Monday, June 6, 2011

Truth Pandemic

Truth Pandemic

What would you do?

You’re a young woman (or perhaps her husband) and you’re pregnant for the first time. You and your husband are ecstatic! You’ve dreamed of being a mom since you were little, and now, the day is almost here! You’ve been busy preparing the nursery, reading up on infants, and taking care of your health, so you can bring a healthy baby into this world. Before you know it, you go into labour. It’s a difficult process, harder than you imagined it would be, but finally, after 18 gruelling hours, your beautiful baby girl is born. Weighing in at 7 lbs, 10 oz, she is perfect in every way. You decide to name her Grace. The doctor’s take her to do an exam and suddenly the mood changes. You can tell something is wrong. They whisk her away, your beautiful baby girl, as you sit their motionless, unsure what to do. You’re terrified, helpless, as your baby girl lies somewhere else, without your warm embrace to comfort her. Finally, a doctor comes in and gives you the news. Little Grace has severe anaemia. You discover it is not a life threatening condition, it happens often with newborns, and a simple blood transfusion will solve the problem. You let out a huge sigh of relief. Your pulse returns to normal. You wait patiently as your precious baby undergoes the transfusion, and before you know it your both home, safe and sound, with your darling miracle in your arms. You look down at her sparkling blue eyes, and thank God for blessing you with such an amazing gift.
A week later, you’ve settled into your new routine as a mother. You’re extra tired, but managing, and enjoying your new way of life. Little Grace is growing and eating like a champ. Suddenly, the phone rings. You pick it up only to hear your doctor’s voice on the other end. His tone is troubled. You heart starts to quicken as you try to listen to everything he is saying. You don’t understand. Contaminated blood? Huge recall at the hospital? And then you stop breathing. Then you stand frozen. HIV. HIV. HIV? How can this be? Are they sure? Was there a mistake?
No. There is no mistake. A short while later the tests confirm. You beautiful, precious, baby girl, is HIV +, and there is not one thing you can do about it. The tainted batch of blood given to her during the transfusion infected her. It is too late to do anything about it. What does this mean? What do you do? Would you keep your darling daughter? Would you bring her home to your other 2 children and husband? Would you give her up for adoption? Put her in a home? What are you thinking right now?
I can tell you what you would do. What every mother would do. You would take that precious gift, that miraculous blessing, you would bring her to your lips, and you would give her your loving, motherly kiss. You would bring her home, and the above thoughts would never enter into your mind. She is your daughter. She will always be your daughter. HIV or no HIV, she is your family and you will learn to live with it. It doesn’t matter how much research you have to do, how much medication Grace may need, you will do whatever it takes to give her the best life that she can have. After all, she is your daughter, your gift from God.
Now imagine, for a moment, you were not the mother of this child, you hadn’t given birth to her, but instead, you were thinking of adopting Grace. What would you do? Why would it be any different? Would you go to the same lengths as the mother above? Would you even consider it? This story was meant to open your eyes to the adoption of a child who is HIV+.
So much has been learned about HIV, and many people still have the same misconceptions as when the virus was discovered. HIV is transmitted in three main ways: Unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing of needles, or from mother to child through birth or breastfeeding. HIV CANNOT be spread from hugging, kissing, vomit, feces, and there has never been a known case for someone to contact HIV from a family member. HIV is treated with medication and can allow a child to live a regular life span. HIV progresses to AIDS when left untreated.
So there you have it. The facts. So I ask you again. What would you do? Would you consider adopting a child who is HIV+? Currently there are millions of children waiting for adoption that are HIV+ and are being left abandoned, or moved into mental institutions, because of one reason. Fear. So I encourage you to research, pray, and think about what you have just read, because somewhere, there is an innocent child of God, hoping that someone will consider adopting them, and bringing them into their forever family. Is it you?

To find out more information and see a list of children waiting for their forever homes, go to http://www.projecthopeful.org/

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May Spotlight

Madison

(Currently available for adoption)
Birth Date: April 1999
Ethno-Cultural Background: North American/Eastern European
Let me tell you about this active, easy going, sweet natured little girl. Madison used to appear in the bulletin with her brother but she is now looking for a family all on her own. She is going into grade 3 with many milestones ahead of her. Madison wants her new family to know that she loves to help around the house, play with dolls and that she is very good with pets. She is hoping her family will help her to become more independent.
Madison loves to be active and outdoors. She has tried bowling in a league and loved it. She also loves to ride her bike and go for walks. Inside she is very happy doing crafts and board games. She has been successful in building some friendships through both school and in her after school program.
Madison does best when she is prepared for new situations and would do best in a family willing to coach her through new situations. She can become anxious when she is not adequately prepared for situations.
Madison has been attending Christian Church and would like to continue. A family that shares her beliefs would be ideal. Madison’s family should also be patient and supportive of this beautiful little girl and willing to provide the structure and love she requires. A level of knowledge around the impact of drugs and alcohol on children prior to birth would also be helpful.
Some openness would need to be negotiated with family members.
Are you the lucky family that gets to witness all the accomplishments in the future for this lovely little girl?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Changing the world: One little step at a time!

