Friday, December 4, 2009

Blindside



Watch the video of Steven Curtis Chapman sharing on the inspirational new movie, The Blind Side. The film is based on the incredible true story of Michael Oher, a teenager whose life is changed by adoption as he finds himself in a family that truly believes in him for the first time. Watching this story unfold on the silver screen with friends and family is a great way to enter into conversation about the miracle of adoption. The Blind Side released on November 20 to acclaim from audiences across the country.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Link to Orphan Sunday Live Event!

In celebration of November as National Adoption Awareness Month, Show Hope and Steven Curtis Chapman, along with Focus on the Family and FamilyLife, helped to lead the charge this past Sunday, November 8 – also known as "Orphan Sunday" – for a live event in Nashville with one goal: raising awareness of the more than 140 million orphans worldwide. The free event was simulcast through satellite and Moody Radio Network and through a webcast at OrphanSunday.org and is now available online at GospelMusicChannel.com.

Check it out!

December Ministry Social

Open Hearts, Open Homes Ministry is inviting your family

to join us for food and fellowship!

December 12, 2009

5-7pm

Please bring: An appetizer or dessert to share!

Where: Ken and Amy Park's home

RSVP: at levisix@verizon.net and if you need directions

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Great Quote

This is a very small part of an interview that you can find on: http://chrisitianallianceblog.org/


Jedd Medefind: So, last question–personal one: Any advice for a fellow adoptive dad?

Russell Moore: Say “I love you” repeatedly, and don’t forget to discipline. And always think of the adoption as past-tense. Also don’t think you have to answer intrusive questions from onlookers in a way that’ll make your son or daughter feel strange or distant from the rest of the family. They’ve been “brought near” and are “no longer strangers” (Eph.2)


Dr. Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Orphan Sunday Video

Sunday, November 1, 2009

National Orphan Sunday Community Wide Gathering!


LifeSong for the Orphan presents:


National Orphan Sunday Community Wide Gathering


Our prayer is that this event will raise awareness for orphan care and adoption within the community and allow the Lord to stir in the hearts of believers all over this state.
Lysa TerKeurst from Proverbs 31 Ministries will be sharing her incredible testimony and adoption journey.
Admission is free of charge, tickets are by reservation only. For tickets contact Christi at 309-747-3558 or by email at christi@lifesongfororphans.org.


*An initiative of the Christian Alliance for Orphans & The Cry of the Orphan Campaign

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Theology of Adoption

With the desire to expose believers to the Scriptural mandate to care for orphans, help them understand why God has issued that call, and give them the ability to discern how God would have them joyfully respond to His call we host an Adoption Bible Study twice a year in our church.

As we look at God and the orphan we cover the following topics: The uniqueness of Christian orphan care, theology of the disenfranchised, the glorious grace of God in adoption, and six truths regarding our adoption by from the book of Romans. In Part 2: God's People and the Orphan we delve into orphans and the gospel, orphans and missions, and lastly hard issues to confront regarding how to be involved in orphan care.

Our desire is to present clearly the Lord's heart for the orphan and to encourage the church to think about how the Lord would have them be involved with orphan care.

We began our fall study this past Sunday evening as part of our Sunday Night Electives. It is not too late to join us! You do not have to attend our church to attend, anyone is welcome.

The study is from October 4 - November 8. Time 6:00pm - 7:15pm

Place: Bethany Baptist Church, 7229 N. Knoxville Ave., Peoria, IL 61614

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tackling Tricky Assignments

There are times during the school year when there are assignments that can be little trickier for an adopted child. Recently in the Adoptive Families Magazine there was an article that tackled six of those tricky assignments. We have experienced some of these assignments, though they take a little more thought it has opened up avenues of conversation in our home and with our child's friends at school.

The following is a reprint of three of those tricky topics:

Baby Picture

Assignment: Bring in a baby picture. The photos are often posted anonymously and classmates are asked to guess who's who, or may be used in yearbooks or graduation presentations.

Grade level: Preschool to kindergarten, junior high and high school graduations.

Learning goal: To help students get to know one another, to salute graduates.

Why it's challenging: Children adopted at an older age may not have baby pictures; the identities of children who stand out because of race or physical differences are easy to guess.

Alternatives for teachers: have children bring in pictures from when they were "younger", or draw pictures of themselves as babies.

Approaches for parents: Let your child know that you wish you had photos, too, and say that your'e sure she was a beautiful baby. Encourage her to draw a picture of herself.

How one family handled it: "My son was asked to bring in a baby photo for his elementary school graduation. I wrote a letter to the teachers and included articles from AF. The team leader acknowledged that they'd just always done it this way. In future years, they'll ask for photos of the children 'at a younger age'.

Family Tree

Assignment: Draw a family tree - either as a literal tree, with branches, or in a diagram form - showing family relationships.

Grade level: Elementary school.

Learning goal: To illustrate family relationships

Why it's challenging: The format may not accomodate birth and adoptive relatives, or otherwise nontraditional family makeups.

Alternatives for teachers: Offer formats that show roots as well as branches; instead of a tree, have students create a family forest or a neighborhood of family houses.

Approaches for parents: Allow your child to choose which family or famlies to portray, or encourage him to design his own format.

Star of the Week

Assignment: During the child's turn as Star of the Week, create and present a poster with the child's story and family photos.

Grade level: Kindergarten to first grade.

Learning goals: To help students get to know one another; also serves as a leadership opportunity.

Why it's challenging: When our kids are placed in the spotlight, adoption often comes up, and they may not feel comfortables handling intrusive questions.

Alternatives for teachers: Instead of focusing on the child's past, let the Star of the Week talk about pets, current hobbies, and other elements of her life.

Approaches for parents: Role-play possible responses to questions in advance. Ask your child about accompanying her to school to give an adoption presentation.

Check out the Adoptive Families website at http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/ for more information.



.

Friday, September 4, 2009

OHOH September Social Reminder

Family and Friends of the Open Hearts, Open Homes Ministry
You are invited
to our
September Social
When: Saturday, September 12, 2009

Time: 5-7pm
Place: JR White Park, Germantown Hills (directions to follow)

We will provide: hamburgers, hotdogs, drinks, place settings.

Please bring: A dish to share - such as a side dish or dessert.

RSVP/?'s - Amy at levisix@verizon.net

Raindate: If we need to make changes due to weather we will contact you ASAP.

Directions to the JR White Park - From Peoria - Take Rte 116 east to Germantown Hills - turn Left onto Woodland Knolls Rd. - take an immediate Right onto Holland Rd. The park is on the corner of Holland Rd. and (the second) McKenzie Rd.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thought for Today

God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible - what a pity we plan only the things we can do ourselves.~ A. W. Tozer

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Words of Encouragement

We know that there are some that read this blog that pray for the families involved in this ministry, some of you are one of those families, and still some just are interested in what the Lord is doing in people's hearts towards the orphan. With permission we share excerpts from a note we recently received. May these words encourage you no matter where you are on this journey.


We cannot ever thank you enough for all of your hard work to encourage us, teach us, support us and help us to adopt our children. It has now been 1 year and 7 months as a family and the children are growing incredibly.

