Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fundraising

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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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.
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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.
 
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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 dawn@projecthopeful.org.  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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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

Sometimes

I am “for” adoption.  I think we established that in my last post.  But as I referenced there, I’m only for adoption when adoption is necessary.  The last resort.  Sometimes

I’m FOR families.  And first families are, well, the FIRST families.  I believe that birth mothers are due deference.  I believe that wherever possible, they have the inherent right to parent their children.  We do not.  I’m not at all threatened by appropriate deference to birth mothers.  After all, isn’t that how God designed it?  We birth children who we then parent.  It’s kind of the natural order of things. 

But I don’t think that means there isn’t a place for adoption and I don’t think it means that adoption is “unnatural.”  To the contrary, I believe adoption is a necessary piece of God’s plan in this fallen world.  Sometimes, the last resort must come into play.  Sometimes, we do get to support a child who has no one else.  Sometimes, we have the incredible opportunity to love as our own the child of another woman’s womb.  The question is:  when is “sometimes”?

In the United States, sometimes happens in the Foster Care system when a court of law has determined that two parents are unfit to parent.  Once parental rights are terminated, those children are orphans under the law and need parents.  The child did not do anything wrong in this situation; parental rights are not terminated because a child is a delinquent.  Typically, bad things have happened and no amount of intervention has righted the wrongs; new parents are needed.  Sometimes, arises in the foster care system.  Would you consider being the answer for a child who needs parents in our foster care system?

In private U.S. adoptions, birth parents can choose to place their child for adoption for a host of reasons including their age, health, poverty, number of children, the circumstances of their conception, the health of the child, and innumerable other reasons.  Or for no reason other than, “We don’t want to parent.”  In those cases where coercion or pressure is not a part of the adoption placement decision, children may need parents as a result of a private placement.  Sometimes.  The key here is to ensure that none of the parties was coerced into agreeing to relinquish their parental rights.  Their rights.  It’s no surprise to me that at least 50% of mothers who *think* they will place their child for adoption before the child’s birth, change their minds once the child is born.  And thank God.  No mother should be forced to say good-bye to a child that they want to parent, absent abuse/neglect and subsequent intervention by a court.  {I know well the devastation that comes from a lost adoption placement.  This paragraph is not at all intended to be insensitive to those prospective parents who have lost referrals.  We grieve with you.}  Once a social worker and a court of law have determined that the child has been freely and voluntarily relinquished, a child becomes available for adoption.  Sometimes can happen through private U.S. adoption agencies.  Would you consider parenting a child through private adoption?

International adoption has recently been highly criticized in both the media and through popular literature.  In many cases, appropriately so.  Sometimes children born in other countries need to be adopted by families in the U.S., but many times, they do not.  The world of international adoption is fraught with challenges and, unfortunately, corruption.  But even as I say that, please hear this:  I have two children who were born in Uganda.  They needed a family.  Sometimes international adoption is appropriate.  And necessary.  However, I believe that we, Church, have to be thoughtful about when “sometimes” happens

Of the estimated 17.9 million double orphans worldwide, many of them are not available for adoption because they are being cared for by extended family of their deceased parents, just like they would be here if tragedy struck.  I’m deeply concerned when I hear the Church criticize this method of caring for orphaned children, particularly when it is precisely how we would do so.  Why do we believe that we, strangers from a different culture, can parent better than a biological relative of an orphan in the absence of evidence of abuse or neglect?

Even children who are in orphanages are often not available for adoption.  In fact, far less than half of the children in orphanages in Uganda need a home or a family.  In many developing countries, like Uganda, families may place a child in an orphanage because they cannot support the child financially for a season of life.  While I do not support institutional care for any child, {indeed, we stopped the use of institutional care in the U.S. decades ago} I also cannot support the adoption of a child who has family and may even have family who regularly visits him/her at the orphanage.  And yet, I know first-hand of instances where children who were not placed in orphanages for adoption were offered to interested-Westerners for adoption.  This is not okay.

I am devastated each time I hear that a child who has been matched with an adoptive family dies while waiting for a family to arrive.  It’s heartbreaking on so many levels my brain cannot process it.  Nevertheless, I do not favor speed in the International adoption process because the system is ripe for corruption.  I think of it like this:  would I be willing to sacrifice my child to strangers in another country thousands of miles away so that other children in need could find homes?  No, I would not.  That is precisely what we are asking the victim of child trafficking to do when we place the value of her child and her relationship below the value of other children who may need to be adopted.  Above all, adoptions must be ethical, even if it means that the process is slower.  Because imagine that was you.  Imagine you were tricked or duped into relinquishing a child.  Imagine if you thought your child was going to school and later learned that he was living in a different country and calling different people mom or dad.  Imagine being told your child was leaving for HIV treatment and learning that instead, she had been placed for international adoption.  Or imagine how you would feel if you learned from the child you adopted that he has a mom.  And a dad.  And that he remembers the day he was taken from them.  Heaven help us.

Sometimes international adoption is necessary and appropriate.  We, Church, cannot be involved in the grey areas because devastating a birth family in our quest to address the orphan crisis (largely made up of older or special needs children) is not what any of us set out to do.  Let’s not allow our love, passion and emotion for children to cloud our understanding of which children need families and which do not.  In those situations where children do need a family, are you willing to be their sometimes?

–Deb Steiner

Pearls, anyone?

A post by our FIG director, Traci Heim:

I’ve been thinking about orphans lately.
Shocking, I know.
I talk often with people about all aspects of adoption, and cost is something that always comes up.

Always.

So today I’m thinking about orphans and cost.

I will tell you that cost is a widely misunderstood concept; most often because its scope has been minimized to something as inconsequential as dollars and cents.

