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National Adoption Month was November

Published by The Daily Star in Oneonta, NY

November is National Adoption Month

By Cheryl Petersen

The 40th anniversary of National Adoption Month highlights the power to adopt new ideas; to celebrate adults and children alike, who bravely adopt new thoughts, new dreams, and new positions to bring stability to homes and communities.

In 1986, the initiative to increase awareness for the need of permanent families for children and youth in the foster care system, was put into effect in the state of Massachusetts.

The program soon expanded to include the United States. November was deemed National Adoption Month. And with the advent of internet came a national photolisting service. You can find, children and youth, available for adoption, continuously posted online.

Aside from the mechanics of adoption, however, also comes the essence of fostering and adoption. We need to consider the spirit of individuals, families, and communities. It can be a sensitive, complex, and confusing process.

From East Branch, Nikolas Bowker,18-years old, said, “When I first entered a foster home, I was confused. I didn’t know what to do with myself.”

Today, Nikolas is unafraid to tell other children in state care, “It gets better.”

The “better” came about with the help of many hands and hearts. It came about through efforts made to overcome snags and slip-ups.

Nikolas admitted to acting out at first, and said, “I got into fights in school. I felt as though I was being treated differently from other kids who had parents.” But he and his sister, Briana, went on to be fostered by the Bowker family, who later adopted the siblings. On Nikolas’ birthday.

Today, Nikolas is finishing high school, with the goal to continue caring for his own family.

The support from family members, teachers, coaches and so on is appreciated. “It’s nice having a family that cares for us,” he said.

Braina Bowker, 13-years old, is homeschooled and uses an online program managed by Liberty University Academy.

“Each Friday, I get to meet with other homeschoolers my age and from around the area. We play games,” said Briana, who also takes piano lessons.

Briana is tickled with the idea of having a big family. She remarked, “I never thought I’d have so many brothers and sisters.”

Their parents are Jennifer and Health Bowker, also parents to 11-year old Heath, 10-year old Caeden, 8-year old Wyatt, 6-year old Tessa, and “We adopted 2-year old Finnegan last year,” said Jennifer.

Jennifer and Heath felt so blessed to have four biological children that they wanted to do something for children who didn’t start with a loving family. They live on a small farm and give each child morning and evening chores to teach them self-worth and responsibility.

“It’s God’s overwhelming love poured on us that compels us to share that love,” said Jennifer.

However, in this brief article, justice to her statement can’t be accomplished. Nor to the children. Their backgrounds are diverse, even dramatic. They are pitted with trials, yet acquitted with profound perseverance and empathy.

Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with the words to explain, but Jennifer summed her thoughts with a quote from the Gospel Matthew: “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”

The Bowker family worked closely with Delaware County Department of Social Services, in charge of public foster care and adoptions.

Concurrent plans are established within the Department to reach the goals of: keeping children in a safe environment; returning the children to birth family members; and if that doesn’t work, freeing the children, legally and emotionally, to be adopted.

“The Social Services Department takes great pains to match children and families,” said Rebecca Hoyt, Director of Services.

Working with the Department since 1999, Hoyt has seen trends come and go, but one thing stays the same. “We try to get families back on track and keep the children in homes with a sense of normalcy,” she said.

When the trendy drug epidemic poked its ugly face out, the County instituted a Family Treatment Court to deal with cases through the Department of Social Services.

“The parents agree to be in the treatment program,” explained Hoyt. “It’s a step that assists their progress in sobriety, or if the parents can’t get it together, it allows the children to move on to adoption.”

Hoyt works with many case workers along with Dana Scuderi-Hunter, Commissioner, on the job 2 years. Training programs are in place for case workers and parents.

The top reasons children are placed in state care are parental substance dependence, child neglect, and domestic violence. Knowing this, the department puts into place apt prevention services for families and children.

Scuderi-Hunter said, “It’s about making the children feel welcomed and integrating them into families and the community. We don’t try to erase their past, but work with who they are and where they are from to move on in a life of normalcy.”

Awareness and education are also used to remove the stigma that comes with being a foster child. Rather than fall through the cracks, they are encouraged to attend higher education.

“When we all embrace a healthy image of the children, they gain confidence,” said Scuderi-Hunter.

The Department assists foster children with higher education.

Scuderi-Hunter has also noticed the confidence also allows the children to feel more secure to return to care after they turn 18-years old. “It’s the youth’s personal choice until they are 21-years old,” she said.

With this active synergy of state regulations, trainings, preventive services, treatment programs, and education, the number of foster children has been decreasing in Delaware County.

“Many factors are involved, but in 2015 there were 97 children in foster care. As of September 2016, there were 68,” said Scuderi-Hunter.

Data also shows that year 2014, recorded 15 adoptions. Year 2015, recorded 17 adoptions. “This year to date, 15 children have been adopted with an anticipation of 4 more,” said Scuderi-Hunter.

