Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the category “Adoption”

Happier Times Remembered In Hong Kong

Being an adoptive parent of an international child, I have an understanding as well as at least some experience understanding the culture of the country where my daughters come from.  During my first trip to China, I learned first hand, the many misconceptions that I had about the country, and learned some new things as well.

Knowing that I would be travelling out of the country, I notified the bank of the credit card that I would be using for the trip, that purchases would indeed be showing up, in person, outside of the US, during a certain time period.  At that point, I thought I had taken care of everything.  I was ready to go.

To match my enthusiasm, I received good news from the adoption agency, that the trip was being moved up three days earlier.  I definitely had no problem becoming a Dad officially sooner.

We landed at the Hong Kong airport and were met by our guide for this brief leg of the trip before heading to mainland China.  We made our way to the hotel at the airport to get as good a night sleep as we could.  More good news.  Instead of meeting our children two days later, we were going to fly into mainland China, check in to the hotel, and then proceed right away to meet our children.  It is impossible to describe the excitement.

I got to enjoy that excitement approximately ten minutes.  As it was my turn to check in to the hotel, and handed over my credit card to secure my room, the attendant behind the counter responded, “card declined.”  Not sure what I had heard, I just automatically told him to “try it again.”  His response was the same.  Panicked, because I had taken care of everything to make sure the card worked before I left, I demanded “try again.”  The third time was not the charm, as it was declined again.  Long story short, eventually after 3 stressful days, the confusion would be straightened out, but for the purposes of this post, that is a different story.

It was at that time that I learned about Hong Kong, a former property of Brittain, that although Hong Kong is considered a “free” country, it is also part of China.  The expression goes, “one country, two systems.”  Obviously, the one system being a democratic free society even with its own currency, the other Communist.  Yes, people, Communism still exists though today the word “dictatorship” is more commonly used.  Either way, Hong Kong is considered part of China.

What I had cleared with my credit card company, was that I would be travelling to China on a certain date.  But remember, I traveled three days earlier than I was scheduled, and unknowing to the fact, that Hong Kong would be considered separate from China.  Two different facts than I had presented to my credit card bank.  And it made a difference as the bank killed my credit card after trying to check into the hotel.

That is why, when I overheard the news about protests at the Hong Kong airport, and many countries issuing warnings about travel to Hong Kong, I wanted to find out more what was happening.  And though Hong Kong is on the other side of the world, the events occurring right now should be of concern to Americans.  Because the people of Hong Kong are fighting for one thing and one thing only, their freedom.

For the most part, protesters have been peaceful, just numerous in size and gathering.  Admittedly, there have been reports of some clashing between authorities, and at least five deaths recorded (all suicides).

As I said, Hong Kong, while part of Communist China, is considered a “free country”.  The issue at hand, is that China wants to issue an extradition policy that would result in offenders in Hong Kong, being extradited to mainland China to face their charges.  Again, China is Communist, and their courts and punishments are often at the center of human right violations.  And this is what the people of Hong Kong are fighting to prevent.

I am sure that there have been other issues between Hong Kong and China, but this is one that is grabbing international headlines.  Given China’s size and power, it is likely that the policy will be instituted, which will only be another chip away at the democracy that the people of Hong Kong have been enjoying for so long.

I have so many happy memories of Hong Kong.  And having been through the airport, I have a crystal clear image of the chaos and crowds now filling the airport.  The islands of Hong Kong, yes, they are islands, are beautiful with the architecturally unique skyscrapers, peaceful temples and statues, all the while an excitement of many other big cities.

I hope that this current crisis in Hong Kong gets resolved, and resolved as peacefully as possible.  But as the people of Hong Kong will tell you, freedom is worth fighting for.

Shared Custody – Is Another State About To Do The Right Thing?

One of the best news stories to come across my news feed in a long time, is that it appears another state, is about to join many others in a major movement, making “shared parenting”, or 50/50 custody, the presumed position when it comes to figuring child custody.  In Pennsylvania, HB1397 was introduced on May 6th, which will hopefully be approved, making a long overdo correction to Title 23 of Pennsylvania custody law.

Title 23 breaks down to seven different types of custody, and unless both parents involved in the divorce can agree, the custody is decided by the judge via one of these seven types:

  1.  shared physical custody – the child gets equal time with both parents, just as the child had when the parents were still married
  2.   primary physical custody – one parent has a majority of the physical custody according to the calendar year (often referred to the custodial parent)
  3.   partial physical custody – one parent has a less amount of time with the child according to the calendar year (often referred to as the non-custodial parent)
  4.   sole physical custody – the most extreme custody, denying any custody of the other parent
  5.   supervised physical custody – the result of high conflict activity in the divorce or other legal issues with one of the parents
  6.   shared legal custody – both parents have the same rights to medical and educational records and appointments (only as good as the cooperation of the parents)
  7.   sole legal custody – as with the physical, an extreme ruling that takes away the rights of the other parent

As you can see, none of these take into consideration the rights of the child to have equal access to both parents.  What exactly did either parent do to the child, for the child not to have the equal rights to both parents in divorce, as when the parents were married?  The answer?  Most likely nothing.  The decisions are usually based on several other factors before the child’s needs.

