World Down Syndrome Day: “Leave No One Behind”

This year on World Down Syndrome Day 2019, the charge and call of action for every person with Down Syndrome and the advocates who support them is to tell the world to “leave no one behind.” Every person with Down Syndrome is capable, deserving, and worthy to live a full life with equal opportunities. In a world where many are self-focused and driven in their own paths for life, our brothers and sisters with Down Syndrome often face exclusion and discrimination and are often “left behind.” This is especially true for our waiting children.

I had the chance to sit down with an adoptive family, Ross & Tamara, currently in the process of bringing home their two-year-old daughter from South East Asia for an interview. Here is a snippet of what we discussed.

  • What should other families considering adoption know about Down Syndrome?

Down Syndrome is often looked at in a negative light, but there is life and life abundant in parenting a child with Down Syndrome. Above all, she will be our daughter first, our daughter who also happens to have Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome will be a small part of her journey here on this earth, but it will not define her journey. There are opportunities to live a full life and many children are capable of holding jobs, driving cars, and going to college. Yes, parenting a child with Down Syndrome might add more to your life with things like speech therapies, visits to the doctor, and advocating for schooling, however, parenting a child with Down Syndrome will add more to your life in other ways; filling your heart with joy, having a love for others, and caring for the least of these. A verse that we have been praying over our family has been Psalm 68: 5-6; “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling, God sets the lonely in families.”

  • When was your heart first stirred towards parenting a child with Down Syndrome?

My heart was first stirred towards parenting a child with Down Syndrome when I read the article, Where Have All the Kids with Down Syndrome Gone?. The article focuses on the increased rate of abortion when a diagnosis of Down Syndrome is given. As a pro-life family, we want to walk in truth and walk in action. If we are fighting for pro-life, we should also fight for the children that are waiting and take action to support them. For us, that means adoption, for others, that might mean advocating.   

 

  • What does your community and support system look like?

Our community does not have many families that are parenting children with Down Syndrome, however, we have found several online communities and forums that are so supportive and available to answer all of our questions. Our church community has also been very supportive! They have come alongside of us and are praying and patiently waiting for the arrival of our daughter into our community. Our local Regional Center and school district offer plenty of early intervention and educational resources that we are so excited about accessing once our daughter comes home!

 

Let’s stand beside our friends with Down Syndrome and be a part of leaving no one behind! Here are a few links to increase your knowledge of Down Syndrome and to advocate for our friends. Let us know some of your favorites!

Resources about Down Syndrome and Parenting children with Down Syndrome:

https://www.heatheravis.com/the-lucky-few-the-book

https://reecesrainbow.org/

https://www.ndsan.org/

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!

 

Called To Adoption: Where To Start?

 

It’s the start of a brand new year, and among your other goals, adoption comes up. Many couples feel called to adopt, either from discussing it for years, because of an infertility journey, or sometimes after hearing a touching story about a child and their forever family. Since this is a common time of year for planning, adoption may be something you are wanting to consider more seriously.

 

Talking about adoption, and starting an adoption process are two very different things. So how do other people go from dreaming, to achieving their goals?

 

Step 1: Research the different types of adoption

If you haven’t looked into it yet, there are many different avenues for adoption. Each one unique with different pro’s, con’s, costs, and timelines. You may want to get a basic overview (hyperlink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCg7-2WPoOM&t) about each of the options before further researching. It may help to start with simple questions like what age of child you are hoping to adopt, or whether or not you will be available to travel for an adoption process.

 

Step 2: Pick up your phone and call for more information

While it’s tempting to try to gather as much information as you can through the internet, it can also take a lot of time and lead to misinformation. Agencies have trained staff who are available to answer your questions, and help you decide if an adoption program may be the right fit. Chances are there might even be some questions you haven’t thought of yet that they can catch you up on.

 

Step 3: Pray together and narrow your options down

With a basic understanding of the types of adoption you could consider, and your questions answered, you are now in a place to discuss and pray about what program may be right for your family. This can be a vital stage in the process that you won’t want to skip over. Seeking God and making sure that everyone is on the same page will save a lot of stress down the road. It’s natural to feel nervous about starting such an important journey, but make sure you also have peace about it.

 

Step 4: Get started

This can look different from program to program, usually it means filling out an application. Adoption can be a paper intensive process, so it helps to stick your toe in the water before jumping in. You will have plenty of work ahead, but the end result is an incredibly important little person that is waiting to meet you. They are worth every step of the process.

