Blessed by JOY

Recently, something pretty amazing happened.  Something that surpassed any expectation I ever had for any of our HOPE+ sisters.

Meet Gertrude.  ???????????????????????????????

I met Gertrude the first time in March 2012.  She was an HIV+ widow whose life was hard….very hard.  She often didn’t have enough to feed herself and her son and she struggled to pay school fees.


In January 2013, we launched the Uganda HOPE+ sisterhood and Gertrude was one of the first women that entered our program.  She stood out to me because when we visited her, she prayed for me.  She prayed for God to bless the program and to help me find sisters for all of the sisters.  She was so excited to be part of this program. 

I have literally watched hope grow inside Gertrude over the past 2 years.  Her eyes speak a joy I could only dream of having.

She has been blessed with Joy.  And I mean that literally.  Gertrude has become our first foster mom to a precious young girl named Joy who was desperately in need of a mother to love her.

I often find myself stepping back and saying “is this really happening?  Did an HIV+ widow who was destitute just 2 years ago open her home to a broken little girl?”  The answer is YES….and she did it with delight.

Gertrude’s faith and YES is truly and inspiration and a personal challenge for me.  Am I trusting that God will provide for my every need.  Am I taking Him for His word?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Matthew 6:26

It was a YES on this side of the world that allowed Gertrude to be in a place to become a foster mom.  The lives of these beautiful women are literally being transformed.  You can see the hope in their eyes and feel the joy from their spirit.  Please take a moment to learn about the HOPE+ sisterhood and pray about becoming a sister.


fundraiser imageWe at Project HOPEFUL support fundraising for adoptions because we understand that many families do not have sufficient funds to adopt without help.  We believe that the God of the universe will help people who are taking a leap of faith to give a child – or children – a family.

To that end, Project HOPEFUL established the Families in the Gap Program (FIG Program) to help families raise funds for adoptions.  The FIG Program allows families or advocates to open a tax-deductible fund for a waiting child who meets Project HOPEFUL’s mission (children with HIV/AIDS and other children overlooked for adoption). All donations to this child’s fund will be tax deductible and will be used for a family to adopt this specific child.  You can use a FIG fund to raise money for your own adoption or to help another family.  In either case, funds are earmarked for a specific child and will only be used for that child – never returned to a family.

Since families who are fundraising for an adoption can be met with questions (at best) and criticism (at worst) during the fundraising phase, here are a few things for families to prayerfully consider when deciding whether to establish a FIG fund with Project HOPEFUL:

Should we fundraise or fund the adoption ourselves?

  1. What resources do you have that you could use to contribute to the adoption of this child?  Do you have savings or investments?  Do you have extra resources?  Do you have items you could sell or repurpose?
  2. What resources does your extended family have that they may be willing to give to the benefit of this child?  If you are expecting a large cash gift at Christmas or a birthday, for example, consider contributing it to the FIG fund.
  3. Do you have the ability to pay for all or part of the adoption out of the resources that God has provided?  Many of us are blessed beyond measure and could contribute significantly to adoption expenses.  Just because someone “can” fundraise does not mean they “should.”
  4. Are you planning a major house renovation, sale/purchase, or upgrade?  It is hard for donors to accept significant expenditures by families that are fundraising.  If you can afford to spend $10,000 to upgrade your house, for example, perhaps now is not the right time to fundraise for an adoption.
  5. What sacrifices have you made?  Could your family cut back on extras to meet some of your fundraising needs?

How should we use the funds we raise?

  1. If you will be in-country overseas for a significant period of time, consider where you stay (five-star resort or modest apartment?) and how you spend money on food and travel.
  2. Can you arrange your schedule to be in-country for the entire adoption process to reduce travel costs?

Last, consider that every family who raises funds for adoption is consuming resources God has bestowed on His people.  Your fundraising reduces the resources that might be available for other fundraising families.  Project HOPEFUL encourages you to be good stewards of what God has given you and your friends and family.

