Thursday, October 28, 2010

Congratulations to Nehemiah and Amanda….

And congratulations to the hundreds of children whose adoptions will be finalized this year. National Adoption Day is November 20, 2010. Your families love you, the uncertainty is over and your futures are bright.

And congratulations too, to Sara and Israel and Melissa and Jason, your lucky adoptive parents.

"The Miracle Baby"

Melissa and Jason first laid eyes on their 'miracle baby,' Nehemiah on the AdoptUSKids website. They will finalize his adoption next week. Nehemiah is no ordinary toddler. He's the 'miracle baby.'

When Melissa and Jason went to California in November of last year to visit him for the first time, "we fell in love with him at first sight," said Melissa. "We didn't want to leave."

Melissa returned to California to celebrate Nehemiah's 2nd birthday in December, and then their entire family, including six year old Jaron and seven year old Jaylynn went to visit the baby for New Year's. He came home to Arizona with his family in February, and immediately had to have emergency surgery and landed in the ICU for two weeks. Nehemiah has a neurological disorder and his brain isn't full developed on one side. He is never expected to walk and may not be able to talk. He requires 24 hour-a-day care including g-tube feeds, a suction machine and svn machine, and four to five therapies a week – speech, physical, occupational and vision, plus .

"When we brought him home, they told us he wouldn't ever be able to do much," said Melissa. "Now we call him our 'miracle baby.'" Nehemiah rolls over, scoots on his back, eats a jar of baby food a day and has started grabbing toys. "He is the happiest, most smiley baby. He's in love with our family and we are in love with him. He smiles and kicks when we come in the room, and he has learned to laugh out loud."

In October the family will travel to California to finalize Nehemiah's adoption, and then (what else!), go to Disneyland.

"We love her to Death"

Amanda's journey began at her birth in prison. She moved from home to home, family member to family member until the Escandon family picked her up from a CPS office in 2008. Amanda was 12 years old. "She thought we were weirdo's," said Sara. "Our sons were in the back seat of the car with Batman and Superman masks on and she thought my husband and I should have known more about her." Over the past two years, the Escandon family has "fallen in love" with Amanda, and her with them. "We have seen Amanda grow tremendously," adds Sara. "She's come so far. She's a beautiful girl. She's not afraid to speak up. She's amazing."

Amanda's brothers adore her and she and her sister share secrets and friendship bracelets and have developed a really great relationship.

"It was hard to blend at first, but they are all really great friends now," said Sara.

And Saturday, November 20 is National Adoption Day, a national day of celebration of adoptive families and an opportunity for courts to open their doors and finalize the adoptions of children from foster care. This year on November 20, families, adoption advocates, policymakers, judges and volunteers will come together and celebrate adoption in communities large and small all across Arizona. To learn more, visit

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned" - Benjamin Franklin

For many of us…a penny earned is a penny spent…which can result in not too many Benjamin's in our wallet for the things we really want. Golden Gate Community Center, in partnership with the Valley of the Sun United Way and Arizona Saves, is dedicated to turning financial instability around for the families it serves with a series of FREE Financial Stability Classes to help start families down the road to financial success. The content of the classes includes Banking Basics, Building a Better Budget and Taking Charge of Credit.

"The purpose of the program is to help our families move toward the goal of financial literacy armed with knowledge, clear direction and confidence," said Enrique Vargas, program director. "Through classes and individual assistance we will provide information about how to open bank accounts, establish savings and manage credit. It's information that every family can use."

Angelica signed up for the series of classes when they were first offered. "I was interested in the topic and had a general lack of knowledge about how to establish credit, federal and state programs that could help us buy a house, how credit cards work and how to establish a checking account and a savings account," said Angelica. "I learned in the classes about how important it is to set goals, get credit and make payments." Angelica’s financial goals include starting a small business, buying a home and having enough money to travel.

Enrique adds, "Angelica has changed the way she manages money. She has started saving money and establishing credit. She's much more confident about her financial future."

Enrique adds, "Unfortunately, many people are uncomfortable talking about their finances. They don't believe there's anything to learn. Our classes include information that will be helpful to everyone."

The next Financial Literacy workshops are scheduled at Golden Gate on November 4th to November 18th. Workshops take place from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Dinner is provided at 5:50 p.m. for workshop participants and daycare is provided. All classes are held in Spanish.