It’s Not About Emotion

Mouslings_BlogWhen I was little, one of my biggest dreams was to raise a baby animal. Fledgling birds nudged from their nests captivated me. My parents never let me take them in. Most of the ones I found probably had mama birds still looking out for them. My parents also knew that most baby animals don’t survive human efforts to raise them, and they didn’t want me to be heartbroken when they finally died.

Then, a few years ago, it finally happened. As my dad was turning over the garden to prepare it for planting, he accidentally uncovered a nest of baby rabbits. With their home destroyed, he put them in a cardboard box and asked my brother and I if we’d like to try raising them. I was so excited! Until they started dying. One by one the fluffy little bunnies seized up and stopped breathing. It was awful.

That experience was in 2011. Just a few weeks ago, it happened again. My brother was cleaning some wood out of our stairwell (we heat with a wood burning stove), and he flushed out a mouse. The mouse ran outside and all was well. Until he discovered a baby. He took the tiny mousling to me and asked if I wanted to raise it. I didn’t. I learned my lesson with the rabbits. The thought of taking the tiny, squirming pup only to watch it die made my chest tighten. Nope. I didn’t want it. But I didn’t want to leave it to die either. A few minutes later I was online Googling what to feed a day old mouse baby. An hour later, my brother found the mouse’s two siblings. I begrudgingly took them too (those are them in the picture above).

The same change in attitude can happen in orphan care. There is an emotional pull towards helping those weaker than ourselves. You can imagine how sweet it will be. How happy you will be to help. And then you reach out and get your heart stomped on. The person you tried to help rejects you. Your gifts are not appreciated. Suddenly helping the fatherless looses it’s appeal.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz, author of Hope Runs, talked about the change in her attitude towards bringing donations to an orphanage. When she first organized donations, she was excited about it. She felt like she was doing a great thing. And then she witnessed how some kids got left out. How others were disappointed by what they received. How some fought over the gifts. Giving became a lot harder. She started dreading trying to distribute donations or selecting kids for special events.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? –Jeremiah 17:9

This message is the opposite of the one preached by our culture. We’ve all heard people say things like, “How can something that makes me feel so happy (loved/secure/content/etc.) be evil?” Or, “This is the only thing that’s ever made me feel good about myself. It can’t be wrong.” Or, “That makes me miserable. There’s no way God would want me to do it.” Sound familiar?

If we base our actions off how we feel, we’ll quit when the going gets tough. Or we’ll dive into things we know nothing about and end up causing even more problems.

Oh LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. –Jeremiah 10:23

I encourage you not to get sucked in by inspirational stories and cute pictures. Instead, go to God’s word and find out what He says to do. Don’t do something just because it feels right, and don’t quit because your “bunnies die” (aka, the positive emotions disappear). Seek God’s will and guidance instead of trusting your own heart, and walk in His way. If we do that, we’ll become far more effective as servants of God.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. –Psalm 37:23

Just in case you were wondering, the mouse pups all died. But not all stories have sad endings. One of our bunnies from 2011 survived and we were able to release it back into the wild.

Agua, our surviving bunny from 2011

Aqua, our surviving bunny from 2011


Get Ready to Read! The Global Orphan Crisis

Global Orphan Crisis, TheTwo weeks ago, you all voted to help pick our next book club read. The Global Orphan Crisis ended up taking first place. I’m so excited to read this book and discuss it with all of you. It’s an especially easy book to talk about because there are discussion questions at the end of each chapter. I kind of breezed by them the first time I read it, so I’m looking forward to going back and thinking them over.

Since this blog started (almost a year ago!), several people have expressed interest in participating in the book club only to shy away when they find out it’s a Goodreads only thing. While Goodreads lends itself perfectly to book club style reading and discussing, I don’t want to exclude those who don’t have and don’t want a Goodreads account. So we’re going to be adventurous this time around and try to expand the book club to incorporate the blog.

