What is the Orphan Care Initiative?
The Bible makes it clear that God cares deeply about the orphans of the world and expects His people to do the same – in fact, He uses our care for orphans as a benchmark of our faith. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” James 1:27
The Orphan Care Initiative of Saddleback Church exists to provide meaningful ways for every person to engage in caring for orphans through local churches at home and around the world.
We believe that every child deserves a family. The best thing we can do for the orphan is to help them join a family so that they are no longer an orphan, but a son or daughter. To reach the vision of every child with a family of their own, locally and globally we work to help children remain in family, reunite with family, or regain a family through adoption.
There are simple things everyone can do to help move children one step closer to a loving, lasting, legal family of their own. Here are some examples of opportunities in the Orphan Care Initiative:
Orphan Care Skills Training Wondering what you can do practically to serve orphans locally and globally? Orphan Care Skills Training will be a great foundation to learn simple things everyone can do to help end the orphan crisis. Mark your calendars for June 14th from 8:30am to 12:30 in Tent 2. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Trauma-informed care classes Most orphans and institutionalized children suffer from childhood trauma. Understand of the effects of trauma on attachment and what to do to promote attachment and trust with children from hard places and traumatic backgrounds. Email email@example.com for more info.
Volunteer with Orphan Care You can make a difference serving with Orphan Care! We have many opportunities get involved – examples of volunteer needs include: blog writing, social media, events, office admin, and anything else you have a passion for! If you have a heart to serve in the office or at church, we’re here to help you get connected! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
Consider fostering or adopting If you’ve ever thought about adopting or fostering, we have a place just for you! Come get accurate information, simple overviews, and your questions answered. Hear from ordinary people who have adopted in a no-pressure, friendly environment. Learn God’s heart for adoption, and simple ways to take your next step. Join us the first Wednesday night of every month from 6:30 to 8:30pm in the MO2 building of the Lake Forest campus (the smaller portable office building).
Support important Orphan Care legislation Did you know that right now the US House and Senate are considering legislation that would help ensure that American efforts for children are focused first on finding orphans permanent families? CHIFF (Children in Families First), would also help streamline international adoption, making it easier on American families waiting to adopt. Click here to sign a petition and email your members of Congress to support CHIFF.
Rwanda Orphan Care PEACE Trips Saddleback PEACE Teams are helping children get out of orphanages and into families! You can help local churches as they partner with the Rwandan government, which has decided to empty all its orphanages by 2014. Out of the 3,000 children who started out in orphanages, 1,500 have already gone home to a family in Rwanda. Orphan Care PEACE trips will train local churches in promoting adoption, assisting newly adoptive families, and training lay social workers within churches. Email email@example.com for more info.
Sponsor a family in Rwanda Did you know that for $38 a month or a one-time donation, you can help support a family to be able to take in a child from the orphanage? Your sponsorship provides for basic necessities, school fees, and medical insurance. Families on sponsorship are required to join a savings group and tithe to their local church. Click here to sign up online.
If you have questions or would like more information on any of these opportunities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 949-609-8555.
The Rwanda Orphan Care Sponorship is changing the lives of families in Rwanda, and helping once hopeless children find the love of a family!
You can help empty orphanages by becoming a sponsor! $38 a month helps a family take in a child from the orphanage and provides them with school fees, medical insurace and everything needed to help them transition to their new home! Gifts go directly to the family through the local church. To help make sponsorship funds sustainable, families on sponsorship are required to join a savings group and tithe to their church.
Together, we are "getting to zero" - zero children living in Rwandan orphanages.
To learn more and begin sponsoring a family, click here.
Below is a quick update on a real family whose lives have been changed by sponsorship!
Parenting children from hard places often requires new techniques and parenting skills. In this helpful blog from Empowered to Connected, leading child development psychologist Dr. Karyn Purvis discusses time-in (as opposed to time-out) as an important strategy to help parents learn to “connect while correcting” with their children. (For helpful background on the time-in strategy, watch Using Time-In Instead of Time-Out featuring Dr. Karyn Purvis):
When using the time-in strategy it’s critical to remember that time-in is not intended to punish your child. Instead, time-in is designed to help your child calm and regulate so that he can express his needs (or wants) appropriately. Also, be sure not to jump the gun and resort to time-in when another, lower level strategy (such as playful engagement or choices) might address the behavior more effectively.
But there are times when a time-in is precisely the strategy that is called for. So here are eight keys to help you implement an effective time-in with your child:
1. Develop a plan. In fact, you will need multiple plans. You will need plans for implementing a time-in when you are at home, in public, or any other place you frequently go with your child. If you have multiple children, you will need a plan for effectively implementing a time-in when more than one child needs to be in time-in. You will also need a plan for how to keep the other children in your home occupied while you deal with a child (or children) in time-in. One family chose to have a special basket of toys that can only be played with when the parent is sitting with one of the other children in a time-in. This helped to occupy the other children while the parent finished the time-in. All of these plans will likely differ if you are the only parent present as opposed to if both parents are present – so be sure to share your plans (and agree in advance) with your spouse or others who will be helping you to implement them.
