Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tell me it isn't so!!!!!!!

Simply the most brilliant piece of viral marketing for pass-on that I have seen in years. I have so few other words - but I'm trying to send to everyone right now... get the message??? If you don't have it from me - don't worry - you will soon....

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Waaaassssssup? Change …

The new....

and the old....

Friday, October 24, 2008


You know, there are times when it just gets so busy, that you can't think about doing much of anything. That is definately where I've been the last few weeks.

As a note regarding business, before we go anywhere else, I want to thank Cheryl again for the gift of the post-it organizer that she gave to me almost six months ago. I think without that, I would not see my desk for all the notes and thoughts that would be piled on it. Instead I have the coolest organizer (I'll add a pic later) that is indespensible... Thanks!
So. First off, there have been many changes around the house. I had planned on more updates quite frankly, but the economy has me freaked out (well - I think that is just about all of us in the country) so I'm not doing so much. But, some long-awaited items are now dealt with.
Frst, here are the pictures of the baseboards that are now installed. I have to say - after four years without baseboards - they look even better than I had imagined. The new doors still rock, but the baseboards make me feel so good! Dorky huh?

This is just a small piece - they are in all over upstairs now - and hopefully next spring I can replace the other doors in the house, and the baseboards downstairs as well. I dream about that day. (God, but it's the truth... instead of dreaming of foreign men, I dream about men with or without beer bellies who fix up my house and do handyman work...)

I have found a great handyman who works with another that I had already used (actually neither have beer bellies, but I guess that is just a bonus). The other big piece that they did is almost as exciting. If you have ever been in my garage you will know that it was an electrical mess. There was one outlet for everything, and frankly I had doubted if it was legal wiring. Well, G (the secret handyman whose identify I won't reveal for fear of having too much business and never seeing him again) was able to add 5 lights, and 7 electical sockets in the garage. I tell you, it was pretty cool. I now have my own electrical tester unit - and have now discovered most outlets in the house are not wired correctly. Note to self to install the new fire detectors this weekend. If something goes wrong it will be from the crappy electric work I paid for when I moved in. Here is the garage:

In addition, this week the last of the big projects was done - a new side fence with gate to replace the moldy oldy that was falling apart. Mom - these pictures are for you. Doesn't it look nice?
This past week I travelled to CO on business, and was able to meet up with my newest neice, Hayden. She is pretty damn cute, I have to say. Now the next order of business is to get my brother to marry the mother sometime here in the future, after we get him a better job with a future and a decent paycheck... I'm still watching out for you, bro... Here are those pics of Miss Hayden Peterson:

I travelled to MN early this month for my 20th college reunion. Really. It was great - I felt OLD (stunning) - and while classmates were talking about getting their kids ready for college, I was able to find one or two other classmates who I could talk about potty training with.

A special thanks goes out to Karen L. for finally returning my copy of "The Mind Parasites" which I purchased on a trip to the Soviet Union my junior year. She agreed that it was a good book, but didn't want to be one of those people who don't return books. Thanks so much, and I've already started to read it again.

At the reunion we were able to watch the football game (we lost - not much has changed in 20 years), drink heavily with friends (no photo evidence), and visit with the kids of friends. Here are some pics from the weekend:

Before more updates on Gwenn, I thought this picture would be great. This is Libby's son - Jordan. Now mind you - Libby and I have plotted on how we could get these two kids together when they are old enough that parents want their kids to get together. Well, it is a conversation that really does not have to happen. Gwenn is to Jordan like a moth is to flame. Thankfully, this flame is gentle and patient with Gwenn. Once she had her Jordan memory sparked, she was drawn to him and we definately needed more time with all the kids together. Once yearly trips are far too short. Maybe next summer we'll go to MN for two weeks instead of WY. Maybe not...

