Both Ends Burning Conference

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of participating in a conference sponsored by Both Ends Burning (BEB) and Tyler Technologies. Attending the conference were 10 government officials from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The Department of State was also represented. 

You may recall that a year ago BEB convened a symposium at Harvard with 20 countries. There were 4 follow-up tracks to that conference. One was a technology track, which most of the countries were quite interested in. The idea was to be able to identify orphaned children, register them as citizens, provide government workers with data to move them through the system toward permanency, and track progress.

In many developing countries, there are two very basic problems. There is often no record of the child at all – no birth certificate; no nothing. The child has no official identity. That’s quite a hurdle to overcome. The second problem emanates from the first. While these countries may recognize that they have an orphan crisis, they often do not know the magnitude of the crisis.

Tyler Technologies, based in Plano, has developed software and defined a process to address these issues. The purpose of the conference was to demonstrate the software to the delegates from these countries and have them provide feedback as to how applicable, implementable and valuable this whole approach could be.

The conference exceeded expectations, partly because the delegates came very well prepared and partly because Tyler Technologies is as impressive a corporation as I have ever dealt with. They seem to have anticipated almost every conceivable issue – very smart and compassionate group of people.

Ideally, a pilot in each country will take place during the first half of 2016. Once proven successful, the intent is to expand it within country and replicate it to other countries that may have similar needs.

It's a privilege for me to be a board member of Both Ends Burning, an organization that continues to make a difference for vulnerable children every where.


National Adoption Month 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

You all probably know the basic history, but here goes….

In 1976, Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts announced an Adoption Week.
In 1984, President Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Week.
And in 1995, President Clinton expanded Adoption Awareness Week to the entire month of November.

We stress that adoption is a bipartisan issue and the initiatives of these leaders from different parties illustrates that.

So what are you going to do for National Adoption Month?

A good way to begin is by taking a very close look at the National Adoption Month calendar prepared by Gladney’s Outreach team. It is filled with ideas for each day. 
Celebrating National Adoption Month with your friends and families and communities is a great way to demonstrate your passion.


Missed Opportunity.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

In 2000 the United Nations, with the support of virtually every country, agreed upon 8 Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015. These focused on poverty eradication, health, gender and income inequality and the like, primarily in the Developing Countries (essentially Africa, Asia and Latin America). Reasonable progress has been made in several of these areas although the UN acknowledges that progress has been uneven and that the world is still off-track on several, if not most, of the goals.

Leading up to 2015, the UN indicated that it would embark on another round of global goals. In September of this year, they announced agreement on 17 Sustainable Development Goals with targets to attain for each by 2030. These continue the focus on poverty eradication, inequalities, health, but now also encompass a number of goals related to the sustainability of the planet. These are noble aims and if progress continues, it should make the world a better place to live.

Yet when I read through these goals and supporting information, something is missing – the child and family. Goals 3 and 4 do refer to health and education in a very generic way, but that’s it. No mention of the word “child”. Besides disconcerting, it’s somewhat ironic in an effort that is supposed to be about the long-term future of our global society that there is no mention of the children who will be that future. And sadly, but consistent with other statements and actions of the United Nations in the last decade, there is no mention of the word “family”, which appropriately supported and encouraged, could go a long way toward meeting many of the 17 goals they outline.

Maybe in 2030, we can get the words “child” and “family” slipped in to the next round of goals. I don’t say this lightly. I think our field missed an opportunity in 2015.

Part of the Gift

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I came across the following story in a book I’m part way through…..

“A missionary ministering in the South Sea Islands was teaching his people about Christmas. ‘The giving of gifts is a spontaneous act of celebration over an extremely joyous event. And that,’ he explained,’ is why many people give gifts to others at Christmas time. It is an act of celebration over the joyous occasion of the birth of Christ.’

Following this teaching, one of the young men wanted to give the missionary a gift for Christmas, but since it was a very poor island, presents were not readily available.

On Christmas morning, a knock came at the hut of the missionary. At the door, he found the young man, who then gave him an extremely rare and particularly beautiful seashell that was found only at the distant end of the island.

The missionary thanked the young man for giving him such a rare and beautiful gift from such a distance, to which the young man replied, ‘Long walk part of gift’.

What a beautiful sentiment. ‘Long walk part of gift.’”

I love this story. In a nutshell, it describes who we are and what we do at Gladney. Sure, we play a crucial role in providing a couple a beautiful gift at the end of the process, but the long walk we take with our families is a part of the gift.