Render Guest Post by Stephanie Fleshman

Please enjoy this guest post by Stephanie Fleshman, author of the enticing Paranormal YA, Render. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.


The 5 Guys You’ll Meet in YA Fiction:

A Guest Post by Stephanie Fleshman


According to GalleyCat, YA eBook revenues increased 120.9% last year. The great news is whatever YA male character types keep you reading, it’s unlikely you’ll run out of books anytime soon. After a while contemplating my favorite YA reads, I noticed a pattern when it came to the male heroes in these stories. Without further ado, here’s a run-down of the 5 guys you’re likely to meet when reading a Young Adult novel…

Guy #1: The Broken and Vulnerable

When I think of broken, I think of Josh from Barry Lyga’s Boy Toy. The sad thing about Josh is that he knows he’s broken but blames himself instead of the person at fault.

When I think of vulnerable, two characters come to mind: Sam from Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series and Cabel from Lisa McMann’s Wake series. Cabel is doused with gasoline, then set on fire by his alcoholic father. He wants to be loved, yet is scared. What makes him strong in a not-in-your-face kind of way is that he wants to love. His lack of resentment and hate is what makes him attractive.

Guy #2: The Abusive

In Jennifer Brown’s Bitter End, Cole is the product of “like father, like son.” In Swati Avasthi’s YA novel Split, however, Jace is the product of being victimized by his own abuser. Unlike Cole, Jace is capable of remorse and guilt. He not only owns up to his actions, but he wants to pay for them. By comparison, Jace makes Cole look like a sociopath.


Guy #3: The Obsessive

It’s no secret that Edward from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga is borderline stalker when it comes to Bella. She is his world entirely. In his mind, though, he is only being protective. So, is Edward protective, overprotective, or obsessive? You decide:

  • Protective: Capable of or intended to protect someone or something.
  • Overprotective: Having a tendency to protect someone, esp. a child, excessively.
  • Obsessive: Of, relating to, characteristic of, or causing an obsession; Excessive in degree or nature.


Guy #4: The Dominant

A good example of this type of YA male lead character is Patch from Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series. Patch is 100% boy. He’s self-confident, strong, and stands his ground against Nora. Though he is dominating, I don’t believe it’s in a harmful or abusive manner.

In the second book, you get to see more into his heart as he begins to really care for Nora’s well-being.

By the third book, he’s thinking of Nora’s safety and how he can stay with her. He sacrifices what he wants in order to protect her and their relationship, which seems non-existent to Nora by this stage. Not everything is what it seems, though.

Other good examples are Alex from Simone Elkeles’s Perfect Chemistry and Avi from the same author’s How to Ruin series.


Guy #5: The Lovable

I’m going to start with Koldan from my own YA novel, Render. Koldan is firm but not so dominating that he feels the need to control. He’s confident and strong, but recognizes his weaknesses. He’s romantic in the sense that he will do whatever it takes to keep Raya safe, even if it means risking his own life. And he’s not afraid to show his feelings for Raya.

Now, I cannot move forward without mentioning Holder from Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. Thirteen years! Thirteen!!! That’s all I’m going to say. Those of you who have read Hopeless know exactly what I’m talking about. For those of you who haven’t, there’s nothing about this guy not to love.


Now I’ve got a question for you: What’s your favorite YA male character type?



As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, Render, the debut YA Paranormal novel by Stephanie Fleshman, is on sale for just 99 cents! What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Get Render at its discounted price of 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  3. Visit the featured social media events
  4. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.

About Render: A betrayal born of blood. A curse for a gift. A love worth saving… Seventeen-year-old Raya Whitney thought she knew Koldan–until a sudden turn of events threatens both their lives. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

Stephanie Fleshman graduated with a degree in psychology and has family throughout the United States as well as in Thessaloniki and Athens, Greece. Visit Stephanie on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Margaret Margaret

Guest Post by David Litwack

Please enjoy this guest post by David Litwack, author of the gripping contemporary novel, Along the Watchtower, and the deep, dark dystopia, There Comes a Prophet. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.


The Virtual World of Gaming and the Plight of War Veterans: A Guest Post by David Litwack


Gaming and war would seem to be as far apart from each other as you can get. But while you’re in the midst of them, they share one thing in common—a sense of being in an alternate reality.

