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Have you ever considered that there is a child living with HIV in the United States or around the world who is outside of parental care, waiting for a family of their own?

According to UNICEF (2011), there are 153 million orphans worldwide. It is accurate to say that millions of these children are living with HIV. Without a family to care for them, their risk of death is inevitable. Their deaths are preventable. Not only can the church care for children living with HIV, they can provide what every child needs most: they can help children reunite with their families (if they are separated because of orphanage care), and they can help them get adopted into legal, loving, lasting families of their own either within their country of birth, or within a family beyond their borders who will welcome them as their own child through adoption.

In 2011, in the United States, only about 9,000 people adopted from other countries, and tragically, of that small number who adopted, only a handful of children living with HIV were adopted. Families report that stigma, fear, myths and ignorance keep them from adopting children who are living with HIV.

There is hope. You can explore our sister site, www.HIVAIDSInitiative.com. You will learn what causes HIV and what doesn’t. You’ll learn how a child with HIV is not dangerous for a family and that HIV is not transmitted through ordinary daily contact. You’ll also receive hope and community to find other families who have adopted HIV positive, who can share what it means to have your child living with HIV.

Adopting HIV + children is part of the Orphan Care Initiative at Saddleback Church. Adopting children with HIV should be a well-informed decision. There are many issues to consider. Access to good medical care, how to deal with schools, friends, future relationships, and marriage are just some of the issues that need to be explored. Adopting child living with HIV is not like adopting any other child with a chronic disease. HIV affects the child and family in multiple ways, and becomes more complicated as your child grows and matures.

We believe that not everyone should adopt, but everyone who names the name of Jesus should ask themselves, “How can I help a child get into a permanent family of their own…every child-including those living with HIV.” There are many ways you can help others adopt. You can also support a family who is adopting a child who is living with HIV. We believe there are millions of children living with HIV who need a loving, legal, life-long family of their own. Could you be one of those families?

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Did you know that orphanages are damaging to children? Research shows growing up in an institution harms children emotionally, physically and developmentally. Children need the love of a family to survive and thrive.

That’s why Saddleback Church is coming alongside the Rwandan government as they work towards a goal of emptying all their orphanages by 2014. Saddleback is partnering with local churches in Rwanda to help all those children find permanent, caring families of their own. Of the 3,000 children in orphanages in Rwanda when we began last year, 1,200 now have families to call their own, and 5 of the 35 orphanages have closed!

There’s still more to be done. Our “getting to zero” goal is that there will be zero children living in orphanages by 2014.

You can help empty orphanages by sponsoring a family in Rwanda – helping a child reunite with – or regain – a family. Sponsorship helps a family provide school fees, food, clothes and health insurance for the child. It also provides for parenting training and social worker support through the local church.

This sponsorship program is unique in that it works to end the orphan crisis by focusing on getting children into family, so that they are a son or daughter and not an orphan anymore.

Because of the involvement of the local Rwandan church in selecting families for the program and administering funds, there is a high level of accountability. You can know that your gift goes directly to the family through the local church, without a lot of red tape or overhead.

Click here to begin sponsoring a family in Rwanda today!

For $38 a month, or through a one time gift, you can help an orphan become a son or daughter again.

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Have you ever wondered if surrounding your adoptive or foster child with affection and compassion may not be preparing them for adulthood and the harsh realities of the “real world”? Dr. Karyn Purvis dispels this myth as part of her video series “10 Common Questions Adoptive Parents Ask.”

Building connection with your child is excellent preparation for the real world. Nuture when in balance with structure gives your child the tools and self-confidence needed to tackle the tough challenges of life in the future. Meeting the deep needs of your adoptive child, building solid relationships filled with trust and respect, and teaching loving limits allows them to develop secure attachments that are the solid basis for their future. As they mature, this basis teaches them to seek healthy relationships and apply healthy limits within their adult lives. For children from hard places, being nurturing is not permissiveness – it allows for the healing of old wounds and preparation for life.

To hear the entire series from Dr. Purvis visit http://empoweredtoconnect.org/topics/10-common-questions/ or explore more of Dr. Purvis’s resources for adoptive and foster parents at http://empoweredtoconnect.org.

If you are interested in connecting with other adoptive parents and learning more about adoption support at Saddleback Church, email orphans@saddleback.com or call 949-609-8555.

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The Children in Families First Act (CHIFF), a landmark piece of legislation that would prioritize family as a key element of U.S. foreign policy, was introduced to the House of Representatives on Wednesday by Representatives Kay Granger (R-TX) and Karen Bass (D-CA) along with 20 original co-sponsors from both parties.

CHIFF will work to coordinate government foreign assistance efforts so that emphasis and priority is placed on helping children remain, reunite with or regain a family. It will achieve this by redirecting and streamlining funds that are already spent to assist children living abroad and establishing a bureau in the Department of State to become a much-needed diplomatic hub for international child welfare. By bringing the need for effective and accountable child welfare systems to the forefront, CHIFF will also promote a holistic and preventative approach to strengthening child protections.

In addition, if passed CHIFF will strengthen the mechanisms for intercountry adoption by consolidating and placing these functions under the direction of the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS).  CHIFF also transfers the accreditation of adoption service provider accreditation from the Department of State to USCIS.

This is an important time in the life of this legislation, and your voice can make a difference! Surveys show that only 20 calls from constituents are needed for a bill to the get the attention of our elected officials – click here to find information for your Representatives, as well as a script you can use on the phone to ask them to support CHIFF: http://bit.ly/17jO0OL

You can also show your support by liking CHIFF on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/childreninfamiliesfirst

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Orphan Sunday (November 3) is just two weeks away. This event is an opportunity for churches all over the world to unite in declaring God’s heart for vulnerable children and his plan for the Church to care for children without families. We hope that you will join Saddleback in participating in Orphan Sunday weekend, as we affirm that every child deserves a family!

As preparation for Orphan Sunday, we also invite you to watch a challenging message by Pastor Rick Warren, sharing God’s heart and plan to care for orphans around the world:

HFO Institute: Rick Warren on the Church and Orphan Care from Hope for Orphans on Vimeo.

To learn more about how you can serve the orphan in your community and abroad, come talk to us at the Orphan Care booth on the patio at any of the Lake Forest services on Orphan Sunday weekend November 2-3, or email orphans@saddleback.com.