I’m not sure what this will look like yet. It might be a separate page. Or a weekly post. Or something entirely different. Maybe we can get one participant a week to share his or her thoughts on the discussion question from the previous week. We’ll figure it out as we go.

So. Are you in?! I’m hoping everyone can start reading on September 29th. (That day may eventually get pushed to October 1st. We’ll see.) In any case, you have until then to secure your copy of the book.

Buy the Book!

The Global Orphan Crisis (Paperback)
The Global Orphan Crisis (Kindle)

Barnes & Nobles
The Global Orphan Crisis (Nook)
The Global Orphan Crisis (Paperback)

Don’t forget to check your library!

Do you have any questions or suggestions? Fire away! How do you think we should incorporate the book club on the blog? Are you planning on joining us (please let me know if you are)?

I really hope this is an enjoyable success for all of us!

Participation Survey

If you’re reading this as an email, click through to see the survey.

P.S. A sneak peak of my novel, Counted Worthy, is now available in the Story Shop over on Leah’s Bookshelf. Check it out!

Orphans, Fundraising, and Teens: Resources

Orphans, Fundraising, and Teens Resources It’s been fun to spend the last few Fridays exploring how teens can financially support orphans. The fundraising ideas are truly endless. Just type “Fundraising Ideas” into Google and you’ll find enough content to keep you busy for hours.

I could continue listing ideas here, but I think the past few posts have enough to get you started. If any of you implement the ideas discussed in these posts, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment or use the contact form to send me an email.

To close out this series on Teens and Money, I’d like to leave you with a few resources you can either use yourself or recommend to adopting families. All of these resources are meant for adopting families, but I think they can be useful either way.

Adopt without DebtAdopt Without DebtThe handy little book has TONS of fundraising ideas and how-tos. The first half of the book focuses on how to get out debt, budget, and save money. The second half is devoted to all those fundraising ideas. I really enjoyed reading through all of them. Next time someone I know is planning to adopt and needs to fundraise, I’ll definitely recommend or gift this book to them. It’s fairly short, so it isn’t a burden to get through reading it.

Blog Posts:
Since money is the number one reason interested families never pursue adoption, many adoption blogs do posts on how to fundraise. Most of the ideas could be used to raise funds for any sort of orphan care, not just adoptions. Here are a few posts that I’ve stumbled across and liked.
The Ultimate List of Adoption Fundraisers, from Walking By The Way
30+ Fun Ideas for Fundraisers to Fund Your Adoption Process!, from Catching Up With Kate
22 Ways to Raise Funds for Your Adoption, from No Hands But Ours

Many of the suggestions on each blog post overlap with the suggestions on the others. They all bring some unique ideas and perspectives, though.

What Other’s Are Doing:
Just for fun, I thought I’d share some “Rebelutionary” projects and fundraisers other teens have undertaken. Not all of them are for orphans, but they’re inspirations for what teens can accomplish.
Broken Chords Benefit Concert (Human Trafficking)
Dollar for a Drink (Well Digging)
One Dress. 100 Days. For Orphans. (Orphan Care)
Save a Korean Refugee (Refugees)
Walk/Run4Freedom (Human Trafficking)
Gifts of Grace by Emily (Orphan Care)
Project Hope for Yuri (Orphan Care)
Bringing Christmas to Orphans (Orphan Care)
Everlasting Hope (Orphan Care)
Earrings of Life (Pro-Life)

Orphans, Fundraising, and Teens (part 3)

Orphans, Fundraising, and Teens (part 3)So far in this series we’ve talked about how being a teenager can be a benefit to financially supporting orphan care. We covered five ways to make money for orphans. And I shared some lessons I’ve learned from fundraising. Today I’d like to share a few more ideas for ways to raise money for orphans. After all, that’s the hard part, right? You know that you want to help orphans. You know that ministries and adoptive families need money. But figuring out how to go from desire to action can be difficult. Please enjoy part three of the Teens and Money series.

