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John M. Simmons
John M. Simmons is the author of the newly released To Sing Frogs, a moving memoir that chronicles his family’s quest to rescue five children from rural, impoverished Russian orphanages and the heartbreak of having to leave so many behind. The book is a follow-up to his previous novel, The Marvelous Journey Home, both available now in bookstores and online at and

His first title, The Marvelous Journey Home, tells the remarkable story of parents and children coming together, taking the reader on an incredible journey from the orphanages in small, remote Russian villages, to Moscow, and finally home to America. The book was the 2008 winner of the Utah Best of State Awards- Fiction category, earned Book of the Month status from Audio Book News Service and and made the Top Ten Reads Lists for

John and his wife have adopted both domestically and internationally, with five adopted children from Russia. He has a personal understanding of how the politics of Russian adoption affect those in the process of adopting children, and the impact to the children themselves.

Simmons recently resigned as the President/CEO of White Knight Fluid Handling, Inc., a business he started, to focus on adoption awareness and the charity he and his family founded, Ele Lembra (He Remembers). Ele Lembra is a 501(c)(3) public charity that assists children without parents as they age out of orphanages.

He lives with his wife, Amy and their children in Kamas, Utah, a small mountain valley east of Park City.

Entries by John M. Simmons

A Salute to Fierce Women Who Protect Children

(4) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 1:00 AM


My wife Amy was taking me to the airport the other day so I could fly out to an adoption conference. I was scheduled to present with two women who had both experienced extreme difficulties with children "stuck" in adoptions that wouldn't move...

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Down Syndrome: Jack and I Want You to Be Aware

(0) Comments | Posted October 13, 2014 | 4:49 PM

Because October is National Down Syndrome Awareness month, my son, Jack, and I decided to share some thoughts with you. For those of you who don't know him, Jack is 19 years old and he has Down syndrome. He is one of my mentors. Few people have taught...

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When You're Depressed, You Can't Pull Yourself Up by Your Bootstraps

(3) Comments | Posted October 1, 2014 | 1:29 PM


I'm a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" kind of guy. I'm rarely seen outside of my house without a cowboy hat and boots that include straps, just in case I need to pull myself up. I'm always after my kids to "get...

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20 Things I Want My Grandson to Know If I'm not Here to Tell Him

(5) Comments | Posted September 11, 2014 | 2:39 PM

James is my first grandchild. He's just over a year old now. I understand that when compared with others in our demographics, we're both still young. I just turned 50 and I'm probably not going anywhere soon. Even so, the things I want my grandson to know are important enough...

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An Awesome Life Lesson From My Son With Down Syndrome: Friends and New Beginnings

(1) Comments | Posted August 26, 2014 | 12:53 PM


This week, my son, Jack, will be adopted again. The first time he was adopted he was a month old. His 14-year-old mother, who had intended to raise him, decided that Down syndrome and a severe heart condition requiring open heart surgery were...

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Employment for People With Intellectual Disabilities: Lil' Help?

(0) Comments | Posted August 19, 2014 | 4:35 PM


In the attempt to provide employment for people with intellectual disabilities, the need for assistance involves YOU. Of course, cooperation from businesses is important, but help from laypeople is critical if we are to improve the quality of life of some of our...

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15 Things I Would go Back and Tell Myself About Getting Married

(77) Comments | Posted August 5, 2014 | 3:08 PM

Some of my children are getting to the age where they are beginning to think about marriage. Of course, I always try to project a few words of wisdom where they seem appropriate without saying too much. Even so, I think that as parents, we almost always say too much....

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30 principes qui font qu'un enfant devient un adulte respectable

(0) Comments | Posted August 1, 2014 | 4:12 PM

Mon grand-père avait une façon différente de voir la vie.Il était sûrement comme le vôtre : chez lui, les mots de sagesse coulaient à flots. Une fois, j'ai entendu une femme s'excuser pour les bêtises de ses fils. Elle a fait l'erreur de citer le cliché: « Les garçons seront...

