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Children In Families First, a bipartisan bill that would prioritize family as a key element of U.S. foreign policy and help streamline international adoptions, has been gaining momentum in Washington. As of last week, with the addition of Representative Michael Conaway (R-TX), CHIFF has 50 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle in the House and the Senate.

There is still a long battle ahead for this important piece of legislation – visit the CHIFF page to learn how you can get involved (http://bit.ly/17jO0OL) and like their Facebook page to keep up with all the updates (https://www.facebook.com/childreninfamiliesfirst).

 

You can learn more in this recent Associate Press article about CHIFF:

Spurring foreign adoptions is goal of bipartisan bill in Congress

By David Crary

Amid partisan conflict in Congress, dozens of lawmakers from both parties — including staunch liberals and conservatives — have united behind a bill that supporters say addresses a heart-rending issue beyond politics: the millions of foreign children languishing in orphanages or otherwise at risk because they have no immediate family.

The bill would encourage more adoptions of foreign orphans, which have declined steadily in recent years, and reflects impatience with current policies overseen by the State Department.

"Every child needs and deserves to grow up in a family," says the bill's chief advocate, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. "While our foreign policy has done much to keep children alive and healthy, it has not prioritized this basic human right."

Titled the Children in Families First Act, the measure has been introduced in slightly different forms in both the Senate and House. Its co-sponsors range from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a hero of the Democratic left, to Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a favorite of tea party conservatives.

…read the rest of the article here.

As the National Day of Awareness for Human Trafficking approaches on January 11th, we recognize that the threat of trafficking is never far for children who are orphaned or vulnerable. Without the stability and protection of family, these children are particularly susceptible to exploitation. It is estimated that 50% of trafficking victims are children. 5.5 million children have been forced into child labor or sex trafficking worldwide.

We also recoginze that the global tragedy is taking place right in our backyard. Human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states in the U.S. Last year, 160 male, female, and minor trafficking victims were reported here in Orange County. 75% of those victims were sex-trafficked and 20% were labor-trafficked. 36% of the sex trafficked victims were minors.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Join us on January 11th for the annual Human Trafficking Symposium, hosted by Saddleback Church’s Justice and Trafficking Initiative, to learn how you can make a difference locally and globally. The Symposium will feature several keynote speakers, including Elizabeth Styffe, Global Director of the Orphan Care and HIV&AIDS Initiatives at Saddleback Church.

The Human Trafficking Symposium will be held on January 11th from 8:30am-12:30pm in the Refinery building on the Lake Forest campus of Saddleback Church.

 

If you would like more information or would like to volunteer at the event at the Orphan Care table, please email orphans@saddleback.com.

December 1st represented the 25th year of World AIDS Day, a day recognized worldwide and dedicated to raising awareness for those struggling with HIV and AIDS. Each year, Saddleback Church members come together on World AIDS day to raise awareness, to support those living with HIV, and to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS. It is also a day to focus on those impacted by HIV&AIDS, including the over 17.3 million children orphaned by AIDS worldwide.

This year’s World AIDS Day theme was “Getting to Zero” – representing Saddleback’s commitment to the global goals of getting to zero in several key areas:

·       Zero new HIV infections

·       Zero children born HIV positive

·       Zero AIDS related deaths

·       Zero stigma related to HIV & AIDS

In additional to these international goals, Saddleback has adopted our own goal related to the cause of orphans. The issues of HIV and orphans are inextricably linked – in Africa alone there are over 14 million children orphaned by AIDS, and children who grow up as orphans are at much higher risk for HIV. Saddleback is coming alongside the Rwandan government in their goal to close all their orphanages and place those children into families. We hope to reach the goal of zero children in Rwandan orphanages by 2014.

Saddleback’s Arts Initiative Ex Creatis chose to highlight the “Getting to Zero” themes on World AIDS Day weekend at Saddleback with a visual art piece, emphasizing these ways that one person can make in the fight against AIDS and “getting to zero.” They used sculpture as the medium to involve the church at the Lake Forest campus.

“We made a huge, colorful installation of about 5,000 balloons. We started with red, and, by the end of Sunday night, we’d turned all the balloons to white,” says Jason Leith, Director of Ex Creatis. “We wanted people to be a part of the day in a very symbolic way, and to turn something they’re consuming into something they’re participating in. We wanted to activate every part of a person.”

Throughout the weekend, participants popped red balloons and replaced them with white balloons on the patio of Saddleback’s main campus. The artists hoped to symbolize replacing hopelessness and loneliness with the hope of reaching the getting to zero goals and helping over 3,000 Rwandan orphans find families.

“Families and strangers were constantly around the piece and experienced church in a completely different way,” said Jason. “Our goal was to show them that there is a huge power behind lots of individuals coming together and working toward the same goal, to help them know they are a part of the movement.”

It’s not too late to make a real impact is in reaching the goal of zero children in Rwandan orphanages. Through the Saddleback Orphan Sponsorship program, sponsors can help a family in Rwanda take in an orphan from the orphanage so that they are a son or daughter and not an orphan anymore. Sponsorship helps an orphan find a family of their own, as well as provides for school and medical fees. Become a sponsor today at www.saddleback.com/sponsorship.

While World AIDS Day may be over, Saddleback remains committed to all the getting to zero goals. To learn more about what you can do or how to get involved, please visit http://hivaidsinitiative.com/gettingtozero/.

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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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