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Rob and I started to seriously consider adoption in 2009, but it seemed as if doors were being closed to us in every direction.  We were told that we could not adopt from China.  Our ages disqualified us from adopting from several countries, and at the time Korea was also not an option for us.  We were very discouraged, and gave up pursuing adoption for a while. 

In 2010, we felt adoption tugging on our hearts again, and after listening to one of Pastor Rick’s “Just-Do-It” messages, we decided to step out in faith and look into different adoption programs again.  This time, we were told that we could adopt a special needs child from Korea.  I wasn’t sure if that was the right thing for our family, so I decided to visit my cousin who had recently adopted her son from China.  Her son was considered special needs due to his cleft lip and pallette. Over Labor Day weekend, I flew to Indiana to visit her. The instant I met her son, Isaac, I was in love.  He was the cutest, sweetest boy I had ever seen! He truly brought joy to his entire family. Alone in her guest room on September 6, 2010, I wept as I told God that I would do whatever He wanted. I was open to any child He would give me.

In October of 2010, Rob and I met with a social worker and we officially started the adoption process.  To our amazement, we were told that the laws in Korea had changed and they had re-opened the standard process to our agency.  That meant we would most likely be matched to a healthy baby boy!  We started the arduous process of home studies, fingerprinting, and filling out form after form after form...after form!  Seven months later we received the email we had been waiting for!  We were matched to a beautiful 8-month old baby boy! It was truly love at first sight!  We received 6 pictures and a general description of our son.  The second we saw him, we knew God picked him out just for us.  But it was even more confirmed when we saw his birthday--September 6, 2010!  It was the same day I told God I would do whatever He wanted!

Robert didn’t come home until he was 23 months old.  It was so difficult to wait for him for 14 months.  But now he is a happy, healthy, smart, beautiful 3 1/2 year old.  He is our greatest joy and our greatest gift.



Are you considering adoption but don't know how to get started? Join us the first Wednesday night of every month for Thinking About Adoption, or call us at 949-609-8555!

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Your presence will make a difference this Saturday night. 6:00pm at the Lake Forest Campus.  The Orphan Care Initiative community gathers at PEACE night where your voice matters- you’ll also hear what God has been doing what He has in store for you.  You are making an impact for his precious children locally and globally!

 

Here's a few great places to get connected to the Orphan Care community, starting THIS SATURDAY:

  

PEACE NIGHT  THIS Saturday, February 28th – 6:00pm in Tent 3

Meet friends and get exciting updates from the Orphan Care Initiative this weekend! We will start at 6pm in Tent 3 on the Saddleback Church Lake Forest Campus, head to regional breakouts and come together for the Orphan Care Initiative breakout at 7:30 in room 303. PEACE Night is also a great time to learn how to go on an Orphan Care PEACE trip. Learn how to take your next step and get involved! 

 

THINKING ABOUT ADOPTION OR FOSTER CAREMarch 4th - Wednesday - 6:30pm-8:30pm

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! 

 

JOIN OUR LOCAL AND GLOBAL ACTION TEAMS You can serve in ways too numerous to name, but here’s a sample:  Serve orphans and vulnerable children in our neighborhoods.  Play with children temporarily housed for their protection in Orange County, serve an individual foster children by being their volunteer/mentor in the court system, help teach local churches in orphan care, 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!

 

RWANDA: EMPTY ORPHANAGES STRENGTHEN CHURCHES

There’s room for you!  Join an upcoming trip.  Learn more this Saturday or email 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!

We know that considering adoption often raises many questions in families. Though it may be overwhelming as you begin this journey, know that here at the Orphan Care Initiative, we have amazing adoptive families that have been in your shoes and are here to support you every step of the way!

As you begin to consider adoption, it’s important to ask the right questions. It’s healthy to consider all the implications of what bringing a new child home will mean for you and each member of your family. Here are ten questions to think over as you consider the adoption process:


Why do I want to adopt?

What are my biggest fears regarding adoption?

Do my close family and friends support my decision to adopt?

What personal experiences do I have regarding adoption?

What, if anything, do I need to “let go of” before I adopt?

What support and resources do I have or need to further develop before I adopt?

What are some misconceptions that others close to me have about adoption?

How do I anticipate that adoption will change my life?

If I don’t adopt, what will my family do?

What in my life is my biggest barrier to adoption?


If you are interested in fostering or adopting and would like help answering these questions or any other question you may have, join us for our Thinking About Adoption or Foster Care information session every first Wednesday of the month from 6:30 to 8:30 in MO2. Families from Saddleback who have adopted and fostered will share helpful overviews and answer your questions in a no-pressure environment.

We’re also always available by phone (949-609-8555) or email (orphans@saddleback.com).

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When the sun sets in Gishita, Rwanda the sky turns to dark blue velvet. Stars twinkle timidly and lights from little homes dotting the hillside turn on one by one. The hills—bright green during the day—roll on in succession, with only the moon to light their division.

At night Bellia and her 6 year old adopted daughter Marie sleep in the same room. The quiet of home comforts them and Bible verses on the white walls whisper love and peace over them. Two cows low in the next room.


For years in the orphanage, Marie went to sleep in a dormitory with more than twenty other girls, praying for a mother to tell her goodnight. She woke up without a mother to dress her in clean clothes. She breakfasted in a room with a hundred other children, and no one to make sure she got enough food to eat. She trekked home from school to a concrete building with no one to welcome her. She closed her eyes without anyone to tuck her in and kiss her forehead.

Now, for the first time, timid Marie knows what it is to have someone who cares just for her as she falls asleep under Rwanda’s velvet night sky. In her husky child’s voice she babbles stories about her day, wonders aloud about everything she sees. She asks her mother serious and silly questions about what it means to be a girl navigating life at 6 years old. 


