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San Joaquin















A special new place for your special new person.

Looking forward to your own special delivery? The birth of a new baby is an experience to cherish. And the perfect place to create these special memories is the Women and Infants Center in St. Joseph’s beautiful new Patient Pavilion. New moms will enjoy the comfort of their own spacious, private rooms, and feel pampered with small perks—like garden views, a hostess who takes bedside meal orders, and freshly baked cookies delivered in the afternoon. At St. Joseph’s, we are dedicated to your comfort, supplying advanced pain management, including epidurals. You’ll feel reassured knowing there are new C-section surgical suites and a state-of-the-art neonatal ICU. The birth of your baby is a story you’ll share time and time again. Choose the perfect setting — St. Joseph’s Medical Center—where we’ve created a special new place for your special new person.

1800 N. California Street, Stockton, CA 95204 209.943.2000 |

Santa’s At Sherwood Mall: There’s a new conductor in town and he has set up shop at Sherwood Mall. Through December 24th, bring the family to see Santa at his new train station and watch the Santa Express travel through the North Pole.

Family Fun Day: This holiday season we have plenty of fun for the whole family including Holiday Crafts and Entertainment featuring ! Kids will stuff their stocking with music, games & prizes*. Join the fun! Sat., Dec. 4th, 4pm - 5:30pm

Shopping & Dining: Pac Sun Zumiez Torrid Express Claire’s Game Stop Victoria’s Secret Stride Rite Petco Elephant Bar Toys “R” Us Macaroni Grill Macy’s Best Buy HomeGoods ULTA

Located At Pacific & Robinhood• Stockton • 952-6277 *While supplies last.



san joaquin kids and parent


Kids Tidbits A Starry Night Kids Poetry; Tots and Teapots


10 In the Spotlight Sheila Cameron, Doula for new mothers 12

Haute Items: Winter Warm

14 Winter Kids Activity Guide 18

Finding Forever Homes In honor of National Adoption Month, we take a look at foster care and adoption in San Joaquin County. by Jamie Menaker




Your Kids: Holiday Crafts at Home Escapes: Stress-Free Holidays 28

Kids Kaptures Look Mom I’m Famous!


Mom on a Mission: Dr. Rafat Razi, Pediatric Dentist

10 34

14 18 4

san joaquin KiDs WInter l 2010



What’s Inside

With good health. . kids just do better! With good health... kids just do better!

Look no further for affordable low-cost health coverage for kids.

Health Plan of San Joaquin offers truly affordable health, dental, and vision coverage. You’ll also have your choice of hundreds of doctors, access to most hospitals, and prescription coverage for your kids.

Plus, you’ll have access to programs and useful tips including:

• A Free 24-hour Advice Nurse Line • Nutritional Tips for Kids • Childhood Safety Tips • Information on Diabetes and Asthma • What shots your kids need as they grow  

Call today to find out more about our plans and see if we have the right plan for you. Eligibility guidelines apply


1-888-936-PLAN Affordable health, dental, and vision coverage for kids!

209.833.9989 I


san joaquin kids and parent

 St. Mary’s High School 

Publisher | EDITOR


Tony Zoccoli

A College Preparatory High School


managing editor

Accepting Freshman Applications 2011-2012 school year

Jamie Menaker

 Students must register prior  to taking the placement test on  Saturday, January 29, 2011


Creative director David Martinez

Sales and Marketing Director Heather Hilton


To register, or for more information,  call Julia Scriven, the Registrar 209-957-3340 Ext. 103 


ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Michelle Cox, Kelly Moore, Vikki Sandor-Girolami, Valerie Zoccoli EDItorial inquiries

In compliance with federal regulations, Saint Mary’s High School does not ContributING WRITERS discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, or national or ethnic origin.

 Tammy Hansen, Nissa Hallquist, Jennifer Thornton

Specialist in Pediatric Dentistry

Photography Dan Hood, Matthew James Photography Office assistant/ad coordinator Windy Congrove WEB DESIGNER Violet Whitworth

contact us

San Joaquin Kids Magazine is published 6x a year by San Joaquin Magazine 95 W. 11th Street, Suite 206 Tracy, CA 95376 Phone: (209) 833-9989 Email:

Rafat S. Razi, D.M.D, M.P.H. “Our office provides a

warm, caring, environment specialized for treating the dental needs of

infants, children, and



“making kids smile” DMD: Harvard School of Dental Medicine MPH: Harvard School of Public Health Specialty Training in Pediatric Dentistry: Univ. of Rochester Eastman Dental Center Member of American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry 2160 W. Grant Line Rd • Ste. 130 Tracy, CA 95377 • (209) 834-1307

san joaquin KIDS Winter l 2010

ADVERTISING OFFICE: 209.833.9989 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from this publisher. Photographs, graphics, and artwork are the property of Inside Magazines Publishing Company. © 2010 Inside Magazines

