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Governor Strickland,

With your proposal of Sub. H.B. 1, you have lost my vote.  I was waiting to see if you were listening to your fellow citizens, but you held that rally Friday and I realized that you are deaf to what we want, what we need.

Parents of children in charter schools throughout Ohio are uniting and we are coming to the same conclusion and the same decision.

So, 88,000 plus students:  each has grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and some even have siblings and friends of voting age, not to mention friends of their family. Many of the children affected will be voting by the time you run for office again.  Think about it.

What you have proposed is, in my opinion, and in the opinion of these hundreds of thousands of voters who support charter schools, a miscarriage of power.

Charter Schools were set up to offer an alternative to the public school system – which many parents, like me, see as FAILING our children. Some of these children will not be accepted into any private school, so home schooling is the only option left – and isolation.  The majority of the students affected by Sub. H.B.1 come from low-economic families. They cannot home school, as they need to work full-time to support their families.

My son has nowhere else to go.  In public school and the private school we later sent him to, he was bullied, sometimes by some ignorant teacher.  No one would work with him and help him overcome his learning differences.  He was stuck in a corner, given no help and would cry when he had to go to school to face the bullies – to be made to feel inadequate by the teacher.   Thankfully, Chris’ neuropsychologist suggested, “Send him to The Graham School.  He’ll blossom there.”  He was right.  My son is happy, loves school and is learning.  Not only is he learning, he is achieving his dreams.  He is getting good grades, he is part of a school-sponsored guitar club, is a member of a band, and he has become a twice traditionally published author.  He currently works with Meals on Wheels, has helped to build a community garden and is looking forward to attending a culinary institute.

You want to take this away from him.  I want to know why!  I want to know why you think it is appropriate to penalize children, our future leaders, by taking away the schools where they are finally thriving.  I want to know why the special needs kids are the ones to be targeted, for many of these students are special needs. I want to know what alternatives you have planned.  Are you going to help me find a school that will, not only accept my son, but respect him as Graham does?  I want to know how you are going to help my son succeed as he enters his adult years without an education, because you took it away.  I want to know if you will find my son a job where he can make a living wage, marry, and raise and provide for a family.  And I want to know how in Heaven’s name you could even begin to think that this is appropriate.

My son is a citizen.  By the time you are ready to run for office again, he and his friends and thousands of these kids will be voters.  He is just as valuable and important as you are, and he, just by himself, is worth every dime that you are trying to cut.  What are YOU going to do for my son when his last option for a high school education is taken away?

What are you going to do for the family who has more than one child in charter schools?  Special needs children who, like my son, have no options.  Are you going to allow them to be swallowed up and forgotten?  You are supposed to be our leader, not our enemy.

I have seen many of my friends cut their household budgets, but I guarantee you, they did not take from their children!  They have cut out necessities.  I know of one couple that sold their house to provide an education for their children, one father took a third job; none of them have taken from our future citizens.  We work, we plan, and we sweat for our kids, only to be stymied by our governor, a man that we are supposed to be able to trust and look to for leadership.

One of the many things I have learned in life, is that when you propose a change, you outline options for problems that will arise from that change.  You have done nothing.

Let’s say that these 88,000 plus children lose their schools.  Where are they supposed to go?  Back into the public school system?  That would be a very interesting phenomenon to witness.  I can picture a veritable “flood” of humanity into schools that already claim that they cannot service the children they already have: schools that have failed the very children, which would now be bereft of schools where they were successful.  What are you going to do about this?  Yet another hole in your proposal.

Like most parents, I don’t want anyone to hurt my child.  What you are doing will hurt him.  Shame on you.

To the reader:  if you live in Ohio, please write to your senator and demand that Sub H.B. 1 be defeated in the senate.

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Another birthday dawns, and I awaken to the sounds of ducks peeping and quacking, birds singing and splashing water. I stretch and rise, eager for the day: your special day – your birthday!

I dress and walk to the staircase. Breakfast and coffee must be prepared and I want to make sure that your presents are well-hidden, although you have a knack of finding even the most “cleverly” concealed gift. I put my hand on the rail and pause as memories sweep over me – memories of the time I stood at the top of these very stairs with you in my arms. It was 2:00 a.m., just twelve short hours since I first beheld your sweet face and breathed deeply of your unique scent. Twelve short hours since, with arms outstretched, I said to our attorney, “Give me my son!” and held you to me for the first time.