I’ve always been fascinated by how much of what we consider to be reality is subjective, how each of us bring our own experiences and biases into play. But when we’re ripped from our normal lives and placed in extreme circumstances, our reality becomes totally fragmented. Such is the case with hospitals and war.

A couple of years ago, I became engrossed in the online game, World of Warcraft, thanks to my son. I’m on the east coast and he’s on the west, so we’d meet every Wednesday evening in the virtual world of Azeroth, where our avatars would go on quests together. I was struck by how immersed I became in the mood of the game as we wandered through castles and crypts, solving riddles and vanquishing demons, how for a short period of time, I could totally buy in to the alternate reality.

The fantasy gaming experience has a dream-like quality to it, which led me to wonder: how would this experience affect the dreams of someone whose reality has been fragmented by the trauma of war? These concepts—war, hospitals, and the fantasy world of online gaming—came together in Along the Watchtower.

I began to research the effects of war on returning veterans. I learned that 30% are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress. That means after six months they’re still dealing with flashbacks, disturbing dreams, depression and difficulty re-assimilating into their former lives. And that doesn’t account for the many others who are seemingly able to adjust but continue to deal with inner turmoil. The war experience changes all forever. Many have suicidal thoughts (the suicide rate among veterans is triple that of the general population. More soldiers have died by their own hand than in the war itself). Many struggle with dark thoughts and have difficulty forming relationships, unable to “turn off” the normal flight or fight syndrome, leaving them suspicious in crowds and always on alert.

And then, there are the physical injuries. One of the ironic successes of these recent wars is the advance in battlefield medicine. The result is that far fewer die of wounds than in prior wars. The ratio of wounded to dead in WWII was 1.1/1, in Vietnam 1.7/1. In Iraq, it’s 7/1. More are saved, but more come home with debilitating, lifelong injuries. And 68% of the wounded have some form or brain trauma, penetrating injuries from shrapnel or non-penetrating concussions from the blasts of IEDs.

To learn more about brain injuries, I read In an Instant, the story of Bob Woodruff. The brilliant Woodruff had just been named co-anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight. Then, while embedded with the military in Iraq, an improvised explosive device went off near the tank he was riding in. Bob suffered a traumatic brain injury that nearly killed him. The book describes his recovery and recounts how fragile the human brain can be. At one point, the erudite Woodruff could rattle off the names of all prior U.S. presidents but couldn’t remember the names of his own children.

And I read about post traumatic stress. One of the best books is Achilles in Vietnam. Written by Jonathan Shay, a Vietnam War era PTSD counselor, it compares his clinical notes from patients to the text from Homer’s Odyssey, showing how we as human beings have dealt with war trauma across the millennia. He shows how war disrupts our moral compass, leaving re-entry into normal life as a brutal and agonizing experience.

Playing a make-believe fantasy game and going to war both have a surreal quality that takes us out of our normal reality. But for war veterans, the sense of normality doesn’t return without a struggle.

The Wounded Warrior Project is a wonderful organization, dedicated to helping veterans adjust. Their stated mission is: “To foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.” How successful we’ll be at achieving that goal will tell a lot about who we are. It’s one of the most important stories of our time.


As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, both Along the Watchtower and There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack are on sale this week. What’s more, by purchasing either or both of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Pick up Along the Watchtower at its discounted price of $2.99 on Amazon
  2. Get There Comes a Prophet at its discounted price of 99 cents
  3. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  4. Visit the featured social media events
  5. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.

Along the Watchtower tells of a tragic warrior lost in two worlds; a woman who may be his only way back from Hell. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

There Comes a Prophet A thousand years ago the Darkness came—a time of violence and social collapse. Nathaniel has grown up in their world of limits, longing for something more. For what are we without dreams? Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

David Litwack, the once and future writer, explores the blurry line between reality and the Visit David on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Guest Post- Applying for Social Security Disability with Multiple Sclerosis

I was contacted Molly Clarke  about doing a post on my blog about applying for Disability Social Security and I thought this post would fit in with my blog and could possible be useful to anyone out there that needs to apply as well.


