Interview with Kay Bratt

Kay BrattKay Bratt, author of Silent Tears, graciously agreed to do an interview for TIO. It’s always exciting to feature someone who is active in helping orphans. I hope you enjoy reading her answers as much as I did!

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What’s the first thing someone with little or no knowledge of China’s orphans know about them?
Many of China’s orphans aren’t technically orphans. Because of the countries lack of medical care assistance to the lower classes, many parents abandon their child out of love and hope. Because the majority of abandoned children have some sort of illness or special need, the parents have left them hoping that when their child is placed in the orphanage; the government will step up and care for whatever special need they may have, to give them a chance at life.

How can teenagers help orphans in china besides donating money?
Raising awareness about children’s needs in China is as important as donating money. If no one knows about these children in need, how can they receive the assistance they deserve? Find an organization to follow and tweet the stories, share on Facebook, explore the subject as a homework assignment, or even start a support group.

Silent TearsWhat are some of the basic rules and regulations surrounding orphans and adoption in China?
The rules and regulations surrounding orphans and adoption in China are many and complicated. The important thing to know is that domestic adoption (adoption by the Chinese people of their country’s children) is becoming more prevalent. In small steps, the government is trying to raise awareness about these children as well as squash the age old stigma of adoption. In past times, many Chinese felt that to take in a person not of your blood was to bring bad luck upon your family. With the newer generations, these taboos are starting to disappear.

What do you feel needs to change in the orphan care and adoption procedures?
I feel that China needs to place orphan care at the top of their priority list. When I travel within China and see the millions of dollars spent on beautifying cities with landscaping, buildings, and the many lights everywhere, it is disappointing because I know there are cold and hungry children scattered throughout their cities in dilapidated orphanages. Feed and warm the children first! Decorate the cities next!

Do you have any other comments, suggestions, or insights concerning this topic?
It is important to remember that the people of China are not to be blamed for the epidemic of abandoned children in their country. It is the government’s responsibility to step up with support that can enable parents to keep their children. Support including food, medical care, and education for all status levels. The people love and want to keep their children, but so many have a difficult time just feeding and medically caring for themselves.

Many thanks to Kay for taking the time to answer these questions! What do you guys think about this information?

The winner of the Silent Tears giveaway is Spencer R. I think most of you will agree he has the biggest reason to want to learn about Chinese orphans! Stay tuned for future giveaways.

Borrow A Kindle Book: Silent Tears

Silent Tears Step through the doors of a Chinese orphanage. When Kay Bratt’s husband accepted a promotion that required him and his family to relocate to China, Kay took the opportunity to fulfill her dream of living a meaningful life. She had no idea of the ways her life would change. Her volunteer work in the orphanage opened her eyes to the desperate need and horrifying neglect suffered by China’s abandoned children. It became her mission to brighten the lives of these little ones and give them hope.

I just finished reading this last night, and found myself processing and digesting a whole new batch of realities. It’s a powerful book.

Here’s the deal on borrowing the book. Amazon allows some Kindle books to be lent out. It’s a one time thing and the loan lasts for fourteen days. So, if you’ll have time to read a 333 page book in the next fourteen days, please enter! You don’t have to own a Kindle in order to read the book. Amazon offers a free “app” you can download to your computer. I have it on my computer and it works fine. Follow the links to get the kindle reader for Windows 7, XP, & Vista, Windows 8, or Mac.

Most giveaways are done by random draw, but I’m going to mix it up a bit. I want this book to go to someone who cares about reading it and will learn from it. So, leave a comment telling me why you want to read Silent Tears, and I’ll loan the book to whoever gives the most convincing reason (or at least the reason I find most convincing). I apologize I can’t lend the book to all of you, but don’t give up if I don’t lend you this one. I hope to do this again!

The opportunity to enter this giveaway ends on March 25th.

Don’t forget to leave a comment explaining why you want to read this book. Please tell your friends about this giveaway!

Who Will Care?

Finger HeartDo you ever watch parents interact with their children and think about the orphans who have no idea what that’s like? It happens to me pretty frequently.

This past week I visited the state capitol for a homeschool event. My friends and I spent some time sitting in on a public hearing about the Common Core. One of the testimonies was given by a mother who was there with her deaf child. The mom passionately expressed her frustration over potential laws that did not make provisions for her daughter. Watching this mom plead on behalf of her daughter, my mind wandered to the deaf orphans like Aris who don’t have anyone to fight for them. The mom at the hearing wanted to make sure her daughter had the best opportunities possible, but perspective adoptive parents pass over kids like Aris because of the challenges presented by their special needs.

