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Ernie and Pat are two ordinary members of Saddleback who have chosen to make an extraordinary difference by caring about orphans. Adoptive and foster parents, they have seen first hand the difference that family makes in the life of a child who has been deprived of a mom and dad. Below, Ernie shares a bit of his wife’s own remarkable adoption story – a miracle dating back to World War Two in Germany.

In 1947 post war Germany, a mother named Alma Mosher, a military wife lived in Germany as part of the US Occupational Forces. Alma had two biological sons, but her heart still longed for a daughter.

In a German orphanage, Alma found a six month old, brown-eyed little girl whose parents had thrown her away because she wasn’t the boy-warrior they wanted.

She picked up this precious baby girl, so tiny and underweight, and she knew that it was God’s plan for her to adopt her. Then the true battle started.

The politics in Germany and the rights of American GI’s and their families were not yet established. Alma refused to leave the country without the baby girl in her arms. After months of negotiations, Baby Pat officially became Alma’s daughter, and the first baby adopted in post-WWII Germany by an American GI. Alma’s refusal to accept a negative answer opened the door for adoption in Germany.

Forty years later, Pat lives in Lake Forest, CA and attends Saddleback Church. She is married with two boys, and like her mother, feels God’s call to help a little girl just like she was helped long ago. Accepting God’s call, Pat became a foster parent to three girls: Jessica, Kimberly, and Elizabeth.

Pat felt God’s call to foster and readily accepted, but she didn’t know the difficulty it would bring her; the same difficulty her mother faced years ago. Pat advocated for her girls – to protect them and to give them a better life. All three girls had come from difficult and traumatic situations, and needed the healing love of a family. Despite the difficulties, Pat’s love for her girls only grew with her desire to battle for their care and protection.

There is a story for each of these little girls that would fill a thousand novels, but the bigger story is how the love of a mom, who wouldn’t give up despite the hard circumstances, made a difference in the world more than a generation later.

Jessica is now a 27 year old woman living in Boston, now reunited with her birth mother. But her desire to find her birth mother did not alienate her birth family, it only added members to her already loving family.

Elizabeth, now 28 years old, was adopted by a family in Los Angeles.

Kimberly, abandoned at birth in a Tustin Hospital, is now our adopted daughter and a beautiful 25 year old woman, attending college so she can become a psychologist to help others with the same life experiences she had.

But the impact of the love of a mother doesn’t stop with helping orphaned children; there are consequences to their family members inspired by the actions of their mom. David, our oldest son, is a business man in Orange Count. Tim, our youngest son, is a pediatric cardiologist who spent ten days last Christmas with a medical team in Ethiopia and repaired the hearts of 38 children.

Pat and I are now spending time working with the Local Orphan Care Initiative here at Saddleback Church to grow a coalition of churches and Orange County Social Services to find a loving home for every orphan in Orange County and to spread that model across the country.

If it wasn’t for the love of Pat’s mother at the end of WWII, who fought for and adopted one brown-eyed baby girl, there wouldn’t be our marriage of 46 years, a business man making a difference for immigrant families, a cardiologist working on baby’s hearts, an adopted little girl studying to help others work through their emotional pain, and a senior couple now working on the Global Orphan Care Initiative at Saddleback Church.

The love of a mother can change the world one life at a time. Together with God, you don’t need to start a revolution to make a difference; loving one lonely child at a time can change the world, just like Alma and Pat changed the lives of the orphaned children around them.


To get connected to Orphan Care at Saddleback, join us this Sunday from 4-6pm in the Refinery to hear the variety of opportunities available for you to make a difference in the life of an orphan! 

If you would like information on how your family can adopt or foster a child, join us at “Thinking About Adoption or Foster Care” Wednesday June 4th from 6:30-8:30pm, or call the Orphan Care Line at 949-609-8555.

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Looking to get connected to Orphan Care at Saddleback Church? May and June are action-packed with opportunities to learn more and serve!

Check out the variety of opportunities below, and feel free to let us know if you have any questions! (call us at 949-609-8555 or email orphans@saddleback.com)

 

Thinking About Adoption & Foster Care

Have you considered adopting or fostering, but aren’t sure how to get started? This is the place for you! Families from our church who have adopted and fostered share helpful overviews and answer your questions in a no-pressure environment.

We have three different nights for you to catch the seminar and get your questions answered:

Monday May 12th – 7-9pm in MO2 (the small portable office on the Lake Forest campus)

Thursday, May 15th – 7-9pm in Room 404 (in the portable classrooms across from Tent 1)

Wednesday, June 4th – 6:30-8:30pm in MO2 (the small portable office on the Lake Forest campus)

 

SPECIAL EVENT with Milan & Kay Yerkovich, authors of How We Love

Healthy attachment is the key to great families, and great adoptive and foster parenting. Using attachment theory, experts Milan and Kay Yerkovich have created the tools to take your relationships to the next level. Come learn your attachment style, how to grow your marriage, and take your parenting to the next level at this unique event.

Saturday, June 21st – 9am – 12pm The Plaza Room, Lake Forest Campus

Register HERE: http://saddleback.com/event/11637464971/event

 

Orphan Care Volunteer Gathering

Our monthly orphan care volunteer gathering is a great opportunity to hear all that is going on locally and globally with orphan care, and get plugged in to serving opportunities! Connect with others in our ministry with a heart to make a difference in the global orphan care crisis.

