Nightlight’s Hosting Program: An Adoption Story

Did you know that Nightlight was the very first adoption agency to do hosting?  In the early 90’s Nightlight brought over a tour group of older children from Russia. Today’s Feel Good Friday story is brought to you by hosting.

Over Christmas 2009, I was working in the South Carolina office and we were assisting a hosting agency to bring over a group of children from Ukraine.  While the children were in the air between Ukraine and the US, one of the family’s backed out of hosting.  I sent out an urgent e-mail to families who had inquired with us.  One family sent the e-mail to the youth pastor at their church.  Bucky and Julie Rogers were youth pastors at the time, and they had previously adopted two children (one child through domestic adoption and one child from Guatemala).  They had only adopted babies and had no intention of adopting an older child.  However, because they were youth pastors, they figured they could do a good job hosting.

Sasha was 13 years old at that time.  He arrived and won all of our hearts.

I remember even the van driver (bringing the children from the airport) told me that he was her favorite of the group.  Within 2 days, Bucky and Julie called and wanted to know exactly what they needed to do to adopt Sasha.

Fast forward to travel, Mount Eyjafjallajökull erupted bringing air travel over Europe to a halt.  This happened the very day that Bucky and Julie were scheduled to fly to Ukraine.  They rebooked their flight to Germany and the gate agent told them that he could not guarantee that once they got to Germany they would be able to get to Ukraine. Julie told the gate agent, “If you get me to Germany, I’ll find a way to get to my son!

Sasha has grown into such a loving, respectful, young man who loves Jesus and his family.  Bucky and Julie are now full time missionaries in Uganda, and Sasha has spent a lot of time there as well.  Sasha is now 21 years old and getting married this fall.  A few weeks ago, Sasha sent me a message on Facebook asking for my home address.  I said, “Is it time for wedding invitations?” and he responded that it was.  I am so thrilled to be invited to witness this young man’s wedding.  He has been a blessing to all of us since his arrival here, and I am so humbled that God used me in a small way to change his story.  I am also especially overwhelmed by the fact that this is the first child that I have helped in the adoption process who is now old enough to get married.  I guess that means there are more to come.  I’m getting up there.  Hosting programs are a lot of work and sometimes stressful, but there are so many more children just like Sasha who would not have found a family otherwise.  This is why we do hosting and why we do what we do each day!

—Lisa Prather, LMSW | Vice President of Operations

For more information about our Hosting Programs, please contact Natalie by emailing her at natalie@nightlight.org.

Combining Kids By Birth & Adoption

Choosing to grow your family through adoption is not an easy or quick decision for parents. Mountains of thought, discussion, research and prayer are involved when embarking on this life changing journey. Now, think about all of these very adult concepts through the eyes of a child. Your biological children hold a very special place in your family and play an important role. Actively choosing to do all that you can to prepare them for what’s about to happen is absolutely essential to the future of your family.

Just like using your pregnancy time to prepare your child for a new brother or sister (don’t forget that big brother/sister t-shirt), you can utilize your entire adoption process to prepare them. Actually, you can begin this well before you turn in your adoption application. This is a big concept; let’s talk about specifics and ideas on how you can strive to be successful in this area.

  • Age matters – Take into account the age of your current child(ren). If your child is five years old and you start throwing words at them like attachment, institutionalization, dossier, termination of parental rights, etc., their eyes will glaze over and they will be checked out of the conversation before you know it. Meet them where they are and use age-appropriate adoption language.
  • Frequent and open discussions – Begin introducing the idea of adoption early and make it a part of your frequent conversations at home. There is not an adoption process out there that is fast so if you start talking about a new brother or sister joining the family before you even begin the actual adoption process, it will give them plenty of time to process what is happening and the major changes that are coming. Be open about where you are in the process. In some cases, families must endure long periods of waiting and this can be confusing to young children. If you are choosing to adopt a child from another country, be open with your existing children about the new child’s country of origin and what kind of lifestyle they may be currently living (remember, age appropriate here). If you are unsure of where to start, there are a multitude of books available that serve as great ice breakers.
  • Pray together – Begin including your child(ren) as you are praying for your adoption process and adopted child, even if you don’t know who they are yet.
  • Celebrate the victories – When you complete that mound of paperwork, celebrate as a family. When you receive a referral, go out for ice cream and talk about the new child. Ask them questions like, “What is the first thing you’re going to teach your new brother/sister when they get here?” or “What color do you think we should paint his/her bedroom?” These events will make the process seem more real to your children and they will feel more like they are a part of the process instead of this being something that is happening to them.
  • Spend one on-one-time with each child – This comes into play mainly when you have multiple children. Set up periodic “dates” with each child so they feel special and know that 100% of your attention is focused on them during that time. Utilize this time for one on one conversation about the adoption and new sibling. They may feel more comfortable opening up and asking questions in this setting. You can also use this time to reiterate that even though the family will be welcoming a new child, they are not being replaced. There are also major benefits to continuing this after your adopted child comes home.

