"It's hard to hear among the gunfire....But even the
softest whisper can be heard when it tells the truth."
from Sydney Pollack movie, "The Interpreter" (2005)
ADOPTEES’ WAR MEMORIAL
Sponsored by Americans For Open Records (AmFOR),
Member of Amnesty International
1/15/91 - Lori Carangelo
leads war protest
2/11/05 - Cindy Sheehan
leads war protest
While Americans For Open Records (AmFOR) supports all American troops, this page is dedicated to American Adoptees and Parents who have died in war, and to all Orphans and Adoptees created by war. Most of the adoptees in the following Adoptees’ War Memorials never had the opportunity of knowing their biological families and many said it was their “last wish” to know and meet them.
Adoption activist, Mary L. Foess, commented “How ironical it is that the government is falsifying our identity permanently (no one can find out who we are!), yet is so concerned about fake identities/passports of Middle East people or others!” Mary is founder and president of Bonding by Blood Unlimited, Vassar MI
Spc.Keith Erin Grace Jr.
Spc.Keith Erin Grace Jr., a vehicle driver from Baytown who joined the Army only last year was one of three members of the 4th Brigade Combat Team from Fort Campbell, Ky., who died when they came under attack in Afghanistan. The nature of the attack was not released by the U.S. Department. of Defense, which said only that the incident was combat-related. The three were killed near the town of Dzadran, which is in the Khost province near the Pakistan border in southern Afghanistan and a site of repeated insurgent activity. Grace came from difficult family circumstances and was placed for adoption at birth, friends said. His adoptive mother died when he was about 12. By that time, he had survived bone cancer that they said should have killed him.
“He shouldn't have made it, but he pulled through it and survived 100 percent,” said longtime friend, Garland Davis, who said he regarded Grace as a brother, though there was no legal or blood connection. “He was a very positive person. Truly, he was the strongest person I've ever known,” Davis said. “I'll never meet anyone like him again.” Grace joined the Army in January 2012 and was stationed in Fort Campbell in May of last year. The 4th Brigade Combat Team, a unit of the 101st Airborne, was deployed to Iraq this spring. His military awards include one National Defense Service Medal, one Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and an Army Service Ribbon.
Cpt. David I. Lyon
Former Air Force thrower Capt. David (Lissy) Lyon was killed while conducting combat operations near Kabul, Afghanistan. Lyon, a 2008 Academy graduate, was a three-year letter winner for the Falcons' track and field team and a Mountain West champion in the shot put. A member of the 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Lyon was killed when a vehicle-born improvised explosive device was detonated near his convoy. He was one of 10 killed in the attack, along with two NATO military personnel and seven Afghan forces. Known as David Lissy during his time with the Falcons' track and field program, he changed his last name after graduation with respect to his adopted parents.
Marine Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht
Marine Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht was killed when he stepped on a land mine in Helmand province that ripped off his right arm. It was the 24-year-old Texan’s second deployment overseas. Leicht had begged to return to the battlefield after a bomb took out his Humvee in Iraq. He spent two painful years recovering from face and leg injuries, all the while pining for combat in letters from his hospital bed. He finally got back to the front lines but was killed less than a month into the tour of duty he desperately wanted. “He said he always wanted to die for his country and be remembered,” said Jesse Leicht, his younger brother. “He didn’t want to die having a heart attack or just being an old man. He wanted to die for something. “When military officers went to tell Leicht’s parents their adopted son had died in combat, sheriff’s deputies had to help navigate them to the 130-acre family ranch tucked deep in the Texas Hill Country. It was here that Jacob Leicht chopped thick cedar trees and hiked the rugged limestone peaks, growing up into an imposing 6-5, 200-pound Marine with a soft heart. He watched ‘Dora the Explorer’ with his brother’s children and confided to family that he was troubled by the thought of young civilians being killed in battle.
Pfc. David J. Bentz III, 20
Pfc David J. Bentz III was killed June 20, 2007 in Baghdad when a missle made a direct hit on the personnel vehicle her was driving. David had lived with his biological mother, Lena M. Butterworth until age 3 (she is shown in photo at extreme Right), and then with his adopter, Bernadette Geonnotti (shown Left of Butterworth). He is survived by his loving biological mother and father, David Bentz Jr., and his devoted "adoptive mother," Kimberly Atkinson Geonnotti, and Bernadette Bentz, known as his "third mother," and younger adoptive sister, Gabrielle Bentz, and biological sister, Brianna Butterworth.
Most of the adoptees’ in the following Adoptees’ War Memorials that follow never had the opportunity of knowing their biological families and many said it was their "last wish" to know and meet them.
Cpl Jacob A. Tate, 21
From "FAMILY OF MARINE KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN PROUD OF THEIR "GIFT FROM GOD" (by Jeb Phillips, The Columbus Dispatch, 1-12-11): Cpl Jacob Tate's family members often use the words "complicated" and "complex" when they talk of him...Jim Tate thought his [adoptive] son didn't have a handle on his own identity; the Tates had adopted him when he was 4 days old. Janice Tate, his [adoptive] mother said that her [adoptive] son struggled with issues of acceptance and rejection as a teenager... Jacob had deployed to Iraq in 2008 and to Afghanistan in 2010. He had blown out his knee months before the second deployment and was offered a medical discharge. Jacob, then a squad leader, wouldn't take it. If "his guys" were deploying, he was going with them... He stood up for people who needed help. On January 2, 2011, Jacob, 21, was killed during combat operations.. The Marines helped him find the identity that he was struggling for as a teenager, and so did that special girl he had spent so many hours talking to on the phone in high school... He opened up to her in a way that he didn't feel he could to anyone else... They married in June 2009. When Jacob left for Afghanistan in July 2010, she was pregnant. Amy, 22, gave birth to Jax Allen Tate on August 28. Jacob never got to see his son in person. "He was a gift from God to us," Jacob's [adoptive] father said.
Sgt 1st Class Daehan Park, 37
From The Connecticut Post, "Connecticut's Fallen: Remembering Daehan Park (by Tim Loh, Staff Writer, 5-29-11): Army Special Forces Sgt 1st Class Daehan Park, a Green Beret, was killed March 12, 2011 in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device blew up his Humvee. The path that led Park to Afghanistan - by way of tours in America, Iraq, Bangladesh, the Phillipines, India, Cambodia and elsewhere -- began in 1974 [when]he was an abandoned infant left in a basket beside his twin brother on a street in Seoul, South Korea. Halfway around the world, Joseph Schneider and his then-wife had made a trip to Columbia to visit a friend. There, they were shocked to discover the numbers of homeless street children. Schneider said "We thought, Why don't we take one of them home?'" When they ran into difficulty adopting a Columbian child, they found an agency that specialized in Korean orphans... At some point, a woman walking down the street in Seoul discovered the basket of infants and took them to an orphanage. Before long, the phone rang in Connecticut. Would the Schneiders want twins?... The 16-month old boys were passed to their new parents. Seung was renamed Jeremy (whose military career decades later, has closely paralleled Daehan's) ,and Myung became Michael. In their early 20s, they reversed the process, taking names for themselves from a Korean film -- Michael became Daehan; Jeremy became Saejin. Two years later. the Schneiders adopted a Korean daughter [Katie].... Park spent 3 years at UConn but never obtained his degree. Before long, he and Saejin, who had transferred to UConn, both moved back home... for awhile, they found work in odd jobs... Joseph suggested the twins consider joining the Army. Park enlisted in early 1998...[and] completed Army Ranger Training in 2000... Stationed at Fort Campbell in the late 1990's, Park met Mi Kyong through a friend and it clicked... They married soon thereafter. [His adoptive sister Katie] would ask him questions about his experiences in combat and navigating the foreign cultures. She wanted to hear how his experiences matched up with what she's been dealing with in social work in Connectiut.
Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht, 24
From "1000th GI KILLED IN AFGHAN WAR WAS ON 2nd TOUR (AP, 5-30-10): The 1000th American serviceman killed in Afghanistan was born on the Fourth of July. Marine Cpl Jacob C. Leicht was killed when he stepped on a land mine in Helmand province that ripped off his right arm. It was the 24-year old Texan's second deployment overseas. Leicht had begged to return to the battlefield after a bomb took out his Humvee in Iraq. He spent two painful years recovering from face and leg injuries, all the while pining for combat in letters from his hospital bed... When military officers went to tell Leicht's [adoptive] parents their adopted son had died in combat, sheriff's deputies had to help navigate them to the 130-acre family ranch tucked deep in the Texas Hill Country. It was here that Jacob Leight chopped thick cedar trees and hiked the rugged limestone peaks, growing up into an imposing 6.5, 200 pound Marine with a soft heart... Born in a Leemore, Ca Navy hopsital, the battlefield was the destination. He threw away a college ROTC scholarship after just one semester because he feared it would lead away from the front lines.
Sgt. Marlon Earle Myrie, 25
From "JAMAICAN MARINE SERGEANT LAID TO REST" at CaricomNewsNetwork.com, 7-10-11: ...The US Marine Corps declined to give details about the incident, only that it involved a hand grenade and that Myrie reached a field hospital in Helmund province alive. Myrie, known as "Troy" in his multi-racial family, was born in Kingston, the Jamaican capital, on December 17, 1985. Orphaned at 11, then adolpted by his mother's sister, Myrie joined the US. Marines in 2004 after graduating from Fort Lauderdale's Northeast High School in South Florida. Before his deployment in Afghanistan, Myrie was based at Camp Lejeune, North Caroliona, and had survived two deployments to Iraq. "Troy loved his job," said his [adoptive] mother, Ynette Myrie... He loved to blow things up"...He was shy, polite, a homebody.
Sgt. Glen "Jake" Whetten, 31
From "ARMY RANGER FROM MESA KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN" (by Jim Walsh, The Arizona Republic, 3-17-10): He grew up in South Phoenix and graduated in 1996 from South Mountain High School... He was a friendly, easy going man who loved playing with children... Amy Whetton and her late husband, also named Glen, adopted their four children. Her [adopted] son was training Afghani forces in Afghanistan, evaluating their effectiveness and the quality of training they received. His 11 year old daughter, Ariana, lives in Hawaii.
Sgt. 1st Class Carlo Joaquin Meth, 35
From "GREEN BERET KILLED IN PARATROOPER TRAINING" (Associated Press/AP, 1-22-08): Sgt. 1st Class Carlo J. Meth was born on June 1, 1972 in Columbia and died June 16, 2008 in a parachute accident during high-altitude-low opening training at Laurinbeurg-Maxton Airport in North Carolina. Meth was born in Columbia but grew up on a farm in North Dakota... adopted [at age 5] into a family of eight, including five adopted brothers and sisters... During his first meal with his new family, Carlo threw up twice because he ate too fast. He didn't think he'd get fed again... He was very disciplined... He enlisted in the Army 10-2-90 as an infantryman [and] served with the Rangers before he earned his Special Forces in 2005 and became a Green Beret. His awards and decorations includes six Army Commendation Medals. In 2003 he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He previously had deployments to the Horn of Africa, Bosnia and Egypt. He is survived by his adopters, several siblings and his [11 year old] daughter [Nikole] who lives with his [adoptive] parents [who relocated to Oklahoma].
Pfc David R. Fahey, Jr, 23
From YorktownPatch.com and NewsTimes.com, 3-3-11: David was born in Norwalk, Connecticut. His uncle and aunt, Tom and Fran Farley, adopted him and his siblings when he was a child. The couple also had biological childten... A close friend of Fahey's said it was "his calling" to join the Army. The young soldier was due to come out in June and wanted to be a police officer... The way his grandmother tells it, "Parents gave him up.. .they were drug addicts..." Fahey was born into a world of chaos. The oldest of three chilren, Fahey was forced to grow up fast. His father died young and his mother led a pockmaked life in and out of prison and drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, according to court records... he was eventually formally adopted by his aunt and uncle in Yorktown Heights, New York. Despite a tubulent childhood, Fahey was known as a good student and gained a reputation as a practical joker who loved to bring levity to any situation. Relatives said he was deeply religious and wanted to serve his community... According to the Department of Defense, the Hunvee in which Fahey was riding struck a bomb during a morning patrol in Kandar province in southern Afghanistan.
SPC AARON LEE PRESTON, 29
Dallas Morning Times, 1-5-09 Obituary: PRESTON,, SPC. AARON LEE Age 29, died with two other soldiers in a targeted attack while on patrol during a search and destroy mission for IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices) in southwest Baghdad, Iraq on Christmas Day, December 25th, 2006, at 11:47 PM. when four Iranian made EFP device's detonated near their RG31 vehicle. "His Squad had secured and destroyed many IED's during their late night patrols over the past few months to make the roads safe for all travelers." Aaron was born on February 11, 1977, in Dallas, Texas, to Suzie and Dale Strahan. After his mother re-married, Aaron and his sister were adopted by Denton County Judge and prominent Dallas lawyer, George Allen Preston Jr. He was preceded in death by his mother Suzie Stowers Preston, his paternal father, Leslie Dale Strahan, his adopted father, George Allen Preston Jr., his maternal grandparents, C. K. and Mary Stowers of Preston Hollow, and paternal grandmother Frankie S. Strahan. Aaron was a graduate of W. T. White High School in Dallas. He later went to Texas State University in San Marcus to study business and history where he eventually settled as a town resident. At age 26, Aaron joined the U. S. Army as a combat engineer to become an explosives and demolitions expert and planned for future employment in the oil and mining industry upon completion of his military service.
ARMY CPL JOEL A. DAHL, 21
Excerpted from The Albuquerque Tribune, abqtrib.com, 7-4-07: "Army Cpl. Joel Dahl fought two wars: the one to keep his biological family together in whatever construct he could; the other in Iraq. The first was driven by Dahl's desperate need to cobble together at least a semblance of family from the emotional rubble he had been born into. The second one killed him. Patti Harris-Thompson and her husband, Jerry Thompson, knew his battles better than most. They knew him as much as he would let them in the three teen years he was their foster son. They grieve now for him, their brief son, killed June 23 by small-arms fire in Baghdad five days before Dahl's wife gave birth to their first baby, a son - five days before he could experience a family, at last, of his own making. The Thompsons rescued Dahl in March 2002 when he was 16 and his mother and her husband du jour abandoned him and his younger siblings, Chrystal, Nick, Angel and 3-month-old Patti. All but Patti called the Thompsons' Los Lunas abode "home," at least for awhile. It hadn't been the first time the children came into foster care, not the first time Joel assumed the heavy role of patriarch. "He was always the one who kept those kids together," said Harris-Thompson, a foster mom for 14 years. "He was the one who made sure they got to school, even if that meant he had to miss school to take care of them. He took that role so seriously." Even in the Thompson home, it was a role Dahl found hard to relinquish. "We had to keep telling him, Joel, you're allowed to be a kid now," Thompson said. "But it was like, `You don't know my family like I know my family.' "
Yet in those moments when he could be just a kid, what emerged was a jovial spirit who loved to clown around, play football and break young girls' hearts.
...."In his mind he knew what he wanted to do. He was clear," Thompson said, himself an Air Force Reserve officer. "It was an honorable goal."
....Dahl had already moved out of the Thompsons' home by the time he was called up for duty in Iraq. He had become emancipated at age 18 from the foster care system. He chose not to be adopted. Two years later, he began to create a new family, marrying Alia, a young woman he had met in youth group at the First United Methodist Church in Belen, where the Thompsons worship. Nick, 14, stayed with the Thompsons and is now their adopted son. After two failed adoptions, Angel, 13, found a home with a family in Truth or Consequences. Patti, 5, was adopted by another family. Chrystal, 19 1/2, struggled the hardest with the wreckage of her childhood. She is somewhere still on the streets of Albuquerque, Harris-Thompson said. Attempts were made to keep the children in contact once their adoptions were finalized. But without Dahl, the efforts dwindled, then collapsed. Patti's new parents openly told the others they were curtailing visits because of emotional upheavals in her life. But last week, Harris-Thompson said she heard from Angel. The families have agreed to reconnect. This week, Patti's mother, Tricia McAlister, also reached out to the other families. McAlister said she wants her daughter to know her siblings and, through them, Dahl.....Even in death, Dahl found a way to pull his family together. Someday, when the time is right, the Thompsons say they will reach out to Alia to let her know she is welcome in their home. "Part of Joel is still here," Harris-Thompson said. "It's in his brother, Nick." They are all family now, not in the normal sense, but family just the same."
