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:
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
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 email@example.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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
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 email@example.com or call 949-609-8555.
The Rwanda Orphan Care Sponorship is changing the lives of families in Rwanda, and helping once hopeless children find the love of a family!
You can help empty orphanages by becoming a sponsor! $38 a month helps a family take in a child from the orphanage and provides them with school fees, medical insurace and everything needed to help them transition to their new home! Gifts go directly to the family through the local church. To help make sponsorship funds sustainable, families on sponsorship are required to join a savings group and tithe to their church.
Together, we are "getting to zero" - zero children living in Rwandan orphanages.
To learn more and begin sponsoring a family, click here.
Below is a quick update on a real family whose lives have been changed by sponsorship!
“It was such an honor to meet Josephine. She was the first home we saw when we went with the local church to visit families living on less than 68 cents a day. When we set out through fields and dirt roads to meet her, our contact had a difficult time finding her as she often struggled to pay her rent and was forced to move around a lot.
Josephine lost her husband in the genocide and has one biological child. Her circumstances have not stopped her from taking in four orphans from different families. I was so touched by her grateful heart despite the fact that her family often has days where no one gets to eat.
When we got to her home she was crying tears of joy that we were there to visit her. The living conditions in her mud brick home were SO tight we all had to shimmy past the corrugated tin door to crouch together on the dirt floor. It struck me that this family has no running water or electricity. Regardless of these conditions, Josephine was thankful to God and only focused on the good in her life. She never complained, but only expressed to us how blessed she is by her children. She was a proud mama bragging about how smart and polite her five children are. It was so touching to see her focus on the gifts God has given her rather than focus on what she doesn't have.
Now, thanks to the gifts of people like you, Josephine is a part of the orphan sponsorship program. She can feed her children, send them to school, and enroll them in medical insurance with fewer financial hardships."
If you would like to become a sponsor and help families like Josephine's, please visit saddleback.com/sponsorship.
You can go on an Orphan Care PEACE trip and make an impact firsthand! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
While teaching parenting skills to volunteer trainers and mothers in Rwanda, our July Orphan Care PEACE team was humbled and honored to hear the real life stories of mothers in Rwanda who have taken in orphans. Many of the mothers were recipents of Saddleback Orphan Sponsorship and recounted the difference that sponsorship has made in their families. We asked one team member, Paige, to share her impressions from that emotional day:
“One morning, our team was teaching parenting skills to a group of about 50 ladies from various churches in the Kibuye area. Before we began, we asked each woman to stand up and tell her story. One mom, Nadine, with a sleeping baby tied to her back, was weeping as she told us she was a single mom with 5 biological children of her own - living on $2 a day. She had also taken in 3 orphans. The next mom to stand up, Esther, was a widow living in a mud hut with no running water or electricity. She had 8 biological children and had taken in 4 orphans. Each woman's story was more gut wrenching than the previous one. Team tears were flowing as we considered the conditions these women face each day. I can’t even imagine what it feels like as a mother to worry about whether I will be able to feed all my children on a given day.
In the midst of such heartbreak, our team got to witness hope in action. All of these women are part of Saddleback's Orphan Sponsorship Program and are receiving support for caring for the orphans they have taken into their families. Suddenly the mood lifted as they spoke of sponsorship. Their tears turned to smiles and shouts of "Hallelujah! Amen!" when they told of how this money was helping them buy food for their children. They are able to pay school fees with the sponsorship money. The mothers were so grateful to God, and their brothers and sisters in Christ halfway around the world who have such generous hearts. I had no idea sponsorship was having this huge of an impact! When I returned home and learned that 100% of my donation went straight to those Rwandan families caring for orphans, my husband and I decided to become sponsors. The faces of these moms and orphans will be forever engrained on my mind. I will never be the same.”
For $38 a month or a one time donation, you can make a difference in the life of families in Rwanda who are helping empty orphanages by taking in orphaned children. Visit the Orphan Sponsorship page for more information.
If you would like to go on a PEACE trip like Paige and help teach parenting skills to newly adoptive families, email orphans@saddleback for more information.
What happens to a person in early childhood can have an impact for a lifetime. The implications of this truth are being highlights in research coming out of Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child. According to their findings, early childhood experiences and environments have a profound effect on a child’s developing brain. In the first years of life - also called the early sensitive period – a child’s brain develops rapidly. During this time, the child’s healthy emotional and cognitive development is shaped by dependable and responsive interaction with adults. These interactions can be small, but they are necessary for healthy growth. For example, when an adult responds to a baby’s cry or a parent responds to a toddler’s needs with care and attention. It has been proven that children who lack this type interaction experience a decrease in brain activity. Children who are placed in orphanages shortly after birth show dramatically lower brain activity when compared to their non-institutionalized peers.
The presence of a responsive and protective parental relationship is also important in helping the developing child’s brain cope with stress. Under typical conditions in the care of a family, a child learns to cope with everyday stresses, and physiological stress responses (including increased heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones like cortisol) quickly return to a baseline. When stress situations are frequent or prolonged – as in the case of extreme poverty or abuse –stress becomes toxic when the care of an adult is absent. Stress responses remain heightened and excessive cortisol disrupts developing brain circuitry.
As would be expected, the more adverse experiences in childhood, the greater the likelihood of developmental delays and other problems. Adults who faced greater adverse experience in early childhood - like poverty, abuse, neglect, parental substance abuse, and exposure to violence – are more likely to face problems like depression, alcoholism, heart disease, and diabetes as adults. While these findings are troubling, there is hope. Research also indicates that early intervention can prevent these consequences. Children taken out of institutional neglect and placed into family situations showed increased IQ and were more likely to experience normal attachment behavior.
All of this research reaffirms the importance of family. Studies have shown that toddlers who have secure, trusting relationships with parents or non-parental caregivers experience minimal stress hormone activation when frightened, while those who have insecure relationships experience a significant stress reaction. Providing responsive, supportive relationships as early as possible can prevent or reverse the damaging effects of toxic stress on children.
The country of Rwanda has responded to research such as this by deciding to close all their orphanages and place those children into permanent families. The Orphan Care Initiative is coming alongside local churches to help reach this goal. You can help children leave the isolation of the orphanage by going on an Orphan Care PEACE trip or sponsoring a family in Rwanda to adopt a child from the orphanage.
Click below to learn more about early childhood adversity from the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, or read more in this working paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child: