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October, 2000

A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of
physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha'i Teachings.

Volume 4, Issue #2





- A Canadian Couple Adopts a Child from China
- Book - Adopting in China: A Practical Guide/ An Emotional Journey
- The Exchange
- The Role of the "Not-Parent"
- The Importance of Reading to Children
- The Value of Massage and Herbal Therapies
- More Responses to Hepatitis C
- Requesting Assistance From Our Readers
- Book/Pamphlet Section
- Letters
- Question of the Month
- Purpose of the Newsletter
- Website




By Ann Sheppard and Richard Turner, Ontario, Canada

Almost two years ago, we adopted a little girl from China. We named her Lauren Lai-Sying (Lai-Sying is Chinese for "Beautiful Star"). We feel so wonderfully blessed to have this beautiful little girl in our family, and deeply enriched by learning about China and sharing this experience with the numerous other families around us who have 'children from China'. This is our story about how it happened.

Our son Ben was four years old and we had been considering adopting another child, but were disheartened by the lengthy waiting times involved with domestic adoptions. We then heard of a Baha'i couple who had adopted a baby girl while they were living in China. We visited them and learned about the process of adopting from China. They informed us of an agency in Ottawa, Canada that deals exclusively with adoptions from China. While we were in their home we fell in love with their little girl. By the time we left, we were sure that this was what we wanted to do, and there was no turning back.

We immediately got in touch with the adoption agency "Children's Bridge" in Ottawa. They sent us a package which outlined all the things we had to do and all the paperwork needed to begin this process. We toiled away at this for what seemed like a long time. Eventually, all the paper work was completed, and we were approved by the Canadian government as fit to be adoptive parents. All of our paperwork was translated into Chinese (by the Children's Bridge translator) and our complete file was sent to China. We then settled down to wait as patiently as we could to receive an offer of a child from China.

All this time, we were learning more and more about the situation in China. We learned that China is a country which is overpopulated and is having a great deal of difficulty feeding its people. Because of this, the Chinese government in the 1980's instituted a "One Child Policy" to curb the rate of population growth. We learned that in Chinese culture, sons are responsible for looking after their parents in their old age, and that when a woman marries, it is expected that she will care for her in-laws, rather than her own parents. In effect, having a son is like having an old-age security pension. Not having a son is to feel insecure for one's old age. Consequently, if a couple gives birth to their first child and it is a daughter, they may feel they have to give her up and try again for a son. Similarly, if a couple already has one child and another pregnancy occurs they may be forced to give the child up, as the penalties for having more than one child are very severe, including being disallowed from holding a job of any sort. Most frequently, these babies (over 90% of which are female) are abandoned anonymously in a public place. They are usually picked up by the police and taken to one of the many orphanages all over China.

We also turned to the Baha'i Writings to find out what they said about adoption, and felt confirmed in what we were doing when we read:

"He that bringeth up his son or son of another, it is as though he hath brought up a son of Mine; upon him rest My Glory, My Loving Kindness, My Mercy, that have compassed the world." (Baha'u'llah, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 16: taken from Lights of Guidance, p. 141, Helen Hornby)

After what seemed to be an eternity but was actually only 8 months after our file went to China, we received a tiny black and white photo of the child the Chinese adoption officials had selected for us, along with a very brief medical history. I will never forget the image of our son Ben kissing this little picture when we showed it to him and told him that this little girl was going to be his sister. 

We confirmed our acceptance of this child and within another month, Richard flew to China with a group of 12 other Children's Bridge "parents-to-be" (We decided that in our case one of us had to stay home with Ben.) This trip consisted of a 2 week itinerary during which he received Lauren from the orphanage and travelled with her to various places to finalize the adoption in China.

On the day Richard and Lauren arrived home, Ben and I and all our extended family were at the airport waiting excitedly as Richard suddenly came into view with a skinny, wide-eyed little one-year-old girl who was obviously trying very hard to take it all in. The feeling of joy was so intense that it is difficult to express it in words.

That feeling of joy has never left us. Lauren is a beautiful child, both physically and spiritually. She arrived home 3 weeks after her first birthday, skinny, covered in eczema, able to sit but not yet crawling, and not yet introduced to any solid foods. Within a period of 2-3 months, she changed dramatically. She progressed to crawling and walking, began eating a wide variety of foods with a very healthy appetite, and began to put on some weight. She didn't know what to do with a book when she first arrived but soon became keenly interested in being read to. At present, in spite of the fact that she missed a year of exposure to English, her language skills are at the high end of the range for her age. It took a good year before she actually had a small healthy layer of baby fat on her, and just about as long before her skin cleared up. All in all, she has made a marvellous adjustment to life in our Canadian home.

