Every Child

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Posted 5/17/12 at 3:15 PM | Bethany Christian Services

Safe Families

For this week’s blog post, I’ve asked Robin Chamberlain, who serves as the National Director for Bethany’s Safe Families for Children TM (SFFC) ministry, to share details regarding a recent birthday party she and her staff attended to demonstrate the impact the SFFC ministry can have on families…an impact that begins when a family is facing a crisis, but one that can continue long after the crisis has passed. This is the kind of impact that can strengthen families and change lives.

SFFCis a national movement of compassion that gives hope to families in crisis. Safe, loving homes are provided where parents may voluntarily have their children cared for while parents seek to restore stability in their lives. SFFC’s dedication to family support, stabilization, and child abuse prevention is driven by responsibility for the well-being of children in the communities it serves. Founded in 2002, SFFC has partnered with churches, local community agencies, and volunteer families, as well as government organizations in more than 20 states to provide essential extended-family relationships to nearly 3,000 children and families annually. FULL POST

Posted 5/10/12 at 9:11 AM | Bethany Christian Services

Celebrating Birthmothers

This Saturday is Birthmother’s Day, a day set aside specifically to honor and celebrate those courageous moms who made the difficult and self-sacrificing choice to place their child for adoption.

Birthmother’s Day was created more than 20 years ago by a group of birthmothers in Seattle who realized that they didn’t need to be alone and that there was tremendous value in sharing their stories with others. In honor of birthmothers everywhere and to educate those who may have never heard of Birthmother’s Day, I wanted to share with you one birthmother’s amazing story.

The following, written by Karla Tucker, contains numerous praise for Bethany. Please know that my point in sharing this letter is not to highlight such praise, but to demonstrate how birthmothers everywhere need support, especially as Mother’s Day approaches. I hope you are as moved by her story as I was. If you know a birthmother, or someone who does, please consider sharing this Birthmother’s day ecard to show your appreciation for her.

As written by Karla Tucker: FULL POST

Posted 5/3/12 at 10:02 AM | Bethany Christian Services

Fostering Safe Families

As you may be aware, May is National Foster Care Month. According to the most recent report released by AFCARS (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System), there are more than 400,000 children in foster care across the United States. While that’s a sobering statistic, there is reason to be encouraged as the number of children in domestic foster care continues to decline – down more than eight percent from 2008, and nearly 30 percent from 1999, when there were nearly 570,000 foster children.

One primary reason for that decrease is the continued growth of proactive social service programs such as Safe Families for Children, a program committed to keeping kids out of the foster care system, preventing child abuse, supporting pregnant and parenting teens, and strengthening families. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Safe Families, it truly is an amazing initiative, providing temporary care for children whose parents are experiencing personal difficulties – whether its homelessness, unemployment, substance dependency, etc. – so that they can work through their troubles without having to place their children in foster care. FULL POST

Posted 4/26/12 at 9:03 AM | Bethany Christian Services

A Summit for Orphans

On May 3rd and 4th, 1,500 people from 46 states and seven countries will gather at the Orphan Alliance Summit in Lake Forest California to continue their commitment to the millions of children around the world who go to bed each night without knowing the love of a forever family.

This will mark the eighth year of the Summit, bringing together Christian leaders and organizations from near and far under the umbrella of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, all with the same goal in mind – motivate and unify the body of Christ to live out God’s mandate to care for the orphan.

I’ve had the good fortune of participating in every summit since its inception in 2004, when 30 Christian leaders and more than 20 adoption agencies - including Bethany Christian Services – orphan care organizations and Christian media outlets came together in one place for the first time. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget…especially given how far the Summit has come since then. When we left that first Summit, after countless hours of intense discussion and planning, one thing was abundantly clear to every participant…God was at work. On the eve of the 2012 Summit, I’m happy to say that tremendous progress has been made since 2004, but we still have substantial work to do in order to help the millions of vulnerable children throughout the world. FULL POST

Posted 4/23/12 at 1:19 PM | Bethany Christian Services

Fostering Hope in Ghana

“I know what it’s like to be hungry and to have nothing. I had to work to pay for my own school fees, and I could only afford one meal a day. No breakfast, no lunch, just dinner. Along the way, people would help me the best they could, so I promised God that if I ever made it out of poverty I would do my best to help children the way others helped me.”

These are the words of Kojo Forson, Bethany’s country director in Ghana, where, according to UNICEF, more than one million orphans currently wait for the love of a family. Readers of this blog already know that the primary objective of these posts is to demonstrate how we are all One Family when it comes to preserving families and caring for the world’s more than 150 million orphans. One of the keys to combating the global orphan crisis we are facing is to create sustainable foster care systems in developing countries, such as the one introduced in Ghana in October 2011, after local government officials visited Ethiopia to witness the positive work being done there.

One of the crucial components to building a successful foster care system is finding local families willing to open their homes to waiting children. Families like the Forsons, who, along with raising four biological children, have taken in 12 foster children. Two of the Forsons’ foster kids, Becky and Stephen, recently shared their story with us. Following are brief excerpts to better illustrate the hopelessness that many youngsters in Ghana face and how the love of a single family can mean the difference between hope and despair. FULL POST

Posted 4/11/12 at 10:02 AM | Bethany Christian Services

A Shift in China

In recent years, the work we have been doing in China has continued to change and grow. Working alongside Chinese welfare agencies, we are making substantial improvements and progress together. In the earlier part of my career, China’s One Child Policy had only just been implemented and it has experienced several iterations since then. Quickly, an unintended consequence of the policy started to emerge – children entering orphan care, primarily girls, were being “placed” there (left by families) simply because they were not male.  Many of these girls have been adopted through international adoption in countries including the US. However, the “exiting” of young women in this way has resulted in some social consequences including skewed gender ratios among the present day 20-somethings of China. To counteract the trend of girls entering orphan care, Beijing developed a series of campaigns designed to reconstruct the value of girls as a family’s only child. As a result of this effort and significant improvement in the quality of life for many families in China, it has become increasingly acceptable to have a daughter as an only child. While the success of this movement was initially experienced in more cosmopolitan (and affluent) areas like Beijing and Shanghai, there is evidence that this social change is also penetrating into China’s more rural provinces. This is one of the reasons for increasingly long adoption waits for families who are adopting younger girls.  FULL POST

Posted 4/5/12 at 5:15 PM | Bethany Christian Services

Now "Open"

Just in case you missed it, I wanted to bring to your attention a recent and exceptionally thorough report by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, which cast a bright spotlight on an interesting growth trend related to adoption – birthparents’ involvement in meeting and “selecting” prospective adoptive parents  for their child [also featured in the Associated Press .] As someone who has dedicated many years to providing critical social service support to children and families, I am thrilled by the continued growth of the “open” adoption movement.

Making an adoption plan has never been an easy decision for birthparents – for most the decision is made after countless hours of heart-wrenching introspection, reflection, and consideration for ultimately what they believe will be best for the child – but the continuous shift to open adoption gives birthparents some peace of mind in knowing that they can remain a part of their child’s life, whether it’s through photos, letters/emails or occasional visits with the adoptive family.  In an open adoption, children grow up knowing that they are loved by all of their family members: the parents who adopted them and the parents who gave them life. Additionally, open adoption gives adoptive parents the best opportunity to answer their children’s questions most effectively and to share their children’s stories. FULL POST

Posted 3/29/12 at 8:04 AM | Bethany Christian Services

One Family

In recent years, I have travelled to Ethiopia several times to evaluate the situation and the programs we have running there. About 150,000 orphans and vulnerable children live on the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  About 80 percent of families in the city live in crowded, dirty slums. Children and families are extremely vulnerable due to famine, drought, conflict, and AIDS. This has left Ethiopia with one of the highest orphan populations - over five million - in the world.

We believe that we are one family under a single creator God and that when a child suffers anywhere in the world, we all suffer. A friend, Mike Hammond, just travelled to Ethiopia as part of the Bethany One Family Campaign so he could relay the challenges facing families in Addis Ababa to those living in East Tennessee – check out this short video about a family he met.  FULL POST

Posted 3/22/12 at 10:07 AM | Bethany Christian Services

Options

Recent reports indicate that nearly 750,000 teens become pregnant each year. Although that number has declined, there is a great need to educate women with unexpected pregnancies on their pregnancy options. Today, women have the choice of an open adoption, where they choose the adoptive parents for their child. An open adoption can mean exchanging photos, letters and e-mails or it could mean the birthmother may visit on occasion. We’ve seen wonderful relationships develop with birthparents and adoptive parents.  

In 2009, Bethany had two birthparents featured on MTV’s 16 & Pregnant: Catelynn and Tyler. They continue to be on television as one of the couples on “Teen Mom,” the spin-off of “16 & Pregnant.” I give credit to MTV for including Catelynn on Teen Mom. The show recognizes Catelynn and Tyler as parents and shows their life after they placed their child for adoption. Both shows have conveyed the importance of a pregnancy counselor and demonstrated how she helped Catelynn and Tyler deal with the grief and loss of placing her child.

During a recent visit with the daughter of one of Bethany’s founders, she shared with me that it was her mother’s wish (years ago) that an adoption would be featured on a television show. Now, so many years later, it has! The reality shows on MTV have been widely successful, and as a result, instrumental in educating a national audience about adoption. Catelynn and Tyler have genuinely shared their experiences from the stages of grief to the joy and pride knowing they made the right decision for their daughter. They feel called to educate teens about their options, especially adoption. FULL POST

Posted 3/15/12 at 5:13 PM | Bethany Christian Services

Family Preservation

Welcome to the initial “Every Child” blog post. The primary focus of our blog will be to raise awareness for the terrible circumstances and dilemmas facing millions of children around the globe and to discuss what each of us can do to make a difference in the lives of children and families in crisis. In the future, our blog posts will focus on specific issues and solutions to help those in desperate need. Given that, we thought it would be prudent to share a little information about ourselves and our mission.  

At Bethany, we are about children in families. I have been in social work for nearly 40 years, and in my time as President and CEO of Bethany Christian Services, one of my greatest joys is being able to meet a family or a child that we have been able to keep or bring together through the work we do.

In a trip to Ethiopia last year, I had the privilege of meeting a mother and her five children. One of her children has Down syndrome, and she was in danger of losing some or all of her children due to poverty. Through our skills education and microfinance efforts, she was able to keep her family together and create a business that has now empowered her to sustain her family. See her story here: http://vimeo.com/27495933. FULL POST

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