5 More Ways You Can Raise Money for Orphans

  1. Have a garage sale (tag sale, yard sale … whatever you call it in your neck of the woods). I do not live in a family of tag sale enthusiasts, so I don’t have very much personal experience with this idea. Lots of adopting families have experienced great success with them, though, raising anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than five thousand dollars! Ask friends and family to donate the stuff they want to get rid of and, if you don’t live on a busy road, see if someone who does is willing to partner with you and host the sale. This sounds like one of the more labor intensive fundraising options, but also one of the highest potentials for profit. Check out 10 Tips for a Successful Adoption Yard Sale Fundraiser.
  2. Ask people to fill baby bottles with change. Our local crisis pregnancy center does this regularly. People take the baby bottles home for a set period of time and fill them up with loose change (or bills and even checks if they’re feeling very generous). At the end of the time, everyone returns their filled bottles and the ministry gets the money inside of them. You might not think this would raise much, but that change piles up prettyquickly when people include dimes and quarters. You could get creative and use containers besides baby bottles too. Maybe crayons if you’re raising money for school supplies or make personalized money banks for your project.
  3. Get sponsored. Both Hands is a ministry that facilitates adoption fundraising by ministering to widows. Families find a widow who needs help repairing. They then recruit a team of workers to come help fix up the widows home. The workers get people to sponsor their day of service and the money raised goes to the family’s adoption expenses. You don’t have to use particular model of course. It’s the same concept that feeds into a walk-a-thon or similar charity event. I kind of like the idea of getting sponsored to do something service related instead of just walking, jogging, swimming, etc.
  4. Host a Raffle. Buy something nice to raffle off, get people to donate raffle items, or make the items yourself. You can host raffles at parties, church events (if your church is okay with it, of course), blogs, on facebook … the options are as varied as you are creative. 😉 You could put together gift baskets, buy or obtain donated gift cards, or make a quilt to raffle off. You can buy raffle tickets pretty inexpensively on Amazon.
  5. Donate Your Birthday. This idea (along with some of the others I’ve listed) is also included on the Ways to Help page. If you click through, you’ll find links to organizations that will guide you through the process of organizing your birthday to support their specific goal. You don’t need the help of an organization to do this, though. When I turned nine I asked my friends to bring baby clothes and other items for our crisis pregnancy center. It was a great experience, and you’ll be hard pressed to find an easier fundraiser. You could ask friends and families to bring actual items (like the baby clothes) or cash.
  6. Bonus Idea! Create Your Own “Ice-Bucket Challenge.” With the fundraiser for ALS still sweeping the country in massive proportions, it’s hard not to think of fundraising without imagining people dumping ice-water over their heads. It might be fun to think up a similar challenge to raise money for orphan care. It probably won’t take the world by storm, but you and your friends could enjoy it. You might want to let people recover from the ice-water first, though. 😛

Which of these fundraising ideas appeals most to you? Do you have any more ideas to add to the list?

Previous Posts in this Series

Orphans, Fundraising, and Teens (part 1):
Why teens are in a good place to support orphans financially and 5 Ways to Raise Money for Orphans.

Orphans, Fundraising, and Teens (part 2):
Lesson’s I’ve learned that might help you overcome your fear of fundraising.

Orphans, Fundraising, and Teens (part 2)

Orphans, Fundraising, and Teens (part 2)Last Friday we explored the idea that teens are actually in a pretty good place to financially support orphan care and adoption. We also examined five ways teens can raise money to help orphans. If you missed that post, check out Orphans, Fundraising, & Teens (part 1). This is part two of the Teens and Money series.


Fundraising might be a scary word to you. To be perfectly honest, it scares me too. I’m the type of person who prefers to do things on my own. Being self-sufficient makes me feel confident and secure. Asking for monetary help makes me feel vulnerable and needy.

This year I got bumped out of my comfort zone twice. The first time was at the beginning of the year when my brother and I were encouraged to send out letters informing church family and friends that we hoped to go on a missions trip and asking if they would like to partner with us. I didn’t want to do it, but after encouragement from my parents, I did. In a few short months, all of our expenses were covered.

