Break the Hold (a poem)

Broken GlassBreak the hold of evil here
Silence all the evil jeers
Put Your love in place of fear
Wipe away these children’s tears

You are present in this place
With the dregs of human race
Reach into the filth and waste
Show the victims Thy great grace

Lord, we know that right makes might
Giants fall when shepherds fight
Evil thieves in dark of night
Lord, burst forth with rays of light

Trampled underfoot are these
Only you can hear their pleas
Break their bonds and set them free
Give them hope their eyes can see

So break the hold of evil men
To their strongholds armies send
Infiltrate the wicked dens
All the broken hearts to mend

(Copyright 2014, by Leah E. Good)

This poem was inspired by a quote in Terrify no More, by Gary Haugen.

Originally posted on May 12, 2015.

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Do You Know the Four Types of Adoption?

Every adoption story out there is different from the rest, but most of them (at least in the US) can be categorized into four different types of adoption: International, Foster Care, Private Domestic, and Embryo. Let’s explore all four.
Four Types of Adoption

International Adoption

As it’s name indicates, international (or intercountry) adoption is the practice of adopting children from different countries. International adoption is, in most cases, the most expensive adoption route. The rules for adoption vary widely between different countries open for foreign adoptions from the United States. A lot of controversy surrounds international adoption as people worry that a western “demand” for adoptable children increases the risk of child trafficking. However, approximately 8 million children live in institutional care with no hope of being adopted within their own country. Statistics indicate that of the children who graduate from institutional care, the majority turn to crime and prostitution. Approximately 1,530,000 orphans are available for adoption by American citizens. For these children, international adoption may be their only hope of finding permanent families. International adoptions can take anywhere from 1 to 10+ years to complete and cost an average of $30,000.
Learn More
CAFO Articles on International Adoption
Both Ends Burning/Stuck Documentary
Intercountry Adoption | Bureau of Consular Affairs
Becoming Home
The Global Orphan Crisis

Adoption from Foster Care

Around 400,000 children live within the United States foster care system. Of those children,over 100,000 are waiting to be adopted. Adoption through foster care is the most affordable way to adopt, though it also results in the highest level of governmental involvement. It generally takes a year to have a a child placed in a family adopting through foster care and costs between $0 and $1,000.
Learn More
CAFO Articles on Foster Care
Adopt Us Kids
iCareAboutOrphans
Small Town, Big Miracle

Private Domestic Adoption

Private domestic adoption usually occurs when a birth mother decides she cannot adequately provide for her baby and chooses to create an adoption plan.  These adoptions can be closed (the adoptive family knows nothing of the birthmother and vise versa), semi-open (some information is exchanged between the two parties), and open (long term contact is maintained between the birthmother and adoptive family). While the birthmother sometimes asks an agency to select an adoptive family for her, often the birthmother looks through prospective families’ files and makes the choice herself. Voluntary newborn adoption generally costs between $10,000 and $30,000. The typical wait is one to two years.
Learn More
Open Adoption
Other Types of Adoption
My Name is Sonya & I’m a Birth Mom

Embryo Adoption

I don’t know much about this one, and I’m still trying to decide what I think of it. If you have opinions, I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment. I first learned of it on the Nightlight Christian Adoptions website while putting together the Resource page for TIO. If you want to learn more, you can visit Nightlight’s Snowflake Embryo Adoption page.
NOTE: Younger teens, please check this with your parents before clicking. Thanks!

Originally posted on May 30, 2014 as Understanding the Four Types of Adoption.

Borrowing God’s Smile

Borrowing God's SmileLast Saturday, I had the privileged of hearing Joni Eareckson Tada speak as the keynote at a banquet we attended. Everyone agreed that her presentation was powerful, but one part of one story stood out to me. She said that many mornings, if her husband needs to run errands, she wakes up to hear one of her girlfriends making coffee in the kitchen and finds herself unready to face the day. Soon her friend will walk into the bedroom with a cup of coffee, a cheery good morning, and the intent of helping Joni through an arduous morning routine necessitated by her quadriplegia. On those mornings, Joni said she begins to pray, telling God how tired she is, how little energy she has, and that she lacks a smile to give to her friend when the woman walks through the bedroom door. As she reached that part of her illustration, Joni smiled at the audience and said, “I don’t have a smile. But God does.” When her friend comes into the room, Joni has a smile for her. The secret is getting God’s smile instead of relying on her own, non-existent smile.

