God’s Call to Single Parenting

 

I have always known that I wanted to adopt. Like many women, I assumed that it would be after I was married. However, God had a different plan for me, and I continue to be blessed beyond anything I could have imagined. I am a single mama of two precious boys, both adopted from China. We are now in the process of adding a little princess to our family. Trusting God to build my family has been one of the most faith-building and awe-inspiring things in my life.

I work in a neonatal intensive care unit. When I was still in training, I came across a picture of my first son. God made it quite clear that he was my son. I am so thankful that God was faithful to speak loudly and clearly enough that even my feeble faith at the time could follow Him. It seemed illogical. I was in training. I was single. I was very stretched financially. And the child he showed me was a 5 year old boy. Weren’t single women supposed to adopt little girls? To top it off, this child was deaf, a special need that I wasn’t prepared for. No one in my family knew sign language and I knew that he NEEDED extended family if I was to adopt him as a single mama. Time after time, God moved mountains. Family members were learning sign language, finances came through at the last minute, and my precious son Samuel has now been home for 4.5 years. Beyond all explanation, this child who had no language for almost 6 years is now a fluent English language speaker.

Within the first year of coming home, Samuel began to pray for a brother. I should have known then what was coming! I wasn’t ready AT ALL. We had just moved to a new state where I knew no one so that Samuel could attend a school for the deaf. But God was moving. One year later, I began the process to adopt again, I thought this time for a little girl. Once again, I had no idea how God was going to do this, financially or otherwise. Three days later, a friend texted me the picture of a little boy, asking if I had seen him on the advocacy websites. On that same day, my agency called with a referral for a little girl, exactly the age and a manageable special need that was on my heart. A few minutes later, I stood at my computer and I saw the most beautiful, perfect little face pop up on my screen. She was a vision and I knew instantly that she wasn’t mine. I sobbed and sobbed. What was wrong with me? My heart kept pulling to the little boy in my text message. Seriously God? TWO BOYS? As a single mama? I thought for sure I was not hearing correctly. I called my agency back and asked for time to pray. Three days later, I called to decline the little girl’s file and accept the little boy’s but my faith-walk wasn’t over yet. This time God didn’t “write on the wall”. This time, it was a still small voice that I really wanted to drowned out. But HE gave me courage to walk forward. That most precious little boy was in my arms in FIVE AND A HALF MONTHS! Start to finish, this was the fastest journey I had ever heard about. God provided social supports and the necessary finances in the way only God can do. Once again, He provided where I saw no way. And my Averey? He is the cuddliest, most affectionate child I have ever met. He is the perfect, funny, light-hearted balance to my serious, determined first son. They are the family only God could build.

Then in September of 2017, Averey started praying for a little sister. It took awhile for his brother to come around, but then they ganged up on me. And here we are, at another cross-roads. I have no more idea what God has in store this time than I did the other times. Samuel has graduated from the school for the deaf and both boys are attending a public school for the first time this year. We were able to move to a smaller community closer to friends and family and things have settled into a nice even pace again.

Like with Samuel and Averey, God led to my daughter. Our precious little girl (“little sister” as we refer to her at home) is waiting for us in China and we are well on our way to bringing her home. God has shown Himself already in a million ways like only He can. It gets harder each time to figure out the finances of adoption. I have expired my retirement, I just bought my first house ever with zero down and am still paying on my college loans. It seems risky at worst, unwise at best, but I have seen HIM through this process more clearly than I ever have before. He has changed me, shaped me, and molded me through the stretching of my faith. He has built a village around us and continues to do so. I continue to pray for His guidance and His provision. It is a scary thing, walking into adoption as a single parent. I watch my boys sleeping at night and am in awe that I get to co-parent them. They love to tell people who ask, “My daddy is God.” I guess that pretty well sums it up.

 

— Amber (Adoptive Mom)

Black History Month is for Everyone

 

As a 46-year-old white woman you may not think I pay much attention to Black History Month. Thankfully adoption has made it an integral part of my life and I’m honored to share what it means to my family. My Afro-Colombian daughter will tell you her race is black but her heritage is Hispanic. This puzzles many African Americans, particularly when she starts speaking Spanish to them. My husband, a white man, is South African and grew up under apartheid rule and was living in Africa when Nelson Mandela, who he calls a hero, became president. We consider our biological children African American even though their race is white. We also have a Hispanic daughter from Mexico. We talk about race in our home. A lot.

The truth is, adoptive parents’ love is not colorblind. When our family walks into a new environment we realize everyone sees a story of family building through adoption. So Black History Month in our family means embracing our daughter’s heritage and her race as she adds her story to the millions of black people in our country. Her story is both dark and brilliant with a future full of hope. And that is what we wish for all black Americans living in this country – hope.

