Archive for December, 2006

Here is one for Allison

December 31, 2006

Another petition:

This one is for Allison Quets. Please sign it

http://www.petitiononline.com/aislin/petition.html

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SEEMS LIKE WE ARE THE HEARTBREAK RIDGE

December 31, 2006

It seems like I live breath and discuss adoption. I do feel that this the year for us in our “five legged stool” or at least for the three of the legs in this thing called adoption. I know of four states that have introduced adoptee right to access laws. They are all being debated right now. I also know of at least as many states introducing these types of bills. Our time is coming.

Since I began this road almost a year ago, I have seen startling changes within myself. I don’t tolerate well people who feel entitled to other’s children. I don’t tolerate those that say I and all adoptees for that matter should be grateful. I don’t tolerate those that say birth mothers should have no rights after they sign. I see so much ignorance in this subject. It just blows my mind. I see the rights of all us being violated.

When I look at my own family, it is one that is blended. We have one actual adoptee, three step parent adoptees, one full biological child, and an adoptive mom that lived through the family foster care system (so to speak). After her mother died, her father couldn’t take care of her while he was on the road working. So my mom spent time with family members of her father. So because of her background and her own search and understanding of her roots she understands my search and my desire to understand who I am.

I started this week out following one story. Rashad and his family and their battle brings my own issue up front and very personal. Then I hear about a birth mom spending $400,000 to get her kids back. I found another story below with the same trend. I am now hearing that this could be damaging to the cause of open adoption. I don’t understand that thinking at all. It is the adoption agencies and attorneys that are at fault here. They used illegal means, methods, and coercion to get these children from their parents. The sense of entitlement just pisses me off royally. Although I do support the rights of adoptive parents and I don’t like adoptive parents being criticized, I absolutely hate with a passion that sense of entitlement. Why is it that is okay for adoptive parents but not okay for birth parents? Can Joe Public at least try to put themselves in her/his position? Joe Public finds it offensive when someone takes advantage of someone who is mentally ill or under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Yet a mother who is very young or has health issues or is also so drugged up by medication given to her by others without her consent – it is okay to take her child from her. Joe Public wants a pregnant teenager to get consent from her parents to get an abortion but then its okay to circumvent parental rights over the teenage mother.

In the story below – the young woman was so afraid to tell her parents. She is a minor making adult decisions without the benefit of real representation. A school counselor hands her over to an adoption agency. He also tells her to run away to circumvent any parental influence over the teenager. The school superintendent is also the owner of the adoption agency. Okay sorry he needs to give one of those jobs up. Does anyone realize that this is a conflict of interest here? He is using his power, authority, and inside knowledge to further his business interests. Yes adoption is a big business. When adoptions range from $30,000 up to $100, 000, it is big business. These are not animals we are dealing with. It is human lives. Do you as adoptive parents want your adopted children growing up and discovering that you kept your child and his/her natural parents away from each other? Don’t you want to make sure that this is an informed decision for all the members of your family? Heck animals are treated better than humans are.

Sometimes I wonder if my screams are screams in a forest never to be heard. I wonder if anyone really gets this or if this is just about the individual and their own needs.