Hearing Joni’s message was a good reminder to me. I tend to want to do things in my own strength. Far too often when Mom asks me, “Well, have you prayed about that?” I have to admit that I forgot to ask God for help or guidance. Oops! Bad idea.

In one of my personal favorite blog posts, Just Buy Diapers, we considered how David wasn’t intimated by the size of Goliath (his problem) because he knew the size of his God. I think the idea of borrowing God’s smile runs along the same lines. Before we look outside of ourselves for a solution, we have to recognize and acknowledge our own lack. After we realize we need help, we can turn to God for his strength, wisdom, creativity, peace, patience — His smile.

This past week, considering Joni’s smile from God prompted me to go to the Lord and tell Him how hard writing has been for me lately. Progress on the sequel to Counted Worthy has been at a standstill for months because my creative well was dry. So I asked Him for His creativity to mold the story and push it forward. Guess what? He’s been giving it to me. A little every day.

Whether we’re struggling to write, smile, do our school work, reach for excellence at work, reach out to others, or minister to orphans, the answer is recognizing that we lack and God has. He has everything we need, especially when it comes to the resources we need to serve Him.

The Importance of Asking Questions

Asking Questions“Actually, we really need bigger size diapers,” the lady at the crisis pregnancy center told me. “A lot of people don’t realize this, but hospitals will send new parents home with the small diapers, and babies grow so fast they’re only in the small sizes for a short time. Mom’s come in and want to trade for bigger diapers and a lot of times, we don’t have any.”

“Is there anything else besides diapers?” I asked.

“Brand new car seats. It’s hard to use old ones because we can’t monitor recalls and we don’t know if they’ve been in car accidents. Pack n plays would be good too. We have plenty cute clothes because people like to shop for those, and women from a nearby assisted living place knit all our blankets for us. We have been running out of winter clothes sometimes, though.”

Asking questions is not something that comes naturally to me. If possible, I prefer to prepare ahead of time by doing research and showing up equipped to sound knowledgeable. A lot of times, that’s a good thing. It can also be a pride problem. Asking questions is an essential aspect of communicating, learning, and forming connections with other people.

When we try to assist people in ministry, questions are so important. People on the front line know the needs better than anyone else, and it isn’t helpful to them when the rest of us assume we know how to help. Several ministries I know of struggle with easily collecting the “fun” resources they need while waiting months for someone to provide more mundane items. People would rather buy baby clothes than diapers. It’s more fun to purchase craft supplies than oatmeal. Sometimes we forget that we’re making donations in order to fill a need for someone else, not entertain ourselves. Asking questions can alleviate that tendency.

When I asked questions at the crisis pregnancy center, I learned some stuff I didn’t know before and got good ideas for effectively choosing further donations. If I want to send something to the orphans I support in India, it helps to message their foster mom ahead of time to find out what they need most from their Amazon wish list.

Asking questions also shows the front line works that you care. Most people in ministry don’t enjoy constantly asking people for things. They don’t want to feel like a burden. Asking them what they need tells them that you’re behind them, thinking of them and caring for their needs and the needs of the people they’re ministering to.

But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. —Hebrews 13:16

My dad recently pointed out to me that the word communicate means both talking and sharing resources. The Greek word that translates “communicate” means partnership, participation, benefaction.

Asking questions, learning how to help, and then using your resources to participate in the work combine to equal effective communication.

Teens in Action: Blueberry’s Bows

Blueberry_1

This post has been a long time in the waiting. Allie graciously agreed to write a guest post several months ago, and actually sent this to me soon after I arrived in Texas. Thank you, Allie, for your patience in waiting for me to get this up!

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Hello! I’m Allie and am so excited to be sharing how ‘Blueberry’s Bows’ first started. I am sixteen years old, have five awesome sisters, and am a daughter of the one true King!