Applying for Social Security Disability with Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic and progressive autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Symptoms can become debilitating and worsen over time, eventually leading to loss of function that prevents gainful employment. MS comes in multiple forms, including:


  • Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS)
  • Primary-progressive MS (PPMS)
  • Secondary-progressive MS (SPMS)
  • Progressive-relapsing MS (PRMS)

Symptoms that accompany each form vary, as does the progressive nature of the disease; however, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes each as a disabling condition that can potentially meet the eligibility requirements for receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

Meeting the SSA’s Definition of Disability

To meet the basic eligibility requirements for disability benefits, your disability must be expected to last at least twelve months. Because MS is an episodic autoimmune disease, meaning there are periods of symptom flare-ups and times when no symptoms may be present at all, satisfying this eligibility requirement can be a bit challenging.

The SSA will closely review your medical records to determine:


  • How often your episodes occur;
  • How long your episodes last;
  • How much time passes in between episodes;
  • What your symptoms are during episodes; and
  • How impaired you are during your periods of remission.

Because the SSA recognizes the episodic and progressive nature of MS, applications submitted with the diagnosis are typically evaluated first under the MS listing, and then under the “residual functional analysis”, in order to determine if the applicant qualifies.

The SSA’s Blue Book Listing for MS

The SSA utilizes a manual known as the Blue Book to evaluate conditions under standard disability listings. MS appears in the Blue Book under Section 11.00 – Neurological. To meet this listing and qualify for disability benefits, your application and medical records must prove:


  • You have partial paralysis, tremors, or involuntary movements in at least two of your limbs, impairing your ability to walk or use your hands;
  • You’ve suffered severe vision loss which cannot be corrected by wearing glasses;
  • You experience mood disturbances, decreased mental capacity, or memory loss as a result of an organic mental disorder; and/or
  • You suffer from muscle weakness and severe fatigue resulting from disruption of signals from the central nervous system, a cornerstone symptom of MS.

MS and Residual Functional Capacity

If your MS does not meet the SSA’s Blue Book listing, you may still qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The SSA will evaluate your residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine the severity of your condition and whether or not it prevents you from finding and maintaining gainful employment.

Your sensory, memory, mental and physical limitations will be evaluated during the RFC analysis. The SSA will also look at your employment history, your education level, and your acquired job skills to determine if you are able to hold a job.

If your MS is found to limit you so that you cannot reasonably be expected to work, then you may qualify for benefits under a “medical vocational allowance”. This means that your MS symptoms do not meet the Blue Book listing but still prevent you from working.

Medical Evidence in Your MS Disability Application

To successfully apply for disability benefits you must provide medical records that back up your claim. Your application must include records such as:


  • MRIs, EEGs, CT scans, x-rays, spinal tap, and other diagnostic results documenting abnormalities and a formal MS diagnosis;
  • Vision, hearing and speech evaluation exams, if applicable;
  • All other medical records related to the diagnosis and treatment of your MS;
  • Results of mental or psychological evaluations, if applicable;
  • Documentation of the frequency, duration and severity of your episodes; and/or
  • Statements from your treating physician(s) documenting your diagnosis, prognosis and functional capacity.

Seeking Assistance

Because filing for disability benefits can be a long and complicated process, you may find that you need to seek the assistance of a Social Security advocate or attorney. A professional will be able to guide you through the process and possibly increase your chances of approval.

Submitted by: Molly Clarke

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Margaret Margaret

Open Adoption, Open Heart

As I am sure most of you know I placed my daughter for adoption when I was 20.  I was contacted about hosting a guest post of a writer who has adopted his 2 children through open adoption.  I jumped at the chance to have a guest post on my blog as well as get the chance to read the book he has written.  I will have the review of the book up sometime next week after I have had the chance to sit down and read it.  Here is the guest post and please leave any comments or questions down below!

My wife and I are infertile. We don’t know why. The doctors and nurses can’t seem to give us any real answers about why we’ve been unable to have kids for our 8 years of trying, but here we are. No little ones carrying on our genes.

Infertility is a funny thing (if you’re willing to look at it that way). It seems to come with some invisible sign that only fertile friends can read. The sign, of course, reads- “Here I am without a baby. Please please please tell me how we can solve our infertile woes.” Cornered at church or at the supermarket, as soon as someone hears that we can’t have kids, it’s, “Well, you know what we did? We went on this all carrot and celery diet. And guess what! By Thursdays that week we were pregnant.”

Even more common is the ever popular, “My brother and his wife couldn’t get pregnant so they did such and such.”

