Reflections of Home~

Every odd number year I have looked forward to the last week of July….this year is extra special.

In days I will be traveling to the place I have called home for 58 years though I left there over 50 years ago. I will be going home to Boys Town, NE. Though I graduated in 1968 since there are reunions back on campus only every odd year; thus will be joining brothers of the classes of 1968/1969 to commemorate our 50th high school graduation anniversary.

As the travel day approaches it has been a time of reflection for me. I have no idea how many more times I have to make this journey home thus memories have come flooding back.

I think of the mentors who took an angry scared kid of 11 and helped him take what he had experienced the first 11yrs of life behind him and to move forward. Memories comeback to time spent to name a few; Msgr. Wegner, Msgr. Schmidt, Moe Genevieve Condon….who saw something positive in my always wanting to argue took me to Clarence Weinerth…my debate/speech coach the last two years at BT. All have since passed and whom I never had the opportunity to say thank you. I think of Dr. Patrick McGinnis, who still is with us and whom I have been able to thank. Each of these men played a role in making me who I am today and the lessons given by them remain with me today.

I had no self confidence and pretty much hated the world for the 1st 11 yrs of my life. Without having gone to BT and had these intervene in my life I would have never realized that hey I could carry a tune, I would have never realized that I had an ability to write…since then I have written 2 books and write for a number of on line publications, through debate I realized I had an ability to speak/advocate for foster care reform before folks…since then I have spoken to groups around the country (small & large) and have spoken to 3 World Conferences in Boston, Atlanta & The Hague Netherlands and I was able to found a small foundation foster youth called Hope & Dignity Project. Boys Town most importantly made me realize I was not the failure so many folks told me I would be before BT. If Boys Town had had not been a part of my history I strongly believe none of the above would have been accomplished!

The memories that I value most is the brotherhood of friendships made during 7 plus year at Boys Town who remain friends until this very day…many who I will be seeing on this journey home. Unfortunately the 3 closest friends made during those years will not be with me in person for this commemoration but will surely be with me in strongly spirit: James Acklin, Renato Korus and John Gallagher…these were not only fellow class of 68 members but were friends and even more I considered as brothers I never had…I miss each of them.

I want all I come in contact with to know the story of Boys Town and what it did not only for this one time kid but for the thousands of not only brothers but sisters as well the past 40 plus years. Boys Town has changed since my days but its mission continues to help young men/women be the best they can be!

Years at Boys Town had its ups and down as has life afterwards but I was taught it doesn’t matter if one falls but it does matter it you get up not and how they get up.. People mentioned here and not mentioned each played a role taking that angry, scared kid of 11 to the self confident, hopefully caring man I am approaching the age of 70.

I will, no matter how I might try, ever be able to repay Boys Town for what they did for me. I have been able to volunteer in various alumni activities over the years and even been privileged the past 4 years to serve on the Boys Town National Alumni Association Board of Directors…the past 3 as Vice President…hope in some small way I help make the association better for the future generations of alumni. I step down from this position during this trip giving another alumnus the opportunity to serve.

I will always be grateful to Boys Town, the brotherhood of brothers and most importantly I will always call it home….I look forward to the journey home next week!

Miracle at 100 Years

On a wintry day in Omaha, Nebraska a young priest had a dream. He wanted to start a place that would provide a home for young boys in need.

Fr. Edward Joseph Flanagan founded world renowned Boys Town, Nebraska on December 12, 1917.

One hundred years later that dream continues to live on!

I doubt seriously he would have imagined what he began that day would go on to provide a home, education, sports and so much more for thousands of young men; and years later young women.

What began as a dream which for years struggled day to day to survive financially went forth. It was because of his perseverance and faith that God would provide that kept him going forward….never doubting that somehow things would workout.

With the help of a few priests, nuns and a few others he moved from a building that limited him to care but for a few to what was once farm land to become a village called Boys Town.

Thousands have been a part of the history of Boys Town. Today many of the young men/women who once called Boys Town home are now priests, lawyers, doctors, teachers, politicians, barbers, printers…etc. Each having gained a second chance at life and making the most of what they obtained.

They learned the three priorities of life….faith, country and family!

Hundreds of young men/women have joined our military. Boys Town probably has the most names on a Memorial Wall for those who gave their all in service to our country of any small village in the country as they have served in every war beginning in WWll to day. Each are honored and revered by Boys Town alumni and staff as heroes!

Many for years have been doing what has become fashionable today…paying it forward. It took many donations for each to call the place of Boys Town home for brief time or many years…they have spent years in their own way giving back to the communities they now call home in thanksgiving.

Fr. Flanagan has been declared a “Servant of God” and now is being investigated for miracles to see whether the Catholic Church will one day declare him a Saint.

It is unfortunate the church looks for physical healing miracles before declaring one a saint. For I know thousands of life changing miracles that would not have happened if a young priest did not have a dream 100 years ago.

I know it because I am one of those miracles! It was my physical home from 1961-1968. In my heart it remains my home still today.

Fr. Flanagan passed away suddenly May 15, 1948 while in Germany for President Harry S. Truman helping youth after WWll. His miracle lives on and he rests in peace at his beloved Boys Town. Four successors and many staff over the years have worked to see his work continues.

Boys Town celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding! My wish that 100 years from now they will celebrate the 200th one!

Thank you Fr. Flanagan and Boys Town for all you have done for the thousands of us youth in the past and for all you will continue to do in the years ahead!

Lawrence Adams
Proud Graduate of Boys Town Class of 1968

Memorial Book: Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 – 1945

IN MEMRORIUM

This is a difficult blog for me to write for today 11/15/15 as for the first time ever I saw photos of a few of my ancestors. Unfortunately three of the four people in the photos were of those lost during the Holocaust. To see their photos and know what happened to them was heartbreaking and brought tears to my eyes. I also found out one that survived passed away only seven years ago…if I had only researched my paternal side earlier I may have been able to meet her.

The black/white photos of the people in this blog were either from Yad Vashem or from the private collection of Anita Herze Jorg.

Eleven members of my family (that I know of as of this date) were taken from their homes, seven were killed in the Holocaust and four survived.

Through the above book I was able to find exactly what happened to those that died, two that survived. I found information on two others that survived by visiting a web site from Kaiserslautern, Germany web site pages dedicated to each family member with Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) dedicated on July 10, 2014 at the last address where they were free at  Rudolph-Breitscheid-Str. 71, Kaiserslautern. Two currently have testimonials for them in Yad Veshem and I will be submitting them for the remainder over the next few weeks.

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Rudolph-Breitscheid-Str, 71 pinpointed on the city map

02her_all_stHere are their stories and photos for those I have today. The daughter of one who survived still is living and I have written to the resource I found to see if I will be able to contact her as well as see the interview done with her father Erich Herze back in 1994 before he passed. Yes, I have hope to see more photos especially of ancestors that go back before the generations on this blog.

Geissmann, Hedwig: born Hedwig Jakob, sister of Johanna Jakob Herze, 1st cousin twice removed

Born: January 24, 1882 in Essweiler/Kusel/Bayern/Pfalz, resident of Kaiserlautern

Married: on 10/02/1912 to Silvan Geissman in Essweiler, he died in service in during WWl

Deportation from: Baden/Pfalz/Saarland

10/20/1940 Gurs internment camp

02/21/1941 Recebedou internment camp

08/03/1942 Drancy collecting detention camp

Murdered:  08/12/1942 Auschwitz extermination camp

Herze, Johanna: born Johanna Jakob, sister of Hedwig Jakob Geissman, 1st cousin  twice removed….daughter of Lazarus Jakob/Barbara Franck…my 2x great aunt/uncle

Born: February 15, 1874 in Essweiler/Kusel/Bayern/Pfalz, resident of Kaiserlautern

Married: on  10/24/1894 in Essweiler moved to Kaisrslautern in 1902

Deportation from: Baden/Pfalz/Saarland

10//20/1940 Gurs internment camp

02/21/1941 Noe internment camp

Murdered:  03/05/1943 Noe internment camp

Herze, Hugo: husband of Johanna Jakob Herze my 1st cousin twice removed

Born: 07/29/1870 in Randerath / Geilenkirchen / Rheinprovinz

Married: 10/24/1894 in Essweiler & moved to Kaiserslautern in 1902

Deportation from: Badem/Pfalz/Saarland

10/20/1940 Gurs internment camp

02/21/1941 Noe interment camp

Murdered:  02/07/1943 Noe internment camp

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Johanna & Hugo Herze-1935 Kaiserlautern

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The marker at Camp Gurs of entrance memorializes those who entered on 10/22/1940 and were murdered, including 5 members of my family

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Hugo & Johanna appear on the 2nd column…whoever visits will have to remember them!

Franck, Auguste:

Born 07/08/1878 in Essweiler/Kusel/Bayern/Pfalz resident of Koln son of Herman Franck/Ester Moses…Herman brother of  Joseph Franck my 3x great grandfather 3rd great uncle

Deportation: 06/12/1942 Theresienstadt, ghetto

Murdered: 07/05/1942 Theresienstadt, ghetto

Herze, Adolph: son of Hugo/Johanna Herze, 2nd cousin two times removed

Born: 12/13/1896 Essweiler/Kusel/Bayern/Pfalz

Married: Rosa Lazar…date not as yet verified

Escape: Adolph & Rosa escaped to Brussels, Belgium

Deported: to Dusseldorf

Deported: 12/11/1941 to Riga

Murdered: 03/06/1943 Riga Jungfernof Aussbenlager ghetto

Herze, Rosa: born Rosa Lazar wife of Adolph Herze

Born: 08/01/1902 Kaiserslautern/Bayern.Pfalz

Escaped: to Brussels, Belgium with husband

Deported to Dusseldorf

Deported: 12/11/1941 to Riga

SURVIVED:…went to Hamburg, Germany after liberation, immigrated to the United States in December 1946

RosaLazarus

Rosa Lazar Herze immigration papers into United States

Herze, Hannilore: daughter of Jacob/Lydia Horn Herze….Jacob is son of Hugo/Johanna Herze…Hannilore, 3rd cousin once removed

 Born:07/13/1933 Kaiserslautern/Bayern/Plafz and lived there

Deported: 10/22/1940 from Baden/Plafz/Saarland to Gurs interment camp

Murdered: 08/1/1940 Gurs internment camp

Herze, Hedwig: daughter of Jacob/Lydia, sister of Hannalore Herze 3rd cousin once removed

Born: on 01/23/1931 Kaiserslautern before the marriage of her parents, though her mother was Catholic she was officially listed as Jewish

Deported: 10/22/1940 from Baden/Plafz/Saarland to Gurs internment camp

Moved: 02/26/1941 to Aspet (Haute Garonne) with 49 other children from the OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants) of Gurs in the children’s home Maison des Pupilles

SURVIVED: On 28 January 1948 she returned to Kaiserslautern, where on 08/27/1949 she married Oskar LF Ebling, they had two children. She died in Kaiserslautern 1974.

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Hedwig with younger sister Hannalore-1935 Kaiserslautern

Hedwig

Hedwig in orphanage (far right)

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Hedwig in orphanage (front 6th in from right)

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Hedwig: Hannalore has been murdered and Ruth moved…she is alone:note the star of David having to be worn

Herze, Jacob: son of Hugo/Johana Herze, 2nd cousin twice removed

Born: 02/13/1901 Neukirchen/Daun/Rheinprovinz lived in Kaiserslautern

Married: Lydia Horn

Imprisoned: 11/12/1938-12/10/1938 Dachau concentration camp for protection (?)

Deported:  10//22/1940 Baden/Plaz/Saarland Gurs internment camp

Murdered 04/27/1941 Gurs internment camp

camp-de-gurs

Camp Gurs Cemetery for the 1017 murdered here: Hugu & Hannalore Herze, both of whom died here in 1941, rest here and as people walk through the markers each will be remembered as will the other 1015

Herze, Lydia: born Lydia Horn

Born: March 29, 1912 in Kusel, daughter of Michael and Katharina Horn, family was Roman Catholic

Married: 06/06/1931 to Jacob Herze in Kaiserslautern and lived there

Deported: 10.22.1940 Baden/Plafz/Saarland….this after repeated request on the part of official bodies to renounce her Jewish husband, Lydia refused. She was sent back from Gurs to Kaiserslautern, where she was obliged to do forced labor and lived on February 5, 1943 to October 7, 1944 in the basement Straße 9, with her mother. Between October 1944 and July 1945, after escaping Kaiserslautern, she lived in Hamburg.

