Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kay Warren on Orphan Care and Adoption

I highly recommend Kay Warren's book 'Dangerous Surrender: What Happens When You Say Yes To God' in which she challenges readers "to engage with devastating situations and surrender themselves to loving others—particularly those who may be considered outcasts—in the name of Christ."

Kay made a life-changing trip to Africa in 2003 and, as a result, has taken up the cause of the orphan while passionately urging others in the body of Christ to do the same. Certainly anyone who has traveled to Ethiopia will also be faced with how they will now live, knowing the devastating plight of the millions of orphans there.

In the two podcasts linked below, you will hear interviews with Kay as she very passionately tells of God's command in James 1:27 to care for orphans and of the spiritual implications of adoption. The first interview is almost an hour long; the second is only 30 minutes. You can download the podcasts to your computer or mp3 player to listen at a later time or you can listen right at your computer. However you do it, LISTEN! You will be blessed, challenged and encouraged.

Kay Warren : Catalyst Podcast - Orphan Care

Kay Warren: Focus on the Family Podcast - Orphan Care: Accepting the Call

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Try to imagine what goes on in the mind of a child suddenly living in a foreign culture with all there is to take in, react to and see for the very first time. Add to that a past that included poverty, instability and great loss.

One of our adopting moms made this comment:
It is so good to read about others' struggles and joys and to learn from them. Of course, like every adoptive parent, I know my tendency is to think "Well, it won't happen to me....from everything I've heard about our boys we won't go thru this"...but that is such a lie I tell myself and I constantly find myself checking my thoughts and attitudes on that. Mainly because we're walking the journey of healing one child from RAD... and even though I had done research on attachment before we brought our daughter home, I think in the back of my mind I thought "Good info but I'm sure we won't go thru this."

Below are some links to several blog posts, written by seasoned adoptive parents and those dealing with attachment issues for the first time. All are honest (I'm so grateful for that!) and will hopefully give you a few insights into dealing with attachment, trauma and adjusting.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is Love Enough?

I hope many of you have made it a priority to read Melissa Fay Greene's book "There Is No Me Without You." It's a book that every family adopting from Ethiopia should read. It is the story of a middle-aged Ethiopian widow whose home became a refuge for hundreds of orphans. Melissa knew Haregewoin Teferra and wrote this beautiful and heart-stirring story of her heart for Ethiopia's children. If you haven't read it - even if you're not adopting - please get it from your library or bookstore.

On her blog, Melissa posted a wonderful response to a letter from a woman considering adoption from Ethiopia...

Dear Melissa:
I am greatly touched by your experiences. My husband, my six year-old daughter and I would love to adopt from Ethiopia, but our social worker thinks that a child from Africa would not feel comfortable in our Southern California home because there are not enough black children in the neighborhood, although I know of at least five families with adopted children from Africa... beautiful, warm, well-adjusted children. Is love not enough?
Thank you for your time and consideration, SG (who gave permission to publish)

My reply:
I think love gets you most of the way there, but connections with other people of color, especially with Ethiopians, are vital.

Picture an over-turned world, your six-year-old daughter orphaned, all extended family gone, a kind couple with one child from central Ethiopia adopting her. There are no Americans, no white people at all in the village, but they are a kind and loving couple that says color doesn't matter to them. "We're color-blind," they say.

What would you want for your daughter?

You'd want her to be adopted by these people, rather than grow up alone in a California orphanage. But perhaps you'd be grateful if the couple would search out Americans in the vicinity; hire an American babysitter to speak to your daughter in English and prepare Pop Tarts and macaroni-and-cheese and bring over Sesame Street videos...

Read the rest of the letter at Melissa's blog here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book Reports

We thought it would be a great idea to share some personal recommendations of books about adoption - international adoption in particular - so that families have more resources that have been checked out by other adopting families.

To get us started today, one of our adoptive moms who already adopted a little girl and is going to be adopting a sibling group of boys, shares her insights on a few books...

I just finished Parenting Your Adopted Older Child by Brenda McCreight. Much of it is written as if you're adopting from the Foster Care System...but there is still much to be gleaned from it for international adoptions. I bought and read it thinking of the boys, but it's very useful information for those even adopting infants who will one day be an "older adopted child". There were several places I thought "this is good information for me to know for Anna as she gets older." There is a great section on how to foster attachment and bonding with older children, a section on how to help older children find their identity in your family..and a REALLY important section on the "oops response." I think this is a really great read for anyone adopting but especially important for anyone adopting a child over age 2-3 yrs old.

After the Dream Comes True by Michelle Gardner. I bought this book while we were waiting for Anna and I'm going back and re-reading the whole book because I think it has some really important issues to think over. I think this is a very "real" book and I can relate to alot of what she writes about since we've already experienced one adoption and the ups and downs that go with it.

Before You Were Mine by Susan TeBos and Carissa Woodwyk. I just picked this up this weekend but am already SO glad I did. It is a Biblical perspective on writing your child's lifebook. I've searched and searched for help on writing Anna's lifebook and have never found anything I really liked. I'm just 5 chapters into it and am so relieved to have found it. This is what I've been searching for for so long. It's not just a "why you should do this" book but a "how to" book as well....and on top of that it helps you weave Biblical truths into your child's story...because after all, GOD is the one who weaves the story and He is the One who has grafted this child into our family just like He grafts us into His family.