Here is an example of why an adoption ministry is so important: Our children are so very excited to learn about Dios (God) everyday. They are coming to understand how our sin is a serious problem and how God has provided a remedy for our sins through the Lord Jesus Christ. They know that we must be washed clean through trusting Jesus Christ as our substitute and Savior as He was the only one to live and obey perfectly. It is truly remarkable to see our 3, 5 and 7 year children on the journey towards their upcoming second adoption: their adoption by God the Father so they can become children of God through rebirth in their souls.

Truly, we can never, ever express how grateful we are for your partnership and for an incredible church that comes alongside families to give orphans a hope and a future - not just now but for all eternity.

That adoption loan combined with the incredible blessing of the matching grant funds and the creation of the Bethany adoption expense account not only provided for the adoption of our children but has also eased the financial burden and frees us as we plan to initiate the adoption process of three more little Colombian Armstrongs. Without all of the OHOH assistance, a second adoption would be much less likely as the burden would have been much too great.

Thank you to all who pray for the families that are pursuing adoption or foster care and those that support them financially and through your words of encouragement. Lives are being changed for eternity because of your care.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Invitation to our Next Social!

Family and Friends of

Open Hearts Open Homes Ministry

You are invited to our

September Social



When: Saturday, September 12, 2009

Time: 5-7pm

Where: JR White Park, Germantown Hills - directions will follow

We will provide: hamburgers, hot dogs, drinks, and condiments.

Please Bring: A side dish or dessert to share.

RSVP/?'s - Amy at levisix@verizon.net

Raindate: If you RSVP we will contact you if we have to make changes due to weather.

Directions: From Peoria - Take Rte. 116 east to Germantown Hills - turn Left onto Woodland Knolls - immediately turn Right onto Holland Rd. - The park is on the corner of Holland Rd. and (the second) McKenzie Rd.

We'd love for your family to join us as we encourage each other on this journey of orphan care.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Check It Out


The last two years part of the Open Hearts, Open Homes Ministry team has attended the Summit conference regarding orphan care. Each year we have been challenged to think deeper and overall spurred on by what the Lord is doing in the lives of orphans around the world through His church. These conferences are put together by Christian Alliance for Orphans.

Christian Alliance for Orphans has recently begun a new blog. http://chrisitianallianceblog.org/
They will be addressing all sorts of topics in relation to orphan care and will have guest bloggers from the orphan care community. There are also several links to orphan care providers that have blogs, too.

Perhaps you would like to check it out!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Secret Joy

Most evenings, our routine includes reading out loud to our children. Currently we are finishing up "George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans". It is a biography from Janet and Geoff Benge's Series, "Christian Heroes: Then and Now". George Muller (1805-1898) has a faith inspiring story. After much rebellion, he came to saving faith while in university. It radically changed his life. While serving God as a minister, George longed for far off mission fields. Then God revealed to George that he didn't need to travel any further than his own back door in Bristol to serve Him. He had a mission field of his own serving the needs of poor and abandoned children.

In the beginning, it started with a simple "Breakfast Club." Children arrived at their home for a hot meal and Bible devotion. Their home quickly outgrew the ability to provide for all the children and adults that arrived to be fed physically and spiritually. One thing lead to another. In the end, George and Mary established a ministry that included the building of five large houses that ultimately provided a safe home for over 10,000 orphans! What makes it even more amazing is that George and Mary barely had a dime of their own. They rested in the knowledge that if God provided the vision and they demonstrated a willingness, God would also provide whatever means were necessary to accomplish His task.

At one point, George saw a need to build another building to accommodate more orphans. The cost seemed insurmountable to most. George wrote in his journal: "The greatness of the sum required affords me a kind of secret joy; for the greater the difficulty to be overcome, the more will it be seen to the glory of God how much can be done by prayer and faith." When I read this out loud to my kids, I caught my breath. How great IS the sum when God calls us to respond to the need of a child? Is it financial? Is it emotional? Is it a spiritual stretch? Most likely it is all three and so much more! Although George planned and organized, it seemed like he did not get distracted by the "big" picture. He didn't get bogged down. He simply stated, "If God is in this, He will supply." The beauty of reading biographies about godly men and women is that they served the same God we do! It is such an encouragement to be reminded of what God has done in the lives of others. As you consider in what ways God is calling you to serve the orphan, my prayer is that you can recognize the "secret joy" that is the result of hurdles that only God can jump. - Monica Lonergan

"If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.
If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides,
so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
I Peter 4:11


We will be attempting to post each month the Broadcaster article for the Open Hearts, Open Homes ministry. In the future to read these articles you can do so by clicking on the "Broadcaster" link on the side.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Children's Books About Adoption




There are many books that families enjoy reading to their children. Books that lend themselves to discussions about adoption are a great way to keep the adoption conversation natural and age appropriate. I am thinking that some readers of this blog may have some favorites you would be willing to share. I will get us started with some that our family has enjoyed reading.


A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza - This book is about a little bird looking for his mother. The mother he finds is perfect for him but doesn't look anything like him and the other children in the family are all different also. All the characters in this story are animals.


God Knows My Name by Debby Anderson - While this particular book is not adoption specific it is a great story all about how God knows all about us. Each page includes several scripture references that you can look up together. It is very easy to tie adoption into the content of this book. A great reminder that God has a great plan for each child! The illustrations in this book include children of all kinds.


Child of Destiny: Matthew Was Adopted by Phoebe Dawson - Matthew asks his mother about his adoption in this picture book. She tells him how God has put together His special plan and how God brought Matthew into their family. The book ends with a short child's version of God's adoption of us. Brandon loves to be read this book when we insert his name in place of Matthew.


If you have a book you would like to share please leave a comment and I will post it to the main page, or if you have my (Amy) contact information please feel free to send it to me. This is a great way to share what we have found helpful with others.






Friday, June 12, 2009

Very Questionable Movie - Orphan

We want to simply put this information out to you and allow you to make your own decision whether a response is needed.-----

Recently several of us received an email regarding a new movie coming out entitiled "Orphan". (I attempted to post a link to the press release but couldn't get it to work.)

I watched the trailer for this movie before I posted this and found it to be quite disturbing. This movie is not going to do anything positive for adoption, especially adoption of an older child. Any thoughts of adoption taken from this movie will be extremely negative.

I have posted a link to a petition from America World Adoptions below:

http://www.awaablog.org/blog/2009/05/orphan-movie-petition.html

Monday, June 8, 2009

Focused Fellowship Reminder

Hello ladies. It's time!
Focused Fellowship: Thursday, June 11.
We are going to meet IN PEORIA AT 6:00 pm.
We will meet at the North Peoria Panera location off of Knoxville Ave.
(North of Bethany Baptist Church)
We thought with Music Camp taking place at Bethany Baptist it might be a more convienient location.

We hope to see you there! Any questions contact Monica or Amy or leave a comment here.

We will NOT meet in July due to VBS...it would be cruel to leave our hubbies with over exhausted kiddos!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Book Review: After the Dream Comes True


"You've done it. After months or even years of prayers, dreams and effort your child is finally home. Now it's time for happily ever after. And yet the days and months ahead will quite likely stretch you in ways you aren't expecting. I'd like to help you anticipate some of these challenges and give you tools to help you cope. Above all I want to remind you that the Lord brought this precious child into your life. You're in the for an exciting adventure as His plan for your family unfolds!" This is taken from the preface of the book "After the Dream Comes True" by Michelle Gardner. Michelle is the director of Kingdom Kids Adoption Ministries and is herself an adoptive parent many times over.


