Month: March 2014
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress …” (James 1:27, NIV).
Scripture clearly and repeatedly exhorts Christians to care for the fatherless. And, with 127,000 children waiting for a mother and father in the U.S. foster care system and numerous infants needing loving homes, answering the biblical call to care for orphans is no small task.
In 2007, Ke’onte was just eight years old, News 8’s Gloria Campos featured him as a Wednesday’s Child in hopes of finding a family to adopt him.
Following a failed adoption and disappointment, Gloria did another report on Ke’onte two years later, in hopes the second time would be the charm.
Now 14, Ke’onte returned to WFAA to surprise Gloria Campos, live, during the News 8 at 10 broadcast.
Having a passion to serve and treat others as you would want to be treated is equal to self respect and having a compassionate heart. Seeds like that grow into viable organisms. Gloria Campos had purposed in her heart to let her difference make a difference in this young man’s life and now he is restored with hope that will help his parents have joy and those of whom he will touch in his school environment as well as community at home.
There are several touching stories like this. Adoption can be risky business for both parties but restoration of discarded human beings as well as animals is the work of a Powerful God. Only He can soothe pain and fill voids and create clean hearts.
Adoption has been gaining attention as a national priority in the United States. More than 150,000 adoptions take place each year, but there are still 127,000 children waiting for adoption in the U.S. foster care system, as well as infants born to birthmothers not ready to parent. In light of Christ’s command to care for orphans, the number of children without loving homes is more than just another social issue; adoption is a Christian concern.
Defined as the permanent, legal transfer of parental rights over a child from biological parents to adoptive parents, adoption is an important social practice that promotes the well-being of children, families and society. Though there are several different categories of adoption, every adoption scenario gives adoptive parents the same rights, responsibilities and joys as biological parents, and gives adopted children the same legal, social and emotional benefits of birth children.
Adoption positively impacts all those involved with the process. It gives birthmothers the assurance that their children will be raised in stable families, gives adoptive parents the joy of parenting, and gives children the opportunity to join a permanent family and grow up in a loving home. Adoption also promotes the social and economic well-being of our nation because an adopted child is less likely (than the child of a single mother) to grow up in poverty, more likely to obtain an education, and more likely to have an involved father.
Adoption is also connected to important social issues, such as the sanctity of human life and the definition of family. Adoption upholds the sanctity of human life by providing a positive alternative to abortion for birthmothers who feel unable to parent. Adoption contributes positively to family formation by creating the opportunity for children waiting in foster care to have a loving mother and father—replacing what the child has lost.
And yet, the adoption process has been recently burdened by initiatives that ignore its purpose and promote unrelated goals. Anti-life forces rarely mention adoption as a positive alternative to abortion, and same-sex advocates reject mother-father family structures as the model for adoptive families. It is no wonder then that the fundamental purposes of adoption have come under attack and that adoption has become a topic of political controversy.
Recognizing the importance of adoption and current political threats to the practice, Focus on the Family is passionately committed to not only promoting adoption among churches and families, but also to advocating adoption policies that promote and defend the well-being of children, parents and families.
While orphan care is clearly a biblical mandate for churches and families, adoption is also an important policy concern that impacts other efforts to defend life and family. The option of adoption allows pregnant women who do not think they are ready or able to parent to confidently choose life. Also, adoption provides orphans the filial relationships that God intended for all mankind to have. In other words, it grants children who are waiting for homes the hope of receiving loving families.
Children’s Needs Lost to an Agenda
Along with the sheer challenge of finding loving homes for all children who need them, the current political climate – particularly movements to redefine the family – makes child placement even more difficult. While adoption is meant to provide children with a mother and a father when the original family is broken, unfortunately, the adoption process is now used as an avenue to advance homosexual rights. Efforts to advance rights and protections for homosexuals often place a higher priority on an individual desire to parent, rather than a child’s need for a mother and a father. Today, it is not enough to promote the practice of adoption; we must also defend adoption against initiatives that would distort its purpose.
As evidenced by the fight for adoption rights by same-sex couples, the current movement to protect and promote homosexual rights threatens the adoption arena and children’s best interests. Though they might push for it, homosexual couples—and all couples for that matter—possess no right to adopt. Rather, children have a right to grow up with the love that only a mother and a father can jointly provide. Adoption placements should acknowledge that placing a child in a family structure with a married mother and father is in the child’s best interest. Unfortunately, current anti-discrimination policies and judicial decisions often negate the best interest of children in the name of tolerance and equality.
One conflict has already risen to the surface. The movement to promote individuals with same-sex attraction as a legally protected class threatens the work of adoption agencies that hold moral convictions against same-sex adoption. Certain anti-discrimination laws in the U.S. ultimately mandate that adoption agencies allow same-sex couples to adopt children. These acts stifle the freedom of independent adoption agencies to decide that concern for a child’s best interests requires them to make placements in married mother and father homes rather than with gay or lesbian-identified couples, or cohabiting heterosexual couples. Ultimately, sexual orientation laws that were meant to prevent discrimination actually violate the freedom of adoption agencies that hold religious or moral convictions against certain adoption placements, and deprive a child of either a father or mother. Adoption agencies are forced to decide between closing their doors and violating their deeply held beliefs.
This has already happened. In 2006, Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination laws pushed Catholic Charities of Boston, one of the nation’s oldest adoption agencies, to leave the adoption business in order to uphold its religious convictions about marriage and family. More recently, an Arizona-based Internet adoption registry was forced to stop providing adoption services to Californians after the company was sued for refusing to provide services to a same-sex couple.
Clearly, laws should be passed protecting the moral and religious rights of adoption agencies, which should be able to help children find the loving homes they need without violating their deeply-held religious convictions about marriage and family
In summary, adoption is an important Christian concern. If we as believers are to fulfill our biblical mandate to care for orphans, we must support initiatives that: encourage adoption; advocate policies that promote the well-being of children, parents, and families; and reject measures that negate the best interest of children, deny God’s design for the family or threaten the moral rights of adoption services.
Some of today’s most powerful women joined forces to encourage young women to take on leadership roles, saying that being called “bossy” makes girls feel insecure about taking on the same roles as men. Along with Girl Scouts of American and Lifetime, they have created an inspiring PSA to #banbossy
With women comprising just 4% of corporate CEOs, 14% of executive officers and 20% of America’s government officials, we’re facing a persistent leadership gap at the highest echelons. To move forward, we must first take stock of what is working.
The following eight leadership lessons, synthesized and updated from a keynote given last year, come directly from the women who know what it takes to get to the top.
The world’s most successful women really want it–and remain determined even in the face of obstacles. They have the skills, and they put the time in. But more importantly, they have the desire to do something great. Beth Brooke, global vice chair of Ernst & Young , was diagnosed with a degenerative hip disease at age 13 and was told by doctors she may never walk again. Before going into surgery she promised herself she would walk—no, she would run—and aspired to become one of the best young athletes the world had seen. Not only did she walk, she went on to play several varsity sports at her high school, earned multiple MVP awards, and later played Division I basketball in college. She made up her mind, and she didn’t quit. She brought that same determination to her career and today ranks among the 100 most powerful women in the world.
Women at the top aren’t fearless. They move toward their fear to continually challenge themselves. That takes courage. In 2011, Beth Mooney, CEO of KeyCorp KEY +1.27%, became the first woman ever to lead a top-20 bank in the U.S. Mooney began her career as a secretary at a local Texas bank, making just $10,000 a year, but soon realized she wanted something more. In 1979, she knocked on the door of every big bank in Dallas and asked for a spot in their management training programs. At the Republic Bank of Dallas, she refused to leave the manager’s office until he offered her a job. After waiting for three hours, he finally agreed to give her a chance if she earned an MBA by night.
That was a turning point in her career, one of many, powered by a courageous call to action—to champion herself and what she knew she was capable of. Later, she had the courage to move into roles she’d never done before, to pick up and move across the country, and to stick with it for three decades. If you’re not a little bit scared every day, you’re not learning. And when you’re not learning, you’re done.
In order to achieve big success, you have to have big impact. When Michelle Gass, who is now leading 33 countries for Starbucks, started at the coffee chain, she was asked to architect a growth strategy for a just-launched drink called the Frappuccino. Her mantra: “Let’s think of how big this can be.” After countless hours testing ideas, she decided to position it as an escapist treat and added ice cream parlor fixings and new flavors. What began as a two-flavor side item is now a $2 billion platform with tens of thousands of possible combinations. Gass repeated her go-big-or-go-home strategy when she took over Seattle’s Best Coffee. She decided to take the sleepy little-sister brand to new heights by partnering with Burger King, Delta, Subway, convenience stores and supermarkets. In one year, the brand exploded from 3,000 distribution points to over 50,000.
Take Calculated Risks
As CEO of Kraft Foods and now Mondelez International, Irene Rosenfeld is very familiar with this one. A couple years ago she completed a hostile takeover of British candy company Cadbury. Not long after, she surprised the business community again with a plan to split Kraft into two separate companies, a North American foods company and a global snacks company. To move the needle, you have to make a big bets—but never rash—always based on a careful study of the outcomes. You have to know what you have to gain, and if you can afford to take the hit if it doesn’t go your way.
It takes discipline to achieve and maintain success. You simply can’t do everything, and the world’s most powerful women stay focused on the areas that will have the biggest impact—from both a leadership perspective and a career management perspective. Sheri McCoy, the new CEO of struggling Avon Products, is currently implementing a huge turnaround at the century-old beauty company. Interestingly, when I asked what the biggest challenge would be, she said: “Making sure people stay focused on what’s important and what matters most.” It is very easy to get distracted by new trends, new markets, new projects—but when you extend yourself too far, the quality of your work suffers across the board.
Over and over again women at the top say their best strategy for success is to hire people who are diverse, passionate and smarter than themselves–and then listen closely to their perspectives. Hala Moddelmog, president of Arby’s Restaurant Group, believes surrounding yourself with people of different backgrounds—including gender, race, geography, socio-economic and personality types—will help round out your conclusions. “You really don’t need another you,” she says. Similarly, staying open to different viewpoints keeps you ahead of the curve. Claire Watts, the CEO of retail and media company QVC, schedules open door times every Tuesday, so that anyone in the company who wants to come talk to her, ask her a question or share something they’ve noticed can do it then.
Manage Your Career
Denise Morrison, the CEO of Campbell’s Soup, knew from a very young age she wanted to eventually run a company, so she asked herself what are the kinds of things I need to do to prepare for that? That might mean management experience, global exposure or revenue responsibility. She always looked at her career as: Where have I been? Where am I now? Where am I going, and what are the right assignments to get there? If her current company would work with her to deliver those assignments, she was all-in. But if it didn’t, she knew she needed to move on. “We apply these skills in business, and yet when it comes to ourselves we rarely apply them,” she said.
Delegate At Work And At Home
The most successful women have learned that they have to have help, and they have to have faith in the people around them—at work and at home. It’s not easy, but it’s critical over the long-term. Katie Taylor, the CEO of hotel brand Four Seasons, admitted to me that she is a bit of control freak, but for the good of her and everyone around her, she tries to delegate. “Sit on your hands, if you have to,” she said. “Get yourself to that place.”