PRINTED IN THE U.S.A. by American Web

Printed on 10% recycled paper. All inks used contain a percentage of soy base. Our printer meets or exceeds all Federal Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) Standards. Our printer is a certified member of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

209.833.9989 I


san joaquin kids and parent

Calling all Artists A Starry Night

If you are interested in being a part of the collaboration, attending poetry events, or participating in a writing mentorship, Visit:

Tea and Threads


f you’re a mom, mom-to-be, or a friend of either one, Stockton’s Tots and Teapots is a must-see for new designer trends in maternity and baby fashions. Whether your taste is more traditional, or you envision your babe decked out in leather and pearls, there’s plenty to see at this Miracle Mile boutique for both moms and kids. So, why ‘Teapots’? Up a few stairs from the boutique, the shop offers a tea lounge, perfect for children’s birthday parties, baby showers, and bridal showers. The tea-time menu offers plenty to munch on, including fresh scones, finger sandwiches, mini quiches, and tarts. Little girls will adore the princess tea birthday parties, which include dress-up accessories like tiaras, boas, gloves, and pearls. —K.B. For more information: Tots and Teapots, 2319 Pacific Ave., Stockton, (209) 594-0556,


san joaquin KIDS Winter l 2010

Courtesy Starry night; tots and teapots

Local writer and poet D.B. Pacini partnered up with husband and recently-retired English teacher of 28 years Tim Christensen to start their non-profit arts organization, A Starry Night Productions, in 2005. Both wanted to start a program that would nurture and support young artists in the community.     The organization includes the A Starry Night Poetry Series, which took off in May of this year, allowing writers from San Joaquin to gather at the Lodi Public Library once a month and share their work in an open mic format. The events are free and inclusive of all ages. Pacini and Christensen have also started A Starry Night Press, set to open January 2011. The press will publish local writers, and also plans to donate the profits of at least one published book per year to a non-profit organization. Their next non-profit book project will be a collection of short stories by young adults ages 13 to 25, set to be published in 2012. —Katy Berry

Upcoming Events Our special Hours: December 22 & 23 1pm - 6pm December 28, 29, 30 1pm - 6pm Saturday, December 4 - A Night of Magic and Illusion Featuring Magicians Dan Sperry & Andy Amyx $10.00 Adults/$5.00 Kids 5 & Younger Doors open at 7:30pm Show at 8:00 ALL AGES EVENT Tuesday, December 21 - A Night at the North Pole Visit with Santa, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and all the Elves 6:00pm-8:30pm $7.00 Kids/$3.00 Adults ALL AGES

Closed December 24, 25, 26, 27 Saturday, January 22 - Raising for Racing $12.00 Adults/$6.00 Kids * 6:30pm - 9:30pm Meet Ione’s Sprintcar Rookie of the Year Jesse Makemson Saturday, January 29 The Magic of John Lopez 5:00pm ALL AGES EVENT Over 30,000 square feet of Family Fun! PRIVATE PARTY ROOMS AVAILABLE! As voted by Manteca residents annually

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san joaquin kids and parent

In the Spotlight: Teacher in the Spotlight

Sheila Cameron

The Dynamic Doula


by Nissa Hallquist

   Through a combination of soothing words and relaxing touch, a doula’s presence helps bring a sense of order to the birthing process. As opposed to a nurse or midwife, the doula’s role is strictly supportive, with the ultimate goal of keeping the mother-to-be as relaxed as possible in order to have a happy, healthy birth.    Sheila Cameron of Tracy has been a doula for nearly five years. Encouraged by the experience of helping her sister during labor, Cameron turned her talent into a career after she found DONA International, a professional organization that has helped establish standards of care for doulas around the world. After completing their program to become a certified doula, the rest is history.    Cameron has found her services to be most in-demand by women without significant-others to provide support during labor, or women who want to deliver naturally without painkillers; a doula can talk them through the birth and keep their minds off the pain.    Cameron loves what she does, and it’s apparent that her clients love what she does, too. Nicole Guindon of Tracy delivered her daughter in July of 2008, and went through ten hours of labor drug-free; she credits it to Cameron that she was able to stick to her birth plan.    “I don’t know that I would have made it without her,” says Guindon. “But by keeping my focus on her, I didn’t focus so much on the pain.”    Another recent mom, Holly Hadley of Stockton, gave birth to her baby in September of this year. Extenuating circumstances dragged her labor out for days, but with Cameron there to


san joaquin KIDS Winter l 2010

Matthew James photography

Having a child is stressful, both on the body and mind: medical personnel buzzing around, machines ticking, family and friends hovering nervously—not to mention the contractions. There can be a calm in the storm, and one that doesn’t come from an epidural.

distract her from her discomfort, Hadley also remained calm and drug-free.    Shortly after a birth, Cameron follows up with a visit to make sure things are going well with both new mom and baby, but after that, her job is technically over. In actuality, Cameron’s relationship with her clients never ends. She constantly gets updates and photos of the children she helped bring into the world (twenty-five as of press time). Through sharing such an intense and intimate experience, she becomes, in essence, one of the family. Make that twenty-five families…and counting.

