Advocate & Pray: Carmel

CarmelSeven-year-old Carmel’s story caught my eye when I was looking through children listed in the United States.  She has a lot of medical needs and is unable to speak or move by herself.  However, her profile shows that she can interact with her caregivers and respond to music and lights.  Carmel is in need of a special family to care for her needs and give her a loving home!

Carmel is listed with Adopt Us Kids
USA

Carmel is a female child of Caribbean decent and she was born September of 2006. Meet this beautiful young child who has faced unbelievable challenges and obstacles. Despite all of her obstacles Carmel is stable medically and has the ability to respond to her caregivers. Carmel is medically needy and requires 24 hour medical monitoring, which is divided between a parent, a night nursing staff and a school nurse that comes with the school bus to pick her up and remains with her until she arrives back home. She is currently nonverbal and non-ambulatory. Carmel loves music and responds to it with smiles. Carmel can respond to bright lights and can respond to movement in a room. Carmel enjoys toys with lights, music and vibration. Carmel is in need of a family. We are willing train an individual, at no cost, to care for Carmel. She is just a child in need of a loving home.

Visit Carmel’s profile

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Back to School Sales and Orphans

Back to School Sales and OrphansJuly and August can be great months for teens who want to help out with orphan care ministries. Why? It’s simple. Back to school sales are currently at their peak.

School supplies can be used by a wide variety of ministries that help orphans and underprivileged children. During back to school sales, you can find all sorts of stuff at huge discounts. My personal favorite is the Wal-Mart sale. Clip With Purpose is a great website to keep track of other sales. Last year I got notebooks for 20 cents and boxes of crayons for 25 cents. Most of us don’t have a lot of expendable income, so this is a great way to stretch what we have.

Okay. So you might be wondering how you can use all those school supplies to help orphans. Here are a few ideas.

1. Backpacks for Foster Kids

Those of you who participated in the group read of Orphan Justice may already know about this. Kids often enter the foster system with very few personal belongings. One way individuals and churches can reach out to them is by packing backpacks with toiletries, underwear, coloring supplies, etc. You can stock up on many of these items during the back to school sales.
Read more about this opportunity

2. Shoeboxes for Kids Around the World

This is where the majority of my back to school finds end up. Operation Christmas Child delivers boxes to poverty stricken children around the world. Though this ministry is not specifically targeted at orphans, it definitely impacts them. Plus it’s super easy and lots of fun. If you have questions, feel free to send them my way.
Read how Operation Christmas Children impacted one adoptive family

3. Donate Directly to an Orphanage or Sponsorship Program

This one can be a little tricky because international shipping costs so much. Some ministries have predetermined ways of getting donations overseas. If they don’t it is possible to raise the money to ship a box or carton of supplies. Or you could send your donations with someone going on a missions trip. That’s the route I’ve taken in the past, and this year I got to be on the delivery end of the deal!

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School supplies for our missions trip.

4. Shop for an Adoptive Family

Do you know a family who has adopted or is in the process of adopting? You could always take advantage of the back to school sales to bless them. Ask them for a list or just surprise them. Or, if you don’t have any money, volunteer your time. Maybe you know an adoptive mom who would love to take advantage of the sales but can’t find the time to go shopping.

Do any of these ideas appeal to you? Can you think of any other ways to use back to school sales to bless orphans?

Baby Will You (a poem)

As I learn about adoption and orphan care, I often try to imagine how I would feel standing in the shoes of various people living through the circumstances that lead to a child being orphaned or adopted. This poem is the result of trying to imagine what a birth mother must think as she chooses adoption for her baby.

Baby Will You

Baby Will You

Baby will you know I love you?
When you hug a different mother.
Will you think of where you grew?
Nine months before you knew another.

Will you miss me as you grow,
The way I miss you here at home?
Will you ever even know?
Your birth mommy loves you so.

Will I ever hold you tight?
The way I did on your birth night.
Will you think I did what’s right?
To help you live a better life.

Will you ever love me back?
Dare I even hope for that?
Will you forgive me what I lacked?
Can we ever sit and chat?

Love the ones who tuck you in,
The ones I chose to raise you up.
They’re the ones who call you kin,
At their family table sup.