We have been especially joyful as her personality has emerged. She has a bubbly and happy disposition and an infectious laugh. She is very sweet-natured. She loves to sing and she chats away non-stop when she is at home. She bonded very quickly with her big brother Ben (or "Buh" as she initially called him) and still tries to copy everything he does. We simply adore her and could not imagine life without her now.

We are aware, however, that these early years are probably the easy ones compared to what is to come. She will have to come to terms with the fact that she was abandoned both by her parents and her country. Fortunately, there is a very strong network of families who have adopted children from China who keep in touch so the children will be able to support one another as they grow up. We strongly encourage this, and also in due time the learning of Chinese culture and language. More than this, however, we pray that in addition to our deep love for her we will also be able to give her a deep spiritual understanding, born of the Baha'i Faith, that will help her to come to terms with the reality that she is one of the *"millions and millions (of children) in country after country (who) are dislocated socially.", and that she is one of the "children (who) find themselves alienated by parents and other adults whether they live in conditions of wealth or poverty." and that "this alienation has its roots in a selfishness that is born of materialism that is at the core of the godlessness seizing the hearts of people everywhere." *Ridvan Message 2000 (written by the Universal House of Justice, Haifa, Israel)

Our most sacred dream would be that some day Lauren and Ben will visit China visit together and in some way will be able to help alleviate this sad social situation in China by furthering the spiritual principles there. Any readers who are interested in adopting a child from China can obtain further information through one of the many agencies all over the western world that facilitate adoptions from China. The agency which assisted us is: 

The Children's Bridge
1400 Clyde Avenue, Suite 221
Nepean, Ontario, Canada K2G 3J2
Phone (613) 226-2112
Fax (613) 226-8843




By Kathleen Wheeler, Ph.D and Doug Werner

"In recent years the Chinese government has made it easier for foreigners to adopt Chinese children. It is estimated that there are up to four million Chinese baby girls in orphanages, and the number of Americans adopting these orphans is growing steadily.

This book is a resource guide for people interested in adopting in China - what to do, who to see and how much it will cost. It simplifies and explains important information about a sometimes mysterious subject. It is also a personal story of a middle-aged couple's quest to become parents - why and how they made the decision and what went on before, during and after the trip to China." (back cover)

To order the book: Tracks Publishing, 140 Brightwood Avenue, Chula Vista, CA 91910, (619) 476-7125, Fax (619) 476-8173




"...although providing spiritual and academic education for children is essential, this represents only a part of what must go into developing their characters and shaping their personalities. The necessity exists, too, for individuals and the institutions at all levels, which is to say the community as a whole, to show a proper attitude towards children and to take a general interest in their welfare....An all-embracing love of children, the manner of treating them, the quality of the attention shown them, the spirit of adult behaviour toward them - these are all among the vital aspects of the requisite attitude." (Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2000)


How can communities support parents in the spiritual education of their children and how can community members establish sound relationships with the children and youth in their community?


Speaking from personal experience. From the time my children were born, they attended 19-day Feasts and the community always included them and all the other children. They, once able to, were invited to say a prayer at Feasts and other gatherings, and no matter how slow or laboured the recitation was, they were never made to feel hurried. The National Assembly of Ireland sends a 19 - day children's newsletter produced by the National Education Committee to the Feast as well as the Feast letter. The children always shared the reading of this children's newsletter. It was generally read and discussed first at the consultative part of the Feast. When the children were still small, they would then leave with someone older to do an activity in another room and then return for the social part. When the children became older, if they wished, they would be included in the consultation.

The members of the community, many of them also parents and some single people were very warm and loving to the children/junior youth/youth talking with them and generally being interested in how they were doing in school/their hobbies etc. The Local Spiritual Assembly ( I am a member) always had children/youth as an item on its agenda and prayed for them specifically at the Assembly meetings. Thankfully, both the Assembly and the community realized/understood that the children were the future of the Faith and indeed "our precious trust". ( Local Spiritual Assemblies, elected annually consist of nine Baha'is, twenty-one years of age and older, govern the affairs of each local Baha'i community.)

I think I can say that the majority of the young people in the Irish community are now taking their place in the Baha'i community, traveling overseas to do a youth year of service, pioneering, homefront and overseas and serving on National Committees. I feel that our National Assembly, aided by its relevant committees, had great foresight and wisdom and now there are 3 or 4 older youth who have been chosen to go to the World Centre next May as part of the 19 to attend the formal opening of the Terraces.