Twelve, short hours – you had awakened for your two o’clock feeding, and I leapt from my bed, eager to hold you once again. I gathered you up and started for the stairs. Something made me pause. I guess I just wanted to take a moment to once again look at you, savor the feel of your little body in my arms. I stood there, looking down at you, breathing you in once again. You arched your back as if reaching toward me, and I was lost.

Sixteen years have sped their course since that day. And yet, I can still feel the thrill that leapt through my heart at that particular moment of our bonding, of our truly becoming mother and son.

Memories race through my mind, like a slide show, embedded in my heart and sealed forever until the end of time: memories of adventures we have shared, cities we have explored … memories of raising you and the joy it has brought me.

Sweet love, you have placed my feet upon a path which I never want to leave. You have given me a gift far sweeter than I ever believed possible. You have made me a mother. More importantly, you have made me your mother.

I have watched you blossom and take on life’s challenges. I have witnessed your struggle to overcome your learning differences. And I have glowed with pride as you grew from babyhood to the incredible young man you are today. In my joy and pride, I can’t help but reflect on our journey as mother and son.

Sixteen years! To some it may seem like a long time, yet in twelve short hours, my heart was lost. And it still is. You have held my heart in your hand since that very moment. It’s a nice place to be.

 

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If you want to be a parent, you are a candidate for adoption.

It is a natural desire to wish to pro-create. Every living thing on earth replicates and creates young, whether it is a bird or a blade of grass. It is also natural to want to protect those who are already here.

Most of us have seen pictures or heard stories of a farm pig who suckles orphaned kittens, or the dog who allows an orphaned baby squirrel to suck. Then there is the elephant who, upon the death of a mother, will take the dead mother’s calf to herself to nurse. Adoption is a completely natural part of life and exists throughout the animal kingdom.

Some of us are not able to conceive or to give birth. The desire for children is strong, which is also a natural state of being. So, it would only be normal to open one’s arms and home to a child in need of a family.

I once had a friend say to me that she was afraid to adopt because she felt that the child would not be like her own because she did not carry it. I paused for a second and then replied, “I feel very sorry for your husband, then.” She looked at me with surprise and asked, “Why?” “Well,” I answered, “he did not carry your daughter. He didn’t feel her growing inside of his womb. So, I guess she must not feel like his child.” She understood.

The moment you hold your child in your arms, it doesn’t matter if you gave birth or not. What matters is that here is a new life, which is dependent upon you to survive. Here is a sweet baby, which will look to you for the rest of his or her life for love, guidance, support. Here is your child.

Many people want to adopt, but feel that they can’t afford it. There are children languishing in foster homes or orphanages praying, yearning for a family, for a home. They are considered special needs because they either have a physical problem, like my son who was born with cleft lip and palate, or are part of a sibling group, or are of mixed race or are older. Most states do not charge any fees for the adoption of these very special children. If therapies or surgeries are needed, the county will usually pay for them.

So, if you’ve spent all of your youth climbing that corporate ladder and don’t have time for an infant, or you have a good home, but not enough money to cover adoption fees, special needs adoption is a perfect way to build a loving, close family.

Whether you choose domestic, international or special needs adoption, be prepared for the greatest love of your life!

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My son came home at seven-days-of age.  Fifteen years later, I am still in Nursery Nirvana.  From the moment I first held him in my arms, I have felt a deep pride in him and how he came to be my son – and he knows it.

We have always discussed adoption naturally and openly, and with great joy.  I call him my Very Special Child and even wrote a book by that title for him.  He is giving a copy of it today as a present to a young girl who is also adopted, because he is proud of it and is proud to share his specialness with others.

In discussing your child’s adoption openly, just like you would discuss your child’s birth had you carried him or her, you make it a common every day thing: I have two eyes, two ears, a nose, I’m adopted, I’m a boy, I live in Ohio….no biggy.  On the other hand, by hiding it, you make it seem like something to be ashamed of, something to push to the back of the closet, something that you wish had never happened.

More importantly, you are basing your entire relationship on a lie – a lie of omission.  How is your child going to trust you in any other area of life if you have deceived them about the very core of your relationship?

I have a cousin who was adopted and his parents never told him.  He found out on his own at age fourteen.  He ran away from home and refused to speak to his parents.  They reconciled, after a fashion, but their relationship was damaged irrevocably.  My cousin never trusted his parents again.

