Monday, March 23, 2009
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
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
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;
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
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!
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
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
Saturday, March 14, 2009
"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. "
"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.
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
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,
by John Piper; Desiring God. desiringGod.org
Saturday, March 7, 2009
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.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Meet the Ausfahl Family. Philip, Charisa, Sierra, Corban and Ian. Why are the Ausfahls adopting? Good question. We already have three gorgeous children. Why are we adopting? The simple answer is that Philip and I have another daughter in our hearts. We can't "try for another girl" because I had serious heart issues during the last pregnancy. Therefore, for my safety and the baby's safety, we have been advised by my cardiologist to not have another child biologically. So, we have started this adventure to find our little girl that the Lord has placed in our hearts! We plan to bring home a 3 or 4 year old little girl from Bulgaria.
We are the Lonergans. John, Monica, Jack, Elizabeth, Caleb, and Grace. Finally, coming to the point where we fostered and adopted was long journey for us. It took many years for our hearts, minds and life to be in the place where God had us ready to move. We actually found out about our kids at a church picnic. A member of church was fostering our daughter and telling me all about her fostering experiences. Just a few weeks later I saw a prayer request that the kids' situation had taken a dramatic change and the agency was looking for a potential adoptive home. That was the beginning of the beginning! We fostered for 1 1/2 years before the adoption became final in 2007. Even after the adoption, it still took awhile for God to complete His work in becomming a genuine family. We are at the point now that I sometimes forget that fostering is part of our history and I dare you to pick out from the picture who is bioligical and who God added via adoption! We are praying about the opportunity to do it all again!