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The Path Leading Children to Dorie’s Promise

January 17th, 2018 by

Have you ever wondered how children find their way to Dorie’s Promise?

By Kelly Shank –

Marcos is all smiles.Have you ever wondered how children find their way to Dorie’s Promise? We want to help you understand the process that brings children into our home.

There are many different paths our children take before eventually living at Dorie’s Promise. Some of them were abandoned as infants. Others were given up by parents who simply couldn’t provide for them. Too many were rescued from abuse. The common themes in each child’s story are loss and trauma. From the moment children enter our home, we become the protectors of their rights and well-being.

The Beginning of their Journey:

We never know when we might get a call asking us to consider accepting a new child. We’ve received emergency placements in the middle of the night before but most children come into our care as a result of the normal family court proceedings. Based on a home’s location and the level of specialized care needed for a particular child, social workers reach out to the directors of private orphan care homes in hopes of finding a placement before turning to government facilities.

When Alejandra, our director, receives one of these calls, she must determine if Dorie’s Promise is able to provide the best care for a new child without sacrificing the care being received by the children already living in our home. Our homes are divided by gender so one of the first factors she considers is if we have room in that specific house.

Additionally, we consider the age of children who enter our home. As a general rule, we take children up to 8 years old. Why only eight years old? We are committed to making long-term commitments with the children who enter our home so we try to accept children who may be with us for an extended period of time. Lastly, she also considers the special needs of the child, whether physical, mental, or emotional, to determine if we have sufficient resources for a new child.

Navigating the Courts during Their Stay:

Merary came to Dorie's Promise to be reunited with her brother Yire who was already living at our home.As we mentioned, once a child enters our care we represent their interests in court. Jessica, our Legal Assistant, represents them at all court hearings, prepares reports, and is responsible for keeping our staff aware of the legal status of each child’s case.

Between thirty-five and forty children live in our home at any time. You might have noticed that there aren’t thirty-five to forty children on our Sponsor Page. The gap occurs because we only include Permanent Placements in our Sponsor bios. Children in our sponsorship program are Permanent Placements because either their parental rights have been terminated or they have been determined by the courts to be with us long-term.

Every child enters our home as a temporary placement, similar to the foster care program. Through the court process social workers determine if the children could potentially be reunited with their biological parents or other relatives. About 40% of the children in our home are eventually reunited with their biological parents or other family members. We appreciate the deep connections our children have with their biological families and are excited when parents are able to complete the court-ordered reunification programs and establish healthy homes for their families.

Unfortunately, in the majority of our cases, biological families are unable to make the changes necessary to provide a safe home for their children. In those instances, parental rights can be terminated and a judge can declare the child adoptable. Afterward, the National Council for Adoptions (CNA in Guatemala) works to match children with potential Guatemalan adoptive families*.

Each child’s case is unique. Although the designation of temporary or permanent might sound like a simple decision, unfortunately it isn’t. Some of the children in our home have been here as temporary foster placements for many years, caught between parents who desire to be in their lives and the reality that they are not able to provide for them. In contrast, some of our permanent, “adoptable” children have also been here for many years as well. Often, older children and sibling groups are not easily matched with adoptive families.

Our Promise to These Children:

We've made a promise to all the children who've come to Dorie's Promise.Heather Radu, our founder, decided many years ago that we were committed to long-term involvement in the lives of our children. Thus, we accept younger children who may be in our care for a decade or more, giving us the best opportunity to help them become successful adults. This is also why we take some of the hardest placements, those with disabilities and sibling groups.

We believe in giving our absolute best to every child in our home, no matter their placement status. We choose to stand in the gap of their lives, love them, lead them, and help them heal.

Your monthly gift helps us continue providing the best care possible. Visit our Sponsor Page, read more about our children, and find ways to support our home.

 

* International Adoption from Guatemala closed in 2008

Feliz Navidad from Dorie’s Promise

January 2nd, 2018 by

Christmas 2017 at Dorie's Promise.

By Kelly Shank –

The littlest children were so excited to have a chance to see Santa in person.We hope your Christmas was filled with fun, family, and friends! With so kids in our home we can’t help but have fun during Christmas. From the littlest kids to the biggest, everyone has been excited to celebrate.