The author writes in an easy to read style and shares from her own experiences. Michelle Gardner talks about such topics as an adoptive parents surprising emotions, meeting your child for the first time, first days at home, and practical questions to consider. She also touches on birthparents, setting boundaries and establishing routines, spiritual development, and life as an adoptive family, to list a few.


When I read this book for the first time I found it to be refreshing as I felt that in many ways I had found a kindred spirit. I think that you will find encouragement for the long haul in this book and you will realize that you are not as crazy as you thought you were. It would be good to read before you meet your child and also after you have been home for a time. A book worth reading this summer while your children play in the pool!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mark Your Calendars!

Christian Adoptive Families Summer Picnic
August 23 @ 4:00pm at Eureka Lake
More details to come later.
Christian Adoptive Families is a group of adoptive families from all over central Illinois that meet together to encourage and network together. Several of our OHOH families have attended one or more of these events and have found them to be a lot of fun. Often there is a speaker of some type to do with adoption and time to meet families that have adopted from literally all over the world.
Mark your calendars for this date and we will get you more details closer to the date!

Monday, May 25, 2009

National Foster Care Month

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. for everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8

Because May is National Foster Care Month I thought that I would send out a few thoughts about praying for those involved in any way in foster care. These are taken from the "City by City, Church by Church, Child by Child: Praying Together for Children in Foster Care".

"Pray for the Workers:
  • that God would raise up laborers to fill every void.
  • that God would move more Christians to launch careers in the foster care system.
  • for the families of the workers, that the overwhelming realities they experience each day will not prevent them from giving 100% at home.

Pray for the Families:

  • that God would draw foster children's biological families to Himself and that they would experience the life transformation that will allow them to parent their children well and with great wisdom.
  • that God would intervene in the lives of other at-risk families and provide them with mentors who can help prevent the removal of their children in the first place.
  • that God would raise up an army of godly foster parents who are equally committed to reunification and adoption when necessary, trusting God alone for the outcome He desires.

Pray for the Children:

  • that the children in the foster care system would come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
  • that these children would experience God's love through the love and care given them by all involved in the system.
  • that God would heal the deep hurts these children have experienced.
  • that God would transofrm the children's lives and hearts and that they would be able to forgive those who have wronged them.

Pray for the Church:

  • that God would raise up people in many churches throughout our city to launch ministries for orphans and waiting children.
  • that believers all over the state would be consumed with compassion for the children in foster care, and would make themselves available for how God wants to use them.
  • that believers in our state would be unified in Christ and that our unity around this issue would draw others to Him.
  • Ask God what He would have us do in the future in relation to the foster care system and the children it serves."

With more than half a million children in foster care in the U.S. this group of people seems difficult to wrap our minds around. However, there are several families in the Bethany Fellowship of Churches that are already licensed for foster care, are in the process of becoming licensed for foster care, or have adopted through foster care. These are families right here in our own community that would be encouraged through your prayers.

When you pray, ask the Lord how He desires for you to respond to the needs of the many people that are involved in some part of foster care.

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves..." Proverbs 31:8a

Saturday, May 9, 2009

2009 National Foster Care Prayer Vigil

The National Foster Care Prayer Vigil is calling followers of Christ together across the country during the week of May 17-24 to cry out to God on behalf of children and youth in our nation's foster care system, their families, their workers, and the church as it responds to the needs of those involved in the foster care system,

Please join the Open Hearts, Open Homes Ministry on Thursday, May 21 between 6-8pm to pray for those involved in any way in the foster care sysem. You can come and go as you need or join us for the entire time.

We will be meeting at the Farmhouse of Bethany Community Church in Washington.

Directions:

From Peoria: Rt. 24 East to Washington, turn North (left) on Nofsinger Rd., turn East (right) on Dutch Lane

From Washington: North on Nofsinger Rd., turn East (right) on Dutch Lane

From Morton: Washington blacktop past Rt. 24 to Dutch Lane, West (left) on Dutch Lane

From Metamora: Washington blacktop to Dutch Lane, West (right) on Dutch Lane

Farmhouse address is 27265 Dutch Lane

Or go to http://www.bethanycommunitychurch.org/

Any questions? - Contact Chuck Boysen or Amy Park, if you don't have our contact info just leave a comment here and we will respond to it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

God's Voice

The following is a blog excerpt from an OHOH family. Jeff and Cheryl are in the process of obtaining a foster care license. Cheryl shares how God is using His word to encourage her as they move forward in the process.

After yesterday's sermon at my church, I feel led to share some verses that God has been speaking to me about concerning adoption. These are verses that have encouraged me in the past week to press forward in obedience to God's call to add a child to our family through adoption. We aren't sure where this child will come from. Only God knows. But we are certain that God has been speaking to us for several years now that He wants to grow our family, both in number and spiritually. We are trusting Him to guide and direct our paths. He has a plan for our family!

Here are a few verses that have encouraged me this week:

1 Samuel 15:22 To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better

Psalm 56: 3 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.

Psalm 140: 12 “I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.”

Psalm 18: 16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. 18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. 19 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Psalm 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

Psalm 10:14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. 17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, 18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

1 Chronicles 5: 20b He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him. 22 …the battle was God's.

Psalm 77:11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 12 I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. 13 Your ways, O God, are holy. 
What god is so great as our God? 14 You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. 15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people

Cheryl

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Welcome Home Party Spring 2009


Once or twice a year, the Open Hearts Open Homes Orphan Ministry celebrates adoptions that have been completed recently. Today the adoptions represented Vietnam, Guatemala, and the good Ole USA. It is always fun to get together and be reminded of just how much God has done in the lives of orphans and His church. Pastor Daniel lead us in short devotional focusing on trusting God. A reminder to trust God with all the outcomes not just prior to the completion of the adoption but also with our children after they come home. One of the great joys today was looking around the room and seeing how many children have already been brought into our family through fostering and adoption. And to know that even this weekend, three more children came home. Two from Ethiopia and one domestically. Ephesians 3:20"...To him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us."
Here is a link for photos:
OHOH Social

Friday, April 24, 2009

April Social Reminder

Just a quick reminder that the April Social takes place tomorrow, Saturday, April 25 at Bethany Baptist Church from 5-7pm. We will be meeting in the Fellowship Hall, instead of the gym.

Pastor Daniel will be sharing for a short time on the "Idols in the Heart of an Adoptive Parent".

We hope to see you all there!

Questions? contact Amy or Monica, or leave a comment here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Top 10 Questions Adopted Children Ask Parents

1. Do you love me as much as you would a biological child?

2. Did my birthparents love me?

3. How am I like my birth family?

4. How did I grow in your heart?

5. Will you always love me?

6. Can I learn more about my birth country?

7. Is adoption forever?

8. Who else is adopted like me? (It's good to introduce adopted children to other adoptees.)

9. Will you show me pictures and tell me about my adoption experience?

10.Do you think I will adopt my children someday?

