Siblings and Older Foster Kids Need Parents

Nancy Hill posted a blog on her website yesterday regarding adopting older children and sibling sets. As an adoptive parent with an open adoption, I think her comments are right on target. Although we did not adopt our son’s half sibling (she was adopted by her biological grandfather), we are in regular contact with her and her family. These open, blended families, whether within the same household or in an extended family relationship are important for making successful “forever” families.

Here’s that blog.  And to all families, whether biological, blended, and/or “forever” families, Happy Holidays!

Siblings and Older Foster Kids Need Parents

by Janice Hill, December 16, 2014

Regular readers will find this to differ from my usual post, at first glance.  Social action that sees light on this blog is often political, but at this time of the year, when everyone is thinking of family, family gatherings, and tradition, I’ve decided to take a moment to consider youths whose family structure is so fragmented that they essentially have no family or are in danger of being torn apart  by the foster and adoptive systems from the only loving relationship they know – that of a sibling.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

This week U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AdoptUSKids and the Ad Council are unveiling a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs)  to encourage the adoption of children from foster care with an emphasis on the importance of keeping siblings together.  This is legit.  The program itself is 10 years old. The gist of the idea is that no one needs be perfect to be a needed, appreciated, and loved parent.

I said good-bye to a brother last month.  But I had him 57 years before he died at age 66.  I cannot imagine how I could have survived without family, even my imperfect big brothers.  I know there are many mid-lifers who have aged out of biological parenting almost accidentally.  It isn’t too late to provide love and all the imperfect parenting you have to offer to older kids and siblings who desperately need you.

Give yourself the gift of checking into adoptuskids.org.  Consider:  Older parents, older kids.  Successful singles of a certain age who thought about being a parent but never found the right partner.

Growing up I knew a brother and sister who were adopted together.  I thought that was wonderful then, and I think it is even more wonderful now.  I have a friend who lost both parents in High School but she and her brother were not separated.  My cousin was adopted.  People I care about had people who cared enough to make them family.

Check out AdoptUsKids on Facebook.  There are currently 402,000 children in the foster care system in the US.  102,000 children, under 18 years of age, are waiting for adoption.  They are waiting to have you share your life, your regular old life, with them.

A Good Time To Remember Ella Baker

Originally posted on Social Justice For All:

ella-bakerIn the wake of the death of Eric Garner and Michael Brown at the hands of white police officers with no indictment, I am looking for hope  somewhere.  After learning of the verdict in New York yesterday morning, there is a very sad heaviness for the United States. We have yet another death of a black mother’s son. For me, I am trying to remember Ella Baker and reflect on how much work we still have do around issues of racial equity and equality.

Baker was one of the most influential players in the civil rights movement. Baker’s grandparents were slaves and she would hear stories from her grandmother about slave revolts. After finishing college and graduating valedictorian, she moved to New York and started her life’s path of social justice. Baker fought for civil rights alongside others such as, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, and Dr. Martin Luther King. She…

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End of an Era: Sr. Francis Ellen Bowery

Aunt Frankie. Officially known as Sister Frances Ellen Bowery.

picture of Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery (1920-2014)

Aunt Frankie touring the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, VA in July 2011 (age 90)

Dominican nun for 76 years. She was a teacher and a Social Justice advocate. Part of her work included working on peace issues and with immigrants and international students. Little however has been noted of her quiet work for justice.  Still, I honor her for this work and her dedication to humanity.

Picture of Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery as a young woman in her habit.

Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery as a young woman in her habit. Aunt Frankie took the name Sr. Mary Eucharia when she took on the habit. In the 1960’s, the convent rules loosened up and she, like many others, abandoned the habit and returned to her original name. One of the reasons she made these changes after almost 30 years in the convent was to be more accessible to the people she was working with. I believe it worked.

Humorist. She loved to make jokes. And she had a wonderful laugh. For example, she enjoyed teasing and joking. She also loved to play cards and particularly enjoyed getting caught cheating at the game.

Picture of Aunt Frankie hamming it up for the camera with her great-niece.

Aunt Frankie hamming it up for the camera with her seven-year-old great-niece. October 2011

Family overseer of the Bowery clan. Many of my mother’s clan turned to her. Just before my grandmother died in 1963, she asked Frankie to “look after” Marty, her second youngest remaining sister. Which she did until my mother died three years ago. Calls, visits, vacations… Any time. Anywhere. Frankie was there whenever she was needed or wanted. After my mother died, Aunt Frankie became the last survivor of her generation. At my mother’s funeral, she told me, “My [family] job is now done. I did what my mother asked me to do.” She sure did.

