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“If one family out of every four churches in the U.S. would adopt a child, there would be no more orphans in the United States.”

 

Elizabeth Styffe, Director of the Orphan Care Initiative at Saddleback Church, recently spoke with Ruth Bell Olsson, from Bethany Christian Services during their "Every Child" podcast, about the orphan crisis facing our world today and how the global Church can be equipped to end this crisis by learning about God’s heart for the orphan.

 

“Not every believer needs to adopt, but every believer needs to say, ‘What can I do to end the orphan crisis?’” Elizabeth says that the Church is the only entity that cares for people from cradle to grave and that God has called each of us to care for the orphan: “Every night, including tonight, children are going to bed praying what my children say they prayed. Every night they prayed for a mom and dad…It’s not overly dramatic, it’s not overly emotional, this is real as it gets. This is reality.”

 

The local church can end the orphan crisis by helping children remain in family, reunite with family, or regain a family of their own through adoption. Elizabeth notes, “This is about doing for a child physically what God has done for us spiritually.”

 

Listen to the full podcast here


If you are interested in becoming involved with the Orphan Care Initiative, email orphans@saddleback.com or call 949-609-8555.

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Adapted from a blog that originally appeared on www.EmpoweredtoConnect.org

There are no perfect parents, only growing parents. When parents make mistakes it can actually be healthy for both them and their children, so long as parents are quick to repair the ruptured connection. This is certainly good news, given that all parents are prone to their fair share of mistakes.

So here’s a challenge for all parents — let’s practice making mistakes with our children (not intentionally, of course) and repairing them so that we and our children can grow and learn, and our connection can be strengthened. Here’s how it works:

Choose a two to three day period when you will be with your child for most, if not all, of the waking hours in the day. Over the course of these days, be mindful to repair each and every mistake you make when interacting with your child. Whether you lose your temper, raise your voice, speak sarcastically, become frustrated, cut them off, fail to give them voice, ignore them, hurt their feelings…the list could go on. Regardless of whether the mistake is big or small, intentional or unintentional, be sure to quickly, humbly, and sincerely repair each and every mistake you make.

As you do this, make a mental note of (or actually write down) any observations that stand out, particularly in terms of your own feelings and your child’s response (to both your mistake and your repair). Also make a note of any changes in your relationship with your child that you witness throughout the course of this time. We have a hunch that by practicing making mistakes and repairing them, your relationship with your child will grow.

For more on the importance of parents repairing their mistakes, watch this video featuring Dr. Karyn Purvis.

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There are so many exciting ways to get connect to serving in the Orphan Care Initiative. Check out the events and teams below for ways that you can take your next daring faith step to serve orphans and vulnerable children locally or globally!

Daring Faith Expo - Serve at the Orphan Care Booth!

On the weekend of May 16/17, each Saddleback campus will have the opportunity to learn how to join the Orphan Care Initiative during the Daring Faith Expo at every service - and we need your smiling face to help people get connected! If you are interested in serving at the Orphan Care booth for just 30 minutes after any service(s), let us know and we will get you all the information you need!

Thinking About Adoption or Foster Care?

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!

Orangewood Play Group

You can brighten the day of a child living in Orangewood group home, OC's temporary shelter for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. The first group will be visiting the evening of May 22nd. This is a great opportunity for those looking to care for vulnerable children right here in Orange County. Email orphans@saddleback.com for more information.

Rwanda: Empty orphanages and strengthen churches on a PEACE trip

Orphan Care PEACE trips train local churches in promoting adoption, assisting newly adoptive families, and training lay social workers within churches. We'll train you in everything you need to know, and help you or your family make a difference in ways you've always dreamed! Let us know when you would like to go, and we will get you connected to a trip leader. To join an upcoming trip email orphans@saddleback.com.

Mentor a child in the foster care system

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) mentor children in the foster system and act as their voice in the legal system. With a commitment of 2 hours twice a month, you can help represent the best interests of a child and support them on their journey to a lasting family of their own. If you would like to learn more about becoming a CASA in Orange County, please visit their website http://www.casaoc.org/advocate/ to RSVP to the next info session, or email orphans@saddleback.com for more information.

Join a local or global action team!

You can serve in ways too numerous to name, but here's a sample: Serve orphans and vulnerable children in our neighborhoods, help teach local churches in orphan care, or 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!

Adoptive and Foster Family Support Group

This season's Adoptive and Foster Family Support Group meets on Tuesdays from 11am to 1pm in room 409/411 on the Lake Forest Saddleback Church campus. The support group will be studying from the DVD curriculum The Connection written by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Elizabeth Styffe. Unfortunately, no childcare is available. Please RSVP by email to 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!

Posted by CASA OC

18-year-old Holly has been in Orange County foster care since 1998.  She was removed from her home after allegations against her mother for failure to protect, serious emotional damage, sexual abuse, and living in unsanitary and unhealthy conditions. Reunifying with her mom was ruled out many years ago due to Mom’s drug use and reckless parenting. Holly had sporadic monitored phone calls and visits with her mom and has come to the realization that it will never be a healthy and nurturing relationship. Holly’s CASA, Joann, recognized that although Holly is 18 and had agreed to stay in the system until she finished high school, she was lacking the strong and positive family bonds she needed to help her succeed post-emancipation.  Joann spoke to Holly to see if she had interest in a search being conducted for her biological father, whom she had never met before.  Holly agreed to CASA Family Connections doing a search, but was a little doubtful there would be any success.  Holly knew very little about her father and was only able to contribute his first name, Michael, and the past descriptions from her mother of her father being a “bad” and “mean” man.