ARMY SPC EDWARD W. BRABAZON, 20
Army Spc Edward W. Brabazon reportedly died 3-9-04 of a "non-hostile gunshot wound" in Bagdad, according to The Hartford Courant report on 5-12-06. But there's much more to the story. Margaret Ann and Edward F. Brbazon raised the soldier from the time he was 3; when he was 12, they adopted him. The boy was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder by the time he was 10 and spent his early teenage years in a psychiatric hospital and group homes for the emotionally disturbed. They [his adopters] "affectionately nicknamed him "Crazy Eddie." Although Margaret protested, the 18-year old soldier also had informed his parents that he had stopped taking his psychotropic medication because he "wanted to be like everyone else" Margaret recalled. "We were suprised they took him with the kind of mental problems he had, but we figured the Army must know what they're doing...We didn't think they'd send him into combat. Today, the Brabazons regret those assumptions. On 3-9-04, less than 3 months into his second deployment to the Middle East, Spc Edward W. Brabazon shot himself in the head at a palace compound in Baghdad, the Army concluded. ("GI Special" - a lengthy article on this and similar cases is at http://www.williambowles.info/gispecial/2006/0506/160506/gi_4e16_160506.html)
PFC ROBERT DIXON, 28
Army Pfc Robert Dixon was born in Oregon but raised mostly in a small town in Michigan by foster parents who adopted him. In May, 2007, he died of injuries when a Humvee he was riding in was hit by a roadside bomb. (http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/05/08/soldier/)
ARMY STAFF SGT RICHWELL A. DORIA, 25
Born in the Phillipines, Army Staff Sgt. Richwell A. Doria died in Iraq 11-7-06. When he was 11, his mother and his father, Fred and Rosario Doria, sent him from the Phillipines to San Diego to live with his grandfather, Benito Doria, who said he doesn't speak English but became a citizen 2 years ago, and wanted to give his grandson a better life. He even legally adopted him. Now, he said he feels regret that he brought him out of the Phillipines and into harm's way. His body will be sent to the Phillipines. ( www.SignOnSanDiego.com 11-14-06 )
ARMY SPC MARLON JACKSON, 25
The 11-23-03 funeral for Jamaican-born Army Spc Marlon Jackson in Kensington, Jamaica, was attended by his adoptive parents, Leighton and Lois Jackson, and also his biological mother, Sonia Fearon-York, to whom Brig. General Randal R. Castro presented a U.S. flag (in photo). Jackson, who resided in New Jersey, died 7 hours after sustaining injuries from a roadside bomb detonation near Baghdad. (Star-Ledger, 5-17-07) (http://cryptome.info/ik05/iraq-kill5.htm)
ARMY SGT JASON LANTIERI, 25
Army Sgt. Jason Lantieri from Killingworth, Connecticut, had been adopted by Kathleen and Jon Miller in Clinton, CT. His early childhood with his biological family in the Naugatuck-Waterbury was difficult. Friends say he was close with his two biological sisters and his adoptive older brother. Lantieri died 10-10-07 of injuries suffered during vehicle maneuvers. ( http://MiddletownPress.com - 10/11/07)
NAVY SPC SHAWN RANKINEN, 28
Navy Spc Shawn Rankinen had been in Iraq only one week when the Humvee in which he was traveling was struck by an explosive device north of Baghdad on 3-7-07. Betsy Rankinen, Shawn's 81 year old mother...said she took Shawn into her care when he was less than 3 months old and legally adopted him when he was 10 years old. (KMBC-TV Independence, MO, www.KMBC.com 3-8-07)
MAJOR ALAN GREG ROGERS, 31
Major Alan Greg Rogers, an Intelligence Officer, and civil rights activist in the gay, lesbian and bi-sexual military community, was the first known gay combat fatality in Operation Freedom. He died 1-8-08 by a bomb in Baghdad. Years before, he had buried both his parents, a childless couple who had adopted him at age 5, not detailed in subsequent media coverage of his death which sparked debate over the effect of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and what information should be included in the biography of a gay military person killed in action. Rogers expressed "an intensely deep loneliness that stemmed from his inability to have both a [same sex] relationship and the career he loved so much." He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
(AP, 3-24-08 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_Alan_G._Rogers) [Rogers is Top Left in photo with his date during a same-sex wedding ceremony on 6-28-06.]
SGT 1ST CLASS NATHAN L. WINDER, 32
Special Forces Medic, Sgt. Nathan L. Winder of Blanding, Utah, died 6-26-07 in Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq, of wounds sustained from enemy small arms fire. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star. A native of South Korea, Winder was age 2 when he was adopted by Tim and Teri Winder in Blanding. In all, the Winders adopted 8 children, some of them with special needs. Nathan is the 3rd son to serve in Iraq. He was married and had an 11-year old son. "The fact that Nathan was abandoned at such an early age affected him all his life," Teri Winder said. "He was very tender even though he had created a hard shell on the outside and he laughed a lot."
Abruzzo and Rodriguez
DISCOVERY BRINGS TWO HEARTS REST
Medic Finds Birth Mom in Tucson
Arizona Daily Star, by Carol Ann Alaimo (11-13-04)
After surviving a war of blood and bullets in Iraq, adoptee Paul Rodriguez finally has found the peace that eluded him all his life. .... the Navy medic from California flew to Tucson and realized his most fervent wish: to meet his birth mother.
.....Abruzzo, a West Side resident, long ago gave up hope of ever meeting the son she bore 29 years ago in New York City, where old adoption records are tightly sealed. Rodriguez said his adoptive parents in New York are loving people who gave him a good life. But he still yearned to meet his birth mother. He began actively searching when he returned from Iraq in mid-September. Surrounded by death as he treated U.S. troops overseas, Rodriguez, a Navy corpsman based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., said war made him realize life is too short to put off his quest. ....For Rodriguez, the reunion was a chance to thank his mom for giving him life, and to ask her the one-word question many adoptees have: Why? ....For Abruzzo, it was a chance to reassure her son that giving him away was a devastating choice made out of love and concern for his welfare. "I was always afraid. " Rodriguez began, his voice choking and trailing off. "That I didn't love you?" his mother asked. Yes," he replied. "I was afraid you might reject me, and I didn't know how I would handle it if that happened."
....[After the adoption] "I went to bed and huddled under the covers. I cried and cried for about six months," she recalled. ....As a youngster, he rode the New York City subway and studied the faces of female passengers one by one, wondering which might be his birth mother. When he was 12, he ran up a $500 phone bill making long-distance calls to strangers in an effort to find her. ...."I always had this void in my heart," he said. Fearing that his own mom didn't love him made it hard to trust women when he grew up and started having relationships....
"So many of those guys over there, as they're dying, they call out for their mothers. I've seen it, so I know," Barkman said of combat troops overseas. "Who knows if he could get sent back there," he said of Rodriguez. "The least he deserves is to know who his mother is."
[AmFOR Note: Although the full article says several people offered him various types of assistance at no charge, Paul Rodriguez says he was charged $300 for the search that actually located his mother. AmFOR has never charged search fees and, after reading this, provided Paul Rodriguez with leads to his father & a sisters, without fee, but theres been no further word whether he completed his searches or was sent back to Iraq.]
LYNWOOD MARINE KILLED IN IRAQ -
21-YEAR OLD MET HIS BIRTH PARENTS FOR FIRST TIME
BEFORE SHIPPING OUT
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, by Mike Barber (9-20-04)
Shortly before he left for Iraq three months ago, 21-year old Marine Cpl. Steven Rintamaki of Lynwood met his birth parents for the first time and was welcomed into a seemingly vast extended family.
....The soldier's long-lost brothers and sisters were as thrilled to discover him as they were to find them. The plans they were hatching to grow old together, however, will instead be embodied in a memorial scholarship Myra Rintamaki [his adopter] plans to create.
Ryan P. Jones
SOLDIER KILLED IN IRAQ
by Marisa Donelan, Sentinel and Enterprise (05-05-07)
WESTMINSTER, MA: "...She didn't want to hear the news that her son, 1st Lt. Ryan P. Jones, 23, has been killed in a roadside bomb attack in Baghdad.