This month my family and I were awed again as friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers poured their support into a Kickstarter campaign for my novel, Counted Worthy.

My point in sharing these stories isn’t to prove that I’m good at fundraising. I’m not saying you need to send out letters or run a campaign to raise money for orphans. What I would like to share is two lessons I learned from these two experiences.

1. Have a partnership perspective.

In my initial balking stage about sending out letters for our missions trip, I stumbled across an article that really made me think. In the article, several missionaries answered the question, “Is there any way other than begging for support?” One missionary said,

You do the work for them, you keep them informed and you pray for them. On the other hand, they pay for your joint ministry, they pray for you and your joint ministry, and they help you recruit for your joint ministry. The word supporter should be replaced in our vocabulary and also in our attitudes with the word partner.

another said,

[It] is not about “donors” giving and missionaries receiving. It recognizes that both missionary and financial partner give into the ministry and both receive blessing, joy, and reward in return.

2. Many hands make lighter work.

Over the course of the two fundraisers I’ve worked on this year, it’s been amazing to see how quickly contributions pile up. My Kickstarter campaign drew 53 backers who pledged an average of $33 each to raise $1,775. Whether you are raising or contributing money, even small amounts can make a big difference.

How can you apply these lessons?

So, how can you apply these lessons? Raising money to contribute to orphan care and adoption is a lot different than fundraising for a missions trip or running a Kickstarter campaign.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether you’re running a basic fundraiser, setting up a craft sale, or learning to sell items online, don’t be afraid to ask for help! That might mean asking people to give financially. It might mean asking your friends to make crafts with you or help you run a table. It might mean asking a parent or adult to teach you how to list things on Amazon. Christians are called a family for a reason. All the members are meant to work together.
  2. Encourage adopting families to ask for help. Adopting families think the same way the rest of us do. They feel the same inhibitions about asking for help. If you know a family who is adopting, be enthusiastic about offering help. Try to reassure them that they’re not imposing or being a drag if they ask for help.
  3. Don’t underestimate your impact. Everyone’s role is important. You might not be able to adopt yet, but your prayers and encouragement vital components of bringing orphans into families. You might not be able to go overseas to work in an orphanage, but the people who are overseas need people here to spread the word about their work. Even if you aren’t able to donate large sums of money, remember that many hands make lighter work. You’re making the load that much lighter for everyone else involved.

Do you have any thoughts or personal experiences in this area? Can you think of any other practical applications of the lessons I shared in this post?

Orphans, Fundraising, and Teens (part one)

Orphans, Fundraising, and Teens (part 1)

Part one of the Teens and Money series.

As teenagers, many of us bemoan our lack of cash. How can we help with money intensive orphan care activities like child sponsorship, charity donations, and adoption support?

These concerns are valid, but we miss an important part of the picture when we focus on this line of thought. We forget to realize that most adults don’t have excessive spare cash either. What’s more, adults have to worry about paying for bills, supporting families, paying mortgages, and so much more. As teens, most of us don’t have those responsibilities yet. We’re also rich in something most adults aren’t. Time.

Yes, I know. We’re all busy. We have sports practice, school, homework, party invitations, maybe even a part time job. Even with all that, we usually have more time. We know we can be more productive if we really try. That homework might go faster if you skipped the social media rabbit trails, and while parties are fun, we don’t have to say yes to all of them.

So, it turns out that we’re not in such a bad place to be financial supporters of adoption and orphan care after all. We have fewer responsibilities and more time. To top it off, most teens have more energy than adults. Just check out this verse from Proverbs.

The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head. –Proverbs 20:29

So how do we turn our relatively free and energetic teen years into opportunities to support orphan care and adoption? Here are some ideas for how you can raise money.

