Adoption progress, problems | July 22, editorial
Foster adoptions need more support
As a foster adoptive parent and advocate, I'd like to express my gratitude for your pointing out that the increase in the number of foster adoptions in Florida, while commendable, does not eliminate the work that is still to be done. Over and over research commissioned locally, at the state level, nationally and beyond indicates the fundamental need for postadoption support services.
However, both the Department of Children and Families and Hillsborough Kids Inc. continue to allot a minuscule portion of their budgets to providing such services. Further, the supports that do exist are hard to access and generally for limited periods of time only. But anyone who has adopted a former foster child can tell you that the effects of the trauma these children have experienced are likely to resurface throughout their childhood, teen years and beyond.
Learning to work through or manage the often extreme behaviors they understandably exhibit as a result of their past experiences requires far more than love. It requires commitment, perseverance and dedication on the part of the parents to become knowledgeable of the psychological, neurological and other "whys" behind their children's behavior. These parents also need to become students of the specific methods that are effective in parenting this population.
As your editorial points out, families who adopt foster children are providing an invaluable service to the state. One has to ask why, then, does the state not in turn commit to supporting them with the resources they need in order to be successful?
Regarding the fact that Florida is the only state in the country to have an outright ban on gay and lesbian adoption, I say shame on us, Florida. For the sake of fulfilling our shared responsibility to provide every child with a safe, secure, supportive and loving home, it is time to insist that political and personal biases be set aside so that all qualified residents, regardless of their sexuality, may finally be extended equal rights to adopt in the state of Florida.
Michelle Schumacher, Tampa
Tent city is clinging to hope | July 22, story
Restoring human dignity is worth the effort
As a counselor/therapist at Veterans Charities of Orange County (Santa Ana, Calif.) and commander of Disabled American Veterans No. 23 (Santa Ana, 1997-98), I was privileged to lend support and guidance to upward of 150 "homeless" veterans (mostly Vietnam era), for whom I had a particular affinity.
Imagine, if you will, dozens of these veterans, some having called the streets home for 10, 20 or more years. Myriad circumstances led these veterans to be homeless. Suffice it to say, for most, it had become a way of life.
Some of these veterans were "running from shadows" (hiding from law enforcement). They were minor offenses mostly, but in their individual psyches, their offenses had grown to such a degree where they imagined the most dire consequences should they ever be confronted by the court system.
Once in the Charities' care and after many hours of counseling, many of these veterans were comfortable enough to allow us to advocate for them and present them to the Orange County court system. When charges were dropped (or conditionally dropped), based on Veterans Charities' surety, we began the process of retraining (a system set up by the city of Santa Ana), continued counseling, housing, employment and transition back into society. There was no "magic bullet" here, just a lot of hard work by us, the city and county governments and the local community at large.
This is meant to show citizens, local charities and governments, as well as the two letter writers on Friday, that with a willingness to work together as a team, the present "homeless" population can regain some of the dignity it has lost.
It can be done, and our fellow human beings are worth the effort.
David M. Childress Sr., Palm Harbor
A feel good story takes and odd turn | July 19
Lesson in reality
Once again the St. Petersburg Times has reported about the disingenuous behavior of local panhandlers. Helene Fix went above and beyond to help what she was led to believe was a homeless mother named Tracy who claimed to have several children, one of them disabled, living in the woods.
What it turned out to be was yet another lazy, shiftless liar who is need of nothing but an honest job for an honest paycheck. God bless people like Helene Fix who try to do the right thing for truly needy people. However, this story should make it abundantly clear to every hard-working citizen that most panhandlers are not in their plight because of circumstances, but because they choose to be there. Give them nothing and, hopefully, they will leave.
Tim Robinson, St. Petersburg
Checks and balances undone | July 21, editorial
Time to move on
Maybe by the election of 2012 the media will stop the Bush-Cheney bushwhacking and get over it.
Now we're going back to 9/11 and dredging up the Dick Cheney-CIA assassination plots against the murdering al-Qaida terrorists. The congressional intelligence committees (intelligence and congressional: undoubtedly an oxymoron) are upset about not being informed.
If the committees' actions were like most decisions made by committee, the terrorists would likely die of old age before an agreement was reached.
Speaking, though, of checks and balances, I'm wondering where they are when we now have 20-odd czars who apparently answer to no one except Barack Obama. Where are these checks and balances that affect nearly every phase of our industry and personal lives?
Don Niemann, Seminole
The value of empathy
Why is it so terrible that President Barack Obama nominated a judicial candidate with "empathy"? Our society is full of feeling and sympathy whether it be for victim or miscreant. Yes, even the judiciary is affected!
Witness the Bernard Madoff sentence — a term of 150 years! A 50-year sentence would have been more than adequate, but the judge empathized with the angry throng of people who had been ruined by Madoff.
Even on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts "empathized" with firefighters of New Haven, Conn. He felt for their being white males, just like himself. He felt for their acing a test, just as he'd aced many tests in his career. Now that's real empathy.
I regret we forced Judge Sotomayor into denying the judicial use of human empathy and feeling. Do we want mere robots in the judiciary? Or can it be computerized?
Albert Foster, St. Petersburg