Gwenn has now gained 16 pounds since May. As you can see from the pictures, it's nice not to have her with the ng-tube on her face any more. The PEG tube that is in has been tough - she has had a few infections, has granulation tissue growing (trust me, it's gross), and a sore tummy. Plus this week, her PEG tube sprung a leak. Believe it or not, but the GI doc is having me fix the tube hole with Gorilla Tape (the tape version of Gorilla Glue).
Gwenn has also started riding at a theraputic riding stable. The big one around town has a 3+ year wait, so we found one that isn't so crazy. So far, it's been fantastic.

Last, we are all getting ready for Halloween. Lucy's friends, Kira and Kate, had their 3rd birthday last weekend and it was a Halloween theme to get us in to the mood. Here are some pictures from that...

This is just a small sampling of what is going on. We are making great progress on the teen tour to China next summer, where the teens from FCC-NW will spend 17 days volunteering throughout three different cities in China. We have many families considering, and it sounds like it's going to be fantastic.
Lucy got her hair cut for the first time... not much, since I'm trying to grow out the bangs, but enough to even her out. Very grown up. Then had to have a LONG talk to make sure she would not try to do this on her own. Not sure if she got it. We'll see...

Well, that is about it for now. I'm sure there will be more. Keep bugging me.. I have to go and break up the pouting match that is going on right now, as the girls destroy my living room (it was clean about 20 minutes ago)... good night.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Korea aims to end foreign adoptions


Korea Aims to End Stigma of Adoption and Stop 'Exporting' Babies

SEOUL, South Korea - Daunted by the stigma surrounding adoption here, ChoJoong-bae and Kim In-soon delayed expanding their family for years. When they finally did six years ago, Mr. Cho chose to tell his elderly parentsthat the child was the result of an affair, rather than admit she was adopted.

"My parents later died believing that I'd had an affair," said Mr. Cho, 48,a civil engineer who has since adopted a second daughter.

Now, with South Korea becoming more accepting of adoptive families, Mr. Choand Ms. Kim feel they can be more open, with relatives and non-relatives alike. Ms. Kim, 49, attributed the change partly to the growth of other non-traditional families, like those headed by single parents or including foreign spouses.

"We feel attitudes have changed," she said.

Just how much, though, is the critical question as the South Korean government is pushing aggressively to increase adoptions by South Koreans and decrease what officials consider the shameful act of sending babies overseas for adoption. Since the 1950s, tens of thousands of South Korean children have been adopted by foreigners, mostly Americans, because of South Koreans' traditional emphasis on family bloodlines and reluctance to adopt. But last year, for the first time, more babies here were adopted by SouthKoreans than foreigners, as the government announced recently with great fanfare: 1,388 local adoptions compared with 1,264 foreign ones. What is more, South Korea - which still is one of the top countries from which Americans adopt - has set a goal of eliminating foreign adoptions altogether by 2012.

"South Korea is the world's 12th largest economy and is now almost an advanced country, so we would like to rid ourselves of the international stigma or disgrace of being a baby-exporting country," Kim Dong-won, who oversees adoptions at the Ministry of Health, said in an interview. "It's embarrassing."

To bolster domestic adoptions, the government last year began offering $90 monthly allowances per child for those who adopt children up to 12 years old, as well as more generous health benefits for the children. Even greater health benefits are now given to adopted disabled children.

The government also made it easier for South Koreans to adopt. Single people can now qualify, as well as older ones. Until last year, prospective adoptive parents could be no more than 50 years older than the child; now the age gap has been increased to 60 years. In addition, the government has made foreign adoptions more difficult by imposing a five-month waiting period before children can even be considered for overseas adoption. It also increased payments to foster parents to try to keep children inside South Korea longer and increase their chances of being adopted domestically.The government's goal has received much media attention and popular support here. But adoption agencies and some adoptive parents and experts say the government's new policies are concerned less with the children's welfare than with saving face. Increasing the age gap and allowing singles to adopt have lowered the standards for domestic adoptions in a way that could be detrimental to the children, they say, even as the government has created unnecessary obstacles to foreign ones.

