Posted 10/16/14 at 6:26 PM | Bill Blacquiere
Today’s guest blog is contributed by Jeff Nitz, Vice President of Adoption & Family Services at Bethany Christian Services. Jeff is the proud father of 4 young adult children of whom two were adopted, and is a passionate advocate of our These 400 initiative.
To say that most parents who choose to adopt only desire or want to welcome infants into their families would perpetuate a myth of adoption. While many birthparents each year still do make the difficult decision to give their children the gift of life and the care of a loving family and place them for adoption—and while expectant parents often pray for their child to be born healthy—significantly more children are adopted annually from the U.S. foster care system. And, while international adoption of infants has declined significantly over the past eight years, the number of international older children needing adoptive families has grown substantially. What this boils down to is this: more children with special placement needs -- children with emotional or physical challenges, older children and sibling groups – are both in need of a family and are finding their forever families. FULL POST
Posted 10/14/14 at 10:23 AM | Bill Blacquiere
Today’s blog is contributed by Brian DeVos, Vice President of Children and Family Services at Bethany. Brian is the father of 2 daughters and a husband to Kristy. He has been blessed by the gift of adoption and a loving family in many ways, and is a passionate advocate for children growing up in loving families.
I recently traveled to Guatemala. Though it is a beautiful country in a Caribbean-like environment, it is also filled with extreme cases of poverty.
Guatemala’s civil war that ended in the late 1990s had a devastating effect. Many mothers became widows and many more children were orphaned. Poor water supplies and nutrition placed families in desperate need, and violence and death became a reality. Many victims were children, and girls and women became targets for trafficking due to a lack of education and employment. Living on an average of $2 to $3 dollars a day, many children and families are still at extreme risk—the threat for abuse, illness, trafficking, and violence are everyday occurrences. FULL POST
Posted 10/8/14 at 5:38 PM | Bill Blacquiere
Throughout the different communities in Haiti, many children have been marginalized. They have no voice, are lonely and neglected, and pray for a parent who will love them, care for them and protect them. I refuse to simply stand by and watch children suffer. For that reason, we initiated a vast campaign of raising awareness amongst the church—inviting leaders to and appropriate programs developed to address the immediate needs of the children. The campaign consisted of:
That campaign contributes a lot to creating a cultural shift about children especially those in domesticity in Haiti. Children have been perceived differently in evangelical churches. Church leaders are looking for the possibility to have a separate church service for children who have often been neglected during the services. A theology for children is developing across the theological seminaries and parents are looking for new ways to discipline their children instead of beating them. Teachers in many schools are looking for and using new ways to change inappropriate behavior from children while in class. FULL POST
Posted 10/7/14 at 3:47 PM | Bill Blacquiere
Taking the Fear Out of Foster Care
When children are removed from their own homes, it’s usually because a judge has determined they would be unsafe if left there. Currently, approximately 400,000 children are in the foster care system, but about 60,000 are still in institutions or group homes because of the lack of available foster families. FULL POST
Posted 10/2/14 at 9:54 AM | Bill Blacquiere
Over the past several weeks, there has been much discussion about appropriate ways to discipline children—resulting from an NFL player’s arrest following physical discipline of his child. Because those discussions include a debate as to whether spanking should be considered corporal punishment—and as president of Bethany Christian Services, a leading child welfare organization—I want to use this incident to continue the conversation. Issues like this typically dominate the news for a few days and then are forgotten until the next time a similar incident occurs.
How we discipline our children and determining acceptable forms of discipline are difficult discussions to navigate. How we raise our children is a very personal matter. Still, conversations about the topic are important to make sure we are protecting our children. To that end, I wanted to share with you a poignant piece on spanking that was written by a dear friend (and Bethany board member), Jonathan Merritt, about a cherished memory he holds of his father on this sensitive subject. FULL POST
Posted 10/1/14 at 1:34 PM | Bill Blacquiere
Seventeen years ago, a frightened Chinese woman waded into a muddy rice field to give birth to the child she knew she could not keep. Later that day, under cover of darkness, she tearfully left her baby in a “drop zone,” a vacant lot unofficially provided for women who did not want to get caught violating China’s strict “one child per family” law. Orphanage workers who regularly check these sites found this newborn and added her to their crowded facility.
Three months later, a wonderful Christian couple from Chicago flew to China and adopted this child they describe as a “moldy, hungry, tired” little girl. They gave her a name—Laura—and more important, a loving family.
Laura-Valentine is currently a freshman in College at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. She is a recording artist, activist, speaker, and CEO of Laura-Valentine Ministries. A mission trip to a Ugandan orphanage added another title to her growing resume: advocate for the abandoned child. FULL POST
Posted 9/25/14 at 7:50 PM | Bill Blacquiere
Bethany's N.O.W. (No One Without) campaign continues to highlight children in the foster care system who are available and waiting for adoption. Older children in particular are at risk. They can age out of foster care without a family of their own to support and guide them, making them especially vulnerable to addiction, incarceration, and early parenthood. Siblings Shantaina and Antonio are two such older children waiting for the love of a family.
Shantaina (11) enjoys accessorizing and coordinating outfits. Her favorite color is pink and she likes to bake. She is creative and imaginative, enjoys make-believe, and likes to draw and color pictures as gifts. She also enjoys pop and R&B music. Shantaina has overcome a difficult past and is learning how to feel safe and secure around others. She is generous with her personal belongings, is forming positive coping mechanisms, and is developing appropriate ways to express her emotions. She is learning how to establish a steady and consistent daily routine and responds especially well when receiving individualized attention. FULL POST
Posted 9/23/14 at 7:51 AM | Bill Blacquiere
Contributed by Getenet Timmermans
I was born in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. I am the third of four children in my family, with two older sisters and a younger brother. I was 6 years old when my father died, and my mother died three years later. Although we had extended family nearby, they could not provide the food, clothing, schooling, and other material things we needed. My aunt found an orphanage that could help, and they allowed us to stay together as a family. My sister, who was only 14 then, became like a mother to us—cooking, doing laundry, and caring for us.
I made many friends in the years we lived at the orphanage. We’d hang out together and play soccer after school. But every so often, one of my friends would get adopted and leave, usually moving to the United States. Although I was happy for them, it was sad to say goodbye. We all hoped for a chance to be adopted, but several years went by and I didn’t have that chance. I wondered what America was like. I thought it was a country of wealthy white people who were good at soccer. I wanted to go there more than anything. FULL POST
Posted 9/18/14 at 1:20 PM | Bill Blacquiere
After six years, the United States is lifting a ban on adoptions from Vietnam, allowing vulnerable children from the country to be adopted by loving, forever families. Adoption of Vietnamese children was prohibited by the United States in 2008, following allegations that babies were being sold in Vietnam. I strongly supported Washington’s decision then to prohibit adoptions from Vietnam until that country’s government took the necessary steps to protect its waiting children. That said, I’m pleased that our government is confident Vietnam has taken such steps and that the country’s vulnerable children now have a greater chance for placement with couples who will provide the love and nurturing they need.
In 2013, Vietnam reported 236,224 orphans in the country.1 They currently have no foster care system, and domestic adoptions are rare. Poverty is widespread in Vietnam, and there is sometimes a belief that an orphanage can better provide for children than impoverished parents.
Vietnam has put in place a new legal framework under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, and two organizations have been approved to operate in the country—Dillon International, Inc., and Holt International. Initially, perspective adoptive parents will be able to adopt only children who are older than five, have special placement needs, or have siblings. FULL POST
Posted 9/16/14 at 6:29 PM | Bill Blacquiere
What happens to the children who age out of foster care? Last year, approximately 23,000 children who were in foster care turned 18 and left without a family or support system. Annually, nearly 40 percent of those who age out end up homeless, and only 48 percent find employment. Young women are especially vulnerable, often turning to prostitution, which is why I have such high regard for Magdalene, an organization in Nashville that has a 72 percent success rate in helping such women turn their lives around.
Magdalene provides a two-year intensive program for women who are victims of prostitution, trafficking, and drug addiction. It was founded in 1996 by Becca Stephens, an Episcopal priest who placed five women in a donated house and then engaged them in a recovery program based on 24 spiritual principles. Today, Magdalene serves 25 women and operates without any state or federal aid. Part of their support comes from a social enterprise, Thistle Farms, which hires “graduates” of Magdalene to manufacture health and beauty products. FULL POST