Every Child
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Bethany Christian Services

“Bethany Christian Services is a recognized global leader as a nonprofit adoption and child welfare agency working with hurting families and finding children the sustainable support and essential love they need.”

Posted 11/4/15 at 9:22 AM | Bethany Christian Services

Welcome to our Family: Preparing Your Children for a Sibling

The following originally appeared in Lifelines, Bethany Christian Services' quarterly magazine.

Many adoption and foster care resources focus on the relationship and adjustment between the parents and the new child coming into the home. But parents often have questions and fears about how their other children will adjust to a new child in the family.

As they prepare to increase their families, adoptive and foster parents share similar concerns for their children that biological parents do when their only child is about to become a big brother or sister. They worry that they may, on some level, unconsciously fail to meet their children’s emotional needs or that their children will feel pushed aside for their new sibling.

Following is insight from Bethany Christian Services on how you can prepare your children to welcome a new sibling, whether by adoption or through foster care. FULL POST

Posted 11/2/15 at 10:05 AM | Bethany Christian Services

Attaching Through Love, Hugs, and Play

The following was written by Deborah Gray, Child and Family Therapist, National Speaker and Author, and originally appeared in Lifelines, Bethany Christian Services' quarterly magazine.

What are your favorite moments of parenting?

Kicking the soccer ball together?

Reading books together? A snuggle at bedtime?

These are all part of the enjoyment of having a secure attachment with your child.

They are the day-to-day expressions of love. Our children cuddle. They save their special surprises for us, show delight at being with us, and feel safe and valued by us. You, their parents, are kind, strong, and sensitive. You set and enforce limits in a reasonable manner. Frustration is low—enjoyment high. Parenting images like this are parenting at its best.

Gazing at each other, playing together, skin-to-skin contact, feeding times, and meeting needs in a sensitive way are ways to “bond.” Over the course of months, as parents and children repeat these activities many times, they become exclusively bonded to each other. We refer to these exclusive and intimate bonds as “attachments.” When your children believe that you will keep them safe, meet their needs, and that you are sensitive to their needs, the type of attachment that forms between you and your child is known as a secure attachment. FULL POST

Posted 10/30/15 at 3:09 PM | Bethany Christian Services

National Adoption Month Brings Hope

As we celebrate National Adoption Month (November) once again, I am filled with tremendous hope. We continue to make progress for vulnerable children around the world who are waiting to know the love of a forever family. Yes, there are still far too many orphans and orphanages; but now, more than ever, we are seeing governments implementing or exploring in-country foster care programs. Children who have experienced the unspeakable tragedy of losing both parents are increasingly able to stay in their home countries, with loving families.

While hope is powerful, and there is a lot to be optimistic about—especially in the long-term—we must guard against complacency. With more than 144 million children classified as orphans, we are still in the midst of a global orphan crisis. We must continue to work collectively—as nations, as communities, as families, as humans—striving toward a world where every child has a loving family.

For the past several years, Bethany Christian Services has been working closely with a number of developing countries, including Haiti and Ethiopia, to create foster care systems. Given our 70 years of experience in providing essential support to children and families in crisis, Bethany was approached by government agencies within these countries to offer training and demonstrate best practices.
Bethany is now engaged in more than 15 countries developing in-country foster care and foster-to-adopt programs. For more information on these efforts, including our work with organizations such as Empty the Orphanage in Zimbabwe, I would encourage you to read and listen to this Mission Network News piece featuring Ruth Olsson of Bethany Global Consulting. FULL POST

Posted 10/28/15 at 5:58 PM | Bethany Christian Services

Podcast: Dan Bremnes, Christian Musician

Dan Bremnes began writing music at 16 with ambitions to become a rock star. But a mission trip with Youth With a Mission changed the course of his life, and Dan began to see how God could use music—and perhaps also Dan’s talent to write music—to be a light in the dark and to draw others to Himself. Today, Dan is a recording artist in Nashville. He has performed with Steven Curtis Chapman, Chris Tomlin, Tenth Avenue North, and others.

Like all of us, Dan has experienced life’s beauty and its sorrows, including a season of life when he experienced both the sudden loss of his mother and the birth of his son. His song “In His Hands” explores the way God longs to walk with us and hold us in His arms “through the heartache and in the joy.”

“I pray that the music I write brings people closer to God,” he said, “and that perhaps my song can become their song that can bring them through their own season.”

Brian DeVos, Bethany’s senior vice president of child and family services, spoke with Dan Bremnes about his music and ministry. Listen here. FULL POST

Posted 10/26/15 at 4:13 PM | Bethany Christian Services

A Cup of Water in Jesus' Name

The following was written by Kris Faasse, senior vice president of clinical operations for Bethany Christian Services, and originally appeared in Lifelines, the organization's quarterly magazine.

Maggie was 17, pregnant, and had been kicked out of her family’s home. A friend let her “crash” on the sofa, but she needed a more permanent living arrangement as well as prenatal care and basic necessities. Not only was she holding her jeans together with safety pins, she didn’t even have a winter coat that would fit around her expanding figure. Maggie spent all her energy figuring out how to live; she had nothing left over to think about what life would be like after her baby was born.

It is common for women facing unplanned pregnancies to experience day-to-day challenges that consume all of their energy and resources. Many need housing, prenatal care, and material resources for themselves and their children. Seeking these out on their own can be stressful. Our goal at Bethany Christian Services is to walk alongside these women, offering support and care as well as resources and information. FULL POST

Posted 10/23/15 at 9:51 AM | Bethany Christian Services

Family Strengths Assessment - Building a Network of Support

Building a support network is not about talking to strangers. A comprehensive support network, or “safety net,” should include knowing which individuals and agencies help you make plans and develop coping strategies when you’re in a tough parenting situation and need a break.