ANOTHER STORY ON ADOPTION AGENCY THIEVERY

December 31, 2006

CANTON – It’s hidden beneath a brace on 17-year-old Stephanie Bennett’s hand.Written in purple magic marker is the name of her daughter: Evelyn JoAnn.Today, that marker serves as a reminder of a quest. Tomorrow, though, it may be a permanent tattoo — a memorial for a love lost, given up by her own volition.Bennett signed over permanent custody of her then-4-month-old daughter in September to A Child’s Waiting, a private adoption agency in Copley Township in Summit County.She did so without her parents’ permission or knowledge, which is legal in Ohio. But now she and her parents, Ranza and Judy Bennett, are fighting to get Evelyn back in a case that raises legal and ethical questions about the adoption process.Their story includes accusations that a guidance counselor at GlenOak High School arranged a meeting on school grounds between the teenager and the adoption agency, and that the adoption agency urged her to run away from home so it would be easier to sign papers away from her parents.Ranza and Judy Bennett have obtained temporary custody of Evelyn, but A Child’s Waiting has disregarded the court order and, according to the Bennetts, urged the adoptive family to keep the child hidden and not disclose their location.“We just want our grandbaby home,” Judy Bennett said at their two-story town house on Rem Circle Northeast. “This has been nothing but a total nightmare.”A Child’s Waiting and Plain School Superintendent Charles Smith declined to comment about the case. The guidance counselor, Thomas Saltsman, whose signature appears on some of the adoption papers, did not return a call seeking comment.Choosing adoptionEvelyn JoAnn Bennett was born April 17. At the time, Stephanie was a junior at GlenOak.She didn’t think she could care for the girl. She wanted Evelyn to have a better life and the father wasn’t around to help.So she approached Saltsman on Sept. 7 and told him that she wanted to give the = [100.0]baby up for adoption. She also told him she didn’t want her parents to know.He pulled out a brochure from A Child’s Waiting and arranged a meeting the next day at his office, Stephanie says. She signed paperwork on Sept. 8 that started the process. Saltsman signed as a witness.She picked out which family she wanted Evelyn to live with. She said she was given no names and doesn’t remember anything about the family she chose or why she picked it.Ranza and Judy Bennett — he’s a truck driver and she’s a homemaker — say they had no idea what was taking place at the school.A couple of days after signing the paperwork, Saltsman and Stephanie called A Child’s Waiting, according to an affidavit that Stephanie filed with Summit County Probate Court this month to contest the adoption process.Jennifer Bessemer-Marando, a counselor at the agency, advised her to run away, Stephanie said, telling her it was legal because she was the mother of the child and that she couldn’t sign the final paperwork at her parents’ house.At 3 a.m. Sept. 12, Stephanie and Evelyn ran away.She notified the adoption agency she was staying with friends in Carroll County. She didn’t tell her parents. They had been having some trouble in their relationship — nothing serious, both say, just regular teen-vs.-parent tension.The same day, A Child’s Waiting arrived at the house in Carrollton for Stephanie to sign the final paperwork. It states that the adoptive family, the agency or an attorney would pay $15,000 in adoption expenses.“I was doubting myself,” Stephanie said about what she was thinking while signing the paperwork. “But I thought I was still making the right choice.”At 7 p.m., Evelyn was handed over to the adoption agency. Stephanie had no birth certificate. No Social Security card. No identification to prove that the baby was hers.Those records were at her parents’ home in Canton.Girls go missingWhen Ranza and Judy Bennett awoke Sept. 12, they were terrified. Their daughter and granddaughter were missing.They called Canton police. It was recorded as a missing-person case.The Bennetts put together handmade fliers, with photos of their daughter and granddaughter. They also reported Evelyn to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Evelyn’s photo is still on the group’s Web site: www.missingkids.com.On Oct. 2, Ranza and Judy Bennett filed paperwork with Stark County Family Court seeking custody of Evelyn — even though they say they didn’t know where she or their daughter was. They felt the child was as much theirs as their daughter’s. Evelyn lived at their home. They took care of her financially, and physically when their daughter was at school. The court granted them temporary custody.Meanwhile, Canton police learned that Stephanie had contacted A Child’s Waiting and informed the Bennetts.Judy Bennett contacted Copley police on Oct. 3 to make a complaint against A Child’s Waiting. A police report says an unnamed individual at the adoption agency said that “they did speak to 17 year old but they cannot do business with her while she is a minor.”Stark County Family Court called A Child’s Waiting and spoke with Crissy Bessemer-Kolarik, one of the counselors. She “acknowledged that while she knew the whereabouts of the child, no information would be given, nor would this court’s order be complied with by her or her agency,” according to court paperwork.A Child’s Waiting still hasn’t complied with the order. Instead, the adoption agency appeared in court without the child and objected to Family Court’s involvement, saying the judge has no jurisdiction in the case because the adoption process took place in Summit County Probate Court.Judge David Stucki has yet to rule on the issue.“How are they not breaking the law?” Judy Bennett asked, referring to the agency’s noncompliance with the court order. “Are they saying this agency is above the law?”Agency commentsBessemer-Kolarik would not comment specifically on the case when contacted by the Beacon Journal, citing confidentiality, but she was willing to talk in general about adoptions.Ohio law allows a mother of any age to give up her child without interference from grandparents, she said. Most agencies working with minors also work with an attorney who can represent the interests of the minor, she said.An attorney was present with Stephanie but she claims she didn’t realize the attorney was there to represent her.Agencies also provide counseling to mothers, Bessemer-Kolarik said.“Our heart goes out to any family that experiences a difficult situation,” she said.The Bennetts’ story is unusual, said Denise St. Clair, associate director of the National Center for Adoption Law & Policy at Capital University Law School in Columbus.“The majority of adoptions go forward without incident,” she said. “I know it happens, but it’s not the majority. Most go off without incident.”Teen regrets decisionStephanie is back with her parents.She said she regrets her decision to give up Evelyn. Sitting on a couch in the living room, her legs tucked underneath her and wearing a sweatshirt with the word “Feisty” and an image of Tinkerbell on it, she responded to questions with one-word answers or in short phrases or sentences.Why does she regret it?“I have a whole new outlook,” she responded.Why do you have a new outlook?“People,” she said.What does that mean?Friends and others have told her she made a mistake, she said.She’s unemotional, almost robotic in answering questions — until she’s asked to describe Evelyn. Then the white skin on her face reddens. Her eyes well up and tears spill onto her cheeks.“I miss just having her, period,” she said. “I miss her smells. I miss her cries. I miss her coos.”Stephanie contends that the adoption agency didn’t counsel her.She met with the agency only twice, she said — once to sign the initial paperwork and the second time to hand over the child.Ohio law doesn’t require grandparents’ consent or even notification for a minor.“The consent statutes in most states are pretty much silent on any requirements other than the consent of the birth parents,” said St. Clair, the Center for Adoption Law & Policy’s associate director.Ranza and Judy Bennett don’t understand that.“I can’t see how a minor child can sign their baby away,” Ranza Bennett said. “They can’t even vote. They can’t buy cigarettes. They can’t even join the Army at that age. How can they have say over another human being when they have no say over themselves?”It may be legal, the Bennetts admit. But is it morally right, they ask, to keep the information from the grandparents?Judy Bennett also questions what happened in Carroll County. How could the adoption agency accept the child without a birth certificate? Without an ID?“Who’s to say this baby wasn’t just taken off the street?” she asked.The Bennetts are upset with the school district for not notifying them. They are upset with the adoption agency for keeping any news about the adoption from them. And they are upset with the unknown family that has Evelyn.Baby’s location unknownThe Bennetts don’t know where Evelyn is living. Or with whom.They believe the people are from Wayne County.A Child’s Waiting won’t give up the location. The Bennetts’ attorney, Don Caplea, asked Family Court last week to force the adoption agency to disclose the location. Caplea declined to comment.The Bennetts say they will continue to fight for Evelyn.“She was supposed to be home for Thanksgiving,” Judy Bennett said.If they never see her again, the entire family — the Bennetts have two other daughters — plans to get tattoos with Evelyn’s name to replace the purple marker.They hope it doesn’t come to that.

