Friday, September 28, 2012

What’s Cooking At Your House?


I know that many of you have tried your hand at Ethiopian cuisine in your own kitchens and I thought it would be fun to share your experience here on the blog! 

Ethiopia 2008 Lindsey 434

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I hear all the time how much your Ethiopian kids love it when you serve (or go out to eat) traditional Ethiopian food.

Here are a couple links to get the injera rolling (so to speak)…

Ethiopian Recipes
@The Berbere Diaries
Kinche, Injera Chips, Timatim Salad and more!

Mesob Across America
@Ethiopian Food
Vegetables, meat, breakfast, appetizers and snacks

tibs

How about you?  Leave a comment below with a favorite recipe, links to helpful websites or anything you have learned along the way in your own kitchen. 

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Monday, September 24, 2012

You should go!


Empowered to Connect is a wonderful ministry that we often refer our families to for excellent resources related to attachment and healing.  Dr. Karyn Purvis has written a book we ask all of our adoptive families to read – The Connected Child.  ETC hosts several conferences each year designed to help adoptive and foster parents ‘better understand how to connect with children from hard places in order to help them heal and become all that God desires them to be.’

Earlier this month several YWAM adoptive parents attended the latest ETC conference in Nashville where they not only heard some great speakers but got to meet each other face to face instead of just via blogs and Facebook!

We asked them to tell us a few things they came away from this weekend with and here are their responses…


flourish1

4 Kenesa

The Empowered to Connect conference was a big wake-up call to me in a good way.  My husband and I were so intentional about preparing ourselves for our son's homecoming and about implementing what we had learned when he came home.  But now that our son has been home almost 9 months, I realized that we had slipped into a new normal that wasn't as intentional simply because our son had transitioned so well.  I learned so much at the conference about the brain of an adoptive or foster child and the incredible power of intentional nurture and structure.  Now my husband and I have a new game plan for intentionally connecting with our son in this season.  So thankful for the reminder that connecting is a lifelong journey!   ~ Tara Dunn

flourish2

IMG_5987

Probably my favorite part of the experience was getting to hang out with other adoptive moms... most notably YWAM ones of course. : ) That being said, the conference was excellent as well. As our daughter has been settling in, I've gotten a bit lazy with her in terms of those intentional attachment fostering activities. I was challenged to bring back that intentionality for even up to 2 years. Dr. Purvis was amazing to hear and as I listened so many people were coming to mind as people who would benefit from hearing her. If there are people out there who are feeling hopeless about the progress their kiddos are making or about their future, they should go!    ~Marcy Fitzpatrick
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mostly Samuel 072

I came away from this weekend thinking that we need to be more intentional in our parenting.  I feel like we do well as far as interacting and playing with our kids, but we need to continue to grow in being intentional with all our kids.   ~Julie Steimer


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Morgan e
 
The three biggest "take aways" from the conference were:

Voice: Tone, volume, and body language.  The words can get lost on our children (especially non-English speakers), but the voice does not.  They need to know how precious they are from our voice. 
Motivation to adopt:  It is important for us to explore our motivation to adopt because it forms the foundation of the expectations of our child.  How will I answer the question, "Why did you adopt me?"  They will ask it.  So I need to be prepared to answer it.  
Saying yes:  Find ways to say yes!  Children who have not experienced a break in care have heard "yes" thousands of times.  "Yes, I will feed you."  "Yes, I will change you." "Yes, I will hold you."  Our children come home and need to hear the thousand "yes's", before the "no" means anything.  
                                     ~ Jen Morgan
 
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Nurmi family
 
The Empowered to Connect conference was AMAZING! Even though we had read Dr. Purvis'  book and many others, we feel so much more equipped to parent our daughter when she comes home. It gave us a very clear picture of what we could encounter in parenting her and the medical reasons behind it (the books did too but something about hearing it and seeing it played out in the video clips just made it stick). Knowing that we aren't just going to be dealing with emotional scarring but that there is a brain and chemistry change (even if a child is brought home as an infant) that happens to children from hard places, and having it explained, gave us new insight that we hadn't had before. But Dr. Karyn Purvis didn't just leave us there. She gave us many tools (a tool box full!) to use to help us promote attachment and parent our daughter the best we possibly can. I would highly recommend the conference to every adoptive parent...no matter where you are on your journey.  ~Eric & Jessi Nurmi

flourish2

Perhaps you’ll be able to attend one of ETC’s upcoming weekend conferences.  Even if you can’t go, be sure to sign up to receive their blog posts and new resources via email here. .
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Friday, September 21, 2012

Grab your pen and notebook!


Empowered to Connect is a wonderful resource for adoptive parents that we refer to often!  Our YWAM families are all asked to read “The Connected Child” and to view the video series below – What Every Adoptive Parent Should Know.   This preparation is done prior to bringing your child home but its value is most applicable in the months and years when you are in the trenches of attachment and bonding.  Here is a short collection of video links addressing a few of the issues adoptive parents help with.  Be sure to visit the Empowered to Connect Resources webpage.


KP-Photo-2012
Dr. Karyn Purvis

What Every Adoptive Parent Should Know

In order to truly understand children from hard places — what they have experienced, the impact of those experiences and how we can help them heal and grow — it’s important that we understand some of the basics.  That’s why we have put this collection of eight Empowered To Connect videos together — to introduce (or re-introduce) you to some of the most important basics that we believe every adoptive parent can benefit from.

How Do I Handle Manipulation and Control?
Parents often find that their child from a hard place is prone to use manipulative and controlling behaviors. Watch as Dr. Karyn Purvis and Michael Monroe offer insights to help adoptive and foster parents better understand these behaviors and respond effectively.

