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Your presence will make a difference this Saturday night. 6:00pm at the Lake Forest Campus.  The Orphan Care Initiative community gathers at PEACE night where your voice matters- you’ll also hear what God has been doing what He has in store for you.  You are making an impact for his precious children locally and globally!

 

Here's a few great places to get connected to the Orphan Care community, starting THIS SATURDAY:

  

PEACE NIGHT  THIS Saturday, February 28th – 6:00pm in Tent 3

Meet friends and get exciting updates from the Orphan Care Initiative this weekend! We will start at 6pm in Tent 3 on the Saddleback Church Lake Forest Campus, head to regional breakouts and come together for the Orphan Care Initiative breakout at 7:30 in room 303. PEACE Night is also a great time to learn how to go on an Orphan Care PEACE trip. Learn how to take your next step and get involved! 

 

THINKING ABOUT ADOPTION OR FOSTER CAREMarch 4th - Wednesday - 6:30pm-8:30pm

Have you considered adopting or fostering, but aren’t sure how to get started? Every first Wednesday of the month from 6:30-8:30pm in MO2, families from our church who have adopted and fostered share helpful overviews and answer your questions in a no-pressure environment. If that time doesn't work for you, we’d still love to talk to you. Free to call or meet with us for more information on fostering and adopting! 

 

JOIN OUR LOCAL AND GLOBAL ACTION TEAMS You can serve in ways too numerous to name, but here’s a sample:  Serve orphans and vulnerable children in our neighborhoods.  Play with children temporarily housed for their protection in Orange County, serve an individual foster children by being their volunteer/mentor in the court system, help teach local churches in orphan care, come alongside adoptive or foster families.  Serve in sponsorship, social media, website development, writing, hospitality/event hosts, or advocacy. There’s a place for you!

 

RWANDA: EMPTY ORPHANAGES STRENGTHEN CHURCHES

There’s room for you!  Join an upcoming trip.  Learn more this Saturday or email orphans@saddleback.com.

 

Interested? Just let us know and we will find the exact spot for you, your family or your small group. We’ll help get you connected and provide any necessary training.

 

Have questions? Need more information? Connect with us by email (orphans@saddleback.com) or phone (949-609-8555)! We can't wait to serve with you soon!

We know that considering adoption often raises many questions in families. Though it may be overwhelming as you begin this journey, know that here at the Orphan Care Initiative, we have amazing adoptive families that have been in your shoes and are here to support you every step of the way!

As you begin to consider adoption, it’s important to ask the right questions. It’s healthy to consider all the implications of what bringing a new child home will mean for you and each member of your family. Here are ten questions to think over as you consider the adoption process:


Why do I want to adopt?

What are my biggest fears regarding adoption?

Do my close family and friends support my decision to adopt?

What personal experiences do I have regarding adoption?

What, if anything, do I need to “let go of” before I adopt?

What support and resources do I have or need to further develop before I adopt?

What are some misconceptions that others close to me have about adoption?

How do I anticipate that adoption will change my life?

If I don’t adopt, what will my family do?

What in my life is my biggest barrier to adoption?


If you are interested in fostering or adopting and would like help answering these questions or any other question you may have, join us for our Thinking About Adoption or Foster Care information session every first Wednesday of the month from 6:30 to 8:30 in MO2. Families from Saddleback who have adopted and fostered will share helpful overviews and answer your questions in a no-pressure environment.

We’re also always available by phone (949-609-8555) or email (orphans@saddleback.com).

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When the sun sets in Gishita, Rwanda the sky turns to dark blue velvet. Stars twinkle timidly and lights from little homes dotting the hillside turn on one by one. The hills—bright green during the day—roll on in succession, with only the moon to light their division.

At night Bellia and her 6 year old adopted daughter Marie sleep in the same room. The quiet of home comforts them and Bible verses on the white walls whisper love and peace over them. Two cows low in the next room.


For years in the orphanage, Marie went to sleep in a dormitory with more than twenty other girls, praying for a mother to tell her goodnight. She woke up without a mother to dress her in clean clothes. She breakfasted in a room with a hundred other children, and no one to make sure she got enough food to eat. She trekked home from school to a concrete building with no one to welcome her. She closed her eyes without anyone to tuck her in and kiss her forehead.

Now, for the first time, timid Marie knows what it is to have someone who cares just for her as she falls asleep under Rwanda’s velvet night sky. In her husky child’s voice she babbles stories about her day, wonders aloud about everything she sees. She asks her mother serious and silly questions about what it means to be a girl navigating life at 6 years old. 


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Her mother, Bellia, is a Community PEACE Trainer – a volunteer who trains families from her church about healthcare. As a mother to four grown children, Bellia’s heart has always been for children. When she heard teaching from the PEACE Plan about God’s heart for the orphan, she decided to adopt Marie. She now also assists other families who have reunited and adopted by doing home visits and providing parenting support.