WHO DECIDES FOR US?

December 31, 2006

In my research, I have discovered something that I am sure members of both the adoption reform crowd and the anti-adoption crowd have known for quite a while. I mentioned at the end of a letter to a state legislators. http://www.bbchurch.blogspot.com BB Church mentions it in his blog. How is it that adoption agencies, their lobbists, and the state make laws about us and our lives? How come they don’t let us make that choice? How come they don’t ask us about our choices?

UPDATES

December 31, 2006

RASHAD AND HIS FAMILY:

They have a meeting with his girlfriend’s family. Lets all say a prayer for these two families. Lets pray that they come together and work this out.

The Birthmother and her twins.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Two missing twins reportedly kidnapped by their biological mother have been found safe in Canada.
Allison Quets allegedly kidnapped the 17-month-old twins, Tyler and Holly Needham, from their adoptive parents in Raleigh North Carolina, WESH 2 News reported.
She was found with the twins in Ottawa Friday night after police said they had received a tip.
Investigators said Quets picked up Tyler and Holly Needham on Christmas Eve for a monthly visit and didn’t bring them back to their adoptive parents in North Carolina.
Although many of her neighbors believed Quets would never harm the children, the FBI was still concerned for the safety of the children.
“Allison’s a very smart person, and she’s a very kind person. I really don’t think she’d put the children in any sort of danger,” one neighbor said.
The neighbor said Quets immediately regretted putting the twins up for adoption and was fighting to get them back. After getting pregnant through in-vitro fertilization, friends said Quets had a rough pregnancy.
They said she was so weak, she was worried she couldn’t care for the twins. Her friends said she was suffering from post-partum depression when she decided to give up her children.
“I think that existed, and I think it could have altered some of her decision making,” her neighbor said.
Quets sister, Gail, agrees.
“She was absolutely pressured into giving them up for adoption. She has been fighting since day 1. She has spent over $400,000, all of her life savings, on this legal process,” Gail Quets said.

SO MANY STORIES

December 30, 2006

RASHAD HEAD – UPDATE

Rashad and his family were at the home of the birth mother outside the gate. They were hoping to get a chance to speak with the mother and her family. They were also hoping to see their child. It was all on Channel 11 news in Georgia. The update is on their website.

I hope by some chance that the young woman involved in this gets a chance to read some blogs. Here is your chance. You have the support of many many people.

ANOTHER STORY: The birth mother in this case should have already gotten her children back after she changed her mind. It was well within the time limits. It is a shame that birth families don’t have any rights especially when they do everything the right way.

http://www.newsobse rver.com/ 102/story/ 526049.html

Twins Holly and Tyler Needham are missing.