Don’t get me wrong. It’s annoying and all, but after a while we infertile people get to a point where we start to enjoy it. I absolutely love it when I get to say, “I’ve never heard that one before.” I fear some people may think I’m being rude by laughing at my own friends. I don’t mean to be rude. I really don’t. I’m just pointing out that some people are really funny and they don’t seem to see it. Here are a few of my favorites-

Woman should stand on her head after intercourse. Now, that one may actually have some scientific reasoning to it. I don’t know. I aint a doctor. Gravity is real, though, so who knows. That one is actually pretty popular to try, or some variation of it.

Rub ice cubes on your (fill in the blank here). I don’t leave that “fill in the blank” empty because I’m censoring myself. I leave it blank because I’ve heard just about every body part, male or female, in that blank spot. Whatever the body part, I always enjoy that one.

Try intercourse in the back seat of a car. Now, I have actually heard that one from real people, but the fact that I also saw that on The Simpsons when Apu was trying to get his wife pregnant should tell you something if you think it’s a good problem solver.

Have an affair. I haven’t heard that from any of my “friends” because they wouldn’t be my friends anymore if they suggested that, but I’ve heard other people say it was told to them. Idiocy.

Eat more (another fill in the blank). Spaghetti, or vegetables, or Mexican food, or B vitamins, or or or…

Again, I’m not trying to pick on people who give their input. I appreciate when my friends take the time to care- just know that I may be laughing at you behind your back if you tell me the reason I’m not able to get my wife pregnant is because I wear boxers instead of briefs- or the other way around.

Adoption is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and Open Adoption, Open Heart is our adoption story. It’s not simply a matter of filling out papers and waiting for a baby. It’s a process of building relationships- the birth parents are still in our lives. Infertility is still part of us, but it doesn’t define us. We are able to laugh at our problems because we are able to embrace our successes. Hooray for adoption, and hooray for those wonderful birth parents who helped make our dreams come true.

Author Bio

Russell Elkins was born on Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1977. Along with his five siblings, he and his military family moved around a lot, living in eight different houses by the time he left for college at age 17. Although his family movedaway from Fallon, Nevada, just a few months after he moved out, he still considers that little oasis in the desert to be his childhood hometown. He and his family now live in the Boise, Idaho area.
Russell has always been a family man at heart, looking forward to the day when he could be a husband and a father. It took him a little while, but eventually his eyes locked onto a beautiful blonde, and he has never looked away. Russell and Jammie were married in 2004. Years of struggling with infertility left Russell and Jammie with a decision to make and their lives changed dramatically when they decided to adopt.
Russell and Jammie have adopted two beautiful children, Ira and Hazel, and have embraced their role as parents through open adoption. Both are actively engaged in the adoption community by communicating through social media, taking part in discussion panels, and writing songs about adoption. Russell also writes a weekly post for and contributes regularly to Adoption Voices Magazine.
Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Margaret Margaret

Trust Leads to Romance-Guest Post #2

What stirs the embers of romance deep inside you?
• Loving Words
• Touch
• A Night Out?

Maybe you haven’t thought about romance lately because of busyness, fatigue, disillusionment, or hopelessness.

I’ve been there too.

But romance with the man you love may not be as elusive as you might think.

Though we all desire romance—every woman longs to be
noticed, pursued, and adored—few of us realize that…

our words and actions may serve as stumbling blocks rather than invitations for the man in our life to woo us romantically.

If this is true, then we’re sabotaging the very romance we desire. Reminds me of the saying,
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

Do you like what you’re experiencing in regard to romance?
If not, ask yourself if you’re more likely to trust OR control your husband.
You’ve seen the controlling type.
Most women on TV sitcoms struggle with control. They walk all over the men they’re with and it bothers us.

It’s easy to detect control in others, but are you guilty of similar actions?

Let’s look deeper and find out.
1. Do you correct your husband?
2. Do you instruct your husband?
3. Do you improve your husband?

Do you correct your husband’s pronunciation or perhaps the
telling of a story when you know he’s got the facts mixed up?

When you correct your husband you’re telling him he did something wrong.
In this position you’ve become his mother. And that’s a romance killer if there ever was one.

Do you instruct your husband when he drives, performs
tasks, or helps out with the kids?

When you instruct your husband, you’re sending the message, “You don’t know how to do this.”
In this position you become the teacher who highlighted his ineptitude. Exposed, he’ll either shrink or strike back, rather than pursue.