Above all, DO NOT consider yourself a failure if the sun doesn’t shine in your home every single day after your adopted child comes home. There is a reason why this is called an adoption journey. It takes time. Your children are just that-children. Give them lots of patience and grace.

Easter: Where Our Hope Rests

 

 

It was Good Friday two years ago that we landed on U.S. soil completing the adoption of our first child.  We had endured a long and grueling wait to bring him home, and we were met with a joyous celebration that Easter weekend as friends and family welcomed us home.  Since then, we settled in as a family of three, hosted an older child over the winter holidays, adopted that child, moved cities, and then began settling in as a family of four.  That Good Friday marked the beginning of a journey into parenthood for me that will forever shape and change the way I see Jesus and the celebration of Easter.

 

Sacrifice

In parenting, there is sacrifice.  You learn to meet another human’s needs, and many times, you find that those are not convenient, easy, or desirable for you.  Lately, I have begun to realize we have taken on a role that will ask more of me than I ever thought I could give.  A role that will change and evolve over time in such a way that it is impossible to plan for what the next season will bring.  In our case, it has begun to sink in that we have invited our children’s hearts, including all their wounds, into our previously peaceful home, and our children have begun to let us enter into a journey with them that feels often like a war.  We battle for their trust, we battle for their health, we battle for healing in their brains, and ultimately, we battle for their hearts and souls.  We battle against our own selfishness, we battle against the temptation to disconnect for self-protection, we battle to trust that God will sustain us in this calling, and we battle to choose love and grace in the face of rejection and defiance.  When we stop to rest, we sit with our thoughts and feelings and realize we have battle wounds, and we trust that our God can heal those too.

We trust He can heal our family’s wounds because He has gone before us in sacrifice.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

For our sake, Jesus chose to trade all that was good to become that which is void of good.  Unlike humans, He is omniscient and all-knowing (Isaiah 46:9-10; Romans 11:33), so He knew fully and entirely the cost and pain of what He was choosing.  There was no ignorance in His choice.  He chose to love by sacrificing Himself, so that we could have His righteousness.  He chose to pour out His blood, so that we might be saved from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9).  So when my battle wounds are a result of my own sin, He chooses to bandage and cover them in His love instead of letting me anguish in the full consequence of death that they deserve.  His sacrifice has afforded my healing.

 

Power

Power is a theme in my home.  Who is the boss?  Who has authority? Can this authority be trusted?  It often feels as if it is not just my children and myself present in this struggle, but an invisible third party from their pasts, named Trauma, vying for power and authority.  Thankfully, the One that has power and authority over trauma is trustworthy.  He has power over the emotions that often roll like tidal waves within me as I parent, and He can be trusted to calm the chaos in my own heart and ultimately my home.  In some mysterious way, His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and what a relief that is in the days when I feel so weak!

Jesus does not just have power over trauma and sin, but even over death itself.  He showed this when He rose from the dead.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

If His is the power that can raise the dead, then His is the power I need each day.  Power to restore me when I am weary, and power to forgive me when I fail.  Even when my authority cannot be trusted, His always can.  I am learning over and over that what my children need most is not for me to use my power perfectly, but to share with them about the Parent who always uses His power perfectly.

 

Hope

It is not just that Jesus has power over death, but that He offers the hope of resurrection to all those who believe (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).  He offers hope for this life and eternal life.  He asks us to recognize Him as Savior and King, and when we do, He invites us into His presence immediately and forever.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

So there is incredible hope that Christ can one day make my children new creations.  Because my husband and I believe that we need Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, there is hope that He now lives in us, and is working in us for His will and good pleasure (Galatians 2:20, Philippians 2:13).  He is redeeming people throughout the world, and He is teaching us how to love like He loves.

