William J. Blacquiere is President of Bethany Christian Services
Posted 10/29/14 at 1:20 PM | Bill Blacquiere
Kris Faasse is Vice President of Clinical Services for Bethany Christian Services, a prominent leader in social services around the globe.
Theories abound—America’s teen birth rate has been in significant decline for the past five years. According to the research firm Demographic Intelligence, the number of babies born to teen moms each year dropped by 38.4 percent between 2007 and 2013. And no one knows for sure why. Experts point to everything from greater access to effective contraception, to increased efforts in sex education, to popular television programs such as MTV’s 16 and Pregnant. One theory even suggests that lower levels of lead have contributed to the decline.
Regardless of the reasons, I am encouraged by the fact that fewer teenagers are becoming parents. A pregnant 15-year-old faces the same decisions any other woman faces with an unplanned pregnancy, but without the same level of emotional development. Anecdotally and from research, we know that teens are less likely to choose adoption when faced with an unplanned pregnancy than older women, who are often also parenting other children. The statistics are sobering—teens who parent are less likely to complete their high school education, more likely to have difficulty finding employment, and more likely to live in poverty. They can successfully parent but face significant challenges. A teen who does not have the responsibility of caring for a child is statistically more likely to achieve their goals. FULL POST
Posted 10/23/14 at 10:35 AM | Bill Blacquiere
How does an independent, non-profit community organization less than 30 years old have 450 volunteers and hundreds more waiting for an opening to volunteer? Perhaps it is the single mission such as this:
to show love.
What started out as a humble beginning 1987 has now become an extensive ministry in Hong Kong with four key services and affiliate programs in mainland China, India and Cambodia. Two couples, expatriates of North America, co-founded Mother’s Choice in response to rising crisis pregnancies in Hong Kong. Their desire was to provide a safe and loving place for young girls facing crisis pregnancy, by providing much-need counseling services and a hostel. Along with their Child Care Home for babies and special needs children awaiting a forever family, they also provide counseling to young girls facing crisis pregnancy, foster care services to children who require a temporary home, and local and inter-country adoption services. FULL POST
Posted 10/22/14 at 3:41 PM | Bill Blacquiere
Twenty years ago, a boy in Romania was born without arms. Pressured by villagers who believed the infant was cursed, his parents placed him in an orphanage where he languished for 18 months. After an American couple saw George’s photo in a Bethany publication, they visited the orphanage, hoping to adopt him. When they saw George, their hearts went out to him—a doctor’s note at the end of George’s bed said: “There is no hope for this child. He is just going to die.”
Sharon and Mike Dennehy adopted George and said that nothing could keep him from being what God created him to be. But by the time he was in middle school, Sharon and Mike noticed George’s ear for music and provided the opportunity for George to learn how to play several instruments.
Today George travels to schools and churches around the country sharing his inspirational story. And playing the cello. Yes, you read that right. The boy with no arms plays the cello. Every adoption story is a retelling of the gospel, and as you listen to my conversation with George here—you’ll know what I mean. FULL POST
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