Black History Month is so much more than learning about the history of African diaspora. It is about survival, hardship, victory, stereotypes, truths, music, language, food, fashion, cinema, minority, majority, hair, skincare, shades of brown to black, and all the differences in each and every one of those words across the different black cultures in our country. For instance, when my daughter talks about food from her afro-Colombian community it is quite different than the food I so love from growing up in the deep south. The race is the same but the culture is remarkably distinct.

As a family with four children, our favorite quote is from Martin Luther King Jr, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” We add to that sentence “equally” since our children are of different races. God created all of our skin tones which gives us enough reason to celebrate our uniqueness every day.

Spectacular Foster Families Needed in Colorado for New Emergency Foster Care Program

We all need a light to find our way in the darkness. When children enter foster care for the first time, it can be a frightening experience. They’re often moved in the middle of the night, taken away from their parents, and all that is familiar to them. They spend hours at a department building while a social worker makes cold calls, desperately seeking a family that will take the child or children in, even if just for the night. When a home is finally found, it may be located hours away and they may be split from their siblings if they cannot find a family able to care for all four of them. This is where Homes for Hope comes in. It is a beacon of hope and light for children, a temporary safe haven to stay in the midst of chaos. It gives the county the time they need to find a more long-term option for the children and allows the child to remain in their school, in their community, and with their siblings.

We are seeking experienced individuals and families interested in being a Home for Hope. The first point of contact for children as they enter foster care, it would be your job to provide a safe, loving, and temporary home for up to five children in need. Two of these families will receive reduced rent in a fully furnished home located on the East side of Adams County.

Responsibilities will include:

*   Live on-site in a Homes for Hope house and provide direct care to up to five at-risk children or youth ages infant to eighteen. Prioritization will be given to children ages 0-10 and keeping sibling groups together when possible, in emergency foster care situations, with an average stay of 30-90 days. This will also be a home for teen mothers in Adams County custody, to be placed with their infants, while alternative longer-term placement options are identified
*   Be an advocate for child’s best interests and next placement move
*   Participate in monthly face-to-face meetings with the Adams County Human Services Department’s placement team, relevant staff, and Nightlight
*   Provide transportation to parenting time/visitation at the Adams County Human Services Department building or an agreed upon community location with parents and/or siblings
*   Must work closely with Adams County and Nightlight to keep each school-aged youth in his or her home school
*   Must be willing to meet and work with bio/adoptive parents and/or kin to assist with reunification with family
*   Provide emotional support to children to build child’s self-confidence and trust
*   Communicate with program manager, therapist, county caseworker, and other members of the team about child’s needs, behaviors, progress, etc. and provide written documentation of these items
*   Document child’s medical needs and appointments
*   Ensure child is taken to Well Child Medical Check within 72 hours of placement with a county-approved, Medicaid provider
*   Available 24/7 for emergency admissions when needed
*   Must be open to training regarding the specific medical/developmental needs of children
*   Must be available for weekly contact with Nightlight
*   Document any critical incidents, accidents or behaviors while child is in the home
*   Participate in any meetings regarding child with program manager and child’s team
*   Manage daily operating schedule of the home; assist with youth transportation needs, and overall household upkeep
*   Plan, participate, and provide opportunities for individual and family activities that are educational and fun
*   Must be culturally responsive to the needs of the children/sibling groups placed in the home (includes language, religious/spiritual, cultural and ethnic traditions)
*   Abide by all Volume 7 licensing regulations

Qualifications:

*   Must be at least 21 years of age
*   Must have a valid driver’s license with good driving record
*   Knowledge of child development at minimum, preference is prior experience working with foster children in therapeutic or school setting, or foster parent capacity
*   Ability to pass a background check and reference verification
*   Flexibility and willingness to work days, evenings, weekends, and holidays
*   High school diploma or equivalent required
*   In order to account for children’s potential allergies, there will be no pets allowed on the properties at any time
*   No more than two biological or adopted children can be residing in the home

Compensation
The foster family will receive approximately $33/per child/per day in placement. With a projected 80% capacity, this equates to $48180. This stipend is tax-free, equating to a salary of $55,682.

If you’re interested in becoming a Homes for Hope family, please contact Program Director, Meaghan Nally, at mnally@nightlight.org or (518)369-2888.

The Empty Picture Frame: A Foster Family Testimony

 

 

Recently, my dad reminded me that when I was an audacious teenager, I claimed I would never get married or have kids because they would hold me back from living a fun life.  Of course, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby…or three, in a baby carriage.