But save a place within your heart,
For the girl who gave you life.
For even though we live apart,
I think of you each day and night.

Adoption: An Insiders Look

Adoption An Insider's View

Today’s feature is a guest post from Spencer Rothfuss. Hope you enjoy! 😉

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Adoption. When Leah first asked me to do a guest post on TIO about adoption I wasn’t sure what I’d write about. There are many facets to adoption that would each take volumes to cover; everything from the legal requirements of adoption to attachment and bonding with the child you adopt. I guess I’ll start by telling about my experiences with adoption. My family first got involved in adoption in October of 2009. We submitted our application to a local adoption agency for a domestic infant adoption program that was predicted to take 9-12 months; similar to a normal biological pregnancy.

However, my family’s process was unusually, well, dramatic. Our adoption agency went bankrupt and we were moved to a new one a short time after we began and the process stretched on. Finally, in December of 2011, two years later, we received the call; we were matched. The baby we were matched with was a boy and was scheduled to be born by C-Section in about a month; mid-January. Mom and Dad met the birth parents. We were talking about details like his name, his room in our house, and then God decided that the time was now. Just two weeks after we had heard of this precious little boy, and four days after Mom and Dad had met the birth parents, we were at the hospital and Michael Joseph was born on New Year’s Eve, 2011. We spent four days in the hospital and were visited by an average of five grandparents from both families each day. God miraculously provided for us in many ways. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard, truly it was. But if God wants something to happen, and Oh does he want adoption to happen, it will happen and he will be able to accomplish it.

Adoption is truly the full realization and ultimate end result of a pro-life mentality. And just as Jesus came to give life and life in all its fullness, so our enemy is bent on bringing death and removing the beautiful symbol of our adoption into Christ’s family. As Russell D. Moore says in Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches:

“But adoption is contested… The Scriptures tell us there are unseen beings in the air around us who would rather we not think about what it means to be who we are in Christ. These rulers of the age would rather we ignore both the eternal reality and the earthly icon of it. They would rather we find our identity, our inheritance, and our mission according…to what the Bible calls “the flesh” – rather than according to the veiled rhythms of the Spirit of life. That’s why adoption isn’t charity it’s war.”

When we set out to adopt we defy the powers ruling over our fallen world. We roll back the clock to before the fall and bring a little slice of that intimate perfection with God back into our day.

Michael lived and grew with us for about a year and half before we decided we wanted more. We wanted more of this picture of God’s love in our lives, more children in our family. In August of 2013 we started our second adoption process. This time through Lifeline, based out of Alabama, to do an international adoption from China. We were matched with Lucy Joy Haiyan “Sparrow” Rothfuss in January (for those who know about this process, we are now LID and are hoping to get our LOA by the end of September). Lord willing we (or at least some of our family) will travel around October and spend two weeks in country. We are absolutely ecstatic. To stay up to date on our process, please visit our family blog.

Adoption is really a marvelous thing. It has been a great experience for our whole family. Adoption has really changed me. In a good way. It has really given me an appreciation and awareness of something I had only passing knowledge of before. And I got a new brother out of the deal so it was a double win. One of the greatest ways you can contribute to the cause of adoption if you can’t adopt yourself is by doing awareness like this blog. Spreading the word about children who need to be adopted really can make a difference.

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A Note From Leah: Learn how you can support the Ruthfuss’ adoption of Lucy Joy Haiyan by visiting their Puzzle Project.

Advocate & Pray: Fernandez

FernandezFernandez is full of humor and life, as you can see from this picture!  He is thirteen years old, in the foster care system of Nebraska.  Fernandez has big dreams for the future–all he needs is a family to support him.

Fernandez is listed with Adopt Us Kids
USA

Fernandez can simply be described as all boy! He loves sports, especially football, basketball, wrestling, and swimming. When the weather is nice outside, Fernandez likes to spend his time fishing! When he was asked what his favorite food is, he laughed and said, “everything!” Fernandez can be shy but after he gets comfortable, his sense of humor and contagious smile comes alive! Fernandez likes to do things to help others. He has been getting good grades in school and his favorite subject is math. When Fernandez grows up, he wants to either be a football player, a police officer, or a real estate agent.