SURVIVED: She remarried on 03/29/1960 to Kurt Nagel, Lydia died on 08/16/1992 in Kaiserslautern.

Herze, Ruth, Renee: daughter of Jacob/Lydia Herze,  3rd cousin once removed

Born: 06/30/1939 Kaiserslautern/Bayern/Plafz and lived there

Deported: 10/22/1940 Baden/Plafz/Saarland to Gurs inernment camp, The 16-month-old girl Ruth was the youngest ever transported to Gurs

Moved: The one and a half year old Ruth was brought by Blanche Raphael, pediatric nurse and Max Teichert to a children’s home to Limoges, France. They became her foster parents.

SURVIVED: Ruth knew a long time nothing about their origins and about the fact that both her mother and her sister were still alive. Erich Herze, the youngest brother of Jacob their father, finally found her and contacted her.. Mediated by Erich Herze her mother Lydia traveled to Limoges in 1950 to bring her youngest daughter home with her. This, however, was thwarted by the foster parents.

The relationship between Ruth Herze and her birth mother remained difficult, however, she had good contact with her older sister Hedwig and her uncle Erich, she visited him often in Malmö, Sweden, where he had fled in 1939. Around 1960 Ruth moved to Nimes and learned the profession of pediatric nurse. She then moved to Boulogne near Paris and later by Cagnes-sur-Mer near Nice, where she died of 2008.

Two children Erich Herze and Wilhelm Herze fled Kaiserslautern in 1939. Erich fled to Malmo, Sweden where he married had at least one child, a daughter. He died during a visit to Kaiserslautern with his daughter in 1999 and was returned to Malmo, Sweden for burial. Wilhelm immigrated to the United States, to Argentina. to Paraguay where he died in 1986.

This is the Synagogue the Herze family attended in Kaiserslautern from 1902 until 1938 when it was destroyed to make a parade ground for the Nazis:

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Replica of Synagogue entrance memorial built in Kaiserslautern by the Jewish community

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Plaque at the memorial entrance showing before and after destruction

A human being is forgotten until his name is not forgotten!

Family Persecuted & Survived or Killed During the Horror of the Nazis

Before I remember and honor family members who suffered & survived, were murdered or successfully fled elsewhere I need to give a short background as to why at age 65 I am just learning of this horror.

I was born of an unwed mother in 1950 and placed for adoption; though never adopted. I went through the first 36 years of life not knowing who was my was or any of my heritage. I would find my birth mother in 1986 and learn I was Polish and in 1990 I would find my birth father and learn on his side I was German.

I began tracing back the history, etc of my maternal side and spent over the next 25 years being able to trace back to my maternal great, great grandparents in the mid 1800’s in Poland. Though much of the family who were born in the USA in the late 1800’s had passed I was able to meet and develop relationships with many cousins. I hit a brick wall in tracing back about two years ago and decided at least for now to lay things aside.

My birth mother and father have since passed.

For unexplainable reasons I throughout the years never had an interest in doing this on my father’s side.

I early April of this year, again for unexplainable reason I pulled what little information I had on my father’s side and decided it was time!

I of course knew since 1990 that his family was German. Through various record searches I learned of names his parents. It was through his father’s name I learned of his grandparents: Albert Marx & Fannie Jakoby Marx who had immigrated from Germany in the late 1800‘s.

I then discovered something I had not expected….they were Jewish and that line went back many generations. I was raised Catholic though I cannot say I have been a practicing one for several years but do have solid beliefs. I wanted to know more of the Jewish faith, their traditions and of course go back further in the family line. Because the mother of a child must before the child is born be Jewish for the child to be declared Jewish I cannot do so as my grandfather though Jewish married a Gentile who did not convert before he was born or even after. I may not be Jewish but a Jewish line runs deeply through my veins!

On one great grandmother’s side I found her parents were Nathan Jakoby of Barweiler German where he was born, married, lived , died in 1880 and is buried and his wife Rosina Josephina Franck of Essweiler Germany then Wallerfangen where she moved after Nathan passed and where she passed in 1893 and is buried in Dillingen. All but one of their children immigrated to the USA except Leopold who passed in Barweiler at the age of 16 in 1878. I have traced each of the children and have most of their records.

This finally brings me to the events of the past few days and the reason for this special blog.
After waiting for information from Germany over the summer and early fall I did get bits of information from a friend in Germany but just Sunday I received pages involving my family line from the Civil Registry of Essweiler.

From that listing of names, births, marriages, deaths (over 50 names) were obtained. I also received a link to the Municipality of Essweiler web site and the initial shock came. I of course grew up learning of the horrors of Nazism and the Holocaust but never could have imagined it had affected anyone in my family….I was wrong, very wrong!

I shared this information in a blog on Monday so if someone might be looking also for names I have they could find them and I share the link to that blog here once again:

https://prairieguy.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/jewish-german-heritage-i-didnt-know-i-had/

The Franck family had lived in Essweiler at least from the mid 1700’s. They were homeowners who lived in the same house from my 4x great grandparents and passed to the 3x great grandparents….many children were born in that house identified only as #68 City Center. (4x great grandparents were Joel Franck/Eva Frankel & 3x great grandparents were Joseph Franck/Rosina Wolf).

One of the children Joseph/Rosina had was Barbara Franck…this is in addition to my 2x great grandmother and 4 other children.

Barbara Franck married on 05/25/1874 married Lazarus Jakob in Essweiler and had 7 children: Johanna, Hedwig, Rosalia, Ida, Flora, Paulina and a male not named who died at birth. Barbara was Lazarus’s 2nd wife and his 1st wife Susanna (Barbara’s sister) had passed during the birth of her 3rd child who also passed in 1873. Susanna also had 2 children prior but who had passed within months of their birth. Thus no previous children came into Lazarus’s/Barbara’s marriage.

This Tuesday night I found the two records I hoped to never find and I am sure will impact me in many ways for the rest of my days….my family was very personally impacted by the Holocaust.

The two records: Hedwig Jakob and Johanna Jakob Herze.

Hedwig was born in Essweiler on 01/24/1882. She would marry Silvian Geissiman 10/02/1912 in Kaiserslautern, Germany, b: 02/08/1882 in Westhoven, daughter of Issak Gerissman & Babette Picard. I have found no information as yet of her husband or if they had any children.

1. Hedwig was deported to Gurs Camp in France in 1940 then Auschwitz in 1942 where she met her death in the gas chambers of Hitler on 08/12/1942. There is no record for her on Yad Vashem but I will be submitting testimony on behalf of the family and I want her remembered by the world after I am gone.

2. Johanna Jakob Herze was born to Lazarus Jakob and Barbara Franck in Essweiler on 09/15/1874. She would marry Hugo Herze born on July 29 1870 Randerath, a district of Heinsberg, in North Rhine-Westphalia in Essweiler on 10/24/1894. They would initially live in Essweiler where 3 children were born then move to Kasiserlautern to 71 Lutpoldstrasse in 1902 now known as 71 Rudolf-Breitscheid Strasse…you will see the importance of this address later.

Children:

Leo, Adolph, Arthur, ,Jacob, Wilhelm, Hedwig (but called Heidi) and Erich…Leo died of natural causes in 1914)

Johanna was deported to the Gurs Camp in France, then transport to Camp Noe in October of 1940, as were most Jews in the town, where she was killed in 1943.

At this point I was in such pain learning of this and yes tears were flowing. I thought I would give up my research for the night but then I realized I had to go on. The pain and heartache would only become worse as I processed.

3. I learned her husband Hugo was also deported to the Gurs Camp then to Camp Noe…. and was killed there on February 4, 1943…Johanna was killed on March 5, 1943. They were 72 and 69 respectively when killed.

Son Jacob married Lydia Horn in 1931 in Essweiler then moved to Kaiserlautern and had 4 children: Hedwig, Hannalore, Anna and Ruth. Anna died of natural causes in 1939 at 3 ½ years old.

The entire family was deported to Camp Gurs in October 22, 1940.

4. Jacob was killed on April 14, 1941
5. Hannalore was killed in October 1941.

Lydia would survived and while doing forced labor she escaped and in 1945 was living in Hamburg, Germany but then returned to Kaiserslautern where she died in 1962 at age 60.

Hedwig survived the war and was rescued by OSE and the Quakers eventually also returning to Kaiserslautern where she passed…am researching for the year.

Ruth also survived but did not return home, she lived the remainder of her life in various locations in France as a pediatric nurse. She never married and died in 2008 at 89 years of age.

5. Johanna’s son Adolph born in 1896 married Rosa Lazar and lived in Reydt, Germany but fled to Brussels, Belgium. Adolph died in the ghettos of Riga. Adolph was shot and killed by the Nazis when it was ordered to clean out the Riga ghetto. Rosa eventually immigrated to the New York USA to live with her brother Solomon in Queens.

Hugo, Johannna, Hannalore, Jacob, Lydia, Adolph are listed in Yad Vashem but I will submit testimony for each of them. On behalf of the family and so their lives will never be forgotten.

Johanna’s 3 other sisters had left Germany back in the early 1930’s before Hitler came to power and immigrated to the United States and I need to do further research.

Johanna’s other children did survive the war:

Arthur died in 1940 in a hospital in Cologne, Germany

Wilhelm initially fled first to Paris, then Paraguay where he died in 1986.

Hedwig (Heidi) returned to Kaiserslautern where she died.

Erich fled to Sweden where he lived the remainder of his life. He did return for visits to Kaiserslautern but never wanted to resettle there. I need to research further ass I know he did marry but have no further information.

I have many other family names to search, some males that should be easy to check Yad Vesham whereas the women may be difficult as I don’t know if they ever married. I pray I won’t find anymore horror as this journey uncovered but I am prepared for it.

Besides submitting testimony for each of those that died to Yad Vesham I will also make memorials at FindaGrave for those who passed in Auschwitz, Noe and Gurs as I know these are there final resting places.

There is a custom called STOLPERSTEINE that began after the was as a way to remember those lost during the Holocaust.

A human being is forgotten until his name is not forgotten

The words from the Talmud are the driving force for the artist Gunter Demnig, with memorial plaques to the victims of the Nazi regime in Europe to for the world to remember. Under this slogan were in June 2014 Gunter Demnig outside the house Rudolf-Breitscheid-Strasse 71, where the Herze family last lived freely all together, placed the seven stumbling blocks for Hugo, Johanna, Jacob, Lydia, Hedwig, Ruth and Hannelore.

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A closer view so one can see the names:

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Though all but Hedwig Jakob are listed in Yad Vashem only one actual testimony has been received which is for Adolph Herze:

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I would love one day, and dream about it, to visit the land of my paternal ancestors especially Essweiler, Barweiler, Kaisterslautern. To walk where they walked, lived and also where some are buried in the Jewish cemetery in Hintzinger. And to personally go to honor those who suffered so much even if they did in fact survive as I know their lives were never the same and mine will not be either. But being now 65 and limited income that will never be possible…but I can dream.

For 65 years I did not know if the Jewish heritage I came from. I did not know the horrors some of my family endured, even death, for just being who they were. I knew of the Holocaust but now I know it personally. The heartache I felt Sunday night when I found the initial record then the succeeding ones on Tuesday night into those early hours of Wednesday may subside as time passes but it will never be healed. I have had to stop a few times as I writing it as the tears so easily came. I will never forget and hope that even after I am gone people will see the Stolpersteine created to honor them, the 2 two blogs I have written that are now part of the Internet, the testamonies that will be left on Yad Vashem and will remember and honor them.

It has been said all my life “NEVER AGAIN” but it has happened again and in places around the world people continue killing people by the thousands because of who they are….humankind I hope will someday make this saying real and not just words.

Shalom my family and may each of you rest in peace as well as all who endured the horror of the Nazis!

Jewish German Heritage I Didn’t Know I had!

I did not know my birth parents growing up as I was given for adoption at birth. In 1986 I found my birth mother and in 1990 my birth father. I knew she was Polish and he German. I spent several years researching the maternal; side of the family but let the paternal side lay aside.