As you can see, adopted children have an added dynamic to work through in order to develop a healthy identity. Open communication and lots of love and encouragement are needed in order to facilitate healthy growth. Celebrate family in order to nourish and foster security and emotional development.

This list was originally posted on a tip sheet for social workers written by Stacie Cahill, MSW. I thought they would be good questions to think about. Hopefully these questions you will be answering throughout the child's life.

Bringing Home Your Child

“For this child I have prayed and God has granted me what I asked of Him.” I Samuel 1:27

It is such an exciting time when you bring a child home. You are so ready to have the waiting over. If you have other children at home they are ready to have a real body with the name they have heard over and over. You have readied your hearts; you most likely have readied a room, and had a great time shopping for special items for this new child of yours. You have prayed for this child and dreamed of their future. Your preparation has been careful and loving. You are ready!

As you embark on the journey to pick up the child, whether from a foreign country or the local social services office there are some things to consider as you bring a child home. One of the most important things to consider is that while you feel very prepared for this next step this may be totally a new thought to your child.

The following are some helpful suggestions to consider before you do your pick-up trip.

1. When you pick up the child ask as many questions as possible about their routine. This will help you to know what is “normal” to them. If you are able to bring an object such as a blanket, stuffed animal, etc. from their previous home this will help to have some thing that is familiar. In a fostering situation if you have an opportunity to speak with a willing birthparent about this it will also help them to know that you care about their child. Visiting the orphanage a child has been living at would allow you to see how life is handled through the day.

2. Take a good look at your commitments beforehand. Because of the pace we tend to live at in all likelihood some thing or some things will need to be scaled back. While you are used to the busy pace a child trying to get used to a new family, home, food, smells and perhaps a new language will possibly find it downright scary.

3. Stay close to home. For an extended period of time it would be reassuring to the child to stay home. Give them time to explore, get comfortable, learn what is expected of them, and get in their routine. Even a very young child is comforted by routine and an older child will need time to adjust to a new routine. You may expect some things of
them that they have never heard of before. Staying home also help will help you and the child to work on bonding without them being overloaded with more newness.

4. Keep life simple. This is probably not a good time to host a party. Have family over a little at a time so as not to overwhelm your new family member.

5. Remember you are the parent. While everyone will want to hold and cuddle a younger child that child needs to know who to go to when they have needs to be met. Whether it be cuddling, food, or comfort that person needs to be you and your spouse. This doesn’t mean another child in your home can never hold them but overall you need to be the person on the frontline. Remember a child that is used to many different caregivers isn’t necessarily going to seem to mind being passed around so they need to learn who the go-to-guy is. (That’s you - the parent!). An example of this is: the new child is playing out back with an older child
and skins his knee – the older child brings the child to you to be comforted.

An additional thought to consider is that being used to being passed around is not necessarily an issue of attachment, but is just what normally occurred where they came from. It will take them a while to understand that their needs, both physically and emotionally, are going to be met by someone specific.

6. Be consistent. Find the routine and keep it as much as possible. Consistency for a child that comes from an orphanage is familiar. Consistency for a child that has come from a chaotic situation is comforting as well.

7. Expect some developmental delays. When a child comes into foster care they may have some delays that were brought on by their environment, working with them at home may bring some quick changes in those areas. A child from an orphanage is often delayed as well, sometimes due to the lack of stimulation or just opportunity. Don’t get overly anxious at first; give the child some time to adjust. In our area Easter Seals is a great place for a developmental screening, if they are over the age of three the local school district does the screening. There are many services available for children in our area that are a great help to families if they are needed.

8. Socially a child may seem behind in how they relate to others or how they emotionally respond to situations. Often children don’t understand how something is supposed to be done because they have never seen it done before. For example perhaps a child lacks table manners – but maybe they never ate at a family-type table before. Or a child may have had a very limited number of toys before so playing with them is something new not to mention sharing them.

Again these are some things to consider as you bring your child home, I know there are other things as well. It is good to remember that everyone is adapting – parents, new child, new siblings and so it takes time to find a new normal for your family.

Lastly, for some people instant feelings don’t always come. Don’t be too hard on yourself if that is how you feel. Show yourself some grace in that area and give yourself time to get to know your new little one and them to get to know you. Those feelings will come as you come together to be the family that the Lord has knit together.

Note: Michelle Gardner has written a very good book about life after the homecoming entitled, After the Dream Comes True.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why Adopt...The Bennett Family



How did we come to the decision to adopt from Guatemala, or internationally for that matter? I could sum up my answer in one word: HOPE. Just as God calls His servants to serve in different fields and locations, He calls His people to care for orphans in different ways. We felt called to bring one of the fatherless into our lives to care for as one of our own. For those He calls to adopt, He calls each family to meet a need in different ways. This gives me great HOPE for the staggering numbers of orphans in the world! If we were all called to adopt from one country, children elsewhere would be without HOPE. I so am thankful that there are families called to foster and risk opening their hearts to children, even if it is only for a short time. I see families that are called to adopt domestically as one of our greatest deterrents to abortion in this country!
As a family, we are confident in our calling to be serving the body of Christ locally. We have been asked about one day serving as missionaries abroad, and our response is that God has given us a passion for the people in the Midwest and until He changes that, this is where we will serve. With that said, He still gives us a desire to see other people groups come to know Him. We pray for and support others who are called to other countries. We saw our adoption as a way to spread the Gospel to another people group that we were not currently reaching out to.
Why Guatemala? I had first started thinking about adoption when I heard stories of families adopting from China. After some research, I learned that we would not qualify to adopt from China for another two years, putting our youngest children at least four years apart, probably more. We felt that an adopted child would feel closer to our family if there was not such a big age gap. So, the search was on again. Daniel and I went on a mission trip to Spain in October of 2006 and developed a love for the Spanish speaking culture. This helped us narrow the world down even further. After the Lord ordained a meeting between a family that had adopted from an orphanage in Guatemala and our family, the adoption committee at our church began pursuing a mission trip to this orphanage in Guatemala. We met with the family again and gained a vision for the serving opportunities at the orphanage. The mother told us stories of the dozen or so families that were currently adopting from there from their church. This one church was sending families, at that time, almost every month to bring home or visit a child. Their family had even traveled together to work at the orphanage after their adoption was complete. As we first were considering starting an adoption ministry at our church, I heard stories mentioned about how churches were coming together to clear out entire orphanages. That church seemed to have the same vision!
Daniel and I quickly saw that this would be a great way for our family to minister long-term to this people group, not just our daughter. We can reach this beautiful place by just driving three hours and then a quick four hour plane ride, followed by a couple hours commuting from Guatemala City to the orphanage in the mountains…a relatively short journey given the size of the world. We are grieved about how Guatemala is now closed to adoption, but continue to pray and support the fatherless in that country. He has a perfect plan for each of those children.
Our daughter, Ellie, has been a God-ordained addition to our family. The challenges are not always as delightful as her little dimples, but the Lord has been gracious to us and taught us so much through this precious child. Ellie is a joy and ever-present picture of our own spiritual adoption!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Why Adopt...The McClelland Family

Our call to adopt.