In a nutshell, they (children/junior youth/youth) were included, loved and communicated with by the community members and the Institutions. Also I personally want to say, communicating and relating with children/youth is rewarding and enjoyable. Everyone gains from it, children/youth have such insight and are usually very straight forward in their talking and thinking. We all can learn from them. 
- Eleanor Dawson, Ireland


Here in Perth, Western Australia we have just formed a Parenting and Family Life Task Force to look at this question and many others. Last week, I came across one of the many wonderful and useful quotations from the Core Curriculum for Spiritual Education, Parenting Program: 

"So long as the mother faileth to train her children, and start them on a proper way of life, the training which they receive later on will not take its full effect. It is incumbent upon the Spiritual Assemblies to provide the mothers with a well-planned programme for the education of children, showing how, from infancy, the child must be watched over and taught. These instructions must be given to every mother to serve her as a guide, so that each will train and nurture her children in accordance with the Teachings." ('Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 138)

In response to the question as to how we can support parents, I would like to offer the suggestion that the community look into running this wonderful parenting program (it is currently being assessed by the International Teaching Centre). The Core Curriculum is an educational program for the spiritual development of children and families that has been developed by the National Baha'i Educational Task Force under the guidance of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States. The training program has four modules or sections: the role and qualities of the teacher, including the importance of a personal transformation program; the spiritual reality of the child, including an examination of physical, mental and spiritual stages in human development; the interconnected relationships and responsibilities of parents, teachers, Spiritual Assemblies and the community for the education of children; and using sections of the Core Curriculum, making lesson plans and activities which accommodate a wide range of learning styles.

The program is process oriented, aims at promoting the growth of child-development centered communities, drawing into the process all members of the community.

We have nearly completed working through this program and have gained much in spiritual insight as well as having lots of fun and laughter, and developing unity and friendship in our community. 
- Sue Haselhurst, Australia


Regarding the spiritual education of children, I have attended and even conducted many seminars and meetings on this topic and have advised parents according to the Writings, stressing the need for continuous reflection, family prayer and family consultation, the need to set limits and the need to be a good example. The introduction to the Virtues Guide (see book/pamphlet section) is a good place for parents to start when looking for ways to improve the spiritual education of children. What has lately come to my attention though, is that our 'deepened' Baha'is, who themselves could quote the entire Baha'i Education compilation verbatim, still often resort to physical punishment (slapping and pinching), threats, abuse and insults when dealing with children under five. It really doesn't work at all. These are the children who themselves start hitting other children when under pressure. I wonder if communities shouldn't help parents to deal with frustration and anger and teach them about time out (for themselves as well as the child) and using other means of disciplining small children. Of course, some parents go to the opposite extreme of letting their children destroy someone's home while they smile benignly - but it is possible to have well disciplined children without a battle. I learned this the hard way but now we have a fixed set of rules about behaviour with punishments (such as no story, no TV) and lots of rewards and encouragement for the slightest good thing (non-material rewards, such as more love and attention and time with mom and dad). When we get too stressed and shout at them, we apologize and take responsibility for it. They also take responsibility for their own bad moods. Sometimes we forget that a child is a green and tender plant that will grow in whichever way WE train the child. This is an image to always keep in your mind when you are about to lose your cool. 

"While the physical discipline of children is an acceptable part of their education and training, such actions are to be carried out "gently and patiently" and with "loving care", far removed from anger and violence with which children are beaten and abused in some parts of the world. To treat children in such an abhorrent manner is a denial of their human rights, and a betrayal of the trust which the weak should have in the strong in a Baha'i community." (The Universal House of Justice, from the Research Department, 17 January 1994) 
- Anonymous




By Denise Moberly, taken from "Parenting in the New World Order, Volume 5, Issue #5, January, 1996)

For this article "not-parent" is an adult to whom a teen turns for a listening ear and/or advice.

"In our global society, families have become scattered. There once were and sometimes still are, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older cousins nearby. Now there may be a neighbour, a family friend, a friend's parent. The lack of a close family net does not eliminate the need of a teen to discuss the process of becoming an adult with other adults. Discussion with parents is needed, but, reflecting thoughts and ideas off other adults expands the youth's horizons. This is not a sign of a deficient parent but rather a sign of a budding adult using the fundamentals of consultation for problem-solving, and for exploring themselves. 

Youth on the verge of adulthood need to see themselves as an adult rather than an extension of their parents. Talking with an adult who listens and speaks to them as an adult is one way of finding out who they are.