For more information about the benefits of having a doula, how to find one in your area, and/or the doula certification process, visit For more information on Sheila Cameron’s doula services, contact her directly at (209) 814-0851.

• •

Emergencies Welcome

Emergencies Welcome • Sat. Appts. Available • Emergencies Welcome • General Anesthesia Available • • Sat. Sat. Appts. Appts. Available Available

“Thank you for making my daughters first Assistant were trip to the dentist“The so Doctor great!and You’ve of “The Doctor and Assistantthought were so so great! great! This 1st my everything! Great Job!” This is is the the 1st time time my daughter daughter actually actually completed an completed an appointment!” appointment!” – Krystin, Stockton

“What a great experience for our four year crying....just smiles!” – Lynn , Elk Grove


~Sharon ~Sharon

Infants •

“Your “Your staff staff in in the the front front office office and and back back is is so so friendly and helpful. Everyone makes us friendly and helpful. Everyone makes us feel feel so so welcome. welcome. The The kids kids love love to to come come here.” here.” Children • Teens ~Dina ~Dina

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so welcome. The kids love to come here.” ~Dina



Kid Friendly Environment

Parents Welcome in Treatment Area

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General Anesthesia Available Offer good for all new patients age 3 and older.

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san joaquin kids and parent

Haute Items: Winter Warm COMPILED BY KATY BERRY

[Roxy Peace, Love, & Lipglo Jacket with Roxy Westside Jeans] At Zoop-a-Loop, 40 Downtown Mall, Lodi, (209) 367-1444,

[REI Toddler’s Down Jacket] At REI, 5757 Pacific Ave., Stockton, (209) 957-9479,

[Rocky Mountain Hot Cocoa Mix] At Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, 303 E. Yosemite Ave., Manteca, (209) 823-6500,

[Reindeer Plush Toy] At With Garden Flair, 2206 Pacific Ave., Stockton, (209) 933-9009,


san joaquin KiDs WInter l 2010

[I Spy a Christmas Tree, by Jean Marzallo and Walter Wick] At Tom’s Used Books, 108 N. School St., Lodi (209) 369-1453

Salida Surgery Center

(209) 543-9299

Since 2004, Salida Surgery Center has been providing quality dentistry to children and special needs patients. We specialize in providing general anesthesia for all our patients that cannot be treated in a regular dental office due to anxiety, fear, young age, or requires extensive dental treatment. Please visit our website for more information. State-of-the-Art Facility Licensed & Certified By the State of California Friendly Staff






od to M



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Visa • Mastercard Accepted






Medi-Cal, Denti-Cal & Most Insurances Accepted

5712 Pirrone Rd., Salida, CA


Join us for a fun-filled day learning all about insects featuring the Bohart Entomology Museum of UC Davis and the Lodi Serpentarium!

Our Christmas gift to you!




Exclusively for newborns and up to 6 months old. Pre-session consultation and absolutely no minimum is required. Ask us about gift certificates. 2014 Pacific Ave. Stockton

209.943.2446 2 North Sacramento Street, Lodi 95240 • • 209.368.0969 Now Open: Friday 12:00pm - 7:00pm and Saturdays and Sundays 10am - 5pm

Accessories and your session are paid for separately. No cash redemption value and cannot be combined with other promotions. Applies to portraits only and excludes jewelry, frames, panels, sessions, and other accessories. Expires December 23, 2010.

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san joaquin kids and parent

Dig-ology at WOW Museum December 11-12, Lodi Unearth a paleontology experience like never before as you use the tools of the trade to dig up fossils from a prehistoric age. You’ll learn all about dinosaurs and how scientists find and examine their bones to put together the mysteries of the past. Kids will also get to see a taxidermy demonstration, and their ticket includes a Digology t-shirt, as well as digging up and taking home their very own fossil. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $20. World of Wonders Science Museum, 2 North Sacramento St., Lodi, (209) 368-0969,

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

kids calendar

December 15, Sacramento See the legendary Radio City Music Hall Rockettes perform their impeccable high kicks with Santa, the elves, and Mrs. Claus in this stunning spectacle that’s been thrilling audiences for seventy-five years. Kids will be amazed by the astounding scenery, elaborate dance numbers, and magical holiday surprises that have made this show a beloved holiday tradition. Shows at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. $47.50-$67.50. Arco Arena, One Sports Parkway, Sacramento, (916) 928-6900,

compiled by Katy Berry

DECEMBER Holidays on the Farm November 26-January 2, Lathrop Dell’Osso Farm invites you to a magical Christmas season at their Holidays on the Farm celebration. Visitors can enjoy tubing on Dell’Osso’s very own snow mountain, ice skating on their new rink, or a mile-long drive around the farm decked out with 500 professionally designed light-scenes. Santa’s Village (only open till Dec. 24) will feature live reindeer, Christmas trees, and of course, Kris Kringle himself! Don’t forget to stop at Santa’s workshop for great gifts and Holiday treats as well. Times and prices vary per attraction. Dell’Osso Family Farm, 26 Stewart Rd., Lathrop, (209) 982-0833,