 

Early in our marriage God had whispered the word “adoption” to both my husband and myself.  Never completely ignoring the nudge, our family grew to five. In 2015, we had a fun year of traveling.  We took trips to Disney World, Huntington Beach, Tennessee, and even a week at the lake in Michigan.  After ten years of marriage and three beautiful healthy daughters, we found ourselves at a crossroads.  That whisper was becoming louder and in spite of there never being a comfortable time to interrupt your life, we couldn’t ignore the call.

 

On our hallway wall we have written, “Our Timeline.”  Under those meaningful words are four frames, each filled with a picture of a milestone in our family.  Do you know what’s uncomfortable?  The fifth frame.  The fifth frame is empty.  That empty picture frame.  On some days I see it and feel sorrow, on other days I feel frustration, but on many days I look at that empty frame and something physical happens.  I get a chill or maybe a flutter in my stomach, because on many days I see that empty frame and I feel hope.

 

The reason the frame is empty is because the Lord has led us to adopt through foster care.  Why foster care?  Foster care because in the U.S. 400,000 kids need a family to love them and care for them.  Foster care because 100,000 of those children are currently waiting for a family to forever love them and care for them.

 

Foster care is a unique outpouring of love.  Children in foster care are orphans of the living. Many people have a passion stirred for orphans.  Its fewer who have hearts stirred to minister to the parents, grandparents, social workers, therapists and anyone else in the game to help kids have a family and heal.

 

Children placed into foster care have had experiences with trauma and neglect.  The truth is they have been hurt in relationships and the subsequent truth is that healing can only take place in relationships.  What we have learned as foster parents is that these children need healing through relationship with us and we pray one day through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  We have also seen how much healing their parents need, their grandparents and extended family.

 

We do not know if or when we will get to fill in the frame.  On the days when a glimpse of that empty picture frame gives me a tinge of excitement, it’s because I know God is at work.  He is at work in my life and my husband’s, in my daughters’ lives, in the lives of our foster babies and their family’s…and even though it’s had moments of discomfort, I get to have front row seats for some unbelievable occasions and I can’t help but wonder if my teenage self could ever know what she might have missed out on.

 

For us as a couple, adoption was uncharted territory. We had a destination without any notion of how to get there. By a miracle we will always be grateful for, in came, Nightlight Christian Adoptions. You can’t imagine the varied questions that troubled me at the beginning. From fire extinguishers to legalities, I thought of it all. Nightlight had to get us on course and really supported us in those initial days.

 

There’s no mistaking it, being a foster family is hard work. While we pour out to minister to those around us, Nightlight has come to our side and ministered to us. At every turn, our caseworker has been there with sweet encouragement, invaluable knowledge, practical resources, and honestly, unexpected friendship.

 

 

Equipping Minds of All Ages and Abilities to Reach Their Full Potential

 

 

Autism Spectrum, Anxiety, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Gifted, Learning Challenges, ADD/ADHD, Traumatic Brain Injury, Memory,Comprehension, Down Syndrome, Processing Disorders, Dementia, Executive Functioning, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Communication Disorders, Trauma, Post Concussion Syndrome, Parkinsons, PANDAS, and Neurodevelopment Disorders

Equipping Minds to Reach Their Full Potential 

Join Dr. Carol Brown

FACEBOOK LIVE

NO CHARGE

February 6,13,20,27 – March 6,13,20,27

Wednesday’s 6:30-7:30 PM  EDT

Or Join In Person at Buck Run Baptist Church

1950 Leestown Road, Frankfort, KY

Sessions will be recorded and available to watch later on the Equipping Minds Youtube channel and Facebook page.

 

Host a group at your home, church, or school.We will be playing games to build cognitive, social, emotional, sensory, and motor skills.  These games are used to find the specific areas in which the brain struggles such as working memory, processing speed, perceptual reasoning, and comprehension. Parents, teachers, and therapists are implementing at home, in the classroom, and in their centers improving reading, math, writing, language, social skills, and behavior.

 

We will have 8 sessions to equip you to work with your own children.

 

What separates Equipping Minds from other programs is its holistic approach. The Equipping Minds program uses nutritional therapy, primitive reflex exercises, sound therapy, vestibular therapy, and vision exercises in addition to Equipping Minds cognitive exercises.

 

Scientists are excited about your brain’s abilities to keep growing, learning, changing,and healing, ALL THROUGH LIFE! Equipping Minds will give you the practical exercises and games to do just that. You will be equipped to build memory, processing, comprehension, language, social, and reasoning skills in learners of all ages and abilities. It is based on a biblical view of human development that believes the brain can change.

 

Equipping Minds also differs from other programs, in that, these brain strengthening exercises use what the student already knows. Equipping Minds ingeniously sets aside academic skills allowing us to get to the foundational roots and cognitive functions, quickly and accurately. Working memory and processing speed are two of the most common weaknesses we see in students with learning challenges. They often get labeled with ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning disorders when what they really need is a holistic approach to address the neurodevelopmental and cognitive foundations.

 

I am excited to see how God will use this course. Please share with those you feel would benefit.

 

Blessings,

Carol 

Dr. Carol Brown has over 35 years of experience as a principal, teacher, cognitive developmental therapist, social worker, reading and learning specialist, speaker, HSLDA special needs consultant, and mother.  Carol has completed her Doctor of Education (Ed.D) from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She received her M.A. in Social Services from Southwestern Seminary and B.A. in Rehabilitation Counseling from Marshall University. She is a contributing author in the book, Neuroscience and Christian Formation, Human Development: Equipping Minds with Cognitive Development , and the Equipping Minds Cognitive Development Curriculum. 

She has served as a learning specialist, teacher, principal, and head of school  in classical Christian schools in North Carolina, Georgia, Northern Virginia, and Lyon, France. Carol trains public, private, and homeschool educators in the Equipping Minds Cognitive Development Curriculum which she created. She has conducted professional development workshops for Kentucky Association of School Councils (KASC), Toyota, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Kentucky Parks and Recreation, Kentucky Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, Centre College,Society of Professors in Christian Education (SPCE), National Alliance on Mental Illness ( NAMI),  homeschool conferences, and civic organizations. 

   

Preserving Your Marriage During Your Adoption Journey

 

Adopting a child is exciting and joyful, but it can also bring stress and strain into a couple’s marriage. Our lives are already filled with stresses from work, financial obligations, and other family-related issues, and the adoption process only adds more strain. Some couples considering adoption may still be experiencing emotions related to infertility. Others may already have children born to them and are now considering adoption to continue building their family. Regardless of the situation, the adoption process will add more pressure to your life.

If you and your spouse are considering adoption, whether it’s domestic, international, foster, or embryo adoption, here are some suggestions for keeping your marriage strong:

First thing’s first: Make sure you are both in agreement before you begin the adoption process.

It is rare to hear of an adoption story where both parties are on the same page when first considering adoption. Adopting a child will rank in the top five most important decisions any couple will make. While you may not begin on the same page, it’s absolutely essential you both agree before starting the process.

If you are facing infertility, one way to begin working towards being on the same page is grieving the loss of your genetic child. Couples who adopt after infertility need to acknowledge their loss and grieve them together. If the couple does not reflect on their loss together, they may not be ready to fully enjoy the amazing blessing of adoption. You can watch our webinar for more information on grieving the loss of a genetic child.

Romance is Important!

Date night is important! Don’t stop enjoying each other’s company because of the stress of the adoption process. Schedule something to do every week, or at least once a month, that has nothing to do with the adoption. This will help you both to remember your relationship is first and foremost.

It’s a Marathon, not a Sprint

Adjusting to the adoption doesn’t end when you sign the initial paperwork, or complete your home study, or when you are matched, or even when you first bring your child into your home. Adoption is a marathon, not a sprint. You will be parents to the child for life. Be prepared to make adjustments to your schedules and lives that you may not have otherwise done.

Communicate Frequently

There may be a tendency to keep things hidden from your spouse. Whether you don’t want to hurt them or you have concerns or doubts they don’t agree with—it can be a temptation. It is important to set aside time to talk to one another about what is happening. It’s also equally important to listen as much as you talk.

For more information on preserving your marriage while building your family, watch our webinar here.

Why Should You Consider Adopting Through A Christian Adoption Agency?

 

 

You may ask yourself, “Is adopting a child through a Christian agency all that important?” After all, there are many ethical and competent agencies that provide excellent services but do not reference being Christian. Here at Nightlight, we are a distinctly Christian agency, and as a result, you may decide to adopt your child through us.

Nightlight believes in the dignity of human life. This is more than just a belief system in which we are “pro-life.” We advocate for life being given to all humans, starting with embryos—even embryos who may be considered “special needs.” In our Snowflakes program, Nightlight staff provide extensive services to both the genetic/donor and the adoptive families. We are committed to these embryos being born into loving families who have a positive view of adoption.

Because of our dignity for all human life, we value the birth families making an adoption decision. This translates into our advocating for openness in adoption so that birth parents and the adopted children can have continued relationships. We always want a woman’s choice to place a child for adoption to be a positive and life-affirming decision; therefore, we care well for expectant women. If instead of adoption they decide to parent, we give dignity to that decision as well. Women who are expecting children with profound special needs are also supported, and Nightlight has been able to place any newborn infant, regardless of the seriousness of the child’s needs, into a loving family.

Nightlight staff care for the orphan, as mandated in Scripture. At any one time, Nightlight offers close to 15 different international programs. We believe children need to grow up in families and not in institutions.