I recently watched the movie Conviction, telling the real life story of Betty Anne Waters. Waters, who had a brother wrongfully convicted of murder, spent 18 years putting herself through law school in order to prove her brother’s innocence. She was a waitress with a family, 2 children, and limited time and resources, yet she chipped away, step by step, ultimately resulting in her primary goal of freeing her brother.
I find her story so inspiring, because it so clearly shows how any small person can accomplish something great, no matter how long it takes. Even Noah, who was commanded to build the arc, was estimated to have taken 55-75 years to complete it. Had I been in the same situation, I can't say I would have done it. Sometimes I think of how can I change things today, rather than how can I change them tomorrow. How many of you have ever dreamed of accomplishing something, or getting somewhere, but couldn’t because of certain circumstances or limitations. Have you ever wished you could open up a free clinic in a third world country, but aren’t a doctor? Ever dreamed you owned several houses so you could offer them up at no charge to low income families in need, but didn’t even own your first home yet? How about yearning to preach to congregations about the great and amazing Glory of God, and all His wonders, but only know a few stories from the bible? It is situations like these that make me think, if I don’t do it, who will? If there were enough people doing all these things, then we wouldn’t have the problems and needs in the first place!
The problem I always sit and think about, is the problem of orphans. I often think, plan, and dream, of how I can change legislature so rules are changed about the well being of children in foster care. I wish I had the authority to go to the UN and demand changes for international adoption. I wonder what I could do if I had my own adoption agency, free of charge, and how many more adoptions might be possible if finances weren’t an issue. There are so many things that NEED to be done, by so many MILLIONS of people, yet I think we underestimate ourselves, and God. We are capable of so much more, and He is capable of EVERYTHING! So what are we waiting for?
A year ago I tried to enrol in the social work degree program, with a minor in political science, to become a social worker, to try and make a difference. Being a mother of 4 young children, not having a lot of money, and definitely not a lot of time, it obviously didn’t work out. I was discouraged and shoved the idea to the back of my mind. I think my problem was I was trying to take too big a step, was trying to swallow before I chewed. What if instead, I took my time? Chipped away at it, little step by little step? Think about someone you know, or yourself, who might be in their mid thirties or older. If they had thought of something big, maybe 10 or 15 years earlier, they would be in a position NOW to get it accomplished, just as we may be years from now! What if I took one course a semester, or even one a year, until all my children were in school? Even if it took me 15 years to complete a degree in social work, in  15 years from now would I rather be ready to embark on great changes for those children in need, or would I prefer spending my days scrap booking and learning to knit. I don’t at all regret not going to school earlier. I know I am where I am supposed to be. I love my life and raising my beautiful family. But I am not going to be a mother to young children forever. There will come a day when they have all moved out and onto their own God inspired journeys, and I want to be ready for my journey as well. God has given us so many abilities and is just waiting for us to use them. We are the ones who are going to change the world! I encourage you to think of something big you have always dreamed of doing, and start thinking of how you can get there. All it takes is one little step at a time until you eventually find yourself on the other side of the world! Last night I signed up for my first course. What will you do?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spotlight

I have decided to start doing a new kind of post on my blog. Each month I am going to do a “spotlight” of a child up for adoption. Knowing a bit about a particular child helps the need seem a bit more real, more organic, than just simply telling you there are millions of children around the world waiting for a home. Some months I may tell you about a child from another country, some months I may tell you about a child right here in BC. For more information on any of them please feel free to contact me for more information!

This month I would like to highlight Jamaica! Right now there are two amazing beautiful little girls waiting for their forever homes. They are each waiting for a mom and dad to love them. I don’t have a lot of information about them (compared to spotlights of children here in BC). One little girl is 6 years old and has cerebral palsy. The other little girl, also 6 years old, may have FAS. They both live in an orphanage in Jamaica, waiting for a place to call home. They are currently living in an orphanage for children 0-6 year old, and shouldn’t be kept waiting any longer. While I do not have a lot of information about them, I thought I would start my spotlight off with them, so that I could also give information about Jamaican adoption.
One of the great things about choosing this country on the international route, is there are no fees associated with Jamaican adoptions. They do not have private agencies, therefore all adoptions are done through the government and do not require any sort of fee. While fees are still necessary here on the Canadian side (coming in under $10,000 including travel) it is one of the cheapest country’s to choose from.
These girls are also in a loving, caring, Christian orphanage. You know their needs are being met and God’s love is flowing down on them daily. In Jamaica it is also possible to do something called a “child specific” adoption. Usually the government matches an applicant to a child, which can include many delays and long wait times. However, if you were interested in one of these two young girls, you could apply to directly adopt them, an option that appears to speed up the process with their government. While wait times are still a real and common truth in any international adoption, your typical wait is around 2 years (Although I have heard them happening as fast as 6 months and as long as 4 years.) International adoption definitely requires patience! Currently there are only two agencies in BC working with Jamaican adoptions, and they are Hope Agency and Family Services. So if you’re able to bring one of these darling creations of God into your family, then contact me for more information. Stay tuned to learn about more children waiting for their forever families!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Call is the Need!

Lately I have been thinking a lot about God’s plan for people. I often hear of people who have been called to certain ministries, mission’s trips, to move, to witness to people, to quit a job, go to school etc. I whole heartedly know that God does call each of us to follow certain paths which He has laid out. But here is where I start to get curious. Start to wonder if there is more to that picture. And I would love to hear feedback on this topic as I am walking through it myself and curious what others might think!
When we were young children our parent’s often would set up “house rules” including such things as cleaning your room each day, putting your dishes in the dishwasher, hanging your coat up, no swearing, no running or something similar. If one day your father came up to you and reminded you to clean your room, he wasn’t doing so because you didn’t know, you merely weren’t following the original rules and he was reminding you. “Sweetheart, please go clean your room today,” or “Honey, there are still clothes all over your room!” So as children we hopefully would listen to our parent’s reminders and obey the original rules. However, had our father not reminded us, would that mean we no longer had to keep our room tidy? Would it void out the house rules? Was reminding us to do something more than once really necessary?
Now translate that back to the bible; A book which has clearly outlined all our “house rules.” We know we aren’t supposed to cheat, murder, steal or swear. We know we are commanded to take care of the widow, the orphan, the homeless and the needy. We know we are required to go out and witness to all the non believers. God has given us a lot of rules to follow and obey in the bible, and what I often wonder, is why do we need to be reminded of them? Why do we need to be “called” in order to follow them? Is the need not the call? There are millions of orphans in the world. There are millions of homeless people in the world, and that list goes on and on. Right now the majority of every needy group God describes to us in the bible are all being taken care of by government agencies. If they don’t happen to be lucky enough to live in a developed country, they might not even be taken care of at all. Yet the command is so simple! So why are we all waiting around to be called to something? Don’t get me wrong, I know God often calls us to great things and certain paths. Sometimes He even nudges us to speak to a certain person for a very specific reason. I am in no way trying to diminish how important God’s call on us is. I am, however, trying to point out, that as Christians God has given us some pretty big responsibilities, and I think many of us are not taking them on simply because we don’t think we have been “called” to do so.
So as much as this article can be directed to any number of topics, I of course am going to focus in on adoption. With the number of orphans around the world increasing every day and coming in around 160 million, I don’t think we can afford to wait around to be “reminded” to take action. We have already been told to …take care of the widow and orphan (James ). What more needs to be said? At the end of the day, when we know there are children living under horrible conditions, with no mom or dad, are we going to simply say “I wasn’t called?” Try and flip the situation around. For those of you, who have children; imagine that something happened to you that left them orphaned. Would you feel comfortable knowing they went into foster care because no one was “called” to take care of them? No, of course not! We would expect our loved ones, our family members, or our friends to stand up and take responsibility, the Christian thing to do. Well aren’t we all brothers and sisters in Christ? I think you catch my drift. I won’t bother going into this anymore as I am pretty sure the question is clear, is the call not the need?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Help change the face of International Adoption!

If you read my previous post "Are Politics Preventing Adoptions,", you'll know that adopting is no longer as simple as once thought. While finding people interested in adopting is a huge hurdle, finding countries to work with is often just as challenging. Each year country's wait lists grow and foreign countries close themselves to international adoption. A new wave has started and it is time to tackle this problem from a new angle. We need to not only change the laws, regulations and process's of our own Country, but of the entire world. To find out more on this initiative please watch the two following video's I just came across and check out the link to "Both Ends Burning," the leaders in this initiative. I thouroughly encourage you to  sign their petition they will be taking to the UN, demanding a new system. Finally, I encourage you to take it to the next level, and post the petition in facebook, through e-mail, or word of mouth, and encourage your own friends and family to sign the petition as well. Together we can all accomplish huge things! Today I have made the decision to take a stand and be one small part of a greater movement. Won't you join me?