Five Ways You Can Make Money for Orphans5 Ways You Can Make Money for Orphans

  1. Normal teenager jobs. It seems like the majority of industrious teens have turned to jobs like lawn mowing, babysitting, leaf raking, and snow shoveling as early sources of income. When people know their money will be going to a charitable cause, they’ll be even more willing to hire you. You can go beyond these “normal” ideas as well. Several of my friends have earned good money cleaning houses, teaching music lessons, and tutoring. Put your skills to work!
  2. Craft Sales and Etsy. Several years ago when friend of ours were starting their second adoption journey, a few of my friends and I put together a craft sale so we could help with their expenses. It wasn’t fancy. We sold hair scrunchies, paper boxes of candy, and Christmas ornaments at our homeschool group’s Christmas party. The $50 we earned didn’t look like much against the $30,o00 adoption fees, but when lots of people give small amounts, it piles up fast! Gifts of Grace is an etsy shop run by teenager Emilie Hockman. She’s currently donating her earnings towards an adoption.
  3. Fundraisers. I often see sports teams and charities hosting car washes and bake sales to raise money. There’s no reason teens can’t use one of these tried and tested fundraising techniques. One neat idea I’d love to try someday is a gift wrapping station around the holidays. So many people dislike wrapping Christmas presents. How cool would it be to do gift wrapping instead of car washing?
  4. Selling Door-To-Door. Don’t panic. I did this when I was pretty young (11 or 12) and had a lot of fun with it. Being a young person can be an advantage for this. People are less likely to turn away a fundraising teenager than an adult doing door-to-door marketing. I used Dutch Mill Flower Bulbs when I did it years ago and earned around $250. I’ll bet an older teen with a more strategic approach and charitable cause could earn a lot more. A quick Google search reveals lots of other fundraising companies providing items like chocolate and gift wrap instead of flower bulbs.
  5. Sell on Amazon or Ebay. Rebelutionary Megan Cupit wrote an article explaining how her family started selling books on Amazon and giving the proceeds to the Bible League. They raised more than $1,000 in just five months. You can read her article to find out how they did it.

Does the large price tag attached to orphan care and adoption scare you? Have you done any fundraising activities to raise money for orphans or other causes? Do you think you can implement any of the ideas presented in this post?

Do you have any questions about raising money to help orphans, how to chose who to donate to, or anything else related to this topic? Ask in the comments below and I might devote a future post to your question!

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!


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?

But I’m Unqualified

UnqualifiedI think the feeling of being unqualified is one of the biggest things that paralyzes teens who want to make a difference. Actually, it probably extends beyond the teen years because I’ve read adult writers on adult blogs talking about the same thing. This feeling can be especially hard to deal with when it comes to orphan care.

The more I learn, the more complicated everything relating to orphans becomes. If you follow what’s going on in international adoption at all, you know what I mean. Is it more important for children to stay in their country of birth than to have a family of their own? When should biological families be encouraged and helped to keep their children and when is it best for the child to be surrendered for adoption? How do you help poverty stricken people financially without degrading their self-esteem and penalizing work?

So many questions and uncertainties surround orphans. The majority of adults, even the ones deeply involved in orphan care, don’t have the answers and solutions. If they can’t “fix” things what can we expect to do?

Sometimes I feel uncertain writing posts for this blog. It’s so easy to get something wrong, break some bit of etiquette I’m not aware of, step on toes concerning a sensitive topic. I know that friends and peers whose families have adopted read this blog. They know so much more than me on a much more personal scale. I worry about hurting their feelings or getting something glaringly wrong and making it clear that I don’t know what I’m talking about!

I appreciated a comment in Becoming Home, by Jedd Medefind. He said,

Even a glimpse of all this complexity can be paralyzing. Like the risk adverse investor in Jesus’ parable of the talents, we may be tempted to bury what we have to offer and not get involved at all. But Jesus minced no words in condemning that approach. He called it “wicked and lazy.” Instead, God calls us to act despite the risks. Understanding that helping can hurt gives us much-needed caution and humility. So we begin with learning, listening, planning, and only then, finally, action–always ready to recalibrate when we discover the mistakes we’ll inevitably make.