Police suspect birth mom took twins

Stanley B. Chambers Jr., Staff Writer

DURHAM – Police were searching Tuesday for 17-month-old twins they think were taken from their adoptive parents by their biological mother.Denise Needham, who has custody of the twins with her husband, Kevin, pleaded for their return Tuesday evening. “We’re scared to death,” she said. “I just want them home safely.”The babies’ birth mother, Allison Lee Quets, 49, of 1718 Trailview Lane, had visitation rights to pick up the twins every third weekend and keep them from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday. Quets picked them up Friday at the Needhams’ Apex home and was scheduled to return Holly and Tyler on Christmas Eve.About 15 minutes after 6 p.m., there was no sign of Quets, and Denise Needham contacted police.Quets might be driving a 1998 white Plymouth Voyager with North Carolina tags LRJ-6644 or Florida tags E377HZ, said Durham Police spokeswoman Kammie Michael. Quets could be heading toward Florida, where she previously lived, or Louisville, Ky., where her sister, Gail Quets, and mother live, Michael said.Investigators were completing a search warrant Tuesday evening to gain access to Quets’ phone records, said Durham Police Detective T. Tuck.The Needhams were scheduled to talk with FBI agents late Tuesday evening, Tuck said.Trying to get custodyGail Quets said her mother is suffering from renal failure in an intensive care unit at a Louisville nursing home. Allison Quets wanted her mother to see the twins before she died, Gail Quets said, but Allison Quets never mentioned plans to travel to Kentucky. Gail Quets said she last talked to her sister about a week ago.Gail Quets also said her sister was trying to regain custody of the twins.Allison Quets had hyperemesis, a severe form of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, and became so frail that she worried about being able to take care of her children, her sister said. A friend, through a relative, introduced her to the Needhams, who were interested in adoption.The Needhams have a teenage daughter and tried unsuccessfully through in vitro fertilization to have more children, Denise Needham said. She would not discuss how they came to know Quets.Signed away rightsAllison Quets was told she would be involved in the twins’ life “just like family” and signed her parental rights away in Florida, Gail Quets said. But Allison Quets had second thoughts about 10 hours after giving up her parental rights.But, according to http://www.adopting. org, Florida law allows birth parents to reverse their consent up to three days after signing over parental rights or placement of the child with the new parents, whichever is later. Even after that three-day period, the adoption may be challenged if the court finds that the consent was obtained by fraud or duress.”I don’t know if she ran, but if she did, I understand why because she was very afraid that if she won the appeal, that these people would not return her children,” said Gail Quets, who has an adopted son. “She has already spent all of her life savings on legal fees trying to get her children back.”Denise Needham confirmed that Allison Quets has appealed the adoption. She also said she voiced concerns to a judge that Quets might flee with the twins. But the judge thought Quets was not a flight risk, Needham said.Holly, who has a small freckle on the back of her right hand, has light brown shoulder length curly hair.Tyler, who has a birth mark on his chest, has short brown hair.Both have blue eyes and weigh about 23 pounds.

LASTLY MASSACHUSETTS IS CREATING A THREE TIER SYSTEM FOR ADOPTEES.

1.) The first tier is for adoptees born before July 17, 1974. They are all allowed access to their records

2.) Between July 17, 1974 and January 1, 2008, adoptees have to get the courts permission to get their records.

3.) After January 1, 2008 adoptees can get their records.

Please write Gov. Mitt Romney and tell him that we don’t want this kind of law.

His Excellency Mitt Romney Governor
State House, Room 360
Boston, MA 02133
Tel: (617) 725-4005
TTY: (617) 727-3666
Fax: (617) 727-9725
Gov.Romney’s email address has been disabled to prepare for the new governor

Maybe when the new governor, Deval Patrick, will squash this piece of trash. All adoptees deserve access their records.