  1.  attorneys that feed off of high conflict divorce resulting in rich paydays (many times averaging between $50,000-$100,000 just for the original order, not including modifications that become necessary)
  2.   proven or assumed risks to the child by a parent’s behavior (such as drugs, violence, etc.)
  3.   revenge by the parent on the receiving end of the divorce filing

Only one of those three things actually address the concern or safety of the child.  The other two are strictly selfish, and quite honestly, harmful to the child.

But under current guidelines, this is how decisions are made.  And it is up to the parent on the shorter end of the stick, to prove their worth to have any more custody time or rights, even when that parent has done nothing wrong.  The current law presumes only one parent should have the majority of the rights, even though in marriage, there were no issues.  And it is up to the other parent to fight to restore their rights… as long as they can afford to.

HB1397 in Pennsylvania will do what so many other states have done after realizing that children need both parents, even in divorce.  It will assume the rights to be equal for both parents as the starting point.  This is a win for the children.  It is a win for the many parents often on the end unable to see, or limited in time with their children.  Of course, those against, the lawyers who will lose money in less high conflict battles for custody, and parents who only seek to destroy the natural bond between the other parent and their child.

HB1397 is a start.  It needs to get passed and join the other states in this right for the children.  But two other issues that need to be addressed and gaining attention rapidly, co-parenting and parental alienation.

Co-parenting is literally what it spells.  It is raising the child in the same manner as when the mother and father were married.  It means making sure that a child (or children) are prepared for the switching of households from one parent to another.  Both parents are on the same page when it comes to medical care and issues of hygiene and puberty.  Co-parenting is continuing to raise the children with the same rules as they had always known, especially behavior.  Educational needs are still necessary to be supported equally by both parents, as well as family gathering or other special activities that both parents need to be, and should attend, whether school related or extra curricular.  And finally, the most important factor of co-parenting, communication.  Co-parenting is not one parent telling the other how it is going to be, but rather seeking input, for what they jointly feel is best for the child.  Communication makes sure that there are no scheduling conflicts, or issues that may get out of hand before the other parent is notified and involved.

Co-parenting is not trying to get an edge over the other parent for favorite status with the child.  Co-parenting is not seeking vengeance for the hurt of the end of the marriage.  Co-parenting is not about using the children to make the other parent suffer.  Co-parenting is not about finding ways to gain additional custody time, or worse, turn the child against the other parent.  Co-parenting is not about quizzing the child about the other parent, or asking the child to keep secrets.  Co-parenting is not using the children as messengers to carry conversations back and forth if the parents cannot do it themselves.  Co-parenting is not manipulating the child financially or emotionally.  Co-parenting is not eavesdropping on conversations.  Co-parenting is not notifying the other parent when an event or medical issue has taken place after it has happened.

HB1397 will hopefully pass.  This will also hopefully be the step forward to reducing the amount of conflict that arises in custody issues.  Yes, there will be situations that need to be addressed by the courts, but not at the expenses of the innocent parents who have done nothing to lose their parental rights, or the children to lose their rights to equal time with both parents.

Parental Alienation… that is a post of its own.

“Paul’s Heart” – 50,000 Views Strong!!!

Typically, people dread Mondays.  While I do not dread them, Mondays are not my favorite day of the week.  HOWEVER, today is a great Monday!  As the counter states, “Paul’s Heart” has had over 50,000 views officially this past weekend.  Among some of the other stats that I have completely not remembered, I have published 764 posts (765 including this one).  There are 252 more posts in draft form, and hundreds that are just prompts.  And then there are more than a dozen published stories and articles that I have share on this site.  So many readers have either commented or written me with questions, situations, seeking advice, or simply just to say, “yeah, I totally get that.”

Just some of the topics that I cover regularly:

  • cancer and survivorship
  • adoption
  • parenting
  • healthcare
  • discrimination
  • parental alienation
  • education
  • bullying

I am driven by the expression, “those who cannot do, teach.”  Because I am a cancer survivor, I cannot donate blood or organs.  Because of cancer treatments, I discovered the world of adoption.  I have taken on discrimination and won.  I do not tolerate bullying at all.

But my one goal with “Paul’s Heart” has not been met yet.  Actually writing a book.  I have begun the process many times, each with a different concept or approach.  The only conclusion that I can reach as to why, is that I have not experienced yet, that one key moment that will either be the beginning, the focus, or the conclusion of such an endeavor.

In the meantime, I will keep writing about things I cannot do, but can help.  I will continue to be a voice for those that do not have the ability or confidence.  I will research and find answers, point in directions where to find answers.

I will also keep looking for, and printing guest stories from you, the readers.

From the bottom of my most grateful heart, thank you to all of you who have read, shared, and appreciated “Paul’s Heart” over the years.


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