Every year we have special guests who visit our children at Christmas time, including special friends from America and Santa Claus himself. As you can imagine, taking all of our children to visit Santa would be a little difficult so instead Santa makes a special trip to Dorie’s Promise each year. The week before Christmas Santa came to visit during a special pizza party for our kids. He listened to their last minute gift requests and brought an early present for each child. The littlest children were so excited to have a chance to see Santa in person.

We hope that your holiday has been filled with all the people and moments most special in your life too. Maybe it’s a favorite holiday meal, a visit with family, or Christmas carols that bring the holiday spirit to your family. Each of us has special memories that help create the perfect holiday. It’s no different for our children and staff at Dorie’s Promise. There are very special holiday memories that we share in our home every year. This year was even more special because we were able to start creating special memories with several new children, including Myra who just celebrated her fifteenth birthday.

With a house full of kids, Christmas is a special occasion at Dorie’s Promise. We create a uniquely Guatemalan holiday celebration for our children, where they can participate in Guatemalan traditions, celebrate the birth of Jesus with our staff, and experience the love of family as we spend time together.

The children and staff enjoy special Guatemalan Christmas meal.In Guatemala we usher in Christmas Day with lots of celebrating on Christmas Eve, known as “Noche Buena.” On December 24th each of our kids received a new special outfit, got dressed up, and shared a traditional meal of tamales and ponche with the Special Mothers. This is one of their favorite meals of the year. Folded into a banana leaf, tamales are a mixture of corn, meat, and sauce while ponche is a special hot fruit punch that is made specifically for the holiday season. A combination of fruit, sugar, and cinnamon, each family has their own recipe of ponche, making it even more special. We want our children to celebrate their Guatemalan traditions so they can pass them on to their children in the future.

After supper the families of our staff come to spend time with our kids and play. We forget all about bedtimes on Christmas Eve and everyone counts down until midnight when our real Christmas celebration begins. Once it’s officially Christmas our whole neighborhood begins lighting fireworks and all of our kids open their gifts. In a home with so many children it’s special to watch them open gifts chosen for each individual. Our staff does a great job of making sure each child has something they will enjoy.

Thank you for helping us make Christmas special for our children.

From the children and staff at Dorie’s Promise, “Feliz Navidad y que Dios te bendiga.” (Merry Christmas and God bless you.)

New Schools in the New Year

December 19th, 2017 by

Abraham C. does school work. He is one of the children attending a private school in Guatemala.

By Kelly Shank –

Several of our children attend the private Colegio Shaddai school.Last week we shared about the fun activities our kids are enjoying during their school vacation. As they are honing their soccer skills and learning new songs on the keyboard, Cecilia and Alejandra have been busy preparing for the new school year. In January, 36 of our children will be attending school.

Spread between five separate schools we will have children in grades ranging from Pre-K through high school.

Enrolling children in five different schools might seem like unnecessarily making life harder but offering individualized education is one of our core beliefs. The majority of our children will attend one of four private schools in Guatemala City: Colegio Hossana, Colegio Shaddai, Centro Educativo Verapaz, or Coeli. A few children, mainly those who are foster care placements and those who are newer or behind in their schooling, will attend our local public school. Once they are caught up academically and placed with us permanently we will determine if a different school best meets their needs.

These schools each offer a very unique opportunity for children. Centro Educativo Verapaz and Coeli offer specialized learning environments for our children who struggle with delays, need some extra help, or work best in a different type of classroom. Coeli is especially helpful to prepare older children because they offer classes that prepare kids for their future careers like culinary arts.

Coeli is especially helpful to prepare older children because they offer classes that prepare kids for their future careers like culinary arts.Colegio Hossana and Colegio Shaddai are amazing private schools where our children have flourished for years. Although they are academically challenging, our children are excelling in their programs. One of the biggest benefits is that our children are able to learn English which gives them a valuable skill for their future. We are lucky to have found schools who value each of our kids and partner with us to help them excel.

It’s been amazing over the last several years to watch the changes within our house. We have transitioned from a house full of cribs to a house full of backpacks. Five more of our children will be attending school for the very first time with us this year. Carlitos, Lucero, Carlos Emmanuel, Marco Antonio, and Marvin Omar are all very excited for the adventure of going to school. Alejandra says they are really excited to make new friends and learn new things like the older kids.