I say speak of adoption to your child.  Show them the pride you have in choosing them out of all of the other children in the world.  Encourage them to adopt when they decide to have children.  Tell them openly about waiting for them, praying for them and that glorious moment when you finally got THE call.  My son knows the story backwards and forwards and loves to tell it to others.  When he speaks of it, his face lights up and he smiles.  He even wrote a book about it which is coming out soon.  Here is a quote from it which I think clearly makes my case:

From Just Chris by Christopher Shiveley Welch

I am adopted.  That feels good.  I like being adopted.  If it weren’t for my parents, I don’t know what I’d be like.  They are here for me.  My mom and dad tell me that I am beautiful, so I believe that I am.  They tell me I’m a good kid, so I accept that I am.  They tell me that I’m loved, so I know that I am.

I have learning differences.  Mom says I am not learning disabled, I just learn differently, and that’s okay.  I don’t mind having differences.  I just want to learn.

Mom says that a child sees themselves in their parent’s eyes.  I want to put this poem of my mom’s in here:

I am your mirror.  When you look into my eyes,
you see how beautiful you are.
When you enter a room, my heart lifts up to meet you;
a smile of greeting lights me up from within.

I am your mirror.  When you look into my eyes,
you see love, as my soul embraces yours,
revealing to you just how wonderful you are:
my friend, my heart, my son.

From “Mirroring” [1] 

Mom uses this poem a lot in her interviews.  She tells people about adopting special needs kids and that makes me feel good.  I know she is so happy that she adopted me and she just wants people to know how it can make them happy too.   


[1] Son of My Soul – The Adoption of Christopher, Debra Shiveley Welch, Saga Books, page 118

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Right now I want to write about the courage of the human spirit. In particular, the spirit locked within the adolescent breast of my thirteen-year-old son.

Right now I want to write about his witness, about his goodness, about his compassion.

Last night my son stepped into the icy waters of an ice-rimed Ohio lake, in an attempt to save a soul. As gray eyes locked with brown, he watched the light dim from the frightened orbs of another being, yet continued to fight to bring the dying form to shore.

Gently he laid the still body upon frost-covered ground, his heart filled with love for the hapless soul who had minutes earlier breathed in the chill snow-scented air of Central Ohio. Then my son wept.

To some it would have seemed trivial, even comical, and they would have laughed. They would have ridiculed someone who would step into frigid waters to save a wild animal, who would have fought to save a nothing – a pest; who would have struggled to save a rabbit that had just happened to get in the way of a dog bred to the chase…but not my son. He stayed with the tiny animal until someone could come to remove him. Gently stroking the wet fur, my son prayed to Creator to accept His child into His arms. Then my son came home to me, his mother, and wept some more.

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Best Selling Baby Boomer Author, Debra Shiveley Welch is a writer to be reckoned with in the literary world! In just a few short months, her book Son of My Soul: The Adoption of Christopher jumped all the way to the Top 20 on Amazon.com.


In a recent review by MidWest Books, senior reviewer Shirley Johnson wrote:

“I believe it is true that God anoints the pen of some writers to bring forth words from their heart to those with a specific need. In my opinion, author Debra Shiveley Welch has the anointing of the Lord upon her words in her newest work, Son of My Soul – The Adoption of Christopher, as she tells the story of her adoption of her beloved son, Christopher … Her story and Christopher’s is one you will treasure and remember in your heart for a long time to come…One that will bring a tear and a smile. A story of horror, pain, and rejection that is replaced with courage, hope, faith, love and victory. This is a book every adoptive parent should read, and every person who has a child of their heart, for in this read you will find the true meaning of love.”

Order at: Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Sagabooks.net or www.debrashiveleywelch.net.”

Beverly Mahone, Founder – Baby Boomer Divas Wall of Fame

http://www.thebabyboomerdiva.com/feature_diva2.htm

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I am Your Mirror
 
I am your mirror.  When you look into my eyes,
you see how beautiful you are.
When you enter a room, my heart lifts up to meet you;
a smile of greeting lights me up from within.
 
I am your mirror.  When you look into my eyes,
you see love, as my soul embraces yours,
revealing to you just how wonderful you are:
my friend, my heart, my son.
 
Excerpt from Son of My Soul – The Adoption of Christopher
 
 
Like most of us, I am sure you have experienced the chance meeting on the street, or in a store, of someone that you have not seen for a long time.  You recognize them, call their name, and they turn to see who has called.  It is then, when they realize who you are, that you decide if you are happy or sorry that you reached out to them.  It’s in their face; their face is your mirror.
 
What do you see in their reaction?  Is it happy excitement, or is it that “Oh, no, not them” look?  Does it make you feel good about yourself, or do you feel humiliated, embarrassed and sorry you didn’t just pass by without saying a word?
 
Now, imagine your child entering a room.  When you turn to greet them, what does he or she see in you, their mirror?

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