Monthly Archives: April 2014

Be Doers of the Word

James 1:22 challenges us to be doers of the Word not just “hearers” and that’s just 5 verses before the Church is given the assignment in James 1:27 to look after orphans.

Recently we sat down with Cher Joseph, Adoption Case Worker and Home Finder for Albany County Dept. For Children, Youth, & Family  albanycounty.com.  We discussed the fact that there are over 20,000 children in foster care in New York State.  Cher echoed the great need for foster parents in the Capital District, especially for African American and Latino families and families willing to foster teens and sibling groups of 3+ kids.  There are about 400,000 children in foster care in the United States.  That means there are kids right in our own back yard in need of families.  At JFO we believe if the Church will be doers of the Word we can make an impact on the foster care system.  We can be that safe, loving home for a child until they can be reunified with their biological family, or sometimes fostering can lead to adoption, and we can be that forever family every child deserves.

To learn more about becoming a foster parent in Albany County call the foster care line at 518-447-7515 or email at Michelle.Dowe@albanycounty.com.  The next Foster Parent Orientations will be Tuesday, May 6th at 2pm and 5pm at their office on 112 State St., Albany, NY. Call ahead to register.

May is Foster Care Awareness Month and Albany County will be celebrating with their 5th Annual Foster Care Awareness Walk on Tuesday, May 13th at 5:15pm at The Crossings of Colonie – South Pavilion – 580 Albany Shaker Rd., Loudonville, NY.  Cher Joseph will also be representing Albany County Dept. For Children, Youth & Family at our Love In Action:  Finding Families For NY’s Waiting Children event on Friday, May 16th.  For more details on this event click on “Events” and “Love In Action” right here on our website.

To hear the Orphans No More interview with Cher Joseph click on “Events” and then “Radio Show” – the interview dated 4/25/14 will be available soon.

Beauty From Ashes Adoption Story

Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.”  

Recently I had the opportunity to talk with adoptive mom  Aimee French of Clifton Park, NY.  Aimee and her husband, Charlie, have 3 bio blessings:  Charlie Jr. age 23, Anna age 21, and Eli age 19.  They also have 3 awesome adopted sons from South Korea:  David, Isaac, and Daniel.

Aimee shared that after a heartbreaking miscarriage they felt God nudging them to grow their family through adoption.  In 2002 the French’s adopted David from South Korea after seeing his picture on the Rainbow Kids website.  Then in 2003 they also adopted Isaac from South Korea.  With these 2 successful adoptions the French’s stepped out again to adopt, this time a 9 year old girl from Ethiopia.  Aimee shared the painful experience of this particular adoption which ended in disruption.  The term disruption is used to describe  situations where a child is placed into the custody of an adoptive family with the intent to adopt but, due to a change of mind by the birth mother, birth father, or adoptive family, the adoption does not take place and the child is returned the birth parent, to foster care, or placement with new adoptive parents.The French family found themselves unprepared to meet the severe needs of a child who’d been abandoned by her birth father who’d promised to come back for her.  This little girl was vigilently waiting for her father to find her in addition to the fact that the trauma she’d experienced prior to the adoption made for a scary and unsafe situation for all involved.  Thankfully a family, trained and prepared to meet this child’s unique needs, stepped in to be the forever-family this girl needed.

Feeling like failures, the French’s decided they were done with adoption.  However, God was not done with them.  In 2006 another family was struggling with a 3 year old boy they’d adopted from South Korean.  He had no speech, PTSD, and needed to be re-parented.  The French’s did respite for this family as they agonized over not being able to meet this little boy’s needs.  In the end that family decided that, if Aimee and her husband would adopt the boy, they’d let him go.  The French’s, who were prepared to meet the toddler’s needs, adopted Daniel.  Their’s truly is a beauty from ashes story!

Aimee is passionate about families being prepared to meet the unique needs of the children they’re adopting.  She highly recommends the book “Weaver’s Craft” by Mary Hopkins-Best especially for families interested in adopting toddlers.  To hear more of Aimee’s story you can listen to the recorded radio interview dated 4/18/14.

Waiting Children in the Capital Region

Learn to do good, seek justice.  Help the oppressed.  Defend the orphan.  Fight for the rights of widows.  Isaiah 1:17

Recently I sat down with Becky Cuilo, Residential Clinician at Parsons Child & Family Center in Albany, NY.  Parsons is the largest multi-services agency in the 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.  They also have a multi county foster care program and maintain 3 group homes with 11 children in each home and the Residential Treatment Center.

The Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is currently home to 30 kids, half of which are available for adoption.  Some of these children have family resources, but many do not.  The age range at the RTC is 8-21 years.  The Residential Treatment Center offers a higher level of structured care than the group homes.

Becky shared that one of the greatest needs they have is for volunteers who are willing to build relationships, one-on-one, with the kids.  Whether individuals volunteer once a month or once a week, their presence in the life of a child brings hope to that child.  A child with hope is more open to healing.

The RTC fills a tremendous need for kids in care, but ideally, kids need families.  God designed the family as the best place for children to grow up.  Finding a forever family through adoption is important, but not every child is available for adoption.  By becoming a volunteer and building a relationship with a child at the RTC we can bring hope to a waiting child who may otherwise not know there is hope.  Would you consider bringing that hope to a waiting child through adoption, foster care, or volunteering?

To volunteer at Parsons’ Residential Treatment Center call Fran at 518-426-2864 or visit them online at Parsonscenter.org

FAITH: Fantastic Adventures In Trusting Him

If I acted crazy, I did it for God;  if I acted serious, I did it for you.  Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes.  His love has the first and last word in everything I do.”  2 Corinthians 5:13-14 The Message Bible

These verses pretty much sum up the life of Mandy Litzke of Safe Harbor Orphan Care who was recently a guest on our Orphans No More radio show.  Mandy and her husband have 2 biological daughters and 14 children adopted internationally from 8 different countries.  That may sound crazy to some, but Mandy’s heart for orphans grew out of personal experience – she was an orphan herself.

As a little girl growing up in a home of drug abuse and violence, Mandy witnessed the murder of her mother.  She entered the foster care system around age 4 and bounced around from foster home to foster home.  Finally she arrived at the home of a Christian family who would eventually adopt her when she was 8 years old.

Childhood for Mandy was a place of no hope, but God intervened through physical adoption and spiritual adoption (Ephesians 1:3-6).  Her past is what motivates her today to, “give hope to a child who could not visually see hope.

Many of us who have adopted once or twice internationally know how daunting the process can be, but to adopt 14 times from 8 different countries is monumental.  Their FAITH (Fantastic Adventures In Trusting Him) journey continues as the Litzke family is currently in the process of adopting a 2 year old from Ghana.  To learn more listen to the 4/4/14 episode of Orphans No More right from this website.