Thursday, April 29, 2010

Families Needed NOW!

Hope Cottage is now accepting approved home studies from Texas families interested in adopting African/American babies. Contact Barbara Heuser at 214.526.8721, ext 222.

This Just In!

Wow! Kudos to our Counseling and Education Team here at Hope Cottage - just yesterday they reported that just since 2005, 8,459 teenagers have been through the ABC's of Adoption Education Program. For those of you not familiar with this program, the ABC's of Adoption is a program, developed and presented by Hope Cottage to area middle schoolers and high schoolers so that teens are armed with real world information about the difficulties created by becoming a teen parent for themselves, their families and any real or potential children in hopes that they will make responsible choices for both their future and that of babies they may have. It gives a de-romanticized message about teen parenting and then as a tag, presents a few minutes on adoption as an option for a crises pregnancy.

Many of you read the article in September 2009 (and it has also been referenced on this blog) in the Dallas Morning News that recent findings by the Centers for Disease Control showed Texas to be #1 in repeat teen pregnancies (that means children under the age of 20 having more than one child) and Dallas is #1 in Texas. A couple of weeks ago, when the principal at a local (I will keep them nameless) high school reported to an assembly that their school was #1 in Dallas for teen pregnancies, the entire study body cheered. Yikes!

I won't repeat the statistics for children of teen parents - you can see them in an earlier post, but I think we can all agree that teen parenting is not a good thing. You can be a successful teen parent and not succumb to the stereotypes, but only if you have a VERY strong support system and let's face it, most teen parents don't have that.

This weekend, Girls Living Life on Purpose, Inc. is hosting "No Baby! You Ain't Ready". The organization empowers young women to discover, connect and pursue. Kudos to them!

Most of all, kudos to Brooks Quinlan and Susan Mathews for their outstanding work educating, I repeat, 8,459 area teens in the past 5 years on the cost of being a teen parent.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Birthmother Poem

Here is a poem written by one of our recent adoptive mothers. It is too beautiful not to share.

Birthmother Poem
by Shannon Hills

Giver of life
Beacon of hope
Unselfish sacrifice
Beyond the courage of most
Nurturing watchman both day and night
Keeper of the dream until God's appointed time
Some say it was a mistake, an unplanned event
But the heavens rejoice that you chose to commit
To choose life, to give life, not once but twice
Birthmother, I thank you for the ultimate sacrifice!
Your child, our child, will always know
How deeply she was loved in the womb and forever more!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Adoption, The News and Hope Cottage

When you work for an adoption agency, people talk to you about adoption. They ask questions. They want your opinion. Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE to talk about adoption and how Hope Cottage has been nurturing and building strong families since 1918. I do not purport to be an expert in the field. I leave that to the wonderful social workers and clinical staff Hope Cottage is blessed to have. But, you can imagine, there have been many, many questions asked this week concerning the tragic saga of the young boy, sent back to Russia alone, by his adoptive mother.

Everyone agrees this is a horrible, sad situation. And I must point out that this is an isolated incident and not indicative of most adoptions, foreign or domestic. I cannot imagine the despair the adoptive mother must have felt. Our hearts go out to the families, waiting to adopt from Russia, who are now in limbo because the Russian government has suspended adoptions. The Russian government is perfectly justified in their actions - they want and should protect the most vulnerable - their children. We don't know the whole story and we may never know all the details.

What stands out most in this whole situation is the apparent lack of counseling. We don't know why Austin didn't receive counseling. Maybe his mother didn't know where to go. Maybe none was offered. We just don't know. The thing we do know - help is available for adoptive parents. One of the things that makes me so proud of Hope Cottage is our commitment to post adoption support. Hope Cottage provides counseling, at any time, for any age, at any point in the adoption process - even years after the adoption has been finalized. Parents, children, siblings, extended family - all are welcome. No one is turned away for inability to pay. AND you do not have to have adopted through Hope Cottage to receive our services. Counseling is not just available for the adoptive families. Birth mothers receive free counseling from Hope Cottage for life if need be. We provide support groups for families who are waiting to be matched with a child. We provide support groups for birthmothers, before and after that baby is born.

Hope Cottage has been committed to serving the community since 1918. If you or someone you know is struggling, call Hope Cottage at 214.526.8721. No one is alone and Hope Cottage is here to help.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Statistics for Teen Age Pregnancies

Post by guest blogger Maggie Jung

If you flip open a section of the Dallas Morning News, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to find an article on the increasing problem of teen pregnancy in the United States. But what about an article stating teen birth rates have dropped? Until now, data has pointed towards another possible increase, yet just recently, on April 6, 2010, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy sent out a press release announcing that teen birth rates in the United States had decreased for the first time in three years. Between 2007 and 2008, the total decline in teen births among teens age 15-19 dropped 2%. After an increase of 5% between 2005 and 2008, this new data may offer some hope that this trend is being reversed. Data provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics showed that the biggest decline was seen among older teens, ages 18-19, where the teen birth rate fell 4%.

With the release of this information one might wonder where Texas, and particularly Dallas County, stands in relation to the rest of the country. Texas has often been well above the national average. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, in 2005 birth rates for teens 15-17 years were 21.4 out of 1,000 girls in the United States and 35.3 per 1,000 girls in Texas.

After Mississippi and New Mexico, this puts Texas at the top of the list of states with the highest teen birth rates. As for Dallas County, while the nearby counties of Denton, Rockwall, Collin, Wise, and Parker fall at or below the national average, Dallas had somewhere between 21.5 and 42.8 teen births out of 1,000, and in the North Texas region, 12% of these were repeat births. According to the Dallas Morning News, as of 2007 24% of teen births in the state were repeat births.

There are plenty of theories out there about why teen birth rates are so high. Rather than debate “Why?” we should look at what we can do to continue this decline in teenage births at the national level, but also at the statewide and local levels. Education is critical to preventing teenage pregnancy. And in particular in Texas, where the repeat birth rates are so high, we should look at what can be done to educate teens who have already given birth once before.

Hope Cottage offers counseling and parenting classes to pregnant teens, and works with teens in many different situations and not only with teens after becoming pregnant. Through programs like “The ABCs of Adoption,” Hope Cottage can also work on the educating teens about the trials and tribulations of a teen age pregnancy.

As we wait for statewide data to be made available, we might consider what else can be done to help prevent high teen birth rates. One thing I am sure we can all agree on is that it is not OK to be so high above the national average. Let’s do something about it!