Total Voice Control: Focusing on How You Say What You Say

Possibly one of the most practical and useful tools Dr. Karyn Purvis teaches parents is what she calls “Total Voice Control.” This tool equips parents to focus on how they use their own voice when interacting with their child.  Watch as Michael Monroe talks about how parents can use this tool to focus on how they say what they say, and as a result more effectively promote connection and understanding between themselves and their child.
 
Connection is at the heart of how God relates to us and how He has called parents to relate to their children. Watch as Dr. Karyn Purvis explains why it is important for adoptive and foster parents to always keep connection as their goal, regardless of the behaviors or challenges they are facing.
 
Children need a balance of nurture and structure in order to learn to trust and grow. Parents can provide this balance by learning to offer “yes’s” (nurture) as much as possible, along with the “no’s” (structure) that are invariably required to protect and teach their children.  Watch as Amy Monroe explains the importance of saying “yes” to your child (as much as possible).





Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Where Have All The Babies Gone?


pregnant2

A nurse serving at a rural hospital in Ethiopia wrote this heart-breaking article, which tells of a situation most of us would never even know about.  This was originally posted in March 2009. 

Where Have All The Babies Gone? In Ethiopia, this is a loaded question. Two to four babies die at this hospital every day. This is not from poor care, but because the situations brought to the hospital are so urgent and critical. It has been described that to be pregnant here, a young woman faces a possible death sentence. So the following are a few stories that we have lived through in the last few weeks.

One young woman’s story started a few weeks ago when she tried to self-abort her baby during the seventh month of pregnancy. She came to the hospital because the stick ruptured her membranes. Luckily, the baby was still intact, but needed much care since it was premature. Since she is only 17 and had gotten pregnant from a Chinese road worker, she was not interested in keeping her beautiful little boy. Every ferengi (foreigner) that went by her bed was solicited to adopt the child. Yesterday, she was discharged from the hospital. Her problem lies in the fact that she doesn’t have a job or place to stay, since she lost this while in the hospital. Two on our team found her a roommate (a young 18 yr old diabetic girl) and a place to stay. The girls filled it with the necessary household items, beds, bedding and baby supplies. So she had a wonderful place to bring her baby to yesterday. She is still not excited about motherhood, but is willing to try it for now. We are praying for her situation and her baby’s. *This birthmother eventually chose to relinquish her baby for adoption.


Another girl was admitted to the hospital who had taken some expensive medicine from a “nurse” to help her abort her 6 month pregnancy. She had gone into labor and was rushed to the hospital. This beautiful baby somehow lived through the ordeal and, to our amazement, was even crying (which showed us he might make it). But the mother neglected him and by the next day he had expired.

Kooleni also entered our hospital with an unwanted pregnancy. She had also attempted to self-abort, but the baby girl somehow lived. This little sweetie was .9 kilos (which is just under two pounds). She was the smallest baby that I had experienced in person. The mom had to be encouraged to care for the baby, almost every two hours. Her postpartum depression made her lack interest in the baby also. Since she didn’t breast feed the baby, a tube was inserted to feed the baby by hand. The team visited them 3 times a day to make sure the baby got fed. It was a miracle this week when Kooleni and her baby were discharged after their two-month hospital stay. They both went home happy, but the brain function of the baby is in question because of the initial insults she received these first two months of her life. What this baby endured would be difficult in an NICU in the states, but to live through this ordeal here is nothing short of a miracle.

Alametu, an 18 yr old, came into ER last week suffering from a septic infection that had caused her legs to swell (compartment syndrome) to the point where our surgeon had to slice both of her thighs (faciotomy) in an effort to save them. Unfortunately, she formed blood clots in both legs, and her left leg had to be amputated at the groin. In a few days, the other leg also became gangrenous clear to the hip. At this point, the doctors agreed that there was nothing more that they could do for her. We called Alametu’s father to the office to explain why his daughter was dying. We had to explain that his daughter had been pregnant that she had self-aborted with a dirty stick and that this had led to her infection and partial paralysis. He had no idea. So we talked to him about the amazing gift of forgiveness. How no matter what we have done, God forgives us and accepts us, and wants us to give this gift to others.

The hospital truck with a team member and his nursing students had the grim job of taking her home to die. The truck was driven by the accountant, whose job was to get her home without jarring her stretcher. Her cries of pain went silent as they all began to sing “Amazing Grace”. As they reached the end of the road, the nursing students and her neighbors carried her body on the stretcher to her house. Almost one hundred family and friends gathered around the house to pay their respects to this young woman.

A local young man informed us that he knows a woman that helps the girls in the community to abort their babies with a stick. He said that she is very busy, aborting at least 3 babies a day! When we heard this we were dumbfounded.

Where have all the babies gone? What is the value of a baby? You decide.

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalms 139:13,14


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We have partnered with local churches in several communities in Ethiopia to help support birthparents who cannot provide food and shelter for their children and to aid families willing to become guardian or adoptive families for orphaned children. Please visit our website to read more about how you can link arms with the body of Christ in Ethiopia to preserve families and prevent orphans:  





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Friday, September 14, 2012

Answering Questions from Friends, Family & Strangers


hand

How to Answer Awkward Questions About Adoption
@Adopting.org
When we adopt a child who looks different from us, we generally feel we can handle the stares and loss of privacy that go with the territory. We may find, however, that the frequent questions and comments of strangers and relatives sometimes annoy and worry us. At the heart of our anger and anxiety is the fear that our adopted child will be hurt by thoughtless questions, or that their older siblings, who look less exotic, will feel neglected, but this need not happen.


Helping Family Understand Adoption
@AdoptiveFamilies.com
”I heard somewhere that all adopted kids have problems," he announces in a booming voice. My wife and I look at each other in disbelief. This is not the first time Bruce has said something insensitive.

 
Adoption Basics for Family and Friends
@iVillage.com
After you've adopted, part of the joy of bringing home a child is sharing your happiness with other people who are important in your lives. So when friends and family make insensitive or even rude comments about adoption, you can really be caught off guard. Here are three simple things to remember before you respond.


