An Amputee and Adopted Child: a Winner in Olympics and Life

Jessica Long paralympic ChampionJessica Long, winner of twelve paralympic swimming championships has been featured on a number of recent documentaries during the Winter Olympics at Sochi 2014 that videotaped her and her sister when they traveled back to Russia to trace her birthplace and family. Long was named Tatiana Olegovna Kirillova when born and spent her first year at Irkutsk in an orphanage, an 18-hour train trip from her birth-place of Bratsk, before her adopted parents brought her to Baltimore, Maryland.

One is NBC's 20-minute Long Way Home: The Jessica Long Story, that shows her and her sister on their trip to Russia and to meet her birth parents, brothers, and sisters since adopted when 13 months old by her American parents. The build up of this moment of truth for Jessica and her birth family in their tiny home in Russia 7,000 miles away, was filled with anticipation and uncertainty. Jessica wondered as a child what her mother looked like, and didn’t want her or any of her Russian family to feel she had any anger for being placed in an adoption home. The mother gave birth to her when only sixteen, and the couple simply could not afford the expensive operations necessary to give Jessica a chance in life. Jessica made sure to inform them she was so happy the adoption was a wonderful success and wanted to share it with everyone.

When the moment arrived that her mother hurried from her door to greet Jessica, she placed kiss after kiss on her face, hugged her, and tears flowed from joy of an unforgettable reunion 21 years in the making.Her father, a sturdy man with crew cut, hugged and kissed her, red eyes watering from emotion, and then the sisters and brothers all joined in the greeting that completed a circle of uncertainty, anxiety, and finally into an ecstatic release of pent-up energy. Any observer will enjoy these embraces that celebrated the lives of all involved, especially Jessica’s remarkable journey from that tiny child in the adoption home surrounded by others wondering if anyone would come to welcome them into a new family, or leave them because of a disability.

The Baltimore Long family carefully guided Jessica wherever her passion for physical exercise and sport would lead. Gymnastics, running with prosthetics were early options but swimming was by w0far Jessica’s favorite and she fell madly in love with the sport. Long was named Tatiana Olegovna Kirillova when born and spent her first year at Irkutsk in an orphanage, an 18-hour train trip from her birth-place of Bratsk, before her adopted parents brought her to Baltimore, Maryland.

Jessica had a double leg amputation when 18 months old as she was born with fibular hemimelia. The lower part of Long's legs were amputated when she was 18 months old but despite the disability she loved swimming and was determined to succeed and did, as she became a Paralympic champion twelve times. After learning to walk on prosthesis she went on to become a Paralympic medalist 17 times.

She won gold in the S8 100 meters and 400m freestyle as well as 4x100m freestyle in 2004 at Athens and at Beijing won in 100m and 400m freestyle, 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley in 2008.

Her Paralympic titles in 100m and 400m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 100m breaststroke and the 200m individual medley followed at London in 2012. With 13 world records, Long is a two-time US Paralympic Sports Woman of the Year. The following videos can be viewed below.

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Suits Makes Being a Lawyer Look Awesome: What is it Really Like?

Dan hired by ACLU for farmworker project in Los Angeles 1974      

 (This article was posted today on the internet and Facebook and includes my response in the middle they selected I hope you enjoy

by Nabeal Twereet Follow Me on Google+

We asked lawyers and legal professionals throughout the country if being a lawyer is as awesome as it looks on Suits. The popular television show has depicted lawyers for the past three seasons, but is being a real life lawyer as splendid as it is in the series? We decided to ask the experts to weigh in with their thoughts.

I'm writing on behalf of attorney Scott Grabel, owner of Grabel and Associates, a criminal defense law firm practicing throughout the state of Michigan. There are many differences between television attorneys and what happens in real life. The cases don't get resolved so quickly and it's not nearly as glamorous! Oddly enough, a client recently compared Grabel's personality to one of the charters on Suits (I can't remember which one, off the top of my head). -Alexis Krawczyk Executive Assistant Grabel & Associates

I don't watch television and haven't heard of the show Suits, but I thought you might be interested in my perspective. I quit a government attorney job to start my own practice so that I could do work, I was really excited about and have the flexibility to travel and spend more time with my very young child. I actually spend a majority of my time as a stay-at-home mom, and my business is growing. I do transactional work only -no litigation - so I spend my time in cafes and libraries working on contracts, LLC operating agreements, other documents, and meeting clients I'm really excited about. I also participate in legal cafes held by the Sustainable Economies Law Center to support a resilient, healthy local economy. My work requires me to learn constantly, and my clients are super inspiring, and I just love my life right now. Sarah Kaplan Sarah Kaplan Law Office

I can provide this one anonymous thought...I'm sure you will get a lot of "being a lawyer is awesome" posts...I thought this might spice things up. It's from a debt collection attorney in the tri-state area.
"Being a lawyer is nothing like it looks on television. It's 99% filing paperwork and tedious telephone negotiations. And constantly worrying that you may have missed something and violated one if the hundreds of ethical rules. You also don't get to spend days on one case. You are lucky if you get 30 minutes some days." -Kristi Bergeron Digital, Lifestyle, Biz Development

What is it really like being an attorney?