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fostering

Canada, thankfully, is a country which takes care of its children whom can’t remain at home, through foster care. As opposed to many other countries that in comparison have orphanages set up, children here ideally get more one-on-one attention, are raised in a typical parent/child model home, and are expected to live happier, healthier lives with a greater ability to thrive. Ideally this set-up seems great. Think again!

While there are many, many foster homes out there that are caring, loving homes, there are many, many that unfortunately are not. I have seen first hand foster parents (fp’s) who put their foster children in daycare while their biological children get to stay home. I have witnessed fp’s take their biological children on vacations, while leaving their foster children in respite homes. I have viewed fp's talk about their foster children as mere incomes, and have even become aware of foster parents that make their foster children eat separate meals from the rest of the family. The sad reality is that so many of these already troubled children are entering into homes where they are not being treated as part of the family. They are not receiving unconditional love, knowing they will ultimately be shipped to the next foster home if they misbehave. They are not being raised with the proper tools to then raise their own healthy family in the future, only perpetuating the cycle. A vast majority of foster children then grow up to have their own children put into foster care.

So what can we do about this? We can start fostering. What we need more of are loving, Christian homes that are able to take in these children, regardless of their backgrounds, behavioural issues, or special needs. We need people who for a brief moment in time will allow these children to feel like they are part of a family, learning Christian values, and feeling unconditional love. We also need families, who even once the paycheques have stopped because the child has turned 19 and aged out of the system, are available as mentors, parental figures, and family for these children who are left to embark on the world alone. One of the goals I would like to see accomplished through our ministry is the development of a mentoring system for just such children. Even though they may no longer live in a foster home, they might still have somewhere to go for holidays, summer break, times of trouble, or just good old fashioned fellowship!

The Need.

Currently there are more than 800 children in foster care in the South Fraser region. There is a need for homes for all ages, especially older children, teens and aboriginal homes. Children as young as twelve years old can be placed in hotel rooms, basement suites, or group homes, when open foster homes are not available. Becoming a foster parent is similar to becoming an adoptive parent through the ministry, as I will outline below, and offers financial support to help cover the costs of that child. A separate bedroom with a window is a requirement, but owning, renting, large homes, small homes, kids or no kids, does not affect your ability to foster, although no more than 6 children (biological or fostered) are allowed in a home. Foster parents are paid based on the level of their homes which can vary:
                                                Age 11 and under         Age 12 - 19
Restricted/Regular                    $803.82/mo                 $909.95/mo
Level 1                                     $1261.84/mo               $1367.97/mo
Level 2 (max 3 kids)                 $1944.22/mo                 $2050.35/mo
Level 3 (max 2 kids)                 $2620.48/mo               $2726.61/mo
Regular homes are placed with your average children, while levelled homes can be placed with children with physical, mental, or behavioural issues.

If you would like to become a foster parent just follow these easy steps:

  1. Phone your local social worker at 604-951-5701
  2. Attend an information session
  3. Attend an 18-hour pre-service orientation
  4. Formally apply and provide references
  5. Participate in a home study (medical checks, criminal record checks, interviews)
  6. Become an approved foster home!

Deciding to become a foster parent may be a difficult step, but loving a child is not!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Financing an Adoption

     And there we have it. One of the biggest obstacles in adopting, next to of course fear and priorities, is trying to find enough money to actually cover the costs associated with adoption. Totalling in around $10,000-$50,000, finances often eliminate those without free flowing cash, which I am pretty sure is the majority of us. A lot of people interested in adoption, or just beginning the process, look at those daunting numbers and run. My husband and I are guilty of doing just such a thing. Six years ago, when we first began our adoption journey, international was where we looked first. The huge costs, however, scared us away immediately, which is how we came to learn of adopting one of BC’s Waiting Children. But what about everyone else? Not everyone out there is prepared to adopt a child with special needs (which is the majority of BC’s Waiting Children), so where does that leave the rest of this open and willing group? These people who are more than happy to open up their homes and give a child a loving and forever family! The sad reality is that many of them will turn away from adoption. But with the growing number of orphans around the world today, that is just not acceptable! So what can we do about it?

One of the more well known options is applying for an adoption grant. Several charities, more in the US than in Canada, offer grants, where once a home study is completed, a couple can apply for a grant that is usually applied directly to an adoption agency or travel agency. Costs can vary but I most often come across $10,000 grants. This is an excellent way to help cover costs, but unfortunately is not a complete solution. The fact is, there is simply not enough funds available for every family applying for the grants. Orphan’s Hope, a charity offering adoption grants here in Canada, sets up a sort of lottery, pooling qualified applicants together and then choosing the “winning” applicant as funds become available. Unfortunately $10,000 is often nowhere near enough money. An alternative to charities is to also lobby your church to set up adoption funds, where fundraisers and offerings can aid as support.

