Sunday, November 29, 2009

Our Grassroots – PLEASE Vote!

In the beginning, Love Without Boundaries started to help orphans in China. The hope was that if 10 children a year could be helped and adopted, we would have done our job. People who were passionate about helping children came together, grassroots style.

Over the years, we have grow, but our grassroots have stayed. We are all about helping children and using almost all volunteers so that our overhead stays as low as possible. The difference today is that we are now helping more than 1500 orphaned children a year and more than 1000 children who we have helped are now in families. We know that we are making a difference everyday.

In October, Facebook wrote a blog about our work in winning last year’s Facebook Giving Challenge sponsored by the Case Foundation "Causes Return to Their Grassroots Online". Between donations and what we won, we were able to raise over $130,000 that directly went to helping children.

We are now in another contest were we have a chance to win $1 Million dollars… you know how many children’s lives could be touched with this money? JP Morgan Chase is running the Chase Community Giving contest for grassroots charities. There are two parts to this contest. The first part runs between now and Dec 11. If we can get enough votes and be in the top 100 charities, we will win a minimum of $25,000 and we are able to move onto the second round. The second round runs from Jan 15 – 29 and during this time, the charity that receives the top votes will win $1 Million and the five runners up will each win $100,000.

We need your help! Please vote for LWB and then spread the word to your friends and family. This money could make such a huge difference to some of the most vulnerable children. Please vote and share this link -

Thank you so much for your help and support….we are the charity that we are today because of YOU!

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Find My Family"

I was recently watching TV with my girls, and a preview for “Find My Family” came on. This new show premiers tonight on ABC. They sat mesmerized as birthparents and adoptees were reunited. So many thoughts came into my head, but the first was so sad that a day like that would never be able to happen for them if they wanted it and then I felt sad for the people who had been filmed. To me, this event should be private and not be made into reality TV. I looked at my girls, wondering what they were thinking. When it was over, I asked them how the show made them feel, and they both answered “Good!”

With the enthusiasm that I heard from my girls, I now wonder if this is a show they should watch – my girls are 9 and 11. I wondered if this kind of a show would promote good birthparent discussions or if this show would cause them more pain. Martha Osborne from “Rainbow Kids” had a great commentary on her website about this show.

Her first point was based on the show’s tagline. “With the tagline Some people have spent their whole lives searching for the one thing that matters most... Their wish will now come true. Let's find your family, producers completely discount any worth of the adoptive families who have loved and raised these children. Instead the show emphasizes the loss of a child's ‘real family' as the one-and-only central issue of all adopted children's lives.”

She goes further to say that, “Unfortunately, the general public's opinion and understanding of adoption is largely shaped by the media. ABC's exploitive new series will focus on the most extreme issues in adoption, and is sure to have an effect on how our children's teachers, extended family, and friends view and accept adoption.”

In her article, she writes that younger children should not watch this show because it focuses on adult emotions, but that parents should empower their children by using the Wise Up! Workbook . For upper elementary school and middle school, she advises some discussions with children around birthparents and identity, media and marketing of ideas, their feelings around these issues, and how others may start asking them intrusive questions because of this show and how to handle them.

Have you see the previews for this show? What are your thoughts about letting your kids watch it? What will you do to prepare your kids? If your children are older, even if they don’t watch this show, are you going to be proactive in preparing them in how to deal with possible questions as this show becomes publicly known?

Karen Maunu

Friday, November 20, 2009

Photo of the Week - Cindy and Samuel

What an absolutely gorgeous photo of our manager Cindy and baby Samuel. Samuel is a child who is being cared for at our Heartbridge Pediatric Unit. Cindy visits monthly to do reports and play with this kids. With all of the snow that Beijing has had, the roads have been icy, so Cindy's husband joined her on her most recent visit. From this picture, you can sure tell how much Cindy loves her job. We are just so grateful for all of our kind and loving staff who work so hard on behalf of the children.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Racism Around the World

This morning, President Obama arrived in Shanghai, the third leg of his four nation trip to Asia and his first visit to China. I was struck this weekend with the timing of his arrival to China with a photo that I just happened to see…..a photo of President Obama and his Chinese American niece taken during a vacation in August. As I looked at the photo, I thought of how much I wish our country could truly look beyond race.

China is now dealing with the issue of racism as well. As Chinese society opens up to the outside world and more Chinese marry foreigners, they are now dealing with very similar issues. There was an interesting program on NPR last week called “Mixed-Race TV Contestant Ignites Debate in China” about a young girl whose mother was Chinese and father was African-American. She was raised in Shanghai and recently appeared on a Chinese reality TV show. Her appearance has caused an online racist debate.

Hearing about this young girl, I was so struck by how similar her story is to many in our own country. And how much the story of differences causes stereotypes and judgments. I hope that as our world becomes smaller and smaller, that there will be more acceptance around the world with all people in all nations.

As you read news stories, do you feel that worldwide we are becoming more accepting of other races? Do you feel that the media runs stories to sensationalize race? What are you doing as a parent to raise an open family?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Photo of the Week - Harvest Party

It's harvest time....and harvest party time in our Believe in Me schools. Thanks to generous sponsors, these children were able to celebrate fall with a wonderful harvest celebration. We just loved the photo of these children in their party hats. Happy fall!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month

November is National Prematurity Awareness Month, and that of course made us stop to give thanks for all of the babies LWB has been able to help in China who have been born too soon. Did you know that 13 million babies a year are born premature? And 85% of those babies are born in Africa and Asia.

