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This article originally appeared in the Boston Globe:

 

Republican Representative Tom Marino of Pennsylvania and Democratic co-sponsors David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jim McDermott of Washington, and Brian Higgins of New York introduced a bill last week that would put the United States in the position of supporting — rather than undermining — the human rights of children worldwide. It is a simple bill, consisting of only a few lines of text and requiring no new resources. But it would have a profound effect on one of the most significant human rights crises of our time.

The bill would essentially tell the State Department to stop discriminating against children through its refusal to consider the violations of human rights inherent in their unnecessary institutionalization.

Many millions of children worldwide are now locked into institutions for no fault of their own, simply because they have been abandoned, or removed from their parents because of maltreatment. There are good homes waiting for many of these children if only nations would free them up for adoption. Currently, most of these homes are available only across national borders, since institutionalized children generally live in the poorest and most devastated countries of the world, where few families can afford to take in additional children to parent. Few of these countries have any culture of domestic adoption.

But countries regularly shut down international adoption, or create barriers that restrict it to only a lucky few. Unfortunately, the State Department has in recent years joined with other forces to limit international adoption as a meaningful option for unparented children. The result has been the precipitous decline by 75 percent in the number of adoptions into the United States since 2004, and by more than 50 percent in the number international adoptions worldwide. This represents the deliberate and unnecessary denial to well over 20,000 children per year of their most fundamental human right other than life itself — the right to grow up with nurturing parents.

This bill would put the United States in the position of standing up for the human rights of unparented children. It would put us in the position of calling out the human rights violations involved in condemning children to the destruction inherent in growing up in institutions.

Gold standard social and medical science demonstrates how institutions destroy children mentally, physically, and emotionally. It demonstrates that there is a sensitive period in early life after which, even if children are removed from institutions, it is much harder to undo the damage done. The evidence also demonstrates that placement in adoption, whether in the country of origin or abroad, works wonderfully well to help children make the most of their lives.

This bill is supported by a coalition representing academic experts in human rights and child welfare together with core organizations committed to the rights of unparented children — the National Council for Adoption, the Harvard Law School Child Advocacy Program, the Center for Adoption Policy, Saddleback Church Orphan Care Initiative, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, and Both Ends Burning.

This bill is simple but would represent a profound, paradigm-shattering change. It would put the United States in an important position of international human rights leadership. And Congress should be able to agree on the position that children have the basic human right to grow up in a family.

 

Elizabeth Bartholet is professor of law and faculty director of the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School. Paulo Barrozo is associate professor of law and jurisprudence and director of the Clough Center for Constitutional Democracy at Boston College Law School

 

If you would like more information on how the Orphan Care Initiative works to help children remain in family, reunite with family, or regain family through adoption, email orphans@saddleback.com or call the Orphan Care line at 949-609-8555
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We prepared our hearts to serve during Miracles of Mercy campaign by setting aside a full day of prayer and fasting on Saturday, March 12, in the Lakeside Library at our Rancho Capistrano campus. We enjoyed a time of prayer, worship music, vision-casting, and fellowship from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. ...
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Foster parents are in higher demand in Orange County after a new state law that took effect at the beginning of the year aims to place at-risk kids into permanent homes at a faster rate, said county officials. Orange County has until February 18 to come under compliance with this new law. This has placed a great need for licensed foster parents to not only provide homes for new foster children entering the system but also provide co-training for families seeking licensing. If you know someone who is a licensed foster parent in Orange County that is interested in helping the county train families by sharing firsthand experiences, please let us know by emailing orphans@saddleback.com.

Local orphan advocates at homes such as Orangewood Children and Family Center say the law also calls for major changes at group homes so that “children don’t spend years in what is referred to as ‘congregate’ or ‘residential’ care until they age out of the child welfare system at 18,” according to the Orange County Register.

“(The new law) increases our need for good foster homes exponentially,” said Elizabeth DenBleyker, public information officer for Orange County’s Social Services Agency. DenBleyker told the Register that 100 to 120 more such homes are needed.

Advocates favor the general goal of the new law. However, Orange County officials say “the new rules also present a challenge to find enough people – either relatives, other significant adults in a child’s life or foster parents – who can serve as what is being called ‘resource families’ for children whose biological parents are deemed unfit to raise them’,” the Register reports.

Read “Wanted: More Foster Parents in Orange County” beginning below.