From a pawn in the military to law school, and then a legal aid attorney, I became a staff attorney for the United Farm Workers Union and then director of the ACLU farm worker project. Propelled into a powerful movement was an answer to a dream. I submerged myself into the cutting edge of civil rights and consumer litigation as a member of a team with all the energy I possessed. Meanwhile, my wife and I raised a family that fulfilled my vision coupled with my quickly learned advocacy skills that enabled me to continue a profession on a path others said would be impossible. It was one few traveled-but I met enough dedicated individuals whose life shined that I knew it was right for me. The role of lawyers in TV shows misses out on the real world of the paper chase, the stress, and the satisfaction of pursuing justice.

After two summers with the UFW as a law clerk followed by three years of intense litigation, many miles commuting, and twelve-hour work days, I was ready to pitch in with the care of our two and a half year old Aleksey and give Joan the time to complete her Master's degree in dance at UCLA. When my cases were finally settled and the ALRB constituted that brought some fairness to farm workers, I opened my own practice as a solo attorney. At the EEOC I selected cases that appeared meritorious. Meanwhile, I was hired as a Constitutional Law professor at a local law school. At the Federal Court of Appeals, I represented indigent appellants from criminal convictions. Many EEOC cases settled, kept employees from losing jobs and compensated the client and me. A judge dismissed one against GTE that held an employer that had a qualified privilege to slander an employee for internal communications. My appeal was successful Kelly v. General Telephone, (1982) 136 Cal. App. 3d 278, 186 Cal. Rptr. 184, and set precedents in a slander case. The jury returned a large verdict that brought justice to my client and trial confidence to me.

-Daniel C. Lavery

I'm a lawyer and I love it! I work mainly as a sports agent. My life is pretty awesome!


As for whether it is fun,Litigation can be a fun game. The stakes are high. You have a battle of the wits and strategy and someone else is keeping score (either the judge or jury). But, I quickly learned it was not actually a game. While I was having fun, there were real people whose lives and livelihoods were being changed by the game. No one ever really won. Those fantasies of having a clear win are rare. The process is so grueling that even the winners are often deflated by the time the verdict comes along. Trials don't arise and resolve in an episode or even a season. They go on for years, disrupting life and peace of mind. As one judge told me, the cases that come to court are failures, often brought there by someone with a personality disorder. That's why I started a new game: finding the solution that best met my clients' needs and along the way preserved the relationship with the other party. I decided to play in the high stakes field of divorce where it mattered most. Finding a resolution that allowed ex-husbands and ex-wives to dance at their daughter's wedding, being able to cheer together from the bleachers of their child's soccer game, sharing the first day of school....that was a game much more worth playing. -J. Kim Wright, J.D.

I have the perfect attorney to answer your query! Debra Bogaards, an aggressive but polished trial attorney who was recently on the cover page of San Francisco Magazine's Super Lawyers of Northern California, loves the dramatization of Suits but finds a few differences within reality and the popular network series. While Bogaards claims that Suits is realistic, at the same time television always exaggerates situations in order to captivate an audience. Every day office or court experiences are not nearly as dramatic. However, similarly, there may be moments where lawyers are cut throat and go for the jugular; these moments are just not as common as Suits portrays.As a female attorney, Bogaards is a partner in her firm Bogaards Davis LLP, which is located in San Francisco. There is only one male law partner out of four. Bogaards wears Armani and Theory suits, accompanied by Christian Louboutin 5 to 6-inch stilettos, needless to say apart from her boundless talent, she stands out in a courtroom. When a motorcycle accident client was in the emergency room at San Francisco General Hospital, and Bogaards walked in to meet her for the first time, she said, "That's my attorney [with the Prada bag and Christian Louboutin stilettos]." After winning 33 jury trials, there are plenty of "war stories." In comparison, the female managing partner in Suits is polished, yet eats raw meat. Bogaards identifies herself most to her. -Debra Bogaards postcard back  
Dan, Joan, and Aleksey at the Gallo March during the Boycott