Picture of the Bowery Clan in West Palm Beach, FL.

The Bowery Clan:
Front row: Martha Bowery, Loretta Bowery Randolph, Edward Smith, Louise Bowery Smith, Tracy Smith, Bernice Savage Bowery, John Alvin Bowery Sr.
Back row: Sister Frances Ellen Bowery, John Alvin Bowery Jr, Bernice Helena Bowery, Sarah Bowery, Harold Randolph, and Sister John Loretto (ne Mary Tracy) Bowery. This picture was taken circa 1948.

Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery, always known to me as Aunt Frankie, died on Tuesday evening December 2, 2014 at the young age of 94. She will be buried Saturday, December 6, 2014 in her bright red “Mrs. Claus” outfit beside her sister Sister, Sr. John Loretto Bowery, who was known to us simply as Aunt Mary.

Aunt Frankie's headstone 67161856_130061114640

Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery’s headstone, located next to her sister Sister John Loretto Bowery. Picture courtesy of “Caveman” at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=67161856&PIpi=39910824 on March 20, 2011.

Picture of SR. John Loretto Bowery's headstone

Sr. John Loretto (aka Aunt Mary) Bowery’s headstone at the Adrian Dominican Sisters Cemetary in Adrian, MI. Each set of plots is created in a circle. After Aunt Mary died, the Adrian Dominican Sisters left the space adjacent to Sr. John Loretto for her biological as well as religious sister, Sr. Frances Ellen Bowery. Picture courtesy of “Caveman” at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=13395413&PIpi=39910802 on March 20, 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She was lucid and still making jokes right up to the end. She will surely be missed by all of us nieces and nephews and within her religious community.

Luv ya Frankie! Farewell and rest in peace.

Addendum – Aunt Frankie’s Elves

Monday December 9, 2014: I just got back from the funeral in Adrian, MI. It was probably the nicest celebration of life I’ve ever attended.

Aunt Frankie was buried on December 6 on the Feast of St. Nicholas – her favorite holiday. She donned her Mrs. Claus suit and distributed candy canes to her community every year on this feast day; she was also buried in this outfit.

Picture of Aunt Frankie wearing her Mrs. Claus suit.

Aunt Frankie as Mrs. Claus at an annual Feast of St. Nicholas party at the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She was buried in this outfit at her request.

In her honor and with the fun spirit she engendered in our family, all of the nieces and nephews attending the funeral donned Santa Claus hats and distributed candy canes to the members of the convent at the wake. We also gave out rawhide candy canes for the doggie members within the community (yes some of the nuns have dogs as pets).

Thanks again Aunt Frankie. The best funeral I’ve ever attended.

 

Ferguson: White Entitlement Defeats Justice, Part II

civilrightsactivist:

Here’s Part II of the blog on Ferguson, MO and white entitlement.
Two quotes stand out to me:
“The lack of indictment, although not surprising, was highly unlikely. Former New York state Chief Judge Sol Wachtler famously remarked that a prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich,” a statement backed up by data. Of the 162,000 federal cases prosecuted in 2010, grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them. Wilson’s case was in state, not federal, court, but a lack of indictment is extremely rare in those courts as well. “If the prosecutor wants an indictment and doesn’t get one, something has gone horribly wrong,” said Andrew D. Leipold, a University of Illinois law professor who has written critically about grand juries. “It just doesn’t happen.”

The exception to these statistics is police shootings. A recent Houston Chronicle investigation found that “police have been nearly immune from criminal charges in shootings” in Houston and other large cities in recent years. ”
And
“Not considered by the grand jury was whether Wilson could have avoided killing Brown.
Read on…

Originally posted on Nel's New Day:

People all over the United States are still protesting the grand jury’s lack of indictment against Darren Wilson, who killed Michael Brown almost four months ago. St. Louis DA Robert McCulloch firmly believed that Wilson is innocent and manipulated the evidence to present that case. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) will not appoint a new prosecutor, but, according to state law, Maura McShane, presiding judge of the 21st Circuit, can appoint a special prosecutor. There is a precedent for this action:  in State v. Copeland (1996), a Missouri court replaced the prosecutor because the judge “sensed that [the prosecutor’s] sympathies for [the defendant] may have prevented him from being an effective advocate for the state.”