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Her mother, Bellia, is a Community PEACE Trainer – a volunteer who trains families from her church about healthcare. As a mother to four grown children, Bellia’s heart has always been for children. When she heard teaching from the PEACE Plan about God’s heart for the orphan, she decided to adopt Marie. She now also assists other families who have reunited and adopted by doing home visits and providing parenting support.

 “I decided God has done well for me, so I will do well for God’s kids,” she says.

Little Marie has been part of her new family for several months. It’s her custom when she meets new people to proudly introduce them to her mama. The blossoming love they share is evident to anyone who visits their home. Because of the local church and Rwanda Orphan Care Sponsors, Marie and Bellia’s unfolding story is made possible. Sponsorship allows Bellia to provide Marie with all the necessities, as well as her school fees and medical insurance. 

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Bellia (left) with Marie (center) and Bellia’s grandson. All photos taken and used with permission.


“GETTING TO ZERO” UPDATES

We are excited to announce that Esperance, an orphanage in Western Rwanda that was using children to grow and harvest pineapples, is down to just two children left waiting for families!

When we began working with the local churches in that area in 2013, there were 130 children living and working in Esperance. Now 128 of those children have left the orphanage forever and each has been embraced by care of a loving family in the community – with your support and the diligent efforts of the local church in Rwanda!


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This article is adapted from this post by Debra Jones from Parenting Help for Adoptive and Foster Parents.

What’s the need beneath the behavior?

I’m constantly approached by parents who want to toss out a behavior problem and have me come up with the best answer as to how the parent should deal with that particular behavior. They are asking, “How do you fix __________? Fill in with anything ranging from “My child won’t get dressed for school” to “My teen is using dangerous drugs and hanging out with unsafe kids.”

I wish it were that easy.

Parents come to me specifically for trust-based parenting strategies since I coach and train in Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®). They are trying to give up their old ways, but can’t see that they are really still using their old strategies and belief systems with a trust-based sprinkle on top. They will even say for said problem, “What’s the TBRI answer for handling this behavior?”

TBRI answers aren’t typically just a step one, two, three answer. TBRI is much more about building a connecting relationship and establishing an emotionally safe relationship in which the child or teen will come to you with her needs and lay down her maladaptive behavioral strategies – the survival strategies that kept her alive before she was yours. It is about showing the child that you have a voice with me, and I will listen to what you need. I will try to understand what you feel. I will help you solve this problem. And if you don’t have the skill set to succeed, I will spend the time it takes with you to build this skill set. And for kids from hard places that can mean a LOT of our time.

I’m not going to come down hard on my child when he is dysregulated or even when he’s making bad choices. I’m going to recognize as the safe adult in his life that his brain is hard-wired to respond with fight, flight, or freeze responses. I’m very deliberate about watching my own tone of voice, my own body language, even my own belief systems that might indicate to my child that he is going to be judged, punished, or shamed by me. I’m going to approach a behavior problem like there is a mystery to be solved.

Why is getting dressed in the morning so hard for my child?

•                Does he dread or fear school?

•                Does he feel like he’s in trouble with his teacher?

•                Do kids make fun of him or is he being left out at recess?

•                Is the school environment a sensory overload for him?

•                Is he not getting enough sleep?

•                Is his blood sugar low because he hasn’t had protein yet?

•                Does he feel like a nerd in the clothes I’ve bought for him?

•                Is his sensory system so sensitive the tags in his shirts are uncomfortable for him?

•                Is his neurochemistry imbalanced and cortisol is too low in the morning?

•                Or is he stressed and cortisol is too high?

•                Has he not had enough calming sensory input to be successful?

•                Am I giving more instructions at one time than he can process?

•                Am I rushed and rushing him?

•                Does he power struggle with me because he doesn’t know how to use his words?

•                Is he developmentally ready to dress himself without frustration?

 

And with the teen that is choosing unsafe friends and using drugs it’s even harder to solve the need beneath the behavior.

•                Does she feel she doesn’t fit in with our family?

•                Does she truly understand the dangers involved?

•                Does she feel valued and loved?

•                Is she rebelling against authoritarian parenting?

•                Is she lonely?

•                Is her neurochemical imbalance so severe she is self-medicating?

•                Is she bored?

•                Does she need something exciting and thrilling in her life?

•                Does she have the skill set to build healthy relationships?

•                Is she having an identity crisis?

•                Is she failing or struggling at school and this is a way to fit in?

•                Does she have feelings she has buried and doesn’t feel safe to come to me?

•                Does she feel she’ll never measure up to my expectations?

•                Does she compare herself to my biological children and feel not good enough?

•                Does she know how to express her fears and feelings?

•                Have I spent time matching her and engaging in her interests?

•                Do I make myself emotionally available to her?

•                Does she feel seen, heard, and understood?

 

As parents we want behavior to stop and sometimes we get rigid about find THE ANSWER that will make it stop. Unfortunately there have been many parenting models that seem to indicate that if the child does _________, you do _________ and the problem will go away. Simple as that! Not so simple with a child from a background of early harm.

There is much work to be done. There is much repair and much building from scratch in our relationships with them if they are going to feel safe, become secure, and develop the skills to have healthy relationships and make wise choices.

Behavior communicates. It communicates needs, fears, pain, losses, and wants. It communicates skills that my child has and skills that are lacking. What is your child communicating to you? Will you stop your world long enough to deeply look at your child’s desperate need?

For more in depth trust based parenting insights for your family, check out our 13 week DVD small group curriculum The Connection by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Elizabeth Styffe.

Also be sure to check out the Empowered to Connect Conference coming to Orange County Feb. 13 & 14th. Use the code FOCUSGUEST for half off registration!

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