Waiting For a Child: How do I Pray?

When I started an adoption agency, 20 years ago, I soon learned that the most difficult part of the adoption journey for adoptive parents was the wait.  One of the first programs included adoptions from Ukraine.  Families traveled to Ukraine to select their child. Often these families experienced delays in their anticipated date of travel to Ukraine, where they identified and adopted their children.  These were truly blind matches.  Each one of these children had to be on a registry for at least one year.  Many times families who had a minor delay in getting to Ukraine found out that their children had just “come off the registry.”  If the parents had traveled just a week earlier, their child may not have been available. Once the parents realized this reality, they knew why God had allowed them to have a glitch, such as  finger-printing delays or waiting for a doctor’s letter.

Parents who have adopted domestically and have waited “too long” to be matched with an expectant mother or who have been matched only to have the birth mother change her mind, know all to well the range of emotions that comes with being passed by as the expectant mom selects another couple—or worse—watch as the baby goes home with a mom who may not be ready to parent while the couple  tearfully leaves the hospital with an empty car seat…Yet, when they finally receive their baby, they then understand and often say, “She was worth the wait.”

These stories have happy endings, and within a few months if not any more than a few years, the parents understand why there were delays and even rejections and denials.  But how do parents pray when they struggle to understand why a child waits in an orphanage while the country, which has decided to “become Hague-compliant” puts adoptions on hold, causing scores of children to languish in orphanages instead of thriving in loving families? How can the parents of these children see God’s perfect outcome when we all know that children belong in families and not malnourished and alone in orphanages?

Giving answers to provide hope for these parents is more than quoting a Bible verse.  For 20 years, I have hesitated to writing such words in how to pray while the parents wait. Here is one reason for my hesitation: a long-gone agency would send a list of Bible verses to waiting families that  I sensed had the overtone of “you are just not praying enough, and your impatience is sinful.”  I always felt that “telling” families how to pray was patronizing and did not send a message of empathy.

As waiting parents, we know that God cares for the orphan and unborn child, but how do we reconcile God’s care for this child yet the adoption is delayed or thwarted? More specifically, we each may ask, “How do I pray for my child and his adoption, knowing God is sovereign?”  After all, “He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3).

Perhaps it is not in the understanding of the delays or denials in adoption that should direct our prayers. Neither is it understanding the dashed expectations that come with receiving a child who has more serious medical problems, or unknown cognitive and developmental delays, or greater emotional issues than anticipated. Rather, it is knowing that God has a plan—whether we know or even like that plan.

Not only have we been told God has a plan, but we also know the character of God. This understanding of God rather than the circumstances enables us to pray for the child for whom we long.

So what do we know about God as we pray for our child?

First, we read in Ephesians 1:3-5 that God chose us for adoption in Him.  If God is in control of our adoption in Him, then he, likewise, is in control of our children’s adoptions. We also know from a few verses down, in Ephesian 1:11, that He works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.

God now only has a will and purpose for each one of us—starting with our glorifying Him—but He also has a will for waiting children.  In fact, God has a special place and concern for orphans.

10 Ways to Practically Praying For My Child’s Adoption

  1. Ask God to prepare your heart and minds for your child in realistic and practical ways.
  2. Ask others to pray. God can use these prayers to make your friends and family more sensitive to the plight of orphans, and the needs of birth parents.
  3. Pray that God would protect your child’s body, heart, and mind.
  4. Pray for your child’s salvation.
  5. Pray for your child’s birth parents.  You may never know your child’s birth parents living in another country, God knows who they are.  Pray for their salvation, their comfort, and their needs.
  6. Pray for government officials in Washington and abroad. So many delays and country closings are caused by those who sit in high places (Proverbs 21:1).
  7. Pray for the details of the adoption that God would enable the process to go smoothly according to His will. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21).
  8. Pray for those who work on your adoption. We need good health, strong minds, and resourcefulness to accomplish the tasks at hand.  The evil one would does not desire children to be in homes.
  9. Pray for your marriage and that during this time, you and your spouse will grow closer together.
  10. Pray that the adoption process would go smoothly and quickly.