To make it special for the children and families, Adoption Days are scheduled throughout the year. Scuderi-Hunter said, “I love going to adoption days. I love seeing the permanency. Because, when we make a positive difference in the life of all children, it affects the future.”

Thanksgiving, tater-tots, and laughter

Posted in 2012:

A ludicrous series of incidents played out the “blind leading the blind” a few years ago.

Nothing was planned, it just happened, and to no one particular reason.

Thanksgiving was coming up and we didn’t have any plans. The foster child who had been living with us for over a year had just moved forward in her life and that took precedence of our time and energy.

School was out for our daughters and we were home taking a breather. Finally it was suggested we go to the cabin. My parents had a small cabin in the Blue Mountains. No telephone. Fire crackling in the woodstove. We acted on the idea. We threw some clothes in a bag and headed to the car for the hour and half drive.

Someone finally asked, What about food?

None of us expected the others to whip up a Thanksgiving feast. So, we stopped at the grocery store and laughed our way through the isles picking up things like chicken nuggets, heat-n-serve tater-tots, and fresh fruit.

Once in the Mountains, we parked the car and prepared to carry all the stuff down the snowy hill to the cabin. The driveway is closed when there is snow.

Car lights kept us going, or rather I should say, kept us in the dark because we were oblivious to the fact that it was pitch black outside with no light whatsoever. Our delight in the snow blinded us further. Once all the lights were off, we stood there unable to see one another. No moon. No stars. No flashlight. We forgot the flashlights.

Stumbling and bumbling down the hill we eventually arrived at the cabin. It was freezing cold inside but within a few hours, after starting up the fire, it warmed up. We cooked our Thanksgiving dinner in a toaster oven and ate in the light of candles. A peace ran strong through our giving of thanks.

We spent the night and went home ready for the world. Ironically a few weeks later we were again able to go to the cabin. But, we remembered flashlights this time. The result was getting a good laugh at ourselves—again. We definitely were impressed with the pitch black dark of our last trip, but acting on brain imprints was a joke. The moon was so bright it felt like daytime.

Following brain imprints is the blind leading the blind. What worked yesterday is not meant for today usually. But, following the spirit of thanksgiving is love leading love.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

From 21st Century Science and Health: For victory over a single sin, we give thanks and magnify the Lord of Hosts. What will we say of the mighty conquest over all that is unspiritual? A louder song, sweeter than has ever before reached high heaven, now rises clearer and nearer to the great heart of Christ; for the accuser is not there, and Love expresses Her primal and everlasting symphony.”

Being Faithful to Yourself: A rendering of Mary Baker Eddy’s, Fidelity, from her book, Miscellaneous Writings

An updated version from 2013

If we didn’t think and talk about worthless topics, we would be prone to more epiphanies, naturally expanding into experiences that make us feel a secret victory.

Experience is the winner, not the crushed.

In the battle of life, good and goodness, becomes more hearty and persistent, and reduces the activity of evil. Though the threats of evil rivet our attention and actions, we can reverse this and secure the good. We can become “faithful over a few things,” and be prepared to be “put in charge of many things.” (Matt. 25:23)

Are you a child learning not to worry your parents or care takers? Are you a husband or wife learning not to demand unrealistic expectations? Are you a partner learning not to take one another for granted? Are you an employee or employer learning to serve humankind with honesty?

Remember, for all the days you forget to take a stand for good, you alone will make amends.

Mistakes must be remedied with wisdom, not more mistakes.

Progress requires work, mental and physical work, and the time to work is now. Only with straightforward effort, undistracted by self-righteousness or self-pity, will you win.

Do not blame others if your spiritual progress is shallow and vague. To follow faithfully is to practice what the teacher teaches and not expect the teacher to do your work for you.

Every great woman and man can be found on the trajectory of patience and perseverance. Faithfulness is entered by first purifying your thought and then putting thought into words and words into deeds. These steps will be slippery or mucky, however your sincerity and humility will find reward and strength in exalted purpose.

Human hopes deceive. Human philosophy, ethics, and scholastic theology mislead. Physics and quantum energy fields are insufficient to enlighten. Having one God and an undivided affection for spiritual reality will draw you to that which is worthy and worthwhile.

Being faithful to God is being faithful to your spiritual light. Spending too much time on the cares of the world or on manipulating the pains and pleasures of the flesh will diminish your wealth of spirituality.

Truth will cost you your fears, false beliefs and devotions, and lame formalities. Be willing to pay the price of Truth so you can be move forward with God and feel the exclamation, job well done.

Fixing past mistakes

I make mistakes. Sometimes, I don’t know I make mistakes until much later in life.

Mistakes are blunders, gaffes, misprints, or errors. They can also be misunderstandings, over-estimations or underestimations. I’ve made the mistake of simply failing to appreciate true values as expressed by people around me.

From 21st Century Science and Health: If mortals are not progressive, past failures will be repeated until all wrong work is erased or corrected.

Some mistakes can be fixed. I can fix a misprint on a webpage.