Dan, Joan, and Aleksey at the Gallo March during the Boycott

Dan Reading poem at Onion Fall Poetry Festival 11102013


(Daniel C. Lavery reads a poem from his memoir at "Words On Fire" book signing in Woodland Hills, California   in "Crown Books", 6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd. # 1340)

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From a Fundamental Christian in Japan to an Agnostic at Duke

How could I have made the impulsive decisions that rocked my turbulent youth? What made me change from a fad-loving teenager collecting popular songs, memorizing major league batting averages, and dreaming of becoming a professional baseball player, into a solemn born-again fundamentalist? I claimed conscientious objector status, and then quit Duke NROTC to enter a pre-ministerial program, only to become an agnostic in less than a year!

Duke Chapel with courtyard              

(Duke University Chapel)

In Religion I at Duke as a pre-ministerial student my faith was barraged by the course. My Professor knew sixteen languages and used them to demonstrate different interpretations of the Old Testament. He shocked me when he announced we knew only a few of the writers who contributed to the Bible. Much of the writing came from ancient oral tradition. Fundamental Christianity had taught me to believe in the literal truth of the miracles in the Bible because preachers told me, “God wrote each word through the author’s inspiration from the Holy Spirit.” My professor had a scientific explanation for many miracles. Some of my beliefs evaporated into uncertainties. My indoctrinators had taken a literal view of the Bible without having studied its history. That great Book seemed far more complex.

Diuek Red Sea Arabs cross at low tide        

(Artist's rendition of Arabs crossing the Red Sea at low tide)

The parting of the Red Sea occurred annually when low tide exposed the red reeds anyone could walk on. Rather than God miraculously parting the sea, as shown in “The Ten Commandments,” the uniqueness of a low tide at the particular time it occurred constituted the miracle that saved the wandering Jewish army. God, referred to as Yahweh in the Old Testament, appeared more like a jealous dictator with a passion for violent death to anyone who broke His rules, especially regarding idol worship. The penalty for adultery and many other “sins,” included stoning to death. However, in Judges 19 we learned that a father offered his virgin daughter and a friend’s daughter to a mob of drunks who gang-raped them, as long as they would not harm his male friend. The next day his friend found his daughter had crawled home and died. This brutal mob rape and murder violated no law and was not criticized as immoral! Removed from a church Bible study, these brutal images seemed repulsive. Previously secure in my evangelical belief the New Testament replaced the Old Testament before the class; could there be two different Gods, one compassionate and the other brutal?My professor took an unprejudiced approach to Religion teaching it more like an archeology, history, or science course. He taught us to let facts and reason lead to our understanding. The challenges he gave us made my beliefs tumble brick-by-brick.

Religion II consisted of a scholarly study of the New Testament. My same Professor taught this course. Each lesson of the ambitious subject matter astounded me. The professor dove into the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John with careful scrutiny like Sherlock Holmes might approach a crime.  In the first week we learned no one knew most of the authors of these books. No named apostle wrote them, but many anonymous writers authored what they had heard over many years. The sources of most passages in the “Gospels,” penned their description more than thirty years after the death of Jesus. The text referred to them as Q1 or Q2 and so on, for each additional writer. Often as many as eight writers with different styles heard, and transcribed events and words that occasionally conflicted with reports of other writers. That such contradictions existed in the “Word of God,” surprised me.

Jesus Image of his Profile          

We learned that the Messiah referred to by the prophet Isaiah as a religious person who would come to save the world, had to possess a list of miraculous prerequisites. According to the existing authorities who interpreted the Bible, he had to have been born from a virgin mother, perform miracles during his lifetime that demonstrated his divinity, die by some gruesome method, arise from the grave three days after his burial, and ascend to God in Heaven. Our professor introduced us to many itinerant holy men who shared these traits according to the beliefs of their followers. One was named Marduk, who had a far larger following than Jesus did. Some worshiped John the Baptist as the Messiah, but he denied those rumors even though he also had far more followers than Jesus did.

