Advocate & Pray: Gwendolyn

GwenWhen I was researching children available for adoption this week, Gwendolyn’s face was the first one I saw.  At age 15, Gwen is starting to think about her future, and she wants to become a cosmetologist, anesthetist, or a model.  Gwen needs a family who can guide her as she heads toward her future, and support her as she continues therapy.  According to her profile, she also needs a family who will help her stay in contact with her sister, who is being placed separately.

Gwendolyn is listed with Adopt US Kids
USA

Gwendolyn “Gwen” is a funny, easygoing, energetic and open-minded Caucasian teen who enjoys being around animals, learning about cosmetology and participating in sports, like track. A very smart young lady, Gwen is an excellent student with a strong desire to learn. Her best subjects are science and math. Gwen is a good listener who is easy to talk to and very much in tune with her and other’s feelings. Quirky and free-spirited with a great sense of adventure, she adapts well to change.

Read more on Gwendolyn’s profile

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Advocate & Pray: Pamela

PamelaPamela caught my eye because she is about to age out of her program.  According to her profile, she plays piano and loves to be outside, and she says that she wants a warm family who will help her grow.  I’m praying for her to find that family soon, as she gets close to aging out!

Pamela is listed with No Hands But Ours
China

Pamela is 13 years old, listed as special focus with postoperative cleft lip and cleft palate repair, blood WBC slightly elevated; and otherwise healthy. Pamela is said to be a clever, active, and outgoing child, who likes outdoor activity, games, and watching TV. She is helpful to others; she respects older people and is very polite. She is stated to have average grades but her teachers feel she could do much better if she tried harder as she has won several awards at school.

View Pamela’s profile

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Encountering the Fatherless

Encountering the FatherlessHello everyone! The blog has been running without me for the past week and a half, because I was on my very first missions trip. It wasn’t a trip for orphan care (like I expected my first missions trip to be), but it was an awesome experience, and God gave me a huge open door to work with fatherless kids.

Our team’s main purpose was construction, but the area where we were working has a huge problem with fatherlessness. The kids in the village don’t fit the stereotypical image for orphans. Most of them have a parent or grandparents to feed them and give them a place to sleep. They have homes, clothing, and food to eat. As far as I could understand, most of their father’s were absentee, not dead. But for all practical purposes, these kids were fatherless. They are growing up without the protection and guidance of a father figure. They fit into the category of kids we talked about in Who Are Orphans.

Interacting with these kids for over a week made me think a lot. Two observations stuck out to me most.

1. Orphan care advocates need to look beyond orphanage walls.

IMG_6This concept has been hard for me to embrace. Reading books like Orphan Justice and The Global Orphan Crisis helped open my heart to this reality. Meeting the kiddos on this trip drove it home even more. Especially as Christians, it’s important to realize that helping orphans isn’t limited solely to bringing physical aid to recognized orphans. Orphan care as a Christian covers a much broader spectrum and includes a wide variety of ministries.

For example, evangelism is an important part of carrying for orphans because many cultures won’t value or nurture kids until Christ changes their hearts. Encouraging good work ethic, responsibility, and fidelity can prevent abandonment, disease, and social decay that leads to fatherlessness. My brother and I were talking on the way home about what a difference just a few solid male role models could make in the community we were ministering in. Our entire team was tremendously impressed by the impact being made by one local guy who has a big heart for the kids and people of the village.

Those types ministries don’t specifically target orphan care, but they can profoundly impact the orphan situation. And that’s something we need to be aware of.

2. Ways of Life that Lead to Adoption Hardships

IMG_2275Reading books is a great way to gain a foundational understanding about any subject, but experiences is usually ten times better than book knowledge. I’ve done a lot of reading about what causes behavioral issues in adopted kids. On this trip, I got to observe a very basic cause. The kids that we interacted with had very little adult supervision. Their parents/mother/grandparent expected them to spend the majority of their time out in the village doing their own thing. According to the missionaries and people we were working with, they experience very little discipline or rule enforcement. Those comments made me think of how adopted kids often test boundaries and act surprised when they’re disciplined.

The kids we spent the week with were adorable. Some of them were more demanding and manipulative than others, but for the most part they were very loveable kids. Yet if you transplanted any of them into a typical American home, there would be struggles. Very few of them have been taught obedience, respect of authority, compassion (especially towards animals…house pets beware!), problem solving, or diligence. They’re not bad kids, they just don’t have a working understanding of these things.

So, those were my basic observations from the trip. Or at least my basic observations that apply to this blog.