 “I decided God has done well for me, so I will do well for God’s kids,” she says.

Little Marie has been part of her new family for several months. It’s her custom when she meets new people to proudly introduce them to her mama. The blossoming love they share is evident to anyone who visits their home. Because of the local church and Rwanda Orphan Care Sponsors, Marie and Bellia’s unfolding story is made possible. Sponsorship allows Bellia to provide Marie with all the necessities, as well as her school fees and medical insurance. 

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Bellia (left) with Marie (center) and Bellia’s grandson. All photos taken and used with permission.


“GETTING TO ZERO” UPDATES

We are excited to announce that Esperance, an orphanage in Western Rwanda that was using children to grow and harvest pineapples, is down to just two children left waiting for families!

When we began working with the local churches in that area in 2013, there were 130 children living and working in Esperance. Now 128 of those children have left the orphanage forever and each has been embraced by care of a loving family in the community – with your support and the diligent efforts of the local church in Rwanda!


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This article is adapted from this post by Debra Jones from Parenting Help for Adoptive and Foster Parents.

What’s the need beneath the behavior?

I’m constantly approached by parents who want to toss out a behavior problem and have me come up with the best answer as to how the parent should deal with that particular behavior. They are asking, “How do you fix __________? Fill in with anything ranging from “My child won’t get dressed for school” to “My teen is using dangerous drugs and hanging out with unsafe kids.”

I wish it were that easy.

Parents come to me specifically for trust-based parenting strategies since I coach and train in Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®). They are trying to give up their old ways, but can’t see that they are really still using their old strategies and belief systems with a trust-based sprinkle on top. They will even say for said problem, “What’s the TBRI answer for handling this behavior?”

TBRI answers aren’t typically just a step one, two, three answer. TBRI is much more about building a connecting relationship and establishing an emotionally safe relationship in which the child or teen will come to you with her needs and lay down her maladaptive behavioral strategies – the survival strategies that kept her alive before she was yours. It is about showing the child that you have a voice with me, and I will listen to what you need. I will try to understand what you feel. I will help you solve this problem. And if you don’t have the skill set to succeed, I will spend the time it takes with you to build this skill set. And for kids from hard places that can mean a LOT of our time.

I’m not going to come down hard on my child when he is dysregulated or even when he’s making bad choices. I’m going to recognize as the safe adult in his life that his brain is hard-wired to respond with fight, flight, or freeze responses. I’m very deliberate about watching my own tone of voice, my own body language, even my own belief systems that might indicate to my child that he is going to be judged, punished, or shamed by me. I’m going to approach a behavior problem like there is a mystery to be solved.

Why is getting dressed in the morning so hard for my child?

•                Does he dread or fear school?

•                Does he feel like he’s in trouble with his teacher?

•                Do kids make fun of him or is he being left out at recess?

•                Is the school environment a sensory overload for him?

•                Is he not getting enough sleep?

•                Is his blood sugar low because he hasn’t had protein yet?

•                Does he feel like a nerd in the clothes I’ve bought for him?

•                Is his sensory system so sensitive the tags in his shirts are uncomfortable for him?

•                Is his neurochemistry imbalanced and cortisol is too low in the morning?

•                Or is he stressed and cortisol is too high?

•                Has he not had enough calming sensory input to be successful?

•                Am I giving more instructions at one time than he can process?

•                Am I rushed and rushing him?

•                Does he power struggle with me because he doesn’t know how to use his words?

•                Is he developmentally ready to dress himself without frustration?

 

And with the teen that is choosing unsafe friends and using drugs it’s even harder to solve the need beneath the behavior.

•                Does she feel she doesn’t fit in with our family?

•                Does she truly understand the dangers involved?

•                Does she feel valued and loved?

•                Is she rebelling against authoritarian parenting?

•                Is she lonely?

•                Is her neurochemical imbalance so severe she is self-medicating?

•                Is she bored?

•                Does she need something exciting and thrilling in her life?

•                Does she have the skill set to build healthy relationships?

•                Is she having an identity crisis?

•                Is she failing or struggling at school and this is a way to fit in?

•                Does she have feelings she has buried and doesn’t feel safe to come to me?

•                Does she feel she’ll never measure up to my expectations?

•                Does she compare herself to my biological children and feel not good enough?

•                Does she know how to express her fears and feelings?

•                Have I spent time matching her and engaging in her interests?

•                Do I make myself emotionally available to her?

•                Does she feel seen, heard, and understood?

 

As parents we want behavior to stop and sometimes we get rigid about find THE ANSWER that will make it stop. Unfortunately there have been many parenting models that seem to indicate that if the child does _________, you do _________ and the problem will go away. Simple as that! Not so simple with a child from a background of early harm.

There is much work to be done. There is much repair and much building from scratch in our relationships with them if they are going to feel safe, become secure, and develop the skills to have healthy relationships and make wise choices.