  Jesus of Nazareth on the cross            

The professor described the St. James translation as vague where the words used by the author often mangled the translation by misinterpretation because of lack of a scholarly knowledge of the original languages of Hebrew and Greek. For example, the authors that described the virgin birth of Jesus may have changed the meaning of the Hebrew to fit the prophecy of Isaiah. The oldest version of the Septuagint, translated by Jewish scholars into Greek, instead of using the Hebrew word “Bethulah,” which meant virgin in the sense that we understood it, used “Almah,” that meant a “young woman.” Although sometimes used in the sense of a sexually pure woman, it doesn’t correctly interpret the word in its context. Therefore, the virgin birth mentioned in Isaiah 7:14 regarding the coming of the Messiah, represented another example of an opportunity for dogmatically erroneous interpretation. The context of Isaiah 7:14 demonstrates the meaning was probably a pregnant woman, and therefore the term almah intended to refer to a young woman. Isaiah hadn’t prophesied that the child would be born from a virgin, but before the child reached the age of accountability, both Israel and Syria would no longer exist. The “sign” referred to the child, not miraculous conception, and attempted to justify Jesus’ divine birth by claiming fulfillment of a prophecy never made.

Serious doubts about the certainty of the Bible verses I had memorized to shield me from Satan’s influence and ensure my salvation shattered my belief system. No longer believing the literal words of the New Testament from the Saint James’ version, I wondered how people who studied the Bible as we did, could believe the Holy Spirit inspired anyone to write those words? Nevertheless, most of the teachings of Jesus seemed to resonate with meaning for me, whether, or not, they were accurately translated. They challenged us to live a life guided by compassion for the less fortunate, to embrace tolerance towards our enemies, and to love our neighbors. These principles, if put in practice, could transform our world into a paradise that met everyone’s needs in a world without war.


Yokosuka Chapel

(Yokosuka Naval Base Chapel where Dan attended Services)

Forced to scrutinize my journey, I began to define a vision of what might occupy the rest of my life: a pursuit of social justice in whatever way I could find appropriate. The pieces fell together through hard work, determination, and a future with a woman who inspired me and calmed my wildness from swirling rapids to a deep river that refreshed and enabled me to continue against all odds.

Dan and Joan with Shiva in Berkeley      

(Joan, Shiva, and Dan, Berkeley 1971)

When my memoir ends in December of 1975, I began looking for other employment because the UFW was close to resolving their cases. The Agricultural Labor Relations Act created a board to resolve farm worker labor disputes the UFW sought.  The damage part of the my Boys Markets civil rights case was resolved after I left the ACLU and Bill Steiner tried the case on issues remaining reported as Knox v. County of Los Angeles (1980) 109 Cal. App. 3d 825, 167 Cal. Rptr. (1980). These Unitarians so impressed me, I visited their society with our family, met extraordinary people, and enjoyed associating with them at Camp DeBenneville Pines. It was this contact that brought me to the Sepulveda Unitarian Society later.

  Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society Onion        

(Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society "The Onion")

Since I had noticed members of Unitarian churches were strong activists for the UFW as were Catholics, I decided to visit the closest one to me in Sepulveda, known as the “Onion.” Their minister, Farley Wheelwright, and a parishioner named Nick Sedita, led the congregation and others in the nuclear freeze movement, protests against nuclear weapons in the area, and social justice wherever it reared its ugly head. I became the social concerns chairman, joined the choir, and even gave a few “sermons” to the congregation: “The Elusive Quest for Justice,” and “Understanding, Uncovering, and Protesting against Torture.” Joan was in charge of “religious education” of the children. Our kids grew up having a healthy appreciation for nature, peace, music, and respected different races and cultures, and were not intimidated by some fearful God who might send them to an everlasting lake of fire in Hell.

      Dan and Joan 1983

(Joan and Dan 1983)

Having thought I would never set foot in a church again, the enthusiasm Unitarians exhibited for Cesar Chavez’s boycott, peace, social justice, and the interconnectedness of humans with nature, convinced me I had found a path to raise a family who wanted a world free of violence, discrimination, fear, and hatred. I made time in my schedule to coach our children’s soccer, basketball, and baseball games and attend their swimming, gymnastics and equestrian meets, as well as school activities, and speak at their schools on civil rights on career day.

  Brette Elizabeth, Aleksandyr, Sean, (Back) Dan and Joan Lavery (front) 1995

 (Brette, Aleksey, and Sean in back, Dan and Joan in front)

Once I found a path that consumed me with passion I aimed as high as I could. No matter what confronts the reader, my story demonstrates an ordinary person can survive major conflicts, disappointments, injuries, risk of death, and still flourish. If I could wander through that minefield and avoid a mortal blow, anyone with determination can find fulfillment. The indispensable ingredients are feeling enthusiasm for whatever path you choose, having a worthy purpose, and living your life to the fullest.


(This is an excerpt from All the Difference, a memoir by Daniel C. Lavery, available at for purchase or free look inside of the first 6 1/2 chapters at Dan's website at and on Amazon's Kindle at, and for many electronic outlets at A paperback version was just published at the Difference, ISBN 10:1482676532.You may communicate with Dan at or