Posted 5/28/15 at 9:05 AM | Bethany Christian Services
Decades ago, International Children’s Day (June 1st) was developed to draw awareness to children’s issues, including safety, education, human rights, and health care. With more than 144 million children worldwide having lost one or both parents, and with the continued rise in incidents of human trafficking around the world, drawing awareness to the plight of the world’s children has never been more important.
Children in every country, including the United States, are in danger of being trafficked. Those most at risk are the vulnerable children – those living without the love of a forever family. For without the love and nurturing of a forever family, children often times are left to fend for themselves – falling prey to unscrupulous adults whose only concern is capitalizing on the misfortunes of others.
Fortunately, as mentioned previously in this space, initiatives protecting the most innocent are being implemented in countries across the globe. Over the past several years, Bethany Christian Services has had the honor to work closely with a number of governments and NGOs to introduce and strengthen child welfare services so that children are able to remain with their biological parents or be placed in loving homes in their home country. Such efforts are critical to improving the variety of issues for which International Children’s Day was founded. FULL POST
Posted 5/26/15 at 10:33 AM | Bethany Christian Services
Before Jamie Schwandt was a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserve—before he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, earned his Doctor of Education degree, published a book, gave a public lecture, or became a husband a father—he was a vulnerable child in foster care.
In his own words, his life before foster care was destined for failure. His childhood was marked by his parents’ depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and his father’s eventual suicide. He found his opportunity to change his life in foster care.
“My first foster family introduced me to God, and my CASA worker and her husband were the reason I was baptized,” Jamie said. “I had foster families that took the time in the evenings to read the Bible to me. They helped me with school work, provided structure and discipline, and encouraged me to be socially active. I owe my success in life to God and to the great people I met in foster care.”
He entered the United States military at age 17 and has built his career serving our country. He defied the odds when he completed his bachelor’s degree (current statistics suggest about 2 percent of children in foster care will complete a college degree), and he went on to earn his Ed.D from the University of Kansas. For his dissertation, he studied the foster care system, specifically looking for themes that might indicate how children in foster care could overcome a turbulent childhood and achieve personal and professional success. FULL POST
Posted 5/20/15 at 11:51 AM | Bethany Christian Services
In the realm of child welfare, there’s a major sea change taking place that is impacting hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children around the world. Developing countries such as Ethiopia and Haiti, to name just a few, are committing resources to build or strengthen their child welfare services. As a result, more children are able to stay in their home countries, living in nurturing environments with biological family members.
You may have seen the Associated Press’ recent article on how improvements in Haiti have led to a decrease in adoption placement with families outside the country. The devastating earthquake in January 2010 initiated a desperately needed overhaul to the country’s child welfare system. Prior to and immediately after the earthquake, vulnerable families were routinely approached by disreputable organizations seeking to place children with adoptive couples outside of Haiti. This placement occurred under the false pretense that the children would get an education and come back to their biological families.
Today, Haiti’s new system requires counseling for families considering an adoption plan for their child. This counseling includes an explanation that they may never see their child again and allows a “cooling-off period” where birthparents are able to change their minds. Additionally, for those children whose birthparents are deceased, social workers in Haiti are required to try to find a relative who can step in to provide a loving home. FULL POST
Posted 3/27/15 at 7:53 AM | Bethany Christian Services
Today’s guest post is contributed by Melanie Bechtel, a military wife and Bethany adoptive mother of three children with special needs. A dedicated and busy mother of six, Melanie remains connected to her Bethany branch as a speaker for waiting family and new parenting classes.
For health reasons, doctors advised me to not have more children. My husband, Josh, and I were blessed to have Seth, now 13; Caleb, now 10; and Damaris, now 9, but our dream of an even larger family seemed to be over—until we discovered we were both interested in adoption. FULL POST
Posted 3/26/15 at 12:51 PM | Bethany Christian Services
Today’s guest post is by Laura-Valentine, singer/song-writer artist and adoption advocate. She shares candidly and deeply about her ongoing journey as an adult adoptee.