We at Nightlight are committed to placing foster children into stable families. We believe Christian families should be supported and not be deterred from fostering and adopting children who have experienced abuse and neglect. Our approach is refreshingly different in the attention our families receive.

Nightlight is pro-family. We believe children grow up best in a family environment with a mother and father who have made a life-time commitment to each other through marriage. While we do allow children to be adopted into single family households, we all agree nearly all children do best being reared by a couple. When families come to us to conduct their home study and adoption, these pro-family values are represented in the way we support our clients.

We value adoptions. This may be obvious, but not all adoption programs are financially prudent. Nightlight’s battle cry is “Get more kids adopted”; therefore, we offer nearly every type of adoption possible and do not choose to offer programs solely based on the economic success of a program.

Adoption is part of God’s plan. All believers are adopted by God as one of His children and so we view adoption as a positive experience. As with our spiritual adoptions into God’s family, earthly adoptions also come as a result of loss and grief. We know the struggle is real and adopted children can face many issues. We offer continual support and counseling to families—not just during the adoption process but after placement through our Post Adoption Connection Center.

Nightlight staff will be praying for you and your child. Each week, the staff at Nightlight pray for the needs of our birth families, adoptive families, waiting children, and our agency. We believe God loves our families and waiting children even more than we ever could and so we bring them before his throne often!

Nightlight staff and board members adhere to set of Christian and ethical principles. While many people who do not claim to be Christians observe these high ethical standards, we at Nightlight have a reason for our ethical standards: we are commanded to adhere to these morals. Our standards are not simply obedience to rules, but obedience to a God whom we love. Therefore, we will be honest, hard-working, diligent, giving, and caring because God gives us a special love for those placing children, “orphans,” and for those adopting these children.

We believe that being a Christian is a result of the transformative work of Christ in our lives. Most importantly, those at Nightlight believe Christianity is more than an ideology through which we provide services. Our goal is that children’s lives will be transformed by a relationship with Christ in the context of a loving family. So how does God’s transformative work in us at Nightlight make a difference in the way we provide services to our families? First, we believe God is sovereign, and He knows the child for you. Your child may or may not be through Nightlight. Next, we seek to be directed by the Holy Spirit, so the decisions we make are often the result of prayer. We are not perfect. Our goal is to be wise and provide godly counsel and support to you and your family. Such counsel and support begins when you first make a decision to adopt and go through the adoption process and continues long after you are home with your child.

 

If you have determined that Nightlight is the right agency for you, then we are honored to serve you and your child!

 

If Your Embryos Could Talk: Embryo Donation

Hello, hello! Yes, it’s me, your little embryo. Do have a moment to chat? It’s been sometime since you created me, and while I am super happy you did, but I was wondering what your plans are for me.

Are you planning to increase your family and bring me into the fold? If not, what if it were possible for another family to bring me into their fold? Have you thought about that?

Based upon your response and how long I’ve been here, I can tell you have been agonizing over what to do with me. I get it! I know you love me, and would have enjoyed having me be part of the “fam.” But let’s be real. Life is full of unexpected situations that come our way. For example, I bet you didn’t think you would be having to make this decision. Don’t feel bad, I have a great solution.

Why not help me be adopted?

Hey wait a minute, don’t dismiss the idea! Couples come in to the clinic where I am stored every week and leave teary eyed and dejected. For whatever reason they cannot have children of their own, and yet they are the sweetest most loving individuals. I feel bad for them. Honestly, if you place me for adoption, you wouldn’t have to keep paying my storage bill. I would not be feeling the cold anymore, and one of those amazing adopting couples would have the family they have always wanted. Plus, you would be the hero—my hero and theirs!

Come on think about it, if you were still struggling to have a family wouldn’t you want someone to do something like that for you? Just a thought…

 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

To learn about donating your embryos to another family, visit Snowflakes.org.

The Travesty of Human Trafficking

Definition: Human trafficking is exploitation of another person to force them to work for little or no pay. It’s often associated with sex work, but trafficking is a little broader than that; for example, many trafficked people are forced to do agricultural labor.

 

Human trafficking is a sticky subject that’s as important to address as it is uncomfortable to think about. We don’t want slavery to be an issue, so sometimes we forget that it still is. Maybe we don’t want to know what’s going on in that dark corner of society. Why should we be aware of the human trafficking situation?

 

Every compassionate person is grieved by the idea of someone else being mistreated or abused. Just as we don’t want to have our life, its potential, and our dreams stolen from us, we don’t want others to experience that loss. But while sometimes we feel pain in our hearts, or empathize with someone in our head, that doesn’t mean our hands act. We may be educated about the plight of slaves, but let us be stirred to action by it.

 

There is a Biblical mandate to help the helpless: Jeremiah 22:3 says, “Thus says the LORD, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” If we are God’s people, we should act according to His values. We ourselves were helpless, and He saved us; should we not do the same for others He longs to save?

