Posted 6/13/13 at 10:19 AM | Bill Blacquiere |
As many of you may recall, Russia banned adoptions to the United States earlier this year. At the time the ban was being considered, there was a tremendous amount of media coverage surrounding the potential impact to Russian children waiting for placement to loving families and to U.S. families in the process of adopting from Russia. Unfortunately, since the ban became official on January 1st, little progress has been made in convincing Russia to ease the ban. As a result, hundreds of children and families are still in limbo.
According to the U.S. Department of Child Services, hundreds of families in the U.S. were at some point in the adoption process when the ban occurred. Tragically, there has been no movement for these families since January 1 and it doesn’t appear that there will be any resolution to this matter in the near future. Sadly, the options for those who have already started the adoption process in Russia is bleak. These families must decide whether they should continue to hold out hope that Russia will have a change of heart so they can continue the adoption process, or whether they should begin looking at other alternatives, such as adopting domestically or through another country. FULL POST
Posted 6/11/13 at 8:02 PM | Bill Blacquiere
How does adopting a child become associated with “buying” a child? It happens like this: an agency will go into a poor country and give money to orphanages with the expectation that they will be given the opportunity to place those orphans into adoptive families. When all of the children are placed, the orphanage director may feel the need to “find” more children to continue to receive funds. This is unethical and very sad, and one of the many reasons I am grateful for the work of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services.
Led by president and CEO, Tom DiFilipo, the Joint Council is a nonprofit organization devoted entirely to helping orphaned and vulnerable children live in safe and permanent families. They work in 52 countries, including the United States, partnering with agencies like the one I lead, Bethany Christian Services. While Tom’s organization provides aid directly to children and families, their greatest contribution is advocating with governments on behalf of children, so that adoption and other services aimed to help children are conducted ethically.
Interestingly, one of the Joint Council’s newest initiatives is aimed at the U.S. government, trying to make our foreign aid represent the value Americans place on family. I spoke with Tom recently about this as well as other crucial issues facing vulnerable children and families at home and abroad and I think you’ll agree with me that he’s a real ally for those of us who believe every child deserves a loving, caring family. To hear our conversation and learn more, click here.
Posted 6/7/13 at 9:38 AM | Bill Blacquiere
As One Family Ambassadors, Tarik Glenn, a former professional football player with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, and Mark Tabb, New York Times best-selling author, traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on an exciting journey of hope and opportunity to change the lives of children and families.
Tarik and Mark introduce Bethany’s One Family sponsorship model as “an opportunity─empowering them to succeed with dignity. Not only are families kept together, but children grow up with a future and hope.”
Watch their video blog and see how you can help complete the picture.
Posted 6/4/13 at 2:45 PM | Bill Blacquiere
Bethany’s director of adoption recently traveled to meet with our partners in China. The following is part of a piece she wrote upon her return. I was moved by the scene she describes as I have also witnessed similar scenarios in my travels to China.
Kids are lined up on the stage in rows—smaller in front, taller in back, and those in wheelchairs in the middle. They are all different ages. The music starts and they begin to sway and move. A few sing softly along with the recorded music. Then the music swells and all of the kids burst into song . . . a loud, boisterous song. One little guy catches my eye. He literally throws his head back and sings with all his might with such joy on his face.
This could have taken place in any church or school in America where kids are practicing for a spring concert. But it was taking place in an orphanage in China, and these kids were all orphans who are waiting for a forever family.
Meeting with many of the kids later in the afternoon, it was heartbreaking to hear so many say that they want to be adopted and want a family. It's heartbreaking because there aren't enough families who see themselves becoming parents through adoption to a child with disabilities. But there are some who adopt kids with Down syndrome, or cerebral palsy, or a hearing impairment. Funny thing is, they often talk about being told how lucky their kids are when, truth be told, they are the ones who feel that their lives have been blessed beyond measure. Not without difficulties, but blessed. FULL POST
Posted 5/30/13 at 3:16 PM | Bill Blacquiere
Across North America this month, millions of high-school seniors will walk across a platform, receive their hard-earned diplomas, and begin their journey as adults, supported by family and friends. But some of those seniors—roughly 25,000 annually—venture into the real world without the love and guidance of a family. They have “aged out” of the foster care system, underscoring the challenges of adopting the older child.
The average age of the 400,000 children in foster care in the United States is nine years old, and these older children often bring the effects of abuse and neglect into their new foster families. But being part of a family is so much better for these children than languishing in institutions. Families provide guidance in relationships, education, and higher-level ethical qualities they need in life. Families are central to the development of self-esteem. Everyone needs to be part of a story.
While I am grateful for all families who step up and open their homes to a foster child, families who welcome the older child are the real heroes of the foster care system. They are today’s confirmation that “God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6 NIV). They know that the road ahead for them might be a little rocky, but they also recognize that they may be that child’s only hope for a bright and productive future. FULL POST
Posted 5/28/13 at 12:54 PM | Bill Blacquiere |
One of the things I love most about my job is being able to introduce others to ways they can help children and families. A few years ago Bethany learned about an organization dedicated to training young leaders and felt they would be an excellent partner to help us share the good news of adoption and family care. Catalyst, based in Atlanta, conducts three major annual conferences and other events around the country to prepare the next generation of Christian leaders—pastors and leaders of faith-based organizations, but also young leaders in the business world. To date more than 100,000 young leaders have participated in their major conferences.
As I’ve become more familiar with Catalyst, I’ve appreciated their ongoing support of adoption. As their executive director, Brad Lomenick told me, it’s in their DNA. “We try to use our platform to encourage all the people who come to our events to view adoption as a way for the church to show up and become united around a noble cause,” he explained. “We love Bethany because of their leadership on this issue.” FULL POST
Posted 5/24/13 at 9:15 AM | Bill Blacquiere
Infertility is an issue that many couples face. It can be very painful, lonely, and isolating. Following is a perspective from one couple that has confronted this issue.
For a free infertility newsletter through our Stepping Stones ministry, visit step.bethany.org.
My husband and I are Christians. We were baptized, we read our Bible, we attend church on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings, we have been involved in home fellowships and Bible studies, we pray—but as the years dragged on [with our infertility diagnosis], we honestly both started to doubt the promises of God’s Word.
The real root of our problem was that we were being religious hypocrites like the Pharisees in Matthew 15. We were drawing near to God with our mouths, honoring Him with our lips but our hearts were far from Him and our worship was in vain (Matthew 15:7-9). And very similar to Jesus’ parable about the Pharisees being “blind leaders of the blind” (Matthew 15:14), in our own home, my husband and I were like the blind leading the blind and before long we found ourselves in a ditch. We needed the spiritual blindness of our hearts to be healed. FULL POST
Posted 5/21/13 at 10:22 AM | Bill Blacquiere |
Recent numbers from UNICEF report there are 151 million orphans worldwide. This figure represents not only children who have lost both parents, but also those who have lost a father or mother. Of the 151 million children classified as orphans, 17.9 million have lost both parents.
People will often ask if we are making progress in the orphan crisis. This is a difficult question to answer given the large number of orphans and the lack of data. Let me address this question by sharing some of my personal experience and thinking of what has transpired in the last 5-10 years.
As of 2009, UNICEF reported 163 million orphans worldwide. In 2011 that number dropped to 153 million, and today UNICEF is reporting 151 million orphans worldwide. In the United States, at one time there were 130,000-150,000 children waiting for an adoptive home. This number has now been reported to be 104,000 and continued progress is being made to reduce the number of children in foster care who are waiting for an adoptive family.
Asia and Africa are the two geographic locations with the most daunting numbers. However, we rejoice in the victories we see beginning to grow there. For example, the number of children living in orphanages in China is declining as a result of foster care and increasing in-country adoption. Bethany has been involved in this activity in China and continues to work with the Chinese government to reduce the number of orphans living in institutions. FULL POST
Posted 5/16/13 at 11:00 AM | Bill Blacquiere
Imagine yourself as a single mom with three young children. Your doctor discovers a health issue that requires surgery and a hospital stay. Your parents live in another state and both work. You have a few friends, but none close enough that you’d consider asking them to take care of your children while you’re in the hospital. As the date approaches for your surgery, you become desperate. Who’s going to watch your children?
That’s what Stephanie wondered, until she heard about Safe Families for ChildrenTM (SFFC). Through this national movement, Stephanie’s three children were taken in by a wonderful Christian couple in her city. A month after her surgery, Stephanie and her children were back together again.
“If it wasn’t for Safe Families [for Children], I don’t know what I would have done,” Stephanie told a local reporter. “I think the State would have taken my children.”
Safe Families for Children is a national movement of compassion that gives hope to families in crisis. Safe, loving homes are provided where parents seek to restore stability in their lives. Safe Families for Children has partnered with churches, local community agencies, and volunteer families, as well as government organizations in more than a dozen states. FULL POST
Posted 5/15/13 at 8:50 AM | Bill Blacquiere
While Bethany Christian Services finds families here in the United States for orphaned children from Africa, the organization’s primary focus has shifted over the past several years to supporting local governments in Africa by providing best practices and training to help develop in-country social services to protect families and children. Our efforts include working in Ethiopia and other African countries to introduce foster-to-adopt programs—uniting orphaned children with couples willing to open their homes to provide care for these vulnerable children. Our hope is that after caring for these children that the couple will decide to make them a permanent part of their family through adoption. Thus far, progress across the continent is better than we could have imagined.
As I’m sure you are aware, the number of orphans in Africa is only one of the continent’s many challenges. Poor sanitation coverage and access to safe drinking water are also serious issues impacting the lives of so many—specifically sub-Saharan Africa where 70% of people do not have access to proper sanitation coverage and 61% lack clean water. To make clean water more accessible, organizations such as Blood:Water Mission work diligently to provide people in remote regions with the tools necessary to create new water sources or improve existing sources. FULL POST