Here are the families currently fundraising through Project HOPEFUL.  We pray that you will consider supporting their adoptions! Matched Families

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Please, Take My Baby

Dawn Patterson, our Director of the Hope + Sisterhood — Uganda, continues to write about her trip to Uganda:

As we visited one sister in her hair salon, a young mother sat with her baby while having her hair braided by another young girl.  Her daughter was beautiful and of course, we couldn’t help but smile and entertain the child.  The  mother did not speak English but the girl braiding her hair did.  The mother spoke and the girl translated:  “She wants you to take her  baby.”  I would love to say this is the first time I’ve heard these words spoken in Uganda, but that is not the case.  Even after we left and moved to another shop to purchase fabric, the girl followed us and continued to say, “She wants you to take her baby.”
I can’t presume to know what was stirring in that mother’s heart.  I don’t know the hardships she faces in her life or the obstacles she will have to overcome.  But I do know that a myth is being perpetuated in the minds of mothers here that their babies are better off in another country….in another family.   This can not be the answer.  This is  not the solution to poverty or desperation.
We have to work to change their mindset and ours.  We must empower these women.  The financial commitment it takes to literally change a life here costs just 4 percent of an average Ugandan adoption.  FOUR PERCENT.  If you are a mother, ask yourself what it would take for you to give up your child.  Can you feel the ache in your heart?  I know I can.  As you feel that ache, if you knew that for $45 per month for one year a mother could be prevented from feeling like her only option was to give away her child…..would you do it?

I believe, with every fiber of my being that adoption is necessary.  There are, and will always be children who need forever families.  However, it is not the only answer.  Far from it.   Please consider pouring into the life of a woman in Uganda.  Help empower her and give her HOPE.  PRESERVE FAMILIES.  Allow yourself to be used by God to transform a life.   The HOPE + Sisterhood has changed my life and opened my eyes and I am humbled that God even allows me to walk along side these beautiful women. 

The Sisterhood IS Love

News from our Director of the Hope + Sisterhood in Uganda continues today with this message:
Today I cried.  You know those full body, all over, really ugly cries.   Yes, that was me.  Let me tell you about it!
Yesterday we gathered with all the sisters….old and new.  Our hope is that the sisters from the first round would be able to encourage the new sisters entering the program.  I wasn’t prepared for the feelings I felt when I saw them all sitting there waiting for our arrival.
As the van pulled up and we began to exit, the women started clapping and jumping and shouting.  When I ran to great them, I could feel my emotions begin to well up to the point that I couldn’t contain it.  I literally felt my body collapse into one of the sisters.  It was too much.  But too much in a very, very good way.
We sang.  We prayed.  We danced.  Sisters shared their testimonies about what God has done in their lives.  One sister shared about how she had never felt loved by anyone in her entire life until she entered the sisterhood.  She encouraged the new sisters to be strong and to be wise with their finances.   She told them not to give up hope
We distributed letters and photos to your sisters and the smiles on their faces were radiant.  Sisters who could understand and read English translated for those who could not.  They looked at your photos and their eyes lit up.  Most of them simply couldn’t believe a woman on the other side of the world was willing to walk along side of them and bring them hope.
We are re-working our Uganda program so that the sisterhood is a one year program instead of just six months.  We believe that to give the women the best chance we can, one year gives them the hand up they need to truly invest in their businesses and become self-sustainable.  Having said that, we have approximately 25 women who went through the first round (6 months) who we would like to match with sisters for an additional 6-12 month period of time.  Please prayerfully consider being part of this amazing ministry and email me at  You WILL NOT regret it.  

Hope + Sisterhood — Uganda

Hope + Sisterhood Director Dawn Patterson is currently in Uganda leading a group of women who were excited to meet their Ugandan sisters who participate in the Hope + Sisterhood program!  Today she writes the following:

It would be impossible to put into words the transformation in the lives of the women in the Sisterhood program.  Where I once only saw sadness, anger and despair…..I now see HOPE.  I see joy.  I see transformation.


It’s amazing how God can multiply the financial support given through the HOPE+ sisterhood.  Your gift of $45 a month has been multiplied into hair salons, retail stores, poultry rearing, cattle purchases, tailoring shops, and more.


