This week, our ProSquad adoption expert raises awareness for our readers about adoption, and our medical expert tackles a tough health issue for children and their parents.

November Is National Adoption Month

Observed annually since 1990, National Adoption Month has sought to increase the number of families that can change the lives of children who need loving and stable families. You can pursue the adoption or fostering of a child. You can also engage in other ways to "parent." One way to do this is to advocate for the children and youth who have been emaciated from or "aged out" of (reached the age of 18 and are no longer able to receive assistance from their state of foster families) of foster care by:

Becoming a Mentor

Sometimes you can't be the parent. Almost 28,000 youth aged out of the system last year, never finding a permanent family. These kids often don't have the support or life skills to take care of themselves. You can find mentoring opportunities online, through local foster agencies, or college programs. Studies show that within four years of leaving foster care:

  • Less than 20% could support themselves.
  • Only 46% graduated from high school or received a GED.
  • 25% were homeless.
  • 42% became parents.

Helping With Higher Education

Rally community leaders in creating an education fund. Provide education supplies and gift certificates for textbooks. Establish or provide tutoring.

National Adoption Month brings increased awareness to adoption and to those children who have not been adopted. Everyone can play a role in promoting and advocating for adoption. Spread the word. You can make a difference!


Adoption Pro, Judy Miller

Judy M. Miller, MA, author of What To Expect From Your Adopted Tween, is an adoptive parent and adoption advocate living in the Midwest with her husband and four children. She is the Adoption Education Coordinator and Support Specialist for MLJ Adoptions, Inc.

Judy has appeared on MomTV's Adoption Angles and TogiNet'sAdoption ~ Journey to Motherhood. Judy spoke at the Parenting Summit in March 2011 and presented at the Symposium 2011 Opening Adoption: Realities, Possibilities, and Challenges in Richmond, VA and the Crossroads of America Adoption Conference in Indianapolis, IN last fall.

Judy's essays and articles appear in adoption and parenting magazines and in A Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Families (Adams Media), Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be? (EMK Press), andChicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom (Chicken Soup for the Soul).


Potty Trouble

My 4-year-old is now potty-trained; but lately, she's been having hard and painful bowel movements. I find her sometimes refusing to go to the bathroom when I know she needs to poop. Help!

Constipation is one of the most common pediatric conditions I encounter. And for the most part, thankfully, this can be turned around with careful attention to your daughter's diet. 4 year-olds are notorious for being somewhat "picky" and their water intake is usually lacking.

Get back on track by offering whole grains, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.To soften up those stools sooner (rather than later) and prevent your daughter from "holding it in" — which only furthers exacerbates this vicious cycle — offer a "P" juice every morning. Plum or pear juice work great in my opinion. Try mixing it with apple or orange juice if your child doesn't like the taste.

In addition, offer plenty of water throughout the day. Send her to preschool with a refillable water bottle. Make sure she gets 60 minutes of physical activity per day, and offer fiber-rich snacks like apples and whole-grain toast with peanut butter. Smoothies made with whole fruits are a great way to work in that fiber. You might want to consider a daily fiber supplement if your child is particulary averse to fiber-rich foods.

By keeping meals on a fairly regular schedule, making sure she drinks plenty of water, and including fiber-rich foods in her diet, her constipation will soon be an annoyance of the past. If not, consult with your child's doctor about the need for a temporary stool softener in order to turn things around.


Medical Pro, Melissa Arca

Melissa Arca, M.D. is a board certified pediatrician, mom of two, writer, and blogger who has found her passion in writing and speaking about parenting and children's health. She realizes that parenting is not an exact science and offers her practical tips on handling common parenting dilemmas. In addition, she loves educating parents and children about their health and ways to improve it.

She authors a weekly Dr.Mom column in The Sacramento Bee and appears weekly on KCRA with Dr.Mom tips on a variety of pediatric health topics. Her blog, Confessions of a Dr.Mom, is truly the place where doctor and mom collide.

Dr. Arca received her undergraduate degree from UCIrvine and went on to obtain her medical degree from USC Keck School of Medicine. She completed her pediatric residency in 2003 from Children's Hospital Los Angeles and is a member of the AAP Council on Communication and Media.

She lives in Northern California with her husband and children, ages 4 and 6. They visit the ocean any free chance they get.