Gregg and I were married previously for nearly 10 years each. When we met each other and began to talk about marriage, we talked about the possibility of having more children together. Gregg has two girls, I have two girls and they all live with us full time. After some time of working at blending our family, the thought of more children was a little overwhelming for me. I just was not interested, even though Gregg had not given up his dream of more children.

About a year and a half ago, I found out I was pregnant. It was quite a surprise and quite a shock. I did not have the most positive feelings for the first few moments. But, my initial hesitation turned into great joy of the gift God was giving us as a family. The girls were very excited. All was well...and then I miscarried. It was hard. But God had done something very special in my heart. He opened up my heart to the possibility of being a mom again.

Gregg and I decided after our "oops" that we would try to get pregnant again. After a few months trying, it happened. This pregnancy was even shorter lived. I miscarried in June 2008. I began to wonder what God had in mind for us. I knew I wanted to be a mother again, but was not sure I could go through another miscarriage.

About a year earlier I had become a part of our church's Open Hearts, Open Homes prayer ministry. I had been praying for families in our church who were going through the adoption or fostering process. It really became special as I saw our prayers to God answered as children came home to their forever families. After having two miscarriages, I began to question God as to whether adoption might be our calling. I did not talk to Gregg about this as I figured he would think I was crazy. I just kept praying.

One day a few months later, Gregg came home from having traveled to the Chicago area for work. He walked in the door and was crying. He told me he had been listening to a NPR show and they were talking about orphans in Russia. He told me we needed to do something to help. I asked him, "What?" He said, "Adopt."

Fast forward a few months and our family went to Maranatha for our annual family camp. We had switched weeks that year and happened to be there with a bunch of families from Bethany, our church. Of course, many of them had adopted/fostered, as well as many others at the camp, and we felt God leading us to make a decision to adopt. We began to research our options while we were on vacation!

We applied to adopt in February 2009. It took a while for us to sort out the details and to confirm God's calling on our lives. We also had to wait for the economy to take a downturn (ok, maybe that wasn't EXACTLY in our plans...) so that God could show us how it's not about US, but only about HIM. We have to depend on Him to get us through this or it will not happen. If it be God's will, we will bring home a little boy from Russia within the next year. If God has other plans, then we're in this for the ride of our lives.

God is so faithful and just. He brought Gregg and I from the point of broken marriages into a loving relationship. He healed the hurt in our family. He loved us unconditionally. Now He is calling us to add to our family through adoption. He's been faithful through the rest, why wouldn't we trust Him now? Pray with us that we can trust him fully and surrender all to the One who deserves all.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Becoming a Foster Family

When we first began to foster we had someone ask us, “How can you make a difference in a young life when they are only with you for a short time?” As I have thought about this over the years I wonder, “How can you not make a difference in that young life?” When a child enters your home, if only for a short time, they are able to see the love of Christ lived out on a daily basis. They are able to see how parents love and lovingly discipline and teach their children; they see a secure family.

It takes a different type of commitment to be a foster family than an adoptive family. Because of the uncertainties that are inherent in fostering your faith will be challenged in new ways. Your reliance upon the Lord and His sovereignty will grow as you trust the Lord for all the details. Your hearts will be stretched to new limits as you begin to love a child that may not stay with your family forever.

“If this job is so hard than why do it?” you might ask. I think the only answer for a believing family is, "that the Lord has called us to fostering." To those families I would remind you that even when the Lord calls you to something it isn’t necessarily easy. It is perseverance that gets you through different stages of fostering, whether it be waiting for a court date or dealing with some other difficulty. Scripture tells us in James 1:4-5 that “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” Let the Lord use your time as a foster family to refine you and your family.

Getting Started

So how do we become a foster family? The process itself is fairly easy though it does include several steps.

1. Choose a local agency that you will work with.

  • Talk with the agency.
  • Ask them: How they place their children?
  • Are they in need of fosterfamilies for a certain age group?
  • What type of support do they offer after a child is placed?
  • What does the agency expect from their foster families?
  • As with anything some people you will mesh with right away, others you might want to check off your list.

1a. This would be a good time to also get together with a family/families you know that have been or are currently fostering. Ask them about their experiences - good and bad, helpful hints, etc.

2. Attend PRIDE Training.

* Requirement in our state.

*9 weeks of class, each class is 3 hours

*Both foster parents must attend each session,
possible make-up of missed class.

*Followed by 2 weeks of Educational
Advocacy
- only one parent required to attend.

Currently, BBC is hosting on-site PRIDE training twice a year.

3. Simultaneously, you will be meeting with your licensing representative from your agency. You will be required to do such things as, but not limited to:

-A physical on each person living in your home.

-Obtain a copy of your marriage certificate, driver's licenses.

-Fingerprinting on any person over the age of 18.

-Criminal background check.

You will also be answering many questions regarding your childhood, family history, your family's feeling about fostering. Also, how you parent, discipline, handle conflict in your marriage, etc.

The licensing rep. will conduct home visits also during this time. Our experience is that they are willing to work with your schedule. (On an ongoing basis a licensing rep will visit your home every 6 months).

The agency will walk you through each step. Often it is your willingness to gather the needed paperwork that keeps things on track. If you have questions along the way give the agency a call. If they are questions you want to talk about in person write them down so when the licensing rep visits you won't forget to ask your questions.

It is during this time with your licensing rep. you can decide the age/sex of the child or children you are willing to take. You will be given a checklist of things that you would be willing to accept in a child. Be realistic. It is much better for everyone if you are honest about what you can handle. Pray about who the Lord desires for you to reach out to in this way. Be thoughtful about the children that you may already have in your home. Remembering, sometimes things are inconvenient while other times things are best not entered into.

4. Once licensed you will wait. Be in prayer during this time of waiting for the child that will come into your home. Pray for your heart to be accepting of them and for the Lord to use you in that child's life for His glory.

There will be many questions, most have answers, but be prepared for some unknown as you foster. Each child is uniquely put together, each case is distinctly different. You may not agree with everything that you are presented with but you do need to understand the regulations that you are required to follow.

This is a ministry that your entire family can be a part of and one in which you could very possibly change the course of a child's life for eternity.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Stanley Family










Let us introduce ourselves. We are Jason, Jaime, Ali and Whitney Stanley. We were married at Bethany Baptist Church in 1997 and when we’ve lived in Peoria since then, you have been our church family. We left Peoria at the end of 2005 and now live in Des Moines, IA. We remain connected to many friends and family at Bethany and will always feel at home there when we visit. We have been so excited to watch the “Open Hearts Open Homes” ministry take off! We began our own adoption journey in March of 2007 when we applied to adopt from God’s Littlest Angels orphanage in Haiti. We prepared our dossier and it arrived in Haiti in December 2007. We received our proposal of our precious twins in May of 2008. Adoptions in Haiti are very unpredictable, leaving very vague timelines. We originally thought Jean Dany and Danise would be home this Spring, but the process has changed since we began and we are left with several months to wait. We met our kids in October 2008 during a 3-day visit to file some paperwork at the US embassy in Port Au Prince. We had a wonderful time playing with the kids and felt a strong bond forming quickly. Leaving them at the orphanage with no idea when we will return was very difficult. We are turning over the adoption into God’s hands daily, trusting in His love and Sovereignty and praying He will bring them home as quickly as possible.

