Monthly Archives: January 2014

Finding Families For NY’s Waiting Children

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”  Then the King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  Matthew 25:37-40

Children in foster care can be described as the least of these from Matthew 25, and we the Church are those called to minister to them and becoming foster parents is one way we can do that.  There are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States, and over 20,000 of them are in New York State alone.

This week JFO sat down with Catherine Baxter, LCSW and Supervising Clinician for Foster Care & Adoption for Parsons Child & Family Center in Albany, NY.  Parsons is the largest multi-services agency in New York’s Capital Region dedicated to helping families and their children.  The agency provides counseling services, parenting education, child abuse/neglect prevention and treatment, family strengthening programs, early childhood family support, special education, youth development programs, and mental health services.  Parsons also offers several foster care programs for children in the system.  They are a multi-county agency covering the Capital District area and spreading state wide.

Ms. Baxter shared that the greatest need they have is for foster parents who are willing to care for teenagers and/or sibling groups, especially families living in the more populated areas of Schenectady, Hudson, and Catskill.  The first thing a family needs to do, in order to become certified foster parents, is to complete the MAPP (Model Approach to Partnership Parenting) training classes.  These classes are offered at several locations around the region throughout the year, and sometimes can be facilitated in the family’s home.  In addition to the classes there is paperwork, background checks, and a home study to be completed.

To learn more about how you can minister to the least of these by becoming a foster parent, contact Parsons at 518-426-2868 or visit their website:           parsonscenter.org 

The Sanctity of Life – Pro Life and Pro Adoption

Sunday, January 19th, is Sanctity of Life Sunday.  If you’re wondering what the connection is between orphans and the sanctity of life…let me share some statistics with you.  In 2011, there were 1,212,000 abortions performed in the United States.  Now imagine the day when abortion is no longer legal.  As pro-life Christians, that’s our prayer, right?  So instead of 1.2 million abortions, imagine that we now have 1.2 million babies!  If half of those moms choose to keep and raise their babies, what would happen to the remaining 606,000 babies?  Those babies would need an adoption plan or they would enter an already bulging foster care system effectively doubling the kids in care.  If we are pro-life, we must also be pro-adoption.

To celebrate Sanctity of Life Sunday  we recently had as a guest on Orphans No More, Lauri Anderson, Director of Client Services for Alight Center.  Alight is a pregnancy resource center that has been servicing Columbia and Greene counties in up-state NY since 1991.    Alight provides options, answers, and support through various programs including educational classes and support programs, adoption support, birthing classes, breast feeding classes, infant care and parenting classes, as well as abortion recovery programs.  They offer support services to women and girls who choose life for their babies.  If these women do not get the support they need, their children would most likely enter the foster care system continuing a cycle, as many of these women and girls have been in foster care themselves.  Alight is on the front lines offering these services to desperate families in need.  This is another example of the Gospel in action.

JFO advocates for adoption and foster care of kids who are already in the system, but how much better it would be if kids didn’t have to end up in the system at all because their moms get the support services they need to preserve their families?  To learn more or to contact Alight call 518-822-9008 or visit them online at alightpc.org.

Affordable Adoption

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

We encounter so many people who say, “I’d adopt, but I can’t afford it.  It costs too much.”  And they’re right!  Why does it cost so much and how can we walk out in obedience God’s call to adopt regardless of our financial situation?

There are several reasons why adoption is expensive.  When we embark on an adoption adventure the first thing we encounter is the “paperwork mountain.”  Whether we adopt domestically or internationally, every adoption requires:  a Home Study prepared by a licensed social worker (one of the most expensive parts), fingerprinting for criminal background checks, among other documents.  International adoption requires fingerprinting and documents (I-600 for non Hague) through Homeland Security, physicals, marriage licenses, birth certificates, etc. all needing to be notarized, and often county certified, and apostilled by the Dept. of State (county seals and apostilles cost a small fee each).  Hague process adoptions are more complicated as they include even more paperwork to process.  Either way, if an adoption agency is used there are agency fees.  If it’s a domestic infant adoption there may be medical fees for the birth mom.  International adoption  requires travel expenses (air fare, lodging, food, transportation, translation fees, facilitator fees, passports,etc.).  It’s a lot and it can seem overwhelming.