For some reason I cannot fully explain I picked up the search of the paternal side this past April. I found out his side was not only German but came from a long line of the Jewish faith. This began an extensive search as I wanted to know more, much much more!

Before stating the results I should let you now that the Jewish line died when my paternal grandfather married a gentile who did not convert prior to my father’s birth (nor ever) thus though I have a very long Jewish blood line I cannot claim to be Jewish as this is passed from the mother not the father.

Here is what I have been able to put together since April…with most being detailed/verified by the Civil Registry of Essweiler, Germany:

4th Great Grandparents:

Joel Franck b: 1748, Haidenfallt, Germany
d: 01/22/1836 Essweiler, Germany

Married: Eva Frankel b: 1767. Hundsbach, Germany
d: 06/14/1832 Essweiler, Germany

FranckHome

The Franck family lived in the since mid 1770’s until early 1900’s: order of homes from left…Franck, Wolf and Leob. Photo provided by the Essweiler Town Hall, a person also went out to the site last week to take a photo of the site today…the Franck and Wolf homes are no more though the Leob remains.

FranckHome1

They had 3 children:

1. Joseph Franck b: 01/17/1799, Hundsbach, Germany (3rd Great Grandfather)
d: 06/10/1872 Essweiler, Germany (see 2 marriages below) buried HinzweilerGermany….Jewish Cemetery Essweiler established. His tombstone is described by a photographer as: Joseph Frank – 10/6/1872: Von Esweiller, Stein mi Rundbogigen Abschlus auf Vorderseite im oberin Teil drei sechsblattrige Blumen (Rossetten) und eine x – formige Vergerung. Only 36 of the tombstones remain and are deteriorating quickly.

2. Moses Franck b: 08/28/1803, Neunkircher, Germany (3rd Great Uncle)
d: 01/20/1885, Essweiler, Germany

Married Johannetta Feibt on 05/11/1830 b:01/04/1804 Spendlingen, Germany d: 04/06/1851 Essweiler, Germany

She would give birth to 8 children ALL in Essweiler; if death date is listed they died in Essweiler:

1.Herman Franck b:05/15/1831 d:09/23/1903 Essweiler, buried Hinzweiler Germany

Herman married Ester Moses on 05/10/1860 in Essweiler, daughter of Aaron Moses/Henrietta Dreifus in Nanzweiler, Germany b: 04/17/1837 d:12/19/1884 Essweiler

Ester gave birth to 12 children all in Essweiler:

Carolina Franck b: 05/05/1861

Sara Franck b: 09/09/1862 d: 1938 Kairserslautern, Germany
Josephine Frank b: 05/15/1864 d: 12/12/1872 Essweiler
Julius Franck b: 12/15/1865
Amalie Franck b:02/16/1868 d:12/14/1870 Essweiler
Aaron Franck b: 05/19/1870
Gustav Franck b: 06/30/1872
Bertha Franck b; 02/18/1874
Adolf Frank b: 10/13/1876
Auguste Franck b:07/08/1878 d: 07/05/1942 Arolsen, Germany
Theodore Franck b: 04/04/1880
Salomon Franck b: 02/12/1882

2.Josephina Franck b:12/25/1832 d:11/24/1837
3.Regina Franck b:01/18/1835 d: 09/14/1835
4.Julius Franck b: 08/30/1836 d: 12/14/1837
5.Henrietta Franck b:01/11/1838
6.Johannetta Franck b:09/12/1841
7.Ferdinand Franck b:04/24/1844 d: 07/19/1845
8.Emilia Franck b: 10/16/1846

3. Barbara Franck b: 10/22/1812, Marienthal, Germany (3rd Great Aunt)
d: 08/22/1893, Essweiler, Germany, buried Hinzweiler, Germany

Married Moses Franck on 04/12/1838, Essweiler, Germany, Moses son of Moses Feilder/Sara Wolf b:09/29/1793 in Pleisweiler, Germany d: 1893 in Brucken, Germany. Barbara is his 2nd wife….1st wife is Elizabetha Hammel after giving birth in 1837 her 7th child. She passed. Barbara would give birth to 2 children:

Josephina Franck b:02/04/1839, Essweiler no record of marriage/death as yet
Rosina Franck b: 1852 Brucken, Germany d: 05/31/1902 Essweiler, Germany

Joseph Franck married 2x….1st wife passed, whoever transcribed records for Family Search mixed 1st wife’s 1st name with 2nd wife’s last name really messing up the record but civil registry fortunately has it correct!

1st marriage: 7/27/1825 to Josephina Henrietta Weiner b:12/28/1801
d: 08/03/1831
Had 3 children all who died in Essweiler, Germany at less than 1 year of age

2nd marriage:02/23/1832 to Rosina Wolf b: 12/21/1811, Essweiler, Germany (3rd Great Grandmother)
d: 10/24/1866 , Essweiler, Germany

Rosina’s parents would also be one set of 4th Great Grandparents: Benjamin Wolf ll
Sara Becker

Rosina gave birth to 6 children:

1. Rosina Josephina Franck b:01/21/1834, Essweiler, Germany (2nd Great Grandmother)
d: 01/06/1893, Wallerfangen, Germany

She married Nathan Jakoby…2nd Great Grandfather (Jacoby of Barweiler, Germany)…date unk at this time.

She would give birth to 8 children…have name/dates/etc elsewhere….with husbands and children it would add another 30 people to tree

Her sisters/brother: 2x great aunts/uncles

2. Fany Franck b: 03/26/1835, Essweiler, Germany
d: 12/17/1835, Essweiler, Germany

3. Julius Franck b: 08/09/1836, Essweiler, Germnay
d: 01/14/1893, Essweiler, Germany have found no record of marriage as yet

4. Phipinna Franck b: 10/26/1838, Essweiler no record of marriage or death found to date

5. Susanna Franck b: 08/28/1840, Essweiler, Germnay
d: 10/27/1873, Essweiler, Germany

Susanna married Lazarus Jacob on 02/26/1873 b:04/27/1847 Tholey, Germany to Isak Jakob/Lisetta Oppenheimmer no death date given in Essweiler. Her Uncle Nathan Jacoby and brother Julius would be 2 of the 4 signatures on the marriage decree.
Susanna passed during child birth of her only child:

Joseph Jacob b: 10/27/1873 d: 10/27/1873 in Essweiler

6. Barbara Franck : 03/30/1844, Essweiler, Germany

Barbara would on 05/26/1874 marry Susanna’s widow Isak Jacob. She would give birth to 6 children and a still born all in Essweiler. Johanna is the only one I currently have a marriage record in Essweiler

1. Johanna Jacob b: 09/15/1874
2. Rosalia Jacob b: 11/24/1875

Johanna married on 10/24/1894 in Essweiler to Hugo Hertze son of Hert Hertze/Helen Leifgens b:07/29/1870 in Randerath, Germany.

Johanna gave birth to 3 children in Essweiler then no further information on her or Hugo passing…it was during this time that many of the Jewish faith were leaving Essweiler as the gov’t were now allowing them to move into larger cities.

Leo Hertze b: 07/17/1895
Adolph Hertze b: 12/13/1896, Adolph did marry in Essweiler to Rosa Lazar but no date given nor info on the bride or her parents
Arthur Hertze b: 08/16/1898

3.Ida Jacob b:10/22/1877
4. Flora Jacob b: 10/19/1879
5. Hedwig Jacob b:01/24/1882, married Silvian Geissiman 10/02/1912 in Kaiserslautern, Germany, b: 02/08/1882 in Westhoven, daughter of Issak Gerissman & Babette Picard, found no children or death dates as yet
6. Paulina Jacob b: 10/01/1884
7. Male Jacob b: 09/27/1889 d: 09/27/1889

Foster Talk w/Dr. John

Yesterday, July 14, 2014, I appeared as the guest for the Foster Talk with Dr. John radio show. He has made the link to the show available to me to share with others.

My portion of the hour long program includes my years in care then what has happened since those years.

I appreciated the invite and hope those who listen(ed) found it useful…especially youth in care today or those who have aged out and are struggling to overcome what difficulties they faced during their years in care.

Below is the link, if you feel you wish to contact me after listening please feel free to do so at larry@larrya.us

July 14: Larry Adams, foster care alumni, author, and advocate. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/drjohndegarmo/2014/07/14/foster-talk-with-dr-john

Thank you Dr. John for the invite!

Have a good day!

When Foster Care Goes Right

The entry below was not written by me. The other day I was looking at posts on Facebook. I was so moved by reading the post below that I asked the writer if I could share it on my blog as I felt it needed as wide as audience as possible. I am happy to sat she consented. Serena is a foster care alumni, a licensed social worker, Training Director at Oklahoma CASA Association and Self-employed at Independent Child Welfare Consultant & Training Specialist. Serena has taken all she experienced and learned while in foster care and has put it to use in helping others improve the foster care system…we need more like her! Here is her post:

One of the most memorable moments in my life occurred about 12-14years ago, now. I was telling my story to about 250 child welfare professionals from our state agency, private agencies, and the Courts in the county where I was now working in child welfare, so these people were my colleagues. This was also the exact same county where I’d grown up in foster care, so many of the people in that room had actually been involved with my own case, at one point or another. As I spoke, I had no idea how many people from my case were in that room and I definitely did not know that the Judge who had oversight over my case was in the room! As I told my story, I talked about the decisions that were made that continued to impact me, as an adult, and were also impacting my children. I talked about how the decisions made when I was 12 years old continued to play a huge role in my life. While I’ve never been super, uber angry with the system and, for the most part, recognize the huge opportunities that came my way to change my family tree, I will admit that some of these things continue to bug me.

And, then, the moment happened…

The Judge from my case, who I was now working with regularly, because I was working for our local CASA program, came up to the stage and took the microphone. He looked at me, and in front of all those 250 people, APOLOGIZED to me! He looked me dead in the eye and said “I’m sorry for the decisions we didn’t make for you. I’m sorry we didn’t do better for you. I’m sorry.”

As you can imagine, I was brought to tears and I felt a rush of emotion in that moment. Even though I was never angry at this person, or really angry at the system, I felt so incredibly honored that this man, whom I had admired my whole life because I knew the difficult decisions he was forced to make, would humble himself before me and apologize, in front of all our shared colleagues.

For all those social worker students, foster families, and other professionals who may be in this group: I promised myself, at that moment, that I would never take for granted the incredible responsibility of my position, as a social worker. I would never forget the power that was attached to my position, in terms of how much I could truly impact the life of another human being, in terms of how much I could personally impact entire family trees and future generations. The decisions we make TODAY do not stop impacting the children & families we serve when they leave our systems, when the cases close, or when they grow up. We impact EVERY SINGLE DAY of their lives, which means we MUST approach every single thing we do with care & attention to the responsibility we have. I encourage you to remember the levity of your positions, in every moment of your days, as well.

For those alums who are in this system, if you would allow me the chance to put on my social worker hat for a moment (knowing that I am your sister because I’ve lived this journey with you, in some small ways). I want to apologize to each of you, on behalf of all those people who made decisions over your lives at one point or another. I know not one single worker who will say the system is perfect or who will not admit we’ve made mistakes. We, typically, do the best we can, in the moment, but I know we don’t always get it right. Sometimes, we fail you miserably! For those failings, I am sorry – truly & deeply sorry.

I want you to know that we, as a system, are doing the best we can to improve how we do things. It’s slow coming and the changes are requiring a gigantic shift in the way we think about things, but I really believe we are learning. We are seeing more and more of our clients and former clients speak up to tell us the mistakes we’ve made and it is making a difference!

It will happen slowly, one worker at a time, but change is coming!!! I know because I have 10 students in my class and I’ve seen the change in each of them over the course of this semester. Yes, it’s only 10, but each of those 10 will share what they’ve learned with how many different people? These 10 will be better advocates for the children & families they serve. These 10 will inspire change in their co-workers and agencies!!! These 10 will spread the message!!!

You may read this post on Serena’s blog, as well as another moving entry:

http://whenfostercaregoesright.blogspot.com/2014/04/from-bottom-of-my-heart.html

http://whenfostercaregoesright.blogspot.com/2013/11/everything-i-needed-to-know-i-learned.html

Thank you for sharing yourself and your experiences Serena with others so we may learn and improve the lives of those in care. You are an example to us all!