Another option available to adoptive parents in Canada is adoption loans. The National Bank of Canada offers low interest loans, as well as several Christian charities which offer zero or low interest loans as well. At the end of the day, this option seems better than nothing, if it enables someone to give a home to a child in need, but should we really be going into debt? If other options are available I think this should be a last resort.

An option that I think is both helpful, underutilized, and actually brings awareness at the same time, is community involvement. Adoption is something God calls us to do, commands us to do, and yet not everyone is always in a place to go ahead and actually adopt. That doesn’t mean people unable to adopt themselves, can’t still help support an adoption placement! An excellent alternative is to fundraise support through friends and family, and even your local community, to help bring a needy child to their forever home. This can include actual fundraisers, such as bake sales, dinners, golf tournaments, movie nights, etc, with proceeds going to an adoptive family. Another way is to just outright ask for monetary donations. I think people who understand an adoptive family’s heart, and know it is for a good cause, would be happy to offer what support they can. For example, a couple who has perhaps 10 family members could ask for a $100 donation from each of them, and if their friends, lets say they had 100 of them, each donated $20 a month for 5 months, that couple could possibly raise $11,000. Coupled with an adoption grant, and maybe even a couple bake sales, that couple is in a much better place than an out right loan! Some family members are even willing to donate much higher amounts when simply asked! Your company might be another great option. Asking your boss for $1000, or passing around the penny jar, are great options to get your coworkers involved. Not only will it help bring you closer to bringing a child home, but it allows others to feel involved in the process as well. Asking for money can always be an awkward task, but the worst that can happen is they can say no! So if you’ve been considering an adoption, and finances are one of your big mountains, then roll up your sleeves, get creative, and put a little work into it and you may just find a supportive solution to the problem at hand!

Friday, March 4, 2011

BC's Waiting Children


If there was ever an easy way to give a child a home, adopting one of BC’s Waiting Children would be it. In Canada there are no orphanages to remind us of how many children their are waiting for a home. Instead they reside in foster homes or group homes, and like the old saying goes, out of sight, out of mind! But there are currently more than 600 children in BC waiting to be matched with their forever families! A number that I think could be reduced to zero so easily. Unlike other adoptive avenues, adopting through the ministry eliminates almost all the hurdles of private domestic and international adoption. For starters, there are no fees associated with adopting through the ministry. Aside from perhaps the nominal fee of a criminal record check and medical form, everything is covered by the government. In fact, they even help support the child after the adoption is complete. Known as “Post Adoption Assistance,” an adoptive parent can apply for funds for such things as respite (child care), therapy, special equipment, assessments, and other miscellaneous expenses that might come up regarding the special needs of a child. Second of all, there is usually no travel. Efforts are made to match you with a child in surrounding areas. While it is possible you might live in northern BC and get matched to a child in southern BC, efforts are made to keep matches geographically close, minimizing the need for extended time off work and travel costs. It also opens up the door for a more open adoption. Openness with birth parents, foster parents, or extended relatives can become more than just yearly photos and updates, but actual in person meetings just around your corner. Wait times can also be very minimal. If you are open and willing to children of many cultures, special needs, and levels of openness, then there are hundreds of children waiting for their forever home.

What the process looks like

1. Once you’ve made the decision to adopt through the ministry, contact a social worker at 604-951-5701 and make arrangements to attend an info session.

2. Attend the Adoption Education Program

3. Submit a completed adoption application

4. Meet with a social worker and begin the home study process

5. Become an open home and wait to be matched with a child

6. Review proposal of child and decide on placement

7. Attend pre-placement visits at the child’s foster home.

8. Bring home your new forever family member!

And that is it! My husband and I have adopted through BC`s Waiting Children 3 times, soon to be 4, and couldn’t imagine a greater blessing!

Who are the Waiting Children

BC`s Waiting children are children in foster care. They are children who:

May have lost one or both parents
May have come from an abusive or neglectful home
May have been voluntarily given up for adoption
Are usually between the ages of 4-10, but can be younger or older
May have special physical or medical needs
May have been exposed prenatal to drugs and alcohol
May be of different race, religion, or background

If travel or finances are preventing you from beginning the adoption process, then I would encourage you to attend an info session with the Ministry of Children and Families today, and find out how you can give a waiting child their forever home!




Friday, February 25, 2011

When A Stop Sign Means “Keep Going!”

     I know as Christians many of us sometimes feel that when things get difficult, or we hit a wall, that it is God’s way of saying “stop!” Whatever it is we’ve been pursuing we toss it to the wayside, and decide it just wasn’t meant to be. I have been guilty of that a many a time! Something I constantly try to remind myself of though is that sometimes it is not a stop sign at all. Instead, it is one of God’s obstacles he uses to create strength, character, and a closer relationship to Him. I am going to share just such an example, through the adoption of our first son, to let others see that even when things seems bumpy, or you think you’ve hit a wall, that you would be encouraged to first pray, and then persevere through your difficulties, because such amazing blessing can await you on the other side!

     My husband and I first started the adoption process when he was 19 and I was 20 years old. When we told our friends and family, they all thought we were crazy. Everyone kept saying “You just got married, enjoy married life,” or “Don’t you want to travel?” We had both been praying about it before we even met, and knew this was God’s plan for us since the beginning. We met with our small group leaders who knew and understood our hearts, and they did nothing but guide and encourage us.
    
     We immediately started our education program and home study. The process took quite a while, but before we knew it we were nearing the end. We had only a couple of meetings left with our social worker before our home study was completed and we were looking forward to being an “open home” waiting for a match! During one of those last meetings our social worker sat us down and proceeded to tell us the bad news. She went on to say that the majority of the adoption team thought we were too young to be adopting, and that she was going to put our home study on hold for a couple of years, so we could return to it when we were older. Although she believed in us and knew our passions, she was the only one who had personal experience with us, had the chance to know us, and she knew that anyone reading us on paper would not see everything we had to offer. After all, we were barely out of our teens, had low paying jobs, rented a tiny basement suite, and didn’t have much child care experience. I guess we did sound kind of nuts! She told us after a couple of years we could return to the wait list, and by then other social workers would hopefully be more on board. We walked away from the meeting discouraged, but trying to reconcile everything to the fact that is just must not have been God’s plan at that time. He was giving us the “stop” sign!

     Thinking we had a couple of years, we decided to spend it getting more prepared. That same weekend we went out, purchased our first condo which would be ready in 6 months. A few days later my dad lost his job, so we gave notice where we lived, and made plans to move into his 2 bedroom townhouse with my parents, and younger teen sister, to cover the rent until they were back on their feet. The following week, we went back to our social worker’s office to finish things up with the home study. She sat us down with a very concerned look on her face. I quickly ran through my mind trying to figure out what we had done wrong.
She proceeded to tell us they had found a match for us; a two month old baby boy to be exact. My jaw dropped, speechless as to what to say next. We weren’t even an open home! We had just been told we were crazy, were going to be put on hold for two years, and furthermore, had been told there were only toddlers and older children available for adoption. Not babies! We didn’t know how to respond! She continued to tell us that his birth mother had chosen 3 other families whom had all turned him down because of the drugs and alcohol he was exposed to prenatal. She also told us we would be bringing him home in 3 weeks. THREE WEEKS!

     Now of course you know we said yes to him, HOW COULD WE NOT??? But lets remember we were about to move in with my parents, into a 2 bedroom townhouse, with 5 adults! Not to mention, we didn’t have ANYTHING for a baby! In fact I had only changed a diaper once prior to that, and even phoned a friend to walk me through it! (I know, it’s embarrassing) We quickly realized this was the path we were being sent down, and purchased books about babies, baby furniture, clothes, diapers, wipes, and everything else we could think of! A lovely woman from our church offered a whole whack of baby items to us, which helped immensely! When we did our home visits at the foster mother’s house I remember watching SO closely as how to feed him and change his diaper! I don’t think I have ever been so terrified!

     Three weeks later, after being told we were too young and too crazy to be adopting, thinking God had raised his stop sign to us, we brought home our first son, Mathieu. Even his name Mathieu, which means “gift from God” makes me appreciate how truly blessed we can be when we persevere through the hills, even when it looks like we should stop, because you never know what amazing miracle God has awaiting for you at the other side.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Different Kind Of Parenting - Raising a Child with FAS