 

Let us take a few moments to explore some facts behind human trafficking, and learn about ways people (law enforcement officers and civilians) are fighting this crime. By raising awareness, we seek not merely to educate others, but to spur them into action. Informed minds are a good first step, but busy hands and rescued lives are the goal.

 

 

“If you truly believe in the value of life, you care about all of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.”               — Joni Eareckson Tada

 

Statistics about Trafficking

Worldwide, there are about 12.3 million adults and children in forced labor.a For this number, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates a 9:1 ratio for labor trafficking victims to sex trafficking victims. While there are more slaves in the labor trade, sexual exploitation is by far the most commonly identified form of trafficking in persons (79%).b

 

In America, commercial sex enjoys a booming market. Sex is catching up to illegal drugs in demand, and has already passed illegal firearms. This may stem from the relative lower risk of the sex trade, and because victims can be “recycled” and used again.

 

Exploitation of minors is a large concern, especially for parents in metropolitan areas, and about kids from unstable homes. ILO estimates that one in five trafficking victims are minors6; the age for entering victimhood is becoming younger and younger, currently at about 13 years old.c In the United States, Polaris studies found that a little more than 40% of suspected or confirmed child victims of domestic sex trade are runaways from home, foster care, or shelters. 40-70% of all street youth engage in prostitution, at least occasionally, to meet their basic needs. Interestingly, this population is divided nearly equally among male and female.a

 

By state, California has the highest number of human trafficking cases by far, and Georgia is 8th highest on the list. Nationwide, more citizens than foreigners are victimized. Most of these victims are adults, and the majority of them are female (82%). In 2017, Polaris reported 8,524 cases of human trafficking in the United States, and 405,308 total cases since 2007.d

 

Let’s look even closer to home: since 2007 in Georgia there have been about 3.3k victims of “moderate” trafficking cases, and just under 4k victims of “high” trafficking cases.d More recently, in 2018, about 21% of trafficking cases were labor-related, and around 68% were sex trafficking. The number of victims are almost equal for foreigners vs. U.S. citizens, which is a sinister aspect of sex trafficking: the trade isn’t isolated to any one geographical location, neither does it tend to target one race or socioeconomic class over the other.d Women are the only ones that seem singled out, since about 4 in 5 victims are female.c Everyone has at least one woman involved in their lives (a mother, sister, wife, daughter, or friend, etc.), so this is truly a risk that concerns everyone.

 

Last decade, between 2003 and 2007, Washington, D.C. studied 8 major American cities and found that metro Atlanta had the largest sex trade among them, making more revenue off sex ($290 million) than illegal drugs and guns combined.e Miami was 2nd at $200 mil, and Dallas was $99.

Statistics:

Every month in Georgia:

·         354 minors are sold for sex to 7,200 customers.c
·         Including repeat purchases, an estimated 8,770 sex acts are paid for.c
·         Approximately 374 girls are sexually exploited.f
·         About 12,400 customers pay for sex.g

Trafficking in Atlanta:

·         Roughly 300 girls from Atlanta are lured into trafficking every month, many of them from Mexico.e
·         Most sex purchases are done around suburban and metro Atlanta, 9% of them made near the airport.g
·         Atlanta has the highest number of trafficked Hispanic females in the nation.h

 

Effects of Trafficking

So far, all we’ve explored is the population of modern slaves. We’ve established there are far too many people suffering in bondage. Now let us consider the individual slave, and the horrors that defile their life. Statistics mean nothing if there is no day-to-day reality behind them; we will only try to stop a force when we believe it is wicked. What is it that makes trafficking something we should spend energy fighting?

 

The deleterious effects of trafficking are numerous. Of course, there are physical harms done to a body, if they’re forced to work long hours in a sickly environment (chronic fatigue, infectious diseases, and pain are common results of this), or are a part of the sex industry (there is rectal trauma, pregnancies, or botched abortions, and exposure to STDs). Additionally, it is possible a victim is malnourished, physically abused, and unable to get treatment for conditions such as diabetes or cancer. Many victims may turn to substance abuse as a method of mental escape, if they can’t get away physically.

 

There are also psychological harms to consider. Rescued victims of human trafficking are at a great risk for “anxiety, panic disorder, major depression, substance abuse, and eating disorders.”12 Victims also commonly suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD greatly contributes to functional and behavioral problems, such as self-mutilation, suicidal behavior, and difficulties in controlling emotions and concentrating. Thus, even if a victim is physically taken out of the hands of the trafficker, it can be difficult for them to recover, obtain and keep a job, or even perform basic functions in society.i

 

Amorality of Trafficking

“For me, no ideological or political conviction would justify the sacrifice of a human life. For me, the value of life is absolute, with no concessions. It’s not negotiable.”                 — Edgar Ramirez

 

Hopefully we find our stomachs turning over as we consider these atrocities. Feelings of repulsion and disgust assure us that we are not sadistic, but we should understand this is more than just a crime or violation of the 13th Amendment. Trafficking is a moral wrong, and a trespass against not only a person’s body, but on a human’s soul.