“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially to those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:10

Our hope rests in Him and what He has done.  Our hope rests in the only One who can sustain us through the valleys through which He sovereignly leads us.  Our hope rests in the permanence of His blood to triumph over all that is broken, including death.  Easter is a joyous celebration of His incredible, redemptive, and perfect love in which all of our hope can rest.

 

Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day

 

 

Did you realize that today is World Down Syndrome Day? Why the 21st of March, you ask? The date for WDSD being the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.

 

Nightlight has had the privilege of assisting many families to adopt children with down syndrome both domestically and internationally. You’ll love hearing from some of these kiddos family members and reading their thoughts about these precious children. We did!

 

“Being parents to Emalyn and Ryker is a huge joy. Those of us who have a child with Down syndrome consider ourselves the lucky few. Although in most ways people with DS are just like everyone else, they also exude an empathy and kindness that is hard to image unless you’ve experience it. There are sometimes struggles, but there is joy that outweighs any struggles a million times over. Daily I look at these sweet children who happen to have an extra 21st chromosome and feel immensely blessed that I get to be their mom. “—Rachael, an adoptive mom

 

“People with Down Syndrome are so awesome! Zeb has the biggest love tank and pats my back even when I’m fake crying!” – Emma Kate, Age 6

“My brother has Down Syndrome and he is a kid, just like me! I’m bigger than him but he’s cooler!!” – Hendrix, Age 8

 

 

Feeling led to adopt a child with down syndrome? Visit our Child Advocacy Website to view the profiles of children needing a forever home TODAY!

www.AdoptionBridge.org

Foster and Adoptive Parent Resources

My husband and I became foster parents after only having been married a year and a half. We were in our late twenties and had no biological children. After working with kids in foster care in our professions, going through the home study process, talking with other foster families, and completing the 14+ hours of training required we thought we were somewhat well prepared. Looking back on it now 12 years later however, I see that we were so naive and clueless.

Our first placement was a teenage boy who we parented for a year and a half. Our next placement came in 2007 with a 3 year old and 6 month old- two boys who we would foster for three years and eventually have the honor of adopting in 2010.

We kept up all of the state-mandated training hours for the years we had our foster license. Some trainings were good… some not so much. We did the best we could in those early years to lead with compassion and to address hard behaviors in the best ways we knew how. Our young, starry-eyed selves thought that love would be enough to repair the past our children had endured, but time after time we were left feeling depleted and desperate realizing that it wasn’t enough.

In the past five years since I began working at Nightlight I have learned so much that would have helped me in those early years. I have learned to look beyond the behaviors into what is underneath. I have learned that past trauma can cause real changes in a child’s brain development. I have learned that traditional strategies in parenting a child with a history of abuse, neglect, trauma, prenatal exposure, and chronic stress will not be effective. These kids need more. They need us, as their caregivers, to be trauma-informed. They need us to look past the behaviors and focus on connection. They deserve to know that they are valued and worth fighting for.

Below is a list of resources that I would give to my 28 year old self before any child entered my home. Start reading, listening, and learning about how to help bring true healing to the children in your care. Keep educating yourself after they come into your home. I have thought countless times that “I wish I knew then what I know now…” there are so many things I would have handled better. I realize though, that it’s never too late. There are still so many things that we have not yet walked through with our kids that we will handle better because of the ways we work to continue educating ourselves. These are some of the best tools that I’ve found that have transformed the way that we parent. I hope they will help, encourage, and empower you as you care for the children God entrusts you with.

 

Books to Read

The links for all resources are in the titles.

Videos to Watch

***Both of the above videos expand on information first presented in The Connected Child

Podcasts to Listen To

Follow this link to a popular foster/adoption blog “Confessions of an Adoptive Parent” for a fantastic list of can’t miss podcasts for foster and adoptive parents. We also recommend Creating a Family which has a huge library of podcasts on various topics related to foster parenting, adoption, and infertility.

Conferences to Attend

  • Empowered to Connect– The Empowered to Connect Conference is a two-day event presented by Show Hope and the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development. It offers practical teaching in a safe and supportive community and is meant to equip families, churches, and professionals to better serve children impacted by adoption and foster care. The Empowered to Connect conference is coming up and we encourage all of our families to go if they can! It is being offered April 13-14th and you can experience this conference by attending the live event in Oswego, IL or by attending a live simulcast at a location near you!
  • CAFO– The Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit is an annual conference that inspires and equips the Church to care for orphans and vulnerable children with wisdom-guided love. Last year’s conference drew over 2,000 foster and adoptive parents, orphan advocates, pastors and professionals from 30 countries. This year’s conference will be held in Frisco, Texas on May 9- 11, 2018.