MR. HEAD’S RESPONSE TO MRS. STOWBRIDGE

December 29, 2006

My letter to Ms Strowbridge…..Dear Ms Strowbridge,I’m absolutely floored by your response to Amy in regards to the attempt to adopt Rashad Head’s child by Ricky and Catherina Watters. When did the child return to the mother? This is the first time we’ve heard that. At what point were you going to notify us or our attorney? Are you saying the Watters’ have backed out of this case? We’ve received nothing telling us that has happened. When were we going to be notified and who has the baby? Why would you question Rashad’s motives? Rashad filed to be his son’s legal father in July, five days after the birth of his son. The judge overseeing this case said “this is the fastest I’ve ever heard of anyone doing this”. He registered with the Putative Father’s Registry in Georgia and Florida in May, and today is December 28th. At what point did you realize that he wants his son? The Watters’ filed a motion to intervene in August. Is that not an indication that the Watters’ knew that Rashad wanted his son? Catherina Watters stated in her deposition, which is under oath, that she knew my son was opposed to the adoption. If that’s not enough proof, the Watter’s named the baby Rashad. Did you not do your research accepting this case? How could you have not known that Rashad was opposed to the adoption of his son? You’re telling me that the baby is just now returning to the mother after it was clear that Rashad was against anyone adopting his son more than 6 months ago? What took so long? Rashad’s motives are not the motives that should be questioned.At no point did Rashad’s mother or I ask for one thin dime from the Watters’ or the Winston’s. The fee our attorney asked for is for the time she’s put into this case that was totally uncalled for because the Watters’, Winston’s and the attorneys for both parties, clearly knew that Rashad opposed this adoption but continued to carry through with it. That’s just flat out wrong on any level. My attorney agreed to remove that request provided the child was returned to Rashad immediately. Obviously, that hasn’t happened. The fee requested was 7,000 dollars, and that’s clearly not enough for the services rendered. Our attorney took this case pro bono without knowing Ricky Watters or anyone else wealthy had this child. Why would you say that we were in this for money? We only found out that Ricky Watters had my grandson when he was ordered by the court to appear in Georgia for a deposition in December.As far as how my son treated his girlfriend, she stated in her deposition, under oath, that Rashad was there emotionally and offered financial assistance during and after her pregnancy. He treated her with the up-most respect, and was there for her as much as he was allowed to be. Her parent’s refused to let Rashad be there for her physically, or financially. When Rashad offered to pay for medical visits, maternity clothes, or anything else supportive of his girlfriend, he was denied by her parents. They did not want him involved in this pregnancy. Their intent was to put the child up for adoption, and did not want Rashad or his girlfriend getting emotionally attached to the child. Furthermore, Rashad has several text messages from his girlfriend stating she does not want to give up her child, but she was being forced to by her parents. I would be more concened about what this might do to her emotionally.As far as us going to the media, what else were we suppose to do? We went to the media before we knew who had our child. If we did not go public, our grandson would be gone. This case would be over. It was pretty clear to us that the strategy was/is to keep this case tied up in court, and that becomes very expensive. Furthermore, we want to keep this from happening in the future. Thus, Rashad’s Law was proposed by State Legislator Ron Sailor Jr. A mother should not be allowed to give her child away if there is a father who’s ready, willing and able to care for the child. This is not an attempt to take away mother’s rights, it’s an attempt to protect father’s, like my son, who want to do the right thing and raise their child.Regards,

RASHAD HEAD: A REPORT FROM THE RASHAD’S DAD AND A REPLY FROM THE ONE OF THE ATTORNEYS INVOLVED IN THIS CASE

December 28, 2006

As promised I am providing more to this sad story. I am going to have an opportunity to speak with Rashad’s family later on today. This is what I have gotten from another website since his father has now help with his voice and making it heard. Also is enclosed in an email is a letter from an attorney on the opposing side. She put her email out there. Lets write her and tell her she is doing a shoddy job of protecting the birth father in this situation. As I have researched this subject extensively, I do know that adoption agencies and their attorneys lie to make that God Almighty dollar.

Geoff, Pam, and Rashad’s side of the story:

Let me shed some light on this story from someone who’s living it.Rashad objected to adoption from day 1. When he told his mother and I that he and his girlfriend were pregnant, we talked to Rashad and told him he had some real life decisions to make. He said that he wanted to be in his child’s life. He wanted his child to know he has a place in this world and that his father wants him. He said, “I made a mistake, but this child is not a mistake.” He was mature in the way he responded and his mother and I supported him. Shortly thereafter, we had a meeting with the girls’ family. They presented us with an adoption plan. Rashad objected. We offered to adopt the child, but the girls’ family refused, saying, it wouldn’t look good on our daughter for you to adopt the child. We continued to have some communications with the family, trying to come to a resolution, but it was unsuccessful. The final straw came when an adoption agency called me with a plan presented by the girls’ family and asked me if Rashad would give his consent. He refused. At that point, communications between the two families broke off. Rashad was able to stay in touch with his girlfriend through instant messaging, but she was not allowed to talk with him. They had to sneak to talk to each other. Rashad began working 2 jobs in anticipation of his child’s arrival. He offered money, but was not allowed to give it to her. He wanted to go on doctors visits and offered to pay for them, but was not allowed. He continued to work 2 jobs, and kept his commitment to his high school football team all summer long. He acted like a responsible adult. When the time came for football camp in July, he called his girlfriend’s father and asked how she was doing, and asked his opinion on if he should go to the 2 day football camp that was required by his coaches. The father said yes, you should go. Rashad then asked, “Would you please call me if she goes into labor?” The father agreed, but we would find out later that he wouldn’t be true to his word. When he returned from camp, he was concerned because his girlfriend did not sign on line. The next day, Rashad became very concerned because he still hadn’t heard from her. He didn’t dare call her, because he was not allowed to call. Something had to give, so he called the father, and the father told him that she delivered the child. Rashad rushed to his girlfriend’s house, only to find out that she wasn’t there. His girlfriend’s father told him not to come back or he’ll be arrested. In a panic, we went to several hospitals in the area, but couldn’t find the baby or the mother. Later, we found out that the baby was given to a family in Florida, and the mother of that family was at the hospital when the baby was born. You see, the girlfriend’s family proceeded with the adoption plan, even though Rashad objected to it. Rashad immediately filed for legitimization. The family in Florida countered by asking the court, and was given permission to intervene. The judge granted a 6 month discovery period. We are now approaching the point of returning to court to hear how the judge will rule on this.This whole thing has been a nightmare for us. While we’re waiting, the baby is getting older and my son is missing out on some precious moments with his son. He’s done everything right, only to be put through this. The attorneys for his girlfriend have found a loophole that allows them to string this thing along much longer than it should. We have discovered that the father of the family in Florida is a retired NFL football player, and they have the money to keep this tied up in court. However, we will not go away. We’ll support our son to the very end. My hope is this will be resolved sooner than later, and the child can come home to his biological parent. Rashad’s girlfriend has relinquished her rights as a mother, or so we were told by her attorney’s. However, Rashad never relinquished his rights, and never will. Hopefully, this sheds some light on this case. I pray to God that this is resolved soon. God Bless.On a side note, the “family in Florida” have said they are pulling out of this now that they know all the facts. Nothing has been sent to the Head’s attorney confirming this as of this morning.