"True loss is for him whose days have been spent in utter ignorance of his self." (Baha'u'llah, Words of Wisdom, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p.156)

During my teen years when I felt I couldn't talk with my parents I had other adults to talk with. Sometimes I felt my parents "just wouldn't understand", sometimes I just wanted another viewpoint, or another form of expression. I now see that "not understanding" is that the parents and I knew each other so well that it was too close, so I went to an adult I trusted to sound out my concerns or try out new ideas. These women listened, sharing their life skills, and spoke their concern as a parent. They could hear my struggles and supported the wisdom of my parents. 

"Likewise, when you meet those whose opinions differ from your own, do not turn away your face from them. All are seeking truth, and there are many roads leading thereto. Truth has many aspects, but it remains always and forever one...Rather, search diligently for the truth and make all men your friends." ('Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 53)

My daughter is 17 and I am now witnessing this process. I have also been in the position of the not-parent, where a teen has trusted me enough to explore a part of their world with me. I have found that I have learned from these youth and that the search for truth has given me another friend. 

The sharing between the elder and the youth is a time-honoured part of community building."




By Frankie Shaw, taken from "Puslinch Pioneer, Ontario, Canada, Vol. 24, Issue #2, September, 1999 

"I recently read an article on literacy, and the facts were startling. Reading to children requires parents' urgent attention from their child's birth onwards. Researchers are saying that children who have not been read to and so have not exercised that part of their brain by the age of seven are in danger of experiencing brain atrophy. The more that children are read to before they go to school, the more likely their academic success. Those fortunate children who have the pleasure of being read to before they start school have an 80% greater change of finishing high school, but children who have not experienced that pleasure lack the wide vocabulary and metaphorical base from which to start the formal process of learning. They need to know that language has a cadence and rhythm which is different when read. They need to know the alphabet. They need  to know that words in English go from left to right and they need to know that pages turn from right to left. Children who have spent many hours in front of televisions, computers, video games, or movies do not necessarily know these things. So, given that parents know how important it is for them to read to their children, here's how to set about it:

* Choose books that appeal to both yourself and your child. Some books seem to meet a deep need and will be read over and over again. 

* If an event is going to happen such as a new baby coming into the family or a grandparent going into hospital, you could introduce the idea through a story, which will in turn promote discussion in a positive way. 

* Choose stories to validate your child's point of view and to show respect for his/her experiences.

* Nourish the development of the brain through the stimulation of ideas, concepts and enriched language. 

* Foster the ability to problem-solve as the child identifies with the characters and their situations.

* Register your child in your local library's Story Time. There he/she will join other children and see how they enjoy listening to stories and looking at the pictures.

Spending time reading with your child is one of the most critical investments you will make in your child's and the community's future.




By Brenda Norrell,  U.S.A

After two decades of the stress of being a news reporter, I've just received massage reflexology treatments from a Mexican woman. It was very painful, but released tensions I'd had for decades and helped my arthritis, sinus problems, allergies and chronic fatigue syndrome. 

But that was only the first step, I still had chronic pain in some joints and my general health wasn't good. She recommended a number of herbs that are incredible. Gotu Kola, which I take in a tincture with Gingko, has a wonderful overall healing effect. She recommended a tea of marshmallow and peppermint for three months to restore my intestines to new health (damaged by parasites and coffee no doubt), and valerian for calming. The valerian at the Health Food Stores has a tremendous impact, like Valium. I only had to take two capsules of the herb one time. She also recommended cayenne pepper for sinus problems. I take it by the pinch, but she gives it in capsules. 

I also like the eyebright tea she recommended. All of these herbs actually became purgative in my system. Instead of attempting to stop the vomiting, I realized it was like the method used in many Native healing practices. It wasn't until after I had vomited for about two weeks that I truly began to feel better.

This, along with working out at the gym and using the steam room, eating more vegetables and salads and drinking more bottled water, has totally freed me from four years of chronic fatigue syndrome. I also had to decrease caffeine and colas. Like most people, I was very sleep deprived and needed four months of very long nights of sleep, a luxury of solitude. 

Before I began any of this routine, two years ago, I also got rid of my car. I use a bicycle or walk in town. (For out of town trips, I rent cars.) I had no choice, because I was getting to the point that getting out of bed, any exertion at all, was just too exhausting.