The Coalition for Children, Youth, and Families in Wisconsin created the following family strengths assessment that will help you consider the strength of your resource network and how prepared you really are.

Assessment

Name the people you can call for occasional emergency child care when you need a break.
(2 points for each)
______________

List people you can call any hour of the day or night just to talk and “debrief” from your woes.
(3 points for each)
______________

List people you can call at reasonable daytime hours to talk and “debrief” from the stresses of life.
(2 points for each)
______________

List the names of therapists,medical providers, and social workers who personally return your calls quickly and take time to discuss difficulties.
(3 points for each)
______________ FULL POST

Posted 9/22/15 at 9:08 AM | Bethany Christian Services

Podcast: Syrian Refugee Crisis

It’s hard to imagine persecution and violence so encompassing, and so near, that you’d have to leave your country on foot to escape it. What would it be like to put your family on a boat, realizing you all could die, but knowing that you’ll be safer than staying in your home, where you almost certainly will. We’ve seen the news reports of the war and unrest in Syria, and we’ve seen images of the Syrian refugees flooding Eastern Europe by the millions.

The crisis seems far away; but when you see images of weary and fearful families, trying to stay together in the midst of the chaos, it seems a lot closer to home. Individuals, churches, organizations, and governments around the world are asking, “How can we help?”

Will Haney, with Church World Services, and Kristine Van Noord, with Bethany Christian Services, have been working to respond at the local, organizational, and national levels. Both have been deeply engaged for many years in issues related to refugees, and they participated in a podcast interview with Dona Abbott, Bethany’s director of refugee and immigrant services. Listen here. FULL POST

Posted 9/18/15 at 10:06 AM | Bethany Christian Services

As Syrian Refugees Cry Out for Assistance, We Must Follow Our Great-Grandparents’ Lead

The Syrian refugee crisis has reached a critical point. We are currently amidst the worst refugee crisis since World War II and much help is needed outside of the immediate escape routes via the Middle East and Europe. Over 4 million refugees have fled from Syria into Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, but those countries are not sufficiently equipped or large enough to provide safety and shelter to all those who need it. Additionally, as countries across Europe discuss how they are going to step up to assist those in dire need, it’s our time as Americans to open our hearts once again to those who have been displaced due to violence and persecution.

It’s a gross understatement to say that refugees from Syria are devastated by what has become of their beloved country – thus far, more than 8 million have fled their country because of the fighting. Many that have risked their lives and managed to escape still have family living in Syria and understandably are frightened for their safety and well-being.

While the United States has opened its arms to refugees in the past, less than 1,500 refugees have found solace within our country this year, compared to the hundreds of thousands seeking refuge in countries surrounding Syria. Many compassionate Americans are petitioning to urge the United States to demonstrate leadership during this global crisis by allowing 100,000 Syrian refugees to resettle within our borders. As the president and CEO of Bethany Christian Services, an organization committed to bringing and keeping families together, I support this call to action and hope that you will join these efforts as well. Bethany’s refugee resettlement program partners with local churches, volunteers, and other support organizations to ensure that all refugees have a smooth transition to their new home. FULL POST

Posted 9/16/15 at 4:30 PM | Bethany Christian Services

Podcast: Gene Balloun, champion for adoption

“Find something you love to do,” the saying goes, “and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

A career litigator with the Kansas City law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon, Gene Balloun loves the work he does so much that he does some of it for free. Balloun has been providing pro bono legal representation for families adopting children through the Kansas foster care system for nearly 30 years. His efforts have helped families provide permanent, adoptive homes for more than 1,000 children.

Although the state pays the attorney fees for these cases, Balloun has directed that money to a scholarship fund to help children formerly in foster care attend college or pursue vocational training. To date, this fund has distributed more than 500 scholarships totaling more than $700,000. By awarding these funds, Balloun said he wants to “give every child a chance to be everything they can be.”

For Balloun, this mission is as personal as it is professional. He and his wife, Sheila, have fostered 29 children and adopted two.

Balloun shared his story with Brian DeVos, Bethany’s senior vice president of child and family services. Learn more about how you can become a foster parent or be the forever family a teen in foster care has been waiting for at bethany.org. Listen here. FULL POST

Posted 9/8/15 at 4:19 PM | Bethany Christian Services

Podcast: Kendall Coffman, Empty the Orphanage

“A national pastor from Zimbabwe came to our church and spoke about difficulties in his country, including the plight of orphans there. He said, ‘In my country, children are taking care of children.’ That resonated with my wife and me, and we sat there with heavy hearts. What do we do with this information?”

Today, Kendall Coffman is the executive director of Empty the Orphanage, a nonprofit organization in Bloomington, Illinois, that is committed not just to empty an orphanage but to fill families with children who need loving homes.

“God created families,” he said. “That’s where kids are nurtured.”

Kendall and a small team spent a week at an African orphanage that had fallen on hard times. Its physical, emotional, and spiritual needs were great. He recalled a pivotal encounter just as his team was preparing to leave.

“A boy came over to our car,” he said. “I’d noticed a bit of detachment all week from the kids, but this boy stepped right into the car and hugged me like a son and held on. Eventually he stepped away, and I closed the door. I was with three other men, and as we pulled away, there wasn’t a dry eye in the car. I was thinking, ‘I get to go home to a family, to a home and loving relationships. That boy will walk back into that orphanage.’ That day I made a commitment—I would not leave those kids.” FULL POST

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