For some of our children, January will mean attending a new school. Four of our children will be attending Centro Educativo Verapaz this year because we believe it offers the best learning environment for each of them. Additionally, three of our children are transferring to Colegio Shaddai as well. For these children the transition may mean that school is a little bit more difficult than before. We like our children to be challenged in school so they can also celebrate the joy of achieving their goals. Each year we are amazed by the growth we see in our children’s education.

A teacher from Colegio ShaddaiThanks to the efforts of Lucky, our teacher, the children are well-prepared for the new school year. Even though our kids were enjoying the break from school, Lucky made sure they were still practicing their math, reading, writing, and English. They are ready to share everything they’ve learned and done over their break with their teachers and friends, including their new soccer moves and piano skills.

Providing the best possible educational experience for each of our children is a high priority for us. We truly believe that by investing in their education we are giving them the opportunity to become successful adults.

If you would like to invest in our children’s future by helping them receive a quality education, please consider becoming a monthly sponsor today or giving a one-time educational donation. Thank you for investing in our kids.

Public Schools In Guatemala Don’t Make the Grade

December 15th, 2017 by

A teracher at a private school where several Dorie's Promise kids attend school.

By Heather Radu –

Abraham and Yire attend El Shaddai, a private Christian school in Guatemala.As we look ahead to 2018, I want to ask you to help us continue to make sure our children get the best education possible.  (The new children we have taken in from the fire have made this need even more clear to me.)

The problem is, sending our children to public school is not really an option.  The schools in Guatemala City are not like the public schools in the United States.  I’ve toured them and talked with the principals, and so has our director Alej Diaz.  We both agree, we need to make the extra effort to get our children into private education.

Believe me when I tell you that if you lived here you would do anything it took to put your child in private education.

The public schools are simply substandard and honestly a little dangerous.

Please stand with me and consider a special gift to help make sure that each and every one of our children receives the education they need to learn and mature.

The average cost of sending a child to a private school in Guatemala is $1,700 per year. That’s just about $142 a month — which covers tuition, books, uniforms, after-school activities, tutoring, supplies, and transportation.

Ana and Maria are ready to head to school.I would like to invite you to help us give our children an exceptional educational experience through your kind giving.

Our goal is to raise $25,500 by December 31.  I don’t know what you could give. Maybe you could give a gift of $1,000 or $500? Maybe that’s too much. Maybe you are better able to give a gift of $50 or $100?  Anything you can give will make a difference.  Please know that whatever God lies on your heart to contribute, I want to urge you to give it today.

Give Today!

Let me hear from you soon, we are making plans for schooling for each of our children as you read this.

Thank you again, for all you do to help our children. You are a blessing to them!

Trading Backpacks for Vacation Fun

December 13th, 2017 by

Trading Backpacks for Vacation Fun

By Kelly Shank –

School is out in Guatemala until January.While children in America are counting down the days till their winter break our kids are savoring their vacation from school. Most of our schools ended by the middle of October and won’t start again until the middle of January. Our home is full of excitement with all of our children out of school.

We’re all enjoying days that start a little later, special activities, and a break from homework. With everyone home, the Special Mothers have extra hands to help out during the day too.

This past school year was tough for some of our kids but we are so proud of how well they finished. (For a few of our children this was their first year in school so they are enjoying a well-deserved break after their hard work.)

Everyone at our home was ready for a little break at the end of the school year. We traded in lunchboxes and backpacks for later mornings and camp. With so many kids in our house over break we want to balance letting them have free time with making sure they have opportunities for fun activities too. We like to try out new activities during the summer before committing to lessons or teams during the school year.

Nayeli Soto is one of the children from Dorie's Promise who is in soccer camp during the school break.Lately our home has been filled with the sound of piano music. One of our mission teams this past summer generously donated an electric keyboard for our children and now 7 of our girls are learning to play the piano with the help of a local musician who visits our home. Music is helping these girls learn a new skill, have fun, and gain a new level of confidence in themselves. For some of our girls who struggled with school and other activities, playing the piano has been an activity where they finally felt successful. Alejandra has especially taken an interest in the piano and is learning quickly. Last summer the missions team played the piano and sang for our children. We’re hoping that our girls can play some songs and sing for the team when they return next summer.

