Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Use a Lazy Susan for Kids Arts & Crafts Supplies

I got tired of the girls trying to grab supplies and fighting over who could reach what. So I put the Play-Doh supplies onto a lazy susan, and they loved it! This would also work well for other craft supplies.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Problems With Adoption Tax Refunds

Are you experiencing delays with your adoption tax refund? If so, you're not alone -- it is apparently a widespread problem for adoptive families throughout the United States.

The IRS is apparently delaying adoption tax refunds. Even if you filed your taxes exactly as required by the IRS, you may experience a delay of months in getting the adoption tax refund to which you are legally entitled. We have learned that countless adoptive families are experiencing inexplicable and inexcusable delays in processing of adoption refunds. The IRS itself has been vague about the adoption refund delays. The IRS is issuing confusing letters and adoption refund status updates for individual families. We have heard reports that the IRS has even lost paper returns or some of the documentation. The IRS seems to be randomly choosing adoptive families for "review" and demanding different information from different families, creating mass confusion among adoptive families. We are not aware of any public statements being issued by the IRS that would help clarify this adoption refund nightmare.

Here's how the situation appears to be unfolding for many adoptive families:

* You file your taxes as required by the IRS.

* You might get a portion of your non-adoption related refund. Or you might not.

* You might notice, using the IRS status of refund tool online, that your return has been received and given an estimated date for processing of your refund. Or you might not.

* You might be notified by letter from the IRS, many weeks after filing, that your tax return has been chosen "for review." Or you might not.

* The letter may tell you that no additional information is required and that it might take 45 days to review your adoption return. Meanwhile, you are left wondering what's happening.

* You then might receive more letters from the IRS, this time demanding detailed adoption expenses and "written explanations" of each adoption expense. This letter gives you 30 days to comply but does not tell you how long it will take the IRS to review your documentation. If the IRS finds your documentation acceptable, you may get your adoption refund; if not, your adoption refund may be refused.

Again, if this is your situation with your adoption refund, you're not alone. But if you have a legal adoption and the refund to which you are entitled has been inexplicably delayed, consider contacting your local media or your local government representatives for help. Again, the IRS doesn't appear to have issued any sort of public statement addressing this widespread problem, and adoptive families are left confused and uncertain how to proceed.

Some resources for additional information:

Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

North American Council on Adoptable Children

Adoptive family forums

Please share your stories here and link to your own adoption blogs so that more adoptive families become aware of what's happening -- and so they know that they're not alone.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Exposing The Adoption Fraud In Vietnam

This is a compelling, if tragic, expose on the adoption fraud in Vietnam. It's also tragic that the adoption documents have been so heavily redacted that the adoption agencies that may have been at least partially culpable aren't held publicly responsible. It's also tragic that so many families who adopted children from Vietnam may now be left wondering if their adoption was legitimate or not. And it's tragic that the hands of US officials essentially were tied by beaucracy, leaving a trail of families who were victimized. The only winners in this adoption tragedy were the scam artists -- and many probably are still in operation.

Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis

Monday, February 22, 2010

Privacy Act

Yep, we're going private! I may post an update here once in a while, but at least for now, the bulk of our pictures, videos and updates will now be posted only on a private, password-protected blog. If you want to continue to follow our journey, email me (look under our profile) or leave a comment. See you around!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

One Month Old!

Little Sister is one month old today!

8 days old:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Sleeping On Bare Earth"

One of my aunts does missionary work in a small community in Kenya, including running a school. The stories she shares about everyday life there are often bittersweet -- someone with very little to start with (possessions, education, health care, etc.) faces a crisis, and others step in to help in whatever way, big or small, that they can.

Here's one of those stories she just shared:

"Our little first-grader Samuel came in on Monday and was about to be scolded for being out of uniform when he told us his house had burned to the ground on Saturday. His "house" was a floorless room, rented for $5 a month, where he and his parents and younger brother and sister dwelt. All their possessions, which weren't much to begin with, went up in smoke. They were left with absolutely nothing. An uncle found Samuel some clothes so he could come to school. Teacher Jane then gave him a school uniform.

"Today when I heard they were sleeping on bare earth, I sent Titus, our trusty helper (he just graduated from high school and is doing odd jobs for us while he waits to get his results) over to their place to check out the details. He went over to Riverside and got the full story. The two younger siblings were cooking on Saturday when the fire went out of control. Their parents were out seeking odd jobs so they could feed the children. Their neighbor also lost his house due to the fire.