Why White People Adopt Black Children
@mybrownbaby.com
African Americans have every reason to be suspicious of white people adopting black babies…. As an adoptive mom to two black children, and thus, the matriarch of a transracial family, I can testify that white privilege, prejudice, and stereotypes against black people still exist despite the number of people who claim to be colorblind. In addition to racial prejudices, my family is sometimes treated as second-class because we came together through adoption instead of biology. We have been asked horrendously nosy questions…


What you need to know about adoption, race and invisible special needs and were always afraid to ask!
@Delighting in Him
I know it is an area I am constantly prayerful about, as to how to be an ambassador for our lives, that are lived out before many, that we may reflect the One who lovingly adopts us.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Faith comes by HEARING

by Angie Allen
H.A.N.D.S. 2012 Mission Team Member


Audio Bibles!  It was an “ah-ha” moment for me as I mulled over and prayed over the events of my mission trip to Ethiopia with YWAM in October 2011.  So many dark homes, so much illiteracy, so many sick and bedridden people and so many hopeless faces.  What can I do to help?  What can I do to bring the hope of Jesus into these homes?  I can talk about Jesus with them- yes.  I can pray for them- yes.  But once I am gone what is left?  The home is still dark and because of the illiteracy, I can’t even leave them a Bible to keep the hope of Jesus alive in them.  I wrote in my journal as I thought: “They need to hear Jesus’ words”!  At that moment, I believe God put on my heart a burden to find a way to leave the hope of Jesus with them.  I wondered if there was a way to make a Bible they could hear instead of read.

Well, Good News!  There is a wonderful organization called “Faith Comes by Hearing” who has already created such a device.  Apparently this idea isn’t a new concept because they have Audio Bibles in 667 different languages!  They sell a unit called the “Proclaimer” and here is how it works:


  • It has a microchip with the New Testament in the native language.
  • It has a built-in battery that can be rechared using its own solar panel, by crank power or by plugging it in.
  • The battery can play for 15 hours.
  • The speaker is loud enough to be heard by groups of up to 300.

 
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Audio bible presented to the church at Korah

 
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The church at Bole Bulbula with Pastor Abdissa

 
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Received with great joy!

 
In August 2012 my husband and I went again with YWAM to Ethiopia and together our team was able to bring over 19 Amharic Audio Bibles or “Proclaimers”.  It was so amazing to be able to give these to the leaders and pastors of local churches.  Every time we turned it on to demonstrate how it worked, both smiles and eyes widened as the people heard the Word of God in their heart language.  In one church a female leader named Genet (meaning “Heaven”) told us that this gift was “a great wisdom”.  After we gave the “Proclaimer” to them they began singing, dancing, jumping and lifting the “Proclaimer” in the air in celebration and praise!  We are so thankful to God for such an amazing opportunity to share His Word!
 
chris and angie
Chris and Angie Allen

 
You can purchase an audio bible for $100 via our latest YWAM Ethiopia Gift Catalog and meet the great need for God’s Word to be heard in Ethiopia.


Monday, September 10, 2012

A Response to International Adoption Concerns – Part 5

by Joy Casey
Executive Director
Adoption Ministry of Youth With A Mission


______________________________________________________

What I want to accomplish more than anything else in discussing adoption concerns is to give a broader view of the dynamics of adoption. If one is diametrically opposed to adoption altogether, most likely nothing I say will ring true. If the reader is a mom who has had a less-than-stellar experience adopting a child overseas, she will naturally have a view of adoption based on her personal experience. Others have been dramatically influenced by media that conveys innuendos and allegations that may have slight elements of truth but are sensationalized and do not give an evenhanded picture. I have read many reports that simply were not factual and it was quite obvious what the agenda was: to cause alarm and make people afraid of adoption. Bear with me over the next couple of days as I attempt to bring some measure of balance to a subject that has become contentious.     ~Joy Casey
______________________________________________________

Part 5 of 5
I’ll finish this series of posts by responding to another statement that reflects what I have read about international adoption…

There are also children that are adopted that have family members that would willingly care for them if they could.

How true this is! In Ethiopia as in the U.S. there are many, many children being raised by extended family and I applaud them. Some children are placed for adoption internationally when there are extended family members in Ethiopia who would be willing to raise them if only their circumstances were different/better. There are several large and well-known ministries that have wonderful sponsorship programs that support families so they can take care of each other. These ministries are huge in scope, and yet they cannot meet everybody’s needs. It is unreasonable to think that the western world can give financially year after year to the majority of people in Ethiopia that live significantly below poverty level. Some can be helped this way, but there are others who are not reached by programs like this. 65% of the Ethiopian population lives in the countryside, and these sponsorship organizations only provide services to a radius of about 200 - 250 kilometers from the capitol city. What happens to the poor who live in the countryside?
 
MWM_1570
 
The first place the local government looks when there is a relinquishment is the extended family, but most times family members are stretched to the limit with their own families or are old or sick. The government recognizes these limitations and cannot force a grandmother or aunt to take a child. In some cases I would guess that if the family was financially compensated to do so, they would take the child being considered for adoption. But as stated previously, a lifetime stipend is an unrealistic goal given the depth and breadth of poverty in Ethiopia.
 
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Many of the statements that I’ve quoted by critics of international adoption are true and are said with compassion and concern for birth families in Ethiopia. I appreciate the heart of their message, but a ‘one size fits all’ solution is na├»ve and many assumptions are made that have not been seriously researched or thought through. What is said sounds good and reasonable, but not having been exposed to Ethiopia long enough to understand the extreme challenges of the poor nor having any experience with what birthmothers and fathers face daily, it actually dishonors the few and brave who take the very inconvenient and, in some cases, humiliating steps to see that their child is ensured a good future. (Please also read my post on Desperate Birthmothers which further describes the reality of life in Ethiopia for many women.)
 