 

If you would like more information about different adoption programs, talk through your questions with our trained staff at (502)423-5780, or fill out our inquiry form. (hyperlink: https://nightlight.mysamdb.com/SAM/Fm/ApplicationForm_Preliminary_NL_Edt.aspx)

Nightlight Merges With MLJ Adoptions

 

 

In order to offer clients a wider variety of services and to increase our geographic service area, as of August 1, 2018, Nightlight has entered into an affiliation agreement with MLJ Adoptions, Inc. based in Indianapolis, Indiana.  A full merger will occur on January 1, 2019.  Many of our Nightlight staff have had the opportunity to work with MLJ in different capacities through the years, and it is because of that experience that we are thrilled to join efforts to serve families.  MLJ is a leader in the international adoption field. In addition to their many international programs, MLJ is also known for thinking outside the box to serve more families.   To learn more about MLJ, please click  this link to visit MLJ’s website.

 

MLJ has a strong program in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Samoa, and several other countries.  As part of this affiliation agreement, MLJ clients are welcome to consider Nightlight programs, such as embryo, domestic, and foster adoption.

Feel Good Friday: Reunification in Uganda

It was only yesterday that we welcomed baby Grace into our home.  She was born a preemie at 7 months and her mum plus sibling both passed away at birth. She weighed only 1.2 kgs and was still very under-developed, even the hospital didn’t expect Grace to make it.  She was feeding through an ng tube and her skin was so pale.  We spent the whole night praying that she would survive.  She was severely dehydrated and needed lots of care and feeding.  We fought, prayed and believed for Grace’s miraculous survival.  Little did we know that Grace was as much determined to make it as we were.  She was a fighter.

Today we celebrate a miracle as we see grace being reunited with her biological father.  We are in awe of this great and amazing journey of hope. Grace has grown into a beautiful and happy girl who is full of energy. She is a feisty girl and will fight her way through any crisis.  She is very strong willed, fearless, and opinionated.  She has a smile which is contagious, when she chooses to show it. 

Who knew that this little girl could actually be here to tell her story?  Who knew that this tiny baby would grow into a lovely and flamboyant beauty?  Who knew that even when people give up on you, God can actually redeem and restore?

Grace was loved by many.

We are so proud of the girl she is today.  We are so thankful for what God has done and continues to do in her life.  We are so grateful to God for giving us the opportunity to change her story.  We are so grateful that our hope was not in vain.

Grace was inconsolable on the day of reunification.  It was difficult to see her in tears as we said our farewell, but we were comforted that she was in the hands of her parents who were excited and very grateful to have her home.

It was a hard day for grace and her nanny as they bid farewell

Grace will always be loved and remembered in the home.  Her smile and energy are missed every day.  God has indeed been good and we can boldly say Ebenezer. 

—-Ken and Cathy Nganda (Tender Hearts Baby Home)

Hosting: Why it Makes a Difference

 

1995 was the first year Nightlight Christian Adoptions brought a group of children from a foreign orphanage for a hosting program. Children from a Russian orphanage had performed a wonderful program of traditional songs and dances for Ron Stoddart, Nightlight’s President, during his visit. He brought that group of children, ages 7-14, to California where they performed at churches, community parks and Disneyland. It was a success, as all of the children who came on that tour, ended up with permanent families. None of the families who hosted or saw the children perform and later adopted them, had any idea that they would be led to adopt after seeing and meeting those children. However, over the 23 years that Nightlight has sponsored tour programs, bringing well over 300 children to the US, the majority of those children have found permanent, forever families here in the US.

The intent was always to give these older children an opportunity to spend at least a few weeks in a loving, nurturing home with an intact, stable family. Even for those children who did not find their ‘forever family’, some by choice and some due to circumstances out of their control, they did have a wonderful vacation! Many of the children stay in touch with their host families long after the host experience. That is a reminder that the few weeks or month that a host child spends with the host family can be life-changing! My husband and I have hosted close to 70 children in our home over the past 23 years. It has been a wonderful experience for us and our children as we have been able to share our family with children from all over the world and learn more about their culture, while sharing ours. Our family is certainly a mixture of cultures as we adopted two of those hosted children, in addition to four others that were adopted internationally as ‘older children.’ It has been a reminder to our children about the children left behind, probably one of the reasons our children have always been such wonderful ambassadors, sharing about what it means to be adopted as an ‘older child.’