This week a group of homeschooled young adults I know has been praying for a young man who went on life support after his heart stopped beating. This young man has brittle bone disease, just like Candy who we’ve been praying for. This boys mother is crying out to God for her son and begging others to do the same. Who will pray for Candy and sit by her bedside if the same thing happens to her? Who will comfort her when her bones break? Who will pay attention if she’s too tired and weak to move around? Who will beg God for life if her heart stops beating and weep tears of joy if it starts again?

These children with special needs deserve families who care just as much as those people born into loving families.

If there is something I’ve learned in this journey to try to figure out how to help orphans it’s that this problem is way bigger than me. Every single aspect of orphan care is complicated. Sometimes it seems like each of the worlds 153 million orphans is mummified in red tape that has to be hacksawed through before anything can happen. And it’s hard to do that without hurting the child stuck inside. I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I’ll be pretty happy when I figure out some of the answers. But in the meantime, I can care.

Caring doesn’t cost money. It doesn’t require hoping on a plane and traveling around the globe. I might not be able to sit by Candy’s bedside or sign my love to Aris, but I can be the one to cry out to God on their behalf. I can cry the tears their mothers would shed if they had families. I can beg God to give them families, and hope that someday they’ll have parents to tuck them in at night. You can too. These kids may not know this side of heaven that we love them, but in the grand scheme of things that only God knows, I bet we can make a difference even in something as simple as that.

Advocate & Pray: Margaret

MargaretMargaret, an eight-year-old girl from Ethiopia, caught my attention this week.  Because of her health problems, she is in need of a special family to take her in and give her the care and attention she needs to thrive.

Margaret is listed with Children’s Hope International
Ethiopia

Margaret is a great little 8 year old girl.  She is HIV positive and both her parents are deceased.  She was relinquished to the orphanage by her aunt who is no longer able to care for her.  Margaret does not have any other siblings and is in need of a good home.  With medical professionals in the US and HIV medication she can live a wonderfully healthy life.

View Margaret’s profile

Take Action

Pray
Join the prayer chain for Margaret

Share on social media
Join me in praying for Margaret to find a forever family.  Click to tweet

Margaret is in Ethiopia, waiting for a loving family.  Click to tweet

Leah’s Note

Hello! Leah here. I just wanted to add a special prayer request for orphans in Ethiopia. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Ethiopian adoptions right now, including some stuff that is preventing parents who are ready to fly from going to get their kids. Please pray that these issues are resolved and Ethiopia does not close to foreign adoption. Pray for the families in the midst of the process who are facing uncertainty, for the kids who are waiting, and, of course, for Margaret.

Advocate & Pray: Candy

CandyHello there! Leah here taking a turn with the A&P (Advocate & Pray) post this week. Many thanks again to Monica who has been doing a fantastic job with these. If you would also like to help out with TIO, please check out 5 Ways to Help TIO and/or contact me about it. Now, about this week’s A&P child, Candy.

Candy caught my eye for two reasons. The first is, she’s really pretty, don’t you think? Also, my heart goes out to older children waiting to be adopted. So many people are afraid of the baggage they come with and aren’t willing to go out on a limb for them. These kids end up entering the world on their own and are almost always vulnerable to people ready to exploit them. I really hope someone steps forward for Candy before this happens.

Candy is listed with Gladney Center for Adoption
China

Candy is a sweet almost 13 year old girl who needs a  family.  It is urgent she find a family before she ages out on her 14 th birthday.  She is a very beautiful girl with the most precious smile.  She attends  school like other older kids, and takes Chinese, English, Math and art classes. Candy has Osteogenesis Imperfecta. She is an amazing girl who needs the love of a family.

View Candy’s profile

Take Action

Pray
Join the prayer chain for Candy

Share on social media
Join me in praying for Candy to find a forever family.  Click to tweet

Sweet Candy is waiting for a family.  Click to tweet

Russia, Politics, and Adoption

russia-grunge-flag--blueThe Olympic games draw a lot of attention and interest from people around the world. If you mention Russia right now, everyone’s first thought will probably be the games in Sochi. However, the Olympic games only last a short time, and they don’t eradicate problems within a country.

Russia has held a special place in my heart for a long time. It started when I read a story about a street boy in Russia, trying to survive in the aftermath of WWII. Something about the story touched my heart, and I started dreaming about someday adopting from Russia.  Unfortunately, unless something changes, that door is now closed to me and hundreds of others. A little over a year ago, Russia closed it’s doors to would-be adopters from the US.

