+

For many families, deciding to add one child to the family is exciting and challenging. But choosing to adopt two, three, or four kids at once can be a bit daunting.

Not so for families like the Haddaways, though. They've adopted seven kids from the foster care system, and they're still considering adopting more.

The Haddaways after their court date. Image via Together We Rise/Facebook.


There are about 415,000 kids in the foster care system. While many of them will eventually be reunited with their families or relatives, around 102,000 are waiting to be adopted.

Because of safeguards, legal proceedings, and lots of red tape, these very patient kids spend an average of 32 months in the system before finding permanent placements. For certain kids, especially older kids or groups of siblings, that wait can be even longer. 

After being in foster care his entire life, teenager Davion Navar Henry Only cried happy tears when he was adopted by his former caseworker, Connie Going. Photo by Tim Boyles/Getty Images.

There are many families like the Haddaways, though, that are working to adopt foster kids and give them forever homes.

Keeping sibling groups together can be especially beneficial for children and parents alike. 

When siblings have the opportunity to stay together through foster care and adoption, it can ease the sometimes scary and difficult process of transitioning from placement to placement. Even if they fight or argue, brothers and sisters often support each other and provide much needed consistency. 

Together We Rise is a nonprofit organization that works to improve the lives of kids in foster care, including sibling groups. 

The staff (many of whom were foster youth) work with community partners and volunteers to raise awareness about the foster care system. One way they do this is by celebrating "Gotcha Days," the special day that kids in foster care are legally adopted into their new families. 

For these 11 sibling groups and their new parents, these photos are celebrations of Iove, patience, and triumph over overwhelming odds:

1. All aboard! These young sailors are charting a course for lots of family fun.

2. These little ladies are celebrating their Gotcha Day in style.

3. A day like this calls for hugs all around.

4. These sisters get a boost from their new brother and join six other siblings at home.

5. These sweet girls came to this family as newborns. 908 days later, they're officially home.

Their parent told Together We Rise, "They came to me at nine days old. I was given a giant blue bag with 6 diapers, blankets, premie clothes, and a yellow duck. Today, I get to be a part of their lives FOREVER."

6. Just one more stop for these suitcases: home.

7. You can feel the joy radiating from this brother and sister.

8. After 1,008 days of waiting, these brothers and their sister were adopted together.

9. No one said the process would be easy, but for these families, it's so worth it.

"The experience has been looooooong but so worth every single second to know my girls are part of our forever family," the Pauleys told Together We Rise. "Our girls are our sunshine and they deserve every happiness they can ever imagine!" 

10. A new last name and a new big sister? Best. Day. Ever.

Here's to these delighted sibs and their new families!

To the thousands of kids still waiting, we haven't forgotten about you. 

You are loved and wanted. And until each one of you has the safe, happy home you deserve, we won't stop fighting for you. 

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

True

Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

Keep ReadingShow less
All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

Keep ReadingShow less