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.

Ariana Joy: the Gift we Prayed For

Ariana

In December 6, 2015, our family welcomed the greatest gift we could have ever hoped for. That was the day our daughter, Ariana, entered our lives — and our hearts. But really, this isn’t our story. It’s the story of a remarkable, independent, curious and joyful child from a small village in China.

Ariana was born on Christmas Day 2012. A few days after her birth, she was discovered in the reeds by the bank of a river, where she had been abandoned. When she was found, she weighed less than two pounds.  Ariana is a survivor with a courageous and joyful heart, as we have found over this past year.

Ariana spent the first year of her life in an orphanage in China. At the age of one, she moved into a foster home where she was cared for by a loving and kind foster family.  Her foster mother was full of life and clearly loved are future daughter. Ariana was diagnosed with a heart condition, low birth weight, possible learning disabilities. Ariana’s heart turned out to be stronger than anyone knew.

While Ariana was living with her foster family, our own family was searching for the perfect child to share our home and our love. This search began soon after the birth of our third son, Cooper. Jaime and I had always wanted a daughter, and I wanted to experience the kind of unique, close relationship I’ve been fortunate enough to have with my own mother.

After much praying and soul-searching — and learning from other families who had adopted — Jaime and I decided that we had room in our home and our hearts for another child. We wanted to provide a family to someone who did not have a family of her own. There are an estimated 153 million orphans worldwide in need of a loving family and a home. If we didn’t do this, then who would?

We considered adopting a child from the United States, but after careful consideration decided to search for our daughter overseas. By adopting domestically, we knew we would open our family to the possibility of someday losing our daughter. We didn’t want to put ourselves or our three sons through that heartbreak. Each family builds itself in its own unique way. We chose to adopt a special needs child from China to be part of our family forever.

Choosing to adopt wasn’t just a personal decision for us; it was also a spiritual calling. We recalled passages from the Bible that spoke to us and reassured us we were doing Gods work. God draws near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18), extends grace generously (2 Corinthians 9:8), and loves lavishly (1 Jon 3:1). We considered Christ’s death and resurrection, how this miracle serves as an invitation to all of us to turn to God as our Heavenly Father.

We read in Ephesians 2:13 about God’s desire to bring near those who are far away, and in 1 Peter 3:18 about how God wants to bring us home to Him. We saw in our adoption of Ariana a reflection of this homecoming, and a connection to God’s love for all of us whom He considers His children. We encourage other families with strong marriages, financial resources, and abundant love to heed the call to share their families’ blessings with a family-less child as well.

After heading the spiritual call to adopt, we decided to go through a non-profit organization called Nightlight Christian Adoptions. And thus began the three-year process of finding and adopting a little girl from China. We completed extensive counseling, evaluations, and stacks of paperwork. And then one day — when we were least expecting it — we received an email and a photo of a beautiful little girl with bright, intelligent eyes and an infectious smile. We had a match!

Now began the process of finalizing the adoption paperwork and making travel arrangements for the arduous trip to China. At first, we weren’t going to bring our three sons with us on this long journey. But then we heard our boys praying for their new sister, asking God to make sure she was warm, that she had enough to eat and that someone was hugging and loving her.  Their prayers brought tears to my eyes, so simple and so perfect for our future daughter.  Those were exactly the things that mattered.  We instantly knew that our boys had to be a part of this incredibly important moment for our family, that they needed to be there too when we first met our daughter and their sister. It was the best decision we could have made.

We flew into Beijing on Dec 4. After a few days doing touristy things, anxiously biding time until we could meet our daughter, it was time to fly to the town of Guiyang. We thought we’d have another day to prepare for her; we wanted to bring her toys and look our best. But we ended up driving straight to the adoption agency from the airport — un-showered, unprepared, unbelievably tired but incredibly excited.

After being grilled by a very concerned, thorough and caring foster mother (we must have met her approval!), we finally got to meet Ariana face-to-face. She was just as excited as we were, and couldn’t stop giggling. She immediately gravitated toward Cooper our youngest and starting playing with him as though they had been friends since birth. She instantly connected with all our boys, and the feeling was mutual. It was a great day — one year ago today!

We spent that entire first day with Ariana, getting to know each her and introducing ourselves. We discovered that she loves books — more so than toys. When the new-ness of everything finally hit her, Ariana started to cry. It was Jaime who was able to console and sooth her to sleep by singing her Bible songs (“Jesus love me. this I know…”).

Over the next few days, we encountered a number of obstacles that nearly prevented Ariana from coming home with us as planned. For starters, her passport had the wrong baby photo. Then, during her health screening, it was discovered that she was running a fever. We thought, oh no is this the beginning of her special needs.  Without a proper passport and a clean bill of health, we couldn’t leave China with Ariana. So we waited, and prayed. Throughout this time, we got to know our daughter even better and fell completely in love with her.

God answered our prayers, and Ariana’s passport came through. Her fever was gone by the time we went back to the doctor for her second health exam. And before we knew it, our newly extended family was on the very long plane ride back to Huntington Beach. I won’t lie, the flight wasn’t easy. But we made it home — together.

Of course, when I say “home,” I actually mean a hotel room. Our house had experienced significant flood damage and was unlivable. While the repairs were being completed, we spent two weeks in a nearby hotel  —  Ariana thought that was where we actually lived. The upside to this temporary nomadic lifestyle was that we didn’t have to worry about the day-to-day chores of housekeeping, washing dishes, mowing lawns and cooking meals. Instead, we could focus all of our attention on helping Ariana feel loved as a part of our family.

We finally moved back into our home on Christmas Eve, just in time for Ariana’s first birthday with us. And what a gift she has been. She has quickly adapted to our chaotic, noisy home that is filled with energy and with love. And she holds her own with three older bothers. We’ve come to love her endless curiosity about everything, her sense of wonder, and her independent streak.

She is such a happy child, filled with a joy that spreads to those around her. She’s got Jaime wrapped around her little finger, and she’s definitely daddy’s girl. But I also cherish the special relationship I’ve developed with Ariana as her mother — just as I have with my own mother. Our friends and family have been instrumental in supporting us throughout this entire journey, and in welcoming Ariana to her new home. We couldn’t have done this without the love and help of the people in our lives.

We are a true family of six now, and it feels as though Ariana has always been here — as though she was meant to be here. We are blessed to report that despite being labeled as a special-needs child, she is as healthy as can be — no heart condition has surfaced. We honestly didn’t know what to expect when we brought Ariana home. Finding and adopting Ariana required a leap of faith, and God completely took care of everything. She’s the perfect fit for our family.

Occasionally, well-meaning people will tell me how lucky it is that we adopted her and gave her a loving home and family. Actually, we believe it’s the other way around. That we are the blessed ones to have found her. Ariana has enriched our lives in so many ways. She is the child we prayed for, and a gift we are so very thankful for.

Thank you for allowing us to share Ariana’s story, and for joining us in welcoming her home. Today, Ariana will have been with us for exactly one year. Your prayers made this dream possible.  You are our friends and family, we can’t think of anybody else we’d like to share and celebrate this special anniversary with us.

Blessings to All,

The Ramirez Family

Adoptee Legacy Fund

Nightlight Adoptees

Nightlight announces the creation of an “Adoptee Legacy Fund.” This is a fund where adopted people can give back to the mission of getting every child into a loving family. To make a donation, simply click here and select “Adoptee Legacy Fund” in the drop down menu. The best part is….adoptees get to choose where the money goes! The fund will be used for

• Adoption scholarships
• Orphan host program tour
• Aid to a specific orphanage

Each year, we will ask contributors to vote on where to send the funds.
We hope this sparks the beginning of a lifetime of sacrificial support for the cause of adoption.

Why foreign countries oppose adoption

Of the 192 nations in the world, 86 have signed the Hague convention on cooperation of intercountry adoption.  Signing the convention is not necessarily an indication of the desire to cooperate with intercountry adoption. Some non-Hague nations have robust intercountry adoption efforts, while the majority of Hague countries do not participate in any significant intercountry adoption efforts.  Furthermore, whenever a country does sign the Hague convention, history would show that adoptions are likely to decline or disappear.  Signing the Hague is often a pretense for blocking adoption in general.  When people hear this, nearly everyone who asks, “Why would a country block adoption?”

There are a variety of reasons that a nation may not cooperate in intercountry adoption.

National Pride.  Some nations fear that it does not reflect well on them to be a “sending nation.” And some countries do not want to be perceived as having a problem with orphaned children.  Political figures will use national pride as a means to rise in popularity.  They believe their reputation will improve by saying things like “We don’t need the United States or Europe to solve our problems.  We can solve our problems ourselves.”  While no country has been able to completely solve its orphan problem (even the United States has 400,000 children in foster care), the rhetoric gives an air of strength to a political candidate.  Unfortunately, the children end up being a political pawn.  It is national pride, rather than the best interest of children, that ends up being the heart of the rhetoric.

Political maneuvering.  We all know that Russia’s ban on intercountry adoption with the United States in 2012 was not motivated by the best interest of children.  The decision by the Russian Duma was in response to a US policy decision about the “Magnitsky Act.”  The US house passed a law stating that Russian foreign officials with human rights violations could not enter the country.  Russia’s response was, in essence, “we don’t have people with human rights violations.”  To retaliate against President Obama and Congress, Russia passed a law prohibiting international adoption from the United States.  In a rare instance of refreshing honesty, no pretense for child welfare was ever invoked.  It was a response meant to show Russians that they were strong, when the US attempted to make them look weak.

Bullying.  Some nations block intercountry adoption because they are bullied by the international community.  Adoption workers in Haiti, for example, informed me that UNICEF threatened to withhold funding of certain programs unless they reduced the number of intercountry adoptions.   You may ask, why would UNICEF block adoption?  The answer is that they are ideologically liberal.  By this, I mean they believe that all people are inherently good, and all people would make great parents if they simply had the education and resources.  The other side of the ideological spectrum holds to the notion that some people are inherently bad and not all people will ever be fit to parent.  These liberals have an academic view, rather than practical one.   In other words, their ideas sound good on paper, but in real life there is a disconnect.  If UNICEF is right, that all people can be good parents if they are given education and resources, then intercountry adoption should be replaced by in-country development.  But some parents burn their children; others throw them in trash bags.  Some starve their children on purpose, or abandon them because they are a girl, or disabled, or fathered by someone else.  And this is true in EVERY country, not just the developing world.  No amount of resources or education has enabled 100% of Americans to be fit as parents…that’s why we have 100,000 children in foster care awaiting an adoptive family.  So we cannot expect reunification to be the answer for all children in other countries.

These bullies have coined a phrase that has gained traction.  They say, “You are exporting your most precious resource…your children.”  Foreign officials don’t actually believe these children are their most precious resource.  Quite the contrary, many developing countries view these children as a plague, offer zero resources for their care, and have contempt for the parents who adopt them and give them a life in America.    Nevertheless, the “precious resource” phrase gains traction when spoken by politicians who want to use national pride to bolster their image.  In addition, some of these liberal aid organizations are very powerful and can force policy decisions.  Even if some foreign officials wanted to offer international adoption to their nation’s children, they are bullied by liberal-minded aid organizations that threaten to withhold funding fi they don’t subscribe to their ideology.  In addition, UNICEF receives funding to “care for orphans”.  Therefore, they may have a financial incentive for being able to report high numbers of orphans or orphanages.

Islam.  The Quran holds orphaned children in very high regard and has many verses imploring people to care for them.  But Sharia law prohibits adoption, so the practice is nearly absent from Muslim nations.  The Quran has a high regard for preservation of family lineage and inheritance of historic land boundaries.  Therefore, Muslim countries prefer guardianship over adoption.

Lack of need.  There is a direct relationship between decreased birthrate (through abortion and birth control) and economic progress.   Therefore, the most developed countries have far fewer children in need of adoption.  In fact, the number of hopeful adoptive parents is far greater than the number of children available for adoption.

Lack of Infrastructure. Some countries do not have the infrastructure to implement the Hague convention’s standards, so they are reluctant to sign or ratify a treaty with which they have no ability to comply.  In 2013, Haiti seemed to be moving in the direction of ratifying the Hague convention, but it appeared they would wait until they had the ability to comply.  In contrast, countries like Cambodia ratified the convention years ago, but the US will not process adoptions from that country because it has not yet been able to implement the required procedures.  In addition, the political condition of some nations is so “broken” that their inability to ratify a treaty typifies the inability to get any political work done.  So adoptions do not, or cannot occur either because there is no infrastructure to process cases, or because the bar has been set unrealistically high by the United States and there is no reasonable way to expect developing countries to comply.

It does not help that the Hague Convention itself calls for intercountry adoption to be “subsidiary” to other solutions.  In other words, intercountry adoption should be considered as a “last resort” to other options for children.  I have written elsewhere about the concept of subsidiarity and why it is misguided.

I wish I could end this blog post with a ray of hope but as it stands it appears we are still moving in the direction of decline in international adoption.  Meanwhile, the number of orphaned children abroad continues to rise.

Daniel Nehrbass, Ph.D. | President