Lots of people know about the scandals surrounding several Russian adoptions, including the story of a mother who put her adopted son on a plane by himself and sent him back to Russia. It’s easy to assume that stories like these caused Russia to close it’s doors to adoption. But that’s not the case.

I’d heard many times that the closing of Russian/US adoptions was political posturing, but never knew the full story until yesterday when someone mentioned a story featured recently on 60 Minutes. The video is embedded below.

Basically, an American business man working to fight corruption in Russia stepped on a few too many toes and ended up getting thrown out of the country. When Russian police raided his Russian office, seized ownership papers, and gave away control of his three companies, he hired a Russian man to investigate. The hired man uncovered more corruption and took it to court. A short time later, he was also arrested for tax evasion. He died after being held in prison for a year without a trial. The original American business man then flew his investigator’s family to DC and told American officials what happened. America responded by banning a bunch of Russians from the country. Russia responded by prohibiting Americans from adopting Russian children.

Now, I haven’t done a lot of research about the corruption in Russia or the validity of the American business man’s story. I assume he must have some pretty good evidence if the American government took action on his story. But the bottom line is that children are being kept from families who want them because of politics that have nothing to do with adoption. It is estimated that only 10% of children who grow up in Russian orphanages go on to live productive lives. A large majority turn to crime and prostitution.

I’m not sure what we can do about this. Like I said, I just learned the full story yesterday. But being educated about what’s going on and praying about it is a great first step. I encourage you to watch the video and follow the links throughout this post to learn more.

Teens In Action: Blankets of Love

Uruguay1Cathy Vollenweider contacted me a while back to share about her ministry to orphans in Uruguay and wondered if it might be something of interest to share on TIO.  I was so excited to hear about her heart for Uruguay and to learn about her ministry. Her story is perfect for TIO. Stay tuned to learn about another teen’s ministry to orphans next week. And now, here’s Cat.

God has given me compassion for children in one of the smallest and most secular countries in South America: Uruguay.  In Uruguay, many children are abandoned, abused, and unwanted.  Uruguay’s crumbling family unit and hurting children are related to issues such as legal prostitution and nearly impossible adoption, leaving a huge percentage of innocent Uruguayan little ones living in orphanages and hungry for love.

In spite of the darkness that pervades, God is bringing about a glorious change through His people there.  An example of such is the Stallings family.  They moved to Uruguay from Colorado specifically to love and mentor Uruguayan orphans (go to http://www.fieldsofthefatherless.org to see more about their mission).

I am coming alongside the Stallings’s to help these little children know that they are loved, through prayer and through a project called Bracelets4Blankets.  The Lord, by His generous grace, is using this project of selling friendship bracelets to raise money so that the Stallings’s can give winter blankets to the orphans that they have relationships with.

Uruguay is in the southern hemisphere, so their winters go from June to August.  Time is limited to complete this project!  Bracelets are $5 each.  All donations will go to the Stallings’s ministry, who will use it to give blankets to the orphans.

Uruguay2

To read more about my passion for Uruguay: either keep reading, or follow this link to my blog (both posts are different).  If you would like to give $5 to help keep these orphans warm this winter, follow this link. After donating, click the yellow button that says “Return to the Bracelet Project” (or something like that) to be redirected to a blog page containing an order form, where you can tell me your preferences for the bracelet (or follow this link to go directly to the project’s page – it explains in more detail how the donation/ordering process works).

Uruguay3So, why do I have a passion for Uruguay, specifically?  I really have a hard time with this question, and it is something that I have wrestled with myself.  I have asked, “why? Why does my heart ache for those in a far away country that I had not heard of before?”  And I’m still not sure of the answer, but I do know that the passion He has given me is real.

The Lord simply put a passion for Uruguay on my heart.  In February of 2013, I had been praying intensely about the direction in which God wanted my life to go.  During a conversation with my older brother, he wondered out loud why mission trips to Uruguay are unheard of, and as we began searching for the answer to this question, the people of this little country captured my heart.

I have never been to Uruguay; merely a year ago I had only vaguely heard of it.  Yet I have a compassion and broken heart for the people of Uruguay like I have for nothing else.  The only way I can explain it is that this is a God-given passion.

Sometimes, the hurt that I have for Uruguay seems unbearable, and sometimes I feel like giving up.  Those times, I hold onto what Christ did for me, and I remember that my life is “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3), and that my fingers are His anyway.  How could I stop them from doing the work He has given me?  So I make bracelets.  Please join me in this work – I know that united we can accomplish anything, and I believe that God will do something amazing beyond imagination.