Other Helpful Resources

  • This Free, printable foster care binder to help you organize- this will help create a space for you to easily organize information for any child based in your home such as doctor’s appointments, medications administered, court hearings, visitations, etc.
  • This is a great article about what to do on your child’s first day home to help them feel comfortable and safe.
  • Your local churches! The local churches in our area have really stepped up in so many ways to serve foster families. There are churches in our community that offer support groups, a monthly parents’ night out, training, and resources such as clothes, books, toys, and furniture for families when they receive a new placement. Make some phone calls to local churches to see if they have a foster/adoption ministry.

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

Help Nightlight Christian Adoptions Win $20K!

Comcast Innovations for EntrepreneursHave you heard?! Nightlight has been chosen as one of 30 finalists in Comcast’s Innovations 4 Entrepreneurs contest! We need your help to be chosen as a one of six Grand Prize Winners that will win $20,000!

We entered the contest to gain funding that can help make the process of adopting easier for potential parents. Not only would we be able to help potential parents complete the adoption process online, we’d help them prepare for their adopted child by introducing an online education process. In order to meet these goals, we need to gain access to some existing software programs, which can often be expensive. And with that, we’d like to be able to customize the software to include some embryo adoption-specific enhancements.

At Nightlight, we’re all about helping more babies be born out of frozen storage with our Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. We also work to raise awareness about embryo adoption through the Embryo Adoption Awareness Center, which Nightlight runs. With more than 600,000 embryos in frozen storage in the U.S., our goal is to help them become the children they were meant to be, which we do by matching donor parents with adopting parents through an open adoption process.

So how can you help? Visit cbcommunity.comcast.com/i4e/vote, and vote daily through May 13, 2016. Only one vote per person, per day will count to help us out, so help us spread the word through social media!

Learn more about Comcast Business’ Innovations 4 Entrepreneurs contest online, and see our full essay on the voting page. Thank you for your vote!

Life is a Gift

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Most people rarely consider our very life as a work of God. In fact, we rarely think about life at all (we’re born, grow up and die). Many folks sadly believe an unborn baby isn’t a human life. Atheist Richard Dawkins tweeted back in 2013 that an unborn baby is less human than a pig! [March 13, 2013].

As Christians, we affirm what God’s Word reveals to us about when a baby becomes human life. Scripture tells us that God knows us before He forms us in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). In Psalm 139:13-16 says,

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed. [New Living Translation]

God clearly instructs us that unborn babies are human at the time of conception. Are some people really more human than others? Of course not! God’s Word is clear: everyone, even unborn babies, are made in the image of God. That’s the message our culture needs to hear as America this month ponders the devastating effects of the 1973 Roe v Wade U.S. Supreme Court Decision which legalized abortion: the loss of over 55,000,000 human lives to abortion. Today join us in prayer and action to create a more life-affirming nation, promoting alternatives to abortion, and changing the culture that sees abortion as necessary.

Part 2: Salem Family Answers Common Embryo Adoption Questions

It’s January 2015, and for Adéye Salem, that means she’s less than a month away from the frozen embryo transfer that she and her husband have been preparing months for.

Adéye recently braved the cold weather and made another video to answer your questions about embryo adoption. In this video, she answers questions about their decision to adopt embryos through open adoption, as well as what their plans are if no babies are born from the process.

Check out the video below:

Learn more about Salem Family’s journey and the challenges that they’ve faced on the Embryo Adoption Awareness Center’s blog!

Part 1: Salem Family Answers Common Embryo Adoption Questions

Adeye and AnthonyAnthony and Adéye Salem are working on a series of videos to answer your questions about embryo adoption. In the first video, they answer questions about:
Age – Are they too old for embryo adoption?
Success Rate – Why did they choose embryos that have a 20-30% chance at life?
Family Size – How they manage life with nine children, and how will they do it with even more children?
Medication – What kinds of medication will Adéye have to take leading up to the FET?

See the full video and watch for their shout out to Snowflakes®:

As their mid-January Frozen Embryo Transfer nears, the couple will release more videos to answer your questions. Visit Adéye’s blog and leave questions in the comments for their upcoming videos!