Don’t Give Up on Those Healthy Resolutions!

After the holidays, it’s normal for families to start resolutions to get healthy again–especially after Christmas and New Year’s, where treats pop up everywhere, and cold weather means bundling up under the blankets and watching a movie or two. Once you’re ready to start fresh, staying active is a common and helpful resolution.

For adoptive families there’s a reason why staying active shouldn’t just be a new year’s goal. An active lifestyle has proven to help heal trauma in adopted children.

What is Trauma? Trauma disrupts your body’s equilibrium, freezing you in a state of hyper-arousal and fear. Essentially, your nervous system gets “stuck”. Trauma can be caused by a lot of different situations like a one-time event like abuse, ongoing relentless stress from living in an area that isn’t safe or where food and water isn’t plentiful, and the loss of a significant relationship like a birth parent. Often children who were adopted come from one or more of those types of situations.

Children who have experienced trauma at any age will need help from their adoptive family getting “unstuck” from their trauma, no matter what age they experienced it.

How Does Exercise Help? Studies have shown that exercise and movement can help your nervous system become “unstuck.” Exercise that is rhythmic and engages both your arms and legs—such as walking, running, swimming, basketball, martial arts, or even dancing—works best. This is a great activity for families to do together, and even helps with bonding. The more you can make exercise a family routine and habit the more you can help your child begin to heal from their childhood trauma.

Dance party anyone?

 

*please note that exercise should not be your only approach to addressing adoption trauma with your child(ren). If you have concerns about adoption trauma you should work with a mental health professional to make a plan that is tailored to your child’s unique experience and needs.

Is This Your Year To Adopt?

It’s that time of year again. Time to set goals, organize your life, and start fresh with the new year! Many couples decide that adoption might be one of the goals for the next year. Is this your year to adopt?

Of course a decision this big is not something that can be made simply by a resolution; research and action are both crucial steps to helping a goal become a reality. You may want to ask yourself some important questions to help decide what type of adoption you might want to pursue:

 

  • What age of child are we thinking about adopting? You may be surprised to find that the majority of adoptions that take place are not infants, but older children that are anywhere between the ages of 3-18.

 

  • What is our financial limit for an adoption process? Different types of adoption come with different costs, from travel costs to legal expenses and everything in between. You will want to start making a goal to save up, and consider if you are comfortable with fundraising, adoption grants or loans. Planning this important factor out will help you make this resolution a reality.

 

  • What type of adoption are you wanting to pursue? Adoption doesn’t come in one shape or size. Nightlight has several adoption programs available: including the Snowflakes embryo adoption program, international adoption, domestic infant adoption, and even foster care and adoption. Watch the video below to learn more about each program so you can begin to plan your adoption journey.

 

Learn more: Nightlight’s Program Overview

Say This, Not That: 5 Positive Adoption Phrases

The words we use to describe adoption can have a profound impact on the way others view adopted children and families. It can also drastically impact a woman’s decision to place for adoption if she feels like she is not a “real” parent or feels negatively judged for “giving away” her baby. See below for some of the commonly misused terms in adoption and our suggestion for language that gives dignity and value to those connected to adoption.

 

Negative: Real or natural father/mother/parent

Positive: Biological or birth father/mother/parent

The adoption triad is an intricate set of relationships between the child, birthparents, and adoptive parents. In open adoption, each member in this relationship takes an active and unique role. The terms “real” or “natural” given to a birthparent would imply that the adoptive parent is “fake” or “unnatural” and vice versa, which is not true. While the adoptive parents are the ones who are raising the child, both the birthparents and adoptive parents play a pivotal role in a child’s life and should be recognized by terminology that assigns value to the birthparent and in turn, value to the child.

A big story in the media recently focused on Olympian Simone Biles and her parents. A commentator incorrectly emphasized that Biles’ parents were “not” her parents because they were biologically her grandparents, not the parents who gave birth to her. Biles brilliantly responded to the commentator by saying, “I personally don’t have a comment. My parents are my parents and that’s it.” Regardless of any biological link, they are her parents and that is how we should view adoptive families.