What Foster Parents Wish Other People Knew

This is not something I have written. I read it on Facebook the the person who complied it sent me the link to it. It so presents many of the issues foster parents deal with and is so well written I thought it needed to be shared by as wide an audience as possible. It is my hope others will get as much out of this as I have. I am a foster care alumni having spent eighteen years in the system. I am sharing it here exactly as it appears:

Posted by Sharon Astyk on March 12, 2013

This essay is a little different than most of my stuff. It is the result of a collaborative discussion on a foster parenting list I’m a part of by a group of foster parents. I’ve paraphrased and borrowed and added some things of my own, but this is truly collaborative piece, and meant to be shared. I do NOT have to get credit for it. So if you’d like to circulate it, use it in a training, distribute it at foster-awareness day, hang it on the wall, run it somewhere else, give it out to prospective foster parents, whatever, go right ahead. This is a freebie to all! I care much more than people know this than that I get credit – and most of the credit goes to a lot of other wonderful people who want to remain anonymous, most of them wiser and more experienced than I.

1. We’re not Freakin’ Saints. We are doing this because it needs doing, we love kids, this is our thing. Some of us hope to expand our families this way, some of us do it for the pleasure of having laughing young voices around, some of us are pushed into it by the children of family or friends needing care, some of us grew up around formal or informal fostering – but all of us are doing it for our own reasons BECAUSE WE LOVE IT and/or LOVE THE KIDS and WE ARE THE LUCKY ONES – we get to have these great kids in our lives.

We hate being told we must be saints or angels, because we’re doing something really ordinary and normal – that is, taking care of kids in need. If some children showed up dirty and hungry and needing a safe place on your doorstep, you’d care for them too – we just signed up to be the doorstep they arrive at. The idea of sainthood makes it impossible for ordinary people to do this – and the truth is the world needs more ordinary, human foster parents. This also stinks because if we’re saints and angels, we can’t ever be jerks or human or need help, and that’s bad, because sometimes this is hard.

2. WATCH WHAT YOU SAY AROUND THE KIDS!!!!!! I can’t emphasize this enough, and everyone is continually stunned by the things people will ask in the hearing of children, from “Oh, is their Mom an addict?” or “Well, they aren’t your REAL kids are they” or “Are you going to adopt them?” or whatever. Not only is that stuff private, but it is HORRIBLE for the kids to hear people speculating about their families whom they love, or their future. Didn’t anyone ever explain to you that you never say anything bad about anyone’s mother (or father) EVER? Don’t assume you know what’s going on, and don’t ask personal questions – we can’t tell you anyway.

3. Don’t act surprised that they are nice, smart, loving, well-behaved kids. One of the corollaries of #1 is that there tends to be an implied assumption that foster kids are flawed – we must be saints because NO ONE ELSE would take these damaged, horrible kids. Well, kids in foster care have endured a lot of trauma, and sometimes that does come with behavioral challenges, but many of the brightest, nicest, best behaved, kindest and most loving children I’ve ever met are foster kids. They aren’t second best kids, they aren’t homicidal maniacs, and because while they are here they are MINE, they are the BEST KIDS IN THE WORLD, and yes, it does tick me off when you act surprised they are smart, sweet and loving.

4. Don’t hate on their parents. Especially don’t do it in front of the kids, but you aren’t on my side when you are talking trash either.

Nobody chooses to be born mentally ill. No one gets addicted to drugs on purpose. Nobody chooses to be born developmentally delayed, to never have lived in a stable family so you don’t know how to replicate it. Abusive and neglectful parents often love their kids and do the best they can, and a lot of them CAN do better if they get help and support, which is what part of this is about. Even if they can’t, it doesn’t make things better for you to rush to judgement.

It is much easier to think of birth parents as monsters, because then YOU could never be like THEM, but truly, birth parents are just people with big problems. Birth and Foster parents often work really hard to have positive relationships with each other, so it doesn’t help me to have you speculating about them.

5. The kids aren’t grateful to us, and it is nuts to expect them to be, or to feel lucky that they are with us. They were taken from everything they knew and had to give up parents, siblings, pets, extended family, neighborhood, toys, everything that was normal to them. No one asked them whether they wanted to come into care.

YOU have complex feelings and ambivalence about a lot of things, even if it seems like those things are good for you or for the best. Don’t assume our kids don’t have those feelings, or that moving into our home is happily-ever-after for them. Don’t tell them how lucky they are or how they should feel.

By the way, there is no point comparing my home to the one they grew up in. Both homes most likely have things the children like and dislike about them. The truth is if every kid only got the best home, Angelina and Brad would have all the children, and the rest of us would have none.

6. No, we’re not making any money on it. We don’t get paid – we get a portion of the child’s expenses reimbursed, and that money is only for the child and does NOT cover everything. I get about 56 cents an hour reimbursed, and I get annoyed when you imply I’m too stupid to realized I’d make tons more money flipping burgers.

Saying this in front of the kids also REALLY hurts them – all of a sudden, kids who are being loved and learning to trust worry that you are only doing this because of their pittance. So just shut up about the money already, and about the friend of a friend you know who kept the kids in cages and did it just for the money and made millions.

7. When you say “I could never do that” as if we’re heartless or insensitive, because we can/have to give the kids back to their parents or to extended family, it stings.
Letting kids go IS really hard, but someone has to do it. Not all kids in care come from irredeemable families. Not everyone in a birth family is bad – in fact, many kin and parents are heroic, making unimaginable sacrifices to get their families back together through impossible odds. Yes, it is hard to let kids we love go, and yes, we love them, and yes, it hurts like hell, but the reality is that because something is hard doesn’t make it bad, and you aren’t heartless if you can endure pain for the greater good of your children. You are just a regular old parent when you put your children’s interests ahead of your own.

8. No, they aren’t ours yet. And they won’t be on Thursday either, or next Friday, or the week after. Foster care adoption TAKES A LONG TIME. For the first year MINIMUM the goal is always for kids to return to their parents. It can take even longer than that. Even if we hope to adopt, things could change, and it is just like any long journey – it isn’t helpful to ask “Are we there yet” every five minutes.

9. Most kids will go home or to family, rather than being adopted. Most foster cases don’t go to adoption. Not every foster parent wants to adopt. And not every foster family that wants to adopt will be adopting/wants to adopt every kid.

It is NOT appropriate for you to raise the possibility of adoption just because you know they are a foster family. It is ESPECIALLY not appropriate for you to raise this issue in front of the kids. The kids may be going to home or to kin. It may not be an adoptive match. The family may not be able to adopt now. They may be foster-only. Not all older children want or choose to be adopted, and after a certain age, they are allowed to decide. Family building is private and none of everyone’s business. They’ll let you know when you need to know something.

10. If we’re struggling – and all of us struggle sometimes – it isn’t helpful to say we should just “give them back” or remind us we brought it on ourselves. ALL parents pretty much brought their situation on themselves whether they give birth or foster, but once you are a parent, you deal with what you’ve got no matter what. “I told you so” is never helpful. This is especially true when the kids have disabilities or when they go home. Yes, we knew that could happen. That doesn’t make it any easier.

11. Foster kids are not “fake kids,” and we’re not babysitters – they are all my “REAL kids.” Some of them may stay forever. Some of them may go and come back. Some of them may leave and we’ll never see them again. But that’s life, isn’t it? Sometimes people in YOUR life go away, too, and they don’t stop being an important part of your life or being loved and missed. How they come into my family or for how long is not the point. While they are here they are my children’s REAL brothers and sisters, my REAL sons and daughters. We love them entirely, treat them the way we do all our kids, and never, ever forget them when they leave. Don’t pretend the kids were never here. Let foster parents talk about the kids they miss. Don’t assume that kids are interchangeable – one baby is not the same as the next, and just because there will be more kids later doesn’t make it any easier now.

2. Fostering is HARD. Take how hard you think it will be and multiply it by 10, and you are beginning to get the idea. Exhausting, gutwrenching and stressful as heck. That said, it is also GREAT, and mostly utterly worth it. It is like Tom Hanks’ character in _League of Their Own_ says about baseball: “It is supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

13. You don’t have to be a foster parent to HELP support kids and families in crisis. If you want to foster, GREAT – the world needs more foster families. But we also need OTHER kinds of help.

You can:

– . Treat foster parents with a new placement the way you would a family that had a baby – it is JUST as exhausting and stressful. If you can offer to cook dinner, help out with the other kids, or lend a hand in some way, it would be most welcome.

– . Offer up your children’s outgrown stuff to pass on – foster parents who do short-term fostering send a lot of stuff home with the kids, and often could use more. Alternatively, many communities have a foster care closet or donation center that would be grateful for your pass-downs in good condition.

– . Be an honorary grandparent, aunt or uncle. Kids need as many people in their lives as possible, and relationships that say “you are special.”

– . Become a respite provider, taking foster children for a week or a weekend so their parents can go away or take a break.

– . Offer to babysit. Foster parents have lives, plus they have to go to meetings and trainings, and could definitely use the help.

– . Be a big brother, sister or mentor to older foster kids. Preteens and Teens need help imagining a future for themselves – be that help.

– . Be an extra pair of hands when foster families go somewhere challenging – offer to come along to the amusement park, to church, to the playground. A big family or one with special needs may really appreciate just an extra adult or a mother’s helper along.

– . Support local anti-poverty programs with your time and money. These are the resources that will hopefully keep my kids fed and safe in their communities when they go home.

– . If you’ve got extra, someone else can probably use it. Lots of foster families don’t have a lot of spare money for activities – offering your old hockey equipment or the use of your swim membership is a wonderful gift.

– . Make programs for kids friendly to kids with disabilities and challenges. You may not have thought about how hard it is to bring a disabled or behaviorally challenged kid to Sunday school, the pool, the local kids movie night – but think about it now, and encourage inclusion.

– . Teach your children from the beginning to be welcoming, inclusive, kind and non-judgemental, Teach them the value of having friends from different neighborhoods, communities, cultures, races and levels of ability. Make it clear that bullying, unkindness and exclusion are NEVER EVER ok.

– . Welcome foster parents and their family into your community warmly, and ASK them what they need, and what you can do.

13. Reach out to families in your community that are struggling – maybe you can help so that the children don’t ever have to come into foster care, or to make it easier if they do. Some families really need a ride, a sitter, some emotional support, some connection to local resources. Lack of community ties is a HUGE risk factor for children coming into care, so make the attempt.

Blood Relative Finds Me After 51 Years Separation

Before I begin this story I should note I am 63 years old. The blood relative I am speaking of was born in 1962; making him only 51 years old and that’s the reason for the title being what it is.

I should also note that to protect his interest and others involved in this story I will not be sharing many last names or location information.

Here goes:

On the evening of June 5, 2013 I received the following E mail:

Hello, you don’t know me however we are related by blood. I am Michael , the biological son of Cora Frances Lee (passed away 16 April 2001 in Detroit Michigan), who was given up for adoption back in late 60’s. My brother was Gregory( passed away 29 August 2006 in Longwood, FL). I was given this information by a court appointed investigator from the Wayne County Family courts in Michigan. I have been looking at your website

I was wondering if you would have any other information on my birth mother and my brother? I currently live in Ohio. I know the investigator has been trying to reach you, however I have no ideal if he has had any luck. Well hope to hear from you. He had not reached me but did so a day after Michael’s first E mail.

My initial reaction was this is a scam and someone is trying to get personal information from me. My response I have to admit was extremely rude and blunt.

However, as the evening went on and thinking of the search for my birth family and how difficult it was I began having second thoughts on the response I had written earlier. I decided to write this person a second time:

Probaby came across as rude in my 1st reply as I was/am leary of these types of E mails considering all the crap on the internet. Considering I had to search for my birth family and spent years in foster care in various homes….I can relate to one’s searching. I don’t know why one would say we are blood related. If you are not pulling my leg you will have to tell me why as I don’t know the people you speak of unless they crossed my path in one of the foster homes I was in.

Will see if you write or if not then I know this note was not true.

Michael’s reply came within minutes:

Understand your response. I am doing this stuff a lot later in life, as I am now 51. I will forward the e-mail with information provided to me by the investigator from the court in Michigan. If I have sent this e-mail to the wrong person I am sorry. I am attempting to get as much information on my birth mother and brother a possible. Forwarded e-mail on it’s way.