I can’t confirm (but I am also savvy enough to not deny) that there are unscrupulous practices associated with adoption, both in the United States and in Ethiopia. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater! We need to do our due diligence to make sure that when a birth parent makes an adoption plan, it is their plan and no one else’s. There can be no encouragement, coercion or duplicity associated with adoption and parenting options need to be explored. All our relinquishing birthparents or guardians read or have read to them three pages outlining exactly what placing their child for adoption means and they have to sign the document of understanding. This is reviewed with them at least two times before the adoption is final. 
 
We honor a parent who has made a future plan for their child. Sometimes I don’t agree with their reasoning and sometimes I can even see a way out, but at the end of the day it is the parent’s decision and they are the ones that have to live with it. I will always validate these courageous parents, appreciating their circumstances and the sacrifice they are making.
 
______________________________________________________

You can read this entire series beginning here.

Joy Casey started Adoption Ministry of YWAM as a result of her many years working with YWAM’s maternity home, New Beginnings*. Ten years ago, Adoption Ministry was licensed as a child-placing agency in Washington State. The focus of the agency has always been on birthmothers/fathers and children. YWAM finds families for children, not children for families. There are no agency fees for domestic adoptions and all agency services are provided free of charge for both the relinquishing birth parent(s) and adoptive family. Joy has also been a partner in starting the first ever maternity home in Ethiopia called Living Hope. Living Hope is on the cusp of opening the first crisis pregnancy center in Ethiopia (complete with ultrasound machine) and there is a vibrant ministry to single mothers who choose life for their babies. Adoption Ministry has established four Widows and Orphans Homes in Ethiopia, three of them in very remote areas where there have never been any social services. Some of the children in these centers have been placed for adoption. Adoption Ministry 1:27 has also been developed to focus on orphan prevention and family restoration in Ethiopia.
*Over thirty years, 85% of the women living at New Beginnings single parent their children and 15% choose adoption.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Response to International Adoption Concerns – Part 4

by Joy Casey
Executive Director
Adoption Ministry of Youth With A Mission


______________________________________________________

What I want to accomplish more than anything else in discussing adoption concerns is to give a broader view of the dynamics of adoption. If one is diametrically opposed to adoption altogether, most likely nothing I say will ring true. If the reader is a mom who has had a less-than-stellar experience adopting a child overseas, she will naturally have a view of adoption based on her personal experience. Others have been dramatically influenced by media that conveys innuendos and allegations that may have slight elements of truth but are sensationalized and do not give an evenhanded picture. I have read many reports that simply were not factual and it was quite obvious what the agenda was: to cause alarm and make people afraid of adoption. Bear with me over the next couple of days as I attempt to bring some measure of balance to a subject that has become contentious.    ~Joy Casey
______________________________________________________

Part 4 of 5

I’ll continue by responding to another statement that reflects what I have read…



“As a mom, I know that mothers don't give up their children unless they feel there is no other choice; none of them want to. This is absolutely true and I know all mothers would agree with me.
 
With a few exceptions, I think it is generally true that mothers relinquish because they feel they have no other choice. However, sometimes a young girl will place her baby for adoption for reasons that perhaps we adults might roll our eyes over. Our domestic adoption agency has worked with several young birthmothers who choose adoption because of plans that I know have little chance of success, but in their minds a baby does not fit into their designs of being the next Olympic champion or a cheerleader for professional football or her goal of being a discovered singer. All of these young ladies could get help from welfare and in a few of the cases parents would help, but those props were declined to follow their dreams. In Ethiopia an adoption choice is not usually made for such esoteric reasons.
 
Poverty on a level we can scarcely comprehend is not the only reason but it certainly is the biggest reason that some parents in third world countries place their children for adoption. This is tragic beyond words. Being one of the desperately poor in Ethiopia means little food and sometimes very little shelter. If a pregnant mother cannot get enough to eat, her child is born underweight and weak and she cannot produce enough milk to nourish a baby.
 
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A family identified for our AM 1:27 project was a classic example of this. A mother had a 5-year-old girl that was so malnourished she was the size of a 2-year-old with a haunted face. Even with decent nutrition I doubt very much that this child will ever be normal, physically or intellectually. It broke my heart. When I learned that this mother had twin 6-month-old boys at home, I panicked!

 
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She was sobbing, admitting she did not have enough milk to nurse them and did not know what to do. She had come to ask her pastor to find an adoptive family for them. Thankfully, AM 1:27 could intervene and we gave her formula, bottles and bottled water from our orphanage for a couple of months and stocked her up with food. Because we had a program in place, we found a family in America to “adopt” her family so every month she is ensured food so she can build up her strength and produce enough milk to nourish her little boys. But how many mothers are in this same situation and don’t have an NGO to come to their rescue? How many children waste away and grow up dull and weak because their mother could not get enough food? I would never encourage a mother to look at adoption, but I also would never condemn a mother for doing so. I have thought long and hard about this, and have come to the conclusion that I would move heaven and earth to place my child where I knew he/she would be taken care of if my circumstances were such that I could not provide the basic needs of safety, food and shelter. Wouldn’t you?
 
A woman will place her child for adoption because she has a chance to marry and her future husband will not accept a child that is not his; I have personally worked with women who have had to make this heart wrenching choice. I have also worked with a few mothers who simply did not want to be a parent at this time in their lives. In Ethiopia and the U.S., there are some birthmothers who have no idea who impregnated them and do not want to do what it takes to raise a child; they do not want that burden. Sometimes they already have a child who is being cared for by somebody else. It is extremely hard for us moms to understand this. Most of us are stable, have husbands, love being mothers and are equipped to tackle the world. But working with birthmothers for thirty years and getting to know their perspective, I understand that this is not everybody’s life or psyche.
 