 

Our Creator, Who shaped our minds and bodies, knows exactly what the injurious impacts of trafficking are. He speaks clearly against kidnapping in Exodus 21:16 when He commands, “He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.” (Deut. 24:7 speaks similarly) In Luke 10:7, Jesus says “The laborer is worthy of his wages,” meaning we should pay one another fairly. (This is repeated in 1 Tim. 5:18) In 1 Corinthians 6, verses 9 and 18 speak against sexual immorality and promiscuity, declaring that the sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God, while Deuteronomy 22:25-29 explains the punishment for a rapist.

 

Clearly, human trafficking, whether for labor, sex, or anything else, is contrary to God’s perfect plan for the earth. He instilled in us an antipathy towards these heinous acts, and inspired us to hate what He hates. He even tells us to do something about the problem: Psalm 82:4 says “Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.”

 

The good news is that there are already individuals who are passionate about rescuing the weak and needy. Laws have been passed in Georgia that allow space for stricter punishments on traffickers, and make their case harder to defend.j But we must realize tighter punishment isn’t sufficient to eradicate the problem; if traffickers will ignore their conscience and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, then cracking down tougher laws won’t stop all of them, either. Thankfully, there are plenty of non-governmental programs who place value on human life and are also ready to see the captive set free.

 

 

What Can We Do?

Although it’s difficult, many victims find they can recover from their trauma and become productive in work again. As Psalm 68:20 says, “God is to us a God of deliverances; And to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death.” Already there are teams and institutions in place that make concerted efforts to free slaves and offer them another chance at life. Some of these are listed below:

 

Street Grace is an Atlanta-based and faith-driven organization dedicated to decreasing the demand for the sex trade. They fight domestic minor sex trafficking through awareness, education, and action. They seek to train all city and county personnel to recognize and report cases of trafficking.c

 

Not for Sale is based in San Francisco, but is at work in over 40 countries across 5 continents.  They labor to stop modern slavery through a 3-step process: they meet the needs of slaves, learn why a region is at risk for slavery, and seek to establish ways to reduce that risk and enrich the lives of inhabitants. “Forced labor is a tool,” they say, but an unethical one they seek to replace with skills, stability, and fairness that still values each person.k

 

There are also networks, like The National Human Trafficking Hotline which is operated by Polaris, a non-profit, non-governmental organization. Funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Hotline provides assistance via phone or email in over two hundred languages, at all hours of the day, every day of the year.a

 

Most networks are typically non-profit and rely on the monetary and spiritual support of their communities and churches to function. There are many, many more such projects and groups worldwide, all seeking to rescue specific types of victims.

 

If donations and prayer seem like overly simplistic solutions to the matter of human trafficking, there are more ways to respond. Most organizations gladly welcome more volunteers, and there are ample opportunities to stand against modern slavery every day: educate others about the horrors of the trade; teach your children to protect their peers; learn how to report suspected cases of trafficking; if you see a woman in tears, ask her if she’s okay; stand closer to the little boy who’s alone on the metro, or keep an eye on him as he walks through the mall (you needed to visit the LEGO section anyway, didn’t you?).

 

Be aware of others, and the battles they may be fighting, and more importantly be always ready and equipped to fight your own battle for the Lord. The words of 1 Peter 5:8 will always be true: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” God grant that, through our concerted efforts fueled by the Lord’s power and grace, we can make that prowling lion starve.

 

 

 