2. Determine a consistent location. Consider designating a consistent place where time-in’s will happen. The location for a time-in can literally be any place that is ideal for helping your child to calm, and it can even change as your child grows older. For example, one family had a “time-in chair” in their living room with another chair right beside it – one for the child to sit in and the other for the parent. As a child gets older the time-in location may move to a bedroom or the kitchen table. In fact, some parents will take an older child for a walk or even do a task or chore together a means to de-escalate the situation and help the child calm. Whatever the case may be, develop a consistent location, especially when using a time-in at home.
3. Stay calm. Let’s be honest – if you (the parent) are not calm, you will be of little use in helping a dysregulated, out-of-control child to calm. So it is critical that you remain calm when implementing a time-in. If a time-in is needed and you are not calm, then “calmly” lead your child to the time-in location and walk away to give yourself a brief time-out. Remember, it takes a calm parent to implement an effective time-in.
4. Keep your focus. In the face of misbehavior it’s all too easy for parents to become distracted and lose focus. Instead, remember that time-in is about helping your child calm and regulate so that together you can tackle the problems or issues that led to the need for the time-in. For example, many children are prone to become dysregulated and misbehave when they are hungry, thirsty, or have low blood sugar. In addition, providing a child in time-in with a healthy snack or something to drink can often help them calm and regulate much more quickly. At first this may seem like you are rewarding “bad behavior,” but when you stay focused on the goal and purpose of time-in these steps become yet one more way to meet your child’s needs and help her succeed.
5. Stay with your child. The primary difference between time in and time out is that time-in is designed to teach your child that you are always there for him and that in a family the “big person” (that would be you) stays with the child to help them solve problems and repair mistakes. This doesn’t mean that you cannot walk away to calm yourself (you should), or that after you and your child have become practiced in using time-in’s you can’t sometimes walk into the next room for a moment (you can). It does mean, however, that early on in your use of this strategy you need to send the message not with your words, but with your presence, that you are sticking with your child most especially when she is struggling or even pushing you away with her behavior. It is not unusual if your child tests you on this at first. But in time your child will receive and begin to believe the message that “we are a team” and that you are committed to her. Along the way don’t lose hope. Parents often report that time-in’s that once lasted well over an hour can quickly become a time-in that lasts only a minute or two – if they will simply be persistent and implement the strategy effectively.
6. Give your child voice. It is critical that a child be given voice even when she is in time-in. But this can be tricky given that she is likely in time-in because she was out-of-control or unable to calm herself. One family navigates this tension by allowing the child to say anything she wants in time-in, as long as she says it with respect. Whoa, do what?!? Yes, that’s right. This means while in time-in the child can talk about how unfair she feels things are, or how much she does not like the decision that was made. But, she must say it with respect, meaning she may not yell, scream, or call names. In time these parents reported seeing a dramatic shift as they noticed their child was learning to express her feelings, as in “I feel sad and angry when you won’t let me…” A clear sign of progress for sure. This is no doubt a fine line to walk, but giving voice is not optional if you want a child from a hard place to learn to trust. In addition, many parents allow the child to use her words to indicate once she is calm and ready to resolve the situation. Sharing power with a child by allowing her to tell you she is ready with a simple, calm “I’m ready” can be a very effective way to help her learn to recognize that she is calm again and able to begin to move forward.
7. Finish with success. Many parents have learned to use time-in as an opportunity to help their child not only calm and regulate, but also finish with success. By incorporating a re-do after your child is calm and regulated, you can give him an opportunity to learn (through body memory) how to get it right and then praise him for doing so. For example, if the behaviors that escalated and led to the time-in started with a request from a mom to her son to turn off the TV and start his homework, the mom might want to return and replay the scenario (complete with asking her son to turn off the TV) and praise him when he gets it right. She could even offer him a “reward” this time around, as in “would you like me [mom] to stop cooking and come sit with you while you get started on your homework?” Unconventional for some, but highly effective with many children who simply do not have the brain development, relational maturity, or the practice and competence at navigating their needs in healthy ways. But remember, a re-do is only appropriate and effective once your child is calm and regulated, so don’t rush into it.
8. It’s not over until it’s over; but when it’s over, it’s over. Remember that it’s not over until it’s over. Many families use the “3 C’s” outlined by Dr. Karyn Purvis – changed behavior, connection, and contentment – as a good measure of when it’s over. In addition, parents should place a high value on the need to repair the mistakes that were made by seeking and giving forgiveness. But keep in mind, this applies to all involved – it is not unusual that a parent might need to seek forgiveness from the child as well. If this is case, parents should lead by example and offer an unconditional apology for any mistakes they made in responding to their child. But when it’s over it’s over! Once your child is calm and you and he are re-connected, you have accomplished your goal. It’s time to move on and begin looking for new opportunities to connect with your child.
Sound too good to be true? Well, give it a try and see. There is no doubt that using a time-in effectively takes lots of practice – for both parent and child. But many parents with children of all ages and stages of development can attest to the connecting and correcting power of an effective time-in.