...Kevin Jones, a postal worker, and Elaine Jones, a homemaker, adopted their son at the age of three months.
He had some health problems, including serious asthma, that he overcame as he got older, his parents said.
"If you saw him when he was first adopted, it was like, oh, what a kid," Kevin Jones said, laughing. "He was cross-eyed, he had a funny-looking little face. But he grew out of it all ... You didn't meet Ryan without falling in love with him."
His mother said she can't remember a time when the boy got himself into trouble.
Calling him "Saint Ryan," Elaine Jones said her son was also deeply religious at a young age, in Catholic Church services at Gardner's Holy Spirit parish.
"At one point, I thought he might even become a priest," she said.
His parents remember a day when their son unexpectedly brought a new member to their family, while sitting in the church pew.
"There was an older woman who would sit at the front of the church, and one day when he was about six or seven, Ryan turned to her and asked, 'Will you be my grammy?' And she said yes," Elaine Jones. "Ryan had never met his grandparents."
The woman, Germaine Lavoie, now 97, of Gardner, took on the role and has stuck by the family ever since, Elaine Jones said."
MARINE LANCE CPL STEVEN L. PHILLIPS, 21
from Detroit News, DetNews.com
While Steven L. Phillips was fighting in Afghanistan, his adoptive parents helped their son track down his birth parents. "We knew he needed this," said his adoptive mother, Paulette Phillips. The Phillipses helped organize a family reunion for Christmas 2004, when Steven was home on leave, with his birth parents and all of his stepbrothers and half sisters. "This has been very, very difficult for them to handle the loss," she said, "when they'd just found him again." Phillips, 27, of Chesapeake, Va., died 2-7-06 when the Humvee he was driving overturned and crushed him.
There is much more to his adoption story, by Los Angeles Magazine http://www.lamag.com/article.aspx?id=6908&page=1
FIRST TEAMSTER KILLED IN IRAQ...
"MY SON WAS BETRAYED BY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION"
Written & Distributed by concerned members of Teamsters 705
Sherwood Baker's adoptive parents Alfred and Celeste Zapala, veteran peace activists, spoke to the independent radio program Democracy Now about the death of their son and against policies of the Bush administration on May 8....
"My son was betrayed by the Bush Administartion... I think that the big difference is that it took years to find out the lies in Vietnam. We discovered the lies in less than a year... He was everbody's son and I cannot, cannot and will not, stop trying to speak the truth and get other people to speak the truth."
Excerpted from DemocracyNow.org 8-22-05:
SHERWOOD BAKER, Pennsylvania National Guard Reservist, was killed in Iraq in 2004. His adoptive brother, Dante Zappala said Sherwood Baker was 13 months old; he was 'abandoned' by his 'birth' parents. And my parents decided to take him in as their child. A year later, I was born, and two years after that, my younger brother was born. And that's how a family was made. Sherwood was always a very big kid. He stood up for what was right. He always protected me. And I certainly needed it. He had a child when he was young. He was 21 years old, he was still in college. And he was never going to let what happened to him as a young child, the uncertainty and the unpredictability, he was never going to let that happen to his kid. And so he became the most amazing father. He was such a role model for me and for his child.
Jose L. Ruiz
PFC JOSE L. RUIZ
Pfc. Jose [L.] Ruiz... was killed Monday when he was hit by small arms fire from a civilian vehicle while conducting a security operation in Mosul, Iraq, three weeks before he was to return home to begin a tour on a U.S. Army base in Tacoma, Wash... Ruiz's adoptive father remembered Ruiz as disciplined and smart, but also selfless and loving. "He was a sweet, sweet son," said Eduardo King, who raised Ruiz since he was 2 years old. "He was my partner." Source: "Private Killed in Iraq Was to Rejoin Family" by Rachel Leifer, Newsday Staff Writer , 8-18-06
SPFC SERGIO ABAD
MIAMI -- A South Florida soldier, and father-to-be, was killed in a firefight with Taliban forces in Afghanistan -- one day before he was to return home. Now, family members are mourning and remembering 22-year-old Sergio Abad.... They came to our door and told us the news," his adoptive sister, Catherine Popko said. When he was a boy, Abad was removed from an abusive home and raised by two foster families in South Florida, the Pitts and the Popkos. "He was a really kind, strong boy," Catherine Popko said.
Abad had plans to marry his girlfriend, Christina Parra, when he returned. And the two were expecting their first baby. His family said that he always wanted to have a little girl. He didn't know it when he died, but his fiancé is expecting a daughter. Source: "South Florida Soldier Killed in Afghanistan," NBC6.com, 7-26-08
Cpt. John Ryan Dennison
CAPTAIN JOHN RYAN DENNISON
John Ryan Dennison was a shining light in the Class of 2000 at Urbana High School in Frederick County -- an excellent student, a football player, a wrestler. John Dennison, his father, told the Associated Press that he met his wife, Shannon, when they were serving with the Army in Germany, where they adopted their first son, known in the military as John and by his family, teachers and friends as Ryan. The Dennisons also have a daughter, Colleen, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, and another son, Christopher, a college student. His father told the AP that Dennison was eager to serve in Iraq. "He wanted to lead troops and felt that's what he had been trained to do and wanted to go do it," he said. Source: "MD Man Who Was Eager to Lead Is Killed In Combat," by Cameron Barr, Washington Post Staff Writer, AP 11-18-06
PROMISES KEPT - DIANA HERBERT & RAYSHAWN JOHNSON -
AMERICANS YOU SHOULD KNOW - (8-9-04)
Diana Herbert grew up in the New York Foster Care System with her two brothers, Rayshawn and Michael Johnson. Rayshawn, the eldest of the children, enlisted in the US Army as a Combat Engineer. Rayshawn had found a new family - the military. Here's a few excerpts from stories about him:
Her brother had spoken with her about how the Army had changed his life and how it could change hers. It would be a change that would take her from the foster family system in New York that she, Johnson, and their younger brother, Michael Johnson, had known for years.
"When he returned to the neighborhood, he refused to come out of his greens," his aunt, Rosalyn Winter, told mourners at his funeral. "He wanted everyone to know this was a foster child who became a member of another family. The U.S. Army made a man of him.
The military changed Pfc. Rayshawn Johnson, on the inside and on the outside.
"He used to dress like he was born on the street, but when he came back, he was in his uniform," said his brother, Michael Johnson, 16. "He called once at the airport and he said the respect he got from people made him feel so good," his foster mother, Deborah Wynter, recalled. "He said they were coming up to him and saying God bless you, Good luck, Were proud of you."
Rayshawn asked his sister and brother, when they were old enough, to serve their country. They promised that they would...
Jeffrey F. Braun
JEFFREY F. BRAUN
Stafford, CT: Pfc. Jeffrey Braun was adopted by an American family, but he dreamed of starting an orphanage in Honduras, where he was born.
"Jeff always had a plan, a purpose," said the Rev. Richard Forcier, Braun's family priest. "He had a dream to give back."
The 19-year-old from Stafford, Conn., died Dec. 12, 2003, of a non-hostile gunshot wound in Baghdad. He was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.
As a teenager, Braun's hairstyles changed often, friends said. He enlisted in the Army shortly after graduating from high school, where he was a multi-sport athlete and member of the choir.
"My brother was never afraid to try new things while everyone stood aside and just watched him," Julie Braun wrote in a letter that was read at the soldier's funeral. "Everyone could feel the warmth of his personality," she wrote.
His parents, William and Meredith Braun, and his sister say they are continuing his work to start an orphanage.
BENSALEM FAMILY GRIEVES FOR SON
Philadelphia Inquirer, by Dwayne Campbell (3-12-04)
As gently as they could, the soldiers told the Brabazons on Tuesday that their son, Army Spec. Edward W. Brabazon, , was killed [by a non-hostile, non-combat gunshot wound] while serving in Iraq....
The Bensalem couple adopted Brabazon when he was 12; he had lived with them since he was 3, and he became the third Edward in the family. He was one of several children the couple adopted or fostered, and he bore the first name of his adoptive father and the couple's biological son.
FIRST CONTACT IN 22 YEARS
(Iraqi Adoptee Finds Brother)
Few people in Iraq have not suffered tragic consequences of the series of wars. For Farida [last name kept confidential], it all began in 1981 when her family was forced to go to Iran. She remained in Iraq with no news from her relatives for 22 years.