In August of 2013, I sat there and stared at the computer screen. I look at her face. Her big brown eyes jumped out at me. She wasn’t smiling and deep down I could tell she was longing for a family. Longing to be loved and treasured. Longing for someone to know her name. This is my sister Rosie. Abandon at five days old with a severe heart defect, Rosie was sent to the nearest orphanage in Zhongshan City, China. There she spent the first five years of her life. She suffered from lack of oxygen and had no intervention for her heart. We saw her picture and knew she was meant to be ours. So we began the paper chase. For the next six months we prayed and prayed and prayed. Each day her heart continued to grow worse. Finally on February 24, 2014 Rosie was officially ours. It was such a beautiful day!

We arrived home on my parents’ anniversary and began our lives as a family of six. Rosie fit in wonderfully and it was as if she had always been here. Her joyful smile and contagious spirit filled our house with many days of fun. On April 25, 2014, Rosie underwent heart surgery. It was a complicated surgery and the next day she started having issues. Rosie was then put on ECHMO (Heart/Lung bypass machine). She spent the next month fighting for her life. But on May 21st, 2014 (the day after her sixth birthday) she gained her angel wings and took her last breath here on this earth. We weren’t there for her first breath and heartbeat but we were there for her last. She didn’t die an orphan, she died as a treasured sister and a daughter. She was so LOVED.

Blueberry_2

After Rosie became an angel, I knew I wanted to do something to help other orphans like her. The fire had been ignited. So I started a blog. It began as a way to document and share Rosie’s story, but it has blossomed into so much more than that! Then my older sister {Marie} and I got to thinking. While Rosie was so sick in the hospital, she never had clothes on. So Marie and I began to make bows for her hair. It was something simple that would make her look more girly and cute. We then knew what we could do, sell bows and donate the money to orphans. With the money we’ve made from Rosie’s celebration and other events, we’ve been able to sponsor a little girl at New Day Foster Home. It makes my heart happy to see another little girl with complex CHD actually get the care she needs. Marie and I have set up an Etsy shop. I invite you to check it out. Here are some pictures from the bows we currently have for sale. We named our shop Blueberry’s Bows because Rosie’s fingers were always so blue and a nurse nicknamed her ‘Blueberry’. This shop is to honor her legacy by supporting other orphans who are like her.

Blueberry_3

Because of Rosie, my eyes were opened to see the need of orphans around the world. I now have two more sisters who were also from Rosie’s orphanage. It’s been over a year since Rosie left this earth, but I feel like her legacy continues to grow. As I hear from people who are touched by Rosie, I know this is just the beginning of the story that God is writing. I don’t know all the chapters, but I know that it’s all going to work out for HIS glory. Thank you for taking the time to read our story. I invite you to check out our bows and share them with others.

Beep, Allie

Stoptofindtherosies.blogspot.com

Where on Earth Has Leah Been?

Where on earth...The more appropriate question might be, “Where in the US hasn’t Leah been.” Over the past four months, I’ve been doing a full time internship in Texas which was polished off by a family vacation to several national parks. As you may have noticed, blogging fell by the wayside during the whole experience.

I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Monica for faithfully writing the Advocate & Pray posts in my absence. She does an amazing job keeping on top of those and finding children who can really benefit from our prayers. Please don’t forget to sign up for those prayer chains.

Getting back to a regular posting schedule is on my to-do list for settling back into life in Connecticut. Please be patient as I try to get that rhythm back. It’ll be starting out with a wonderful Teens in Action guest post tomorrow morning.

Here are a few pictures from my time in Texas and the National Parks we visited.

My beautiful roommates

My beautiful roommates

DSCN0617

The biggest petrified tree we found in Petrified Forest National Park

Cliff jumping. (Leah, are you crazy?!)

Cliff jumping. (Leah, are you crazy?!)

It’s been a great few months. I’m looking forward to seeing what adventures are next and reconnecting with you all. What did you do this summer?

Goers, Senders, and Bringers – Which Are You?

Goers, Senders, and BringersMissionary mail stacks up quickly at my little church. As a member of the missionary committee, one of my jobs is to sort the missionary mail out from the bills. Sometimes it also falls to me to read the mail. Several months ago as I read through the newsletters and personal notes, I came across a brief comment that stuck with me.

Most Christian ministries currently lack two things: long-term workers and adequate financial support.