God asks us to care for the least of these.  Read Matthew 25:40.  Read Isaiah 58:10.  Read Proverbs 28:27.  Read Luke 3:11.  Read Proverbs 31:20.  Read Galatians 6:2.   Go ahead…do it now!


If you feel God tugging on your heart strings to love one of these women from the other side of the world, please email  We are going to have many sisters available that need YOUR love, support and prayer.



Matthew 25 . . . Lives

From the heart of our staff member, Jennifer Knapp:

I’m reading this book right now that’s destroying me . . . in a good way! It’s one of those books you come across where you’d rather skip house chores, lunch dates, work, and even kid-time than not be able to turn another page.  Many of the thoughts are not “new” for me, but they are expressed in a way that is further opening my eyes.  I imagine that all of us in the adoption/orphan care world, understand in a deep way God’s heart for the least of these:  the forgotten, neglected, abandoned, marginalized, and orphaned.  And I imagine that most of us have been moved in ways to take action on behalf of children who were adopted {our own and others} because our charge is to both proclaim and embody the gospel so that others can see, hear, and feel God’s love in tangible ways.
The Hole In Our Gospel, {the book I can’t put down} is the story of a corporate CEO, Richard Stearns, who set aside worldly success for something far more significant, and discovered the full power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to change his own life.  Stearns was pursued to become the President of World Vision, U.S. for months on end.  Stearns didn’t believe that he was the man for the job, until God broke his heart in a new way: “What if there are children who will suffer somehow because I failed to obey God?  What if my cowardice costs even one child somewhere in the world his or her life?
As soon as I read this quote, I immediately thought of the miracle many of us have had the privilege of participating in over the past couple weeks for Village of HOPE  {you can read about it here}.  I am in awe over the true miracle that God has been doing and will be able to do through the hands and feet of the Block and Twietmeyer Families.  And then I thought about how it’s hard to see what God wants to show us in our own lives when we read or hear about crazy matching grant stories that bring in almost $75,000 in less than two weeks to help keep moms and children together in Guatemala.  It’s easy to get caught up in watching what God is doing or where God is moving and lose sight of the bigger picture.  It’s easy  to say “WOW . . . this is unreal . . . praise God” and then move on.  But what if God answers and moves in these crazy ways . . . not JUST for the sake of the poor, but perhaps also to teach us again that this is what he expects of us!  Throughout all of scripture you can read about God’s heart for both the poor and the marginalized.  Perhaps God is trying to show us what he expects of us too!
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.”  Isaiah 58
If I am to become even more like Christ, I must continue to watch God work in the awe-inspiring ways like he has for Village of HOPE, and then I need to re-examine my life and the life of my family and keep asking “how else can we spend ourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed SO THAT your light will rise in this dark world and bring heaven to earth.”  More more can we do?
I will leave you with this version of Matthew 25 from Richard E. Stearns:
“For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved.”

Will you join my family and me in finishing the blessing of TWO homes at Village of Hope so more children and families can be blessed?  You can donate to the Village of Hope Building Fund hereJust $28,000 to go and we are truly HOME.

Parenting a Child with Down Syndrome

So what’s it like to parent a child with Down syndrome? How long do you have to read this article? Because I could probably fill a book with the myriad of answers to this question. So for the sake of blog etiquette, I’ll keep it as succinct as possible.

My personal experience only goes so far. Our son, Kirill, was adopted from a Russian institution at the age of five and he’s been home with us for 2.5 years. So a lot of our experience has been influenced by the neglect and trauma of living in an orphanage for the first five years of his life. Our experience is vastly different from many of our friends who have biological children with DS, or who have parented their adopted children with DS from birth or soon after.

First, let’s talk about the medical stuff because people are always concerned about that. Kirill doesn’t currently have any additional health complications that sometimes accompany DS. However, we had to do a lot of testing to rule out any of these common issues AND we had to do a lot of interventions and therapies (still do) to help him learn to do many age-appropriate skills. Medically, we had special X-rays of his spine in case there was any sign of instability, extensive heart testing to make sure there were no issues there, and a swallow study. At first, Kirill couldn’t swallow normally and we had to thicken all of his foods and liquids to make sure he didn’t aspirate on them. We worked with a speech therapist and an occupational therapist on swallowing skills for a few months and these issues quickly resolved for him.