Behavior communicates. It communicates needs, fears, pain, losses, and wants. It communicates skills that my child has and skills that are lacking. What is your child communicating to you? Will you stop your world long enough to deeply look at your child’s desperate need?

For more in depth trust based parenting insights for your family, check out our 13 week DVD small group curriculum The Connection by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Elizabeth Styffe.

Also be sure to check out the Empowered to Connect Conference coming to Orange County Feb. 13 & 14th. Use the code FOCUSGUEST for half off registration!

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Article adapted from this U.S. News and World Report article by Susan Johnston

Domestic and international adoption can cost thousands of dollars, but grants, tax credits and fundraising can offset costs. If they take advantage all the financial resources available, moderate-income families can adopt a child debt-free.

Each year, U.S. citizens adopt over 100,000 children, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. Costs can range from very little for adopting a child from foster care to $40,000 or more for a private domestic adoption, says Nicole Witt, executive director of The Adoption Consultancy in Florida.

Here’s a comprehensive look at strategies that adoptive families use to cover costs.

Adoption tax credit: For 2014, the IRS gives adoptive parents a maximum adoption tax credit (to offset qualified adoption expenses such as legal fees and travel costs) of $13,190 per child, which phases out for modified adjusted gross incomes between $197,880 and $237,880. “If you adopt twins, then you can claim double the tax credit,” Witt says. “Or even if you have a [domestic adoption] situation that falls through, you can claim it towards the expenses that you've lost.” The credit cannot exceed your tax liability, but you can carry any excess credits into the following year. Consult your tax preparer if you're unsure of how this applies to you.

Adoption grants: Jeremy Resmer and his wife raised over $47,000 so they can adopt twin girls from Congo debt-free and about two-thirds of that money came from grants. (The Congolese government has put all adoptions on hold, so Resmer, his wife and their 3-year-old son are currently living in the Congo bonding with the girls and waiting for the adoption to finalize.) The pair did exhaustive research on adoption grants, and Resmer wrote and published an e-book called “Fund Your Adoption: A Step-By-Step Guide To Adopt Debt-Free.” “We had to look in a million different places to find all the grants,” he says. “Sometimes income eligibility requirements will come in. Some organizations will only provide grants for domestic adoptions.” Because the application process can be time-intensive (collecting letters of recommendation, for instance), the couple applied for 10 grants that they felt they most closely fit the award criteria, and also looked at grants with the highest award ranges. They were awarded six of them. 

Not everyone will qualify for grants because some are income-based. However, a growing number of employers now offer adoption assistance. In fact, a 2012 Aon Hewitt survey of 1,000 major U.S. employers found that over half offered this benefit, compared to 12 percent in 1990. Fingerman says these benefits can range between $2,000 and $10,000 depending on the employer.

Loans: Sometimes people take a short-term loan to cover adoption costs and use their tax return (with the adoption tax credit) to repay the loan. “There are adoption loans out there, but I always tell my clients just because a loan has the word ‘adoption’ in front of it doesn’t mean it has most favorable terms,” Witt says. “Explore a general loan, home equity loan and see what the best terms are.” Not everyone has home equity they can borrow from, but Witt says having a line of credit ready to cover adoption expenses can be smart (so long as you're realistic about what you can afford). “You don't know exactly how much you're going to need and when you're going to need it,” she explains.

Some people also get a gift or interest-free loan from parents who want to be grandparents. “People sometimes have to travel to other parts of the country where the birth mother lives, so families have given them frequent flier miles or points to the Marriott,” Fingerman says.

Fundraising: Many people saving up for adoption take on a second job or plan fundraising events – Resmer did both. Friends, family and members of a religious community have long been a source of financial help for adoptive families, but online crowdfunding for adoption costs puts a 21st century twist on this tradition, which Witt says can be controversial. "On the one hand, it can be great because people love to help," she says. On the other hand, some parents worry contributors could "say something inappropriate in front of the child about how they helped pay for them," she says.

Witt has seen other families sell adoption T-shirts to friends and family members or temporarily rent out the room intended as a nursery for extra cash. Resmer's family raised several thousand dollars through an adoption carnival hosted by a local church. "They had dunk tanks, carnival rides, all sorts of food and a bake sale," he says. They also solicited donations from local businesses and held a silent auction at the carnival.

By tapping into all available resources, even moderate-income families have been able to make adoption a reality. "Most people who adopt don't have $40,000 sitting in their bank account," Witt says. "Most people I work with are typically middle-income families, and they find ways to make it happen."


Looking into adoption but need assistance with financing or any other aspect? We’re here to help! Feel free to reach out to us here at the Orphan Care Initiative at 949-609-8555 or email orphans@saddleback.com.

Another great resource is our monthly information seminar “Thinking About Adoption or Foster Care.” Come get your questions answered by families in our church who have already walked this road. The next Thinking About Adoption or Foster Care will be Wednesday night, February 4th, from 6:30 to 8:30pm in the MO2 gathering room of the Lake Forest Saddleback campus. 

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