Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

It’s official. My toe is broken. It’s the fourth one on my right foot, right next to the littlest toe. Honestly? I thought a broken toe would hurt more so I insisted on cramming it into high heels the weekend of Blogalicious. I knew something was wrong with it, but broken? I was told by the x-ray technician that there is nothing to do about it, but wait. I didn’t run the marathon this past weekend, and I’ve slowly gotten into an exercise routine that doesn’t put weight on my foot (elliptical machine and stationary bike at my local 24 Hour Fitness). Now I am hoping it is totally healed for the Tinkerbell half marathon in Orange County, which I plan to run with Erika in January.

What exercises are good for someone who can’t put weight on her feet?

I have long been concerned about the disconnect between politicians in Washington and the regular people who vote for them, in terms of income. The New York Times echoed my thoughts in an article about how almost all of the candidates for president are in the top one percent of income earners in this country.

In somewhat related news, California Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi was caught shoplifting more than $2,000 worth of goods at Neiman Marcus, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. This is such a bummer, as I was at an assembly hearing two years ago, in which she ignored corporate astroturfers and voted for a bill that would have gotten toxic flame retardants out of baby products. She was supposed to be one of the good ones! Ugh!

This is especially outrageous. Colorado Secretary of State, Scott Gessler, is suing Denver so that inactive voters can’t get mail-in ballots, according to the Colorado Independent. Apparently, it is a ploy to keep these voters from voting for Initiative 300, which would give them paid sick days. What a tool.  

My most recent column at Moms Clean Air Force is on mercury poisoning in the Cuban, Puerto Rican and Dominican communities due to a spiritual practice that involves mercury. The mercury not only goes into the blood stream and causes developmental delays and other damage, but it can linger for decades in the home. It was a fascinating — and eye-opening — article to write.

Dana over at the Mombian blog released some eye-opening facts on the ways that children of gay and lesbian parents are discriminated against.

Crunchy Chewy Mama — a fabulous blogger I met at Blogalicious! — is joining other moms in protesting an FDA ban against raw milk. I had no idea that raw milk was illegal in some states, and that it was illegal even for moms to cross state lines to get it. Have you heard of this?

A BlogHer mom of a daughter with Down Syndrome wrote of the importance of equipping children with special needs against abuse.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you? Happy Halloween all!


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Lately our Dana over at Mombian has published some great stories on the state of adoption by gay parents. I was especially blown away by the fact that gay parents are more common in the south than anywhere else in the United States.

Our Katy over at Non-Toxic Kids reviewed a book about raising children in the age of environmental guilt. She also doled out 7 practical tips on how to enhance your child’s school performance. Katy is a teacher and has written a book about teachers, by the way.

Blogging mommas are on fire this week. Laurie Puhn over at the Expecting Words blog had a couple good columns about the importance of not neglecting your marriage. She mentioned the importance of not-so-little things like thanking your mate for taking out the trash.

In related news, Carolyn Hax had the same to thing to say in a similar conversation. This is how she summed it up: “marriage + kids + work + housework = love-killing drudgery. I think you are dooming your marriage if you’re trying to have the kids and careers and the nice/clean house without setting aside any energy for or making a priority of your marriage and family life.”

In the same chat, Hax doled out advice to a single woman wondering whether she should adopt even though she has no partner.

Here is one trial I will be following: that of former Minutemen and anti-immigrant crusader Shawna Forde. According to the The Village Voice blog, Forde is accused of shooting 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father in a faux raid for drugs and money. Of course, there were no drugs and money, and sadly, this case has been underreported in the news.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Gay Parents Forced to Lie to Adopt

In Open Salon, writer Richard Smith wrote about a moral quandary faced by many gay and lesbian families in foreign adoptions: Should they tell the government of their child’s country they are gay?

As more gay and lesbian couples create families—many adopting from such countries as Guatemala , Russia , China , and Korea —they wrestle with whether to sign such affidavits. Their decisions carry significant legal and ethical implications.

Until recently, the legal solution for U.S gays was simple: One partner would adopt as a single person—legally true since most states don’t allow same-sex marriage—while the other passed as a roommate or friend. It was “don’t ask, don’t tell“ and there was no need to lie. But shortly after Rebecca and Jean brought Toby home, the rules changed.

“It is not legal to lie when asked a specific question,“ writes Carrie Craft, adoption professional and educator on the website “Lying in this instance is considered fraud and may be cause for an adoption to not occur or for an already established placement to disrupt.”

But although it may be clear legally, it is not so clear ethically—especially since many adoption professionals see the policies banning gay adoptions as baseless. “There is no credible social science evidence to support that gay parenting—and by extension, gay adoptive parenting—negatively affects the well-being of children,” said Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, in a 2007 interview with “It’s quite clear that children do fine in homes led by gays and lesbians. That’s a pretty basic bottom line.”

At the end of the story, Jean does sign the affidavit claiming she is not gay to adopt Toby’s baby sister. She was already in her 40s and the push to have another child was strong.

Have any of you had to make this decision? What was not clear to me is what happens in the United States after the affidavit is signed. Can the non-adoptive co-parent still adopt the child in a U.S. court?

What a needless headache for two loving people who want to become parents.  


Dutch parliament legalizes foreign adoption by gay couples

Today, the Dutch parliament passed a law that will allow gay couples to adopt children from foreign countries. Adoption of Dutch children by gay couples has been allowed since 2001.

I have not found this reported in English yet. Since the original report is in Dutch, I provide a quick translation below the fold. Please follow me there…

Text in square brackets are clarifications added by me.

A comfortable majority of parliament now agrees with the government proposal to extend asoption rights.
Among those in favour is the [Christian Democrat party] CDA. This party was originally against gay marriage, but is of the opinion that now gay marriage is legalized, gay couples should also have equal adoption rights.
The only parties voting against are the [very conservative christian] Christenunie and SGP, who object on principle.

Since 2001 it has been possible for gay couples to adopt Dutch children, but adopting a foreign child together was not legal. It is expected that few foreign countries will cooperate with adoption by Dutch gay couples. For this reason, the procedures for adoption by a single parent will be shortened, so a single gay person will be able to adopt in a shorter time frame. Afterwards, his/her partner can then adopt the child in order to also legally become its parent.

The proposed law was introduced in parliament by CDA minister of justice [Attorney General] Ernst Hirsch Ballin…

I think it is wonderful that our government is now working to provide gay couples with ALL rights that heterosexual couples have enjoyed for so long. I do wonder whether some of the countries from where children are adopted and who object to adoption by gay couples will stop allowing single parent adoption completely, as they are no doubt aware that this will be the common route for gay couples to jointly adopt after all. I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Anyway, I think this is great news!


First Same Sex Couple Adopt in Australia

Gays and lesbians, and I think any prospective adoptive parent,  in Australia have reason to celebrate. The first adoption by a gay cou;le A few updates on the adoption front.

As many news outlets reported, The Washington (DC) Blade confirmed

Western Australia’s attorney general welcomed the country’s first adoption by a gay couple last week… Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory are alone among Australia’s eight states and territories in allowing same-sex partnerships the same adoption rights as heterosexual couples. Nationwide, however, individuals — gay or straight — have had the right to adopt children for years. Ghassan Kassisieh, spokesperson for the Sydney-based Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby, which is campaigning for equality under adoption laws, welcomed the news, saying it was Australia’s first adoption by a same-sex couple.

Apparently, this was not what some legislators intended. What?

That’s right. Some politicians now claim that when they did not intend for same sex couples to actually adopt when they passed a law 5 years ago that removed sexual preference as a bar to adoption.

Former Labor MPs John Bowler and John D’Orazio claimed yesterday they had been assured the likelihood of gay male couples being able to adopt a stranger’s child under changes to WA’s adoption laws was negligible when legislation was introduced five years ago…..

But the two Independent MPs said they recalled worried MPs being assured that gay adoptions would never happen.
“There was unanimous support for the thrust of the legislation to remove prejudice but there was concern that there are still those in society who are prejudiced, and if a child was adopted to a gay couple those prejudices might see that child become the victim of playground activity,“ Mr Bowler said.
“We were told not to worry because there were hundreds or thousands seeking adoption and that would be a consideration and therefore it would never happen.“

So, they voted for the law because they thought the people it helped would never take advantage of it?   A Labor MP is a bit more clear about the (obvious) consequence of the law:

But another Labor MP said no one was in any doubt that a gay adoption could occur under the changes.
“I think it was clear during the adoption legislation that there was the possibility of gay people adopting but the key thing as to whether that would happen or not was the birth mother and her veto over any couple she did not want,“ she said.

In the meantime, the birth grandmother of the child who was adopted by the two men in Western Australia has come out full throttle in favor of the adoptive parents. The new dads apparently were the best parents for this child.:

The birth grandmother of a child who has been adopted by a homosexual couple in Western Australia says the family has no regrets about its decision….

The child’s birth grandmother, who cannot be named, rang the ABC in Perth to say people should be open-minded about gay people adopting children.

“We just made the choice and I’m glad we made that choice and I don’t care what anyone out there says. You know, it’s not a matter of being gay or not. It’s a matter of being in the best place and the best parents. And that’s what these guys are,” she said.

Nauturally, ther anti-gay adoption politicians and Christian lobby groups disagree. Not only should gays and lesbians not adopt, allow them to do so violates the child’s rights. That is, gays and lesbians adopting children deprive those children of their right to a “natural family” and parents of both genders. This tactic, which is also used in the US , deliberately twists the meaning and logic of children’s rights and welfare to meet the needs of their anti-gay agenda:

But WA Liberal MP Matt Birney said the government was pandering to minority groups.

“This shouldn’t have been about the rights of gay couples, it should be about the rights of a child to have the influence of a mother and father,” Mr Birney said.

“This is a state-sponsored choice that has denied that child the right to one of the most fundamental rights – a mother.”

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Jim Wallace echoed Mr Birney’s sentiments, saying WA’s adoption laws, and similar legislation in the ACT, made children commodities.

“We think the WA and ACT laws that allow gay adoption are dismissive of the children’s rights,” Mr Wallace said.

“They are competing against thousands of people to adopt and it is making children commodities.
“From a Christian point of view the child is better off with a family, and a family is natural with a mother and a father.”

While the politicians argue whether or not they knew gays would want to adopt, the evidence in Australia (confirming what researchers are finding in the US and other countries): sexual preferences of parents just don’t impact children who join their families through adoption.

Adoption Research and Counselling Service manager Jennifer Newbould said she had researched the impact on children of adoption by same-sex couples overseas.
“There was no research that showed children were detrimentally affected,“ she said. “What I am in favour of is the best interests of the child and I do not think gender or sexuality are issues in that decision.“

But, like other Australians, Australian gays and lesbians won’t find adoption as a quick route to parenthood. Adoption in Australia takes a long time. According to adoption professionals, the wait for prospective parents is 5 years, and could be as long as 10. In the last year in Western Australia, just 36 children were adopted from other countries and just 9 children through domestic adoption. Now that the adoption legislation has dealt with prejudices for adoptive parents, maybe adoption professionals can deal with the rules that make adoption such an long procress.