A few months ago, I was in a Starbucks waiting for my order. A young woman approached me and introduced herself. She had been on one of our earlier tours in the late 1990’s. I recognized her name and we hugged. She thanked me for bringing her on that tour! We reminisced and caught up on her life over the past 18 years. What an impact these hosting programs have had on the lives of the children and families!

Nightlight is partnering with Kidsave, a hosting organization, to bring children from orphanages in Colombia to stay with host families throughout the United States this summer. Ten children will be staying in Southern California, experiencing the ocean, bowling, museums, parks and likely Disneyland. When we ask the children towards the end of their stay about their most favorite part of their visit, we have received the same response consistently over the past 23 years. Over and over again, the children speak about the warmth and love showered on them by their host families. They certainly enjoy Disneyland and all the other activities, but it is the relationship they developed with the host family, over a period of a few weeks, that will last a lifetime! Nightlight has hosting programs during the summer and over the Christmas holiday season. Consider opening your home and heart to a child, hoping to spend some quality time with a family here in the US. Even if you are not able to host, there are other ways to participate, volunteering, donating funds towards their activities or the program itself. For those who host and volunteer, it is a wonderful opportunity to share your culture and learn about another culture, while giving a child the chance to possibly meet their forever family.

Three Different Journeys to Parenthood, No Greater Joy

Family keeps growing through embryo adoption

Meet Adéye and Anthony Salem – an incredible couple from Northern Colorado.

Are you thinking, “What’s special about Adéye and Anthony?”

Through the years, they’ve built a beautiful family together – a family with nine amazing children; three biological sons, and six adopted sons and daughters, some of whom have special needs. Now, they have a new destiny – one involving human embryos. Adéye and Anthony have been matched with four embryos through the Snowflakes® Frozen Embryo Adoption Program at Nightlight Christian Adoptions.

Why did they choose embryo adoption? Learn more about them, their family, and their decision:

Adéye and Anthony would like to share their journey with you. Follow along on social media – both through Nightlight, as well as the Salem family’s personal pages.

Nightlight:

Online
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

Salem Family:

Adéye’s Blog
Anthony’s Blog
Facebook
Instagram

 

China changes course: singles are now able to adopt

international-infant 082412This week we received two breaking news items from China. The first is that the CCAA, as of February 15, 2011, is now referred to as the China Centre for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA).

The greater news, however, is that single women are now permitted to adopt from China.  Years ago, when single women could adopt, there were quotas for each agency. Now there are no restrictions as to the number of single women who can adopt.  The CCCWA is now permitting single women to adopt the 2,000 or so Special Focus Children – children who have been waiting for a family for more than 60 days.

The requirements for singles are nearly the same as they are for married couples. In addition, the CCCWA knows that these children who are older or have special needs will require more attention and, therefore, requires that single women indicate the extra resources they have in place. Most of the requirements are in line with Nightlight’s conditions as well as good social work practice.

Adoptions from China to the US were at an all-time high in 2005, with nearly 8,000 children finding homes. In 2009, 3,000 children were adopted by US citizens from China.  As we are all aware, back in 2005 more babies and non-special needs children were being placed for adoption. Continue reading

Ethiopia Adoption Program

ethiopia-boyProgram Update: With a population of approximately 80 million people, it is estimated that Ethiopia has between 4 and 6 million orphan. The situation is quickly becoming worse. It is believed that nearly half of Ethiopia’s children will become orphans over the next four years. As a result of Ethiopia’s orphan population, many, many children are available for adoption, both boys and girls, infants and older children, siblings, and children with special needs. Compared to the process of adopting children from China or Guatemala the process in Ethiopia is much simpler.

Not only does Carolina Hope Christian Adoption Agency believe that adoption provides couples with the opportunity to build their families, we also believe that it is one beautiful way that Christians can care for Ethiopia’s orphans in their affliction (James 1:27).

Our Ethiopia Adoption program will open officially in December. Families wishing to adopt from Ethiopia can submit an application now to begin the process. Call (864-268-0570) or email us (office@CarolinaHopeAdoption.org) for details about our Ethiopia adoption program .

(Carolina Hope is currently developing pages for our Ethiopia program at our main website.)

See Orphans, Adoption, and Fuling, China where I connect “caring for orphans in their affliction” with adoption.