Posted 9/1/15 at 3:22 PM | Bethany Christian Services
Desirée White was 17 when God put adoption on her heart. Then, five years ago—“on a normal Sunday morning in church”—she sensed God speaking to her again.
“It was a very clear word from the Lord that the time to adopt was now,” she said. “The picture I had was a child with Down syndrome.”
When she called the Bethany office in Seattle, Washington, she had no idea that she was at the start of an incredible journey that would result in families across the United States adopting children from China with Down syndrome. Today, she is a passionate advocate for Bethany’s Bamboo Project.
At the time of her inquiry, children in China with Down syndrome were considered unadoptable. Desirée’s son, Isaac, was the first to be released for adoption. As Bethany reported back to the orphanage in China how Isaac was thriving in a family, the orphanage responded by releasing another 14 children with Down syndrome. Bethany turned to Desirée and asked her to share her experience with other families. To date, 13 children have been paired with Bethany families in the U.S., and another 30 children in China have been released for adoption. FULL POST
Posted 8/25/15 at 3:45 PM | Bethany Christian Services
When Jessica Mullen began doing sidewalk counseling outside of abortion clinics, she was surprised by how little adoption was considered or even presented as an option for women facing an unplanned pregnancy. Most women she encountered saw their options as abortion or parenting, and many weren’t financially or emotionally ready to parent. On the pregnancy counseling side, Jessica heard the “Choose life!” message loud and clear without a clear plan to help prepare women to parent. She was surprised that neither side seemed to be talking about adoption as a third option.
In 2014, Jessica founded OptionAdoption, a Charlotte, North Carolina, ministry that seeks to present adoption as a viable, life-giving option for women facing an unplanned pregnancy.
“Beyond telling women to ‘choose life,’ we need to be ready to meet their other needs,” Jessica said. “When a woman does choose life, we talk to her about her options if she can’t parent. We want to take abortion off the table and replace it with adoption. Parenting and adoption are two life-giving options that glorify God. That’s what drives us.” FULL POST
Posted 8/12/15 at 1:12 PM | Bethany Christian Services
“If one family out of every four churches in the U.S. would adopt a child, there would be no more orphans in the United States.”
Elizabeth Styffe is confident in making this bold statement because this goal is her life’s work. She is the Director of Orphan Care Initiative, a global ministry of Saddleback Church in California. She is working to mobilize ordinary believers to hear that adoption is God’s idea, orphans and vulnerable children matter to God, and there’s something every believer can do.
The most significant challenge to the orphan care movement in America, she says, is our cultural attachment to personal peace and affluence. “I have been in churches [in Rwanda] where the average person makes $.68 a day. The pastor will get up at the beginning of the service and say, ‘Sister so-and-so passed away this week. Who will take care of her children?’ And there’s a rumbling in the church where they sit on these little wooden benches on a dirt floor. Husbands and wives look at each other, and they raise their hands and say, ‘We will.’"
Styffe’s desire is that the Church would learn to see that sister as our sister and her children as our own. She spoke with Ruth Bell Olsson, Strategic Partnership Consultant at Bethany, about equipping the global Church to not simply manage but end the global orphan crisis. Listen here. FULL POST
Posted 8/10/15 at 10:43 AM | Bethany Christian Services
There are more than 144 million orphans around the world, according to the latest statistics provided by UNICEF. The majority of the 144 orphans have a parent. Bethany Christian Services works to strengthen families to ensure the child remains with their family. Finding permanent homes for 22 million orphans living in institutions and group homes is essential for their future happiness and development. While orphanages have tried to service the global need for providing a home to children who have none, the long-term effects on the children they rear can be damaging.
A study from the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry found that middle-aged adults who had been institutionalized at birth or in early childhood had significant psychosocial issues and chronic illnesses. The study, and others like it, has grave implications for orphaned children everywhere.
Fortunately, there’s a more viable and sustainable solution that is making a real difference in the lives of orphans around the world – family-based care. Family-based care helps existing families stay together so they can care for relatives, and involves addressing the complex social factors that place children at risk while providing various forms of support families need to keep children safe and healthy. It’s a movement that is growing quickly in developing countries, as communities and local governments begin to see tremendous results. FULL POST
Posted 8/5/15 at 1:10 PM | Bethany Christian Services
Traci Heim was on her way to Russia to support a friend who was adopting a child from an orphanage. Friends and colleagues had teased her saying, “You’re sooo going to adopt somebody.”
She thought, I’m not adopting anybody. My life is perfect.
That, she says, is when God began to laugh saying, “Oh, you don’t even know what is about to happen.”
Today Traci is an adoptive mother of 10 and a passionate advocate for children who are HIV positive. Her story changed when she read these words on the airplane: “We lose out on the great life God has planned for us when we hold on so tightly to the good life we have” (Lysa Terkhurst, “What Happens When Women Walk in Faith”).
“I didn’t get to Russia and fall in love with anybody,” Traci said. “I fell in love with everybody.”
Traci spoke with Ruth Olsson, Bethany Christian Services' strategic partnerships consultant, about her adoption story and her work with Project Hopeful—an organization that works with historically overlooked children, including those with HIV. Listen here. FULL POST
Posted 7/21/15 at 4:57 PM | Bethany Christian Services
More than 23,000 children in the United States “age out” of the foster care system every year – meaning they turn 18 and are no longer in their state’s legal care, despite the fact that they have yet to achieve a permanent connection with a forever family. That’s 23,000 kids every year that are forced into adulthood, often long before they’re prepared to take care of themselves.
Those 23,000 children are an indication of a greater problem: a foster system that isn’t completely meeting the demands of vulnerable children in need, even as thousands of dedicated professionals across the country work tirelessly to support such children. In order to properly serve the vast number of children requiring loving, nurturing homes, it’s imperative that we deploy innovative approaches to help them reach their unlimited potential.
Foster care serves a tremendous need in the United States to nurture children that have been separated from their biological families with the aim of eventually reuniting them if possible. Foster care is a prime opportunity to introduce vulnerable children to adults that can provide the care and parenting they desperately need, while also teaching them that others can be depended upon and trusted. FULL POST
Posted 7/21/15 at 4:20 PM | Bethany Christian Services
Realistic expectations are essential for any parent embarking on an adoption or foster care journey. While some might have an almost romantic notion of “rescuing” a child in need, what’s at play is so much more complex. Children who enter these homes with histories of abuse, neglect, and trauma have specific needs and may respond to foster and adoptive parents in unexpected ways that can challenge even the most well-intentioned.
Jayne Schooler and her husband, David, are staff members with Back2Back Ministries, an international Christian nonprofit organization dedicated to being a voice for orphans. The Schoolers travel to various international ministry sites, training ministry workers and child welfare professionals on how to care for children who have experienced trauma and loss.
“Children who come from abusive environments don’t have a voice,” said Jayne. “They often learn to express their needs through their behavior. Sometimes that behavior looks like manipulation, aggression, or control. But if we understood the meaning behind the behavior, we would deal with it differently.” FULL POST
Posted 7/14/15 at 2:19 PM | Bethany Christian Services
Margot Starbuck contributes to the adoption conversation with a variety of perspectives. She is an adoptee, an adoptive mother, an author, and an advocate for people with intellectual and physical disabilities.
She accompanied her son, who was adopted from India, on a homeland visit to help him understand more about his beginnings. The experience was as positive for Margot as it was for her son when she was able to connect with his experience as an adoptee wondering about birthparents and identity.
"As a child, all I knew about my birthparents is what I found in two or three paragraphs of paperwork,” Margot said. “Not all adoptive parents will have access to birthparent information, but it’s important to be as open as possible with kids. Talking about adoption and feelings about adoption and birthfamilies signals to children that it’s not shameful.”
Today, Margot volunteers in a variety of capacities with Reality Ministries in Durham, North Carolina. The organization “creates opportunities for teens and adults, with and without developmental disabilities, to experience belonging, kinship and the life-changing reality of Christ’s love.” She has met many families who have adopted children with special needs and seen the vast difference a forever family makes in the child’s life. “They thrive in ways the family never would have imagined,” she said. FULL POST
Posted 7/7/15 at 10:06 AM | Bethany Christian Services
In 2009, one of the pro-life movement’s most outspoken advocates came from an unlikely source—a former abortion clinic director with an eight-year Planned Parenthood career.
Abby Johnson was first introduced to Planned Parenthood when she was a college student in Texas. The recruiter’s message about providing critical health services for low-income women appealed to Abby. While she had grown up in a family that was ideologically pro-life, it wasn’t an issue Abby knew a lot about or had ever acted upon. The recruiter spoke about the dangers associated with back alley abortions and the risks to women’s health if this service wasn’t available. She assured Abby that abortion was only a small portion of what Planned Parenthood was about.
Abby began working with Planned Parenthood out of her fierce desire to help women. In her eight-year career, she progressed to the position of clinic director and ran the facility.
All of that changed in 2009 when Abby witnessed a rare ultrasound-guided abortion. “I watched a 13-week old child struggle for his life during the procedure,” she said. “I knew I had been lied to, and worse, I knew I had lied to thousands of women who had come to my facility.” FULL POST
Posted 7/6/15 at 10:38 AM | Bethany Christian Services
For those committed to the sanctity of human life, news in recent weeks was extremely positive as once again the abortion rate across the U.S. dropped. A nationwide survey released by the Associated Press documents that the abortion rate has dropped in almost every state in the U.S. since 2010.
Looking closely at the report, states that have enacted recent anti-abortion legislation have seen the greatest results, with declines of more than 15 percent. Meanwhile, states without policies focusing on the issue declined in the rankings as well.
The numbers mark a positive trend in our society’s values and an appreciation for the sanctity of life. The survey is an indication of a greater sense of understanding of the fact that life begins at conception, and that there are far better alternatives to abortion for those facing unplanned pregnancies.
Another factor in the decline of abortions throughout the country is the decline in teenage pregnancies. In 2010, teen pregnancies were at their lowest numbers in 30 years – another significant stride for our country.
An important step in educating pregnant women or couples about the alternatives to abortion is pregnancy counseling, which Bethany Christian Services offers to women and couples facing an unplanned pregnancy. FULL POST