Uruguay4

Does anyone have questions or comments for Cat? Were you inspired by the story of a fellow teenager doing what she can to make a difference in the lives of children? Thank you, Cat, for the article!

Advocate & Pray: Greta

Greta
Usually every other week I post a poem dedicated to the current Advocate & Pray child (who would be Vitalik right now), but there are two reasons for posting Greta this week instead. 1) I’m a writer and I’m currently trying to focus on editing a book. Writing a poem takes work and concentration that I need to invest in editing right now. 2) Jennifer Worch, who is a mom working on adopting a child from Ukraine (one of the boys McKennaugh advocated for along with Katia), advocated for Greta on her blog so I thought I’d share here too.

Here’s what Mrs. Worch had to say.

Greta is in need of a home right away. She will “age out” of the adoption program when she turns 16 this November. In Ukraine, at least one parent must be 15 years older than the child, but there is no upper age limit for adoption here. There is no limit on the number of children in the family, either, so large families are welcome.

Greta’s grant fund currently has $20,000 in it. This will pay for almost all of her adoption costs. Please consider opening your heart and home to this little girl who desperately needs a home.

Greta is listed with Reece’s Rainbow

Greta is very petite; more the size of a 5 year old than the 13 year old she actually is. Developmentally, she is quite delayed, probably closer to a 3-4 year old. In many ways, she is toddler like. Greta is missing out on the essential things in life- a mama and daddy to teach her the things she needs to know, school lessons to maximize her potential for learning, and hope for a future.

From a family who visited with her in September 2012: “Greta desperately desires to be loved and shown affection. It broke our hearts to see how desperate she was for attention. She would climb up us before we even knew what was happening and was clinging to us. She probably needs to go to a family that can devote a lot of one on one attention to her, and that she be the youngest child, because she can get aggressive when she is jealous for attention. I hope this helps her find a family.”

Read more on Greta’s profile

Take Action

Pray
Join the prayer chain for Greta

Share on Social Media
$20,000 raised for Greta, now she needs a family. Click to Tweet

Join me in praying for Ukrainian orphan Greta. Click to Tweet

Advocate & Pray: Xiao

Fan Xiao ShuiThis little girl’s smile captivated me as I looked throught he waiting children listed with the Jing Yi Program. The Families Through International Adoption website explains the origins of the program’s name.

When we first started this program, we were saddened to learn of the passing of an infant girl whom we had hoped to find a family for. She was a newborn with Hep B and HIV, but wasn’t strong enough to survive. This little girl’s name was Jing Yi, which means calm, joyful, harmony. We decided to name this new program the Jing Yi Program to not only honor her short life but to remind us of how important it is for these children to receive the care they need, even before they are placed with their forever families.

Xiao is listed with Families Through International Adoption
China

Xiao is a beautiful 7 year old girl with knee valgus and incontinence. She appears to have had some type of spinal surgery prior to coming to the orphanage at 10 months of age. She had shown delays in language and mental development, but she has been improving every day.

She can take care of herself, crawls and can walk some by leaning on the railing. She is described as lively and cheerful and likes to sing while her best friend dances. Her caretakers say she is smart, polite and likes to give them a warm hug when they come to work.

Read More about Xiao (Scroll down on the linked page to find her profile.)

Take Action!

Pray
Give Xiao the gift of your prayers over Christmas. Join the prayer chain for Xiao

Advocate
Share about Xiao on social media to help her find a family.

7 year old Xiao Shui needs a family. Click to Tweet

Give orphan Xiao Shui the gift of prayer this Christmas. Click to Tweet

Sunny (a poem)

SunnyIn a land of a billion,
God’s loving eye finds one girl.
Only one of the millions,
She’s to God a precious pearl.

Of little worth to others,
Yet she’s priceless in God’s sight.
Deserving of a mother,
Who will tuck her in at night.

Unattractive to the world,
Yet she’s beautiful to God.
Needs a pretty dress to twirl,
And a dad’s approving nod.

God takes pleasure to redeem,
The souls the world ignores.
He bids you come, join the team,
Be his hands on earthly shores.

(copyright 2013 by Leah E. Good)

Sunny-a poem

This poem is written in honor of the current Advocate & Pray child, Sunny. Please feel free to use the poem on your own blog or social media page as long as you include the copyright blurb at the bottom and include a link either to Sunny’s Advocate and Pray page or the post about her on No Hands But Ours. Thanks!

Also, don’t forget to sign up to pray for Sunny.