Just like every other area of life, we’re bound to goof up somewhere, somehow. It’s kind of like final exams in school. You study hard but you don’t understand everything. A lot of the complexity escapes you (or at least it escaped me…good for you if you understand all of it). You’ll probably get some of the questions wrong. But you don’t skip the test just because you’ll probably make a few mistakes. You prepare as best you can and, when it’s time to take the test, you do the best you can. Afterwords you look over what you got wrong, learn from it, and use it to do better next time.

I think that’s how we should approach the world of orphan care. Don’t avoid it just because you’ll probably get something wrong. If I goof up here, one of my lovely friends with more experience will probably send me an email pointing out the mistake. I’ll be embarrassed, but I’m sure they’ll be loving about it, and I’ll know better next time.

The bottom line is, don’t do nothing because you don’t understand it all and are bound to make mistakes. Learn what you can, do what you can, and fix what you’re doing wrong when you find out it’s not right.

Do you feel unqualified to help orphans? What mistakes are you afraid of making? How can you prepare and take action anyway?

Advocating: You Can Do It Too (pt 3)

Viktor and Yuri

Did you miss Advocating: You Can Do It Too, part 1 and part 2? If so, you might want to go back and read those before reading this last installment of McKennaugh’s story of advocating for three Ukrainian orphans and her encouragement that you can do the same.


I started waking up before four in the morning and doing my online advocating before the day started and I wouldn’t have time. I would surf the net for blogs that might repost Yuri and Viktor’s story. Mom blogs, pastors’ websites, blogs about children with disabilities, Christian teens’ blogs—these were just a few of the genres that I targeted. I would send an email that explained who I was and what I was trying to do and I would attach an article about Yuri and Viktor. I contacted dozens and dozens of people. A handful responded. Their emails said, “Your post is beautiful, but perhaps you could find a blog that talks about special needs AND adoption…” Or they would say, “I will pray about posting it…”

I burned with anger. When I say this, I don’t want you to think I was hateful towards these people, no, I just felt this righteous fury lit inside me as I thought, “My post is not beautiful. It speaks of dying children.” Or, “Your last post was about your kids making cupcakes. Did you pray before you hit the ‘Save to Live’ button on that?” I never let those people know my feelings, but I did curl up in a corner and write a passionate poem asking them, “Why?”  I never sent it, I never intended to. But the words helped ease my aching heart as I cried, “Does no one care?”

Surprisingly, most people don’t. They may say, “Oh, what a great thing you’re doing…” but would never lift a finger to help you.

Then you find a few souls out there willing to lend a hand. Out of all the people I contacted, one lady posted the article on her blog here:

She probably never realized how rare and appreciated her willingness to help was.

During my struggle to find these children families, however, I realized that I also had to be thankful to those who put me down. Why? Well, when someone told me how great I was for what I was trying to do (which wasn’t true—I was simply doing what we all should do) I felt thankful for their kindness. But it never inspired me. When someone told me I shouldn’t do it, or I should give up, or my cause wasn’t worthy, I was inspired. How come? I jumped up fighting. It put new energy inside me, pushed me harder. I reached further, climbed higher, and became more daring.

A fire doesn’t burn unless sticks are thrown at it. The sticks and stones tossed at me made the fire in my heart burn stronger. It forced me to try harder. I knew I couldn’t give up; I couldn’t shirk my duty on others…because I was often the only one. So, if you are advocating and you feel everyone is looking down on you, don’t let it make you want to give up. Let it build you up. That may sound strange. It took me a long time to learn that. It might take you a while, too, but, eventually, you may find that trials are really the strength you search for.

I wound up submitting an article to The Rebelution. It was a breakthrough. Finally. Brett Harris was so willing to get the word out. I will always be thankful to him and the Rebelution ( People all over the nation (world?) shared about these boys through their site. Yuri and Viktor received families. However, shortly after deciding to come for him, I learned that Viktor’s family would be unable to proceed due to issues unrelated to his adoption.

The family adopting Yuri decided they would come for both boys.

They are still in the process.

During the time that I found these children families, I learned many things, some of them the hard way.