Both here in America and in Ethiopia, I hear variations of this amazing statement from birth mothers and fathers that I visit: “This family [referring to the adoptive family] is who I wish I could be. I am glad my child gets a mom and dad like them,” or, (and this one never fails to bring tears to my eyes) “I don’t want my baby to grow up like me.” Over and over again I hear that the mother was raised as an orphan or in the foster system/orphanage or without a father for other reasons, and she desperately wants her child to have a mother and a father. To me, that is placing the needs of her child above her own emotions and making a plan that she feels is the best for her child.
 
Another young birthmom in Ethiopia wanted desperately to go to school. She herself had no parents and knew that if she kept her baby boy she would never be able to get the education she wanted. Others cannot return to their village with a child. They would be completely ostracized and cut off and certainly no one would ever marry them. One sweet, sweet birthmother’s husband died when she was five months pregnant. She had three older children. She gave the oldest to a neighbor as a servant because she knew he would at least eat. The next two ended up on the streets begging, and when she gave birth to her daughter, she immediately asked that another family raise her because it was already proven that she could not feed the children she had. Absolutely she would have kept her baby girl if her circumstances were different. If her husband had lived, if she didn’t have health problems, or if she had an education or a trade, things would be different. But her reality was destitution and she did not want to watch her daughter die.
 
We have had many fathers come to our orphanage doors with a limp infant in their arms begging us to take the child because, try as they could, they could not provide good food for their baby whose mother died in child birth. One father fed his baby sugar water for a week (the baby almost died) and another made a gruel of teff (Ethiopian wheat) and water and gave to his baby girl but saw that she was fading quickly. Other women could not or would not nurse another child and the father felt helpless. He turned to adoption to provide for the child he loved.
 
(At another time, I will tackle the question: “Shouldn’t the parents who find themselves in difficult situations simply put their child in an orphanage for however many years it takes to pull themselves up out of poverty … then bring the child back in their home and finish raising him/her?” It is an interesting proposal!)
 
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You can read Part 5 here.
You can read from the beginning of this series here.

Joy Casey started Adoption Ministry of YWAM as a result of her many years working with YWAM’s maternity home, New Beginnings*. Ten years ago, Adoption Ministry was licensed as a child-placing agency in Washington State. The focus of the agency has always been on birthmothers/fathers and children. YWAM finds families for children, not children for families. There are no agency fees for domestic adoptions and all agency services are provided free of charge for both the relinquishing birth parent(s) and adoptive family. Joy has also been a partner in starting the first ever maternity home in Ethiopia called Living Hope. Living Hope is on the cusp of opening the first crisis pregnancy center in Ethiopia (complete with ultrasound machine) and there is a vibrant ministry to single mothers who choose life for their babies. Adoption Ministry has established four Widows and Orphans Homes in Ethiopia, three of them in very remote areas where there have never been any social services. Some of the children in these centers have been placed for adoption. Adoption Ministry 1:27 has also been developed to focus on orphan prevention and family restoration in Ethiopia.
*Over thirty years, 85% of the women living at New Beginnings single parent their children and 15% choose adoption.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Response to International Adoption Concerns – Part 3

by Joy Casey
Executive Director
Adoption Ministry of Youth With A Mission


______________________________________________________

What I want to accomplish more than anything else in discussing adoption concerns is to give a broader view of the dynamics of adoption. If one is diametrically opposed to adoption altogether, most likely nothing I say will ring true. If the reader is a mom who has had a less-than-stellar experience adopting a child overseas, she will naturally have a view of adoption based on her personal experience. Others have been dramatically influenced by media that conveys innuendos and allegations that may have slight elements of truth but are sensationalized and do not give an evenhanded picture. I have read many reports that simply were not factual and it was quite obvious what the agenda was: to cause alarm and make people afraid of adoption. Bear with me over the next couple of days as I attempt to bring some measure of balance to a subject that has become contentious.     ~Joy Casey
______________________________________________________

Part 3 of 5

Let me take a few statements that I have read and talk about their implications...


Of the 5 million orphans that UNICEF says there are in Ethiopia, a much smaller number are actually full orphans truly in need of a family.

I have thought long and hard about this statement and my husband and I have had some pretty interesting conversations regarding who should be considered an orphan. I grapple with the definition of “orphan” and I find its meaning differs depending on its context. Our agency places children in strong families living in the State of Washington when a birthmother and father make an adoption decision for their child. None of these children meet the definition of orphan in the traditional sense. The child’s mother and father are alive and well and simply determine that they are not in a place to parent and can choose an adoptive family for their baby/child. I know some would say this is a terrible thing to do, but nevertheless thousands of children here in the U.S. are legally placed for adoption every year simply because the biological parents determined to do so. They do not even have to have a good reason to make an adoption plan. They can just choose adoption as a parenting option; the judge does not ask for any explanation.

In international adoption, the bar is set much, much higher. In Ethiopia, strict parameters are enforced that allow fewer mothers (more leniency for birth fathers) to choose adoption for their child. I am a bit confused as to why it is so acceptable in the U.S. for anyone to make an adoption plan (married couples or single parents) and yet, in a country where things are much tougher and the social stigma of an unplanned pregnancy results in social isolation, people are outraged that any birth parent should consider such an option.
 

 
It is highly likely that of the 5 to 6 million children UNICEF declares are orphans in Ethiopia, a smaller number are full orphans where both mother and father are deceased, although I have not been able to find a statistic for this. The premise being asserted by many is that only children who do not have a living mother and father should be considered orphans and only those children should be considered for adoption. Some even go a bit further and state that only full orphans are truly in need of a family.

 

 
Of the 300,000 children that UNICEF says live on the streets of the major cities in Ethiopia, how many of these children meet the strict criteria of “orphan”? That is hard to say, but after working at the YWAM home for street children in Addis, I can vouch that most of the children can identify a parent or at least some family member. I have heard stories that would curl your toes of parents or other family members forcing their children onto the hazardous streets or into the hyena-infested countryside to live because they could not or would not care for them. Do these children need a family? Most definitely! The overwhelming majority of these children are not adopted and grow up without education and forced to beg or prostitute themselves in order to eat. Many fall into the dark underworld of criminals, live underground like animals, and are addicted to whatever they can find to dull their pain. No one knows how many young children and adolescent girls and boys are grabbed off the street and sold into slavery, but that is the stark reality for Ethiopia’s children who are out from under the protection of a family.

 
Many children who are adopted have a mom or a dad that would like to care for them if they only had financial support.

The overwhelming majority of the time this is the case. I do not know exactly how many children of the 1,700 who are adopted from Ethiopia in a year are relinquished, how many are abandoned, and how many are full orphans. But I can give you what has been the experience in our orphanages, which I will assume is pretty average. The largest category of children adopted is abandoned children, then relinquished, then bona fide full orphans (where the death of both parents can be proven and who are usually older children unless a single mother dies in childbirth). In most of the cases with full orphans, there are other living family members in Ethiopia who are unable (and sometimes unwilling) to care for the child and one of those family members becomes the child’s guardian in order to move forward with adoption.
 
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Most of the time the birth parent (especially a birth mother) parents her child no matter what her circumstances. It is a sliver of the population of single or widowed moms who chooses an adoption plan, and in most cases that I have been involved in, it is because of significant challenges that she will do so. Should she be judged for looking to adoption as a solution? Can we who are affluent and stable and looking at the world through a Western lens begin to comprehend what forces culminate to propel a mother to perform self-abortion with a stick or abandon her newborn baby in the jungle or hospital or proactively make an adoption plan for her child? Should a mother who takes the time and thought to ask that her child be placed in an adoptive family be judged as heartless… or worse?
 
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I have spent my adult life working with hundreds of women facing an unplanned pregnancy and walking them through decision making. When I started working in Ethiopia, I was surprised to find that pregnant women there had very similar emotions and reasons for wanting another family to raise their child and, just like in the U.S., relinquishing for adoption is a bitter-sweet choice. I found myself in familiar territory helping young women struggle with hard decisions, holding them as they grieved their loss, and honoring them for giving their child the stability of family they could never provide. I have followed up with every one of those mothers and have seen them come to a place of peace and even joy as they get updates from the adoptive family and pictures that show their children happy and well adjusted.
 
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In many of the scenarios the mothers would have parented their children if they had a network of social and economic support. Living Hope maternity home gives that kind of support by providing a place for the women and their babies to live and trains them in a trade. When they are stable, several mothers are moved into a house together and a nanny is hired to care for the children while the mothers work. These women know that their chance of a man marrying them is almost non-existent and they must make a life for themselves and their baby. It is a difficult road, but with this level of support they can do it. Only one mother from the maternity home has made an adoption plan for her baby and her decision was not because she did not have assistance but for other personal reasons. This level of care only affects a few and cannot, unfortunately, be replicated for the majority.
______________________________________________________

You can read Part 4 here.
You can read from the beginning of this series here.

Joy Casey started Adoption Ministry of YWAM as a result of her many years working with YWAM’s maternity home, New Beginnings*. Ten years ago, Adoption Ministry was licensed as a child-placing agency in Washington State. The focus of the agency has always been on birthmothers/fathers and children. YWAM finds families for children, not children for families. There are no agency fees for domestic adoptions and all agency services are provided free of charge for both the relinquishing birth parent(s) and adoptive family. Joy has also been a partner in starting the first ever maternity home in Ethiopia called Living Hope. Living Hope is on the cusp of opening the first crisis pregnancy center in Ethiopia (complete with ultrasound machine) and there is a vibrant ministry to single mothers who choose life for their babies. Adoption Ministry has established four Widows and Orphans Homes in Ethiopia, three of them in very remote areas where there have never been any social services. Some of the children in these centers have been placed for adoption. Adoption Ministry 1:27 has also been developed to focus on orphan prevention and family restoration in Ethiopia.
*Over thirty years, 85% of the women living at New Beginnings single parent their children and 15% choose adoption.
.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Response to International Adoption Concerns – Part 2

by Joy Casey
Executive Director
Adoption Ministry of Youth With A Mission

 
______________________________________________________
 
What I want to accomplish more than anything else in discussing adoption concerns is to give a broader view of the dynamics of adoption. If one is diametrically opposed to adoption altogether, most likely nothing I say will ring true. If the reader is a mom who has had a less-than-stellar experience adopting a child overseas, she will naturally have a view of adoption based on her personal experience. Others have been dramatically influenced by media that conveys innuendos and allegations that may have slight elements of truth but are sensationalized and do not give an evenhanded picture. I have read many reports that simply were not factual and it was quite obvious what the agenda was: to cause alarm and make people afraid of adoption. Bear with me over the next couple of days as I attempt to bring some measure of balance to a subject that has become contentious. I will take a few statements that I have read and will talk about their implications.    
       ~Joy Casey
______________________________________________________
 
Part 2 of 5      Let’s work together to problem-solve


Ethiopia is home to over 5 million orphans. Try to wrap your mind around that number: 5 million. I can’t do it. I think of the largest sports stadium packed to the brim and this would only be a fraction of Ethiopia’s orphaned children. Keep in mind that this statistic is given by UNICEF and the latest figure from their office has been closer to 6 million children in Ethiopia without a family to care for them. The one thing that is true about children is that they cannot be put on a shelf for a later time. They are constantly growing and developing and they need food, love and care today. The world should be scrambling to find an answer for these children, and I propose that there is not just one solution. Can we possibly consider several ways to make a dent in a huge problem? How can the needs of millions of children be met?


IMG_5512

International Adoption
International adoption is most definitely not the answer. In 2011 about 1,700 children from Ethiopia were adopted into American homes. That is only .00003% of the children that UNICEF labels as needing parental oversight. No, international adoption is not the answer. It can be a solution, but certainly not the answer.
It is a little baffling to me that so much negative attention is focused on the “large numbers” of children being adopted internationally, when in fact the numbers are miniscule compared to the need. Just because it is difficult to adopt internationally does not mean that there are no children needing homes. It means that governments just make it hard. It is necessary to have high standards and rigorous oversight in any adoption, but some of the restrictions countries put on adoption and adoptive families are outlandish and capricious. It would be wonderful if leaders could have one goal in mind: get vulnerable children into stable homes and do it with ethical oversight!

Domestic Adoption
I have been impressed with the Kidmia Foundation. They are seeking Ethiopian couples to adopt the children needing families. When I go back to Ethiopia this fall I am meeting with the Kidmia staff in Addis Ababa because I love this thrust! More than anything, I would like to see a huge number of orphaned children absorbed into the Ethiopian culture. Perhaps as Ethiopia’s economic situation becomes more stable (the country’s economy is growing fast) and as people become less desperate, we will see more and more in-country adoptions. This past year, Kidmia finalized six adoptions and I rejoiced over every one of them.

We are working closely with four churches and the pastors of those churches have attended the Kidmia Seed Adoption conferences held in Ethiopia with the purpose of going back to their congregations to ignite a passion for adoption in their church. Several of the pastors have adopted children themselves. We are hoping that we will have more and more success in educating and recruiting strong Christian Ethiopians to adopt the needy children in their midst. Just this past year we thought we had two infants placed in domestic homes. The babies were gone for about a week when they were brought back to the orphanage due to a variety of problems, the major ones being lack of preparation and commitment and unclear expectations. Kidmia is addressing some of these issues in their training and is one reason why I hope to learn more from their experience. Domestic adoption is an extremely good option, but not the solution for 5-6 million children. Domestic adoption can only address the problem in very small numbers at this point in time in Ethiopia’s history, but I am a strong advocate for this solution.

Foster Homes
UNICEF is pushing for more foster homes for orphans and their literature says that they have set up a network of 5,000 foster families in Ethiopia. This, too, is a viable solution. I have a few reservations about the government overseeing this, though. Traditionally, adopted children or foster children are treated more like servants in a home rather than full-fledged members of the household. Ethiopia does not yet have the infrastructure to monitor the foster homes for abuse or neglect. The government also does not have the monetary capability of financially supporting foster families unless they are underwritten by UNICEF. However, better a foster home than no home and I expect to see the number of foster homes rise.
 
Ebise Bekele & mother
 
In our Adoption Ministry 1:27 program (AM 1:27) we are not only encouraging adoption within the church but also strong, stable families who will take in an orphan as a foster child with AM 1:27 supporting that foster family. The Case Manager buys the extra food and clothing needed for the family to be able to feed one more mouth and the Case Manager checks in a couple times a month to see that the child is being well cared for. Temporary foster families are a good solution, but not as good as full-fledged adoption. Every child yearns for a family he can call his own, and being a foster kid does not give the same sense of permanency as adoption. But foster care is better than the streets or, in most cases, an orphanage.

______________________________________________________

You can read Part 3 here.
You can read from the beginning here.

Joy Casey started Adoption Ministry of YWAM as a result of her many years working with YWAM’s maternity home, New Beginnings*. Ten years ago, Adoption Ministry was licensed as a child-placing agency in Washington State. The focus of the agency has always been on birthmothers/fathers and children. YWAM finds families for children, not children for families. There are no agency fees for domestic adoptions and all agency services are provided free of charge for both the relinquishing birth parent(s) and adoptive family. Joy has also been a partner in starting the first ever maternity home in Ethiopia called Living Hope. Living Hope is on the cusp of opening the first crisis pregnancy center in Ethiopia (complete with ultrasound machine) and there is a vibrant ministry to single mothers who choose life for their babies. Adoption Ministry has established four Widows and Orphans Homes in Ethiopia, three of them in very remote areas where there have never been any social services. Some of the children in these centers have been placed for adoption. Adoption Ministry 1:27 has also been developed to focus on orphan prevention and family restoration in Ethiopia.
*Over thirty years, 85% of the women living at New Beginnings single parent their children and 15% choose adoption.
.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Response to International Adoption Concerns – Part 1

by Joy Casey
Executive Director
Adoption Ministry of Youth With A Mission


Joy Casey started Adoption Ministry of YWAM as a result of her many years working with YWAM’s maternity home, New Beginnings*. Ten years ago, Adoption Ministry was licensed as a child-placing agency in Washington State. The focus of the agency has always been on birthmothers/fathers and children. YWAM finds families for children, not children for families. There are no agency fees for domestic adoptions and all agency services are provided free of charge for both the relinquishing birth parent(s) and adoptive family. Joy has also been a partner in starting the first ever maternity home in Ethiopia called Living Hope. Living Hope is on the cusp of opening the first crisis pregnancy center in Ethiopia (complete with ultrasound machine) and there is a vibrant ministry to single mothers who choose life for their babies. Adoption Ministry has established four Widows and Orphans Homes in Ethiopia, three of them in very remote areas where there have never been any social services. Some of the children in these centers have been placed for adoption. Adoption Ministry 1:27 has also been developed to focus on orphan prevention and family restoration in Ethiopia.
*Over thirty years, 85% of the women living at New Beginnings single parent their children and 15% choose adoption.
 
______________________________________________________
 
What I want to accomplish more than anything else in discussing adoption concerns is to give a broader view of the dynamics of adoption. If one is diametrically opposed to adoption altogether, most likely nothing I say will ring true. If the reader is a mom who has had a less-than-stellar experience adopting a child overseas, she will naturally have a view of adoption based on her personal experience. Others have been dramatically influenced by media that conveys innuendos and allegations that may have slight elements of truth but are sensationalized and do not give an evenhanded picture. I have read many reports that simply were not factual and it was quite obvious what the agenda was: to cause alarm and make people afraid of adoption. Bear with me over the next couple of days as I attempt to bring some measure of balance to a subject that has become contentious. I will take a few statements that I have read and will talk about their implications.    ~Joy Casey
______________________________________________________

Part 1 of 5

My oh my, but there are a lot of words floating out there about adoption, and to my utter amazement many of those words are questioning the ethics of adoption in general and specifically international adoption. What really pricked my curiosity was that many of the words I have read come from great adoptive moms! That grabbed my attention and I have attempted to really listen. I have two adopted children from the United States and have worked in adoption (domestic and international) for thirty years, so I admit to having a bit of tunnel vision when it comes to adoption. It has been more than interesting to read articles by well-meaning moms espousing their opinions about adoption.
 
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My tendency would be to read their ideas, analysis and solutions and to just store them up in my heart. But many voices are being raised saying that adopting internationally is wrong at its core and an anti-adoption climate is building because of it. Is this a good thing? Some would say that yes, it is; adoptions should be stopped. Others say that adoptions need to be limited only to children who have no living parents or extended family. It has been suggested that a birthparent’s circumstances should not play into an adoption decision, which would mean that if a woman gets pregnant, she should step up to the plate and parent no matter what.
 
I would like to respond with my own perspective based on my experience with adoption both domestically and in Ethiopia. I feel it is important to comment on a burgeoning philosophy that many are promoting about adoption ethics, birth parents and extended family members that I feel could use a little more input. I realize that I am stepping into an arena that is highly charged politically and emotionally right now and that some of my experiences and observations might be different than the emerging world view of adoption.
 
Say What?
I have read alarming headlines that accuse the “international adoption trade” of being fueled by America’s greed for children; in other words, international adoption exists only to satisfy an itch in the western world. This premise would be disgusting if it were true; however, with approximately 178 million children in our world needing families and only a small percentage of those children adopted into U.S. families, it is hard for me to reconcile that statement with the facts*. I also recall some of the fantastic families that have sacrificed so much to offer a home for a child and are working incredibly hard to provide love, stability and a bright future to “one” of those millions of children, and I simply cannot take such a jaded view.
 
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As any adoptive parent will tell you, adopting internationally as well as parenting a child that has not been with you since birth is not a walk in the park. It is hard, it is expensive, and it is not for the faint of heart. It is true that there are many families in America that want to adopt either domestically or internationally and there are always more families that would welcome a child in their home than there are children available. But having worked extensively with adoptive families for decades, my experience has been that the motivation of most are altruistic and it is the big hearts that American families have that lead them to embrace the less fortunate. I count it a privilege to walk alongside such selfless and dedicated couples, and I am glad that my fellow countrymen want to embrace children here at home and abroad.
*9,319 children from other countries were adopted in 2011; or, 5 out of every 10,000 children who needed families received homes in America.
 
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You can read Part 2 here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

This is the day the Lord has made!

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The team of nine piled out of the bus loaded down with carnival and VBS supplies. This day was what they had been planning for over the past months, and the group was energized with anticipation of sharing God’s Word with children in Ethiopia.  For about one-half mile the group wound their way along a path that took them through cultivated fields and pastures and through a thicket of trees and bushes that opened up to a small African village dotted with traditional round houses. They were greeted by Pastor Mulay and a multitude of excited children who were expecting “ferengi” to come to their village church.

While Pastor Mark set up the carnival, Chris Allen got out his guitar and started leading the young voices in a familiar song:

This is the Day
This is the day (repeat 2x)
Yeche Ken Nat
That the Lord has made. (repeat 2x)
Geta Yeserat
We will rejoice (repeat 2x)
Dese-Yeblen
And be glad in it. (repeat 2x)
(H) Aset Enadreg
This is the day that the Lord has made.
Yeche Ken Nat Geta Yeserat
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Dese-Yeblen (H) Aset Enadreg
This is the day (repeat 2x) (Hey!)
Yeche Ken Nat
That the Lord has made.
Geta Yeserat

Indeed this was the day the Lord had made! The parable of the sower was next, a story that these agrarian children could relate to, and they were each given seed packets to gaily decorate with stickers. The team made prior arrangements for a woman to make lunch for the 120 children and this was a huge treat and they eagerly mopped up every drop of their wat with injera.
 
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In the afternoon the story the team shared was the woman at the well, another common scene in their lives. The village children were mesmerized with the story acted out on a flannel board.
 
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The carnival was like nothing these children had ever experienced and they delighted in the bean bag toss, pin the tail on the donkey (they thought this hilarious), bowling using water bottles, a fishing game and balloon darts. The children were divided into six groups to make a craft, and this was a good time to give attention to individual children.

It was a weary crew that packed up supplies and, accompanied by many new friends, trekked to the van to head back to civilization, a nice meal, and bed.
 
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Over the course of the two weeks the HANDS team (Helping A Neighbor Develop and Serve) was in Ethiopia, they ministered to about 500 youngsters in four different church settings. Each VBS group received a new shirt from the team and, along with the parable of the sower and woman at the well, the story of creation was a huge hit. The children were delighted with the props and enthusiastically participated in acting out the stories. Songs and games and crafts and snacks rounded out fun-filled days for little ones who have never experienced such child-centered activities. In the future, our Mission Director (a former children’s pastor) wants to offer teaching to the pastoral staff of the churches Adoption Ministry partners with about the spiritual capacity of children and how to minister to this unique age.


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