  1. Polaris Project. (2010). “Human Trafficking Statistics.” http://www.polarisproject.org/resources/resources-by-topic/human-trafficking
  2. International Labour Office. ILO Global Estimate of Forced Labor: Results and Methodologies. (2012). Special Programme to Combat Forced Labour. http://www.ilo.org/sapfl/Informationresources/ILOPublications/WCMS_182004/lang–en/index.htm
  3. “Initiatives.” Street Grace, www.streetgrace.org/initiatives/. 2019.
  4. “We’ll Listen. We’ll Help.” National Human Trafficking Hotline, humantraffickinghotline.org/. 2018.
  5. Belt, Deb. “Atlanta Ranked No. 1 for Sex Trafficking; Conventions to Blame?” Stone Mountain-Lithonia, GA Patch, Patch National Staff, 13 Mar. 2014, patch.com/georgia/buckhead/atlanta-ranked-no-1-for-sex-trafficking-conventions-to-blame. 2019.
  6. Governor’s Office for Children and Families. (December 2009). Unprecedented Private-Public Collaboration to Support Adolescent Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Georgia. Retrieved from: http:// children.georgia.gov/press-releases/2009-12-29/unprecedented-private-public-collaboration-support-adolescent-victims
  7. The Schapiro Group. (2010). Men Who Buy Sex with Adolescent Girls: A Scientific Research Study. Retrieved from: http://www.womensfundingnetwork.org/sites/wfnet.org/files/AFNAP/TheSchapiroGroupGeorgiaDemandStudy.pdf
  8. Thomas, Sara R. and Renea Anderson. Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery. Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Human Trafficking Unit. Retrieved from: http://dfcs.dhs.georgia.gov/sites/dfcs.dhs.georgia.gov/ files/related_files/site_page/BST%20Human%20Trafficking%20Workshop.pdf
  9. Clawson, Heather J, et al. “Treating the Hidden Wounds: Trauma Treatment and Mental Health Recovery for Victims of Human Trafficking.” ASPE, US Department of Health and Human Services, 21 Feb. 2017, aspe.hhs.gov/report/treating-hidden-wounds-trauma-treatment-and-mental-health-recovery-victims-human-trafficking.
  10. “Human Trafficking.” Office of Attorney General Chris Carr, law.georgia.gov/human-trafficking. 2019.
  11. “Homepage.” Not For Sale, 2016, www.notforsalecampaign.org/.

 

Feel Good Friday: Gunter Family

 

 

We are Joe and Kaley Gunter. We are coming up on 11 years of marriage. Adoption has always been something we wanted to pursue but just never knew when we would pursue it. After three years of trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant we knew the Lord was calling us to begin pursuing adoption.

 

We began our adoption journey with Love Basket, a smaller Christian adoption agency who later merged with Nightlight Christian Adoption Services in March 2015. This agency stood out to us at an adoption fair because of the high value and love they placed on the birthparents. We knew we would love to be able to have a relationship with the birthparents of our child if they were open to that, so the fact this agency counseled birthparents along the journey to make sure this was the right fit for them confirmed this was the agency the Lord was calling us to use. We started our paperwork and training in March 2015 and due to several reasons, some including the merge of agencies, knowing the Lord was calling us out of our ministry position in Louisville but not sure where He was leading, and then our move from Louisville KY to Magnolia MM (which required us finding an assisting agency to complete our home study in Mississippi) all of our paperwork was finally finished in February 2017 and we were ready to be matched.

 

On March 2nd we received a call from our caseworker stating that she wanted to show our profile to a birth mom but the expenses would be more than expected due to birth mom being privately insured. We told her to show our profile because if the Lord saw fit for this to be our child then He would work the financial aspect out. Then we prayed, trusted, and waited. The following day we headed to Hattiesburg for a date day and got a phone call from our caseworker. We knew she would let us know either way the decision the birth mom made regarding us parenting her child. So when we saw our caseworke’s name on our phone so many emotions were flooding us. She informed us we had been chosen to parent a two day old baby girl and of all the states she could have been born in she was born in Kentucky, Louisville Kentucky at that. 

 

We will never forget the moment we first laid our eyes on our daughter. To experience a moment you have prayed so many years for was overwhelming. She was and is the most beautiful little girl we have ever seen. We immediately fell in love with her and felt a closeness to her. 

 

For four months our journey was fairly smoothly waiting to finalize, but then in July 2017 our story took a turn. Keeping details private, we spent 13 months waiting to finalize our daughter. This by far is the hardest journey we have ever endured, but I can say wholeheartedly I would not change our situation. Through this we learned in a way we never have to truly rely on Christ and lean on Him, even in the times we were in despair and shattered. We clung to the truth that her birth mom chose us to raise her daughter and that before the Lord created her, we were chosen to parent her. 

 

There are so many little details the Lord has orchestrated in our story. If I could sit down with you face-to-face, I would tell you all the ways God worked behind the scenes in the little details and how truly great His faithfulness and kindness is. 

 

All of the waiting was ordained, and we may never know the reasons our daughter’s story started the way it did. But we know the truth of this quote “Waiting time is not wasted time” The wait was long at times and there was questioning on how the Lord would provide financially for our unexpected journey to finalization and how long it would be until she was legally ours. But God truly showed up in all the hard.  We learned the meaning of “all we have is Christ” when life makes no sense. A vital truth that will carry us on through this earthly life. God being who He is,  showed up financially and the month after we finalized our daughter our adoption process was paid in full!!! We are so grateful for the generosity of others on our journey and the village of people God has surrounded us with. Adoption can be messy and hard at times, but it is also beautiful and worth it all.