(Copyright 2012 Empowered To Connect)
If you would like more information about Saddleback’s resources and community for adoptive and foster parents, please email email@example.com.
Worldwide, since 2003, intercountry adoptions by all receiving countries has declined by almost half, while the number of children desperately in need of family has continued to climb around the world. As the following CNN article illustrates, interncountry adoptions to the United States have declined at a rate 24% faster than the rest of the world.
This is one of the reasons why the Children in Families First (CHIFF) legislation that is being considered in the House and the Senate is so important. CHIFF would streamline, simplify and consolidate responsibility for all processing of intercountry adoption cases by placing these functions under the direction of the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Visit the Children in Familes First page to learn more about CHIFF and how to contact your representatives to tell them to support the bill.
International adoptions in decline as number of orphans grows
By Kevin Voigt and Sophie Brown, CNN
Hong Kong (CNN) -- In April 1999, Laura Blitzer -- a 41-year-old single university professor -- decided to adopt a child. Fifteen months later the native of Brooklyn, New York, was in Hunan Province, China, holding her 9-month-old adoptive daughter, Cydney, for the first time.
"It was amazing to have her in my arms ... I still cry when I see the tape of her being given to me," recalled Blitzer. "I couldn't believe she was mine."
In 2007, Blitzer applied to adopt another child from China. Six years later, she is still waiting. "The estimate right now for me to receive a healthy infant is 2017," she said.
After decades of steady growth, the number of international adoptions has dropped nearly 50% since 2004, despite the well-publicized explosion of adoptions from China in the 1990s, and high-profile adoptions by celebrities such as Angelina Jolie from Cambodia and Madonna from Malawi.
The decline isn't due to fewer orphans worldwide nor waning demand from prospective parents, experts say. It is due to rising regulations and growing sentiment in countries such as Russia and China against sending orphans abroad.
The number of children finding new homes in the United States -- the number one location for adopting children -- fell to 8,668 in 2012 after peaking at 22,884 in 2004, according to U.S. State Department statistics. A survey by Britain's Newcastle University of the top 23 nations that adopt children from abroad recorded 23,626 international adoptions in 2011 -- down from 45,299 in 2004.
"I think it's both a surprise that it's been dropping, and it's a surprise that significant forces are opposed to international adoption," said Elizabeth Bartholet, professor of law and director of the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School. With the growing forces of globalization, "why wouldn't this be expanding?" added Bartholet, a proponent of international adoption who adopted two boy from Peru in the 1980s.
As international adoption rates fall, there is one country that is sending more children abroad: The United States.
(Click here to read the rest of the article on CNN.com)
What happens to a person in early childhood can have an impact for a lifetime. The implications of this truth are being highlights in research coming out of Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child. According to their findings, early childhood experiences and environments have a profound effect on a child’s developing brain. In the first years of life - also called the early sensitive period – a child’s brain develops rapidly. During this time, the child’s healthy emotional and cognitive development is shaped by dependable and responsive interaction with adults. These interactions can be small, but they are necessary for healthy growth. For example, when an adult responds to a baby’s cry or a parent responds to a toddler’s needs with care and attention. It has been proven that children who lack this type interaction experience a decrease in brain activity. Children who are placed in orphanages shortly after birth show dramatically lower brain activity when compared to their non-institutionalized peers.
The presence of a responsive and protective parental relationship is also important in helping the developing child’s brain cope with stress. Under typical conditions in the care of a family, a child learns to cope with everyday stresses, and physiological stress responses (including increased heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones like cortisol) quickly return to a baseline. When stress situations are frequent or prolonged – as in the case of extreme poverty or abuse –stress becomes toxic when the care of an adult is absent. Stress responses remain heightened and excessive cortisol disrupts developing brain circuitry.
As would be expected, the more adverse experiences in childhood, the greater the likelihood of developmental delays and other problems. Adults who faced greater adverse experience in early childhood - like poverty, abuse, neglect, parental substance abuse, and exposure to violence – are more likely to face problems like depression, alcoholism, heart disease, and diabetes as adults. While these findings are troubling, there is hope. Research also indicates that early intervention can prevent these consequences. Children taken out of institutional neglect and placed into family situations showed increased IQ and were more likely to experience normal attachment behavior.
All of this research reaffirms the importance of family. Studies have shown that toddlers who have secure, trusting relationships with parents or non-parental caregivers experience minimal stress hormone activation when frightened, while those who have insecure relationships experience a significant stress reaction. Providing responsive, supportive relationships as early as possible can prevent or reverse the damaging effects of toxic stress on children.
The country of Rwanda has responded to research such as this by deciding to close all their orphanages and place those children into permanent families. The Orphan Care Initiative is coming alongside local churches to help reach this goal. You can help children leave the isolation of the orphanage by going on an Orphan Care PEACE trip or sponsoring a family in Rwanda to adopt a child from the orphanage.
Click below to learn more about early childhood adversity from the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, or read more in this working paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child: