January 7th, 2013
09:30 AM ET

High court to tackle Native American adoption dispute

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

Washington (CNN) - A custody battle involving the "best interests" of a 3-year-old Cherokee girl will be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court, an issue spanning the rights of adoptive parents and the desire to preserve Native American families within tribes.

The justices announced they will hear an appeal from Matt and Melanie Capobianco, who legally adopted little Veronica in 2009, shortly after the birth mother agreed to give up the child. Oral arguments in the case will likely be heard in April with a ruling by late June.

The South Carolina Supreme Court in July ruled for the biological father, who had sought custody shortly after the child's birth. He is a registered member of the Cherokee Nation and is raising the child in Oklahoma.

Dusten Brown had earlier signed a legal document agreeing to put the girl up for adoption, but his attorneys say the father did not understand the extent of the waiver, and that the birth mother misrepresented the child's American Indian heritage to social service workers when the adoption was finalized.

At issue is whether Brown, as the onetime non-custodial father, can gain parental custody, after the non-Indian mother initiated an adoption outside the tribe.

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Immigrants lead plunge in U.S. birth rate
The recession has played a role in a drop in the U.S. birth rate, population experts say.
November 29th, 2012
02:24 PM ET

Immigrants lead plunge in U.S. birth rate

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) - It makes sense that since the start of the recession, the birth rate in America has been declining.

In 2011, it dipped to the lowest rate ever recorded: 63.2 per 1,000 women between 15 and 44, the prime childbearing ages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That plunge was led by immigrant women, according to a Pew Research Center analysis released Thursday.

The birth rate for U.S.-born women declined 6% between 2007 (when the recession began) and 2010. However, the rate for foreign-born women plunged 14%, more than in the 17 years before the downturn.

Both foreign- and U.S.-born Hispanic women had larger drops in birth rate than any other group, Pew found. That correlates with larger percentage declines in household wealth for Hispanics than in white, black or Asian households. FULL POST

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Opinion: A gay son and his dad give thanks
Paul Begala says one family's struggle to help their son accept his sexuality is a story of love, support that resonates at Thanksgiving.
November 23rd, 2012
08:10 AM ET

Opinion: A gay son and his dad give thanks

Editor's note: Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, was a political consultant for Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992 and was counselor to Clinton in the White House.

By Paul Begala, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - Every parent loves his or her child; it's the prime directive of the species. Twenty years ago, when my wife was pregnant with our first baby, Hillary Clinton told me that having a child is like taking your heart out of your body and letting it walk around.

For some parents, however, their beloved child takes their heart on a long, wild ride that careers from joyous and generous to dark and dangerous. So it was with John Schwartz and Jeanne Mixon. Joseph, their third child, was a precocious reader, a super-sensitive old soul, fiercely defiant when he believed the teacher was too autocratic, hyper-quick on the trigger. Or, as his father put it, a squirrelly kid.

He's also gay. Fabulously gay. From early childhood he preferred feather boas to football; pink shoes to playing soccer. No problem; his parents are enlightened, intelligent, educated, urbane and progressive. Their community in suburban New Jersey was welcoming and inclusive. Their rabbi is gay.

And yet shortly after he came out of the closet at age 13, Joe attempted suicide.

Read Paul Begala's full column
Celebrating Thanksgiving with 'Generation Alzheimer's'
A family member with dementia will have a better Thanksgiving experience in a small-group setting, says expert Laura Wayman.
November 22nd, 2012
12:00 PM ET

Celebrating Thanksgiving with 'Generation Alzheimer's'

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

(CNN) - Judy Warzenski didn't realize how bad her father, Donald's, memory had gotten until he turned to her sister Joyce and asked, "Where's the girl who was sitting next to you?" He did not recognize Joyce as his own daughter.

This Thanksgiving, Warzenski and her younger siblings will eat Thanksgiving dinner with their father in a private dining room at a nursing home in Pennsylvania. Moving her father there in October was an agonizing decision.

"It's really very upsetting to me," said Warzenski, 62, of central New Jersey. "I promised him I would never do this. I promised him I would never put him in a nursing home, which I've come to realize is an unrealistic promise."

Warzenski, who had commented on a previous CNN dementia story, is one of many baby boomers who must watch their loved ones suffer from Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia. The condition, which robs people of their memory and thinking skills, necessitates tough decisions about caring for people as their minds slowly slip away.

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Filed under: Age • Family • How we live • Relationships
Opinion: 5 ways to raise thankful children
November 21st, 2012
05:10 PM ET

Opinion: 5 ways to raise thankful children

Editor’s note: Vincent DiCaro is vice president of development and communication for the National Fatherhood Initiative, where he has worked for more than 10 years to promote involved, responsible and committed fatherhood. He lives in Maryland with his wife and toddler-age son.

By Vincent DiCaro, Special to CNN

(CNN) – I’ll always remember the first time my son spontaneously said, “Thank you,” to me. It was only a few months ago. He has Type 1 diabetes and was having a low blood sugar episode. I brought him his favorite juice to get his blood sugar up, and when I handed him the juice he said, “Thank you, daddy” in his adorable toddler voice.

I melted of course, but I was also grateful that my son was picking up one of the most important character traits he will need as he grows up: thankfulness. But as the father of a 2½-year-old, I can say with confidence that thankfulness does not come naturally to children, mine included.

While my son is starting to say “thank you” on his own, it was only after making him say it over and over again; the first few hundred times he said those magical words, he didn’t even know what they meant. But somehow, he knew what “no” and “mine” meant right away – funny how that works.

So raising thankful children is an uphill battle against the generally selfish tendencies of children. But not all hope is lost. Parenting, like having a good jump shot, is a skill that can be learned through the right techniques and practice.
To get you started, here are five things you can start to do right away that will build a character of thankfulness in your children.