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30 Principles That Turn Good Kids into Good Adults

(7) Comments | Posted July 23, 2014 | 12:35 PM

My grandpa had a different way of looking at things. Chances are he was a lot like your grandpa. Words of wisdom in one-liner form flowed from him just like Ben Franklin's under his Silence Dogood pen name. I once heard another adult provide an excuse for mischief done by...

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The Secret to Happiness Is to Leave the Armor on the Wall

(0) Comments | Posted July 16, 2014 | 9:28 AM

"I possess a device, in my pocket, that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get into arguments with strangers." Who started that funny but amazingly profound observation that continues to circle virally around the Internet?

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The 7 Best Things About Adopting an Older Child

(2) Comments | Posted June 24, 2014 | 4:32 PM

She hid her dimpled smile behind her 5-year-old hand, though that act could not conceal the smile in her dancing, green eyes. Then she called me Papa. Sarah wasn't our first adopted child; she was the first who was old enough to understand what was going on. She wouldn't be...

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Saying Goodbye to Class

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2014 | 4:51 PM

The South Summit Class of 2014 was class. This group of about a hundred students in a small mountain town knew how to treat people with special needs. I didn't know what to expect when we moved here almost eight years ago. At that time, we moved from central Michigan,...

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7 Awesome Life Lessons My Son With Down Syndrome Taught Me

(0) Comments | Posted May 21, 2014 | 4:38 PM

Amy and I had three biological sons when we adopted a 1-month-old little boy with Down syndrome and started taking lessons from him. Jack was fragile. He would require open heart surgery by the time he was 6-months-old.

Jack contracted postoperative pneumonia and it was looking like he might become...

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How to Soothe Our Pain When We Can't Help Who We Want to Help

(2) Comments | Posted April 29, 2014 | 6:12 PM

Marina was seven and Jula was five, like my daughter-to-be. I don't know how old Jenya, Maksím, André, Dasha, Ksenya and Natasha were, but it would have been within the same range. I don't remember the names of the others, though I...

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A Very Simple Explanation of Reactive Attachment Disorder

(0) Comments | Posted April 22, 2014 | 11:59 AM

Emily was 15 when she left her Russian orphanage to join our family and her biological younger sisters. (We had adopted them a year and a half earlier.) The Russian social workers informed us that she had behavioral problems and probably even disorders. They told us that she most likely...

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A Mistake Adoptive Parents Never Need to Make Again

(0) Comments | Posted April 16, 2014 | 5:39 PM

Oh, I talk the talk. I try to walk the walk. When it comes to difficult circumstances, I always try to focus on what is best for my children rather than my own feelings. A week ago I came to the understanding that I have been falling short without realizing...

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Why the Decline in International Adoptions?

(0) Comments | Posted April 8, 2014 | 7:00 PM

Recently, my Google alerts for "adoption" and "international adoption" went crazy. It seemed that every news outlet in the U.S. had picked up on the story. International adoptions into the U.S. were down 18% in 2013. They are down about 65% from their high in 2004. I am...

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A Simple Way to Get Rid of Clutter (OK, They're Treasures, Not Clutter)

(0) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 4:55 PM

What is the situation at your house? Do you have crates, boxes, baskets, bags and shelves stuffed with school assignments and even projects like clay ashtrays (though no one in your family has smoked for over a decade)? How old is the most senior crayon drawing stuck on the bottom...

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The Adoption System Isn't Fair

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2014 | 2:33 PM

I can't stand the waiting! I don't know if I can handle another failed referral. What if they change their minds? What if I don't get picked? Maybe I should just give up; maybe it isn't meant to be. Those are things my wife and I used to say when...

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I Hope Against Hope That Ukraine Is Not the Beginning of a Do-Over

(1) Comments | Posted March 4, 2014 | 5:42 PM


Yeahhh, the Cold War; I remember. I graduated from high school in 1982. At some point during my junior year, officials from Russia were coming to visit our school to see what the education process in the United States was all...

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