Friday, October 22, 2010

One more post...

We went on the special needs list last fall and in December, we were referred a little girl from Datong, Shanxi Province. Dang Yunjing is now Leah Yunjing and she is a wonderful little girl. On May 10, 2010, she bacame a permanent part of our family. She has bilateral club feet but those are being taken care of. Thank you all for praying for us.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Miss me?

You know what's embarassing? Forgetting your Blogger password. Boy, I thought I had it memorized.

No, seriously, I've lost the desire to maintain this blog even though I know there are a few of you who check in regularly (thank you for your e-mails).

As you can see from the banner, as of today we have been logged in for two years with the CCAA, and they are still nine months of referrals away before they get to ours. We really don't know what we're going to do, we may go special needs or we may stick it out. We'd appreciate your prayers.

Ally is doing fine. She loves kindergarten and pretty much aces every reading test put in front of her. We're very proud of her and we really hope we can get a sister or brother for her some day.

Anyway, I'm on Facebook now, so if you want to keep up with us, just get an account (everyone's doing it!), search for d e f r e s e (without the spaces) and you'll see my smiling face. Send me a friend request and I'll accept it.

I'll leave you with one picture of Ally. She had her class picture taken last month, and we think it turned out pretty well:

If anything changes on the adoption front, I'll be sure to update this blog. Otherwise, I hope to see you on Facebook.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

TVs in the Kids' Rooms: Just Say No

Dr. Al Mohler has advice for Christian parents regarding placing a TV in a child's bedroom. You can read his article here. In it, he cites a New York Times story on the same subject. I've excerpted at length below. Bottom line: Don't do it.

A One-Eyed Invader in the Bedroom
Here’s one simple way to keep your children healthy: Ban the bedroom TV.

By some estimates, half of American children have a television in their bedroom; one study of third graders put the number at 70 percent. And a growing body of research shows strong associations between TV in the bedroom and numerous health and educational problems.

Children with bedroom TVs score lower on school tests and are more likely to have sleep problems. Having a television in the bedroom is strongly associated with being overweight and a higher risk for smoking.

One of the most obvious consequences is that the child will simply end up watching far more television — and many parents won’t even know.

In a study of 80 children in Buffalo, ages 4 to 7, the presence of a television in the bedroom increased average viewing time by nearly nine hours a week, to 30 hours from 21. And parents of those children were more likely to underestimate their child’s viewing time.

“If it’s in the bedroom, the parents don’t even really know what the kids are watching,” said Leonard H. Epstein, professor of pediatrics and social and preventive medicine at the School of Medicine and Biomedical Science at the State University of New York at Buffalo. “Oftentimes, parents who have a TV in the kids’ bedrooms have TVs in their bedrooms.”

Moreover, once the set is in the child’s room, it is very likely to stay. “In our experience, it is often hard for parents to remove a television set from a child’s bedroom,” Dr. Epstein said...

In a study among French adolescents, boys with a bedroom television were more likely than their peers to have a larger waist size and higher body fat and body mass index.

The French study also showed, not surprisingly, that boys and girls with bedroom TVs spent less time reading than others.

Other data suggest that bedroom television affects a child’s schoolwork. In a 2005 study in The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, researchers looked at the television, computer and video game habits of almost 400 children in six Northern California schools for a year. About 70 percent of the children in the study had their own TV in the bedroom; they scored significantly and consistently lower on math, reading and language-arts tests. Students who said they had computers in their homes scored higher...

Another October study, published in Pediatrics, showed that kindergartners with bedroom TVs had more sleep problems. Those kids were also less “emotionally reactive,” meaning that they weren’t as moody or as bothered by changes in routine. While that sounds like a good thing, the researchers speculated that having a TV in the bedroom dampened the intensity with which a child responded to stimulation.

Another study of more than 700 middle-school students, ages 12 to 14, found that those with bedroom TVs were twice as likely to start smoking — even after controlling for such risk factors as having a parent or friend who smokes or low parental engagement. Among kids who had a TV in the bedroom 42 percent smoked; among the others, the figure was 16 percent.

“I think it matters quite a lot,” Dr. Epstein said. “There are all kinds of problems that occur when kids have TVs in their bedroom.”

So while many parents try to limit how much television and what type of shows their children watch, that may be less than half the battle. Where a child watches is important too.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Ally Turns Five

So we went low key with the birthday party this year. We let Ally invite her three closest girl friends for an afternoon of swimming at the local rec center pool. We had a giant cookie instead of a cake, on account that Ally doesn't eat the cake part, just the icing. No candles allowed at the rec center, but the girls sang Happy Birthday, which was really cute.

Ally's newest thing is Barbie Maiposa and the Butterfly Fairy, so she got a doll, complete with giant wings, which she held onto while watching the DVD.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Fresh Prince to Adopt From China?

At least these parents's going to be a long wait if they do:

Will and Jada Smith to adopt child from China
ANOTHER adoption is on the way and this time it’s Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith who are having the option in their mind. The celebrity couple, according to source, are considering adopting a child from China. Will and Jada are “exploring” the idea of adopting a child from China. “Will and Jada are among a number of Hollywood couples looking into adopting in China,” the broker was quoted as saying.

Despite the pair intention to adopt, the source claimed that “(Adopting a child) is a long process, and from what I understand, not much has been done on their behalf.” No words just yet from Will and Jada about the adoption speculation.

Will has a son, Willard Christopher III, from his first marriage in addition to a son, named Jaden Smith and a daughter named Willow Camille Reign from his marriage to Jada. Will and Jaden both co-starred in the 2006 drama ‘The Pursuit of Happyness.’