 

Negative: Give away/Give up my child for adoption

Positive: Make an adoption plan

Expectant mothers make an incredibly brave and loving decision when choosing adoption. The imagery of “giving away” suggests tossing aside. You can give away a sweater or a gift to someone with no regard for what happens to it but that is not the same thing as the life of a child. When an expectant mother decides to make an adoption plan, it truly is a plan, not a quick decision. She has considered the impact of this decision on herself, the birthfather, the child, other children she may have, and her family members and friends. She has taken time to find a trusted agency and met with a caseworker on many occasions to choose the best family for her child. She has felt the weight of grief and loss in her decision and still makes a selfless decision on what is truly best, not just what she is feeling.

People aren’t objects to be given away. Instead, adoption means making a customized plan to provide a forever family for a child. It is crucial that we speak about adoption in this way to convey the seriousness that women carry into making this decision for their child.

 

Negative: Keep my baby

Positive: Parent my baby

When used in this context, the term “parent” describes an active relationship. When a woman is making a decision between adoption and parenting, there is considerable thought given toward what her future would look like. You do not just “keep” a child, like an item put on a shelf. Parenting is an 18+ year choice full of action, responsibility, and daily care. It is important that an expectant mother understands this is a heavy choice, especially if she is not in a place at the time to accept the responsibility to be a parent.

 

Negative: Unwanted child

Positive: Child placed for adoption

While a pregnancy may not always have been planned, a child is always wanted.  He or she is wanted by the Lord that created them and the adoptive family that brought them into their home. The child is also very loved by his or her birthmother that made a loving plan for the child. This terminology devalues a child’s inherent worth and purpose on this earth and should never be used to describe them.

 

Negative: Adopted child or Adoptive parent

Positive: Child or Parent

While it is important at times to distinguish when a child is biological or adopted or between the biological parents and the adopted parents of a child, that qualifier is not necessary in every situation. Parents do not think of their children in two separate categories – adopted versus biological. They are all their children, with the same rights, love, and care given to each equally.

When we speak about adoption, we should be careful to notice when we assign those adjectives and question in ourselves why we felt the need to make the distinction. You cannot read a news article about Connor or Isabella Cruise without seeing them described as the “adopted” children of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. (This goes for virtually any news story about any family with adopted children.) Assigning this additional term onto a child’s story could make them feel ostracized from their family or send the message that children who have been adopted are lesser or different.

 

Changing the way we speak about adoption takes practice. This is an important lesson for us to learn as our words have the power to speak life over those touched by adoption and give them honor and value.

 

By Heather McAnear

Unborn Babies Can Recognize Human Faces. What!?!

A recent report from British scientists explains why researchers believe that unborn babies recognize faces just like newborn babies do. It has been clear for decades that newborns recognize and prefer to look at faces. This research demonstrates this ability exists before birth. By projecting simple images through the uterine wall, they were able to determine that babies in the womb turned more often to look at images resembling faces than they did other images. The capabilities of the unborn child continue to amaze scientists.

Embryo adoption allows a couple to experience pregnancy and childbirth, and gives remaining embryos in frozen storage an opportunity to be born. Learn more at EmbryoAdoption.org.

This is a 4-D ultrasound of a unborn baby tracking the stimulus. CREDIT: KIRSTY DUNN & VINCENT REID

Why are international adoptions on the decline?