Stockton Thunder

The Nutcracker

December 11, Stockton Come support Stockton’s own hockey team and get rowdy with the Thunder mascot as you watch our boys battle the Utah Grizzlies on ice. You don’t need to know much about hockey to take in the energy and excitement of this sport. The Thunder will also be giving away a fleece blanket to the first one thousand fans (ages 13+) to arrive, so you can stay warm while on the ice and show your

December 18-19, Tracy The magical tale of The Nutcracker comes to life in Tracy when the Children’s Dance Theatre brings the classic story of Clara and all her toy friends to the stage at the Tracy Grand. Both kids and adults will appreciate the timeless music of this holiday favorite, as well as the fun costumes and mesmerizing dance numbers. Shows at 1 p.m. and 6

Thunder pride all winter long. 7:30 p.m. $7-$28. Stockton Arena, 248 W. Fremont St., Stockton, (209) 373-1400,

p.m. $15-$25. Tracy Grand Theatre, 715 Central Ave., Tracy, (209) 831-6858,


san joaquin KIDS Winter l 2010

Kevin Fleming, D.D.S.


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san joaquin kids and parent

JANUARY Harlem Globetrotters January 18, Stockton For 84 years, the harlem globetrotters have been wowing audiences with their impeccable athletic ability, their sense of humor, and their undeniable skills with a basketball. Not only do they know how to run opponents up and down the court, but these mavericks will impress you with their amazing tricks as they spin balls, slam dunk, and keep you guessing. 7 p.m. Tickets $25-$87. Stockton Arena, 248 W. Fremont St., Stockton, (209) 373-1400,

Insectfest at WOW Museum

Holidays on the Farm Susan Dell’Osso talks about how her family gears up for this exciting time of year. Despite only being in their second year of operation, the Dell’osso family has proven that they aren’t afraid to take on a challenge. This year, their holidays on the Farm celebration will not only include a snow mountain, zip line, and Christmas tree farm, but visitors will also be able to experience their new ropes course, which debuted this october, and a new full-sized ice skating rink. with so much to do in only its second year, the farm is quickly earning a reputation as a tried and true winter wonderland. The initial idea for holidays on the Farm actually came from ron and Susan Dell’osso’s son, who had been telling them for years to sell Christmas trees. Last year they decided to do it, but with a go-bigor-go-home mentality, they created a whole holiday extravaganza, including the construction of a thirty-foot snow mountain. Susan Dell’osso says her favorite attraction is still the reindeer. “The reindeer have always been my favorite. you know the song lyrics ‘up on the rooftop, clack, clack, clack?’ They literally clack. In the Arctic, where they’re from, they can’t see each other in snow storms, but they can hear their ankles clack. So when they’re in their pen you hear them clacking. The reindeer are exotic and endangered animals so we import them from oregon with a special handler. we have two that were raised just for us. we named them rudolpho, which obviously sounds like rudolph but is actually for my father in law, rudy Dell’osso, and the other one is Pumpkin because of the pumpkin patch.” She says the biggest challenge of putting together holidays on the Farm is finding enough hours in the day. Since the entire operation is family-run, it’s challenging to coordinate all the details. however, the family prefers to maintain the close, personal feel that comes with keeping their operation small. Along with the aforementioned activities, the Dell’ossos will again have their mile-long drive around the farm, which will be professionally decorated with hundreds of lighted scenes timed to music. we recommend taking the hayride through the lighting display for the optimal holiday experience. The best time to visit the farm is during the week, since weekends usually bring many East-Bayers, but with the addition of an ice rink and ropes course, there’s certainly plenty of fun to go around. 16

san joaquin KiDs WInter l 2010

January 22, Lodi Creepy-crawly experts from the Bohart Entemology Museum at uC Davis and the Lodi Serpentarium will be bringing their fascinating displays and other surprises to share with fellow bug-lovers at the wow museum. Kids will have much to explore and discover as they learn all about their favorite insects from the experts. Insectfest will also have free face painting, arts and crafts, and games for all ages. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $6 adults, $4 kids. World of Wonders Science Museum, 2 North Sacramento St., Lodi, (209) 368-0969,

War of the Worlds January 30, Tracy you may have seen the remake starring Tom Cruise, but now is your chance to see the original 1953 version of War of the Worlds on the big screen at the grand Theatre. originally adapted from the novel by h.g. wells, this movie once shook audiences with its cautionary tale of an alien invasion on earth. As greedy martians begin conquering our planet for its plentiful resources, who will save the planet? The answer might surprise you. 2 p.m. $4. Eleni Tsakkopoulos-Kounalakis Theatre at the Tracy Grand, 715 Central Ave., Tracy, (209) 831-6TKT,

