When I first got involved in blogging, it was only really popular among techies. Like others, it was such a great way to have the software manage quick posts to your site.....and it was how Guatadopt got started. Yeah, it was just me back then and I was posting information that I found during my own adoption research. My intent back then was just to provide updates and information for friends, family and the occassional question about the process. But blogging can be powerful and with it, there is a certain amount of responsibility for the blogger.
One of my favorite quick information sites is Wikipedia. I have actually let some other subscriptions expire because I can find quite a bit of information just by looking it up on this massive Online Encyclopedia. OK, so I don't agree with ALL the information provided. But I figure when you are trying to publish EVERYTHING, its a bit hard to be perfect. And hey....it is apparent that there is an attempt for unbiased information.
Today, I was looking up something for my daughter and noticed the plea from Jimmy Wales for donations. Reading further, I realized that this was a site with similar commitments as Guatadopt but certainly a much larger scale: "Wikipedia content is free to use by anyone for any purpose." and "Wikipedia is run by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, which I [Jummy Wales] founded in 2003."
Wikipedia is driven primarily by the 150,000+ volunteers. It's growth is requiring bigger servers and improved maintenance and that costs money. I can grasp that because over the past 6 years, we've had to expand tremendously to keep up with the traffic, the space, the forum and the desire not to throw away history of our site. But I'm veering off the subject here. The point is that I know many kids, teachers and parents use them for research and have a richer understanding of a subject because of Wikipedia. Guatadopt is no different. We have linked information about people, places and things. Just from our site, Wikipedia has been clicked on more than 80,000 times.
So, I wanted to pass along their plea for donations because a site like Wikipedia has opened up the availability of information on almost any subject.
Yesterday, I was sent a link to this video and it struck a chord. As a kid, I could sleep through a tornado...and I DID sleep through a car crashing in our front yard not far from my bedroom! Ironically, I am an extremely light sleeper (unless medicated!) now. But as I watched this video, I thought "Would my daughter who knows what to do in a fire awaken if the fire alarm went off? " What about the many parents that I know who have older siblings who babysit or their house has the children's bedrooms across the house from the master bedroom. If you have children, you will want to watch this:
This year, my unexpected surgery put a rush on preparing for our school year. Still, we had several missed "To Do's" sneak up on us after school had started. Since school can feel like an unknown piece of your child's happiness, I thought it would good to talk about it a bit. Afterall, your child's long term success can be GREATLY influenced by the first years in school. Their expectations about themselves and your study habits are formed the first few weeks of school. Before I start blabbing, just keep in mind that I do throw out my ideas and they may not be practical or reasonable for everyone's situation...ah, the beauty of unique situations. Furthermore, I am writing JUST as a parent.
Yesterday, many forums and listservs were angrily a buzz about a category called "Non Mom" for America's Favorite Mom contest sponsored by Teleflora and NBC's Today Show. Yup, you guessed it....Moms who had adopted were classified as "Non Moms". The site was bombarded with emails and letters and last night, they changed the category to "Adopting Moms" with an apology (Here is an archived version of the change with the apology in the middle).
So what could prompt the organizers to even consider such an insulting label and why didn't somebody notice how tacky it was BEFORE it was used? Well, the the organizers suggested that the title somehow evolved from "Non Traditional Mom". Was that title too long? Were they trying to disuade voters from this category? Doubtful. And where were the Teleflora Adoptive Moms who said "Whoa, that sounds horrible!"? Did Marie Osmond (with 5 children through adoption) cringe and if so, how did it make it up there, anyway? For the life of me, I can't see how such an offensive title could accidentally make it on the site.
President Colom -
We, the Guatadopt community, will pledge our support to assisting Guatemala in its quest to break the cycle of poverty, promote education and help socially responsible programs that we hope will reduce the NEED for adoption. We are committed to the children of Guatemala. We hope that Guatemala will find a way to promote the family option to ANY child who is in need of a family and a home. Ask for our help and we will be here. We pledge our time and efforts to assist Guatemala in becoming a model for child services.
Sincerely, Guatadopt Staff and the Guatadopt community
**If you would like to join this pledge, please add your name in the comments. You may also expound on the type of pledge you would like to make whether it is financial, prayer, volunteering, etc...**
2007 has drawn to a close, and with it Guatemala’s system of notarial adoptions. Tens of thousands of children have found permanent, loving homes outside the borders of their country of birth, and equal numbers of families from all walks of life have been blessed with the joy of parenthood, thanks to that system. The notarial system also brought many claims of attorney and adoption agency incompetence, lies, and malfeasance, along with bureaucratic delays on the part of both US and Guatemalan government agencies.