Kirill also had a lot of issues with his eyes and we had to go to a specialist who works with children with his specific condition (strabismus). He also had really bad ear infections and gastrointestinal infections. It took us a little while to sort all of that out too. He has tubes in his ears and he had to be on a special diet/take lots of antibiotics to get his guts regulated and clear of infection. He still needs checkups every six months on both his eyes and his ears.

At first, getting all of Kirill’s doctor’s appointments and therapies set up was hard. We had four therapy appointments on a weekly basis. I kept charts and meticulously wrote down every single thing he did.  I did choose to let my professional goals slow down, with the knowledge that both the doctor’s visits and therapy sessions would likely decrease as Kirill grew older, and I could always work later. (Other parents don’t have the same flexibility as I did, which doesn’t mean they are forced to choose between working and caring for their child. The therapists go to the day care in that situation.)

As far as just the hardest thing we deal with on a day-to-day basis, potty-training has been our greatest parenting challenge. Due to low muscle tone and hyposensitivity (difficulty feeling sensation), we are still working on potty training (Kirill is 7. Average age for children with DS to be fully potty trained is 8…so we are right there with the average). Another difficulty we have with Kirill is socially appropriate behavior. He pushes, eats off other people’s plates, and doesn’t sit still very well (also sounds like a typical child at time…ha). Both of these are to be expected and are not impossible to learn for children with DS, just a little harder to teach/learn.

Kirill also doesn’t speak so that presents a lot of extra challenges. I’ve read percentages of kids with DS that never learn to talk at all…it’s not that high…most children with DS do learn to talk at some level. Honestly, I don’t even care anymore if Kirill talks or not. Sometimes, his non-verbalness (is that a word?) even comes in handy. I never have to worry about him talking incessantly on long car trips. He doesn’t talk back. I get lots of “quiet time” if I just have Kirill around. We have another son who doesn’t have special needs. He is on the opposite end of the spectrum…hyperverbal even. So it’s kind of a nice balance. Many parents of adult children with Down syndrome that I’ve talked with often comment upon the fact that their son or daughter with Downs is the “easiest” of the bunch. Although the individual stories will vary, the overall portrait of family life with a person with DS positive. Is it harder in some ways? Sure. But our family motto has become “easier is not better”.

When other people describe children with DS, they often say things like, “They’re so happy all the time!” or “They just go with the flow and are easy to please.” Well, I’m here to tell you that is a myth. Sorry to disappoint, but Kirill has the full range of emotions that any other human being has and then some. He’s really good at letting us know when he’s upset. I think that myth may be perpetuated by something that I DO see in Kirill. He is easy to get over things. He doesn’t really hold a grudge. His frustrations are the same as our other son, but I do think he “gets over it” faster than Clayton. However, that isn’t true of every child with DS.

Which leads me to the main thing I want you to know about parenting a child with DS. It’s very much like parenting any other child. My joy and heart come from seeing Kirill succeed, watching him grow and learn, and looking forward to his future. Maybe my tune will change as he gets older and we face new challenges, but I don’t really think so. God has always given us what we need when we need it. We just take it one day at a time around here. Kirill has taught us to slow down and not worry so much about tomorrow. It’s actually a pretty awesome to be able to realize that in a world where people get so caught up in the rat race.

A lot of people ask, “Will he ever (insert skill here…talk, potty, etc). Well, we don’t know. What we do know is that Kirill is limited. He’s more needy than other children his age. He’s vulnerable because of his special needs. But so am I. So are you. We are all limited, vulnerable, and needy.

I guess that’s where Jesus becomes the common denominator for us all. We all need help…and my help comes from him and the people he uses in my life. We all need community and family and other people with whom to be interconnected. We all need help from Jesus and each other to do life.


So maybe life is harder with a child with DS. Maybe it’s just different. All I know is, I wouldn’t have it any other way.


By Tesney Davis, Parent to Kirill from Russia