"The government is hung up on numbers and on South Korea's image," said Lee Mira, who oversees domestic adoptions at Social Welfare Society, a private, nonprofit organization that is the second largest adoption agency in South Korea. "When North Korea taunts South Korea by saying we're selling Korean babies to foreigners, it hurts the pride of South Korea."

Since 1958, when South Korea began keeping track of adoptions, 230,635 children have been adopted. About 30 percent were adopted by South Koreans, while 70 percent found homes overseas. Two-thirds of all foreign adoptees ended up in the United States.

While orphans made up a majority of adopted children in the two decades following the Korean War, children born to unwed mothers have accounted for the largest numbers since then.

South Koreans who did adopt tended to hide their children's origins from the children and others.

In recent years, adoption agencies have conducted campaigns - some featuring movie and TV stars - urging adoptive parents to tell people about how their families were formed in the hopes that more openness would lead to less prejudice. The government's efforts got a boost when some celebrities adopted and went public with the news.

Still, many adoptive parents choose not to share how their families were formed, according to adoption agencies, with some engaging in elaborate ruses to pass off the children as their biological sons or daughters. A middle-aged couple now living in a suburb of Seoul learned long ago that the husband was sterile. But he was reluctant to consider adopting, unwilling to accept his condition and afraid of the lingering prejudice against adopted children. In a Confucian society that still values bloodlines, where many people keep detailed records of their ancestors, he was worried that adopted children might face difficulties in their careers or with marriage prospects.

So when the couple decided to adopt three years ago, they chose to fake a pregnancy, as many adoptive parents here do. The couple moved, and the husband, now 43 and a real estate agent, switched jobs.

The wife, an employee at a telecommunications company, began wearing maternity clothes over a special pillow, made by a company recommended by the couple's adoption agency.

All was going well until a colleague the woman had confided in spilled the secret to a supervisor.

"I was so hurt and embarrassed by that experience," she said. "I would like to adopt a second child, if only to go through the experience in a proper manner this time."

Given the bias against adoptions, some couples who are initially open become more guarded as their children grow older.

Yoo Hae-yon, 48, has told relatives and neighbors that his two sons, now 4 years old and 18 months, were adopted. But he has since become worried that the boys will suffer in a society where television shows typically portray adopted children negatively, as schemers who end up damaging families. "My sons haven't been teased yet, but that will be a possibility in elementary school," Mr. Yoo said. "So once they start school, we won't disclose their adoptions. And in junior high school or later on, we'll let them decide."

Holt International, a private American adoption agency that has long been South Korea's leading agency, welcomed the government's new financial incentives for families but said that trying to curb foreign adoptions would risk hurting the children least likely to be adopted by South Koreans: older ones; the disabled, who still face severe discrimination; and boys, who, once preferred by South Koreans, are now considered by many to be less devoted to their parents than daughters.

"The changes could end up postponing the adoption process of those children," said Lee Jin-hee, who oversees domestic adoptions at Holt here. And Huh Nam-soon, dean of the social welfare department at Hallym University outside Seoul, said changing the standards for domestic adoptions could cause serious problems in the future.

"How many of those adopted children will end up in orphanages because of broken adoptions?" she said.

Ms. Huh, who has researched the history of South Korean children adopted by Americans, said that, in general, they had found good homes in the United States, even though some struggled with their identities.

Mr. Kim, the Health Ministry official, acknowledged that the history ofAmerican adoption had been largely positive. But he said that the government believed that South Korean children would be happier if adopted by South Koreans and that it would stick to its goal of phasing out foreign adoptions in four years.

Agencies and adoptive parents said the goal was unrealistic, if only because very few disabled children had been adopted here. Last year, only 40 disabled children were adopted domestically, while 500 went abroad.

"We wouldn't feel confident adopting a disabled child since we even felt overwhelmed adopting a healthy one," said Kim Chang-shik, 37, who, with his wife, Yoon Yeo-rim, 38, adopted a daughter four years ago, after the birth of their biological son. "I don't know whether it's because I'm Korean, but I'm grateful that foreigners are willing to adopt children who can't find homes here."