1. Model thankfulness. It is difficult for children to be what they don’t see. Therefore it is critical that you live out thankfulness in your own life.

Read the full post on CNN's Schools of Thought blog
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November 11th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

A father seeks peace in a place of war

By Moni Basu, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) - Robert Stokely fired up his computer and began a journey to a place an ocean and continent away, to a land of parched earth and dusty brush not far from the banks of the Euphrates.


It is the Iraqi town where Robert's son Mike was killed on a hot August night in 2005. A place that haunted him.

Robert showed me his Google Earth mapping ritual the first time I met him in his office in suburban Atlanta.

It was almost a year after Mike's death, and he was tortured by the thought that he might die without ever seeing where his son fell.

Now, when I meet him for lunch at a sports bar more than six years later, it is as though a great weight has been lifted.

The sorrow of losing a child, unimaginable to many of us, never withers.

Robert still wears Mike's dog tag around his neck and occasionally sleeps in his son's bedroom, frozen in time with Mike's Green Day CDs and military memorabilia.

On a shelf in the room sits a round clock that Robert bought for $4.98. He stopped it at 2:20 a.m., the time of Mike's death, and in black marker scribbled the date: August 16.

Robert still does the things that made his grief so visible to me in the aftermath of Mike's death. But Robert's voice is steadier now. He can finish most of his sentences without tears.

I know that it is because of that place - Yusufiya.

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Filed under: Family • Relationships • Veterans in Focus • Who we are
Sandy puts Day of the Dead celebrations on hold
Calaveritas -- sugar skulls -- would be a typical part of New York and New Jersey Day of the Dead celebrations.
November 1st, 2012
04:17 PM ET

Sandy puts Day of the Dead celebrations on hold

By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN

(CNN) - Sugar skulls, specially adorned altars and fresh pan de muertos have to take a rain check around New York and New Jersey today because of Superstorm Sandy.

Just as many places in the Northeast put Halloween trick-or-treating on hold, the same is happening for Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos. The traditionally Mexican holiday is typically celebrated the first two days in November to honor family and friends who have passed away.

Although celebrations are happening in other places with large Latino populations - Chicago, Miami, and many cities in California and Texas - it's a blow to New York and New Jersey. About 18% of the populations of New York and New Jersey are Hispanic, according to the Pew Hispanic Center's 2010 state demographic profiles. In both states, 14% of Hispanics are of Mexican origin, the profiles reported.

“There is no power in the Lower East Side and we cannot have any activities until power is restored due to safety reasons,” New York nonprofit Mano a Mano’s Facebook page and Twitter updates said in English and Spanish.


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Justices could take up same-sex marriage
The justices could decide to hear a constitutional challenge to a law denying benefits to same-sex couples.
September 25th, 2012
09:25 AM ET

Justices could take up same-sex marriage

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

Washington (CNN) The divisive issue of same-sex marriage was expected to be discussed privately by the Supreme Court on Monday, and the justices could soon announce if they will hear a constitutional challenge to a federal law denying financial benefits to gay and lesbian couples.

An order from the court announcing whether it will take up either or both of two separate issues could come as early as Tuesday morning. If so, oral arguments and an eventual ruling would not happen until next year, but the current appeals are sure to reignite the hot-button social debate in a presidential election.

At issue is whether guarantees of "equal protection" in the U.S. Constitution should invalidate a California law - and the separate 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which for federal purposes defines marriage as the legal union only between one man and one woman.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Family • How we live • Relationships • Sexual orientation • Who we are
Opinion: Poverty numbers don't tell the whole story
Psychologist Susan Bodnar say poverty "numbers don’t tell the real story about people and their finances."
September 12th, 2012
12:41 PM ET

Opinion: Poverty numbers don't tell the whole story

Editor’s note: Susan Bodnar is a clinical psychologist who teaches at Columbia University’s Teachers College and at The Stephen Mitchell Center for Relational Studies. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, two children and all of their pets.

By Susan Bodnar, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Almost every day brings an economic report with new statistics.

The numbers attempt to explain our society as a configuration of categories, boxes or slices on a pie chart.

In 2011, 46.2 million people fell below the poverty line. The top 1% has a household net worth of $16.4 million, while the median wealth is only $57,000. 

Median income falls, but so does poverty

These numbers don’t tell the real story about people and their finances.

History does.

Honestly, I don’t want to write this.

As a psychologist, I would like to hide how difficult it was to attain my education and my professional credentials, and how hard I still work! Once a person has achieved this thing called status it has become fashionable to act as if entitled to it, as though those who don’t yet have it are neither smart nor hardworking enough.

Yet I have an obligation to not deny the generations of hardship out of which I have constructed my success. FULL POST

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Filed under: Family • History • Poverty • What we think
September 10th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

From Kurt Warner's wife to internet famous

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – In a stadium filled with 8,000 evangelical Christian women, one person near the stage stands out.

Sporting short salt-and-peppered hair, broad shoulders and a high-collared shirt, the man sits calmly as ballerinas flutter across the stage, women tell jokes about menopause and the event’s emcee announces that almost all the men’s rooms at the Verizon Center in downtown Washington have been converted to female restrooms for the night, provoking a round of applause.

For Kurt Warner, former quarterback for the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals and two-time National Football League MVP, this is about as far away from the testosterone-driven world of the gridiron as you can get.

Onstage is the reason Warner’s here: Brenda Warner, her angular face and close-cropped blonde hair radiating in professional lighting, telling the audience about God’s plan for her life.

For years, Brenda was known as Kurt’s uber-supportive wife – a woman whose unflinchingly defense and championing of her superstar husband sometimes made news in it its own right.

Today, two years into Kurt’s retirement, those roles are changing.

Read the full story on CNN's Belief blog

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