Each year when the US Department of State issues a report on the previous year’s intercountry adoption figures, the media covers the story of the decline in adoption.  From 2008 to 2016, the number of intercountry adoptions declined from 24,000 to about 5000 completed cases.  That represents an 80% decline in 8 years.  Many people ask (and theorize), “Why the decline?”  We think it’s important for adoptive parents to know the answer to this question, and what is not the answer to the question.   Below are the top reasons that we have identified as contributing to the decline in international adoption:

False Narrative

Adoption Prevents Trafficking.  In the US, 60% of victims of trafficking were former foster youth, according to the FBI.  The instance of children in foreign orphanage who age-0ut and become victims of trafficking is even higher.  But a false narrative has emerged among the intelligentsia.   People who oppose adoption, for a variety of reasons, have successfully linked the idea of adoption and trafficking in the public narrative.  This is despite the fact that the US Department of State cannot point to a single case where a child was adopted for the nefarious purpose of trafficking.  And the notion that such a case exists is absurd.  Traffickers wouldn’t go thorough the legal process of adoption…it’s too cumbersome.  the just snatch kids.  The reason the false narrative persists is that there are some instances of corrupt practices in adoptions, such as forged documents or extortion payments.  Yet there is a substantive difference between corruption and trafficking.  The specific existence of a corrupt practice does not negate the fact that the child is a real orphan in need of adoption, and that the family adopting plans to provide a permanent loving home.  While every instance of corruption should be addressed, it is inaccurate and unfair to link those practices to trafficking.

Hague requirements

Some of the policies in the Hague Adoption Convention have reduced the number of children who could legally be adopted (regardless of whether they need to be adopted).  For instance, the convention requires a “paper trail” to establish the identity of children and their history of legal custody.  This would require the presence of a birth certificate, and court decrees about custody.  But many children who live in developing nations do not have birth certificates or court decrees.  While the requirements make sense, they do pose an insurmountable hurdle for some children to be adopted.    Another requirement of the Hague Convention is to make every effort for a child to be adopted in their home country. This means that in most countries the length of time a child stays in the orphanage is extended by an entire year!  The children are one year older, but almost none of them get adopted in their home country.  As a result, children experience the negative effects of sustained institutionalization.  And some parents are less likely to adopt since the age of children who are adoptable is increasing as a result of this requirement.

Naïve policy

There is a notion among professors and political elites that “children belong in their country of birth.”  This notion has affected policy by foreign countries who have restricted the number of adoptions, or put in place requirements that make adoption practically impossible.  For instance, in 2016, Uganda enacted a 1 year residency requirement.  In order to adopt from Uganda, you must live there for a year.  This obviously reduces the number of parents willing or able to adopt.  The policy was supposed to be in the best interest of children. But it is hard to see how children are better served by living in orphanages instead of families.  This naive policy includes the notion that children should be adopted domestically in their foreign country.  Our foreign worker in Kyrgyzstan said about this policy, “Very good on paper.”  It is naive because, as our Uganda foreign worker said, “There is not a family in all of Uganda who is not already taking care of multiple family members.  True, Ugandans are great about taking care of their extended family, but now we are already taxed to the breaking point.”  A further element of this naive policy is that we should always pursue reunification.  Those who work with abandoned and neglected children know otherwise.  One of our foreign workers attempted reunification and the birth mothers said, “Do you think we abandoned in ignorance?”  In cases of abuse and neglect, reunification is often not desirable.   Yet naive policy makers miss this point.

Nationalism or Political Games

The shutdown of adoptions from Russia is the result of a political game.  Russia retaliated against the US after congress passed the Magnitsky Act in 2011.  The Magnitsky Act implied that Russian officials were human rights violators.  In order to save face, or to retaliate, Russia immediately banned adoptions to the United States.  This resulted in thousands fewer adoptions each year.

Longer Processing time

If each adoption used to take 1 year, and now it takes 2 years, then rather quickly we will see the number of completed adoptions each year decrease.  With the advent of the Hague Convention, and other accreditation requirements (by the Department of State, or by foreign countries), we have seen the length of time it takes to adopt double.  As a result, fewer adoptions occur each year.  One way that foreign nations could decrease the wait time, while remaining compliant with the Hague convention, is to create a database registry of children in care.  Limiting the wait time to one year, children could be made available for domestic adoption or foster care, while their legal documents and case is compiled.  At the end of that year, these children would be immediately available and legally ready for international adoption.  This would keep kids from spending years in institutional care.