Since reading that, I’ve thought a lot about the need for senders (those who provide financial support to missionaries) and goers (the people who actually go on the mission field–whether that be in the US or abroad). In the realm of orphan care, there are also bringers (the people who bring orphans into their homes and families).

Each of these roles are of great importance as we try to serve orphans. As members of the body of Christ, each person has a different role that contributes to the overall purpose.

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. –Romans 12:4-5

Which of these roles do you fill or can you see yourself filling?

Right now I’m a sender. I’m not currently in the place to be a bringer, and I’ve only been a goer for a very short missions trip. This blog provides a support role to orphan care, and I love financially supporting orphan care ministries whenever possible. In the future, I could see moving into any of the three roles. Each have their own unique importance.

Does one role appeal to you more than the others? What do you see as the pros and cons of the different roles?

Fatherless to Fatherfull

Happy Father's Day

This video is adorable and perfect in light of Father’s Day coming up. Enjoy everyone! 🙂

Teens in Action: Lizzie for Compassion

AngelMany thanks to Lizzie for writing this delightful guest post.

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I have heard “orphan” defined as a child who has lost one or both parents by death or abandonment.  Angel (name changed for privacy) is a young boy living in Indonesia.  He is an orphan, whose father abandoned him, his mom, and his little sister.  Angel’s heart hurts.  The pain of his father leaving has left his heart scarred.  He has had to grow up and be the “man” of the family and age seven.  His mom works hard, yet she cannot make enough money to survive.  Sometimes, she does not have enough money to pay rent.  Hopelessness weighs down on her, but her spirit is not crushed.  She trusts in Jesus.

She reminds Angel that “Daddy Jesus” will always love him and be with him.  She is an active member of her local church and encourages her children to read the Bible.  Her life is not easy, far from it!  She has to search for work and make tough decisions.  A few months ago, she decided to move to a different town in hopes that she would find a better job there.  Sometimes, I imagine, she cries out to God and wonders why her husband left, why she can’t pay rent, why she works so hard for so little return.  Yet, she tries to be strong for her children and trust God’s plan and timing.

Angel respects his mom and even admires her.  He loves her and wants her to be happy.  Angel is also a Compassion sponsored child.  His local church partners with Compassion to help meet his physical needs (through medical check-ups and education), socioemotional needs, and spiritual needs.  In fact, through Compassion and his local church, he not only participates in Bible studies, but also receives character education.  Angel is learning to be a man of God even though he is young.  He is being encouraged to not run away from difficult situations and to look to Jesus for strength in those times.

Angel writes me letter because I am his correspondent sponsor through Compassion (someone sponsors him financially and asked Compassion to find someone else to write him, which ended up being me.).  He tells me about his struggles, joys, hopes, and dreams.  I write him letters, too, and encourage him that his Heavenly Father will never leave him.  Although I am just a teen, I am able to encourage an orphan.

Venu
As others have said, we are too young to adopt or foster a child.  But each of us can do something.  Maybe you can encourage an orphan through letter writing or even sponsor a child through Compassion…..like Venu.  Venu will be five years old in five days on May 16.  Because his parents died, he lives with his grandparents.  They work as day laborers when work is available.  But, their income is not steady, and they often do not have enough money to meet their needs.  Compassion partners with a local church in Venu’s community in Bangalore, India, to provide him with a safe place to play, learn, and grow.  I do not know Venu’s story.  You can learn his story, will you?

Sponsoring Venu is a $38 a month commitment, which is just over $1 a day.  If you would be interested in sponsor Venu or getting to know more about him, please e-mail me at lizzie4compassion@gmail.com  Or, to see other orphans in need of a sponsor through Compassion, please visit compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/child-search-results.htm?cboOrphan=Yes

Being a correspondent sponsor is a commitment to write to the child at least three times a year.  To request a correspondent child, go to compassion.com and contact them via phone or e-mail.  Be sure to be specific in your request if you would like to write to an orphan; otherwise, you will be assigned a random child.

ReMoved

A glimpse into the life of a foster child. Younger teens, please ask your parents to preview this clip before watching yourself. It is fictionalized but powerful.

P.S. I just started a new job, so my postings may be more sporadic for a while. Please be patient!