While a few of the girls are discovering a new interest in the piano over break, all of the boys, along with Myra and Nallely Soto, are upping their soccer game by taking part in camp. Everyone who visits our home knows just how serious our children are about the game. If you’ve ever played soccer with them you also know that they don’t hold back either. Soccer is a big deal in Guatemala and it’s no different at Dorie’s Promise. Every summer we enroll our kids in soccer camp to help them improve their skills, have fun, and practice playing on a team. We especially love to watch the smaller boys learn new skills and show off when they get home. Visitors beware, they’re practicing hard to win the upcoming kids versus mission team soccer games.

With about one month left before school starts again we’re trying to have as much fun as possible with our children. Before we know it, we’ll be packing lunches and backpacks for another great school year. Until then, our home will be filled with piano music and soccer balls.

Finishing Well in 2017

December 7th, 2017 by

Three boys ready for school. | Dorie's Promise Guatemala

By Kelly Shank –

Alejandra is full of happy engery. | Dorie's Promise Guatemala2017 has been an amazing year at Dorie’s Promise. Over the last few months we’ve shared stories about all the big things happening in our home. Our children, staff, and trip participants all experienced life changing opportunities over the last year.

If you missed our stories about Nayeli’s first year in college, Myra’s quinceañeara, or the children who moved into our home after the fire at the Virgen de la Asunción orphanage, you can find them and many more on the blog.

Even though 2017 has been an amazing year already, we believe the biggest blessings for Dorie’s Promise have yet to come. The stories we share about the big things happening in our home highlight all the work being done behind the scenes by our staff. You don’t hear about the mountains of laundry that get washed each morning or the hours our drivers spend running kids to school but these daily tasks are what make a home for our children and that is the reason we work so hard.

You know that we rely on the generosity of donors for all of our needs but what you might not realize is that we rely heavily on the generosity of a few people to continue operating each year because we don’t have enough monthly sponsors. The majority of our funding is received through special donations at the end of each year which is a little bit scary when we’re paying the bills. We need your help to meet our budget for 2017.

Lester concentrates hard on a Lego project. | Dorie's Promise GuatemalaWe are trusting that once again God will faithfully provide for the needs of our children.

As we celebrate 2017 we also want to look forward to 2018. Next year Brayan will be graduating from high school and we are committed to supporting him as he prepares for his future career. Plus, we are anticipating regular maintenance needs in our homes and with our vehicles over the next year. We are planning ahead so we can make the most out of the gifts we receive.

Our dream is to double the number of children in our care. Instead of being limited to 40 kids, we want to serve 80 children but we are not in a financial position to expand yet. To do so, we need to reach 100% funding through monthly sponsorships for the children already in our care. When we can reach this goal, we can start welcoming more children.

Will you help us finish well in 2017?

Becoming fully sponsored is our biggest Christmas wish! We believe that God is calling people to become a part of our family this Christmas. If you already sponsor one of our children monthly, would you consider inviting a friend to sponsor one of our kids as well?

Jenny gives a hug to one of our volunteers. | Dorie's Promise GuatemalaWe know that God will provide and we invite you help share in the blessings at Dorie’s Promise. We thank you and our kids do too. Join the Dorie’s Promise family by becoming a monthly sponsor today or by giving a one-time donation. Thank you for making dreams come true for our children this Christmas season.

Here a just a few of the highlights from 2017:

Watching Brayan Grow into Adulthood

December 1st, 2017 by

Brayan is turning 18 in January.

By Kelly Shank –

Brayan when he first arrived at Dorie's Promise

Brayan in 2007.

When Brayan was barely 3 years old he toddled into our home for the first time. It’s hard to believe that in just 2 short months he’ll turn 18 years old!

For Heather, our founder, Brayan is like one of her own children. Having spent several years living in Guatemala with her family during the opening of Dorie’s Promise, Heather has known Brayan since he first entered our home and her family’s memories include him as a little boy playing with her children.

Recent visitors to our home will recognize Brayan as the fun-loving young man who towers over the other boys. He’s also the one you will definitely want on your soccer team because he’s really good. If you’ve spent any amount of time with Brayan you can’t help but smile when you think about him because he’s one of the happiest children in our home, always smiling and his laugh is contagious. Plus, he’s always ready to help anyone whether that’s during community projects with teams, the maintenance men around our house, the Special Mothers, or the other children. He’s a really good kid we all love.

