, file folders won't cut it.
The system is so broken right now. All those little empires. But what really needs to happen is that peoples' hearts need to change. Ukraine needs spiritual revival, not religion. I'm talking about a Holy Spirit revival. A one-on-one encounter with the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Well I do hope something good comes of this meeting, especially taking care of the street kids. So many times I have been tempted to post a link to street kids' pictures or videos, but it is too much for me to bear. I just can't do it.
If you want to read the article, it is President holds meeting dedicated to сhildren care.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
"...his name isThere's a family in our neighbor-hood going through a divorce right now. Their son is one of Mark's friends. It was a surprise to us, we never saw any obvious signs of trouble in their marriage. The wife is in the process of moving out right now. This is a new dynamic for Mark to experience. As far as I know, this is the first time Mark has seen one of his friends go through a divorce. We'll have to help him work through his feelings about it.
a Father to
a defender of widows."
This brought to mind a song by the Newsboys, a popular Christian band. They have this song called Always. I found a video of it on the internet, which I've included here. It's from their Step Up to the Microphone tour, which I saw in Sioux Falls a few years back with our youth group. On the concert DVD, Peter Furler makes an introduction to the song, which is missing from this clip. He said, "Seems like these days, more than any before, we run into a lot of people that go through this life without a father, and without a father figure. The Bible says that God is the father to the fatherless, and he is the defender of widows."
These are some of the lyrics from the song.
It's always the sameYou'll see the words to Psalm 68:5 on the screen behind them.
You're always to blame
Is there any way around this
I can't see
You walked out on her
You planned to be free
I'm trying not to point the finger
But it's killing me
Take these pieces
Put them together from
Night 'n' day
Washed by the sun
Dried by the rain
To be my father
In the fatherless days
Check out this video: Newsboys - Always
Add to My Profile | More Videos
Friday, May 2, 2008
I suppose it will be a little useful. I'll be posting links to useful Ukrainian sites soon that are only in Russian or Ukrainian.
Холодное серое небо ветра оплакивают алмаз в грубой
Земле не был достоин
Cold grey sky of wind is mourned
a diamond did not deserve
in rough Earth
Дождь падает но нет слезы,
издали которая отец плачет
Все же брат не делает
A rain falls but there is not a tear,
from afar which a father cries
However much a brother does
Земля получает семя розы между
Духами крапивы для небес
Earth gets the seed
of rose between
Perfumes of nettle for skies
Тщетность высмеивает глаз веры напрягает,
чтобы видеть обещание выполняемым
Futility is ridiculed by
the eye of faith strains,
to see a promise executable
Любовь закрывает вуалью ее лицо здесь
Глашатай тех криков вне
Неизвестная любовь сделал известно
Ljubov veils her face here
Herald of those screaming outside
Unknown love did it is known
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Haiku for a Dead Orphan
Cold wind gray sky mourn
A diamond in the rough
Earth was not worthy
Rain falls but no tear
A father weeps from afar
Yet brother does not
Earth receives a seed
Of rose amidst the nettle
Perfume for heaven
The eye of faith strains to see
A promise fulfilled
Love veils her face here
Herald of the one cries out
Unknown love made known
For Sergei Adveev
Rest in peace, brother
April 29, 2008
© Alan Pretre