Dear Amy,

Don’t believe everything you hear in the media and don’t be soquick to condemn people whose story and motives you do not know orunderstand. A Chosen Child’s “involvement” in this case was actuallyquite limited, but the family that sought to adopt this baby did sobecause they wanted to give a child the opportunity to have a stableloving family if his parents could not do so. The baby was returned tothe teenage birthmother because the family did not want to be involvedin the dispute between these two families despite the fact that therewere, and continue to be, some very real questions about thebirthfather’s motives and treatment of the birthmother. Thebirthfather’s family and their attorney knew that the baby was beingreturned to Georgia when they orchestrated the media event designed toslander the adoptive parents. The birthfather’s family has attempted tohire an attorney to sue the adoptive parents for significant sums ofmoney, so one must question who is motivated by the “God AlmightyDollar” here. The attorneys trying to handle what began as anuncontested adoption were paid very little, the birthmother receivedlittle more than the payment of her medical expenses, the birthfatherhad a pro bono attorney who demanded substantial sums of money be paidto her before she would even “agree” to the baby being returned. It isworth noting that the adoptive parents refused to pay her any money andreturned the baby anyway. Now, we’ll see how the birthfather responds inhandling his responsibilities, which by the way he refused to handleduring the pregnancy. Although it appears that you have some bitter feelings aboutyour own adoption, and I have no way of knowing what your birthmother’smotivation was in placing you for adoption. But even if her motives wereas you say, you must realize that most birthmother’s agonize deeply overthis decision, and sacrifice emotionally to give their babies the kindof life that they do not feel they can give. It is exceedingly rare thata birthmother is motivated by revenge on a birthfather, but fairlycommon that a birthfather fails to provide emotional and financialsupport causing the birthmother to feel trapped and overwhelmed. Believeit or not, this was the situation in this case you are referring to, andrevenge was not part of her motives. Since the law provides a clearmechanism for the birthfather to seek his rights, and he has beenavailing himself of that procedure with a free attorney, perhaps youshould ask why he felt it was necessary to take this private familymatter to the media. Could it be because the adoptive parents are highprofile people and someone saw an opportunity to create a case forfinancial compensation against them? And before you conclude that thebaby was returned because the family knew that they were going to lose,I should tell you that the attorneys handling the case in Georgiabelieve strongly that the case against this birthfather would have beenwon because of his treatment of the birthmother during the pregnancy.The media has a way of sensationalizing stories that is at a minimum adistortion, and sometimes an outright misrepresentation of the facts.The attorneys involved in this case representing the birthmother and theadoptive parents are all ethical people of extremely high integrity, andthe adoptive parents are kind, devoted people who wanted only to givelove and a future to a child that needed them. Please don’t be so quickto pass judgment on us.

Have a blessed day,

Patricia Strowbridge

Patricia L. Strowbridge, Esq.
1516 East Colonial Drive Suite 202
Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: 407-894-1525
Fax: 407-894-3142
E-Mail Patricia@Strowbridge.com