No further E mails came that evening and I retired for the night not sure if in fact I would ever hear from this person again.

One of my early morning rituals is to check for E mails that may have come in overnight. There was one from Michael! I sat there is astinishment and repeating the words “Holy Crap” as I read it. The E mail contained all the information found by the court investigator in Michigan had found.

Due to the length I cannot put it in this blog. However, it contained his birthmother’s maiden name * death information, his brother’s birth/adopted name & death information. The most amazing information was including my birthmother,s name as well as her sisters and extensive information on my grand parents and great grand parents. There was other information but I won’t bore you with it.

Yes, “Holy Crap” Michael is a blood relative…he is a first cousin. I for quite awhile just sat there stunned and read the E mail a number of times.

I sent a quick E mail to Michael confirming all the information he had sent, welcomed him into my family and arranged for us to speak on the phone that evening after I returned from work out of town.

We spoke only for a short time later that evening…it was very personal and private and I will keep it that way. Needless to say I was thrilled to have been found by a first cousin as I had had no contact with blood relatives since the passing of my birth mother, birth father as well as my first cousin Dorothy in 2005. We agreed we would have a much longer phone conversation on Saturday.

Though I felt comfortable with all the information Michael shared I wanted just a bit of further information and called the nmuber of the court investigator the next morning. He just verified all the information and also told how he had found the information needed to confirm Michael and I were indeed blood related. He was also very happy Michael and I had made direct contact.

Now I am sure you are wondering how in fact is he a blood relative and first cousin….I won’t keep you wondering any longer…LOL!

My birth mother had two sisters; Doris and Frances. During the search for my birth mother I was very aware of them. It was through Doris that I actually made contact for the first time with my birth mother. I had also searched for Frances but was unbale to find any information past 1952. At the time she was in the state hospital due to adolecent behavior not suitable to my grand parents. No one had heard from her of her since she was released from the hospital in 1952.

It was through Michael I found out why I had not been able to find Frances nor could any other family member over the years. Frances, had purposely I believe, changed how she listed her name after the hospital release. I believe she did it to make sure no one from the family would ever be able to find her as she no longer wanted contact with her parents who had put her in the state hospital in the first place. Frances’s maiden name was Frances C. Adams and she changed it to Cora (found out the C was for Cora) F. Adams. At the time of her death it was Cora F. Lee.

Michael and his late brother Gregory were Cora’s (Frances)two sons…they both are first cousins! Because of the life she chose to live at some point both Michael and Gregory were taken from her and placed for adoption. Both were lucky to be adopted by very loving families and their first names were never changed. From the information on Cora’s probate records after her death it appears Gregory remained in contact with his birth mother and also left a clue for Michael if he ever attempted to search he or Cora. Since Cora has passed I won’t detail her lifestyle but to say it was not condusive for raising children.

I should note that now all three sisters; my birth mother Roberta and Aunts Doris, Frances (Cora) are now deceased. They all passed within a year time frame.

On Saturday Michael and I spent over an hour on the phone speaking as though 51 years had never separated us. He talked of his birth mother, his adopted family as well as hs family. He lives in Ohio, spent 20 years in the army & now works for the government. He is married & has 2 adult daughters. We shared what info we could on family though we both have unanswered questions. It was great talking with him. We will be staying in touch now through E mails; phone calls but hope in time for a get together probably here in Arizona. Though emotional at times it was a very good phone call!

Unfortunately there is also a sad part to this story. He had a brother ( by the same mother but different father) who she placed for adoption as well. He was 7 yrs olderthan Michael. He passed away in 2006 at age 50. Michael had hoped to find him but of course Gregory passed before he was able to do so. I feel the past several days has been episodes of “As the World Turns” in regards to Michael finding and reaching out to me. A promise I made to Michael when we spoke on the phone Saturday was that I would help him find the adoptive family of his birth brother if possible who had been adopted even though Gregory is deceased….he wanted to find out as much as he could about him. He had his adopted last name and where he had passed which was far more information than I had when I began my birth family search back in 1982.

After he & I talked yesterday I have done some research and hope we at least may have found some of his brother’s adoptive family members…..waiting for a phone call; also have some potential calls to make if that one falls through. Michael is blood; Gregory would have been blood as well….the least I can for Michael now is what I am doing & hope we are able to find the info he is hoping for.

By 7PM Sunday night, my time, I was speaking to Gregory’s older adopted brother Charles! We spent over an hour on the phone. His family is welcoming contact from Michael. They have memories of him and have always hoped he would reachout to them. Long but short story is that Michael & Cora use to visit Gregory’s adopted family in St. Louis, MO before the adoption was finalized so they knew him. Why they also did not adopt Michael is a very heart breaking story and one that totaly disgusts me!

Gregory was bi racial and the family that adopted him was African American. They had a very close relationship with Cora and knowing she could not truly care for Michael were very willing to adopt Michael. The state of Michigan would not allow it…a black family will not be allowed to raise a white child according to the state and ordered ( via a St. Louis, MO court) Cora to return to Michigan with Michael and had him placed in foster care until he was adopted in 1967. He was never to see Cora or his brother Gregory again! Michael spent roughly three years in foster care before his second teacher took an interest him and she and her husband began the process to adopt him. The family later moved to Oklahoma.

I was able to send Michael this E mail late Sunday evening:

Hello Mike~

Well today’s research has paid off! Yes, I called the person’s number I had a 2nd time this evening and YES it is a connection.

I will let them tell you much of what was told to me as I feel it should come from them. Except to tell you that Gregory never fogot about you and it is felt if he had lived he would have searched you out. It is also felt that on Coro’a probate record Michael Adams is in fact you to give you a clue if you searched.

Gregory’s adopted father (Johnnie) has passed away at 88 in 2008. Gregory’s adopted mother (Elizabeth) is 88 and still living. It is felt she would be thrilled to hear from you.

Gregory’s adopted brother (Charles) is the one I spoke to this evening. He very much remembered you and said you were such a beautiful baby ( it was in St. Louis that you & Gregory were together with rest of the family) and very much wants to reconnect with you. Either he or Elizabeth have photos of you as a baby, your birth mother (my Aunt) and of course have photos of Gregory.

Gregory was married and his wife brought a couple of children from a previous marriage into their marriage. I did not ask many questions on this as I figured I would leave that to you.

The person I spoke with….and he will look forwad to your phone call and gave me permission to give you the information you need to do so. I of course won’t share that information here.

There are still some family in Michigan, one in Decatur IL and also Elizabeth is in Fitzgerald, GA (could not find a phone# for her) where the family is originally from before going to Michigan.

I am very elated I have been able to do this for you and have come out with positive results. I wish Gregory were alive to see this day of you reconnecting with the family and so you could have time to share and make up for the time lost. At least though you will be able to reconnect with the family that would have also adopted you if allowed to do so and still wish to be a part of your life.

Let me know how things go!
Cousin Larry~

The next day I received an E mail from Gregory’s older adoptive brother Charles:

Larry,

I am thankful you called me last night. Needless to say, I was totally surprised to hear the subject, Michael’s search for Gregory.

I will be please to speak with Michael about our experiences with Gregory him. Greg is my very special and much loved and missed brother. My family to this day continually prayed for Michael’s well being and hoped to connect with him someday.

Although, Michael does not know us much after all these years, we are excited to hear of his well being and look forward to speaking with him and sharing photos and conversation. He should prepare to have at least two conversations. Initially he and I should speak and if it is acceptable to all my mother would like to talk with him. She is likely to be able to tell him more about Francis Cora (Kitty) Adams.

We always considered him as a member of our family whom we regrettably lost touch. He is a special man having multiple families and three mothers; birth mother (Cora), an early loving mother (Elizabeth) and the dear mother loved that raised him.

We have a few photo that we will gather, scan and send. However, this may take a few days as my mother is in GA and I am in FL. You can be certain we will honor the request ASAP. In the mean time I will see if I can send one or two sooner.

God bless,
Charles

Michael and I have shared a number of phone calls and E mails in the past two months. He has sent phots of himself, family, my Aunt Frances (Cora) with Gregory’s adopted mother Elizabeth and others….since full names are on each I cannot share them here at this time.

Michael and his wife and celebrating their wedding anniversary in September and are talking of flying to Las Vegas for five days. If this plan pans out I will also arrange to go to Las Vegas for at least a day or two so we will finaly be able to meet face to face…I truly hope it will work out! Then I will be able to share photos of us together.

Fifty-one years of separation but am thrilled that separation is now over. He may not be a brother but he is the closest I have to one!

What Foster Care Feels Like

Back in April a number of foster care alumni, at the request of the editor of Foster Focus Magazine, submitted our photos and a short statement about What Foster Care is Like and those were posted during National Foster Care Month in May. This month the magazine, due to the overwhelming positive respnse to the Facebook postings, has decided to print a gallery of those photos in their magazine as well as the article I wrote entitled “What Foster Care Feels Like.”

It is hoped that whether you are a foster care alumni yourself, a current foster care youth, a foster parent, social worker an advocate for reform or a foster care friendly person that the sharing of this article & gallery of photos will let you feel the true feelings of those who experienced foster care and impact you in a way that you will ask the question of “Why does it have to be this way?”

Here is the link to the magazine article and the photo gallery:

http://www.fosterfocusmag.com/whatcarefeelslike

Number of Youth in Foster Care by State

Below is a link to a map provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation of youth in foster care by state. Fiscal Year 2011 is the last fiscal year data provided, data for 2012 wil be provided later this year.

Click on the HTTP code and the image will take a take a minute to load, then you will be able to go from state to state to see specific data. You may also want to compare this to the map provided yesterday to see what percentage of youth in care are eligable for adoption ( you will need to be able to do the necessary math to get percentage.

 

 <iframe width=”725″ height=”820″ src=”http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/Map/6243-children-in-foster-care?loc=4&loct=2&clean=true#2/any/true/867/any/12987” />

Foster Youth Awaiting Adoption per State

Below is the most recent available data by state as to the number of foster youth who have been declared “legal orphans” by their state and awaiting adoption. Also over 26,000 youth will age out of care many of them without any family support or other support network.

adoption

Growing Up In the Village of Little Men, A life spent on the legendary campus written by a Boys Town Alum

I have been posting on Facebook for the past month that an article I wrote of my years at Boys Town would be appearing in the June 2013 edition of Foster Focus Magazine and promised to share it on Facebook.

Unfortunately for some reason I am unable to post the actual article from the Foster Focus June 2013 edition on Facebook. It appears to be too large due to the photographs chosen to be used in the article. I am including the text of the article in this WordPress blog as many on Facebook have requested being able to read the article.

It is my hope that the “older generation” of Boys Town will relive a bit of our past when reading the article’ the newer generation will learn how things were in the past and others will learn a bit about Boys Town and the impact it had not only on my life but to the thousands who have walked this campus.

Here is the article in its’ entirety but unfortunately without the photos used in the magazine:

By Larry Adams
Foster Focus Contributor

I have been asked if I could write an article describing daily life at Father Flanagan’s Boys Home; famously known simply as “Boys Town” located in Omaha, Nebraska.

It is difficult to fulfill this request as no two days at Boys Town can be described as typical. Yes, there were certain daily functions like meal time and school, much more was offered each day to fill a boy’s time.

Rather than a typical day I would rather write in generalities of my seven plus years at Boys Town as well as what it has meant to me to this very day.

I entered the foster care system in Michigan on the day of my birth. Before Boys Town I had been moved thirteen different times between institutions and foster homes. I arrived at Boys Town, Nebraska in the late morning of April 16, 1961.

I arrived a terrified, anger filled boy of 11. I had “my brown paper bag” of worldly possessions with me. I had no idea what was to become of me. I was in a place I had never heard of before arriving.

After a brief meeting with a caseworker, my social worker departed Boys Town for her return flight to Detroit. I felt I was alone and lost in the world.

I was taken to what they, at that time, called the Orientation Center. There, I was shown a bed and a locker that was to be mine supposedly for the next 2-3 weeks. Then I was tested, interviewed and they determined to what part of Boys Town I would be sent.

I still very clearly remember crying myself to sleep my first night at Boys Town and for nights afterwards.

I still remember after being at Boys Town about a week, a counselor coming to visit with me. While talking with me he decided to checkout my locker. There he found “my bag.” I should say that in the first days there one was taken to the clothing store on campus and given a number of sets of clothes and toiletries. Mine were all packed in “my bag.”