Have any of you been on missions trips that gave you a better understanding of orphans or orphan care? Do you have personal experiences that deepened your understanding of orphans, adoption, etc.?

Advocate & Pray: Valera

Valera

At sixteen years old, Valera is at a pivotal point in his life.  According to his profile, he plans to attend college over the summer!  Pray for a loving family who will be willing to adopt an older child and support him as he enters the next stage in his life’s journey.

Valera is listed with A Family for Every Orphan
Ukraine

Valera is a very quiet boy. He likes to be outside playing soccer and other sports. He is open with his emotions and is very concerned about his future. He will attend college this summer and would love a forever family to be there and support him through this journey. Please pray that a family will adopt him and be that loving support!

Visit Valera’s profile

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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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Advocate & Pray: Nadia

Nadia

Nadia is a Ukrainian orphan brought to our attention by Lizzie.  (You can find her Compassion blog here.)  Lizzie is advocating for Nadia, and we asked her to share Nadia’s story here.

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When I was asked to connect an orphan with a family, I wasn’t sure who to choose.  There are so many children waiting for families.  ​I was drawn to one girl from the Ukraine.  She stood out to me because she was born without eyes and the most recent photo of her was five years old.

I would like you to meet Nadia!

Nadia 2

She just had her picture taken this week!

Nadia was born on December 10, 2003.  She is blind, has severe intellectual disabilities, and has hydrocephalus.  She lives in an Ukrainian orphanage where she is often left alone in a crib.  Even though she does not do many things like you or I would, I am sure that she can still feel joy.  And what joy it would bring her to have a family!

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Advocate & Pray: Zack

ZachZach is a little boy being advocated for on the same site as Olive. He’s described as a brave boy who is smart and insists on caring for himself despite his special needs. Please help him find his family by joining us in advocating for him.

Zach is listed with No Hands But Ours
China

Zack is a very charismatic and outgoing boy who is usually very happy. He is a clear favorite of the nannies at his institute. He has a big personality and had the nannies laughing during one of his visits with us. He is described as being very smart by his caregivers. He recently received an award recently for creativity as well as one for his inventions. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up he said an historian. Zack is very friendly and outgoing and he has a lot of friends at school and the orphanage.

Zack is very short for his age and his caregivers believe he has either mucopolysacchardosis IV or spondyloepiphysealdysplasia (both are forms of dwarfism). Zack’s legs are in an X-shape with his knees together. He is able to climb stairs on his own and walk and run. Although his legs are shaped differently and he is short, he insists on doing things himself and is able to take care of his own needs.

Visit Zack’s Profile

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Advocate & Pray: Olive

OliveOlive is an eight year old girl from China diagnosed with hydrocephalus, or excess fluid in the brain.  This has caused her to have seizures and learning problems, and it is unknown if Olive will require any treatment when she is placed with her family. Despite her health issues, Olive is cheerful and loves playing with her friends.

Olive is listed with No Hands But Ours
China

Olive is a very pretty little girl who is 8 years old. She came into care as an infant, and was diagnosed with hydrocephalus. She, to our knowledge, has not received surgery. Olive’s development has been a bit delayed, but she is an active and happy girl. She loves school, where she is very careful when doing her work. Olive is a social little girl, who always lets her friends go first when they play. Olive likes to sing and dance, and enjoys performing for others. 

An update was received at the beginning of April on Olive. She had 3 seizures in 2012, was put on Depakote, and has not had another seizure since. Her balance can be an issue when she runs. She has a learning disability; it takes her longer to retain new information than other kids her age.

Visit Olive’s profile

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Update on Greta

GretaRemember praying for little Greta? Well I have some good news. Her status on Reece’s Rainbow now says “My Family Found Me“! I spent some time trying to find out if her family has a blog, but so far no luck. Keep praying for this little girl. From what I understand, adopting from Ukraine works a bit differently than it does in other countries. While you can plan to adopt a specific child, until you go to Ukraine and are matched with that child in-person, there is no guarantee you’ll get him or her. You can read how the process works on the International Adoption Bureau of Consular Affairs website. The bottom line is, it’s awesome that a family has decided to make Greta their daughter, but both Greta and her family still need plenty of prayer!

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to keep praying for Olexander, the current A&P child. We’ve now prayed for eleven children! I admit it’s getting hard for me to remember all their names and needs. They all deserve to be remembered, though. When you have a few extra minutes, try scrolling through the list and praying for each of them.

Many thanks to Corina Lucas for posting on the TIO Facebook page to let us know the good news about Greta.