Advocating For Orphans As Busy Moms

Today I will be leading a panel at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit about how to be an advocate as a busy mom.  I’m already feeling inspired by the things that busy moms have done.  Yesterday morning I went to a session on the socio-political aspects of adoption, and I heard the story of McLane Layton, a mom who adopted three children from Easter Europe only to discover that her children did not get citizenship after being adopted.  She started lobbying that adopted children be treated as relatives instead of as immigrants, and in 2000 helped put together the Child Citizenship Act.

I heard the story of another mom who was in the process of adopting 9 siblings from the Philipinnes, only to find out that an error made in the Hague Convention prohibited the adoption on siblings over age 16.  In the sibling set she was trying to adopt, two children were over 16. She contacted her senator and they worked to ratify this point.

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What Are Your Thoughts on Faith-Based Movies?

Today I was invited to Fox Studios in LA to meet with several people in their marketing team for a conversation about faith-based movies.  It was just myself and my friend Carlos Whittaker (who is an amazing blogger and also the dad in that famous single ladies video).  We got to preview some of the new features on the latest Narnia movie Dawn Treader,and we had some amazing conversations about entertainment and the Christian community with some really smart and savvy women at Fox.

kristen howerton carlos whitaker

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The Cost of the "Call to Arms" Rhetoric

I am watching the news in horror today, as a gunman opened fire on politician Gabrielle Giffords at a public event she was holding, shot her point-blank in the head, and shot 17 other people.  At the time I’m writing this, Giffords is in critical condition and six people have been killed.

It’s times like this that require introspection as to what is going on in our country.  The gunman is allegedly a 22-year-old man named Jared Loughner.  People have been speculating all day on his motives and political ties and clearly, at this point, no one knows.  Nonetheless, many references have been made to some of the violent rhetoric that has been used from certain political figures and whether or not there is some culpability in their use of language.  Until we know this man’s motives, it’s hard to place blame in this specific incident.

Excerpts from Jared’s myspace page and YouTube videos are full of references to conspiracies.  In my opinion and experience, given his age and his ramblings I would not be surprised if this young man was having a schizophrenic break.  From his YouTube video:
Firstly, the current government officials are in power for their currency, but I’m informing you for your new currency! Of you’re treasurer of a new money system, then you’re responsible for the distributing of a new currency. We now know — the treasurer for a new money system. is the distributor of the new currency. As a result, the people approve a new money system which is promising new information that’s accurate, and we truly believe in a new currency. Above all, you have your new currency, listener?
Secondly, my hope s for you to be literate! If you’re literate in English grammar, then you comprehend English grammar. The majority of people, who reside on District 8, are illiterate — hilarious. I don’t control your English grammar structure, but you control your English grammar structure.
Thirdly, I know who’s listening; Government Officials, and the People. Nearly all the people, who don’t know this accurate information of a new currency, aren’t aware of mind control and brainwashing methods. If I have my civil rights, then this message wouldn’t have happen.
In conclusion, my ambition — is for informing literate dreamers about a new currency, in a few days, you know I’m conscience dreaming! Thanks you!
He goes on to say on his myspace page:
In conclusion, reading the second United States Constitution, I can’t trust the government because of the ratifications: The government is implying mind control and brainwash 0n the people by controlling grammar.
No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver!
No! I won’t trust in God!
What’s government if words don’t have meaning?
These definitely sound like the words of a paranoid schizophrenic to me.  I think think it will emerge that this man is mentally ill.  There is no information thus far that indicates that he was working off the prompts of some of the violence rhetoric of Palin, et al.

However . . .

Anytime there has been a tragedy, it makes sense to take a step back and look at how to prevent further tragedies.  Even if Jared Loughner had no political ties, I think it still behooves us as a nation to reflect on what it means that political figures and pundits are so liberal with violent rhetoric.  I’ve said it before . . . many times.  I get that Beck and Palin and the like are not actually calling people to arms.  But I also get that there are crazy people in this world who are not so discerning.  Some examples that I find particularly concerning:
"I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back." and "...having a revolution every now and then is a good thing" - Michele Bachmann
"I hope that's not where we're going, but you know if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out. –Sharron Angle
"Don't retreat. Instead - reload" -Sarah Palin
"To the day I die, I am going to be a progressive hunter." -Glenn Beck
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The Orphan Crisis, and What You (Yes, YOU), Can Do

I’ve written pretty passionately about the global orphan situation recently, and several commenters asked: “What can I do if I’m not in a position to adopt?”