As in: How much does the typical adoption cost?

In monetary terms, one could say that the average eastern European adoption of an HIV+ child lands right around $24,000 to $27,000.

Is that it?
Is that the cost in its entirety?

I recently heard a TV evangelist caution people considering adoption to “count the cost.”
He eluded to mental illness, sexual abuse, and behavioral issues as things to very carefully consider. It was clear that he considered it far to high a price to pay; the underlying message was that in his mind, these children weren’t worth the cost.

Here’s the thing.
He wasn’t wrong to identify those areas as areas that cost something.
They do.
Where he was absolutely wrong was in assuming that the price was too high.

The true answer to what an adoption costs is:

IT COSTS EVERYTHING.

IT COSTS YOUR LIFE.

IT IS WORTH IT.

What we all need to understand is that every person,
every child,
every orphan
is worthy of the cost.

We know this because Jesus paid for our salvation with his life.
How can the redemption of someone else not cost us the same?

He died to redeem us.

In adoption, we live to redeem them.

Matthew 13:45
The kingdom if Heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all he had and bought it.

Matthew 19:14
But Jesus said suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 6:33
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.

Matthew 6:21
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

When considering the cost of adoption, it’s not:
How can I ever pay it?

It’s:
How can I not?

 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of each and every staff member at Project HOPEFUL.  Thank you for following along through our Adoption Awareness Month series!  For more information or if you have specific questions about any post, please reach out to us at projecthopeful@projecthopeful.org

I know why you THINK you can’t adopt or be involved in foster care….

A post from one of our staffees, Jenny Clark:

Orphan Sunday 2013.

(On this day last year, I announced on my blog that I was officially starting the process to adopt a child with Down syndrome. I would have NEVER imagined that a short 71/2 months later that baby would be born and become mine.)

I know why you think you can’t do it, because I used to think it too.

And I know why we think that way.

One reason is that we have convinced ourselves that we are not “called”. Our Western churches teach us that we are required to show up for church each week, and give money to support that church. We are required to be “good people” so we can make it to heaven. The rest, we are told, is based on “being called”.

No need to go on a mission trip if you are not called.
No need to help the poor unless you feel called.
No reason to reach out to widows if you don’t feel called.
Worst of all we have been taught that we can spread the Gospel just by our actions or inviting someone to church. If you don’t feel called to open your mouth and spread the Good News, then that is cool. Leave it to the missionaries and the preachers who feel “called” to share the Gospel.

That mindset is where I believe our attitude towards adoption and foster care was born. It is optional. It is not my problem unless I feel called. Leave it to the people who do feel called.

The second reason is very simple. Americans have an idea of what raising children is supposed to look like, and adding kids from hard places into that mix will just plain mess things up.

Newborn babies have to look like this:

And they have to come home from the hospital to rooms that look like this:

And when they get bigger their rooms should look like this:

And of course it would scar them for life if they had to share a room.

But, once you allow God to open your eyes to the fact that these are real children we are talking about, you will be changed. You realize that every baby doesn’t have to have a closet full of clothes to survive. That kids who share a room will likely learn a lot of life lessons from it and be better adults because of it. That growing up in a family that lives out the Gospel by giving their comforts away to help those in need will change your children for the better.

I have talked a lot about adoption in the past, so now I want to focus on foster care, because that is what God is speaking to my heart today. Here are some facts:

  • There are 423,773 children in the U.S. foster care system; 114,556 of these children are available for adoption. Their birth parent’s legal rights have been permanently terminated and children are left without a family.
  • More children become available for adoption each year than are adopted. In 2009, 69,947 children had parental rights terminated by the courts, yet only 57,466 were adopted.
  • Children often wait three years or more to be adopted, move three or more times in foster care and often are separated from siblings. The average age of waiting children is 8 years old.
  • Last year, 29,471 children turned 18 and left the foster care system without an adoptive family.
  • Adopting from foster care is affordable. Most child welfare agencies cover the costs of home studies and court fees, and provide post-adoption subsidies. Thousands of employers offer financial reimbursement and paid leave for employees who adopt and Federal and/or state adoption tax credits are available to most families.
  • Every child is adoptable. Many children in foster care have special needs. All of them deserve the chance to grow up in a safe, loving, permanent home. Support and other post-adoption resources are available.
  • Adopting from foster care is permanent. Once a child is adopted out of foster care, the birth parents cannot attempt to claim them or fight in court for their return. A family formed through foster care adoption is forever.
  • According to a National Adoption Attitudes Survey commissioned by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, 63 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of adoption and 78 percent think more should be done to encourage adoption.
  • Nearly 40 percent of American adults, or 81.5 million people, have considered adopting a child, according to the National Adoption Attitudes Survey. If just one in 500 of these adults adopted, every waiting child in foster care would have a permanent family.

My Orphan Sunday 2013 plea to you is this:

consider foster care

Pray about it and see where God leads you. Open your mind to the FACTS. Let it sink in that these are real kids and they are suffering. If Christians don’t meet the need, who will?

Remember, our job as Christians is not to coast it out in this life, collecting as much stuff as we can along the way. It is not to create the perfect looking family. Our job is to be the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth. Based on the statistics above, I would say we are doing a pretty crummy job.

Please read the blog post below, written by a friend of mine who was adopted from the foster care system 30 years ago. You can also click the second link and look at the faces of these real children who need someone to stand up and care for them.

http://stinkytofuandotherthings.blogspot.com/2013/10/thirty.html

http://www.adoptuskids.org/meet-the-children

 

blessings,

 

jennymo

Jenny blogs for her family at mojennymo.blogspot.com