Spence-Chapin’s Bulgaria adoption program has placed children with permanent, loving families since 1995. During this time, we’ve come to discover Bulgaria as one of Eastern Europe’s treasures; a country steeped in tradition, but with modern sensibilities.
Bulgaria’s history is vast and its culture rich. Bordered by Romania in the North, Serbia and Macedonia in the West, Greece and Turkey in the South and the Black Sea in the East, Bulgaria is centrally located on key land routes from Europe to the Middle East and Asia.The size of Tennessee, Bulgaria is the 14th largest nation in Europe and boasts wondrous landscapes ranging from lowlands and river valleys, to mountains of varying elevations.
The first Bulgarian state was formed in the late 7th century when The Bulgars, a Central Asian Turkic tribe, merged with the local Slavic inhabitants. In succeeding centuries, Bulgaria struggled to assert its autonomy against the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Turks, eventually succumbing to the rule of both.
In recent history, Bulgaria fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and became a People’s Republic in 1946. Communist domination ended in 1990 and a democratic constitution was instituted in 1997. Today, Bulgaria is a parliamentary democracy and is on the international stage as a member of the European Union, NATO, Council of Europe and a founding member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
Bulgarians take great pride in their literature, arts, music, and architecture which is mainly of Thracian, Slavic, and Bulgar heritage, with Greek, Roman, Ottoman, Persian and Celtic influences.
Visitors and citizens alike enjoy the wild, wooded mountain ranges dotted with villages, vibrant cities, and long sandy beaches hugging the Black Sea Coast. Bulgaria is home to over 200 museums and architectural wonders such as Byzantine Medieval fortresses, Thracian sanctuaries and tombs, and a multitude of churches, monasteries and mosques. The landscape features mineral springs, picturesque beaches, and the highest point of the Balkan peninsula, Musala (9,596 ft.), lending itself to spa retreats, water sports and hiking.
But underneath the rich sights and sounds, there is an imbalance. Bulgarians are the main ethnic group and comprise 84.8% of the population, with Turkish and Roma (Gypsy) minorities comprising 8.8 and 4.9 percent. Oftentimes discriminated against, the Romani are descended from low-caste Indian migrants who immigrated to Bulgaria during the Middle Ages. The Romani practice nomadic lifestyles based around selling their wares and skills, and as such, must combat an entrenched social stigma. The Romani experience a high rate of child abandonment due to poverty and limited resources such as health care, public transportation and sanitation. Unfortunately, Roma children in need of homes are usually on the losing side of stereotypes and discrimination and are typically not adopted domestically by Bulgarian families.
Image courtesy of Ron Corso © 2014 Ron Corso
Spence-Chapin partners with ANIDO, a Bulgarian non-governmental organization licensed by the Ministry of Justice, Bulgarian’s central authority for adoption. The Bulgarian Ministry of Justice maintains a waiting child registry of over 1,800 children that are primarily Roma. Bulgaria prioritizes finding families for these vulnerable children. Those available for adoption are school-age, sibling groups, and children with medical issues.
Call us to learn more about adopting from Bulgaria – 212-400-8150 or
You can read one parent’s story about her Bulgaria adoption experience.
It is natural for parents to be concerned if a child is struggling to succeed in school. For many children, learning difficulties can be corrected with extra support on a short-term basis. However, children with learning disabilities may continue struggling even with additional support and attention. Typically, learning disabilities become apparent in elementary school when a child struggles in more than one subject area.
In simple terms, a learning disability results from a difference in the way a person’s brain processes information. Children with learning disabilities are intelligent and capable, like their peers; however, they may have difficulty reading, writing, spelling, reasoning, and/or organizing information and following along with lessons in a classroom setting.
If you suspect that your child has a learning disability, don’t despair. With early detection and support, children with learning disabilities can thrive. Early intervention is key in order to prevent a child from falling behind, but it’s never too late.
Parents can help children with learning disabilities achieve success by educating themselves about how learning disabilities affect children, encouraging their child’s strengths, knowing their child’s weaknesses, understanding the educational system and available resources, working with professionals, and learning about strategies for dealing with specific difficulties. Often times taking these steps can seem overwhelming, but even incremental actions have a positive effect.
Please join us for a collaborative workshop by the Modern Family Center at Spence-Chapin and Saldana Haas LLP to learn more about supporting your child’s education and addressing your questions related to this topic. We will help you develop a plan and identify resources for assistance, how to advocate for your child in the school setting, and look at how you can monitor your child’s progress.
About Saldana Haas LLP
Saldana Haas is a law firm dedicated to special education. Our mission is to empower and advocate for children with special needs and their families. We are committed to helping all families regardless of their ability to pay for legal representation. Our attorneys work to ensure that every child is provided the support necessary to be successful in school.
by Latoya Sinclair
July 24th is my son’s birthday. He turned 7 this year and it pains me because I know he is no longer just a baby, but a big boy who is growing into his own personality.
What hurts me is that I am not able to hear his voice; I haven’t heard what he sounds like since he was two weeks old. I know that decisions and choices were made, and even though they were not rooted in consciousness they still help shape the present to what it is today.