FEBRUARY Dangerous Dinos February 11-12, Tracy Join three pre-historic superheros, Ty rex, rocko gecko, and Bubby, as they share with you their mission to be earthfriendly, resist violence, and follow the 4 D’s: “Dinos Don’t Do Drugs!” These adventurous dinosaurs will take you on a fun journey filled with music and surprises as you learn about respecting yourself and others. February 11: one show at 7 p.m., February 12: two shows at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. $12. Eleni Tsakkopoulos-Kounalakis Theatre at the Tracy Grand, 715 Central Ave., Tracy, (209) 831-6TKT,

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finding forever homes




In an era of mixed, extended, blended, and biracial families, untraditional is the new norm. There’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ family anymore—what’s most important is the love and support found in a home, not who lives within. True to this perceptible shift, adoption has also lost its shroud of mystery. In the media, shows like Teen Mom and Modern Family show different sides of adoption, from perspectives that may not have been previously considered. Under the magnifying glass, celebrities around the nation have embraced this new type of family as well, adopting children both locally and internationally to expand their broods. Here in San Joaquin, adoption is just as common, producing colorful and thriving families in all our cities. The individual reasons that families decide to adopt are as varied as the children who need homes, from couples unable to have children to families looking to spread the love. Also important is the type of adoption that a family chooses—international, private, foster care, kinship, or adoption through San Joaquin County are all examples. While we seem to be embracing this new tradition of mixand-match families, what isn’t getting as much attention is the overwhelming number of children in foster care—either removed from unfit birth parents or safely surrendered at


san joaquin KiDs WInter l 2010

in San Joaquin

the Loucks family when Debra and Jim Loucks discovered their inability to have children after 4 years of marriage, they made the decision to adopt. Debra’s sister-in-law had adopted through Santa Cruz County with successful results, and unlike private adoptions, finding a child through the county is free. with an abundance of hopeful parents on adoption agency waiting lists, the Loucks were banking on plenty of kids that really needed homes in San Joaquin County. Enter adopted sons Jon, 14, and Caleb, 10. Debra explains the county adoption process: “you fill out an application, and a case worker comes to your home to interview you—we met with our case worker almost monthly—and you take parenting classes before you adopt, where you also learn all about the adoption process. After that, you just wait until a child is placed with you; it can be as soon as 30 days after you finish the class.” For the Loucks, it took a year before baby Caleb was placed at their home, at only 6 months old. he wasn’t yet available for adoption, but was taken away from his mother at



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birth, and in the process of having his biological rights terminated.     “It’s really difficult, the waiting,” says Debra. “You think ‘They are never going to find a baby for us, they forgot about us.’ We were calling our adoption worker almost weekly, but they just want to wait and make sure that it’s the best home for the child, they do everything they can to avoid that they place a child and it doesn’t work out.”     Caleb had been living in a foster home from birth, and the Loucks began visiting him there even before they were able to bring him home. During this time, his brother Jonathan’s adoption fell through, and the Loucks agreed to visit with Jon as well at his foster home. From there, everything went to super speed, and the Loucks agreed to adopt both boys. It was another year and a half before Caleb and Jon were legally theirs.     “When you’re in it daily you’re really just living like normal, feeding your kids, giving them baths. It’s really only in your quiet moments, or when my husband and I might talk among ourselves, that you start to think about what might happen if you aren’t able to keep your kids. Because they already feel like they’re yours.”     The Loucks are quick to commend the county adoption system and how thorough they were in the adoption process. The boys have grown up knowing they were adopted, and the Loucks couldn’t be happier. “It wasn’t important for either of us that the child be ours biologically, we just wanted to be parents.”


san joaquin KIDS Winter l 2010

birth—who are moved from home to home in the pursuit of a permanent family. According to the North American Council on Adoptable Children, close to 30,000 children have been removed from their homes statewide in California and are waiting to be adopted.     For each child that enters the foster care system, a plan is created to hopefully reunify with the birth parent (or parents), says social work supervisor Karen Christensen from the Human Services Agency of San Joaquin County. The federal guidelines provide an 18-month period during which the adult is able to take parenting classes, restore order in their life, and create a livable home for their child. If the child is under age 3 or part of a sibling group, and the social worker doesn’t see the proper steps being taken, they can start the process of terminating the parent’s rights in as short as 6 months to find a permanent home more quickly.     “We always try to reunify these kids if at all possible,” says Christensen, “and then after that we do an extensive search for close friends or relatives that may want to take the child. We have such a huge pool of kids, and there are so many people that have been happy adopting these children through the county. If there are no efforts on the parent’s part to reunify, then we look at finding a permanent home.”     The first step for a child that has become a part of the child welfare system is to find them a temporary home as soon as possible. Through foster care licensing, the government provides funding for each child taken into a foster home.     Christensen explains that there are different types of foster families: some homes are willing to foster kids for short or long periods of time on an ongoing, rotating basis with no guarantee of any sort of adoption, and some families are looking for a low risk situation, with a small chance of the kids going back to their birth parents.     “The county adoption system