OHOH Families ~ Invititation to Spring Social

Open Hearts, Open Homes Ministry

invites your family to our

Spring Social

Join us as we celebrate the homecomings of several children from the past year with cake and punch!

Pastor Daniel
will be sharing a short talk on:
“Idols in the Heart of the Adoptive Parent”

When: Saturday, April 25
Time: 5-7pm
Place: Bethany Baptist Church-gym

RSVP/?’s: leave a note in the "comments" area at the end of this post.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Note to OHOH Families

We want you all to be a part of this blog! It is always an encouragement to others to hear how the Lord is using your journey to adoption or fostering and we desire to give you a place to share.

If you would like to share something that the Lord is teaching you or a way He is growing you as you go through the steps to bring home a child we'd love for you to do that. You can send your blog entry to Amy or Monica via email and we will post it on the ministry's blog. If you don't have contact info for Amy/Monica please click on "comment" at the bottom of this entry and leave us a note and we will get that information to you.

Also, if you have a question about adoption/fostering or know of something you think would be helpful to other families to include here please let us know. (We are far from experts but we will search for the answer.)

It is a joy to serve the Lord through this ministry and we continue to be amazed as the Lord opens hearts for these children.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Are You Ready to Adopt?

You may be finding yourself drawn to orphan ministry but are not really sure exactly how to respond. There are many ways to care for orphans. Praying for the orphans that the Lord brings to your attention is one way or financially helping a family that is adopting is another. Providing respite care for a new foster or adoptive family is yet another. Maybe your role with the orphan is a short-term (or long-term) mission trip to an orphanage overseas. Perhaps collecting supplies for an organization that works with orphans that are not necessarily adoptable is your calling. The opportunities are great and come in all shapes and sizes!

The Open Hearts, Open Homes Ministry recommends our Adoption Bible Study as a first step. We have offered the study twice a year, spring and fall, for the last three years. Pastor Daniel has put together a great study of God's Word on the subject of the orphan. This is truly a Bible study that helps us to see the Lord's heart for the disenfranchised (that is my newest big word).
Whether your mind is made up or you just have a fringe interest we'd love for you to hear what the Bible has to say about reaching out to those that are without a family.

If you are wondering if you are ready to adopt I recently came across a very good guide on how to adopt and I thought it would be good to share it. The following is an excerpt from Shaohannah's Hope "Your Adoption Guide" (http://howtoadopt.org/).

Conduct a Self-Assessment

The self-assessment is the best way to find out if you are ready to adopt. Ask yourselves the following questions:

Do you clearly understand why you want to adopt?

Are both parents committed to adoption?

Does your lifestyle allow you the time necessary to meet the needs of the child you are seeking to adopt?

How will adoption change the dynamics of your family and do you have what you need to make it work?

Do you have deeper issues in your marriage which you are hoping the adoption will help with?

Do you realize that the notion of saving an orphan and their gratitude to you for doing so is not a foundational reason on which to base an adoption? Yes, in many senses, adoption can and does save orphans from ill fates; however, expecting regular expressions of gratitude from your adopted children would be like expecting biological children to live in a constant state of gratitude for and towards their biological parents.

Do you have support from your nucleus family?

Are you called to provide/care for orphans in other ways?

Finally, do you possess these needed characteristics?

Perseverance and patience; nearly all adoptions involve a significant "waiting" period(s) in the adoption process.

The ability to accept without judging, and to love unconditionally;

Awareness that healing doesn't always come quickly; once the child has arrived there is usually an adjustment period. (with an older child there is often a testing period — the child will want to know if your love is unconditional.)

Willingness to learn new things;

A belief in adoption and ability to commit;

Open to dealing with the child's issues as if the child was a birth child — adoption is forever and adopted children must be treated as equal to biological children;

Resourcefulness.

Please know that when you adopt, you are not only providing love and a home, you are also sharing your values with a child. An examination of your belief system can help you define your own needs and be aware of your expectations.

Parenting skills are essential to successful adoptions. If you are a first time parents, and particularly if you are adopting an older children, parenting classes are worth considering.

You can read the entire guide at http://howtoadopt.org/ and click on the "Your Adoption Guide" button. This entire site is a great resource for those desiring more information on adoption.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Robertson Family


We are Evan and Emily Robertson. We recently brought home our 17 month old son from Vietnam. Evan is actually the one that first brought up adoption. Shortly after our first son was born, he began to bring up his desire to adopt our next child. I (Emily) was closed to the idea at first. After Evan brought it up some more, we began to seek the Lord through His Word and through much time in prayer. It was through God's Word and time on our knees that the Lord turned my heart 180 degrees. My heart began to understand that I was adopted by God through Jesus' death on the cross. I am now a child of God through adoption. The Lord also opened our eyes to His heart for the orphan. We saw in the Bible that God cares so deeply for the fatherless. Our hearts became more and more burdened as we realized what the Lord was calling us to. We researched adoption and prayed over our decisions for over a year before actually beginning the process. The Open Hearts Open Homes ministry began just shortly after we began the adoption process. As we bathed all of our decisions in prayer, we narrowed our country choice down to Vietnam mainly through the process of elimination. We felt strongly that the Lord was leading us to international adoption, and each country has different requirements and costs. We officially began the paper work process in September of 2006, and we brought our sweet Josiah home on February 17th, 2009. It was a long and hard process and there were many tears shed along the way, but we can honestly say that it was all worth it! We would go through all of it again for this precious child if we had to! Our hearts have been changes in many ways through this process, and we will prayerfully consider doing it again in the future. Currently adoptions are closed between Vietnam and the US. We are praying that they can come to an agreement, so that more of those precious children can find loving Christian homes!

The Park Family



We are Ken and Amy and this is our crew: Allison, Joel, Daniel, Natalie, Molly, Brandon, and Nathan. We began our journey about 13 years ago when we became foster parents. The Lord had placed on our hearts the desire to adopt, we pursued this originally through foster care. We had envisioned being a family that had many foster children coming and going, but that was not God's plan. We have had four foster children over time and three of them have become permanent members of our family.

Thinking that our quiver was full with six children we became involved in this orphan ministry. As we prepared to go on a short term mission trip to Guatemala in 2007 the Lord opened our eyes and our hearts to the need of children around the world. The Lord used that information to prepare our hearts for Nathan who came home this past summer from Guatemala.

We are both in awe and humbled by the way the Lord has put our family together. Our plan did not look like His plan for us but His plan is perfect. We are excited to see our children growing in their understanding of who God is.

We are excited to be a part of Open Hearts, Open Homes Ministry and to watch as the Lord works in the heart of His church on behalf of the orphan.