....[Farida]: "One weekend my parents had sent me to my grandmother in Basra. They were never able to come and get me. I never saw my father, my mother or my three brothers again."
Farida's grendmther had no resources and had to place her granddaughter with a foster family. Her adoptive parents were terrorized with the thought that they were sheltering someone "politically incorrect." Farida spent most of her time hidden inside.
"Everyone, my neighbors, the people around me, even my adoptive family, told me never to try to contact my family. Some of them held high government positions and were very afraid of reprisals just because they frequented me...."
Just as Bagdad was under full attack by the coalition forces, she learned that a friend of her family was in the capital. She risked her life to go to Baghdad....crossed the military roadblocks and finally found this most fortunate contact who gave her the phone number of one of her brothers in Iran....She heard her brother's voice for the first time in more than twenty years. [The ICRC and the Iraqi Red Crescent regularly allows families separated by the war to make free two-minute calls with satellite phones.]
GUALTEMALAN ARMY STOLE CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION, REPORT SAYS
From CNN.com, 9-11-09: "The Guatemalan army stole at least 333 children and sold them for adoption in other countries during the Central American nation's 36-year civil war, a government report has concluded. Many of those children ended up in the United States, as well as Sweden, Italy and France, said the report's author and lead investigator, Marco Tulio Alvarez. In some cases, the report said, parents were killed so the children could be taken and given to government-operated agencies to be adopted abroad. In other instances, the children were abducted without physical harm to the parents."
THE ORPHANS of TALL AFAR
NEWSWEEK, March 28, 2005 by Owen Matthew (excerpted)
More photos at
On January 18, 2005, U.S. soldiers shot at a speeding car, mistaking it for a suicide bomber attack. In 15 seconds, the Hassans, parents of the civilian family were killed, and their five children, ages 2-14, were instantly orphaned.
UNMASKED WAR AGAINST IRAQI CHILDREN
by Ghali Hassan, 8-4-04 (excerpt)
....Article 54 of the Geneva Convention states: "It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive."
"This is precisely what the United States government did, with malice aforethought"
Targeting Arab Children/The Slaughter of Iraqi Children (2):
by Ron David (excerpted)
A few years ago there was a case in New York that was so appalling that it captured the attention of the entire country. It involved a New York lawyer named Joel Steinberg, his battered live-in girlfriend, and a child, a little girl [whom they illegally adopted] named Lisa.... Even though Joel Steinberg had kept her locked in a dungeon-like room and starved and abused her to death, she had that trusting look on her face even as she lay like a dead elf in a coffin..... If there is any truly unforgivable act, it is the torture and killing of children. If someone did to your child what Joel Steinberg did to little Lisa ?
In September 1990, our government reported that Iraqi soldiers were ripping babies out of incubators and smashing their heads against walls. That really got us riled. If there is any truly unforgivable act, it is the torture and killing of children. In early 1991, President Bush dropped more bombs on Iraq than had been dropped on three continents during all of World War II. Iraq is about the size of California. But how much sympathy can you have for people who bash babies heads against walls? 368 days after the Gulf War ended, TV Guide featured a cover story titled "Fake News. The heart of the article! was a long sidebar that described in detail how the baby bashing and other atrocities that President Bush had used to whip America into a war frenzy had never happened. Those atrocities had been orchestrated by the public relations firm of Hill and Knowlton, headed by Craig Fuller, former chief of staff to George Bush. They were movies with actors, scripts and rehearsals that helped the President of the United States make a mockery of our democracy and attack the people of Iraqa people who had never hurt us in any way. They loved us and admired us until our bombs killed 200,000 of them, destroyed 20,000 Iraqi homes, leveled schools and hospitals, poisoned their water and destroyed one of the most advanced countries in the Middle East.
Even after all that, President Bush wasnt able to get rid of his old best friend, Saddam Hussein, so America continued to impose sanctions on Iraq, withholding luxuries like food and medicine. By the most conservative estimates, the sanctions America has imposed on Iraq kill some 5,000 Iraqi children every month. After ten years of our polite murder, some 750,000 Iraqi children under the age of five have died from malnutrition and disease because of our sanctions.
Face this truth: our politicians, in our name, are intentionally starving thousands of Iraqi children, intentionally depriving them of medicine...intentionally KILLING them in the hope that the dead childrens parents will become so crazy with grief that they will overthrow Saddam Hussein.
And, as if that wasn't bad enough, there was the death sentence: "The price is worth it."
"The price is worth it"
Edward S. Herman
.....Turning now to the actual use of the phrase "the price is worth it," we come to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's reply to Lesley Stahl's question on "60 Minutes" on May 12, 1996:
Stahl: "We have heard that a half a million children have died [because of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And--you know, is the price worth it?"
Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it."
I was curious about something. I phoned the Holocaust Museum. Oddly enough -- horribly enough -- the number of children killed by U. S. sanctions against Iraq as of 1996 when the interview took place matched almost exactly the best estimates of the number of Jewish children under the age of five killed during the Holocaust. That was the case in 1996. Now, seven years later, the number of Iraqi children killed by America's sanctions is double.
Can't you just hear one of Hitler's goons saying, "We think the price is worth it"?
....And now, do you have some idea of why people all over the world hate America. Don't kid yourself. It's not just Arabs; it's not just Muslims; it's people everywhere. Everywhere we go, whether it is dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki or starving to death nearly a million Iraqi children, we tell people by our actions that America has no respect for human life.
We have so little respect for human life that we starve children to death.
CHRISTIAN ORPHANS STUCK IN LIMBO IN IRAQ
The Washington Times, by Julia Duin (12-31-04)
AL QOSH, Iraq Compared with the ferocity of war in much of Iraq, the isolated Monastery of the Virgin Mary 25 miles north of Mosul exists in tranquility. Surrounded by desert, this cool shelter complete with olive trees, honeybees and a Chaldean church houses six monks and 36 orphaned boys, ages 5 to 14. Twenty-two girls live at a convent in nearby Mosul.
Over the years, the Rev. Mofid Toma Marcus, 37, an Assyrian Christian monk in charge of the monastery and orphanage, has kept the wolves away. During dictator Saddam Hussein's reign, he passed off his orphanage as a seminary for students preparing for the priesthood, because the government was not anxious to let the outside world know the actual number of orphans in the country. Even today, when the boys, dressed in jeans and T-shirts, line up after their naps and are asked how many want to become priests, six raise their hands. They will go to a Catholic seminary in Baghdad. The fate of the other boys is uncertain, because Father Marcus will not give them up for adoption to Muslim families.
"In an Iraqi orphanage, they make you change your religion," the monk said, "and I don't want our Christian kids to be Muslims."
He wishes he could send them to places like Detroit, which has many Iraqi Chaldean families who belong to the same ancient stream of Christianity and are willing to raise an orphaned child. Although the U.S. State Department says it has received many inquiries from American citizens asking about adoption, its Web site says adoption is not possible under Iraqi law.
One reason: Adoption is prohibited under Islamic law, which informs Iraqi civil law. Unlike in the West, orphaned Muslim children do not take the name and family relationships of their new parents. Instead, Islam allows "kefala," a type of guardianship in which children retain their original family identities.
But U.S. immigration law considers kefala insufficient for immigration purposes. Moreover, anyone raising a child under the kefala system must promise to raise the child as a Muslim.
"The chances of adopting a Muslim child is nil," said Roni Anderson, a former Southern Baptist missionary who worked with Father Marcus for 12 years until this year. "They'd prefer the child be stranded than be adopted by a Christian."
.....Estimates of their true numbers range from 1.5 million to 5 million, but there is no national policy on what to do with them.
In Baghdad, some mosques have taken over state orphanages. The status of the children in them is complicated by the fact that some might have living parents who sent their children outside of a war zone to live with relatives or got separated during an evacuation.
Excerpted from TIME, March Cover story, "WHEN MOM GOES TO WAR",
Special Report, "An American Family Goes To War," by Nancy Gibbs posted online 3-16-03 at
Roughly half of today's soldiers are married with children; 8% are single parents, and 10% have a spouse who is also in uniform. (Six percent of male soldiers have a military spouse; 41% of female soldiers do.).....