In the last year we’ve started to make a transition in our home.

Where our home was once filled with cribs and babies, now it’s full of video games, makeup, tweens and teens. Almost half of our children are 10 years old or older and many of them will be with us until they reach adulthood. So, just like Nayeli last year and Brayan this year, we’re carefully trying to help prepare each of them for their future.

Brayan in 2017 at Dorie's Promise.

Brayan in 2017

We are about to begin what may be the hardest work we’ve ever done—helping each child become a successful, independent adult. We have many ways to make this happen and great opportunities available for our children but we truly want to make the absolute best choice for each individual by balancing their desires, their unique talents, their struggles, and the resources available.

Although he will turn 18 this January, Brayan will be staying at Dorie’s Promise. He has another year of school left in his vocational training before he graduates. Giving him the benefit of a full education is a priority for us. Brayan is working hard in school because he wants to get a good job. Thanks to his schooling, he will have experience and training that gives him an edge in the workforce. Plus, there are more things he wants to learn this year, like photography. Alejandra, our Director, is hoping to enroll Brayan in photography classes to help him improve his skills and explore his career possibilities with local professionals.

Both Heather and Alejandra are committed to doing the very best for each of our children. The children of Dorie’s Promise are their children too and like any good mother they want to give them the best opportunity for success. For Brayan, right now that means finishing his last year of high school and taking classes that will prepare him for his future career. He might be a chef or a photographer, time will tell. No matter what, we’re committed to launching him well into adulthood.

Our Thanks to You

November 21st, 2017 by

Our thanks to you!

Thank you donors, sponsors and volunteers.This might be our favorite story of the year, the one where we share how thankful we are for everyone who supports Forever Changed International and Dorie’s Promise!

First, we want to sincerely thank all of our monthly sponsors and donors. Without your support Forever Changed International would not exist. We rely on donations for everything we do. Our staff, our homes, schooling, medical care, everything depends on the willingness of our donors.

Your generosity allows us to create homes that give our children a safe place to heal. Earlier this year we welcomed children into our home after the government orphanage fire because you responded to their need immediately. These children are happier and healthier now in our home.

Thank you for believing in the work we do and allowing us to represent you as we serve our children.

Next, we want to thank our trip participants this year who made huge impacts in our local communities. Hundreds of you visited our home and helped our partner communities. We were able to build two homes, deliver food baskets, provide water filters, help with much-needed home repairs, and invest in organizations we believe in. We also understand that for every person who visits our home there are many more at home who have helped support them financially, materially, and spiritually. To all those who visited our home and those who supported our participants, thank you for partnering with us in Guatemala and making a difference this year.

All of our children benefit from the generosity of our supporters.Finally, we want to share our most heartfelt thanks to our staff and volunteers both in Guatemala and stateside. You are the heart of our organization.

To everyone who works in Guatemala, we are so thankful for your dedication every day on behalf of our children. Your love for our children is unprecedented and we could not care for our children without you. Thank you for loving our children as your own and giving them a home where they are can thrive.

To our stateside staff, board members, and volunteers, your efforts are rarely seen but always felt. Thank you for tirelessly working behind the scenes to keep our organization running and helping to guide us towards our dream of helping even more children in Guatemala.

This Thanksgiving holiday we are thankful for you and wish the best to you and your family!

Celebrating Myra’s Quinceañera

November 13th, 2017 by

Myra’s Quinceañera

By Kelly Shank –

We host a beautiful party for Myra’s Quinceañera.We love to celebrate the big moments in our children’s lives. Last month we had the chance to celebrate Myra’s 15th birthday with a traditional quinceañera.

Similar to a Sweet 16 party in the United States, a quinceañera celebrates a girl’s transition into womanhood. In Guatemala, these are important events, complete with fancy dresses, special meals, music, dancing, and lot of family and friends. Little girls dream of their quinceañera and we couldn’t imagine letting this special day pass by without celebrating Myra.

Creating an event as special as Myra took the work of everyone in our home. The day of the party our backyard was transformed by Abel and friends for the special event with decorations and balloons. The littler children helped prepare “fancy” place settings for the dinner party and assembled gift bags for guests. Come evening our home was filled with people who love Myra—our staff, their families, the children from our home, and Myra’s friends from school. Having so many people come and celebrate Myra was overwhelming.