Do you improve your husband?
In the past, I’ve tried to improve Tom’s appearance whenever possible. Once, when dressing for dinner at an elegant restaurant on vacation, I wore a vintage cashmere jacket with pearls and heels while Tom wore an improbable, wrinkled ensemble worthy of an episode of What Not to Wear. Yet, I didn’t say a word! (Some of you may be appreciating the restraint that required!) If I’d shared my fashion-improvement advice with him, I would have sent the romance-spoiling message, “You could have done better.”

In what areas do you try to improve your husband?

When we correct, instruct, and improve, we justify our actions by saying we’re just trying to help when, in reality, the measures we employ have more to do with fear—the fear that we won’t get what we want or we’ll get it too late.

Whenever our actions are borne of fear, the results we experience will be disappointing at best!

Give your fears to God and trust your husband with new words and actions…

Inviting him to romance.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Margaret Margaret

Want A Growing Marriage?

I am reviewing the book called “The Beautiful Wife” and I was sent 4 guest posts from the author and I after reading them I thought it would be a great thing for my readers.  I am going to be posting one every Sunday for the next 4 weeks.  Also be looking for my review on the book on 3/7/2012.


My husband and I were reading a financial book about how to make your money grow when one of the principles jumped off the page at me:

What you focus on grows. 

Because it’s such a simple principle, I couldn’t get it out of my mind and began applying it to all areas of life, especially relationships.

Most women have the desire to grow a more intimate relationship with their husband

yet  few  focus  their  desire  long  enough  to  do  anything  about  it.
Thus, nothing changes.

  • Ignorance, 
  • Distractions, and/or
  • hopelessness are often to blame.

I should know. Just 19 when I said, “I do”, I was ignorant about how to grow my marriage.  Our pre-marriage counseling consisted of one two-hour meeting with my pastor and that wasn’t enough to prepare me for the emotional, spiritual, and verbal abuse my husband doled out on a regular basis.   The abuse produced pain and grief.
I could think of little else than surviving.

Hope for our future crumbled.

Over time, I began sharing my pain with a few trusted, godly women.  Venting my pain and hearing their honest feed-back helped me see that the abuse I was suffering wasn’t my fault.

I  began seeing a Christian counselor who gave me tools that helped restore me to a place of strength and dignity.

The best choice I made was to dig into God’s word and find out what He wanted to say to me about my marriage.  In the Bible I found the following verses which applied to my situation:

  •  “…Your godly lives will speak to them [husbands] better than any words.  They will be won over by watching your pure godly behavior.” (I Peter 3:1,2)  In place of preaching to my husband, I began entrusting my difficult situation to God through prayer—listening for His instruction.
  •  Instead, we will hold to the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:15) I began to exchange preaching for speaking the truth in love—in as few words as possible.
  • “See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good…” (I Thessalonians 5:15) On my new path, I chose to respond in kindness and enforce healthy boundaries in place of angry retaliation.

When I dug into the word, I learned that my husband wasn’t the only one sinning.  My responses to Tom were often sinful and my response was the only thing I was responsible for.
What I wanted was to change my husband but I couldn’t find a biblical reference to support my desire and neither will you)!    

Focused on God and His Word, I was able to reverse negative behavioral patterns in my life which had long plagued me.

When I did what I could do—keeping my focus on God, HE DID WHAT I COULD NOT!

He healed me and ultimately my marriage—to the praise of His glorious grace!

What you focus on grows. 

Are you focused on growing your marriage? 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Margaret Margaret

Coping with Adoption

I was contacted by Sara and she wanted to write a guest post.  She wrote about tips to cope with placing your child for adoption.  Let me know what you think!

The decision to give your child up for adoption is a hard one, but coping with the aftermath of actually placing him or her in adoption is equally as hard if not harder. Once you do relinquish your baby you’re faced with an onslaught of emotions that are unparalleled to anything you’ve ever experienced and can be overwhelming to deal with on your own, even when you know that you’re ultimately doing the right thing. You’ve lost a part of you, and that’s hard no matter what the circumstances were that led you to the decision to place them in adoption in the first place. When faced with these feelings try to use these coping mechanisms:
1. Don’t close yourself off
As much as you may want to ignore the feelings and go on with your life as though nothing happened, it’s important to allow yourself time to grieve over the loss. Dealing with these feelings up front will help you heal quicker than if you try to bottle them up.

2. Recognize each stage of emotion
You likely will go through several stages of emotions: depression, guilt, anger, denial, and ultimately acceptance. Allow yourself time to fully experience each feeling and then let each one go. These feelings are normal and a necessary part of the healing process.