can be a much more pleasant way to adopt,” says Christensen. “Private adoptions can be more picky about the traditional view of the family, some will only adopt to two parents. For most, adopting through the county ends up being a positive, really rewarding experience.”     Social work supervisor Tany TeasLim works with a private non-profit organization called Lilliput Children’s Services, licensed by the state of California. While the county system is designed to equally find foster placement and permanent homes for children, organizations like Lilliput focus on getting these children adopted.         “It’s a partnership between the public and private sector,” says TeasLim. “We’re working with the county to ensure a child’s opportunity for permanence; it’s foster care placement with an end goal.”     Families that enlist Lilliput’s services are called “concurrent planning families,” meaning that they are willing to foster children as the means to an end for a permanent home. The other benefit of an organization like Lilliput is that they have access not only to San Joaquin County foster care children, but also foster children all over the state, in all counties where the organization exists.     Lilliput also helps the county when a foster care placement has turned into a possible adoption. Although extensive home training and inspection takes place previous to any family’s approval as a licensed foster home, Lilliput does an additional home study to assure that the adoption is the most optimal situation for both the child and the family.     Christensen explains the relationship between all parties involved in a foster child’s welfare. “Through foster and adoptive training, we make sure that everyone is on the same page and has the same training— social workers, attorneys, adoptive parents, children. Everyone needs to know what to expect and what’s involved.”     Even with all the successful


Barbara Patton     A foster parent for 31 years, Barbara Patton was married when she started fostering kids, and is now a single foster parent and adoptive mom­— but to say she’s alone as a foster parent would be incorrect. Barbara comes from a family filled with adoptions, both in her immediate and extended family. In her own home in Stockton, biological daughter Edythe, 35, and her husband, Toby, also live with two of their own biological children, Phebe, 13, and Drake, 2, and two adopted children, Ryan, 5, and William, 4. Ryan was a foster child, and William was a surrendered baby.     Barbara has two biological children, David, 38, and Edythe, and three adopted children, Sarah, 22, Bryson, 18, and 4-year-old Angelina. She first started fostering children in her home after seeing a newspaper story about a little boy that needed a foster home, and remembers thinking that she would just help one more child. Almost 150 foster children later, Barbara can’t imagine doing anything else.     Barbara’s foster home is also unique because she’s open to taking kids with medical disabilities. Edythe had a too-small esophagus when she was born, and other family members also with disabilities prepped Barbara for special-needs care. A current foster child in the home has cystic fibrosis, and adopted daughter Angelina has down-syndrome.    When the county contacted Barbara to say they had a 3-month old baby that had been living in the hospital since she was born, with heart complications due to downsyndrome, Barbara went to the hospital to meet Angelina and took her home the next day. During her surgeries, the birth parents were around to see Barbara with their daughter, and asked her to adopt Angelina, “not because they didn’t love her, but because they did,” says Barbara.     Angelina still has to go to the cardiologist every six months, and attends a special preschool with other kids who have autism and down-syndrome. Barbara is now a trainer at Delta College for new foster parents and prospective foster parents, as well as related and nonrelated family connections trying to adopt a child.     “As long as I’m still loving it, and I think I’m doing a good job, I’m going to continue to foster. It’s the hardest job that you could ever have, but the best job that you will ever do.”     Barbara points out that her house is a true “family home,” with so many different extensions of her family all living together, and even more in and out of the house all the time. “My niece actually said at her school, they realized so many of them were adopted, they formed a group. It’s become more normal than you would think to be an adopted child.”

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the La Mar family     Patty and CJ La Mar are just like any other suburban family—aside from the 72 foster kids they’ve hosted in their home, with more to come. When their girls, Brittany, 17, and Kimberly, 15, were young, Patty and CJ decided that they didn’t want their kids in day care, and thought that foster care would be the perfect job for Patty to take on in the comfort of their home.     “When we started foster care,” says Patty, “we had the complete idea that we would never adopt, and that we would only take one child at a time. I was also under the assumption that you could never love a child as much as you love your biological child. Yeah, I was wrong.”     Patty continues that she had all these preconceived ideas, like if they ever did adopt that they would want a boy, or a child that looked like her own family. Today, Patty is president of the San Joaquin County Foster Parent Association, and the La Mars are adoptive parents to Rosie, 6, with three other foster kids in their home at the time of our interview.     “Rosie came to us when she was 3 weeks old,” says Patty. “She wasn’t our first foster kid, she was somewhere in the middle. For some reason, there are some kids that your heart just really goes out to for whatever reason. Rosie came to us on my older daughter’s birthday, we joke that she was Brittany’s birthday present.”     The La Mars explain that it was hard