There are many reasons that there should be an indictment to send Brown’s killing to a trial.

After the shooting, Wilson removed evidence by washing the blood of his body before there was any investigation. His…

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Ferguson: White Entitlement Defeats Justice, Part I

civilrightsactivist:

More to the Ferguson Grand Jury story that I haven’t seen elsewhere.
President Obama’s idea of requiring police officers to wear body cameras, IMHO, would do two things: 1) help see the truth in such encounters and 2) reduce the likelihood of violence since both the police officer and the person being confronted by police would more likely be on their best behaviors.

Originally posted on Nel's New Day:

One week ago, St. Louis DA Robert McCulloch gave a rambling, defensive press conference announcing that the grand jury had not indicted Darren Wilson, 28, for killing Michael Brown. Since then, the killer, a police officer, has resigned from the Ferguson force, but his action does not stop the news that about the inconsistencies, bad police procedures, and cover-ups that the 4,799 pages of grand jury testimony reveal.

Initially Assistant District Attorney Kathy Alizadeh told the jury to base their decisions on a law that was ruled unconstitutional almost 30 years ago. She told the jury that Wilson had the legal right to shoot and kill Brown as soon as Brown ran away from the police officer, that Wilson could legally do this even if he didn’t feel threatened. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled unconstitutional any law stating that an officer is “justified in the use of such physical…

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Ireland Images, Blessings Sayings

Last April, my friend Mary Vollero was invited to show her video —The Long Goodbye — about the last days of the Garman Opera House at the international Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival in Schull, County Cork, Ireland.  FYI, I previously blogged about the demise of our town’s historic theatre, which you can see here, here, here, and here. After losing the court battle, the Bellefonte Borough Council had the theatre torn down between December 30, 2013 and January 15, 2014 (additional pictures can be seen in my Facebook “RIP Hotel Do De and Garman Theatre” album.

When Mary told me she had been accepted at the festival, I teasingly said, “Could I come in your suitcase?” She laughed and then a couple of days later called me and asked if I’d like to go with her.

picture of Joanne Tosti-Vasey and Mary Vollery

Left: Joanne Tosti-Vasey
Right: Mary Vollero

So on May 21, 2014, the day after the two of us helped staff our precinct for the Pennsylvania 2014 Spring Primary, we left for Ireland and flew to Cork and then drove to Schull in West Cork. We attended the festival in Schull for several days and did a bit of touring in County Cork.  We drove/took a ferry to tour West Cork, including the Altar Wedge Tomb, Bandon, Goleen, Long Island – Inishfada, Macroom, Mizen Head, and Schull.

We both took lots pictures of our trip. We also stopped in Bandon to pick up an Irish cloak that I ordered and paid for online in April after finding out I was headed to County Cork. This is the same store that my sister had purchased the  green Irish cape for me as a gift for our mutual birthday in 2013 (see picture above of me with Mary Voller0). Here’s a picture of me wearing the heavier-weight Irish cloak I had custom-made by Siobhan Wear, picked up in Bandon, and brought home with me.

Picture of Joanne wearing her custom made Irish cloak

Joanne at home wearing her custom-made Irish cloak in the fall of 2014.

Mary then turned her pictures into a subtitled video with Irish music.  I think she captured our visit quite well.  Here it is:

“May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam.”

And,

“May your day be touched with a bit of Irish luck, brightened by a song in your heart, and warmed by the smiles of the people you love.”

− two of the Irish blessings included in this photographic video: my wish to all my readers.

Home-Stretch Election Rallies

vote button

Go Vote Button

It’s the home stretch. Candidates and volunteers are working overtime to get people out to vote on Tuesday, November 4. As part of that effort, prominent politicians are canvassing the country to assist candidates running for the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, and state Governorships.

Pennsylvania

In my home state of Pennsylvania, President Barack Obama came to Philadelphia to stump for Tom Wolf (D) on Sunday November 2. He is running for Pennsylvania Governor to replace the current Tea Party Governor Tom Corbett (R). I’m so looking forward to a victory tomorrow for Tom Wolf (see some of the reasons why here). It will be a win for the environment, for women, LGBTQIA people, low-income individuals who can’t access healthcare, and for better jobs and wages for everyone in the state.