"And whoever welcomes a child like this in my name welcomes me." Matthew 18:5

The Rinkenberger Family


We are Scott and Heidi Rinkenberger. We have three biological children: boy-6, girl-5, and boy-almost three. We are in the process of adopting two one-year-olds (one girl and one boy) from Ethiopia. We started the process in Feb. of 08 with Christian World Adoption, and hope to bring them home this Spring. Adoption has been a streaching and humbling experience. It has been filled with emotional highs and lows. But, as I look back at the last year I can see God's fingerprints on what has happened, and I am thankful to be where we are. We are very ready to have them come home!!! As for why we chose to adopt, we got to a point where it was obvious that God was calling us to it. There are so many kids who need a home, and we have been given so much. We love being parents, and feel so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to raise the ones God gives us- biologically or through the miracle of adoption.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Steven Curtis Chapman Adoption Testimony

In 2002 Steven Curtis Chapman shared their adoption testimony. They have since adopted two more little girls from China (total of 3), though their little girl Maria went home to be with the Lord last year.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Adoption is Greater than the Universe





(I apologize to Pastor Daniel's blog followers for the repeat of this video. I think you will find it worth watching again.)

John Piper on Adoption

John Piper is familiar to many of you. We often hear him quoted or spoken about. He has a wonderful reputation for speaking God's truths. I felt that this was very worth the time to reproduce for you all to read.



Adoption: The Heart of the Gospel: Eight Similarities Between God’s Adoption of Us and Our Adoption of Children


Galatians 4:4-8

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of
woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that
we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent
the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are
no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. 8
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by
nature are not gods. "
Romans 8:14-17

"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did
not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received
the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit
himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if
children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we
suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."


The biblical foundation for the act of adopting children is primarily in the New Testament rather than the Old. There are only three adoptions in the Old Testament (Moses, Esther, and Genubath, 1 Kings 11:20). Israel is called God’s son (Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 14:1; 32:6; Jeremiah 31:9; Hosea 11:1) but not until the New Testament is this called adoption.

The Foundation of Adoption

The deepest and strongest foundation of adoption is located not in the act of humans adopting humans, but in God adopting humans. And this act is not part of his ordinary providence in the world; it is at the heart of the gospel. Galatians 4:4-5 is as central a gospel statement as there is: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” God did not have to use the concept of adoption to explain how he saved us, or even how we become part of his family. He could have stayed with the language of new birth so that all his children were described as children by nature only (John 1:12-13, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”). But he chose to speak of us as adopted as well as being children by new birth. This is This is the most essential foundation of the practice of adoption.

Eight Similarities

What I would like to do is lay out eight similarities between what God did in adoption and what happens in a Christian adoption today. I pray that whether you have adopted, or are engaged in assisting adoptions, or are pondering an adoption, God will use these comparisons to heighten your confidence that God is graciously involved in our adoptions. He has done it himself. He knows what it costs. And he stands ready to support us all the way to the end.

1. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) costly.

When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born
under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive
adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)

To redeem means to obtain or to set free by paying a price. What was the price that God paid for our liberation and adoption? In the previous chapter, we heard the answer: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). It cost God the price of his Son’s life.

There are huge costs in adopting children. Some are financial; some are emotional. There are costs in time and stress for the rest of your life. You never stop being a parent till you die. And the stresses of caring about adult children can be as great, or greater, than the stresses of caring for young children. There is something very deep and right about the embrace of this cost for the life of a child!
Few things bring me more satisfaction than seeing a culture of adoption flourish at Bethlehem. It means that our people are looking to their heavenly Father for their joy rather than rejecting the stress and cost of children in order to maximize their freedom and comforts. When people embrace the pain and joy of children rather than using abortion or birth control simply to keep children away, the worth of Christ shines more visibly. Adoption is as far as possible from the mindset that rejects children as an intrusion. Praise God for people ready to embrace the suffering—known and unknown. God’s cost to adopt us was infinitely greater than any cost we will endure in adopting and raising children.


2. Adoption did (for God) and does (for us) involve the legal status of the child.

When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born
of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:4-6)

There were legal realities God had to deal with. His own justice and law demanded that we be punished and excluded from his presence for our sins. Righteousness was required and punishment demanded. God had to satisfy his justice and his law in order to adopt sinners into his family. This he did by the life, death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.

This means that the status of being a son legally preceded the experience of the Spirit coming to give us the affections of sons. We are legally sons before we experience the joy of sonship. The object work of our salvation (two thousand years ago at Calvary) precedes and grounds the subjective experience of our salvation by the Spirit today.

So it is with our adopting children today: The legal transactions precede and under gird the growth of family feelings. If the legal red tape seems long and hard, keep in mind that this tape is not yet red with your blood, but Jesus satisfied all the legal demands precisely by shedding his blood.

3. Adoption was blessed and is blessed with God’s pouring out a Spirit of sonship.

Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6)

You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:15-16)

God does not leave us in the condition of aliens when he adopts us. He does not leave us with no feelings of acceptance and love. Rather, he pours his Spirit into our hearts to give us the experience of being embraced in the family. What is remarkable about these two texts is the term abba. It is an Aramaic word. Why then does Paul use it, transliterated, in these two letters written in Greek?

The answer is that it was the way Jesus spoke to his Father, in spite of the fact that virtually no one in Jewish culture referred to God with this endearing word abba. It stunned the disciples. They held onto it as a precious remnant of the very voice of Jesus in the language he spoke. In Mark 14:36, Jesus is in Gethsemane and prays, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Therefore, in adopting us, God give us the very Spirit of his Son and grants us to feel the affections of belonging to the very family of God.

In the mercy of God, in our families God works to awaken affections in adopted children for their parents that are far more than legal outcomes. They are deeply personal and spiritual bonds. Adopted children do not infer that they are our children by checking out the adoption papers. A spirit pervades our relationship that bears witness to this reality. Like the other children in the family, they all cry, “Daddy.”

Praise God that he give us both legal standing as his children and the very Spirit of his Son so that we find ourselves saying from a heart of deep conviction, “Abba, Father.”

4. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) marked by moral transformation through the Spirit.

All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)

God does not leave his children without help to bear the moral image of the family. We may trust that his help will be there for our children as we bring them under the means of grace that God uses to awaken and transform his children.

5. Adoption brought us, and brings our children, the rights of being heirs of the Father.

Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a
son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:6-7)
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17)

Notice that Galatians 4:7 says we are heirs “through God” and Romans 8:17 says we are heirs “of God.” In Galatians, the context is the promise of Abraham—through God, that is, by his sending his Son to redeem us, we are heirs with Abraham (even though many of us are Gentiles!) of his inheritance, namely the world (Romans 4:13). But in Romans 8:17, the context is that we, with Christ, are heirs of all that God has, namely, everything. “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21).

Just before we left for England on sabbatical, Noël and I went to a lawyer and updated our wills. All the boys are married, and Talitha is the only legal “dependent.” A lot had changed since the last time we made wills. This was a reminder to us that she will inherit like the sons. She is not in a lesser adoptive class. All inherit together. That is the way God did it. That is the way we do it.

6. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) seriously planned.

He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6)

Adoption in God’s mind was not Plan B. He predestined us for adoption before the creation of the world. Plan A was not lots of children who never sin and never need to be redeemed. Plan A was creation, fall, redemption, adoption so that the full range of God’s glory and mercy and grace could be known by his adopted children. Adoption was not second best. It was planned from the beginning.

In our lives, there is something uniquely precious about having children by birth. That is a good plan. There is also something different, but also uniquely precious, about adopting children. Each has its own uniqueness. Your choice to adopt children may be sequentially second. But does not have to be secondary. It can be as precious and significant as having children by birth. God is able to make adoption and A+ plan in our lives.