Learning the Dance of Attachment by Holly Van Gulden. This is a hard book to find but I think it's a 'must have' in every adopted parents' library. I really do. It is what our Attachment Counselor asked us to read when we started therapy with Anna. It is such an easy read and quite a short book...but it explains the steps of attachment and then gives examples of a child missing one of those stages. For example, our therapist was fairly certain Anna didn't have permanence nor constancy. As we read the book it was so easy for us to see...sure enough...yep, those are Anna's exact behaviors and those are symptoms of permanence or constancy. What I really like about the book is that at the end of each chapter there is a chart of the behaviors/symptoms of a child with that issue the chapter covered, examples of reactions parents shouldn't have, reactions they should have and games to play with the child to help them develop the issues they're struggling with. ie: Anna struggled with permanence so 1 really great game for her is for me to hide myself under a blanket in front of her and then her to "find me"...and then we've been able to elevate that up to regular hide and seek. (To order Learning the Dance of Attachment, call 715-386-5550, e-mail

I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak. This is a child's board book...but I SO highly recommend it for anyone adopting. Obviously we've dealt alot with attachment issues so this book really helps a child understand you love them - all of them. Each page has 1 sentence about what a parent loves about their child...I love your happy side...I love your sad side...I love your silly side...I love your mad side...I love your hair...I love your eyes... This has really helped Anna to understand I love ALL of her, not just her when she is happy. I love her even when she is naughty.

I Wished For You, An Adoption Story by Marianne Richmond. Beautiful watercolor illustrations go along with a sweet story about a mama bear who waited, prayed and wished for her baby bear. The baby bear asks mama lots of questions that I think young adopted children have... and I love how Mama Bear answers the questions. I sobbed reading it to my biological daughter and haven't even attempted to read it to Anna yet (we just bought this one!). My husband had to read it to her the other night cuz I knew I wouldn't be able to make it through. :)

There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene. I think this is almost a 'must-read' for anyone adopting from Africa, Ethiopia specifically, as it really helped me understand the true plight these people are experiencing... especially those plagued by HIV/AIDS.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thank You Operation Giggle!

Sherri Roe, a wife and mother who listens to God and acts on what He says to do, began Operation Giggle as a way to provide Christmas gifts for orphans in China. The overwhelming response from her blog meant that she needed to find more needy kids to help! God led her to our ministry and what He has done as a result is nothing less than amazing! Our ministry director, Joy Casey, recently went to Ethiopia and was able to deliver many of the gifts donated by Operation Giggle's many donors. Here is Joy's summary of that experience...

I pinch myself sometimes. How did I get chosen to give out gifts to 56 children, widows and orphanage staff? But that is exactly what I got to do thanks to the efforts of Sherri Roe of Operation Giggle and all the wonderful, generous people who put together incredible gift packages for two YWAM orphanages in Ethiopia. The ingenuity and thoughtfulness was touching and the recipients so joyful. I received hugs and kisses on behalf of all the people who put their money, time and creativity into gifts for those in Ethiopia who have very, very little.

I wish I could personally thank and hug each person who gave a gift. But let me highlight just a couple of stories. YWAM has a feeding and sponsorship program in a small village. For a year we have provided flour and a small amount of money to twelve very poor widows and eight children are sponsored at $30 a month. We gathered the widows and orphans in the tiny church and watched the children shyly come forward to take their precious gift in both hands and bow in thanks while their mother or caregiver was given food. A brother and sister from Arizona put together fun packages for two children. Emeline, age 9, bought for Endale, age 8 and Luke, age 6, bought for Besufekad, age 2. The Ziploc bags were full of many fun and practical things and the children also included a picture of themselves with their packages. I was so impressed with the thoughtfulness of their gifts and I also thought how much fun their mother had helping her young charges think of ways to bless another child on the other side of the world who is lucky if he eats one good meal a day and has something to wear on his feet.

The widows at the Widows and Orphans Home were almost the most delightful to give gifts to. They were so expectant and thrilled with every little thing. Whoever gave the flashlight and batteries …. kudos to you! That was a huge hit!

The generosity of my fellow Americans amazes me. Many of you gave $25 to be used for food or to provide practical help to orphans. A little over $1,000 was sent to be used for Ethiopian Christmas gifts or special food. We were able to buy one new outfit and a new pair of shoes for 70 children and put money in the food budget of two orphanages for a nice Christmas dinner. The children’s eyes sparkled as they opened their gift at a restaurant reserved for their celebration and were delighted when served a piece of Christmas cake, a very special treat.

Operation Giggle is rightly named! Smiles, giggles, laughter were the dominant emotions that this outpouring of love elicited. It was a Herculean effort on behalf of Operation Giggle to coordinate this special Christmas for the children and widows YWAM cares for in Ethiopia. It is impossible to say thank you enough. I am comforted by the words of scripture which says in many places and in many ways, Blessed are those who care for the weak …..

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Can't wait to see this movie! It's a documentary following four babies from first breath to first steps. From Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo.

I love the message these glimpses into daily life bring - God's beautiful creations, different in culture and environment yet so much the same. Hope. Love. Joy.

(I haven't previewed this film so I can't vouch for its content.)

Opening April 16, 2010.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Who could use a bit of encouragement and inspiration in this journey of adopting internationally? We hope these links will do just that!

Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia is privileged to work with some really amazing families. Several of our families have blogs chronicling God's work in their adoption journey...

Surrender: Trusting God for the finances to adopt

We Serve A Good God: Unexpected financial help

Attachment Forgetfulness: Working through insecurity

And then we have some other wonderful people to link arms with:

A Piece of My Heart: Kelly lives and works at our orphanage in Adama and writes about saying goodbye to six children as they are brought home to their forever families.

From Our Family to Yours: A very funny Christmas letter about the 'perfect' family - from a mom of eight kids (two adopted from Ethiopia).

How Can You Not?: Why would anyone adopt internationally?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Many Blessings in 2009

Here are just a few of the reasons we're praising God for His faithfulness! Meet five out of nineteen children who were brought home to their forever families in 2009...

Emmy Ruth Rodenbeck

Hudson Muse Neal

Blin Kalkbrenner

Daniel and David Averill

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