I’m so glad you asked.

Adoption is not for everyone.  Nor is it the answer to the world’s orphan crisis.  In the best of circumstances, adoption creates a loving family for a child who has been orphaned.  But it does not address the root causes of why a child has been abandoned or orphaned to begin with.  It is a band-aid on a much larger problem.  It is estimated that 99% of the world’s orphans will not be adopted.  Adoption is an answer for some orphaned children . . . but not for most of them.

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Negotiating with the Excessive In-Laws at Christmas

My kids have excessive grandparents.  And aunts.  There, I said it.  

I know I am not alone.  It seemed like this was a huge conversation amongst my friends last year, as many of us were taking part in the Advent Consiracy and not wanting our new outlook on Christmas to be thwarted by twenty plastic toys from grandparents on Christmas morning.  I had some friends who were really upset that their parents or in-laws were reluctant to jump on the "minimal gifts" bandwagon.  A toned-down Christmas, in terms of gifts, was a tension point for many families, including my own.

As a family therapist, I gave a lot of thought to this dilemma.  More recently, I had someone ask for my advice directly.   This was my answer:

We've had a similar conflict with the consumerism of the season (and all it represents) so I really understand the conflict.  The difficulty is that your parents and in-laws may not share your same vision. As excessive as they may seem and as passionate as you probably feel, setting limitations or rules for how family members celebrate the holidays can be problematic.

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Gifts That Give Back

In a season marked by giving, I love the idea of giving back to our community and our planet. This year, my family decided to forego gifts for the adults, and give donations in each person’s name instead. It’s been so fun thinking of each family member and finding ways to honor each of them with a unique donation.

Here are some great ways you can do your Christmas shopping and give back at the same time.

Krochet Kids offers 3 year programs to women living in poverty. In this program, the women learn to krochet hats to earn an income and be able to fully support themselves for the first time in their lives. Based in Uganda, the hats are sold in the US, on their website and at most Nordstroms.

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Christians and Adoption

I have a confession.  I was a little ambivalent about attending my first Christian adoption conference.

I read a lot of blogs.  (Too many blogs). Some of them are very critical of adoption.  I am an advocate for adoption, but I read with interest because I also think the system needs massive reform, and because I think it’s good to get the perspective of others.  Usually I have a pretty high tolerance for listening to viewpoints that differ from my own.

(Usually).

One of the things that has been heavily criticized in the adoption blog world is the Christian movement of “orphan care”.  The group of missionaries in Haiti that tried to take a group of children to the Dominican only fueled the sentiment that pro-adoption Christians are wreckless, short-sighted, and self-serving.  I like to think I remain objective when reading stuff like this, but I admit I entered this conference with some skepticism. 

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Weighty Issues

In the past few weeks, there have been two media stories dealing with weight issues. swirling around the blogosphere.  The first was the uproar over a Marie Claire blog post, in which a staff blogger wrote openly about her disgust with overweight people on a new television sitcom. 

Sensitively titled “Should Fatties Get a Room?”, the author states:

So anyway, yes, I think I'd be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other ... because I'd be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I'd find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.

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Recap of the Rally to Restore Sanity

I had the chance to attend the Rally to Restore Sanity this past weekend.  In all, I thought the rally was really effective.  There were moments of silliness, and quite a few times when my friend and I observed that the programming felt a bit reminiscent of our youth ministry days.  There were some brief moments when I wondering if this was all a big festival of hipsters reveling in irony . . . and there was certainly that element going on.  But what drew me to the rally, and what sealed my admiration of the event, was the call to putting aside our difference and our fears in order to make our country better.  I think everyone there had a sense of patriotism and a desire to see our country less polarized. 

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About
Kristen is a part-time professor of psychology and a full-time mom. She indulges in sleep-deprived rants about parenting, politics, race, religion, social justice, and various other subjects that her mother warned her not to discuss in public.


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