3. Find someone who can relate
Locate a support group or a mentor who can help you work through everything you’re feeling. Having someone to talk that has also been through all the same feelings you’re going through will provide you a crutch to lean on and to help you recover.

4. Write out your emotions
Start a journal or a blog that will allow you to chronicle your feelings. Writing in a journal can be very therapeutic for dealing with emotions and can allow you a way to voice all of your frustration and pain without worry of feeling judged by anyone. Also, blogging can open up a new community of support to you by connecting with other mothers who have also given up their child for adoption.

5. Find the good
If you made the decision to place your child up for adoption then it’s because you knew that you couldn’t give them what they needed and had enough foresight to see that someone else would be better suited to do so. As painful as this decision is, you should also rejoice in the fact that you chose to place them in a good and loving home.
Dealing with the grief over losing a child, even when it’s by choice, is a rocky road to travel. But there is light at the end of the tunnel so don’t give up hope. You may not ever be whole again, but you will recover.

Author Bio
Sara is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor of nanny service. Learn more about her at:

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Margaret Margaret

Adoption Awareness Month

Adoption Awareness Month

Unless you have adopted, or are planning to do so, you may know little about children who need homes. Given that it is adoption awareness month, it seems only appropriate to give some general information about the world of adoption.

According to the U.S. Department of Human Services, there are 1.8 million adopted children in the United States; these children account for 2 percent of all children in the United States. Of those:

• 75 percent were adopted domestically.

• 37 percent through the foster care system.

• 38 percent through private services.

• 25 percent were adopted internationally.

About 75 percent of children are adopted by non-family members while 25 percent are adopted by relatives; seventeen percent of those adopted by relatives are adopted through the foster care system and 37 are adopted through private mediums.

There are several ways to adopt in the United States. One way is through the foster care system. In 2010, there were 107,000 children in the foster care system waiting to be adopted and 53,000 were adopted. The general process is that a state-licensed agency (either for-profit or non-profit) matches prospective parents to children in need of a home. Though substantially cheaper than all other types of adoption, many choose other means of adoption. This is because many people want newborns of a particular race, and foster care adoption houses children of all ages and races. Unfortunately, these children need a home just as much as all other children up for adoption.

A second way to adopt is through a private agency. Private agencies act as intermediaries between children and prospective parents in the matching process. Many choose this medium because the agency guides parents through the entire adoption process.

A third way to adopt is independently, i.e. privately. It is legal in most states, though Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, and Massachusetts do not allow it; the laws surrounding independent adoption vary from state-to-state. This process involves prospective parents independently seeking out biological parents who have put their child up for adoption; lawyers are used as intermediaries. Many choose this means of adoption because agencies have policies regarding parent-criteria and prospective parent-biological parent contact both during and after the adoption. Independent adoption allows both prospective parents and biological parents to set their own criteria. Prospective parents control the search process and have direct contact with the biological parents; both parties also decide if the child will have contact with the biological parents after the adoption process is finalized.

A fourth way to adopt is internationally. China, Russia, Guatemala, Korea, and Ethiopia are common countries from which children are adopted; however, about 80 other countries around the world adopt out children to parents from different countries. In 2010, over 11,000 children were adopted from other countries. Generally, parents use adoption services similar to domestic adoption services. Many choose to adopt internationally to help children in desperate situations; many times, children are undernourished, under-educated, or have disabilities. Others choose this process because, depending on country, it can be less costly.

Amber Paley is a guest post and article writer bringing to us information and statistics on child adoptions.  Amber also writes about abuse in nursing homes.
Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Margaret Margaret

The Japanese Tsunami: When The Past Dances With the Present

I am super excited to have a guest post today!!!!!  I met him on Twitter and asked him if he would guest post for me.  I have never had a male guest post for me before and I was excited to finally have one!  After reading his post here go and check out his blog!