"Titus found the two younger siblings in another rented room and assessed what they had and needed. They had an aluminum cooking pot contributed by a neighbor. They had no clothes except what they had on their backs. There was no food in the room, and no other item was found in the room. And it was true---they were just sleeping on the cold ground. So we now sent Titus back to town to buy a foam mattress, blanket, small cooker, 5 plastic plates, 5 spoons and 5 cups all at 10 cents each, another cooking pot, a lamp, and a few other items, plus some shoes and a hat for Samuel. Samuel was just beaming. I think his parents will beam too when they get home this evening, and see that some help arrived while they were out doing odd jobs."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

FDA Backpedals, Now Says To Limit Infants' Use of BPA Products

(CNN) -- Parents should take precautions to minimize infants' exposure to the chemical Bisphenol-A, the Food and Drug Administration said Dec. 15 in an announcement that stopped short of saying there is a definite health risk from the chemical.

In guidelines published on its Web site, the FDA said it has "some concern" about the safety of BPA, and supports efforts by industry to remove BPA from infant bottles and feeding cups.

Dr. Josh Sharfstein, deputy FDA commissioner, said the agency is trying to determine whether it has the legal authority to quickly force such products off the market if manufacturers don't do it voluntarily. According to Sharfstein, the six largest makers of infant bottles and cups already use alternatives to BPA.

Bisphenol-A is found in many products, but has drawn the most attention for its use in linings for canned food and infant formula, and as a hardener in plastic baby bottles and toys. A handful of states and cities including Minnesota, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Chicago, Illinois, have passed laws in some form banning BPA in products meant for children.

The new position is a partial reversal of the FDA's declaration in 2008 that BPA has no adverse effects. That announcement came under fire from environmental groups that said it relied too heavily on industry-funded research.

Since then, the agency says on its Web site, "recent studies have reported subtle effects of low doses of BPA in laboratory animals. While BPA is not proven to harm children or adults, these newer studies have led federal health officials to express some concern about the safety of BPA."

The new position brings the FDA into line with guidance from the National Toxicology Program, which in its own 2008 report said there is "some concern" for BPA's effects on the brain, behavior and prostate gland, in developing fetuses, infants and children. Other studies have found a possible link to diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but the authors of those studies say it's not clear the problems were actually caused by BPA.

At a news conference Friday, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said further research is needed "to determine if and when further action is needed."

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has been allotted $30 million to study the health effects of BPA. Hamburg said that research would likely be complete in 18 to 24 months. In a separate review, the Environmental Protection Agency is weighing whether to list BPA as a chemical of concern under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, which would trigger a formal process to develop possible restrictions on BPA.

At the news conference, Hamburg and Sharfstein urged parents to keep the risk in perspective, saying the benefits of nutritious infant formula outstrip any potential danger from BPA. Other guidance includes:

• Discarding scratched or worn bottles and cups, which aside from harboring germs might also release small amounts of BPA

• Being careful when heating formula, as boiling or very hot liquid might cause the release of BPA into infant formula

• Checking labels to ensure that only microwave-safe products are used in the microwave, and dishwasher-safe products are put in the dishwasher, to avoid leakage

In taking a middle ground, the FDA managed to frustrate both industry and consumer safety groups.

Steven Hentges, a scientist with the American Chemistry Council's global study group on BPA, said the guidance would "confuse consumers," while a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council said the move was "too little, too late."

Hentges painted the FDA decision as a victory, saying the announcement reflects scientific consensus "that these products continue to be safe for use." However, he complained that there was no scientific basis for the advice to discard older bottles and cups and insisted that studies have failed to find evidence of actual harm from BPA.

Sara Janssen, a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, agreed the advice was confusing, but said the FDA should have gone further and banned the use of BPA.

Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the Environmental Working Group and a longtime BPA critic, says mothers can largely avoid BPA by using powdered formula instead of liquid. But she welcomed Friday's announcement.

"This is a huge step forward. The Bush administration wanted to close the books and declare this safe, and now that's not going to happen," Lunder said.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

Favorite Photo Friday

Kensington at 8 days old:

For comparison, here is Emmerson at her first shoot with Sophie Dogge, at 9 days old:

They both look pretty tiny, don't they?! (But Emmerson weighed about two pounds more at birth than Kensington did.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010