The counselor asked me “Why were all your things in a bag rather than hanging up or on the shelves?”

I told him “I wanted to be ready when they came to get me again to take me elsewhere.”
The counselor called me over to and took me in his arms saying, “No one is going to come and take you away. I know about your life to this point and I want to let you know….you now have a home.”

I don’t think he ever fully figured out the emotions he triggered within me with those words. My eyes began misting up and before long I was crying uncontrollably. “You now have a home” kept going through my mind. “No one is going to come and take you away.” For the first time in my life someone had actually said “I was home.” I had waited over 11 years to hear those words. I don’t know how long the counselor held me in his arms, but I know it was long enough for us to miss dinner in the dining hall and he had to make arrangements for food to be brought to me. I know that for the first night since coming to Boys Town I did not need to cry myself to sleep.

Soon after leaving orientation for Gregory Hall, I was caught up in the activities at Boys Town as most boys were. Though the school year would soon be over, I was assigned to the 5th grade. I began daily choir practices along with the other choir members. Now that I had a home, my life looked different. I even unpacked “my bag” for the first time in almost 11 years…it was never packed again.

The remainders of my middle school years were rather uneventful. I continued to pass to my next grade. I was singing in the Chancel Choir and later the Repertoire Choir. During those years, I did not consider myself very athletic, so I left sports alone. I was awaiting graduation from eighth grade when I would be able to transfer to the high school section and a new world of privileges would await me.

Though Boys Town was considered a village unto itself, it was very much a part of the Omaha community. Because I was active in choir and other music programs, I had many opportunities to travel into Omaha with escort, to attend a wide variety of functions. These events could include chamber music concerts, chorale concerts or even us boys giving concerts.

Boys Town also had a wide-ranging athletic program and back in the 1960s we were amongst the top teams in the state. Boys Town won several state titles in basketball and football. When the teams were not playing at home, we boys went to town with them to cheer them on. Thus, many opportunities presented themselves for us to meet people of the community and even develop friendships. Most of my friendships came while I was in high school, but I loved the chance to go to Omaha for events while still in grade school.

June 1964…Graduation Day…I am now a high schooler. Graduation Day is the day any boy who had spent some years at Boys Town awaited. I had already been here over three years. I would move from a dorm of 25 boys to a cottage which had 5 bedrooms with only 4 boys per bedroom. Privileges not allowed grade schoolers were now mine; I could obtain passes to downtown Omaha; I could get a one week vacation away from the home if I had somewhere to go and it was approved; I could start to smoke. Yes, Boys Town allowed high schoolers to smoke back then. Now smoking is not permitted by anyone on campus.

Graduation was another one of those sad days for me. Many of the boys in my class of 1964 had family come to cheer their graduation. I had no one present.

Each high school boy was to have a job on campus. This is how we were to earn our thirty dollars a month we were given.

I had a great job my freshman and sophomore year. Msgr. Wegner, late former Executive Director of Boys Town, had his home connected to the chapel. My job was to be up at 5:30 and to be at his home by 6:15. I was met by Mrs. Ann Fischer, his personal cook. Mrs. Fischer was the mother of the famous Fischer boys of the National Football League. It was my job to help prepare breakfast and serve for him. It was great working with Mrs. Fischer. She always saw that I had a snack to take to school when I left for class. She said a growing boy needed more than three meals a day.

It was during those two years that Msgr. Wegner took me under his wing and we got to be fairly close. Though the adults were not suppose to give us money Msgr. always saw that I had a few dollars in my pocket. Once breakfast was served he usually invited me to join him at the table. We always had interesting conversations.

Msgr. Wegner’s and my relationship continued throughout my remaining years at Boys Town. His door was open to me whenever I wanted to visit with him if he was in town.
During my senior year while I was still entertaining the thought of becoming a priest he arranged for me to spend a week at Mount Michael Abbey in Elkorn, Nebraska. It was shortly after that week I decided it was more my desire to be like Msgr. Wegner than a real vocation making me think of becoming a priest. I decided not to enter the seminary. I believe Msgr. Wegner knew this would be my decision but he allowed me to make it on my own rather than directing me in any one direction.

He provided me with a “father” figure, missing from the early days of my childhood. He went further out of his way to support me than his position required.

I felt a little athletic my freshman year and went out for wrestling and track. My wrestling career didn’t last long, as after my first two defeats, the coach decided it was not my sport and suggested I concentrate on track. I ran hurdles and one mile. I was not spectacular at either, but survived the season.

I have to be honest and say I did not set the world of schooling on fire during my freshman and sophomore years of high school. In matter of fact,, I had no real interest in school and did only what was required to skate through. By the end of my sophomore year I ranked near the bottom of my class. It was not due to lack of intelligence rather; “I just didn’t care” as I was still mad at the world.

My junior year brought a sudden transformation of my life that I am grateful for to this very day. I, even as a small child, loved to argue. If it were night I would argue it was day, anything for an argument. My English teacher that year was a Ms. Genevieve Condon.

Yes, I even argued in her class! She saw something positive in my argumentative nature. Ms. Condon kept me after school one day early in the school year. She talked to me about my arguing and how she saw it as an ability, if it were directed in the proper way. I had no idea what she was talking about.

Ms. Condon took me to meet Mr. Clarence Weinerth; another English teacher but also the coach for the newly begun Speech & Debate Team. Ms. Condon simply told him, “I think we have a debater for you.” Yeah, I could now argue, and get away with it! Mr. Weinerth of course let me know that with the ability to argue I also now had to prove my case. This meant lots of hard work researching the question being debated. It also meant that to be part of the debate team and go to tournaments, my grades had to improve. I was determined to do whatever it took.

I made the novice debate team that year. I was a good debater, even though rough around the edges. My senior year, I made the varsity debate team. My partner (Jim Acklin) and I were, if I say so myself, great. Jim and I were rarely defeated. We traveled throughout the Midwest on weekends during the season, accumulating numerous trophies as winners of the tournaments. Our record at the end of the season was 289 wins as opposed to only 29 defeats. I still wonder how we lost the 29!

In January of 1968, I decided to enter the political arena and run for Mayor of Boys Town. Boys Town is a separate village. When Fr. Flanagan began the home, he determined it should be self-governed by the boys themselves, of course with his guidance. A new mayor and city council would be elected every six months. I felt I had something to offer Boys Town and tossed my hat in the ring.

My first venture into politics turned into a solid defeat, coming in next to last. It was not to be my last political venture.

In February of 1968, I turned eighteen and technically “aged out of the system.” It was also my senior year in high school. Though I could have walked out of Boys Town; I didn’t! I wanted to earn my diploma! It was also proving to be the first time in my life that I was accomplishing something and I wanted to see it to the end. I think in many ways it was the year I grew up!

A lot of things are packed into the last few months of one’s senior year of high school. Boys Town was no different. In February I was shocked to learn that my girlfriend (Marilyn) and I were chosen as King and Queen of the Sweetheart Ball for Valentine’s Day. Marilyn was a debater at another local high school. We had met at a tournament and started dating late in my junior year. I spent most of my passes into town my senior year, when I wasn’t away at a debate tournament with Marilyn.

In April was an Awards Banquet for varsity athletes to receive their BT letters and jackets; debate was considered a sport at Boys Town and I wore my jacket proudly. In May it was the Junior/Senior Prom at Peony Park Pavilion in Omaha. I wore a tuxedo for the very first time and of course took Marilyn as my date. Graduation being but a few weeks away, we were allowed to stay off campus well into the night. Preparations also had to be made as to what I would do after graduation.

Two years before I was near the bottom of my class of one hundred-thirty eight. Now I was in the top 5%. Ms Condon and Mr. Weinerth had accomplished their mission. They took a poor student who loved to argue and made a winning debater/orator out of him while also for the first time giving him a genuine interest in school. I will forever be grateful to them both. Ms. Condon is long deceased. I had visited Mr. Weinerth in my few return visits to Boys Town. He passed away at 95 in June 1999. Though in his later years he was physically incapacitated, his mind remained as sharp as a knife. On my last visit he had me take a scrapbook from his night stand to look at; one of the few mementos he took to the home with him. Inside were all the pictures taken and articles written of Jim and I. His words; “I have always been proud of my boys.” My debate partner Jim and me remained close friends after leaving Boys Town until his death in a plane crash, he was testing a new fighter plane in the US Air Force, in 1987.

June 2, 1968, Graduation Day arrives. The day I had been awaiting for seven years, one month and seventeen days.

Graduation at Boys Town is different from any other high school graduation in the country. You are not only graduating high school; you are also loosing “your home.” Boys Town had for over seven years provided me “a home.” It had provided me nurturing, a spiritual compass, an education. Graduation meant you are now an adult and it is time for you to go out in the world and make whatever mark on it you are capable of. It meant that for the first time in over seven years I would once again be “homeless.” The graduation ceremony begins mid afternoon on a Sunday and the rule is that ALL graduates must be off campus by 5 p.m. It was time to make room for new boys.

A day like graduation should be a joyous occasion as you have accomplished the first major step in your life. However, it was not such for me. I had made many friends in the Omaha and surrounding communities over the years due to debate, and many of them accepted my invitation to graduation. They cheered and stomped when my name was called. I still felt emptiness. Yes, I had friends present, but no family who would hug, congratulate and say how proud of me they were.

The fullness of graduation hit me after the ceremony when I walked to the high school building for the final time as a boy of Boys Town. After turning in my cap and gown I went to the table where I would collect a one way bus ticket to wherever I wanted to go, $50.00 from Boys Town and whatever money I had saved during my years there….which came to about $700. Fortunately I had been a saver at Boys Town; a trait I still possess today. With a final good-bye and a wish of good luck it was time to go; time to “leave home.” The only good thing was that this time I was not leaving home with only “a brown paper bag.” I was leaving with suitcases of clothes, boxes of books and mementos collected over seven years.

I remember standing outside the high school building and wondering “Am I ready?” “What am I going to do?” “Where is home?” and I made sure no one could see..a mist blurring my vision.

I should note that on the Friday before graduation I learned I had two full scholarship offers to continue my education. I accepted the offer from Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, NE.

Ready or not it was time to leave from the safe, stable confines of Boys Town which I had known as “home” into the world of the unknown.

I arrived at Boys Town with a half filled brown paper bag and left with suitcases of clothes, boxes of books and mementos. I arrived at Boys Town hating school and left graduating in the top 5% of my class and a full scholarship to college. I arrived with many bad memories of years in foster care and left with memories of “short sheeting” the tough guys, fishing at the BT lake and eating freshly fried fish behind the dining hall, having freshly baked Danish with melted butter from the bakery, running across to the 10 Mile Inn to see if they would serve us, the 1st cigarette or choir section adventures. The “Twelve Night” celebrations, “intramural sports”, The “Boys Town Choir,” once nationally known from its’ tours and records, “Christmas Eve Midnight Mass”, even the two week Liturgical Music Workshop at Boys Town attracting, renowned musicians and scholars from across the globe, the “Trade School” in which many boys learned a skill that would provide a lifetime career.

Discipline was being part of the “floor shining gang.” Now, bear in mind this was not done with a power shiner. Let me describe this floor buffer for you. It had a metal pole about four feet in length. Attached at the bottom was a 15-20 pound piece of square iron with bristles on the bottom of it. This is what was used to shine the floors. One first went over the floor several times with just the brush touching the floor. Then you repeated the process with a cloth beneath the bristles.

Let me tell you, when one finished you could see your face in the floor. Your arms were also tired as heck. I made this floor shining gang more than one time.

As you can see, we boys of Boys Town were your typical teenage boys. These were some of the things that made all of us at Boys Town part of the community and “our home.”Though I didn’t realize it until years later…these were very good years. Sending me to Boys Town was the best decision made for me during my 18 years of foster care!

Boys Town had been more than just a place that the foster care system had dumped me into. It had raised me, given me an education, nurtured me, given me a spiritual basis for my life and so much more. It had in fact been a “home.”

I have returned to Boys Town for class reunions and will do so again for my 45th is just a few weeks away.. Though the changes have been made and continue, I will make the most of my time there…I will make it “my home” even if it is just for a weekend…it is still the only “home” I have ever known. “Home” was taken from me far too many times in my young life…I won’t allow anyone to take “my home” from me now or ever!