CASA Family Connections immediately got to work on searching for Holly’s paternal family.  After reviewing her file it seemed like it may be a lost cause.  Social Services had tried numerous times in the past to get in touch with Michael.  According to records, contact was made once before and it looked as though he had no interest in establishing a relationship with his daughter.

After finding a date-of-birth for Michael things began to snowball and an updated address and telephone number were found within a couple days.  Upon phone contact, Michael stated he had been waiting and praying for this moment for a very long time.  He had become a Reverend and was now married with two young children living a healthy and positive life in Iowa.  Immediately Michael was very anxious to be given the opportunity to speak with his long lost daughter.  When asked about previous efforts by Social Services to contact him – he stated he was only told there was a possibility of Holly returning home to her mother, a woman whom Michael had briefly dated and who suffered from psychotic episodes that Michael could not be a part of.  Michael admitted that he had made a mistake and should have fought harder to protect the well being of his daughter.

Holly entered the CASA office again, less than two weeks since her initial meeting with Family Connections and exclaimed to her CASA Case Supervisor, “Did you hear? They found my Dad!”.  Holly was clearly very nervous, but with the support of her CASA she was able to muster up the courage to begin a new chapter in her life.  That day Holly was able to speak to her father for the first time in her life!

Holly was given the opportunity to ask her father anything she wished – which she took full advantage of.  Questions ranged from the blunt and serious, “Why did you leave me?” “Why didn’t you ever look for me?” to the seemingly trivial “What kind of music do you listen to?” “Do you have any animals?”.  In a beautiful moment, Holly discovered that like her, her father likes to write songs and sing – so they sang to one another songs they had each written lyrics to.

CASA Family Connections was able to fly out Dad and her Step-Mom a few weeks later and you would have never imagined that they had never been a part of one another’s lives for Holly’s whole existence. Holly’s Father and Step-Mom enjoyed a great weekend together where they were able to connect and learn about one another, as well as do some fun activities like bowling, going to the beach and the aquarium, as well as meeting some of her teacher’s at school and kids and staff members at Holly’s group home.

It wasn’t too long after the visit that Holly decided she wanted to go to Iowa herself and see what it would possibly be like to live with her newly found Dad. CASA Family Connections planned a trip for Holly to fly out during her spring break in March of 2012 and spend a week there. Again, it was a beautiful weekend, where Holly was able to meet her Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, her two younger half-siblings, as well as numerous members of their congregation who were extremely excited to meet her. Holly later told us that she felt very much at home – for the first time in her life.

Holly and her Social Worker decided a week after she had come back from the trip that she would like to move to Iowa and live with her family once she finished high school and emancipated. Her father, Michael, was absolutely thrilled that she had made this decision. Holly graduated in June and again CASA Family Connections was able to fly her father and stepmother out to be part of the celebrations in Orange County. Best of all – Holly was able to fly home with them, back to Iowa, two days later!

Holly has since got a job in Iowa and enrolled to begin taking classes at a technical school in Iowa. Holly is excited to be spending her first Thanksgiving and Christmas with her new family and her new home!

 

Ordinary volunteers from CASA-OC Family Connections made it possible for Holly to find her family – through things as simple as searching on Facebook. You can make a lasting impact in a child’s life as well and help move them closer to a permanent family by joining the CASA program. Learn more here, or attend the next information session on May 2nd.

 

Questions? Email us at orphans@saddleback.com

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In Orange County alone, around 3,000 in the foster care system, over 150 of whom are waiting to be adopted.

Court Appointed Special Advocates are ordinary people with the desire to make a difference in a child’s life. A CASA volunteer visits their assigned child in the foster care system regularly, interacts with social workers assigned to their case, and makes recommendations to the court. They ensure that the child’s best interests are protected and help them on the journey to a lasting, lifelong family of their own.

Children in the foster care system can struggle with low feelings of self-worth, difficulty in school and trouble relating to others – but it doesn’t have to be this way. Having the stable presence of an adult they trust can make all the difference. With a CASA volunteer, children are more likely to find a safe, permanent home, are half as likely to re-enter the foster care system.

Becoming a CASA is a great way to impact the lives of vulnerable children in our community. For a commitment of 2 hours twice a month, you can help change a life!

If you would like to learn more about becoming a CASA in Orange County, please visit their website http://www.casaoc.org/advocate/ or sign up for a local information session. Dates and times of upcoming sessions are below:

 

MARCH

Date: March, 11th 2015 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Venue: CASA Training Room

Address: 1505 E. 17th Street, Second Floor, Santa Ana, CA, 92705

 

Date: March, 28th 2015 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Venue: CASA Training Room

Address: 1505 E. 17th Street, Second Floor, Santa Ana, CA, 92705

 

APRIL

Date: April, 7th 2015 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Venue: CASA Training Room

Address: 1505 E. 17th Street, Second Floor, Santa Ana, CA, 92705

 

Questions about join the CASA Orange County program? Contact us at orphans@saddleback.com or call the Orphan Care line at 949-609-5555.

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