7. Adoption was (for God) and often is now (for us) from very bad situations.

We . . . were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:3)

God did not find us like an abandoned foundling bundled on the front step and irresistibly cute. He found us ugly and evil and rebellious. We were not attractive. We would not be easy children to deal with. And, what’s worse, God himself was angry with us. He hates sin and rebellion. We were then doubly “children of wrath.”

These are the ones God pursued in adoption. Therefore, all of God’s adoptions crossed a greater moral and cultural divide than any of our adoptions could. The distance between what we are, and what God is, is infinitely greater than any distance between us and a child we might adopt. God crossed the greatest cultural barrier to redeem and adopt us.

Consider too, that according to Romans 9:4, the people that God chose in the Old Testament, the Israelites, were adopted out of a terrible situation. “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.” But how was this adoption effected? Hosea 11:1, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” They were slaves in Egypt. But not only that, they were often also rebellious against God. “Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea” (Psalm 106:7).

Therefore, God went and took a son from Egypt who was both enslaved and rebellious. The pattern is set: adoptions do not just come from nice, healthy, safe, auspicious situations.

8. Adoption meant (for all Christians) and means (for Christian parents) that we suffer now and experience glory later.

The whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:22-23)

This strikes us as strange. Aren’t we already adopted? Why does Paul say that we are “waiting for our adoption”? Yes, we are already adopted. When Christ died for us, the price was paid, and when we trust him, we are legally and permanently in the family. But God’s purpose for adoption is not to leave any of his children in a state of groaning and suffering. He raised Jesus from the dead with a new body, and he promises that part of our adoption will be a new resurrection body with no more disabilities and no more groaning. Therefore, what we wait for is the full experience of our adoption—the resurrection of our bodies.

There is much groaning in the path of adoption on the way to full salvation. But the outcome is glorious. It is worth it all. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

This is especially relevant for parents of children with disabilities. They know the “groaning” of this life. All of us have children with some sort of disability, and some of us will live to get very old and watch our children age and die before we do. Others will see their children struck down in war or by accident or disease. Others will care for a disabled child till one of them dies. All of this groaning is groaning in hope because we are adopted by God and destined for a resurrection and an eternal future of health and wholeness and joy. It will be worth it all.
***

Adopting Talitha Ruth
In conclusion, it might be helpful for you to hear some of the process that Noël and I walked through in deciding to adopt Talitha. We spent long hours and days pondering and praying over whether to adopt in 1995. It was not a light or easy decision. I was fifty years old. Here is the letter I wrote to Noël saying yes.

Monday, November 6, 1995, 11:12 PM

Dear Noël,

With confidence in the all-sufficient future grace of God, I am ready and eager to move ahead with the adoption of Talitha Ruth. I want to thank you that during these years, when your heart has yearned to adopt a daughter, you have not badgered me or coerced me. You have been wonderfully patient. You have modeled faith in the sufficiency of prayer. You have always expressed support of me and my ministry even if we should never adopt. You have been reasonable in all our discussions and have come forth with your rationale only when asked. You have honored my misgivings as worthy of serious consideration. God was good to put it in Phoebe’s heart to call about this child when she did, and not before we were ready.

I realize more than ever that “the mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” This decision is not merely a tabulation of pros and cons. I would be deceiving myself to think that. Yet I am
persuaded that this decision to adopt honors God more than not adopting. To my perspective, it seems to be the path that will “spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.” I believe it will bless Bethlehem and not hinder our work there. I believe it is the path of the greatest love for the greatest number. And therefore I have confidence that God is pleased with it.

I choose it not under constraint or with any reservation
of commitment. I relinquish every thought that, because you initiated this idea, you will bear blame for the burdens it will bring. As with our choice to have children in the first place and with our choice to go to Germany and our choice to leave Bethel and enter the pastorate, there is a common and united commitment to all that God will be for us in this path, including any “frowning providence” that he plans to sanctify to us. I believe our eyes are open, though we have learned that the toothache expected and the toothache experienced are not the same. We have come through enough to believe that God’s future grace will be sufficient. His mercies are new every morning and there will be mercies for every weight and wonder on this new path of our lives.

I thank God for you. I enter with you gladly on this path. Whether we live to see our daughter grown or not, we will have done well to take her in. Life is very short, whether 12 hours like Ashley Hope, or 50 years like me, or 76 years like my father, or 94 years like Crystal Anderson. What matters is not that we do all we might have done or all we dreamed of doing, but that, while we live, we live by faith in future grace and walk in the path of love. The times are in God’s hands, not ours.

With this common conviction, we will, God willing, embrace our new
daughter and give ourselves, with all the might that God inspires in us, to love her into the kingdom. May the Lord establish the plans of our hearts, and bring Talitha Ruth (and the future husband God already knows) into deep and lasting fellowship with Christ. May she be an ebony broach of beauty around your aging neck and a crown of purity and joy on your graying head.

I love you,

Johnny

by John Piper; Desiring God. desiringGod.org

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Choosing an Adoption Agency

The Lord has opened your hearts to the idea of adoption and you are desiring to make those first steps. Where do you go from here? First, I would encourage you from the start and as you go through each step to put this entire process before the Lord in prayer. Allow the Lord to guide your steps.


When families decide to look at adoption seriously they are often overwhelmed by the many decisions they have to make rather quickly. It is recommended by many sources that you start out by deciding what type of adoption you are desiring; foster to adopt, domestic, or international.

For foster to adopt local agencies are very willing to work with you. If you are proceeding with a domestic adoption there are a couple of attorneys in our area that specialize in adoption and many agencies that will help you to complete an adoption. If international adoption is your choice deciding on a country will help you to narrow down some of the choices for an agency.

Following are some questions to consider and to ask an agency to help you make the best choice:

What kind of adoption options does the agency offer?

How long has the agency been involved with adoption? with the country you are interested in?

How many placements does the agency make every year? in the last year?

Does the actual agency complete your Home Study or do you need to find a local social service agency to complete your Home Study?

If you are to use a local agency, are there specific agencies you must use to complete your Home Study?

Are there any free informational meetings?

What services does the agency provide both before and after placement?

What type of experience does the program staff have?

Is their agency the only agency involved or does a secondary agency handle things in the adoptive country?

Can you speak with, at least 3, families who have adopted through their agency? (Especially those that have adopted through the same program.)

How does the agency prepare families for international adoption?

What kind of cultural and counseling services are available later?

Are ALL of the fees charged explained - not just the initial fees?

What possible fees are there that are not included in their costs?

What fees will be refunded if the adoption process stops at any point?

Is the agency accredited to work in Hague Convention countries?

At the time of travel, does someone from the agency accompany you/meet in in-country?



I would like to add that while talking with a friend that has used an agency is a very good way to get a recommendation it should not take the place of you actually conversing with someone at the agency. Some details that are not so important to some families may be of great importance to another. You are going to have a rather lengthy relationship with an agency with many emotions surrounding it and you want to be comfortable with the decision that you make.

In closing do not lose sight of why you are taking this step. Let the Lord direct your choices as you seek to be in His Word and in prayer. Adoption is a lengthy process and the Lord will use this time in your life in many ways, may it be a time of growing a deeper relationship with the Lord.