May is National Foster Care Month…How WE Can Help!

Today across the nation there are over 400,000 children in foster care, over 20,00 of these youth are “legal orphans” awaiting adoption and 25,000 of these children will age out this year. During the month of May hundreds of community events are being planned across the country to help retain, recruit and support critically needed foster parents as well as provide support and advocacy for foster youth and assist children aging out of the system.

We can get involved now to Change a Life one child at a time or pay the cost of our failure later. According to the latest statistics for vulnerable children aging out of the system this is the price we are already paying today for our failure:

Only 54% earn a high school diploma
Only 10% of those go on to college
Only 2% of those obtain a Bachelor’s degree or higher
84% become parents prior to a marriage
51% will experience unemployment due to lack of skills
30% have no health insurance
25% will at one time be homeless
30% receive some type of public assistance
37% become incarcerated
Over 40% will become involved with drugs or are alcoholics

May is an opportune time to highlight the hundreds of ways individuals, churches, schools, libraries, scout troops, civic and social organizations, businesses and government can help support these children, youth and families. I hope it will encourage you to Change a Life by:

Sharing your hearts
Opening your homes as foster parents
Offering your help youth in foster care.
Declare May as “Foster Care Month”

How You May Participate in Foster Care Month:

Wear a “Blue Ribbon” during May in support of National Foster Care Month and help organize or attend a ribbon tying ceremony to advocate on behalf of children in foster care in your community or state.

Write your Governor and Mayor requesting they proclaim May as “Foster Care Month” in your state and community.

Organize a Candlelight Vigil in remembrance of those children who have been abused, neglected or died while in out of home care.

Collect “Teddy Bears” to donate to your local police and fire departments as well as social services departments to soothe children in a time a crisis.

Create “Love Packs” for children living in foster care homes, group homes or other institutional care. (IE: hygiene items, and age appropriate toys, school supplies, story books and a teddy bear)

Organize a drive to collect suitcases and duffel bags as many foster children are moved a number of times while in care, usually their possessions in black plastic garbage bags donate suitcases & duffel bags to foster care agencies so children might move with a little bit of dignity.

Conduct a drive for goods that will assist a youth aging out of the system to get started in life on their own. (IE: alarm clocks, bedding, tools, towels and basic house wares)

Have an “Event Day” for children in foster care (IE: Sports, Zoo, Picnic or Museum Day).

Conduct a creative writing/poster campaign for school children on the subject of Children in Foster Care.

Learn more about how policy, legislative and budget priorities affect children and youth in foster care. Learn the facts about foster care and gain a better understanding of the needs of those touched by foster care. Advocate for reform of the child welfare system so “in the best interest of the child” becomes a reality to the children and youth in care.

Have a “Capital Day” in your state to educate legislatures of the need to reform the child welfare system as many children should NOT be in care in the first place.

Conduct a letter writing campaign to the news media, government officials and others of the plight of children living without parents.

Organize a “Step Out for Kids Walkathon” to raise awareness and funds to assist those children and youth in care. Sometimes, tangible items can have tremendous impact on a young life. Foster youth often lack the funds to pay for an after-school computer class, musical instruments, sports participation or art supplies. Items that most of us would consider basics, such as school backpacks or supplies for a science fair entry, also may be out of reach. Cost of donating to nonprofits benefiting foster youth: A tax-deductible contribution to fit your budget.

Become a “Mentor” or “Tutor” to a child or youth in foster care. By becoming a mentor or tutor you will give foster youth reliable support from someone who holds high expectations for them and encourages them to see a better life for themselves. To mentor or tutor a foster youth not only benefits the recipient, but it is also one of the most rewarding endeavors in life, showing a young person that you care and can be relied upon, even through challenging times. Cost of mentoring or tutoring youth: An hour or two of your time each week. Research shows that children and youth with mentors earn higher grades and improve relationships with friends and families. They also have a better opportunity of success when they age out of the system.

Make a financial contribution to programs and agencies attempting to enrich the lives of children and youth in care.

Have a “Speakers Campaign” to make presentations to your faith-based congregation, civic group, school, PTA and other associations to educate and encourage your community to come together to find families and resources that help young people in foster care thrive.

Businesses have the ability to offer foster youth a life-changing opportunity as well. By hiring young people living in foster care and training them for successful careers, employers provide foster youth with a critical start toward a lifetime of self-sufficiency. Cost of offering and promoting jobs or internships for youth in foster care: Insignificant!

Most important of all, for those children who may not be able to remain with or return safely to their birth families, thousands are needed to open their homes and their hearts and become full-time foster or adoptive parents. The lasting commitment that results from creating a new home is one that can be pursued by couples, married or unmarried, single people and partners. Cost of creating a new, loving family by parenting abused, abandoned and neglected children: Priceless! Contact your local private or state child care agency to see how you may become a foster or adoptive parent.

Many people have asked me how they can become involved in making the foster care system a better one for the children and youth as well as for the foster parents since I was once a foster child. The snapshot of ideas above gives everyone an opportunity to do exactly that.

Yes, the ideas may take time, effort and funds, however, remember these children and youth are our future. As said early in this article; “We can Change a Life NOW one at a time or we will pay the price of their and our failure later.

It is up to US!

Give foster youth full access to Affordable Care Act

Anyone working with youth who may be aging out of care should be supportive on this issue as it greatly concerns health care being available to youth aging out of the system:
 
By REP. KAREN BASS and REP. JIM MCDERMOTT | 3/19/13 9:51 PM  EDT
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) serve as  co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth.

This month marks the third anniversary since the Affordable Care Act was  signed into law by President Barack Obama. Despite the ongoing partisan rancor  surrounding the bill’s implementation, there is at least one provision Congress  should be able to find common ground around: making sure we protect the ability  of young adults to remain on their parents’ health care plans until they reach  age 26. Millions of young adults already are benefiting from this provision as  they work to get themselves established either through continuing their  educations or landing a job.

But when it comes to the thousands of foster youth who age out of the  foster-care system each year, the guarantee of affordable health insurance until  they are able to get on their feet with gainful employment could be in jeopardy  if the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid doesn’t take the broadest  interpretation of the law and ensure all states cover former foster youth until  age 26.

Almost 30,000 young people age out of foster care every year,  having never been adopted or reunified with their birth parents. The fact that  they age out is our failure as a government, and we should not compound that  problem by inadvertently denying them access to the same health care  opportunities as any other young adult would receive under the Affordable Care  Act.

Foster youth who age out are statistically more likely to experience  homelessness and incarceration and to lack health care. They face higher rates  of physical and mental health challenges, sometimes due in part to trauma early  in life. These facts make it all the more important that we guarantee all  eligible foster-care alumni access to quality health coverage.

Foster youth shouldn’t be treated any differently as they transition from the  foster-care system into adulthood — but if we aren’t careful, that’s exactly  what could happen.

The CMS proposed regulation requires states to enroll eligible foster youth  in Medicaid to age 26 only if they remain living in the state where they were in  foster care and enrolled in Medicaid. Although the draft regulation provides  states with the option of extending Medicaid to youth who move to their state,  it does not require it. That may leave foster youth in limbo when it comes to  their ability to access these benefits under the Affordable Care Act.

While CMS should be applauded for striving to achieve health parity for  foster youth, requiring those youth to remain living in the state where they  were in foster care presents an unnecessary burden on the backs of those already  carrying the heaviest load.

No residency requirement exists for the young people who receive health  coverage through their parents’ plans and no such requirement should exist for  foster youth. That was Congress’s intent, and we must do everything to ensure  this mission is carried out.

As written, this regulation could limit youth from seeking a variety of  opportunities, including a college education, a new job and living closer to  family members.

Especially in states within close proximity, such as the  Washington-Maryland-Virginia area, it is very likely that young foster care  alumni could move to nearby states. Former foster youth, many who have unique  physical and mental health needs, should not be forced to choose between health  care and moving to a new state with promising educational, economic or social  opportunity.

Already, allowing young adults to receive coverage through their parents’ plans to age 26 has allowed for more than 3 million young people to have health  care coverage while they pursue their dreams and get on their feet. Foster youth  deserve the same opportunities, particularly given all that they must overcome  in reaching their full potential.

To achieve true parity for foster youth, CMS will need to clarify the  congressional intent of this specific provision by issuing a final rule that  ensures states provide Medicaid benefits to age 26 for all eligible foster youth  residing within a state at any time, regardless of whether they grew up in that  state’s foster-care system or recently moved to the state.

Doing so gives foster youth the same flexibility with their health care  choices as any other young adult.

Congress and foster youth advocates should strongly urge the Department of  Health and Human Services to issue a final rule that protects foster youth and  provides them with the very same opportunities Congress intended to give all  young adults when it passed the Affordable Care Act.

 

 

After years of separation, 32-year-old man to be adopted

This story on CNN.COM impacted me quite a bit as I read it. I know how he felt over those years of separation from the family he wanted so much.

Unless you have experienced you do not know the impact such as his experience can impact you.

I was in care from the day of my birth until I aged out at 18. During those years I was moved 15 times. Three of those times was being returned to one particular family for periods of 6 months, 2 years & 4 1/2 years. This family attempted to adopt me each time I was placed with them. First they were denied because it felt their being in their 40s was too old. Second, their bio son & his wife attemoted to adopt but were denied because he was Catholic & she Lutheran ( was was with Cathoilic Chairities). The parents attemoted to then adopted me when placed with them for 4 plus years but were denied with no reason ever given. A few weeks later I was removed from them for the final time.

Despite being moved the final time I continued to stay in contact with them and always considered them Mom & Dad no matter what the system said. Dad died in 1975 and Mom in 1983.

I always yearned for a family I could call my own but it was never to be, however all these years later I still call them my Mom & Dad.

 

Here is the story from CNN.COM:

 

(CNN) — A boyhood wish is finally about to come true. But Maurice Griffin had to wait until he was a man for it to happen.

At age 32, the California man is about to be adopted.

“It has to happen,” Griffin said. “I didn’t fight for all those years for no reason.”

Adopting the burly, muscular, mohawk-sporting man is Lisa Godbold, his one-time foster mother.

“I just feel like this makes it official,” Godbold said. “And we don’t have to keep explaining it now.”

Good time

The story dates to the early 1980s, when Godbold and her husband saw Griffin at an orphanage near their Sacramento home. The smiling child seemed to fit perfectly with their family.

“Interracial relationships weren’t as common or accepted as they are today and the fact that Maurice was biracial. And we were a biracial family made us a great profile. So to speak,” Godbold said.

In addition, Griffin got along well with the couple’s other children, two boys younger than him.

“We were best friends,” Griffin said. “We’d run around, we did mischievous things and fun things. It was a good time.”

The good time lasted for years — until Griffin was 13 — and was two months away from being officially adopted by the family.

Family ripped apart

One day, foster care officials took Griffin away, saying he could not live with Godbold’s family anymore.

The whole issue came from a dispute over whether they could spank him, according to Godbold.

“You can’t spank foster children. Maurice very much wanted that,” Godbold said. “We wanted him to feel like the rest of our kids. And there was a difference of opinion with some of the (child welfare) supervisors.”

Godbold said she fought to keep Griffin and was told she could lose her biological children.

CNN contacted the state agency responsible for the case, but its officials would not comment because it’s still considered a juvenile case.

So she had to let go. And as time moved on Griffin, says he lost touch with what he felt was his only family.

“It was just an emptiness,” he said. “I couldn’t talk to anybody about it because nobody was there. I couldn’t call somebody; there was just a void in me.”

Searching for each other

Despite several obstacles, they never stopped searching for one another.

Godbold’s husband died in 1998. She remarried and changed her last name, and moved. Griffin bounced from one foster home to another, never finding what he lost.

“I didn’t let anybody get close to me again,” Griffin said, holding back tears. “I hurt a lot of people. It was a rough road.”

But six years ago, Godbold found Griffin on social media. They communicated online and then one day she called him.

“She said, ‘hey baby,’ and I said I got to call you back,” Griffin said, trying to explain how overwhelmed he was by the reunion.

And now the two are heading to a San Diego courtroom Friday, to put their family back together.

A juvenile court.

What is Foster Care Like?

Image

I don’t think I need say anymore!Click on photo to get the full picture and words.

