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

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: 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

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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The Orphan Trains

Orphan Train AdLearning about the orphan trains was one of the experienced sparked my passion for orphans. In case you’re not familiar with them, the orphan trains were the brain child of a New England minister who wanted to help the thousands of destitute children populating eastern cities. He knew that children were valued by western farm families and decided that shipping the children west to be fostered would be mutually beneficial to both the children and the families. His idea caught on and started a practice that lasted from 1854 to 1929.

The movement of orphans in such a way was made possible by the looser laws of the day. Children weren’t as closely monitored and families weren’t closely checked for suitability to foster or adopt. This led to some children falling into negative situations, but it also lead to many children finding suitable families.

It’s a very interesting part of American history to learn about. Especially for a history buff like me. It’s also interesting to compare the days of the orphan trains to modern methods of handling orphans. Many people applaud improvements in the protection system that helps keep foster children out of abusive homes and trafficking situations. Other people condemn practices that make it harder for children to be placed in permanent families.

What do you think? Was the end of the orphan trains a good think that helps protect vulnerable children? Or would it be better to snip away some red tape and make it easier for families to accept “wards of the state” into their homes?

Personally I think the ideal lies somewhere in between. Checks and balances are important to make sure ill-meaning people don’t take advantage of kids, but the processes could definitely use some streamlining.

If you’d like to read more about the orphan trains, check out the Orphan Train Depot. Also, we’re currently celebrating reaching 200 followers on Leah’s Bookshelf (my other blog) by hosting a giveaway of a fictional orphan train story. Check it out and leave a comment for your chance to win.

Founding Fathers

Founding Fathers

Today’s post really has nothing to do with orphans, adoption, foster care, or any related subjects. But, hey, it’s the 4th of July! That deserves a special post, right? I love reading through quotes from our founding fathers, so I’d like to share some of those with you today.

George Washington

And now, Almighty Father, if it is Thy holy will that we shall obtain a place and name among the nations of the earth, grant that we may be enabled to show our gratitude for Thy goodness by our endeavors to fear and obey Thee. Bless us with Thy wisdom in our counsels, success in battle, and let our victories be tempered with humanity. Endow, also, our enemies with enlightened minds, that they become sensible of their injustice, and willing to restore our liberty and peace. Grant the petition of Thy servant, for the sake of Him whom Thou hast called Thy beloved Son; nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done. –George Washington, May 1, 1777

John Adams

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. –John Adams, October 11, 1798

Abraham_LincolnWhen someone said he hoped “the Lord was on the Union’s side.” Lincoln replied,

I am not at all concerned about that, for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.

Happy Independence day everyone! Enjoy your fireworks, cookouts, and other celebrations.

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

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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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

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

Movie Review: Raising Izzie

Raising Izzie

“But, c’mon God, this is like our second chance.”

After their mother’s death, 14 year old Gertie Nash stepped up to fill some very large shoes. Desperate to make sure she and her little sister, Izzie, stay together, Gertie avoids entering the foster care system at all costs. She juggles paying the bills, grocery shopping, and raising Izzie around maintaining good grades at school. No one seems to suspect anything until Gertie gets a new teacher. Mrs. Freeman is determined to run a tight ship, and Gertie baffles her.

My mom and I watched this movie together while my dad and brother were away for a weekend. I wasn’t entirely sure it would be good, but it was a contemporary, Christian movie about orphans so it worth the try. And I’m so glad we did try it. We enjoyed it so much we decided to re-watch it the following night before the rent time on Amazon ran out! It was clean cut and moving. My only complaints were two low cut dresses. And if a couple discussing trying to have kids bothers you, you may blush a few times. 😉 Really, though. A tear jerker for anyone interested in a unique “contemporary American orphan” story.

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.

A Baby by Christmas (part 2)

Hannah MillsDid you miss A Baby Christmas by Christmas (part 1)? Click the link to read it before continuing. 😉 And now, back to Hannah.


We arrived at the restaurant, and although I don’t remember exactly who arrived first, the initial moments were slightly awkward. Then it was like meeting old friends, or relatives you haven’t seen in ages and yet pick right back up with.

We started talking and just didn’t want to stop. We traded stories—Kara, worried that I wouldn’t understand, or would be angry at her, shared her story in more depth than my parents had been able to, and was relieved I was okay with it—and memories, gosh, a lifetime of memories. We talked about everything. Personalities, hobbies, favorite memories. We had a lifetime to catch up on.

We discovered I’m a lot like Kara and Kristy, and that Kara and my Mom basically have identical parenting styles, that all of us love to read, and that Kara has an artsy streak. My parents say that explains where I got mine, since neither one of them are very artistic. We have a lot of differences, too, but our similarities matter more.

Eventually we were the only ones left in the restaurant aside from the staff. We closed the place down.

Since, we’ve kept in regular contact. They, along with Kara’s husband, their two children, and my biological grandparents came to my eighteenth birthday party. We babysat on Valentine’s day so Kara and her husband could have a date night (that was a hilarious surprise to plan with him!). I went to the art museum with them and they came to a church pitch-in with us. Birthday and Christmas phone calls. Running into them at the State Fair. Meeting up for dinner. All in all…it’s been great.

Now I’m almost twenty, and having a family and then an “extended” biological family is just my normal. It sounds weird when I talk about it, but actually living it isn’t weird at all. It’s wonderful, actually. I know I’m the anomaly in that, that some people never meet their birth family/mother, or if they do, it doesn’t turn out well. But that doesn’t mean it has to turn out poorly every time.

Adoption is an amazing thing. Sometimes an incredibly hard thing, sometimes scary, but amazing nonetheless.

If you are an adoptive parent, please be as open with your child as their maturity level allows. Remind them that their birthmother does care for them. If she didn’t care, she could have gotten an abortion. If she didn’t want them to have a chance at an amazing life, she could have sentenced them to death before they ever experienced life outside the womb.

All the birthmothers I have met are beautiful people. They aren’t perfect, but none of us are. They have made mistakes, but all of us have. It takes a special person, a special strength, to carry a child and voluntarily give it to someone else to raise.

From the day they brought me home, my parents have emphasized those things and I believe that is the main reason I’ve never had a crisis of identity regarding being adopted, or resented it, or wondered if I was loved or “worth it.” Adoption is beautiful—please, don’t let the adoptees you know lose sight of that.