We are frequently contacted by orphanages who receive babies weighing just 2-3 pounds, and immediate medical care is needed to save their lives. We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us with these tiniest of babies. To celebrate this special month, we thought we would share a few of our recent survivors with you. Each of these babies found themselves orphaned weighing just a little more than 1 kg each. Aren't second chances just WONDERFUL?

This month, join us in saying a special prayer for all of the babies who arrive in this world as preemies. What miracles they are!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Movie Stereotypes?

Recently I listened to a wonderful lesson in racism. As a parent of children from China, I have tried to be really sensitive about racial stereotypes, but I have totally missed the boat on this one.

Our subject was the subtle stereotypes in Disney movies, but our speaker told us that this goes beyond just Disney. The videotapes and DVDs that our cabinets are chocked full of. I really have to say how naïve I have been about what my children have watched. After this hour long session, I will definitely be more sensitive about what they watch and how we discuss the racial stereotypes in the movies they are watching.

The list could go on and on, but a few examples that were presented were - the orangutans in Jungle Book who just want to be real people or the crows in Dumbo who talk with slurs or the hyenas in the Lion King who all negatively portray African Americans, the Siamese cats in Lady and the Tramp who are conniving, sneaky, with lisps and buck teeth, Tito in Oliver and Company who portrays a fast talking and stupid Chihuahua, the "savages"/Native Americans in Pocahontas or Peter Pan, and the Arabs in Aladdin (whose opening song actually was rewritten after it was first release) but who still portray Arabs as barbaric.

This was all eye-opening to me and made me much more sensitive to the “safe” movies my kids watch. During the clip that we watched, they interviewed children who had watched these movies and their comments were surprising. What cultural messages are my kids getting from these movies?

Have you been concerned about the subtle racial stereotypes in the movies your kids watch? Have you noticed these in children’s movies and how have you talked to your kids about them? As a culture, what can we do to support and demand positive racial stereotypes?

Karen LWB

Friday, November 6, 2009

Photo of the Week - Warm Coats!

Each year our Orphanage Assistance program, Coats for Kids, purchases warm winter coats for our foster care kids and school kids. The first delivery of coats went to 146 elementary school kids at the Xianggen School in Sichuan province. Winters come early to this region and are very harsh. We are so glad that the coats arrived before the heavy snows.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November - National Adoption Month

In celebration of National Adoption month, we would love to hear your stories about what adoption has meant to you and your family. Even if you are someone who has just considered it or knows someone who has adopted, we would love to know your thoughts.

How have you been touched by adoption and how has it changed your life? What were your preconceived ideas about adoption and have they changed? What surprised you the most about adoption?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mommas Can Worry, Can't We?

I was recently forwarded a link to a blog on the Rumor Queen site called “Hard Knock Life.”

I have been there and done that on wondering about how my daughter would feel singing the words to this song about life in an orphanage. She was in a production of Annie two years ago, and was given the part of one of the orphans who has to sing this song. I remember her coming home from the first rehearsal very excited, telling me that she got to be an ORPHAN and that they were going to need tattered clothes and rags to wipe the floor. The interesting part to me was that she didn’t react to any of the words in the song. For those of you who have seen any videos of my daughter singing, you know she has an amazing stage voice, and she thought it was great to belt out “no one cares for you a smidge, when you’re in an orphanage.” She sang it with great conviction, without a single reaction that the lyrics bothered her. Her only concern was getting the dance moves just right. When I questioned her on whether the words bothered her in any way, since she had herself lived in an orphanage, she gave me that “moms can be so clueless” look and said, “mom…it’s a play, as in fiction.” End of conversation in her mind.

Reading this blog post today, however, did make me think about how concerned I always am about anything that could hurt the feelings of my kids. When we first adopted our son with a limb difference, I remember watching Toy Story 2 and then actually throwing the DVD away when one of the characters says something about a one armed toy being worthless (I can’t actually even remember the exact line, but I remember audibly gasping and putting the DVD in the trashcan immediately....yes, I really did!) Ditto the movie “Hotel for Dogs”, which had a three legged dog that someone also called worthless. I remember thinking that TJ could never see it as it might hurt him in some way.

Fast forward a few months later and TJ is at a play date with a friend. The mom dropped him off later that night and said, "oh…we went to the movies and saw “Hotel for Dogs”. My heart sank fearing the worst. When TJ came in I asked him about the movie, and he told me again and again how much he loved it. I carefully padded around the issue of the three legged dog, to see if anything had bothered him, and just like Anna singing “Annie”, nothing he saw had bothered him at all. He thought the three legged dog was cute…nothing more, nothing less.

My older kids accuse me sometimes of being “hyper vigilant” when it comes to issues about adoption or special needs that might hurt my kids. What I’ve noticed is that the things that I most think will bother them rarely do, and then the things I never even considered can bring out real grief and sadness. I still remember seeing “Prince of Egypt” with my daughter, a movie I thought she would love, and then having her sob inconsolably when Moses’ mother floats him down the river away from her. That image touched something inside of her that I hadn't imagined. It made me realize that it is impossible to protect my children from every image or event in life that might cause them pain over their adoption. But we as moms sure want to try, don’t we?

Have there been movies or songs that have affected your child in ways that surprised you? Are you also a hyper vigilant mom when it comes to trying to protect your child?