The two most important things I learned are: Always pray, always ask for God to guide you to the right people. And never lose your perseverance. Never. This was one of those things I learned the hard way.

Do you already know of a child who needs a home? Don’t wait. You could save a life. Speak up. Be the hands and feet all Christians are called to be. God can and will use anyone. After all, he used a 14-year-old who, in the eyes of the world, had no hope of success. God uses the unlikely. And, if you let Him, He will certainly use you. Nobody else can be the change you were created to be.

Note: Want to advocate, but don’t know anyone to advocate for? I have a Ukrainian friend who keeps on sending me photos of children who desperately need adopted. Some of them have special needs and some are “normal” children. If you would like to help to find one of them a family you may email me at mckennaugh [at] inbox [dot] com.


Did this series of posts give you ideas for how you might advocate for a child? Have you done any advocating in the past? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Advocating: You Can Do It Too (pt 2)



If you missed part one of this series of posts, please take a moment to go back and read Advocating: You Can Do It Too (pt 1). McKennaugh is sharing with us her story of advocating for three children in Ukraine. We left off with Katia’s story making it into the Above Rubies E-zine.


I got a flood of emails from people that wanted to help. Many acted like they wanted to adopt her. My hopes would rise. Then I would copy her typed-up medical record and paste it into an email along with my thoughts and observations about this little girl. Usually potential families stopped here. Taking care of a child who couldn’t even bend at the waist or knees? A child who was fed through a tube and couldn’t open her own clenched hand? They turned away and I can’t say I blamed them. But my heart ached for Katia and I thought, “Somewhere, somewhere there must be a family for you!”

The first e-zine article generated donations for the yet-to-be-found family, but no family itself. (I now would not recommend for people to take donations before a child has a family. I could have had a very stressful situation on my hands if Katia never received adoptive parents!! I think that pledges are a much better idea to accept! Then you are not responsible for people’s money.)

I watched the stats on my site slide downward and knew that the e-zine had not reached Katia’s family…this time. I continued blogging and begging for a family for her. I made a short video for her. (Note: Katia is called Levina in this clip & the link at the end of it is no longer associated with me—I stopped running the website and the domain was purchased by someone else.)

I was a determined kid. Once again, I sent a request to Above Rubies. I asked them to place something else about Katia in their next e-zine. This time it was a poem.

To make a long story short, Katia’s adoptive parents saw that poem. They contacted me. I copied the medical record. I sent it to them. They read it.

They didn’t say no.

They came. To Ukraine. To Katia. By this time, I was 15. She was 7. She didn’t know I changed her life. She didn’t know she had changed mine. How? She showed me that anybody—even backwoods girls who hardly knew a soul—could make a difference.

If they only tried.

I wasn’t done trying. Yuri and Viktor, two other disabled children I had met in Ukraine, needed homes, too.

Somewhere along the way here, I had become a columnist for Homeschooling Teen e-zine. I published an article there about Yuri and Viktor. I was contacted by a lady who said they would adopt Yuri. I was thrilled. The next few events made me slightly wary that something wasn’t quite right, though. We kept in regular contact for a while, then I didn’t hear from them for a couple months. I sent them an email asking how everything was going. They said they had run into problems with US income requirements and would not be able to adopt Yuri.

A sent another article into Homeschooling Teen. Yuri and Viktor remained without a family. For a time, I lost my perseverance. Yuri and Viktor waited in their cribs. Waited for me to speak up for them.

And I didn’t.

Then, out of the blue, I got an email from a man who was surfing the web and had found my Homeschooling Teen article, though it had now been months since it was published. He couldn’t adopt Viktor, but he wanted to help him in any way he could. Could he send aid to the children? No, I responded, aid wouldn’t get to them. But I asked him if he would spread the word—Viktor needed an adoptive family. He jolted Viktor and Yuri back to the front of my mind and I thought, “These boys are depending on me!”

Stay tuned for the final installment of this article. Do you think you could do what McKennaugh did? Would you find the possibility exciting or scary? Or both?