Having been a classical homoeopath for 14 years, I have found many remedies useful. Of course, classical homoeopathy teaches you should choose the remedy for the person! Several people with hepatitis C have been largely improved both as their virus counts as to their general feeling and energy level. But, one has to be exact and also persevering!
- Dr Agnes Ghaznavi, Macau


I showed the May, 2000 issue to my doctor and she was interested in sharing something with the reader who had hepatitis C. Rosa Maria Miguez de Renart, Leticia Cartier, Tamara Jeletzky MD, Nida Miniano, M. Szyczglowski, members of the Cancer Survivors Research Group here in Nepean have put together some information regarding the common features of patients with serious health problems such as AIDS, hepatitis C, cancer, etc. Dr. Gilka asked me to share this with you so that your  reader may find some helpful information by checking these areas. There are 4 features which may start to help:

1. lifestyle change
2. absolute forgiveness
3. commitment to God
4. positive thinking

- Michelle Cooney, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada




Recently my spiritual daughter age 25 and Persian shared with me the reality of her drinking and taking drugs. She does not feel that she can get help within the Baha'i community let alone turn to other Persian Baha'is for help. After speaking with her, I have learned from other young Persian Baha'is that they have the same problems and fears. Is there anyone out there working to help break the silence of this frightening condition? These young people need and want help but don't know what to do or how to do it and I don't know what to tell them. Does anyone know how wide spread this problem could be? I know that more than Persians suffer from these problems, but they seem to hide it more. I'm grateful for any insights. 





By A-M. Ghadirian, M.D.

This book provides accurate, up-to-date information about diverse addictive substances that are widely abused worldwide, including alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. It is both for the general public and for professionals. While its style is clear and easy to understand for those who are directly affected by substance abuse, it will also be useful to communities and institutions dealing with substance abuse issues and policies on the local, national and global levels. This book can be ordered from Unity Arts, 1-800-465-3287, (613) 727-6200 or check the Baha'i Books Online at, email:



A very nice pamphlet that can be given to health care givers on the perspectives of the Baha'i Faith on health care can be downloaded from the web site: It can only be opened by Adobe Acrobat Reader which can be downloaded for free from the internet. For those of you who do not reside in Canada you may want to consider making appropriate adjustments to the contact information box, etc. 



By Linda Kavelin Popov, Dan Popov and John Kavelin

This is a wonderful book which stresses 52 virtues - one for each week of the year - including trust, caring, humility, generosity, and excellence. This book shows how to learn the language of integrity and self-esteem; understand the five roles parents play; help children make moral choices; and discover ways to introduce sacred time into family life. This book can be found in book stores, Baha'i Distribution Services or - on-line bookstore.




We found a capable Baha'i who translates your wonderful newsletter in Russian on a regular basis. We have a Russian version of the issues  since January 1999 (# 2-5). Soon we are going to place all of them to the Web-site of the Belarussian Baha'i community. 

Circulation of the "Healing Through Unity" newsletter in Russian covers 12 Baha'i communities and groups in Belarus and some individuals in Moscow and Sakhalin Island (Russia). Yet we send each newly translated issue to the National Spiritual Assembly of Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia and Kazakhstan through Email.

The response is always very positive, I should admit. Baha'is use "Healing Through Unity" as an effective tool in individual teaching, and to discuss some exciting topics at home firesides. 

We expect each new issue with agitation and are really thankful to you and your friends for this well-done work.
- Vassily Kislyak, Secretary, National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Belarus


I have been a subscriber since January 1999 and I have enjoyed reading every issue. However, this month's issue was fantastic! Keep up the excellent work.
- Vivian Baravalle, The Czech Republic


I am a doctor from China and now studying at Landegg Academy for MA degree of spiritual psychology. In August, 2000 I will finish my study here and return to China. I appreciated your inspiring newsletter for the spiritual and healthy life. I am writing my paper - "Perspective on the concept of unity in medicine: a historical review and a proposal of new model." And "Healing Through Unity" is one of my best friends and references. Thank you so much.
- Hu Ying, China




"Baha'i marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity...The true marriage of Baha'is is this, that husband and wife should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God. This is Baha'i marriage." ('Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 118) 


"How can marriage partners develop the qualities of character which will make it possible to build a strong, unified and healthy relationship? What are some communication skills that are important for the husband and wife to use?"




"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to physical and spiritual health. Other than the quoted Holy Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. If you have a change of e-mail address or wish to unsubscribe the newsletter, please inform me. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Ontario, Canada. 

Please send your stories, comments, suggestions or "Question for the Month" ideas to Frances Mezei by e-mail: -- .


Many thanks to all of you who sent such wonderful contributions for "Healing Through Unity" Newsletter. The decision to select and edit material submitted for publication is determined by the editor.




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