For these military families, being prepared for an emergency means more than having flashlights and water stored in the basement. It means 18-year-old infantrymen who have to decide who gets their stuff if they never come home, and parents agreeing on who gets their children until they do. It is sperm banks offering to give military couples a year's free storage, in case a chemical attack destroys a husband's fertility or an older wife wants to keep trying to have a baby and can't afford to wait a year while her husband is gone. It is a single mom watching her adorable baby girl bond with a caregiver on her post who always wanted a daughter: the baby sitter paints a room in her home pink and smiles when the baby calls her Mama, even when Mother is in the room.
HELP NEEDED -- GRANDPARENTS RAISING THE CHILDREN OF FALLEN SOLDIERS
by Carole Fleck, AARP Bulletin online (April 2007)
Army Pfc. Hannah McKinney's young son, Todd, and new husband were waiting for her to come home from Iraq last September. But just weeks before they were to be reunited, McKinney, 20, was killed in action. Now her parents, Barbie and Matt Heavrin of Redlands, Calif., are raising two-year-old Todd, McKinney's child from a previous relationship.
"Some days I'm overwhelmed with sadness thinking about Hannah," says Barbie Heavrin. Despite the emotional devastation, grandparents and other relatives who are left to raise a loved one's child don't get the financial support from the government that a surviving parent would.
The Heavrins are rearing their grandson without the benefit of the $100,000 "death gratuity" the government gives to next-of-kin defined as spouse or childto offset the financial burden when a service member is killed. Nor did the Heavrins, who have been rearing Todd since their daughter's deployment to Iraq, receive the $400,000 from group life insurance in which soldiers are automatically enrolled. McKinney had chosen her husband of less than a year as the beneficiary of both, despite the fact that he was not living with or caring for the toddler.
"You have an awful lot of grandparents who are caregivers while their children are deployed," says Kathleen Moakler of the National Military Family Association in Alexandria, Va. Of the 3,131 soldiers killed in Iraq as of Feb. 3, a total of 143 were single parents, according to the U.S. Defense Department.
To assist caregivers in these situations, Congress is considering legislation that would allow some or all of a soldier's death gratuity to go to the children's grandparents or other guardians.
"The death benefit system overlooks that people other than spouses would take care of a minor should the unthinkable happen," says James Carstensen, spokesman for Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, who introduced the legislation along with Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.
"We need this legislation passed," says Susan Jaenke of Iowa Falls, Iowa, who cares for her granddaughter, Kayla, 9. Jaenke's daughter, who was a single parent, died in Iraq, and Jaenke didn't receive the death benefitsthey're set aside for Kayla to collect when she's 18.
"I'm having trouble making ends meet," Jaenke says. "It's pretty scary"
The Death Of Lance Cpl. Gutierrez
excerpted from CBS-60 Minutes (& CBSNews.com, 8-20-03)
Correspondent Bob Simon reports.
Did you know that approximately 38,000 Americans in uniform are not American citizens - and that at least 10 men who have been killed in Iraq were not U.S. citizens?
That sounds astonishing, but in fact, it's nothing new. It's been like that in every war the United States has fought, from Valley Forge to Vietnam.
But, as 60 Minutes II first reported earlier this year, the heroism and sacrifice of non-citizens was barely known - until Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez died in battle in Iraq.
He came from Guatemala, and he came to the United States illegally....
...Jose was orphaned when he was 8 years old and became a street child....
Bruce Harris began running Guatemala's Casa Alianza orphanage - that's Covenant House in Spanish - shortly after Jose was taken there at the age of 9. ...
"He was really a survivor, and that's how he made it up to United States, because he was a survivor," says Harris. "He wasn't satisfied in trying to etch out a subsistence survival in a country like Guatemala, where more than 80 percent of the people are poor. He wanted more. He knew there was more to life than just being poor, so in 1997 Jose said he was leaving for America."
It was a 3,000-mile trail of tears by foot, by tire, and by train. It was a modern version of an underground railway, and the last leg was over the wall. But when Jose made it to the border, he got busted. He was 22 years old and the INS was going to turn him back. Saved by his baby face, Jose told the authorities he was only 16. Minors don't get turned back, so he was allowed to stay in America and get a green card.
His pilgrimage continued through a series of foster homes - one after another. But, once again, he got lucky. He wound up in Torrance, Calif., with Nora and Marcello Mosquera, both Latin American immigrants. They not only took him in, they loved him and called him their son. [informally adopted him.]
"You find children that, when they encounter so many problems in their early childhood, they either go the right path or the wrong path," says Mosquera. "Either they make things stronger. A fight or a soldier to get ahead, and become someone in life. Or they go down the wrong road. I think with Jose, all his experiences made him stronger. A stronger person. A fighter. A leader." ...
... Are young Hispanic men who go up to the United States looking for future, for education? Are they being sent to the front because they're dispensable?" Harris believes that Guatemalans now view Jose as both a victim and a hero. ... Jose and the nine other green card holders who died in Iraq have prompted a number of congressional proposals that would make it quicker and easier for non-citizens to become Americans when they join the military.
Several weeks after 60 Minutes II first broadcast this story, the U.S. military revealed the cause of Gutierrez's death. It was not from Iraqi guns, but friendly fire, from his fellow Americans.
The Mosquera family plans to establish a scholarship fund in the memory of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez. Scholarships will be set up at Los Angeles Harbor College, North High School, and Wendy's Kids, an organization for foster kids in Los Angeles.
Please send an email to email@example.com for more information.
Rachel K. Bosveld
PFC Rachel K. Bosveld, 19 - killed in Iraq 10-23-03
She was from Waupun, WI. She was assigned to 527th Military Police Company, V Corps, Giessen, Germany. She was killed during a mortar attack on a police station in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. Adopted as a baby, Rachel is survived by her father Marvin, brother Craig, step-brother Aaron Krebs, adoptive mother Mary Bosveld and other relatives including a female cousin who served during the Vietnam War. (Excerpted from www.nooniefortin.com/iraq.htm)
LANCE CORPORAL CALEB POWERS, 21
USMC, killed by enemy fire in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.... two weeks before his tour was up. Powers, who at 7 was cared for by the Virginia-based children's group until farming relatives in Mansfield adopted him five years later, was a virtual poster boy for the non-profit organization that helps abandoned children. A resilient kid who appreciated where he had come from, Powers hoped to save his combat pay to one day buy a ranch in Mansfield. He dreamed of one day giving back to the organization that helped him by helping other children, such as the ones who swarmed over him when he visited, said Jay Cooper, a retired film-industry executive and former director of Variety Children's Charities in Beverly Hills, Calif., who had come to know Powers. ....From a youngster with attention-deficit disorder who had nearly nothing in childhood, Powers eventually came to have almost everything. .... As a child, Powers' own words about his life were recorded in "Silence Broken," a book about Child Help USA, the organization begun in the 1950s to help displaced Japanese children, but which expanded to help other youth. (from The Seattle Post Intelligencer )
MARINE CPL BINH LE, 21
Was killed 12-3-04 while manning a checkpoint when a car bomb exploded. Le was born in South Vietnam. He came to the United States when he was 6 years old and grew up with an adopted family. However, he still kept in contact with his parents in Vietnam. "We're very proud. He served the country. He's a first-generation here. I know he loved his job and he would do what he wanted to do. So our family is very proud of him," Le's adopted father, Luong La, said. Le's relatives here say they're trying to make sure his biological parents can come to Arlington National Cemetery for his funeral. (Excerpted from Seattle Times, SeattleTimes.com and ArlingtonCemetary.net/_bnle.htm)
Christopher J. VanDerHorn
STAFF SGT. CHRISTOPHER VANDERHORN, 37
Died when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee in Sinia as he was patrolling, the Department of Defense said... Bob Vanderhorn and his wife, Nancy, adopted Christopher Vanderhorn when he was 3 months old. He grew up in Beaux Arts Village, a small town near Bellevue, Wash. Bob Vanderhorn said his son was "talkative, opinionated and caring as someone described it, kind of a hard head with a very soft heart." Nancy Vanderhorn said her son "always wanted to be a hero" so it came as no surprise when he went into the military. (Excerpted from 1-3-06 post at USAToday.com)
NEVADAN KILLED IN IRAQ LAID TO REST AT ARLINGTON
Las Vegas Review-Journal, by Samantha Young (4-15-03)
Standing by the casket of her father, the little girl turned to her mother and said "Where's my daddy?"
Kneeling beside her, the widow of 1st Lt. Fred Pokorney Jr, raised her head, picked up her daughter and said her final goodbye to the U.S. Marine from Tonopah killed in Iraq.
He planned to make a career out of the military, according to his adoptive father, former Nye County Sheriff Wade Lieske.
Richard Penny Jr.
Son's Decade Long Quest Ends in the Rubble
New York Times, by Nina Bernstein (10-25-01)
In 1987 when nearly 40, [Richard Penny Sr.] learned he had been adopted, that his [birth] father was Jewish, his [birth] mother an African-American acquaintance of the family. He angrily confronted his adoptive mother who died soon afterward...The family never heard from him again.
...His trail resurfaced in August 1996. The father who was sleeping at the shelter told a caseworker that he wanted to establish "normal family relations" with his son, then 28; [the elder Penny noted] "Lost communication; must track him down." But he never figured out how.
For years, Richard Penny Jr. searched for the father whose name he bears.
After a decade lost in a netherland of homeless shelters and work programs, Richard Penny, 53, made it to a ranted room and a steady job. But the job was for the World Trade Center Recycling Project and when terrorists struck Sept. 11, he was collecting paper on an upper floor of the North Tower.
Ronnie and Charity Bowers
BUSH EXPRESSES SORROW for AMERICANS KILLED in PERU CRASH
Associated Press, by Ron Fornier (4-21-01)
...The U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru, said the surveillance plane had been monitoring Peru's aircraft which mistook the missionaries for drug smugglers.
Missionary Veronica "Ronnie" Bowers, 35, and her 7-month old adopted daughter, Charity, were both killed...
Their single engine plane was downed by the Peruvian Air Force. A U.S. surveillance plane was involved.
U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs
Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children Issues
International Adoption - Iraq
The Department of State has received many inquiries from American citizens concerned about the plight of the children of Iraq and wondering about the possibility of adoption. At this time, it is not possible to adopt Iraqi children, for several reasons.
In general, adoptions are private civil legal matters governed by the laws of the nation where the child resides. The process involves complex foreign and U.S. legal requirements. There is no adoption under Iraqi law, only guardianship, which the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (formerly the INS) and the Board of Immigration Appeals have deemed insufficient for the purposes of immigration under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Iraqi law has not permitted foreigners to obtain legal guardianship of Iraqi children. The Department of State does not know at this time whether Iraqi nationals living abroad may obtain legal guardianship of Iraqi orphans.
Moreover, in a crisis situation, such as the Iraqi people are experiencing at the present time, it can be extremely difficult to determine whether children whose parents are missing are truly orphans.
Adoptees Speak Out:
"Die for My Country, But Don't Ask/Don't Tell Origins"
Parents who have not yet found their adult adopted children have told AmFOR of their concern that their children could possibly be killed in battle before having had a chance to reconnect with them. Similar thoughts by adoptees have been expressed -- not only since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America, but also during past and current wars -- as the following newsclips attest:
"Man's Last Wish Before Gulf Duty: Meet Mother"
Flint Journal, Michigan, 12-28-90
"Just before being sent to fight in the Gulf War, adoptee Bob Gaen said, "I'm not looking for those people to ruin their lives. I'm looking to find my backbone, to find my blood." He always had been curious about his [birth]parents, but he actually began pursuing their identity after his daughter, Rebecca, developed heart problems before birth."
"Gulf Bound GI Finds Real Mom"
Saginaw News, Michigan, 2-18-91
"Army reservist Christy Matthews, 19, reunited with her mother, Karen Raef, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. They were joined by Christy's [adopter], Jean Matthews. Christy, said she believes anyone of legal age to enlist in the military is also old enough to know who they are and who their parents are. Christy is training for deployment to the Gulf."
In Memory of David Brandhorst, Adoptee and all who perished, September 11, 2001
"Adoption is a form of domestic terrorism."
Ronald Gamboa, pictured with his adopted son, David Brandhorst [who, along with Gamboa's male partner, Daniel Brandhorst] were victims of United Flight 175 terrorist hijacking-crash attack into World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Will young David's mother ever be told?
The following is excerpted from LATimes.com and Newsday.com,
September 13, 2001
"AMERICA UNDER ATTACK: Profiles of the Victims - September 11, 2001"
Daniel Brandhorst, 42, lived in a home perched on the lip of a canyon in the Hollywood Hills with his partner Ronald Gamboa and their adopted 3-year-old son. They were returning from a vacation in Boston and Cape Cod. The couple had been together for 14 years. Brandhorst was the serious one, the lawyer and accountant, the man who dreamed of becoming a professor. Gamboa, 33, was the happy-go-lucky one, the beloved manager of a Gap store in Santa Monica, the family man with a glint of mischievousness in his eye and an ever-ready arsenal of jokes. If Gamboa's sister or friend said "Isn't that cute" about a puppy or "Isn't that beautiful" about a sunset, Gamboa would retort: "What am I?"
Both had moved from small towns--Brandhorst from Liverpool, N.Y., Gamboa from Anchorage, Ky.-- to New York City, where they met. They moved to Los Angeles a few years later when Brandhorst was transferred to another office of his company, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers. They loved to travel around the world, hang out with a close group of friends and visit family. They lavished attention on the blue-eyed 3-year-old they adopted as an infant and named after Daniel's brother David. Relatives said that the two men had been looking for another child to adopt.
AmFOR NOTE: Unfortunately, in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks, the gay media has been using gay victims of the terrorist attacks as a sounding board for their issues. In the case of Gamboa and Brandhorst, gay media is using them as a "poster family" example of how gay families are "no different" than "birth" families. This is AmFOR's rebuttal to that.
"And these exclusionary definitions of family have been used by some
media to render our lives and identities invisible. The Courier-Journal
in Louisville initially reported that Ronald Gamboa, partner of
Daniel Brandhorst and adoptive father of David
Gamboa-Brandhorst, was single and childless. "
-- October 2001 Op-Ed, "The Full Story Includes Us" by Joan M. Garry, Executive Director, GLAAD
AmFOR is not against freedom of sexual orientation. AmFOR is against exploitation of adoption and adoptees to further gay issues-- or any other special interests such as pro-life and pro-choice groups. Adoption is an abnormal status -- in heterosexual adoptions as well as in gay/lesbian adoptions -- because adoption tries to re-create the "birth" family which adoption has dismembered and they are not interchangeable.
Often gay partners will hire a surrogate, just as lesbian partners will pay for donor insemination, so that at least one of them is the biological parent. The child and surrogate, or donor, may or may not become part of each other's lives. Still, an adoption occurs, and there is the problem of the falsified birth certificate and whether or not there will be contact between the surrogate or donor and the child. As it was reported in media that Gamboa and Brandhorst "had been looking for another child to adopt," evidently neither were biological parents of young David. Today's adoptions, including gay/lesbian adoptions are more often created to fill the needs of adopters who cannot otherwise have children, instead of filling the needs of a child.. A child's greatest need is to not be separated from "birth" parents who have not been declared "unfit," nor to be given away to strangers who are simply more "economically privileged" and thereby feel an entitlement to another's child.
Daniel Brandhorst was my brother. This is to inform you that his adopted sons birth mother has been told. As a matter of fact, she was involved in all the memorials and is constantly informed of any developments. And yes, they were looking for another child to adopt. As in Davids case they were dealing with young women who were drug addicted or had other personal issues that prevented them from raising a child. So, I suppose I am just asking you to let them all rest in peace. Thank you,
Dear Ms. Kelly,
Thank you for the update. I'm very sorry for your loss, as we are sorry for every loss on Sept. 11. My own son and his wife (both adoptees)were in Boston at the time and would have flown home via NYC but, unknown to me, had decided to drive instead. I went through 24 hours of pure hell til I knew they were okay. So no disrespect of the deceased is intended by this "Adoptee War Casualty" page. Media told only one side of your brother's and David's story, and the gay media then capitalized on the tragedy to exploit gay issues--whereas I advocate for children--which is what I am saying on this web page.