Local advocates for children are scrambling to find more foster parents in Orange County, a result of a new state law aimed at placing abused kids into permanent homes faster. The law also figures to alter operations at the county’s best-known children’s home, Orangewood Children and Family Center.

The broader goal of AB403, which took effect Jan. 1, is to get traumatized youth into stable and supportive living situations, preferably in a family-like setting, as soon and as permanently as possible. It sets a limit of 10 days on the time a child can spend in a temporary emergency shelter such as Orangewood.

The law also calls for major changes at group homes so that children don’t spend years in what is referred to as “congregate” or “residential” care until they age out of the child welfare system at 18. Group homes typically have six or more children housed together under the supervision of paid staff.

“(The new law) increases our need for good foster homes exponentially,” said Elizabeth DenBleyker, public information officer for Orange County’s Social Services Agency. DenBleyker pegged the need at 100 to 120 more such homes.

The county has about 400 licensed resource family homes, but only about one-third are prepared and ready to take in children, DenBleyker said.

Currently, 2,304 children are in county dependency, with most of them placed with relatives or other adults in their lives in family-based settings… FULL STORY

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This weekend on the Saddleback Church bulletin, Pastor Phillip Congelliere, campus pastor at Saddleback Aliso Viejo, and his wife Alex, share how their painful struggle with infertility ultimately led them to explore adoption. As God opened their hearts to the possibility of being parents to a child in need of a family, they were presented with a unique and miraculous opportunity to adopt their precious daughter.

 

At Saddleback, we know that the struggle with infertility is a challenge faced by so many couples. We also know that the process of starting to think about growing your family through adoption or foster care can be overwhelming and confusing. The good news is – the Orphan Care Initiative is here to support you! You’re not alone – you can hear from people just like you who have already walked this path.

 

If you are struggling with infertility, or if you would like more information on how you can adopt or foster, we invite you to join us next Wednesday from 6:30-8:30pm in the MO2 Gathering Room of the Saddleback Lake Forest campus for our monthly “ Thinking About Adoption or Foster Care ” gathering. There you will hear helpful overviews from adoptive and foster parents in our own church and have the opportunity to get your questions answered in a no-pressure environment.

 

If you can’t make it to the gathering, we would still love to talk with you! You can call the orphan care line at 949-609-8555 or email orphans@saddleback.com to get connected and learn more.

 

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Why adoption? One adoptive father from our ministry shares what adoption has meant to him, his family, and his little girl (originally posted by Karl Shreeves):

 

This shot of my daughter is worth a million to me, but not because it’s a nice photo. Certainly people relate to it, and they’ve given me kind words about her gleeful expression, or how it takes them back to when Daddy pushing you on a swing was one of life’s greatest joys. Her delight’s genuine, and you can see it. But, while it’s great to create a good image, there are many things that are more important.

What makes this image special is that in it we see changed lives – my daughter’s, my wife’s and mine. We adopted my daughter. I can’t imagine what it’s like for anyone to grow up without loving parents, but it makes me wonder whether she would have had moments like these. On the other hand, I now know what my wife and I would have missed; thinking what might not have been makes me weep.

Too many children grow up without families. There are about 163million orphans in the world who have lost one or both parents (and one is too many). Consider, on the other hand, that there are about 1.4 billion families (households) if only about 1 in 9 [families] adopted one child – we could close every orphanage! Not every household can do so, but others would (and do) adopt two or more. And, of the 163 million orphans, many still have a parent and a viable family if we worked to help them remain in family and reunite with family. My point is that this should be a solvable problem.

To be direct, what about you? If you’re thinking about enlarging your family, give it some serious thought. I wasn’t sure I wanted to adopt. If I’m honest, I was basically dragged into it. But my fears, concerns, worries and hesitation vanished the instant I held my little girl for the first time. Now I thank God that He didn’t let me off the hook on this one. When you become an adoptive parent you give a lot, but you get a lot more than you give. For every smile we’ve put on our little girl’s face, she’s put a hundred on ours. I think it’s one of God’s ways of teaching us what’s really important.

 

Are you considering adoption? Come check out our monthly “Thinking About Adoption or Foster Care” seminar this Wednesday, January 6th from 6:30-8:30pm in the MO2 Gathering Room of the Lake Forest Saddleback Church campus, or call 949-609-8555 for more information.

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