New Hampshire

In New Hampshire the fight is not to replace a right-wing slate of elected officials, but to retain and reelect the four progressive women leading that state – Governor Maggie Hassan, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Representative Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2), and Representative Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1). New Hampshire is the only state in the nation to have women in 100% of the top leadership positions in the state. And prominent female politicians have come to the state to stump for them. On October 25, it was Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) stumping for her colleague Senator Jeanne Shaheen. And on Sunday, November 2, while President Obama was stumping for Tom Wolf, Former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton came to Nashua, NH to support these four women’s reelection efforts.

I was there at both events. I blogged about the Warren event last week. Today, here’s the Clinton event.

picture of NH Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen with Hillary Rodham Clinton standing on stage at a GOTV rally in Nashua, NH on Nov. 2, 2014

NH Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen with Hillary Rodham Clinton

About 1000 people gathered at Nashua Community College in Nashua, NH. The lineup of speakers was quite interesting. Except for State Democratic Chair Ray Buckley, every speaker was a woman – something I’ve never seen in a political event or rally before. Here are the speakers in order of their appearance:

Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s granddaughters singing the Star Spangled Banner

Picture of Caraline and Elle Shaheen singing The Star Spangled Banner

Caraline and Elle Shaheen singing The Star Spangled Banner

Chair Ray Buckley calling on the NH electorate to not only vote for the Democrats at the top of the ticket, but to also vote for the Democrats all the way down the ballot.

picture of NH Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley

NH Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley

He gave a rousing speech on the problems that NH had when Republican Bill O’Brian was leading the General Assembly and how the mostly female Democratic leadership turned the state around through bipartisan cooperation once the Republican party became the minority party two years ago. Here’s that speech:

 

Then the line-up of female political leaders began. Each talked about why NH is doing better now, how their bipartisan efforts have improved the economy of New Hampshire, and what has been protected in the state for women’s reproductive justice and pay equity, children’s and adults’ public and college education, marriage equality, access to health care for all and job restoration. Here are those speakers:

House Speaker Terri Norelli

NH House Speaker Terri Norelli

NH House Speaker Terri Norelli

State Senator Peggy Gilmour

Picture of  State Sen Peggy Gilmour

NH State Sen Peggy Gilmour

State Senator Peggy Laskey

Picture of NH State Senator Bette Laskey

NH State Senator Bette Laskey

Executive Council Member Debora Pignatelli

Picture of NH Executive Council Member Debora Pignatelli

NH Executive Council Member Debora Pignatelli

And then the headliners:

US Representative Ann McLane Kuster

Picture of US Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2)

US Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2)

Governor Maggie Hassan

Picture of NH Governor Maggie Hassan

NH Governor Maggie Hassan

Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Picture of US Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH)

US Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH)

And finally, Hillary Rodham Clinton!

Picture of Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton

In introducing Hillary, Senator Shaheen put forth this zinger that brought a roar from the crowd:

“She traveled 956,000 miles as Secretary of State – that’s nearly as many miles as Scott Brown traveled looking for a Senate seat to buy.”

Due to the low battery on my video camera, I was not able to record the speeches of the keynote speakers. After the video camera died, Hillary focused on women’s and family issues. Since I could no longer videotape the event, I took a few notes. Here’s some of Ms. Clinton’s additional remarks:

“Women are not just half the population.”

“Women’s rights are on the front line of rights around the world.”

“Equal pay is not just a women’s issue. It is a family issue.”

“Fear is the last resort of those who have run out of hope.”

“If you vote, you can elect these women who will lead New Hampshire and the rest of the country [for the better good of all].”

In addition, the Manchester Ink Link compiled several quotes from Hassan, Shaheen, and Clinton. You can see them here.

You Gotta Vote!

So no matter where you are – in Pennsylvania, in New Hampshire, or anywhere else in the country – consider the impact of who your next Governor or US Senator or US Congressperson may be. Do not vote based on fear. Vote for the candidates who will protect middle-class income, education for all, access to healthcare, marriage equality, the environment, and reproductive justice.

GET OUT AND VOTE on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. You can find out where and how to vote in your state here (courtesy of the League of Women Voters). Thanks.

 

Collage of pictures taken during the Hassan/Shaheen/Clinton rally in Nashua, NH on Nov. 2, 2014

Collage of pictures taken during the Hassan/Shaheen/Clinton rally in Nashua, NH on Nov. 2, 2014

 

Bare-Faced Cheek

civilrightsactivist:

October 14 was Love Your Body Day. I just came across this blog this morning. The thoughts presented here are great. I believe this is a very helpful article on self-esteem, beauty, and accepting yourself within your own skin. Read on….

