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Send letters to: Letters, Illinois Times. P.O. Box 5256. Springfield, Illinois 62705. Fax: (217) 753-3958. E-mail: email@example.com
THAT’S THE WAY IT SHOULD BE
I would like to thank Illinois Times for your recent article on the problems of finding placements for adoptable black and biracial children [Dusty Rhodes, “Baby trade,” Feb. 17]. I have a unique perspective on this issue. In August, my wife and I adopted a wonderful 13-year-old biracial girl. What has surprised me most about being the white father of a child who isn’t white is that the vast majority of people don’t really care. This has amazed me. We frequently take our daughter shopping or to restaurants or to Junior Blues games or to church — and we have yet to encounter one snide remark or even a second glance. All they see is a terrific, happy, intelligent girl who has loving parents. I was expecting the worst, and I would like to thank the people of Springfield for proving that we can get our outdated racist ideas behind us.
I would also like to encourage adoptive families to seriously consider minority children. There may be some people out there who won’t approve — I haven’t found any, but they may be there. Even if they are there, we adoptive parents shouldn’t let complete strangers decide how we put our families together. When I and my family see my daughter, we don’t see a biracial child. We see Audrey Huck — my daughter, their granddaughter, their cousin, their niece. And that’s the way it should be.
THE RISING PRICE OF ADOPTION
I found the prices you quoted in your article, “Baby trade,” astonishing. In 1961 we chose to adopt from China. We worked with the state of Illinois and the Department of Children and Family Services. They, in turn, worked with an organization called WAIF [World Adoption International Fund]. There was a home study, background checks, medical checks, financial checks, and reference checks. In about 9 months we picked up our 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter at the airport. A second 2-and-a-half-year-old arrived in much the same way. Our costs were, per child, $75 for medical and dental checkups and half of the price of an airline ticket for a companion to bring the child from Hong Kong to Chicago.
We might have been lucky because we were not interested in an infant. It is obvious that “trading” in babies is a very lucrative business.
A PENNY FOR HER THOUGHTS
I couldn’t let another day go without saying thanks to Penny Zimmerman-Wills for all of her wonderful food reviews in Illinois Times. I work with BRC Imagination Arts, and I’m planning a cast and crew party in the Springfield area to celebrate the opening of the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. We’re the company who designed the museum, and we thought it would be nice to do a preopening thank-you for all the cast and crew.
As the event planner for this function, living in California (mind you), I had to figure out a way to find out about what’s happening in Springfield on the food beat. Penny’s column has supplied me with a wealth of information and leads. Thanks so much for her insightful articles.
Sherrie Burgess Brooks
WHY NOT LIST SMOKE-FREE VENUES?
I rise in support of Linda Schrodt’s viewpoint [“Letters,” Feb 24]. If nonsmokers want to increase their social choices, they need only support businesses or activities that currently offer a nonsmoking environment.
Like to bowl? Lake Town Lanes has a Monday night “Fresh Air” league with no smoking on the lanes. Like live music? Andiamo! offers live music a couple of times a week with no smoking in the room (the Wednesday-night music even starts at a decent time of 5:30 p.m.). Like to dance? A regional DJ hosts monthly smoke-free dances at the Springfield Knights of Columbus hall on West Isle and also near Decatur at the Macon County Fairgrounds, just two miles south of Interstate 72.
Perhaps people just aren’t aware of the places that offer a smoke-free environment. How about a column in a near-future edition of Illinois Times listing who, where, and what is smoke-free in Springfield?
RESOURCE FOR FINDING BIRTH PARENTS
I was born on June 5, 1973, here in Springfield. A few short days later I was adopted by a wonderful family who has given me all of the love and support anyone could want. As I got older, I began to want to locate my birth family. Through some research I found the Illinois Adoption Registry here in Springfield. Here I was able to supply them with all information I had concerning my birth (time, date, location, etc.), as well as my contact information. The hope was that someone from my birth family would do the same so that we could be connected. Seven years later, this is still my hope. I am hoping that this letter will alert people to the existence of the registry because it is not widely known. Also, if anyone has specific information concerning my birth on the above date, I would greatly appreciate any assistance.
The registry can be contacted through the following means: Illinois Department of Public Health, 535 W. Jefferson St., Springfield, IL 62761 (217-782-4977, fax 217-782-3987).
Michael L. Reynolds
KEEP PROMISES MADE TO TEACHERS
For the last 25 years, public-school teachers of Illinois have been able to retire before age 60, enabling local school districts to control costs and reinvigorate their educational programs with younger teachers. Now Illinois politicians, in an effort to bail out the state after its failure to live up to its responsibility to adequately fund the pension systems for teachers and other public employees, want to eliminate or severely restrict the early-retirement option for teachers.
At a time when we are attempting to attract more professionals to the teaching profession, some politicians are proposing that the state curtail the financial incentives for teachers, which are already limited by tax-capped budgets and underfunded state and federal mandates. When I went into teaching from the communications industry, no one told me I would have to give up 60 percent of the Social Security benefits that I had already earned, mostly through military service, because I now would have a teacher’s pension. No one told my wife that she would lose her claim to any of my Social Security spousal-survivor benefits because I was now a teacher.
When a school district credits long-serving teachers with unused sick time or bonuses to entice them to retire early, the local district saves money, which can be returned to local taxpayers or reallocated to improve our students’ education. Some of those pension costs are shifted to the Teachers’ Retirement System and the state. But that is the same state that for decades has failed to fully fund its required share — while our teachers and local school districts have dutifully paid their full share and more.
It has been estimated that the number of teachers who will take the early-retirement option this spring will double if these ill-conceived plans go forward and the early-retirement option ends June 30. How do legislators suggest that local districts and the state pension system absorb the cost of thousands of unexpected retirements?
Teachers and school-support employees are the most important part of the public-education system — not just an additional cost to be trimmed. The people of Illinois made a promise to our teachers and school-support staff. Don’t break that promise.
28-year master teacher
Capital Area Career Center
NOISE YOU HEAR IS FDR SPINNING
Holy smoke and holy cow! The Social Security bogeyman is trying to scare me with the fear that Social Security is broke! For more than 25 years, I have worked and paid my Social Security taxes. I want the money I put in for my retirement. It’s my money! During all those years that the government invested my money and got interest off it, I didn’t receive one dime. FDR would turn over in his grave today if he could see how they are gambling our Social Security money away.
Doug Anderson was incorrectly identified in a photograph that accompanied last week’s Appetite column [Penny Zimmerman-Wills, “Cooking with class,” Feb. 24]. Anderson was the man on the right; Gary Seitz was in the background. Illinois Times regrets the error.