     Growing up I always thought I would be a certain type of parent. I remember thinking “I am never going to do that,” or “I really want to be a parent who does that!” Once I was married, my husband and I would talk about what kind of parents we wanted to be and what we wanted to do. Early on in our marriage we made the decision of adoption to build our family. Shortly after, we started the Adoption Education Program, which would prepare us for an adoption of a special needs child through the Ministry of Children and Families. They talked about the two main issues children would have; drug exposure and FAS, or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Everything they said made sense, we understood, and we tried to prepare ourselves for what it would be like to possibly raise a child with FAS. I don’t think anything could have prepared us for what it would look like in reality.
     One of the first things I noticed was that my parenting choices were no longer based on my preconceived conceptions. Our eldest son, Mathieu, had been exposed to prenatal drugs and alcohol. At night, when I thought I should be rocking my new baby to bed while singing a lullaby, I was instead holding my child tight, swaddled in a blanket, as he shook and screamed from over stimulation. Rather than have a simple doctor’s appointment to see how he was doing, I was forced to drag my son into the room, kicking, screaming, scratching and biting, as everyone around me glared at me like I was the worst parent in the world. When company would come over he would run and hide in the closest corner, and if approached would have a complete meltdown.
     With my second son, the challenges intensified. He couldn’t be left alone for even a second, for fear that he would escape from the house, turn on the stove, or some other life threatening action. I couldn’t cook, couldn’t go clean my room, or even change the diaper of another child, without fearing he might be halfway down the stairs already. It became a game to see how fast I could perform daily tasks. Until my second son was around 3 years old, we also never left the house for social visits. Not even to our parent’s house. I recall people thinking we were antisocial, or other such things, but no one else had a house set up for all the safety concerns that surrounded my son. Even though he wore a protective helmet, one wrong move could have left him seriously injured or again loose from the house. I never thought that a simple task such as going to the bathroom would become impossible unless someone else was home. I never imagined myself crying at the playground because kids would run from my son and refuse to play with him because his maturity level was that of a 2 year old rather than a 4 year old.
     Yes, parenting a child with FAS was definitely nothing like I would have imagined it. But I also never realized how one tiny little smile could melt my heart so much. How one visit to the doctor, scream-free, could feel so uplifting. How the ability to go to the bathroom would bring such freedom, or how seeing my son come home with three stickers because he sat through all three circle times at preschool, could bring me such joy. I never thought that toileting at the age of 4 ½ would feel like the worlds greatest victory, or that the love my children have for each other would be so comforting. 
     It is still true that parenting a child with FAS has its challenges, often leaving one feeling alone and with no one who understands. Many people think my children are just naughty or I am a bad parent. Unfortunately what people don’t realize is that FAS is an actual medical problem, causing brain damage resembling a victim from a car accident. That FAS is life long, and without cures. That children with FAS don’t understand cause and effect, and aren’t acting badly on purpose, but just don’t understand that what they are doing is wrong. Increased awareness is still needed, so people can become familiar with all that FAS encompasses and how to relate to these children and their families. But in the meantime, despite all its difficulties, I wouldn’t change my experiences for the world. I would adopt a child with FAS again in a heartbeat and I can only encourage others that it is manageable and ultimately God is going to get you through any challenges thrown your way!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Are politics preventing adoptions?

I have always been an advocate of adoption. Any chance I get I promote it. My thought has always been, that if enough people adopted, we could find homes for all the orphans of the world. Big dreams I know, maybe even na├»ve. I prefer to always stay on the optimistic side of things.  However, as Daniel and I embark on the beginning of our international adoption journey, it has become all too apparent how many walls there truly are. It no longer seems that the only problem is finding enough adoptive parents. There are so many more issues at hand.

The first step on our international journey was picking a country to adopt from. As a Canadian citizen one of the first things you need to know, is you can only adopt from other countries who are members of the Hague Convention. This limits your choices. The next thing you need to know is no country is the same; in fact one single country can even change from year to year. For example, some countries may have rules stating applicants must be married for a minimum of 10 years, over the age of 35, and no children living at home. Others might require you to be 30 years old, have no more than 2 children at home, and married for 2 years. Some countries require you to reside in the country of your child’s origin for 3 months, 6 months, or even a year. Some even require you to have less than a maximum body mass index (no overweight applicants). Furthermore, many countries are closed or no longer accepting new applicants. Since the earthquake, Haiti has stopped accepting new applicants, Ethiopia is placing new applicants on a wait list, and people can wait for up to 5 years to be matched through the mainstream China program. Each country also varies in cost. To adopt from the United States can cost between $40,000- $50,000, while the fees for adopting from Columbia are as low as $20,000.

So at the end of the day, couples like Daniel and myself, who are under the age of 30, and have young children at home preventing us from long stays in the country of origin, it leaves very few options available. And even if we did meet the qualifications of more countries, many of them have long waitlists. So even though there are millions of children out there in need of a home, there are many less who are actually available for adoption.

Now please don’t take this as a deterrent. There are still options out there, such as the Ukraine, The China Special Needs program, and Jamaica (where we have chosen). It simply means that if every available person out there wanted to adopt a child, it would not solve this global problem. I don’t have an answer as to how any of this can be solved, but it seems disappointing that rules and waitlists are preventing children from finding a forever family NOW. This problem requires more than just people wanting to adopt, but rather people wanting to fight for change. People wanting to lobby. People wanting to donate finances. People wanting to come together, regardless of what country they live in, and unite in the process of finding children homes.