US Department of State Restrictions

The United States Department of State has identified certain countries that it will not accept adoptions from.  These countries include Cambodia, Guatemala, and Nepal.  Each of those countries is willing to cooperate in adoption, and for Americans to adopt their orphaned children.  The prohibition, therefore, is one-sided.  The rationale from the US government is that those countries do not have a sufficient system to ensure that adoption cases are free of corruption.  For fear that some cases may be suspect, the Department of State has halted ALL adoptions cases.

Not money

Money is sometimes blamed for the decline in adoption.  We have not seen this to be the case.  The increasing cost of adoption, and the recent recession are both supposed to have affected adoption numbers.  But adoption professionals understand that people who have a clear calling to adopt abroad, or who are struggling with infertility, are more concerned about building their family than they are about money.  The cost imposes a frustrating or difficult burden, but not an insurmountable one.  Families are so driven to adopt, that they make a way.  We have not seen a reduction in the number of inquiries or applications we receive throughout the decline of adoption.  We have only seen an increase in the length of time that it takes to adopt, which means fewer cases per year.

Not the cost and difficulty of accreditation

The number of accredited agencies has declined by 30% in just the last 5 years.  This is a result in a drastic increase in the cost of Hague accreditation, and the increasing difficulty to meet accreditation requirements.  While these barriers have put agencies out of business, we do not think that directly affects the number of completed adoptions.  It is possible for adoptive families to switch agencies, and that would mean a longer wait time.  But ultimately, it is the number of children who meet foreign or US adoption requirements which determines the number of adoptions.

People mistakenly liken adoptions to language involving markets, such as “supply and demand.”  But the true answer is policy.  The number and trajectory of completed adoptions rises and falls on policy.

Daniel Nehrbass, Ph.D. | President

Virtual 5K Run

Nightlight Christian Adoptions – Virtual Run

Adoption is Love Made Visible

What is this event? A 5-K run for participants everywhere to join us on November 11, 2017, to raise support and awareness for orphan children to find forever homes. Run to establish a PR, get with friends, or take your family for some fun activity –just cover the distance any time that day! You can be a part, no matter where you live.

Can’t make the date? Run the distance at other times, or in 2 or 3 outings—whenever it works for you—you will still get a runner’s packet!

Benefits: Nightlight Christian Adoptions helps children who need families in the US and in 16 countries. Your registration helps support the programs that find families and changes the lives of children forever.

Cost: $25

What Do You Get? The first 200 participants receive a custom medal, running bib, “Walk, Run, Adopt” sticker, and arm bracelet. They will be sent to you as soon as your registration is received.

How to Register: Click here to sign up

Run – Walk – Adopt

Americans Still Confused About Abortion 45 Years After Roe vs. Wade

Abortion is always a hot topic of discussion during political races. In 1973, the Supreme Court made a ruling about abortion in the well-known Roe v. Wade decision.

After nearly 45 years of ready-access to abortion services, it seems reasonable that Americans have developed a clear and consistent view of abortion. Recent research by the American Culture and Faith Institute demonstrates the opposite may be reality. 

Nightlight is a pro-life adoption agency. We believe in helping children in all stages of their biological development, from the pre-born (embryo adoption) to the infant and older child (domestic/foster/international adoption).

 

Gifts from Nightlight

Hand made custom nightlight with hand painted logo

Custom Nightlight




 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Hand made glass ornament with Snowflakes® emblem, hand painted

Snowflakes® Ornament




NCA International Adoption Statistics

 

Year International Adoptions Disruptions  Dissolutions Percentage of Placements in Tact # of Parents who Applied to Adopt
2016 64 1 1 97% 87
2015 78 0 0 100% 85
2014 59 0 0 100% 83

The number of orphaned was estimated in 2009 by UNICEF at 168,000,000.  It is believed that at least 10% of these children are double-orphaned (both parents have died).  In order for children to be available for adoption, their identity and case history must be proved…this is the greatest hurdle in making children available for adoption.