san joaquin KIDS Winter l 2010

because they wanted to reunify Rosie with her parents, but they really wanted her, too. They couldn’t help but feel relief when her father stopped attending the parenting classes, and completely disappeared. “The older girls, even last night, were just saying how much they love Rosie. She’s been such a joy to have in our lives, she has this little attitude from hanging around her teenage sisters, and she’s this little, petite girl. Everyone knows her, the girls bring her to all the high school football games, they love her.”     The La Mar home is a satellite foster home, which means that kids are there for 6 months or shorter, on their way to permanent placements or before they are placed in a longer term foster home. The La Mars are licensed from age 0 to 14, typically all girls because they share rooms. Patty takes a range of kids, from newborns to teenagers to medically-fragile babies. The La Mar girls were so young when Patty started fostering kids, they don’t find it strange at all to have kids in and out of their home.     “Sometimes you get weird looks because your family is so big. People are trying to figure out who is mom to which babies,” says Patty. “I don’t think I’ve gone a month in the last 15 years without a newborn baby in the house. I couldn’t do it without CJ, it’s so much more than a full time job; but it’s become our calling, it’s just what we do, we love it. Who knows? Maybe we’ll even adopt again.”

adoptions through the county and foster care system, a large majority of children in the system still struggle to find homes. Foster care was always intended to be temporary, but many California children remain in care for years. According to the North American Council on Adoptable Children, the average length of stay in foster care before an adoption is finalized is still almost three years, and older children and minorities are less likely to ever be adopted. Foster children that don’t find a permanent home by age 18 are often released from foster care without a family or support system.     “We try to move the kids the least amount of times possible,” says Christensen. “I’ve been doing social work a total of 15 years and I’ve seen a lot of kids that have been really hurt. But I’ve also seen them just blossom and thrive in these [adoptive] families.” [SJM] For more information: Human Services Agency San Joaquin County, Lilliput Children’s Services, North American Council on Adoptable Children,


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san joaquin kids and parent: parent your kids

Holiday Crafts to do at Home

by Katy “Holly” Berry

Show your kids that Christmas doesn’t begin and end at the mall. These fun craft ideas will get them in the spirit while you trim the tree, deck the halls, and make great gifts together. You’ll have fun, and you won’t break the bank.

Reindeer Candy Bowl

This makes a great gift or decoration, and Rudolph has never looked cuter. What you need:

5-inch terra cotta flower pot Two shades of brown construction paper or craft foam White and black construction paper or craft foam Glue Red pom-pom Candy First have your kids trace their hands on the darkest piece of brown paper and cut them out for the antlers. Then use the next lightest shade of brown to cut out two ears. Glue the ears onto the antlers, and then glue the antlers to the back of the pot so they are sticking up. Cut out two white circles and two smaller black circles. Glue the black circles inside the white ones to make eyes. Glue the eyes to the front of the pot and add the pom-pom for Rudolph’s nose. Fill the pot with candy and Voila! This craft can also be done with smaller terra cotta pots, just use your own creative antler design instead of your hands, and use smaller eyes.

Kids can give their teachers some holiday cheer before vacation begins. What you need:

A coffee can with a lid Construction paper Glue/tape Markers Decorations First, wrap a fitted piece of construction paper around the coffee can and tape or glue the overlapping edges. Then decorate the can with whatever you’d like. Write your teacher’s name, draw pictures, and even add sparkles or buttons. Cut a few X’s into the lid so your teacher can put their pencils, pens, and paintbrushes in the top. Optional: Use a hot glue gun to attach a magnet for holding paper clips.

Cinnamon Dough Ornaments

These ornaments are fun, easy, and they smell great. What you need:

2 cups flour 1 cup salt 5 tsp. cinnamon 3/4 to 1 cup water Cookie cutters Decorating supplies Ribbon Combine the flour, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Gradually stir in water to make the dough. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until smooth and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough until it’s about ¼ - ¾ of an inch thick. Use cookie cutters to create hearts, stars, gingerbread men, or other fun shapes. Use a straw to punch a hole in the top so you can hang the ornament. Place your ornaments on a baking sheet and bake at 325° for roughly 1.5 hours. Check on them every 45 minutes since the drying time varies with the thickness of the dough. Let your ornament cool before decorating. Use acrylic paints, buttons, ribbon, glitter, or any fun accessory you’d like to make it unique. Thread ribbon through the hole so you can hang it. To help make your ornament last, you can coat it with acrylic varnish after it has completely dried (optional). 24

san joaquin KiDs WInter l 2010


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san joaquin kids and parent: parent escapes

Escapes: Stress-Free Holidays By NISSA HALLQUIST

PhoTo: I-SToCK


he stress of the Holidays is one of the world’s worst-kept secrets. Behind the beautiful twinkling lights, vibrantly wrapped presents, and those delicious, elaborate dinners, we’ve been frantically scurrying to hang those lights, buy and wrap those presents, and cook those meals. So much for Peace on Earth. But it doesn’t have to be stressful. Start a new tradition of a stress-free Christmas by doing things a little differently this year.