Alej gives a special speech for Myra's QuinceañeraOur children had the chance to get dressed up for the night and share in the festivities. For our girls it was a chance to experience the fun of getting their hair done and dreaming of how they would like their own quinceañera to be when they are older.

Myra enjoyed a day of pampering thanks to our staff and friends. Watching her as she had her hair, makeup, and nails were done was like watching her grow up before our eyes. We could see how much she appreciated and enjoyed the whole day. The final piece for her dream was a beautiful blue gown. Her joy and thankfulness reminded us that all of our children just want to be loved and celebrated. That day it was Myra’s turn. Before heading down to her party Myra shared with our Director Alejandra that she felt “like a princess.”

We have the great pleasure of helping to usher our children into adulthood and we want to do so in a way that lets them know just how special they are as individuals.

Myra's first dance.As part of our celebration, we took time to thank God for Myra’s life and to ask his blessings on her future. One of the most special moments of the evening was the first dance when our Director’s husband shared the first dance with Myra. As we think about that evening, watching Alejandra’s husband share the first dance represents the heart of Dorie’s Promise. Even though Myra couldn’t celebrate this moment with her biological family our staff created an evening that showed her how much they love her and are willing to support her during both the happy and sad times of life. Our employees, and their families, have become her extended family.

A friend at the party shared these words, “To think back just 10 months ago we served Myra in the State Orphanage, then to see her enjoy a day like today is ONLY Jesus! Many, many tears were shed.”

Good News from Doc Castro

November 9th, 2017 by

Doc Castro and Children from Dorie's Promise

By Kelly Shank –

Doc Castro offers a comforting hug to a child.Recently we shared a behind-the-scenes story about our medical staff, Doc and Mirna. This week we’d like to share good news about a few of our children, as well as an update from Doc about our home.

According to Doc’s evaluations, approximately 30% of our children have a condition that requires specialized care beyond our norm, ranging from mild developmental delays and emotional health concerns to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Cerebral Palsy. Our holistic care model is helping us identify and meet the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual needs of each child.

Doc is excited to share that 2017 was a great year for our children. Aside from the chronic conditions some of our children endure, the general health of our home is excellent and we’re focusing on maintaining our children’s health to help them heal mentally.

Updates about Josue, Mario, and Lester

Josue is a very brave and resilient boy. Not many little boys would still be smiling after visiting the doctor as many times as he has. We’ve shared about his medical concerns before but this time we have good news. Although he suffers from congenital intestinal and urinary defects, his updated care plan and recent procedures have finally stabilized his condition. We are hoping this new treatment plan will help him avoid a more invasive surgery in the future.

As a child with autism Mario faces many challenges. This year was especially difficult as he transitioned to school. At the beginning of the year he struggled with paying attention, learning, and behaving in class. Thanks to our staff and his teachers Mario has made tremendous progress. His teachers made changes in his class to accommodate his needs and our Special Mothers are spending time in the evenings helping him keep up with him classwork. He was much more successful and happy at school once we found a better way for him to learn.

Both developmental delays and chronic respiratory issues have affected Lester his entire childhood. Several years ago we were able to enroll him in a school that better fit his learning style and this year he finally experienced relief for his health problems. He had surgery earlier this year that alleviated many of his respiratory issues and helped him avoid the frequent infections he previously experienced. He’s much happier and doing better at school because he’s healthier.

Looking forward to 2018

We are so lucky to have Doc Castro on our team.Building on this year’s success, in 2018 Doc will concentrate even more on improving the health of our children by teaching about healthy lifestyles, nutrition, and advanced care for our special needs children.

We are committed to maintaining the health of our children while also meeting the needs of new children we welcome into our home. It’s a delicate balance between protecting the health of those currently living in our home while also fulfilling our desire to help additional children. Plus, as more of our children approach adolescence we’re facing a different set of needs and concerns. We want to make sure our teenagers are healthy, both mentally and physically, as they approach adulthood.

Today we’re celebrating children who have seen great successes this year. If you would like to help us continue expanding our health care program so we can celebrate even more healthy kids please consider giving a one-time gift for Medical Care (please mention Medical Care in the comment when you give online) or becoming a monthly sponsor. Your help makes all the difference in the lives of our children.