July 2005


Connect with birth parents  Heather Gillers’ article (“Do incarcerated moms deserve another chance?” April 2005) presented a false dichotomy. She states that “beyond the two extremes [either having parental rights or not], there is currently no middle ground in the law.” That’s true, but the end of parental rights does not have to mean the end of the relationship.

Good adoptive and foster parents know that relationships with responsible, reliable birth parents are good for our kids. If a biological parent shows consistent evidence of rehabilitation over a period of years, contact can be a good idea. But the parents or guardians are the best people to decide when and how that relationship proceeds. Some contact can be resumed slowly and safely through letters and pictures as birth parents demonstrate changed ways. Once they have proved themselves, visits can be safe, healthy and positive. Again, only if the child is ready.

We must remember these kids have been deeply wounded. Truly rehabilitated birth parents should respect their child’s new relationships and the healing they have done with these new parents, who have sacrificed much to protect and nurture them.

Most of us who parent kids we did not give birth to yearn for good relationships with their birth parents. But when a birth parent has a history of criminal behavior, unreliability or mental instability, we have to tread carefully for the sake of our kids. ELIZABETH B. SARGIS Wheaton

Just say ‘thank you’ I read, through tears in my eyes, Susy Schultz’s column on Ms. Holleman’s retirement (June 2005).

I had two teachers who had a huge impact on my life. One was my high school band director, Mr. Koch, at Niles West.

The other was my sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Dahmer. Back in the early 1980s, divorce wasn’t as common a word as it is today—and I was a victim. Being pulled out of class week after week by court-appointed psychiatrists can take its toll on a 10-year-old, but Mr. Dahmer took time to make sure I didn’t fall behind. His words of encouragement still hold true today.

I met up with Mr. Dahmer in 1996 at a Park View all-class reunion. I finally looked at him and said “thank you.” He could not believe that I remembered, nor what an impact he had on me as a child. He thought he was just doing his job.

I encourage everyone who has had a teacher who made an impact on their lives to go back and say “thank you.” LYNN (SONKIN) GREENBAUM Hanover Park

Massage eases colic As an infant massage instructor and a parent, I read Judith Weinstein’s article about Colic (“The fourth trimester: Colic,”  June 2005) with great interest and anticipation that she would mention how helpful massage therapy is for relieving colic.   But, alas, I got to the end of the article and there was no testimonial from parents who relieved the colic problem with massage strokes.

I massaged my own adopted son every day from age 3 days until he crawled away at 7 months. Infant massage has too many benefits to list, but it speeds up their neurological development as well as relieving colic. I am a nationally certified massage therapist and certified in infant massage instruction. There is a “colic relief routine” that works wonders.

There are also a number of different ways to hold a baby to help him pass gas. I would encourage every parent to learn how to massage their progeny.  There are classes throughout Chicagoland. LESLIE KAHN Chicago

Kids Eat Chicago

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