 

Daughter finds biological mother a few days before Christmas

A heartwarming Christmas story for those who have searched for their birth family:

By: Tracy Frank, Fargo Forum December 25, 2012

Pam Miller, of Fargo, spent more than 30 years looking for her biological mother before she finally found her, three days before Christmas in 2010.

“It was truly a Christmas miracle,” said Laura Faye Bobo, Miller’s mother, who lives in Ohio.

Miller, now 52, endured a difficult childhood, even after her adoption at birth.

Her adoptive mother died when Miller was 5 years old.

When her adoptive father couldn’t take care of her, her adoptive mother’s sister took over custody until she was 15 years old, when Miller went into foster care until age 18.

As an adult, Miller spent countless hours in libraries looking at newspapers and phone books for any clues that might lead to her biological family.

All Miller knew was that her mother’s first name was Faye, her last name might have been something like Clemens, and she lived somewhere in Ohio.

She spent a lot of time calling people who would just hang up.

Eventually she stopped.

“I came to peace with myself that it probably would never happen,” Miller said. “I had spent years looking, and I just figured it would never happen, so I just moved on.”

But after she had a family of her own and her daughter, Presley, who is now 20, developed medical problems, Miller started looking again, this time needing information on her medical background in addition to wanting to find her parents.

She contacted the hospital in St. Louis where she’d been born and the courthouse to try to get the adoption records opened.

Both resulted in dead ends.

She started and stopped her search a few times over the years.

Then a couple of years ago when Miller was looking for Presley’s birth certificate, she came across a box of get well cards addressed to her first adoptive mother.

She started searching the cards, looking for clues and decided on a whim to type her first adoptive mother’s name into Google to see what popped up.

It was late on Dec. 21, 2010, when Miller came across a notice on adopteeconnect.com that said: “I am searching for my birth daughter, her name was Pamela Jean Hubbs, adoptive parents were John and Viola Hubbs of St. Louis, Missouri.”

It had been posted Oct. 20 of that year, the day after Miller’s 50th birthday.

“I was crying,” Miller said. “I was a wreck and didn’t know what to do.”

She immediately called her oldest daughter, who was at a friend’s house.

“I got a phone call from my mom and she was bawling,” Presley Wanner said. “My stomach just dropped.”

When Miller told her daughter that she had found her mother, Wanner started crying, too.

“I was just blown away,” Wanner said.

Miller clicked on the reply button on the notice and wrote: “My name is Pamela Jean Miller Hubbs. I know that I’m your daughter,” she said.

She added where she was born and her adoptive parents’ names and hit send.

“I was sick to my stomach,” she said. “I was nervous, excited, but apprehensive. I didn’t know what to think.”

Miller said she didn’t sleep all night, and when she checked her email at 6 the next morning, she had a message from her sister, Karen, whom she didn’t know existed until that moment.

Karen had posted the notice to help her mother find Miller.

“It was the most wonderful thing that happened,” Bobo said. “I had been trying to find her for about 50 years.”

Bobo, who said she never wanted to give her daughter up for adoption, said she wrote letters and never got answers back. She said the court told her they would release all of the adoption information when her daughter turned 18, but they never did.

“You don’t know how much I suffered in those 50 years,” Bobo said. “I cried all the time. I always cried on her birthday.”

“There was a piece of my heart that was missing,” Bobo said. “After we found her, I felt like my heart was back. I can’t really explain it. When I left St. Louis and left her there, I left a piece of my heart there. I’m very excited and happy that she’s in our lives. I didn’t think we could ever find her.”

It took Miller a little while before she could call her mom, she said.

“I don’t know why,” she said. “These people were like total strangers, but yet, they were my family.”

Miller and her sister emailed back and forth, exchanging information and family photos.

“It was like we’d always been sisters,” Miller said.

She learned she had seven siblings, and she flew to Ohio to meet them and her mom a few weeks later.

When she arrived, there was a huge party at her mother’s house with a big cake that read, “Welcome home.”

“I hugged her and we were crying,” Bobo said. “She just acted like she was at home. It was amazing. I just felt like I knew her.”

Miller stayed about a week, spending time getting to know the family she never knew she had.

Her mother also identified Miller’s father, a man with which Bobo was no longer in contact. Several months later, Miller started looking for him.

She found two listings for a Dewey White in Arkansas. She guessed which one was likely her father and called the number.

When a man answered, Miller asked if he had ever known a woman named Faye Cremeans.

“He said, ‘I most certainly did,’ ” Miller said.

She then told him she was his daughter.

“She said, well thank God, I found my father,” White said. “I didn’t know what to think.”

White said he was shocked, but he was happy. He knew he had a daughter somewhere, but never knew where to look or how to find her, he said.

Miller then visited him, too. They got along well and have a close relationship now, White said.

“I just love her a whole lot,” he said. “It seems like I’ve known her forever.”

Miller still keeps in close contact with both sides of her new-found family and says she feels a sense of peace.

“I have that feeling that I belong somewhere now,” she said.

Justice & Maybe Healing Can Begin

Last November when the Penn State Scandal first erupted I wrote a blog stating my feelings on the case, a link to it is below:

https://prairieguy.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/a-response-to-penn-state-scandal/

Last evening I attended the Arizona Diamondbacks vs Chicago baseball game. Because of this I did not hear the initial reports of the outcome of the Jerry Sandusky trial.

While driving home from the game I was listening to a news radio station; the story came on of the finding of guilty on 45 of 48 charges. I had to pull over to the side of the road as tears began to well up in my eyes. As I approached the side of the road the tears became a full blown cry.

I cried because it was a feeling that justice had finally became a reality for the 10 identified victims of this predator. The tears began with the joy that this happened but soon turned to tears of sorrow.

It took  courage far beyond what many would be able to muster to overcome fear and state before the world what happened to them and how it has affected their lives. I cried for the pain they had endured for so many years. I cried because people did not believe them when in some cases they told those whom they trusted about the abuse but it turned out it fell on deaf ears or an unwillingness to hear and believe. And folks wonder why it can take so many years before one comes forward.

I cried with hope that maybe, just maybe, healing may begin for those 10 young men as well as those who were unable to overcome their fears, shame, grief to come forward. Yes, I believe there are more victims out there. Sandusky did not begin his predatory actions when he began his non profit where he trolled for his potential prey; I believe he had been doing it for years!

Sandusky’s conviction is not the end of this case. Others still face trial for perjury, investigations are still going on as to who knew what and when. Other victims I believe because of the results of trial and the fact that 12 jurors believed the story of those who testified others will overcome their fears, shame and grief and come forward. A young man of 30 as well as Matt Sandusky, Sandusk’y adopted son whom he adopted after he aged out of the foster are system, came forward before the trial even ended.

It took me over 40 years after I was sexually abused, for which no one was ever held accountable, to overcome and finally share with others what happened to me. Though it is now over 50 years since it happened there are times, like last night, when all of it comes back to me as though it happened yesterday. It is something that will remain, to some degree, a part of me until my last breath.

It is my great hope and prayer that Sandusky’s conviction will be the start of the healing process for his victims. It is my hope that their community will not just move on to other things now that this trial is over but rather will be available to these young men & others as help is needed. The 8 men who testified took their fist steps in healing by overcoming fears and having that courage to testify against their predator but they will have many more miles to walk before they can say healing has happened.

Hopefully folks will realize total healing  never occurs; their experiences will always be a part of their lives but the healing will allow them to move forward with their lives allowing them to be in control rather than the experience controlling them. I know how my life has been all these years from the experience.

Because of his conviction Sandusky faces a minimum of 60 years in prison and a maximum of over 400 years. It means he will die in prison…rightfully where he belongs  and where he deserves to die! He will never be able to abuse child and steal their youth again!

Now I await others that need to be held accountable for their actions or lack thereof have there day to be held accountable.

Removing the Barriers to Higher Education for Homeless and Foster Youth

This is an article written by Sam Bracken on June 14, 20012 for the Huffington Post, Sam is a former foster youth. His story s inspiring how he overcame and how he is now helping other:

At this time of year we hear heartwarming stories about homeless kids who manage to graduate from college. Those kids are few and far between.

Although many states have programs in place where youth in foster care who graduate on time and with decent grades are supposed receive support to go on to college, fewer than 3 percent of kids who have been in foster care make it into college. Of those who do manage to get accepted into college, only about 3 percent successfully graduate with degrees.

I know firsthand many of the barriers homeless kids and youth from foster care face in education. I was one of those invisible kids — sexually abused, randomly beaten by my parents and stepsiblings. My role models were mobsters and motorcycle gang members in Las Vegas. I suffered every kind of abuse imaginable at the hands of those charged with keeping me safe. I was wrongly in special education classes until a caring teacher figured out when I was 13 that I just needed glasses.

By age 15, I was homeless. Worried about losing my spot on the football team, I kept my homelessness a secret from my high school and couch surfed. I juggled football and track practices, jobs and homework and graduated number 11 out of a class of 700 students.

Then a miracle happened.

I earned a full-ride football scholarship to Georgia Institute of Technology where Coach Bill Curry was in his first year as head coach. When I flew from Las Vegas to Atlanta, everything I owned fit in an orange duffel bag. Georgia Tech officials had no idea they were getting a homeless teen. Lucky for me, the university had instituted its “total person program,” which meant that athletes got training on every aspect of being a well-rounded individual.

Even with the support that came with being a student athlete, I often struggled. During every college break, I had to contend with the possibility of being homeless again and worry about where I would eat and sleep since the dorms and cafeteria were closed. I had no one to turn to pay for incidentals, and NCAA rules made it illegal for me to get help from alums. No one in my family had graduated from college, so being in school was like landing in a foreign country where I didn’t understand the language or the currency.

After a very successful freshman year on the field and in the classroom, I had what I was told were career-ending shoulder injuries. When I woke up from surgery, Coach Curry was by my bedside, and told me he didn’t care whether I played football again — my scholarship was safe. Then he said words I’ll never forget: “I care about you, Sam.”

That was the first time in my life I had ever felt loved. I re-earned a starting position on the team, and contributed to one of Georgia Tech’s most winning teams. When I hit an emotional wall my junior year stemming from my traumatic past, the coaching staff made sure I got professional help. Thanks to academic tutoring, I was on academic scholarships my last two years at Georgia Tech.

Despite the obstacles and thanks to many mentors, I graduated with honors.

More than 30 years later, I am saddened that shockingly little has changed in terms of helping our most vulnerable teens gain access to higher education. They face all kinds of barriers–from an outdated paper voucher system that allows them to take the ACT/SAT or waive college application fees to contending with homelessness during school breaks to being suspended from classes because the state fails to pay a tuition bill on time. Homeless teens and those in foster care rarely graduate on time from high school, because their high school transcripts get so fouled up from being moved so often.

Among youth in foster care nationally, fewer than 50 percent graduate high school. The rate among homeless teens hasn’t been measured, but I suspect it’s worse than that. Yet a recent survey showed that 90 percent of all jobs now require a high school diploma or GED.

I know all of this from working with kids as co-founder and national spokesperson of the Orange Duffel Bag Foundation (ODBF), a 501c3 nonprofit that does professional coaching on life plans with at-risk kids ages 12-24. I recently met a 15-year-old who has been through 39 placements, including 17 different foster homes. He’s an A student, but I can only imagine what his transcripts must look like. Another young man in Columbus, Ohio, found out he was one-half credit shy of graduating. His caseworker failed to submit his application in time for the full-ride he would have had at Ohio State University. His caseworker dropped him at the local men’s homeless shelter the day after he was supposed to graduate.

A staggering 70 percent of the people in our prisons report having been in foster care or homeless shelters as children. Ironically, the cost of incarcerating a youth for a year equals the amount it would take for a year of education at many of our best colleges and universities.

We cannot afford as a nation to overlook the educational needs of our most vulnerable young people. As part of the Atlanta-based Community Youth Opportunity Initiative designed to help youth in foster care, ODBF recently met with the leadership committee of the Georgia Board of Regents to present ideas about how to help break down the barriers that are currently preventing them from scaling the ivy walls. Most expressed shock and concern about the labyrinth these young people, who frequently don’t have one single caring adult to advocate for them, are expected to navigate.

Let’s tear down some walls and break the cycle of generational poverty that many of our young people face.