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The State of IA

Foreign adoptions decline
Associated Press

The number of foreign children adopted by Americans has dropped for the third year in a row, a consequence of tougher policies in the two countries -- China and Russia -- that over the past decade have supplied the most children to U.S. families.

Figures for the 2007 fiscal year showed that adoptions from abroad have fallen to 19,411, down about 15 percent in just the past two years.

It's a dramatic change. The number of foreign adoptions had more than tripled since the early 1990s, reaching a peak of 22,884 in 2004 before dipping slightly in 2005, then falling to 20,679 in 2006.

"A drop in international adoptions is sad for children," said Thomas Atwood, president of the National Council for Adoption. "National boundaries and national pride shouldn't get in the way of children having families."

Adoptions from China, the No. 1 source country since 2000, fell to 5,453. That's down by 1,040 from last year and well off the peak of 7,906 in 2005. Two main factors lie behind this: an increase in domestic adoptions as China prospers and tighter restrictions on foreign adoptions that give priority to stable married couples between 30 and 50 and exclude single people, the obese and others with financial or health problems.

[The first part is true, China has increased their domestic adoptions. However, the new restrictions, applicable to those submitting dossiers after May 1, 2007, have not affected any families being referred children now. There simply were more dossiers submitted than there were children ready for IA, which led to China instituting the new restrictions. - ed.]

One consequence, adoption agencies say, is that the waiting time to complete an adoption from China has more than doubled to 24 months or more.

[It's more. The most recent batch of referrals, which arrived this week, are for dossiers logged in between December 28, 2005 and January 4, 2006, so the wait is now up to 26 months. - ed.]

Adoptions from Russia also dropped sharply over the past year -- from 3,706 to 2,310. Russian authorities suspended the operations of all foreign adoption agencies for several months earlier this year and have been reaccrediting them only gradually. Like China, Russia has been trying to boost the number of domestic adoptions.

U.S. adoptions from South Korea and Haiti also declined significantly, although the overall drop was partially offset by large increases in adoptions from Guatemala (up from 4,135 to 4,728), Ethiopia (732 to 1,255) and Vietnam (163 to 626).

Tom DeFilipo, president of the Joint Council on International Children's Services, said adoptions from Guatemala could decline over the coming year as its government -- under intense international pressure -- tries to impose tough new regulations on an adoption industry that was widely viewed as susceptible to fraud and extortion.

The State Department has advised Americans not to initiate adoption applications for Guatemala while that overhaul is under way. The proposed reforms are required under an international adoption treaty, the Hague Convention, which both Guatemala and the United States have agreed to adhere to starting next year.

Overall, DeFilipo -- whose council represents many international adoption agencies -- found reason for optimism in the new statistics.

"What you're seeing is fewer countries sending very large numbers of children and a broader range of countries participating," he said. "Over the long term, I think this is a healthy trend."

He mentioned Kenya, Peru and Brazil as countries not now among the major sources of children, but which might increase international adoptions in coming years.

Michele Bond, deputy assistant secretary of state for overseas citizen services, also viewed the new figures positively.

"Interest in intercountry adoption remains very strong," she said in a telephone interview. "People are increasingly well-informed. They're more likely to look at new countries instead of always looking at the same small number of countries."

By contrast, another adoption expert, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet, depicted the new numbers as "totally depressing."

She said China and Russia reflected a trend in which countries opened themselves up to international adoption, then scaled back. She attributed this in part to UNICEF and other international organizations encouraging countries to care for children within their homeland, even when domestic programs such as foster care might be inadequate.

[This is interesting; I'd never heard this about UNICEF before. - ed.]

"UNICEF is a major force," Bartholet said. "They've played a major role in jumping on any country sending large number of kids abroad, identifying it as a problem rather than a good thing."

UNICEF's child protection spokesman, Geoffrey Keele, said the U.N. agency does believe it is preferable to care for orphaned or abandoned children in their own countries if good homes could be found for them.

"The best interests of the child must be the guiding principle," he said. "We don't go about discouraging international adoption. We just want to be sure it's done properly."

Thomas Atwood, of the National Council for Adoption, said there should be no competition between domestic and international adoption. With an estimated 143 million orphans worldwide, he said, there was enough need to go around.

[Amen to that. - ed.]

For U.S.-based adoption agencies, the biggest impact has been on those specializing in placing children from China.

The president of one of the largest such groups, Joshua Zhong of Colorado-based Chinese Children Adoption International, said the agency had placed about 620 children this year, down from about 1,200 in 2005, while average waiting times had increased from nine months to two years.

Some clients are so committed to adopting a Chinese child that they are willing to wait, Zhong said. "Others say forget about it."

Monday, March 03, 2008

WARNING: This Post Contains Emetological Material; Update: Culprit?

Mark this day: As far as we know, Ally threw up for the first time. Or, as James Lileks so deftly put it in today's Bleat, she had a "barftacular evacuation", thus adding to the ever-growing list of metaphors in the English lexicon for vomiting. Part of the essential knowledge at university is to know them all.

It happened at pre-school, about fifteen minutes before Lauren picked her up. She seemed otherwise all right and gave no indication of illness when she was dropped off. Her teacher changed her shirt (note to self: give her an extra special end-of-year gift) and didn't bother to call Lauren, since she was on her way.

I imagine it must have been pretty unsettling for Ally, poor thing. She's sleeping right now. That's one childhood rite of passage that we hope never comes, but eventually it does.

UPDATE: Apparently, today was Read Across America Day at school, in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday. For snack, the kids were served green eggs and ham. Don't know if this caused any adverse reaction, but I'm sure she won't be eating them again soon. Not on a plane. Not on a train.

I also found out that some My Little Ponys were among the collateral damage. Ally said her teacher took them to the bathroom to wash them off. Why do I have a feeling they're going to be sent to live on a farm in Connecticut?