Adoption is an adventure with lots of ups and downs, especially international adoption.  We must remember, if God is for us who can be against us?  I believe spiritual warfare is the main reason adoption seems impossible.  The last thing the enemy wants is for children to be rescued from darkness and hopelessness and placed in loving, safe (especially Christian) homes where they will have a hope and a future.

So if adoption has been on your heart, but you think you just can’t afford it, first thing’s first – pray, and keep praying.  Then, do what you can do:  start saving and consider some of the following ideas, then step out in faith and let God do what only He can do!

Adoption Grands & No Interest Loans:  There are Christian ministries offering grants and loans to adoptive families.  Visit lifesongfororphans.org and Steven Curtis Chapman’s ministry showhope.org.  The local Church can also step in here and help families with adoption expenses.

Adoption Tax Credit from the IRS:  visit irs.gov and search adoption tax credit for more details.  Another informative website on adoption costs, tax credits, and grants is childwelfare.gov  which brings you to the Child Welfare Information Gateway.  Just click on Search A-Z, click on C, and choose “cost of adopting.”

Creative Fundraising Ideas:  Brainstorm for ideas that work for your family and community.  Adoptive families can do yard sales, bake sales, make and sell items, etc.  Christine Reed an adoptive mom from California features fundraising ideas her family has used for several adoptions on her blog smilesandtrials.blogspot.com.  Christine’s family has made and sold hand made items such as jewelry, hats, cook books, car decals, etc.  Plus her blog is very inspiring for adoptive families.

Special Needs Adoption Grants:  Reese’s Rainbow is an organization bringing awareness to the needs of special needs children around the world.  Visit their website to see pictures and bios of waiting children.  Each child has a grant that people can donate to which helps with that child’s adoption expenses.  Consider adopting a child through Reese’s Rainbow or make a donation to a specific child’s fund to help another family adopt.  Visit reesesrainbow.org

Foster Care Adoption: Probably the most affordable way to adopt is through the foster care system.  There are minimal expenses when adopting through the foster care system because much of the paperwork is done when a family goes through the process of becoming certified foster parents.  It doesn’t cost a foster family anything to get certified.  Contact the local foster care agency in your area or, if you live in upstate NY, contact one of the agencies listed on this site.

When God calls us to adopt, we must step out in faith, and He will do the rest.  Adoption is God’s heart – He adopted us!  The Lord will accomplish His purposes.  It’s really not that we can’t afford to adopt…we can’t afford NOT to!  

 

 

Special Needs Adoption

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27

This verse is often quoted by adoptive parents and those of us in orphan ministry.  At first glance, distress for an orphan could be the obvious:  no family, poor care in an orphanage, lack of food, no future, etc.  While all of these are true, the distress is greatest for the orphan with special needs.  They are truly the least of these of Matthew 25.  These are the children who at least in Ukraine, once they turn 5, are sent from the baby orphanage to institutions for the mentally disabled.  Here in the United States, whether in a facility or at home with their families, special needs children have opportunities and resources to help them reach their full potential.  Not so in other countries where a deformity, a disease, or a disability labels a child “cursed”.  They are discarded in their own countries.  Worse then being an orphan is being an orphan with a disability.

But there is hope and a future for a child with a disability who gets adopted by a loving family.  Mary and I recently chatted on our Orphans No More radio show with an adoptive mom whose family not only adopted internationally 3 times, but their 3rd adopted child is a precious little girl with Down Syndrome.  Patty Lococo found her sweet Julia on Reece’s Rainbow, an adoption grant foundation helping to unite special needs children with loving adoptive families.  Understandably, not every family seeking to adopt is called to adopt a special needs child, but here at Justice For Orphans we encourage families to pray.  Maybe the Lord is calling you to adopt a special needs child.  Once thing we know for sure:  when the Lord calls, He equips.  The Lococo family can testify to that!

To learn more about special needs adoption visit http://reecesrainbow.org

You can also tune into Orphans No More on The New Light WDCD 96.7fm in the Albany, NY area or stream it live at http://www.newlight967.com and click on Listen Live.  The show airs Fridays at 1:30pm & Sundays at 10:30am.