With all of that said, Daniel and I have chosen to adopt from Jamaica. The minimum age there is 25. There are currently no fee’s on the Jamaican end of things, beyond perhaps a minimal lawyer's fee and travel costs, plus the adoption fee due here in Canada. The required stay is only 5-7 days. There is no maximum amount of children allowed to live in your home(fewf!) and at the end of the day it is where God wants us to be. I am excited to see where this journey goes and am grateful to have my eyes opened to the greater problem at hand. I can only pray that these problems will be worked out, that countries can work together, and that political rules and regulations won’t prevent a child from finding their forever home! I will post soon about adoptions right here in Canada through the Ministry of Children and Families, and bring awareness to one of the adoption options that are in fact quite simple and within reach of many!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A closer look at the problem...

So why am I talking to you about Orphans? Well for starters, there are more than 143 million orphans in the world today. That number breaks my heart. Let’s take a look at where some of those numbers fall:

Every 14 seconds an Aids death leaves another child orphaned.

Every year 12 million children become orphans.

87.6 million Orphans live in Asia.

43.4 million Orphans live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

12.4 million Orphans live in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In Ukraine and Russia 10%-15% of children who leave orphanages commit suicide before age 18.

More than 100,000 children in foster care in America waiting for forever homes

There are more than 600 children waiting to be adopted from BC’s waiting children list.

I am passionate about all the children above, but when I look at a place to start, and I see a number as small as 600, I can’t help but think, why can’t we fix that? Did you know that if just one family from every two churches in BC adopted a child, there would be no more waiting children in our province? JUST ONE! To me that seems like such an attainable goal! There are enough people in this world, and enough resources and finances, to help the millions of children out there! Not all the orphans out there are ready and available for adoption, but they all need love, care, and support. God calls Christians to take up that challenge.

I think one of the biggest reasons people don’t adopt today, is they simply don’t have enough information. I hear so many people say they want to do adopt one day, or when they are older. But children are waiting NOW! There is no perfect situation, no perfect income, no perfect house, and no perfect family. And for those out there unable to commit to adoption or fostering, there are many other options available. Watch for future posts on One Church One Child, to learn about the many opportunities you can get involved with the plight of the orphan.

And to read more about what the bible has to say I encourage you to look over another blog, much like my own entitled Above and Beyond. Kristjen and Tamara Hull are currently starting their own orphan ministry through their home church, and rather than repeat something that has already been said, I would encourage you to read the hearts of other people out there, with the same passion we have. Thanks for reading today and we can’t wait to share more of our passion and journey with you all!

www.hullsimagine.blogspot.com

Here we go!

Blog, we meet at last! I have been debating starting a blog for our Ministry for sometime now. I've heard how helpful it can be for awareness these days, so I decided to finally give it a whirl! As many of you may know, we started a Ministry at our church recently called "A Home for Every Child." We promote adoption and fostering, offer awareness info sessions, and are planning on having support groups, an international adoption fund, provide assistance to neighbouring churches in starting up their own adoption ministry, and many more avenues to help the call of the orphan. I will get into everything we do and want to do in later posts, but wanted to start somewhere.

Why have I decided to blog this? First of all, I want there to be a place where people can go to find out more about the adoption ministry. I'm not sure I should even be calling it an adoption ministry, because it is going to be so much more than that! It is going to be about adoption of course, but also fostering, sponsoring children, orphanages, and in general, orphans! While many of the children I refer to may still have parents out there, what they don't have, is a home. Our goal is to see every child find a loving, caring, and PERMANENT home!

James 1:27 says this “Pure and undefiled religion is this; to care for the widow and orphan.” We want to embrace this challenge, and along the way break down the barriers, fears, and lack of information that may be preventing others from doing the same. Not only am I going to give up-to-date information about our ministry and what we are doing, but I am going to offer resources and links, for others looking to get involved in any of these avenues as well, especially adoption. When starting to look into the vast world of adoption it can be confusing and overwhelming, which is why I would like a place where people can go to find out more. I am also going to share our personal journey as well, for people to see and understand some of the challenges, as well as blessings, of the adoption process. We are currently in the midst of adopting our 4th child, our foster daughter who has lived with us since birth, and are also starting the process to adopt a 5th child through international adoption. I hope this blog finds its way into the hands of people looking for answers, or encourages others that it is so much easier that many may think. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and stay tuned for much more to come!!!!