Visit Fernandez’s profile

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Join the prayer chain for Fernandez

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Join me in praying for Fernandez to find a forever family.  Click to tweet

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Understanding 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 <!–ato 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!

Sozo: Beauty Through Pain

May is National Foster Care month. There are lots of frequently quoted numbers about foster care. Approximately 400,000 children live in the foster care system at any given time. Each year more than 20,000 of those children age out without finding a forever family or being reunified with their biological family. Around 104,000 of these children are waiting for adopting families. Sozo is the story of one family, one girl, who personally experienced the pain and beauty of adoption through foster care.

Note: I’ve mentioned my friend, Marli Tague, several times on my two blogs. This is the story of her family and her sister.

Advocate & Pray: Jacques

JacquesJacques’ eager smile caught my eye this week.   He is seven years old and is in Florida, waiting in the foster care system.  He loves to play sports, but struggles with school.  A special consideration for Jacques is his brother, with whom Jacques wants to remain in contact once he finds his forever family.

Jacques is listed with Adopt Us Kids
USA

There is so much to say about Jacques. Jacques has a bubbly personality and he is playful and energetic. This little boy is ready to go outside, play games, and play sports. Jacques would benefit from a structured after school activity program. Jacques requires assistance with special education services, and needs an adoptive parent to be a strong educational advocate for him. Jacques would benefit from a loving family that is ready to help him heal from his past and prepare him for a bright future.

Visit Jacques’ profile

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Join the prayer chain for Jacques

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Join me in praying for Jacques to find a forever family.  Click to tweet

Seven year old Jacques is waiting for a supportive, loving family.  Click to tweet

The Choice (a poem)

xray-baby-in-stomach_19-131027Lately my reading has caused me to think a lot about the mothers that, for various reasons, are separated from their biological children. Whether young women in the states who surrender their children for adoption, women in other countries who bring their children to orphanages in hope they’ll have a better life, or those that abandon their children because they can’t bear to watch them starve. Each story about these women who love their children but find it necessary to give them up is heartbreaking. Saturday night I was talking to a lady from our church who works at a crisis pregnancy center. This poem is a combination of past reading and my conversation with her.

The Choice
Pregnant, alone, faced with a choice;
Carry through or silence a voice?
She tries to think, but it’s in vain.
How can she reason past the pain?

She wanted love, but love is gone,
Ran away at the word ‘unborn’.
Left her to make the choice alone,
His own small child so soon disowned.

It felt good then, but now it aches,
A broken heart amid mistakes.
Broken, confused, and what’s inside?
A baby or cells? Which side lied?

If only tears would cease to flow.
If only she true love could know,
The baby there beneath her heart,
Might have a chance to make a start.

(copyright 2014 by Leah E. Good)

TheChoice Icon

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up to pray for Greta.

The First Gift of Christmas

image_2013-12-24_142604From my place at the piano, I could see my friends face as she watched her sleeping baby boy. The love glowing on her face made me smile. After a long dearth of little ones in our church, having four children under age two is so much fun. All the members of our small church adore them. They get passed around, cooed at, kissed, and admired. Their parents oversee all of it with that special look of love softening their eyes.

It saddens me to think of how these precious little people are often viewed by our society. People focus so much on themselves and their careers that children become distractions, nuisances. Parents only half-jokingly ask friends if they’d like to keep their child. And that’s the better half of societies opinion of children. Plenty more people worry about overpopulation and consider large families irresponsible.

These thought processes affect so many things. It degrades the value of life. It creates the mindset that abortion is okay. After all, a baby would interfere with a woman’s promising future. Abortion might even be the responsible thing to do because of overpopulation. Those orphans in Africa? They’re starving because of overpopulation.

I’m not saying people purposefully think that way, but take the negative sentiments surrounding children a little further and that’s what you get. It’s sad.

manger-with-jesus-opening-the-arms_21250284The very fist gift of Christmas was a child. A baby. A little one that came into the world just like every other baby.

Each and every child, born and unborn, is a gift from God. Not a roadblock to their parents’ climbing of the corporate ladder. Not an irresponsible addition to an overpopulated world, but a gift. A precious, wonderful gift. Perhaps if cultural thinking about children began to shift, fewer little ones would be left without adoring parents.