I am adopted.
My parents never hid that fact from me, but it didn’t register for a long time. When it did, I slowly began to address another fact: my birthmother had given me up. Dealing with the lost connection to my birthfamily in China has been a struggle ever since. I started to understand words like “abandonment”. And as I grew, I asked many questions like, Why did my birthparents give me up? Was I not worth it? Did they think they could not love me? I would think about what my life would be like if I had remained a part of my birthfamily. Would I have siblings? A sister? FULL POST
Posted 3/26/15 at 11:47 AM | Bethany Christian Services
When Jennifer gets ready for work, she never knows what the day will bring. As an administrative assistant at her local Bethany office, she greets guests, supports the staff, and does her part to advance Bethany’s mission: demonstrating the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting and enhancing the lives of children and families.
Seven years ago, Bethany was nowhere on her radar. Although she’d made a profession of faith at 11, she acknowledges that she walked away from God in her teen years. What began as “freedom” to do whatever she pleased turned into a grueling nine-year drug addiction that dominated every aspect of her life.
“I could not see past one day,” she said. “I assumed I would just keep using until I died. I had even pictured that.” FULL POST
Posted 3/26/15 at 11:32 AM | Bethany Christian Services
Amylynn, an adoptee, grew up with a desire to know more about the circumstances that led to her adoption. Despite being spoiled, wanted, and loved as the baby of her family, her determination to find the missing pieces of her story took her to South Korea, in hopes of understanding her identity and finding a place where she belonged.
I was young when I found out I was adopted, but not too young to have not noticed a difference between me and my siblings. My sister, also adopted, had black hair and brown eyes like me—but my three older siblings were blond-haired and blue-eyed. When I learned I was adopted, not like them, I was baffled and upset to discover my perception of reality was distorted. Mostly, I convinced myself that being “adopted” meant not that I was chosen or desired, but given up, rejected. I didn’t know what I wanted to know, but I searched for answers FULL POST
Posted 3/26/15 at 11:09 AM | Bethany Christian Services
Calling the Ordinary
Today’s guest post is contributed by Dr. Steven Timmermans, executive director of Christian Reformed Church of North America. Dr. Timmermans is the husband of Dr. Barb Timmermans, a father of seven children and former president of Trinity Christian College.
My wife and I have never believed that only special parents have special needs kids. Contrary to some opinions, angels do not convene a meeting and assign a special needs child to the strongest, most eligible moms and dads. Whether by biological birth or adoption, ordinary parents are called to welcome children with special needs into their families. FULL POST
Posted 3/26/15 at 10:44 AM | Bethany Christian Services
Homosexuality has been a difficult issue for the Church. The tone around this topic seems to land at two extremes: hotly debated or not discussed at all. It is a complex issue, especially when advocates on all sides defend their perspectives with Scripture. Those closely following this conversation are likely asking one of two questions: how should the Church respond or when will the Church respond. No response is no longer an option.
Caught in middle are those whose faith and sexuality are key to their identity. Justin Lee is the founder of the Gay Christian Network and author of Torn:Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs-Christians Debate. I spoke with Justin about the struggle for acceptance in the Church, and how Christians can follow Jesus’ example of showing love and compassion to every person, with no exceptions. Listen to our conversation here and consider how we are called to care for every child. FULL POST
Posted 3/4/15 at 9:51 AM | Bethany Christian Services
As the leader of a child welfare and social services agency, I would be remiss to not recognize this March as National Social Work Awareness month—its theme “Paving the Way” for change.
The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts social work as one of the fastest growing careers in the United States with more than 650,000 professionals holding social work degrees. The very word social,in all its forms, seems to drive our society like never before. We are “social”when we belong to a group or community. And of course, we constantly engage or interact with others on various social media platforms. Social can also describe our unique personalities, according to the degree we interact with others. FULL POST