INTERNATIONAL ADOPTEE CONGRESS : NEW GROUP REPRESENTING INTERNATIONAL ADOPTEE RIGHTS

December 28, 2006

First International Adoptee Organization of its Kind is Launched at Washington Conference
December 28,2006 12:00 AM ESTWith its official launch confirmed by its first annual conference, the International Adoptee Congress (IAC) came into being in early November 2006 as the first organization of its kind — a nationwide organization organized by, and populated by, and created for, adult international adoptees. International adoptees are adopted individuals who came to live in the United States from foreign countries.
Washington, DC (FV Newswire) – With its official launch confirmed by its first annual conference, the International Adoptee Congress (IAC) came into being in early November 2006 as the first organization of its kind — a nationwide organization organized by, and populated by, and created for, adult international adoptees. International adoptees are adopted individuals who came to live in the United States from foreign countries. Among the numerous projects and initiatives IAC members are already developing are programs that will support international adoptees of all ages and help them to network on a personal level; a network of research and researchers that will help gather and synthesize the myriad academic and scholarly information available on international adoptees and international adoption issues; programs to link adoptees to their birth cultures in diverse ways; venues for creative expression through the arts and media; and a quarterly online newsletter.Following the conclusion of the first International Adoptee Congress gathering in Washington, DC (November 3-5), IAC President Bert Ballard said that the Congress’s first gathering had fulfilled all his expectations for it. “I was hoping that we would come together as a group, recognizing that we have more similarities than differences, and would unveil a national agenda to help shift the paradigm on how international adoptees are viewed within the international adoption community. We did all that.” And, in the process, noted Ballard, 34, who was adopted from Vietnam in 1975 as part of Operation Babylift, and grew up in Colorado, “We brought together a variety of different adopted individuals from different birth countries as well as places of residence, occupations, ages, and experiences, and established common ground to speak with a unified voice.”Forty-seven internationally born adoptees, representing nine different birth countries, are founding members of the IAC, while 32 attended the first gathering in November. The countries represented are South Korea, India, Vietnam, Iran, Colombia, China, the Philippines, Colombia, Russia, and Greece. The Congress gathering itself encompassed formal and personal introductions, the development of broad goals for the organization, and then the creation of committees focused on specific spheres of activity for the organization going forward.Participants from all backgrounds expressed enthusiasm about the process and the outcome of the November meeting. “I’m proud to be a member of the IAC,” said Jared Rehberg, 32, a Vietnamese-born adoptee from New York City. “It has always been a dream of mine to work with other adoptees to help create a voice for our community and empower the younger generation.” Rehberg, a professional musician, is involved in the creative expression committee, and is also a co-publisher of In Third Space (www.inthirdspace.net), an international adoptee-oriented online publication, which he sees as complementary to the goals of the IAC.Bert Ballard emphasized that the creation of the IAC will facilitate a new level of dialogue among all the stakeholder groups involved in international adoption–adoptive parents, birth parents, adoption agencies, psychological and counseling professionals, public policy leaders, the news media, the general public–and, most importantly, international adoptees themselves, who until now have largely been the silent voice in public discussions of the policy and personal implications of international adoption.”The IAC is an opportunity for us to speak out and begin to take responsibility for ourselves and our own community,” he concluded. “To members of the other stakeholder groups, our message is, the creation of this new organization represents a shared desire to support, empower and give voice to international adoptees from everywhere. It’s all about dialogue and mutual understanding, and we welcome the support from and communication with everyone.”To learn more about the International Adoptee Congress, go to its website at www.internationaladopteecongress.org. For media inquiries, e-mail Mark Hagland, Media Committee Member, at call (773) 248-2305.# # #
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International Adoptee Congress (IAC)
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Mark Hagland
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773-248-2305
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N/A
Web Site:
http://www.internationaladopteecongress.org

RASHAD HEAD: THE STORY CONTINUES: The plot thickens

December 28, 2006

Ricky Watters has few regrets with settling into retirement on his terms
By Trent Modglin (tmodglin@pfwmedia.com) Aug. 21, 2003

I remember Junior Seau telling me last year that you don’t just walk away from the game. It doesn’t happen. You’re either forced out because your body fails you, he believes, or because management seeks someone else at a lesser price or younger age. You just don’t leave on your own will.
“When things happen in the course of your career, you have to sit back and remind yourself that this is the best job in the world, and you have to embrace it and love it every day you have it,” Seau said then. “Because when it’s gone, it’s gone forever, and it wasn’t your choice.”
I had reason to believe Seau, because he generally speaks from the heart and speaks the truth. And what he said made sense. When you look around the league, it seems that most players are bluntly forced out the door, forced to move on in their lives whether they’re ready or not.
But there are exceptions to every rule, and I was reacquainted with that old adage after tracking down Ricky Watters recently for a feature in the current print edition (Issue 7, dated Aug. 25, 2003) of Pro Football Weekly.
Watters decided to buck that disappointing trend and quietly slip into retirement on his own terms, his decision, not theirs.
But that doesn’t mean that first Sunday, nearly a year ago, was any easier for him. It’s assumed that it’s always difficult for players on that first Sunday when they’re watching from home.
“It was crazy,” he said. “Watching Seattle was really hard because obviously there are guys out there I care about and the wanting to be out there. It was tough, especially right in the beginning. But I just started getting used to it. And that’s the thing. If I didn’t have anything else to fall back on, I’m sure I would have been glued to the TV and so into it that it probably would have gotten to me.”
Watters had a number of reasons to retire at age 33. He had a lot of things to fall back on, to occupy his time, to enjoy. His passion for the game was really the only reason to stay.
He was coming off shoulder and ankle injuries that cut his 2001 season short. He thought it might be a sign, because he entered the league the same way, nursing hand and foot injuries coming out of Notre Dame. He had a Super Bowl ring and had lasted about four times longer than the average NFL player. He found it more and more difficult to pull himself away from his young son. He had other projects that were occupying his thoughts and time — like his budding career as a music producer, a book that came out of nowhere, and, most importantly, the search to locate his birth family.
This was a year and a half ago, and yet there are still curious fans out there. When I told a friend of mine that I was supposed to be talking to Watters last week, he asked, “Oh, yeah? Who’s he playing for now?”
Watters gets the same thing all the time. Because there was no pomp and circumstance, no speeches, no retired jerseys, a lot of people assume he’s still on a roster adding to his nearly 15,000 career all-purpose yards. But, I am here to report he is indeed officially retired. Done with football. Regrets, I should add, seem scarce.
“I just felt like I have other things I can do,” Watters said by phone last week. “I’d taken care of myself, I’d done the right things in putting my money away, so I felt like it might be time to move on. I didn’t make it a big deal because no one else made it a big deal.”
Watters admits it wasn’t easy, giving up the game he loved so much. In his mind and on paper, he constantly found himself breaking down the pros and cons of continuing his career. It didn’t make it any easier when Dwight Clark called from Cleveland to request his services for the 2002 season. Jon Gruden, yeah, he too gave Watters a jingle from Tampa.
“That helped me more because those are people that I respect,” Watters said. “It was really a good feeling knowing that I was still wanted out there and that people that I had history with still thought of me the same way they did when I played for them the first time around. That helped me to actually move on, as well.”
A lot of the soul searching that made Watters realize it was time to move on dealt with his 2-year-old son, Ricky, and his desire to focus on and enjoy fatherhood. Watters and his wife had lost their first son, Tigero, during the middle of the 1999 season. He was born prematurely and lived just 17 days.
“That was a very hard time for me,” Watters said. “All of those things helped me in coming to the realization and understanding that retirement might not be such a bad thing. It didn’t matter how good I was in football or how much money I had or anything. I never felt so helpless in my whole life, but then I never felt so blessed a year later when a son came back to me. I know I’m a better father than I would have been had that not happened.”
Watters says he misses hanging and clowning with his teammates. But working with the bunch of musicians that make up his group “Tiger Brigade” helps ease the transition.
Together, with Watters working as the executive producer from his studio in Los Angeles, the group is putting the finishing touches on an as-of-now-unnamed album that is due out in a month or two.
The music, Watters said, crosses over several genres and is pretty diverse.
“I feel like everybody can relate to me, so I have a little bit of everything fused in there,” Watters said. “I’ve got the rock guitar and other instruments, like an orchestra. I just don’t want to do it just to prove I can do it. I really love making music.”
Watters was adopted, and another primary reason for calling it a career was his search for his birth family. He loves and appreciates his adopted family, the only family he’d known, but locating those with whom he shared bloodlines was a yearning he couldn’t shake.
After a taxing but ultimately rewarding search, Watters met his birth mother and two brothers for the first time just over a month ago.
“That’s one of the things I kind of want to get out there (in his book and music) because I know that there are probably a lot of other people dealing with that situation and don’t understand it. I started telling myself, ‘You’ll probably never find ’em, and even if you did, you’ll probably never like ’em. They’re probably not even good people.’ You just tell yourself stuff like that because it’s like a denial situation. … But my wife was the one that was like, ‘I’m watching you and I know that you care, and there are things that are going on that you don’t understand because you don’t know where you come from.’ ”
“That’s what I want to let people know, that if they’re in the position or that phase of it, it’s not a situation where it’s ‘Do you want to know or not?’ It’s like you have to know where you come from, you have to know why you look the way you do, why you have the mannerisms you have. So many things make sense now.”
Watters always wondered why he was probably the only football player who’d admit to a love — and gift — for writing poetry. Come to find out, his birth mother is a poet. And an uncle was a poet who taught at Penn State. His book, which started with him venting his confusion about which path to take on life’s winding road, helped him realize that his hardships ultimately have made him a better person. It was finished some time ago, but after connecting three “new” family members, it’s a safe assumption that he’s going to be adding another chapter.
He feels good when he looks back on his career, both what he was able to accomplish on and off the field. He’s proud of himself, even though he knows how weird that sounds to say.
And after not quite a year and a half since his decision to walk away from the game on his own free will, he has carved a comfortable niche for himself in retirement.
“Yeah, definitely,” he says with a chuckle, knowing he’s too busy to be thought of as a typical retiree. “I can’t say that I’m struggling with this retirement thing or anything. But at the same time, I mean, I love the sport. I miss my teammates and all that, but I’ve got new teammates now.”
Teammates who have helped him through tough times before and are there to fall back on should he need them again.