Written By Lee Walzer
As a dad-by-adoption to my now-4 year old Guatemala-born son, I attended the Adoption Ethics Conference and Forum on Guatemala adoptions with great interest. I attended with the hope of hearing some detailed explanations from UNICEF about its stance on international adoption and perhaps hearing about how UNICEF hoped to avoid the mistakes of previous "reform" efforts in other countries, which have resulted in children languishing in institutions and without needed social support.
When Kevin called me yesterday to tell me that Ortega had been passed, I felt that I was punched in the gut. I could write an essay on the "wrongs" of the media, the "wrongs" of the adoption industry and the "wrongs" of implementation...but it would take me days and I have a little girl from Guatemala who needs me to get her to school.
So, I am going to just say a couple of things. While there are many issues that have complicated the whole issue...the most influential players have come down to:
A) Those who see a child in need and will do something about it....and
B) Those who see a child in need and point to them saying "Someone really ought to do something".
You can take a guess who I would put in the B category (starts with a U)
C) There are ways to reduce poverty....education.
D) There are ways to reduce corruption....prosecuting those who hurt the children
E) There are ways to reduce cultural bias....time to heal and effort to solve other social ills (and this applies everywhere in the world)
I don't believe the Ortega solves the problems of C, D or E. There is a lot of B....but very little A. So while the crimes against women and children became the marketing campaign for it, I don't believe it does much about the factors that influence why they occur.
There are VICTIMS of crime and then there are VICTIMS of badly implemented laws. If the constitutional challenges fail, I can only hope that the Guatemala will take a good long look and see if there is a way to make this law function without hurting the people it is supposed to help! The answer is A.
Once upon a time, Guatadopt.com was a pretty small site and the maintenance consisted of maybe an hour a week plus the time to enter a post on the latest happenings. Those first few years, the site was almost completely funded by my "day job". Eventually, I needed help funding the updates and the hosting....so, we gradually added some advertisements that would not be intrusive, we vamped up our Tshirts and calendars. We managed to cover the physical costs....and to date, our writer's time is all voluntary.
What has been difficult is that our physical costs keep growing and the time each of our writer's spend has grown exponentially. Readership is still growing significantly. Meanwhile, there are fewer readers starting the process (due to the impending Hague) and there is so much more competition for cute Guatemala shirts (unfortunately, some who have used our name, phrases and ideas as well)....so site sales have significantly declined. We're heading towards "red" again.
I'll back up and talk about why we have not become a charity (501c3)....That seems to be the most common suggestion by our readers. Well, two years ago when I became serious about turning it into one, I did a bit of research on the requirements and where we would fall under a charter. The uneasiness came from the percentage of contributions you needed to have vs. sales. Hey, I'm sensitive to my audience here....I was strapped during my adoption (well ok...that didn't really end when she came home). We wanted this site to remain free to anyone who needed it. But some of the other fears....I was strapped for time and Kevin was maxed out. We would have to hire an accountant (who specialized in 501c3) and I needed to make sure we had someone involved who could make sure we were in line....Most importantly, there was the issue of separating our contributions to Guatemalan charities and being more of an educational charity. I felt the line might be a bit fuzzy to outside critics. So, needless to say....this has not happened. Maybe, I am over-thinking it....I don't know.
In the last few days, I've had a number of inquiries about the 2008 Calendar. I honestly was not sure we would do one. The time it takes to build the calendar has grown exponentially too....it just takes time to design pages with so many photos (and when you make an effort to include every child submitted!). Its not the same when you only have to use a single photo per page. Sales were down last year too compared to the number of new entries. I have to admit...the first few years, it was a lot of fun. Now, I get the jitters even thinking about making all the deadlines!!
So, why not ask readers for some ideas (and please do this via email).
Here are a couple of mine.
1 - For artists who have Cafepress stores, we could have a design contest (Guatemala adoption related design). It could be a clever saying or a beautiful picture! The top three designs would be donated to OUR shop and we would include links to the designers store.
2 - A few more adoption related products directly sold on our site. We tried the Ebay affiliate (which is up on the site), but either it has not been working, or nobody uses it!
Well....what do you guys think????