If I could go back into the hands of time I would do many things differently, however reality tells me that I cannot. At this point it is up to me to make the best of a situation that is out of my control. Now don’t get me wrong, adoption can be a joyous and wonderful choice for two parties who are rooted in the consciousness of the decision. Anyone who says that adoption is the perfect choice for everyone involved doesn’t see the whole picture. When two sets of people who have not healed old wounds get forced together based on circumstances and outsider’s ideals, then we have a troubled mix that’s brewing.
This is why I rally for adoption services like Spence-Chapin to continue embracing the rights of birth parents. Please do not leave us out of adoption conversations. We need all the services and support we can get and we need to be included. Many times I hear individuals in the adoption community state that they are afraid to hurt first mothers by opening an invitation to adoption events, but this is what is needed in order to close the painful gap that many birth parents feel. For many of the women who call themselves birth mothers, if they are invited and included in the conversation, then the adoption community as a whole will see a positive healing change. We are stronger as a community than we are as individuals, so we should embrace and work in harmony with everyone who is connected to adoption.
For many of us, fall is a time for new beginnings. New school schedules and childcare routines are set in motion and our kids are pulled into a whirlwind of school activities, sports, clubs, and classes. Often, it’s not just the kids who are getting geared up for something new — many adults cycle with the academic calendar and look to fall as the time to begin new projects or academic pursuits and to set new goals. During those last sleepy days of summer we are in high gear coordinating and planning for an exciting fall.
Scheduling is important because it provides routine and predictability. Most of us need schedules to help manage our time and know what’s coming next. Kids, and especially kids who have been adopted at an older age, tend to do well with regular, clear, and predictable schedules. Changes in routine happen, when they do, remember to give your kids extra reassurance and appropriate information about why change is happening and how you’ll work through it together.
Changes in caregivers, mealtimes, and sleep schedules, and challenges at school and with peers can often create stress for our kids (and sometimes for us parents too). There is a lot of build up in the beginning of the school year and for some this increase in expectations and pressure can be a little scary. Your child may seem more anxious and fearful than usual. Pay extra attention to how your children manages these transitions.
Here are a few tips for managing stressful times of transition:
- Put things in writing for you and your kids. Keep a family calendar that keeps track of everyone’s schedule and highlight special events in a way that everyone can understand.
- It sounds obvious, but making sure that everyone is well fed and hydrated can really help to steady moods and prevent meltdowns — this goes for both kids and parents. This is especially important if kids have after school sports or activities. Pack a healthy late afternoon snack, or have snacks ready as soon as they get home.
- Family meals are critical, but sometimes it’s just not possible for the entire family to sit down together. When this is the case, try to sit with your kids for dessert, a cup of tea, or a late night snack to have the experience of sharing a “meal” together (and put away those cell phones!).
Remember that each person has a very different sense of how much activity is comfortable and how to transition from one event to the next. For instance, some kids love to be continuously busy, transition from school to sports to homework without any down time and can snack on-the-go. Others may need a break between activities and do better with encouragement during transitions.
As parents, it is important to tune in to our kids and learn how best to support them during these especially busy seasons. If your family needs extra support, the Modern Family Center at Spence-Chapin offers parent coaching, counseling, and workshops. Give us a call at 646-539-2167, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow us on Facebook to learn more about how we can help.
Spence-Chapin partners with FANA for our Colombia host-to-adopt program. This program allows families interested in adopting an older child the opportunity to host a child in their home for three weeks before committing to the adoption.
Children in the program, who are matched with a family, gather at FANA, an adoption home in Bogota, for two weeks to prepare for their trip to the United States. This two-week preparation process is essential in helping the children navigate their fears, expectations, and excitement about traveling to a different country and living with host families. Even before the children embark on their flights to the U.S., many of them fly into Bogota from other cities within Colombia. In most cases, this is the child’s first time on a plane which is both thrilling and nerve-racking!
Many emotions can accompany this excitement. The staff at FANA help the children make sense of these emotions. Some children are apprehensive about leaving their home. Some may fear being rejected by their host families and not finding an adoptive family. Staff members do their best to empathize with these concerns, knowing that this transition is hard and that each child experiences this process through his or her own personal experience. The staff also discusses how to balance the hope of possibly being adopted while maintaining realistic expectations. The goal is to prepare the children in order for the host-to-adopt experience so that the children can enjoy their time with their American host families.
Listen to Adraina Chavez, head of Clinical Psychology at FANA.
Children have simple questions about what to expect in New York. They want to know what food they will eat, what games they will play, where they will live, and what their host families will be like. Each host family mails a photo album to the child or children with pictures of their family, the child’s room, bed, and toys. Because extended family is such an important component of Latin American life, children enjoy looking at the pictures of their extended host family.
FANA has found families for over 9,000 children through this process, so we know the host-to-adopt program is a successful way to connect families and older children while giving each child a voice in the adoption process.
We are seeking host families for summer 2015.
Call us today to learn more 212-400-8150.