Your brother was evidently a very kind, well-liked and loving person, by all accounts, but the adoption system by which he was given entitlement to David does not necessarily look after "child's best interests" and most relinquishing mothers are never told their children's fate. Many children have been known to suffer abuse in their adoptive placements and have died as result--but it's not discovered until it's too late. Examples are at my web page, Death By Adoption, loricarangelo.com/chosenchildren/death.html
There are many mothers who are losing their children to adoption only for economic reasons.... and some whose children may not have died, had the children not been taken from them or had the children at least been placed with more accountability than the adoption system is set up to provide.
That this boy's allegedly drug addicted mother was told her child perished [Note: Received an email from someone else stating this was an "open adoption"] doesn't justify the child's fate any more than your brother's death is justified. But your brother chose to travel a lot whereas the child had no choice.
Who can say whether the boy most likely would not have been on that plane had he and his family been helped or a more equitable form of substitute custody been an option. But we do know that the adoption system serves the needs of people who want children and who can afford to pay adoption fees, rather serving the needs of children. I'm not blaming adopters--I'm blaming a bad child welfare system. Adoption plays "russian roulette" with children's lives.
AmFOR also received an unsigned e-mail with a return e-mail address indicating "K. Andrews," an "adoptiveparent@------." Andrews alleged that the Brandhorst adoption was an "open" adoption--as such placements often are. While the e-mail lauded the benefits of "open" adoption to all parties, the sender presumed to "speak for" the mother who I have not heard from nor seen quoted in media--as is often the case with pro-adoption commentary. While all relinquishing mothers intially are given a false sense of security that adoption will provide a "better life" for their children -- which no baby broker can predict nor guarantee-- the bottom line is that this child, David Brandhorst, is dead.
People & Events: Operation Babylift (1975)
from PBS "American Experience"
A U.S government plan to transport Vietnamese orphans out of their war-torn country began in disaster. The very first flight to leave Saigon, on April 4, 1975, crashed several minutes after takeoff, killing 138 people, most of whom were Vietnamese children. Critics in Washington questioned the Ford administration's political motivations. Others criticized the government for assuming that the children would be better off in America. But perhaps most disturbing was that many of the children were not orphans at all.
During the final days of the Vietnam War, the U.S. government began boarding Vietnamese children onto military transport planes bound for adoption by American, Canadian, European and Australian families. Over the next several weeks, Operation Babylift brought more than 3300 children out of Vietnam. As the Communists advanced into South Vietnam, rumors about what they would do were rampant. Many South Vietnamese were desperate to escape. Children fathered by American soldiers were rumored to be in particular danger. Heidi Bub's birth mother, Mai Thi Kim, feared that her daughter would "be soaked with gasoline and be burnt." For a mother desperate to protect her mixed race child in the face of an advancing enemy, a chance to send the child to America was a ray of hope.
From the start, Americans debated the Babylift's purpose, execution and justification. American Ambassador to Vietnam Graham Martin claimed that the evacuation "would help reverse the current of American public opinion to the advantage of the Republic of Vietnam." President Gerald Ford made use of the photo opportunity, standing before television cameras on the tarmac at San Francisco airport to meet a plane full of infants and children. Bay Area attorney Tom Miller, who would become involved in litigation over the Babylift, called it "one of the last desperate attempts to get sympathy for the war." A Congressional investigation suggested that there was "a total lack of planning by federal and private agencies." Newspaper headlines asked, "Babylift or babysnatch?" and "The Orphans: Saved or Lost?" And a Vietnamese orphan character appeared in the satirical "Doonesbury" cartoons of G. B. Trudeau.
Some Americans asked whether fear made it right to take children from their homeland. A Vietnamese American journalist, Tran Tuong Nhu, wondered, "What is this terror Americans feel that my people will devour children?" Some felt that guilt may have been a motivation. Relief agencies in Vietnam were accused of being "Saigon's baby business." The New York Times quoted a Yale psychologist, Dr. Edward Zigler, who said: "We've been ripping [the children of the airlift] right out of their culture, their community... it's some kind of emotional jag we are on."
There were some Americans who welcomed the Babylift, including American aid workers in South Vietnam. Sister Susan McDonald cared for 100 infants at a Saigon orphanage. As the North Vietnamese moved closer to the city, living conditions worsened. Food was in very short supply, and gasoline was so expensive that McDonald would buy it by the quart. The orphanage depended on supplies from overseas, and when these -- including food -- were no longer forthcoming, the children's lives were at risk. McDonald had been looking for a flight to move the children in her care to safety, but commercial flights had ceased. When the military invited her to participate in Operation Babylift, she gratefully accepted. On April 26, 1975, McDonald boarded a plane with 200 Vietnamese children and 14 caretakers. The plane stopped in the Philippines to get the sickest children to a hospital, and after more than a week in a refugee camp, the rest of the children continued their journey in a seated cargo plane. The babies were placed in small cardboard boxes lined with blankets. The two hundred children landed in Seattle at the end of a long and strange journey.
Tran Tuong Nhu, one of a small number of Vietnamese Americans living in the Bay Area at the time, volunteered to assist with Babylift arrivals in San Francisco's Presidio. She and the other volunteers were surprised to hear children talking about their living family members. Many of the children did not appear to be orphans at all.
Nhu, Miller, and others approached the federal government and adoption agencies with their concerns about the situation. When they received no response, they contacted the Center for Constitutional Rights and filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the federal government, and the adoption agencies.
In Vietnam, poor families would sometimes place children in orphanages if they could not feed them. But in such cases, parents did not intend to give them up, and would often visit their children. Many parents, especially of Amerasians, were concerned about their children's safety. In some cases, parents put their children on a Babylift plane, and later left Vietnam themselves as refugees, with the intention of finding their children later. "Many of [the adoption records] lacked the consents from the parents," said Miller. When Mai Thi Kim brought her daughter Hiep (Heidi Bub) to the Holt Adoption Agency in Danang, she was given no papers whatsoever.
A worker with the U.S. Agency for International Development in Saigon, Bobby Nofflet, recalled the tumultuous days of Babylift: "There were large sheaves of papers and batches of babies.
Who knew which belonged to which?" The Babylift lawsuit argued that many of the children in the airlift were not orphans, had been given up under duress during wartime, and that the U.S. government had an obligation to return them to their families. Attorney Tom Miller said that he brought Vietnamese birth parents into the courtroom to plead for their children, but to no avail. Judge Spencer Williams eventually threw out the Babylift case, declaring it to be 2,000 separate cases, and not a class action suit. "He sealed the records, and told us we could not contact any of the Vietnamese families and let them know where their children were," said Miller.
Only in cases where parents had found their children independently could Miller's group represent them. Eventually only twelve children were reunited with their Vietnamese parents, but only after many years and lawsuits. Many children were caught in court battles between their birth parents and their adoptive parents. For a number of Babylift adoptees, finding their birth parents is essentially impossible, because no records exist. In recent years, many have established connections with each other based on their shared experiences.
ANGELINA JOLIE ADOPTION ODDS: USA and IRAQ
from HecklerSpray.com (3-27-07)
So far Angelina Jolie has adopted a boy from Cambodia, a girl from Ethiopia, a boy from Vietnam and a girl that she technically gave birth to but then legally divorced and adopted. But is adopting four children enough for Angelina Jolie? Never. Here are today's Angelina Jolie [tongue in cheek] "adoption betting odds" - for the USA and Iraq ...
USA - It goes without saying that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have ruffled a few feathers in their home country by adopting children from everywhere apart from America, so here's their chance to make amends. There's one problem with Angelina Jolie adopting an American baby, though - she's already got an American kid. True, this one wasn't adopted...but she still counts.... Current Angelina Jolie adoption betting odds - 25/1
IRAQ - Angelina Jolie has always been very political in her movie-making. She made that film about Daniel Pearl; The Good Shepherd clearly reflected the current international security crisis...But surely Angelina Jolie's greatest-ever political move would be to adopt an orphan whsoe parents were killed by American bombs in Iraq. Current Angelina Jolie adoption betting odds - 20/1
[AmFOR Note: On the serious side, Iraq's officials estimate there are THOUSANDS of young war orphans. Under Islamic Law, orphans are considered "damaged," adoption is difficult, and their relatives are hard to find due to separation by war.]