Sunday, June 1st – 4-6pm in the upstairs Refinery classroom

 

Global Orphan Care Skills Training

You can make a global impact! In this training, you will learn how to empty orphanages and help orphaned children find their forever families. If you are considering going on a PEACE trip, or just want to know more, join us for skills training!

Saturday, June 14th – 8:30am – 12:00pm in Tent 2

 

Local Orphan Care Orientation

If you have a heart to serve orphaned children here in our own community, come to the local orphan care orientation to hear about the different opportunities, and how you can make a difference in the life of a foster child or adoptive family! Email lynny@saddleback.com for more information.

Tuesday, May 13th – 7-9pm in the Plaza Room

 

Questions? Email orphans@saddleback.com or call 949-609-8555.

 

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A member of our Saddleback community became involved with the Orphan Care Initiative because of how the ministry has personally affected her. She is passionate about sharing her story and her views on CHIFF (Children in Families First), but asked that her identity to remain anonymous to protect her nephew. This is her story:

 

 

My Story

My nephew is a precious bundle of precocious energy. At ten years old, what else would one expect? He is the epitome of an Orange County boy. A champion at the 200 meter in track, a lover of the Chima warrior cartoon series, a burgeoning fisherman, and a would-be surfer dude.

He also could have been an orphan.

For reasons that aren’t mine to discuss, my brother didn’t know that he had a son until several months into the pregnancy. The woman had considered abortion & adoption… Then finally told my brother that he had a son.

Sadly, as a young twenty something man-child my brother was ill equipped to take on the responsibilities of an infant. Let alone one he wasn’t even sure was his. Yet, my brother fell in love with this boy the moment he saw the first sonogram. He didn’t care that the DNA tests had come back 100% positive – they could have been negative for all he cared – this baby was his. No matter what.

In a turn of events, my brother was given full custody of his son. Sadly, my nephew has not had a relationship with his mother.

At any point during this journey, my nephew could have been lost to us, his family. My brother couldn’t do it on his own, so my parents, my siblings and I, we all stepped up. For much of his life, I have been my nephew’s “mom” and we are his support structure, his village.

 

Why it matters?

Even though I can see it hurts him sometimes to be the one without a mom at Back to School night, my nephew is one of the lucky ones. So many other children around the world suffer much, much, worse. They don’t have the support structure of family, and there is no one to advocate for them. That’s why I felt so strongly about getting involved with the Orphan Care Initiative at Saddleback, and why I’m sharing this personal story with all of you.

This is a Call to Action.

The Orphan Care Initiative is putting its support behind a bill called Children in Families First, or CHIFF, and we need to help them get the word out. Introduced to Congress in 2013, the bill focuses on finding orphans permanent families FIRST, often times with their own relatives. It also outlines a process that would help streamline international adoption, making it easier on American families waiting to adopt.

We need to write, tweet, blog, vlog, sing, and dance our hearts out to every member of Congress currently undecided on this bill. An online petition has already been created and you can sign your name to it here.

 

How You Can Help

It’s as simple as clicking a link and filling out a quick form that takes less than a minute to complete. But don’t misunderstand, this isn’t slacktivism, clicktivism, or an attempt at arm-chair foreign policy. Your support of CHIFF will literally help to change the course of not only a child’s life, but of entire families and communities world wide.

CHIFF attempts to the do the following:

·      Creating an office for vulnerable children and families in the Department of State that will create a foreign policy and diplomatic hub with a focus on strengthening families and creating families for children who need them.

·      Directing the U.S. Agency for International Development to implement development programs that also strengthen and create families. (This also means support structures for families that already exist but need to know they can sustain their households, or have the knowledge to provide, protect, and nurture their children.)

·      Making the adoption process more straight-forward and transparent for American families choosing to adopt overseas; and

·      Providing the tools needed to count and identify orphans so that we can be sure our help is making a difference.

CHIFF will do all these things while requiring NO NEW MONEY from the American people.

The United States Government already spends $2 billion on assistance programs for children internationally. CHIFF proposes reallocating a small portion of that funding to support these programs. CHIFF does not require American taxpayers to pay MORE or spend MORE. It fights, on their behalf, to spend that hard earned money WISER and more efficiently.

 

My Prayer for All of You

I never thought I’d be a surrogate mother for a young child in my twenties. I never dreamed I’d be responsible for his needs and emotions. I also never expected what a miracle that beloved burden would become in my life. My nephew lives with my parents and I in our home in Orange County, and every single day I pray in thanksgiving to God for the blessing his presence is in our lives.

I am overwhelmed by his courage to face a world that often doesn’t understand him, and so grateful for Saddleback and others who try to give comfort to other children like him: children who could have been orphans, or are orphans, but instead are viewed as just another member of God’s family, our family,— your family.

May the Lord bless you with grace, wisdom, discernment, and the courage to follow through with your convictions. I hope those convictions lead you to our church family at Saddleback, and I encourage you to support CHIFF by getting involved now!

Click here to learn more about CHIFF.

 

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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:

 

Get informed

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 orphans@saddleback.com 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 lynny@saddleback.com for more info.

 

Get started

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 orphans@saddleback.com 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.

 

Get going

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 orphans@saddleback.com for more info.

 

Give

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 orphans@saddleback.com or call 949-609-8555.

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 orphans@saddleback.com.

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