As of this writing, 3/16/11, the Japanese death toll is over 4,000, with countless thousands missing, and an estimated $200 billion in damages has already occurred. This ongoing tragedy is really a tale of three horrific events, an earthquake, a tsunami, and the looming threat of a nuclear catastrophe. Because Japan is located in the Ring of Fire region, it has a long history of earthquakes and tsunamis. The shifting of geographic tectonic plates beneath the Pacific ocean causes the earthquakes. This in turn causes the tsunami in the Pacific’s vast waters. Wikipedia lists major earthquakes in Japan going back to November 684 A.D. This current earthquake, measured 8.9 on the Richter scale, is the strongest earthquake of those listed.
Like Karen Zacharias’ well written and moving play, Legacy of Light, these events model a dance between past and present. In Legacy of Light, the philosophy and physics of 17th century Voltaire and his former mistress Emilie du Chatelet are juxtaposed and intertwined with related individuals and events in our present time. On a much more horrific scale, the earthquakes and tsunamis of Japan’s tumultuous geographic past are becoming intertwined with the most powerful force unleashed by mankind in history, atomic power.
Japan has 55 nuclear power plants, with several more planned. The US has 104. The most significant nuclear meltdowns to date have occurred in the US, 3 Mile Island, and in Russia, Chernobyl. The Japanese power plant in its’ Fukushima plant is now confirmed to be in a meltdown situation. The damage was initially caused by the earthquake and tsunami, but has now taken on a life of its own. In the past, this third stage of the disaster would not have occurred. But now, it could ultimately be the most devastating part. Somehow in our modern, sheltered world of computer, smart phones, and SUVs, we forget where we come from. We forget the power of nature and we can barely conceive of the consequences when the past dances with the present.
By Steve Mallis

Our Attitude Matters

“Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.” 
Francesca Reigler      

About three weeks ago, I signed up for the SITSGIRLS Tribe Building/Blogging Support event.  We started last week, were assigned to groups with animal names (Hare & Lamby for me), got to connect with a new set of bloggers with somewhat similar niches, and were off and running to complete daily tasks/assignments. It has been a whirlwind of activity ever since and one of the assignments was to pair up with a fellow team member and guest blog for each other today.
As serendipity would have it, Margaret and I connected and agreed to give it a shot. Margaret and I consulted with each other and the result is what you are staring at here …Adapted from another post.

Regardless of what we believe, one thing is certain: our attitude accompanies us on every path we travel and serves as judge and jury to our actions; we must choose wisely.

A Case in Point:
When I was in graduate school, I had the good fortune of studying with a beloved and highly regarded Professor of Clinical Psychology; we’ll call him Prof Zee here. Prof Zee’s classes were always packed with eager students because he had a reputation for being a brilliant, compassionate and attentive teacher. He was skilled at distilling complex theories and equations into clear and understandable language and even students from other departments lined up to register for and take his fundamentals course.

To our dismay, Prof Zee announced at the beginning of one academic year that he planned to retire and move away from New York.  Everyone scrambled to register for his final semester class and those of us who were fortunate enough to attend that final course were forever blessed by the wisdom and skill of a master teacher.

On the first day of class, Prof Zee advised us to “stop worrying about failure or success and focus on being present and engaged.” We were. Throughout the course, he engaged and challenged us with individual and group assignments.  For our final exams, he gave us both a take home and in-class exam. We came to our last class both exhilarated and saddened.  Somehow, we suspected that Prof Zee had something up his sleeve. He gave back the exams and instructed us to spend a few minutes reflecting on our efforts throughout the semester. Then he said, “I want you to write the final cumulative grade you know you deserve on your exam sheet and give it back to me.” We did and quickly handed our papers back.

Once all the grade sheets were returned to Prof Zee, he led us in a riveting discussion on how our beliefs, attitudes, and training shape our choices, decisions, and ultimately, our outcomes. What were other internal/external predictors? He called on several students to ask why they gave themselves a low/high grade. The answers were revelatory and ran the gamut; I earned it, I didn’t deserve it, I shoulda-coulda-woulda, I know my stuff and on and on. There was a heated discussion on the impact expectations and a positive attitude has on our sense of self worth and value.
In the end, we agreed that a healthy self-image, a positive mental attitude gives us more “A+” Days. We have free will to make our own choices and it is up to us to stay stuck in a rut or go with the flow. To make us remember this, Prof Zee gave us the final grade we wrote down … we deserved it!  What are you choosing to do?

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Elizabeth Obih-Frank believes in positive kismet/fate and writes two bi-weekly blogs; Mirth and Motivation  and Positive Kismet  where she shares motivational, goodwill pieces and more. She is a mom to twins, a master trainer/educator, former real estate program director, writer, healer, motivational speaker and social media fan. She loves a good laugh, good food and an occasional jaunt to somewhere around the world.