But some mistakes can’t be tangibly fixed. I can’t return to the past and appreciate the true values as expressed by people around me. To doggedly try to fix that past behavior is vain. It leads to guilt and shame. But, to pretend my mistake didn’t happen also leads to guilt and shame. And guilt and shame clog our thinking. This is when it’s time to live in the now.

From 21st Century Science and Health: Take the time to look past the fading, sensational pictures. Gain the true sense of life. Rest your gaze on the unsearchable realm of Mind. Look ahead and act as possessing all power from Truth and Love in whom you have your being.

Thankfully, we are driven to seek something greater.

I want to yield to something greater than a humanlike power. And this requires unclogged thinking.

The humanlike God is presented oftentimes in the Bible. Paul recorded in the book of Acts:  “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.  In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.  For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17: 29-31, NIV)

But this wording doesn’t make God humanlike. Just like my past failures to appreciate truth don’t reduce God to being unable to lift me up out of a past mistake.

God is Godlike, Spirit, Love, Truth and powerful to lift up. And Paul, along with millions of other spiritually minded, stretched their minds to be Godlike.

Paul distinguished between humanlike gods and Godlike God, between mistakable humans and us as understanding individuals. We read in Acts: When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!”  Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.  The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.  But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting:  “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.  In the past, he let all nations go their own way.  Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”  Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them. (Acts 14: 11-18, NIV)

It’s a struggle between the human ego and the desire to stand with the divine Ego, or God. But I can live in the now and appreciate the good around me, carry that appreciation to the past and the future. I can because God is divine Mind, all-knowing Mind.

From 21st Century Science and Health: It is the prerogative of the ever-present divine Mind, and of thought which is in alignment with this Mind, to know the past, the present, and the future.

 

Gotta love the guinea fowl

My husband and I rescued a couple of Guinea fowl, after their tribe of twenty was picked off by predators or hit by cars on the road. Needless to say, they are fairly wild.

Fortunately, we have three chickens that welcomed the guineas.

Two issues I’m dealing with:

They roost in the tall trees behind the house, which is sort of safe, but it’d be safer if they slept in the hen house.

Also, we have a 500’ foot-long driveway and the guineas want to walk down and stand in the road. Probably because they lived near a major road in the past and were familiar to the traffic noise.

Our neighbors drive slowly but when I see the guineas down by the road, I tromp down with a couple of long sticks. I hold the sticks out to each side and herd them back. No rushing. I observe the tree leaves turning bright oranges, reds, and yellows. I watch the guineas. I think. I wish the guineas would break their habit.

Why do habits seem universal? Animals and humans alike are challenged by habits that place us in danger or shame us. I don’t know why, but I do know that I definitely see habits improve when I work with patience and encouragement rather than human will-power or threats.

It requires me to look past my own expectations and see what tiny step I can take that the guineas understand. So far, I’ve removed obstacles and I leave feed corn near the hen house. They are becoming more comfortable, more receptive.

But a key element to success is to call upon a higher source of patience and encouragement since my human reserves are rather puny. When I lose my patience, its gone. I have to look to God, an unlimited source of goodness, to re-coop my patience.

The patience of God flows freely and is available to us all.

It’s no wonder Paul told the Hebrews, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”—Hebrews 10

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Radio interview

Click here for radio interview about Christian Science today.

Bonnie Lykes interviewed Cheryl Petersen in New York. Cheryl talks about revising Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.

Cheryl also reads a chapter from the book she is currently writing about her life.

Anger only a wake up call, wisdom motivates

I interviewed a candidate for 19th District Congress in New York. We talked about the bigger picture, this election year’s uproarious campaigning.

It was noted that some candidates behavior is reckless, but it spotlights an anger in America.

Maybe so.

Even I get disgusted with immoral politicians. But egos, greed, and self-service aren’t new to humanity. Big money people don’t have a monopoly on dishonesty.

Anger does seem to be in the air, however. People are ready for change. We are ready to get out any vicious cycle that demeans the good in humanity.

But unless anger is seen only as an alarm clock to wake up, and not a motivator, that vicious cycle continues.

Anger never provides an inspiring or logical answer or reason to do something, or not.

Anger is only the extreme opposite of passivity, indifference–the habit of repeating the same behavior because that’s the way it’s always been done.

I don’t ignore my disgust, but I know it’s only a warning to wake me up to follow life, truth, and love. I need to get out of the bed of anger or inaction and get up with wisdom.

 “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Ephesians 4:26, NIV

Quoting from science & religion to God: The manifestations of evil which counterfeit divine justice, conjure the picture of an angry God. “And in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance on the nations that did not obey.”[1] Correctly interpreted, the Bible verse shows that catastrophes, famines, and plagues are the self-destruction of error, not the destruction of God’s children. We have the ability (matter doesn’t) to demonstrate the strength and permanency of Spirit We can witness the brightening light of Truth, harmony, and the entireness of God.

orange sky

[1] Micah 5:15

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