Originally posted on Because I Can:

For about six months now, I’ve been conducting an experiment with myself. It consists of a simple thing, that will be normal to many women, but it’s not normal for me – going out into the world with as little makeup on as possible, if any.

A few years ago, I saw a counsellor who set me a challenge – think of something that would take me out of my comfort zone and do it, one day a week, for a month. I thought of the worst thing possible for me – going out without makeup on – and chose to set myself that task. I remember going to work, cringing inside, head bowed low … and finding that nothing happened. I had to ask someone – a woman who always commented on everything I wore or my hairstyle – if she’d noticed anything different about me. She just said I…

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Elizabeth Warren Stumps for Jeanne Shaheen

picture of Senator Elizabeth Warren stumping for Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Senator Elizabeth Warren stumping for Senator Jeanne Shaheen

The National NOW PAC sent three NOW activists up to New Hampshire to work on the campaigns of the three Congressional candidates that they have endorsed for the 2014 elections. We have been embedded within the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign as an in-donation to their campaigns for reelection. The three are all women and all are up for reelection. They are Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Representatives Ann Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter.

Senator Shaheen is in a tight race with carpet-bagging former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown. After losing his reelection race for the US Senate in Massachusetts, he “moved” to his vacation home in New Hampshire and is now running against Senator Shaheen for her Senate seat.

Picture of Shaheen and We Vote Signs

Shaheen and We Vote Signs

On Tuesday, October 21, after a day of phone banking for the candidates, we participated in a visibility event for Senator Shaheen. There were about 100 or more Shaheen supporters holding signs large and small; Brown’s supporters had about 30 or 40 supporters.

Then we went inside and listened to the debate between Scott Brown and Jeanne Shaheen. My favorite line occurred at the very end of the debate. The moderator asked each candidate what one thing they would like to tell their opponent. Shaheen commented that Brown had run for the Massachusetts Senatorial seat and lost to now Senator Elizabeth Warren. Then he considered running for Governor of Massachusetts. And then he decided to claim that he was no longer from Massachusetts but from New Hampshire and would therefore run in a second state. Here’s what she said and what I tweeted

.@JeanneShaheen to @SenScottBrown “#NH isn’t a consolation prize.” Carpet bagger! Vote 4 the true people’s choice. Shaheen 4 #USSenate @NOWPACs [endorsed]

Who had Scott Brown lost to in Massachusetts? Senator Elizabeth Warren. She along with people throughout New Hampshire and throughout the country see Brown’s race as that of an opportunistic Carpet Bagger. Senator Warren put that thought to words four days later when she came to stump for Senator Shaheen in Durham, Concord, and Keene.

picture of Shaheen Supporters outside IBEW Hall in Concord NH

Shaheen Supporters outside IBEW Hall in Concord NH

I attended the “Get Out the Vote for Jeanne Shaheen with Elizabeth Warren” in Concord, NH. I took a video of the entire rally and took some pictures as well. We stood outside the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall in Concord for about 30 minutes before the doors opened and then went inside and waited for Senators Shaheen and Warren.

Waiting inside the IBEW Hall in Concord NH to hear Senators Shaheen & Warren 2014-10-25 13.13.51

Supporters waiting inside the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall to hear Senators Shaheen and Warren

The first speaker was Jim Bouley, Mayor of Concord. Here’s his introduction of Senator Jeanne Shaheen:

Senator Shaheen then spoke. This portion of the rally is contained in the following two videos:


And then Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke.

After the rally, the NOW PAC Feminist Field Force in New Hampshire (three NOW activists sent to NH to work for the NOW PAC federally endorsed candidates) got a couple of moments to thank Jeanne Shaheen for her passionate commitment to women’s equality and rights.

picture of NOW PAC Feminist Field Force with Senator Jeanne Shaheen

NOW PAC Feminist Field Force with Senator Jeanne Shaheen L to R: Gaby Moreno, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Joanne Tosti-Vasey, and Noreen Connell

Thank you, Jeanne Shaheen!

And if you live in New Hampshire, please get out and vote on November 4 for Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) for the US Senate, Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH District 1) for the US House of Representatives, and Annie Kuster (D-NH District 2) for the US House of Representatives.