Shopping Strategies

Work as a Team

Gift Yourself

To save yourself time and nerves, having a pre-planned Christmas shopping strategy and schedule is a must.

Shopping isn’t the only activity that can benefit from your family breaking down a huge task into workable segments. Not only will the following save time, but it can be the start to traditional holiday family time.

with all the good you’re doing for others, don’t neglect yourself. go ahead and splurge on a little something to keep yourself in the holiday spirit.

• Plan a day to the mall during the middle of the week to avoid weekend and/or evening crowds. • Avoid the mall altogether. Try shopping at specialty shops off the beaten path. Again, you’ll avoid crowds, and you just might find some unexpected treasures and great deals. • whenever or wherever you go, have a list ready of who you’re shopping for and what they want. Take your family along and make each member responsible for completing a section of that list. • Take care of any unexpected/last minute gifts by pre-purchasing gift cards or gift baskets, or prepare plates of homemade cookies or other nibbles.

• when cooking, have each family member be responsible for preparing a certain dish: side dish, salad, rolls, or dessert. • Choose a day, then spend it together decorating. Everyone can pitch-in hanging lights and decorating the tree. Consider having hot cider or cocoa on-hand throughout the day to keep everyone warm and happy. • have a baking day, preparing cookies and other goodies together to give as gifts. • Along those same lines, a gift-wrapping day. Think assembly line. • Another way to keep the wrapping to a workable minimum is to wrap as you go: Take the extra half-hour to wrap the gifts you bought that same day, and you’ll never have a daunting pile of gifts awaiting.


san joaquin KiDs WInter l 2010

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san joaquin kids and parent

Charlotte 7.12.09

look mom

Natalie 9.26.07

Ava 5.09.05, Reed 2.08.04

Scarlett 6.9.10

Brooklyn 10.11.05

Christopher 8.18.04

I’m Famous

Andrew 11.23.09

Connor 4.12.09

Emma 3.08.10

Ginger 10.02.09

Dahlia 10.11.08

Danny 11.01.08

Giada 1.22.09

Eleni 7.01.09

Emilio 1.05.99


Grace 1.18.03, Elizabeth 11.30.05, Jordann 9.15.01

san joaquin KIDS Winter l 2010

Izabella 8.02.09

Izaiah 5.11.98, Adones 10.02.02

Check out this issue’s “Kids Kaptures.” To include your child in our next issue’s edition, visit our website at

Jeffrey 4.28.05

Jordyn 10.6.06

Joshua 7.21.10

Kathryn 2.4.08

Krystena 4.26.02

Kolby 12.27.05

Mason 8.7.09

Maddie 5.14.03

Nena Faye

Landon 1.25.07, Bella 8.18.04, Jameson 12.12.05

Reagan 4.24.10

Malaya 1.24.09

Riley 8.28.10

Tristan 4.2.06, Adori 5.21.07, Jordan 12.20.04

Skyler 5.17.07

Tessa 9.20.09

Vanessa 11.16.01

Zaida 7.24.08

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san joaquin kids and parent

Pediatric Dentist, Tracy Married to: Dr. Salman Razi, Urologist Kids: Nabeel, 10, Yasmeen, 4 As a pediatric dentist here in Tracy, balancing the life of a professional woman, a wife, and mother of two children can be challenging. It involves hard work, dedication, and motivation. What keeps me going is my passion for children’s dental health and running a state-of-the-art practice. On a daily basis, I’m involved with infants, children, and adolescents, and I’ve worked out a way to balance this with my own wonderful kids at home. At home, as a mother and wife, I make the time for family life. My husband, Dr. Salman Razi, a Urologist, has his Tracy office right next door to my own. We can manage our children’s activities with both of us so close to each other. Our son, Nabeel, age 10, enjoys soccer, while our daughter, Yasmeen, age 4, loves gymnastics. Family life and support for each other is good teamwork. Instilling proper ethics and values is also very important to us in bringing up our kids. We’re passing the values our parents have taught us to our children. Nabeel and Yasmeen see the rewards of hard work, and hopefully will also be dedicated in their jobs and family life.     Along with my practice, I volunteer in many community activities and public health programs with my family. By educating the public, we can prevent early childhood tooth decay. “Children with Healthy Mouths do Better in School” is the motto of one of the programs I am involved in. Some of the other activities we take part in include the Kids Camp at the Relay for Life, Children’s Health Fair, Children’s Dental Health Awareness at Schools, Give Kids a Smile Day, and Study Abroad programs. At the end of the day, our success in both work and family comes from good teamwork and planning ahead, whether it’s at the office or at home.


san joaquin KIDS Winter l 2010

Courtesy Dr. Rafat RAZI

Dr. Rafat Razi



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San Joaquin KIDS Magazine  

December 2010 issue