Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Future and A Hope


by Randy Averill
Daniel and David were two of the first children at the Widows and Orphans Home in Adama (Nazret). The biological brothers had been in other orphanages and had been disappointed watching other children be adopted while they stayed behind. But while they were in the YWAM facility, God called Randy & Sary-Jo to adopt them and bring them to Puyallup, Washington. The boys were old enough to understand what was happening, and to have lasting memories of what life as orphans in Ethiopia was like.

Our desire as parents is to raise our children to know and love the Lord. To that end, we emphasize the importance of putting others first. Daniel & David use the occasion of their birthdays, which both fall in October, to raise money for the orphanage they used to call home.
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They invite friends, family, classmates, teammates – virtually everybody they know – to join them at the park. The invitation requests that people consider making a donation to Adoption Ministry of YWAM in lieu of birthday gifts.
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The boys’ first birthday in America was only a month after arriving. We suggested a fundraiser for the orphanage the following year and were pleased at the positive response. The last two years have found Daniel and David eagerly anticipating the fund-raising effort. They are excited by the generosity of others and find they are truly treasured when people express their love by giving to YWAM. This year, they collected over $1,500!
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David and Daniel presenting their donation to Joy Casey

Our family also uses the occasion to help the boys reflect back on their experiences in Ethiopia. We encourage the boys to talk about experiences, sights, sounds, smells – anything that will help them make sense of their memories and understand their place in the world.
January (Christmas) 2009
With friends at the Widows and Orphans Home

Seeing pictures of their future home and family with Abebe and Joy

They talk about what God is doing in their lives and speculate on what kind of plans He has for them. God has done amazing things in these boys’ lives; but we suspect the biggest are yet to come.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.
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Adoption Ministry is so grateful for the Averill family, for their generous friends and for the tender hearts of these two young men who desire to give back in a big way to others in Ethiopia who have so many needs.  We can’t wait to see God’s plans unfold in their lives!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Reassured and Blessed {a repost}

originally written in October 2010...
written in Ethiopia by Joy Casey, Adoption Ministry Director

Because I have walked alongside birth families in the U.S. for so many years and because I have such a heart for my own children's birth families, it is natural that I would identify with the struggling families here in Ethiopia who have selflessly chosen adoption for their children knowing they cannot provide a future for them. I have met with eight birth parents this past week, and the joy on their faces when they see pictures of their children brings me great satisfaction. I want the adopted parents to know what relief and happiness a few pictures bring to the mother or father or grandmother of their child.

Several of the children are school age and they draw pictures for their "first mommy" or for their "Ethiopian family". Many send school reports and samples of the work they are doing in school. One little 9-year-old boy sent a list of questions to ask his father. Most of the questions were like, "What is your favorite color?" or "What do you like to eat?" One question, though, was "Do you miss me?" As I asked this father the question, I wondered just how he would answer. His answer was profound: "Yes, I miss you and love you very much. But I have no tears or sadness for your adoption. You are right where you should be and I know it is God's will for you to be with your wonderful American family." This man affirmed his son and at the same time he gave emotional permission for this boy to look forward and embrace the life he chose for him.

Today Abebe and I drove to an extremely impoverished neighborhood and as we walked down the rocky alleyway, the smell of sewer accosted my nostrils and there were heaps of garbage everywhere. We stepped into a very tiny room where Grandmother sat in bed eagerly anticipating pictures and news of her grandsons. The joy reflected in the bedridden grandmother's face as she turned the pages of the photo album said everything. The boys' mother (sick with HIV), uncle and aunt joined us in the cramped room. The sole source of light was from the open door, but everyone managed to peer at the pictures and they listened intently to the letter written by the adoptive mom.

How grateful I am to these families in America who take the time to get pictures printed and to write a note to their child's family of birth! They are inextricably joined to these families and the tender care taken to express thankfulness and love as well as assurance of their delight in their son or daughter blesses my heart to the core and I know it brings much joy to God's heart, too.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Caring for Widows

Aselefech Wakjira worked hard all her life doing menial labor to bring in a few birr to help buy food for her children. Her husband was a hard worker, finding jobs here and there as a manual laborer. The hard physical work soon broke his health due to too heavy loads, long hours and poor nutrition, and he died. Their daughters found homes of their own and Aselefech’s moved in with her nearby married daughter. Tragically, her daughter also died, and soon afterwards her son-in-law turned her out of his house.

Aselefech was old, had no education and no way at all to earn a living.  She eventually found an abandoned chicken coop to shelter under. The walls had no mud, just sticks loosely stacked together, but there was, at least, a tin roof and a rusty tin door.

Mark Wolbert, our Mission Director, was introduced to Aselefech when he was setting up projects for an upcoming mission team. He planned to hang thick mats on her walls so the chilly wind and rain could not as easily disturb her during the rainy season. As she watched the people from America led by a workman from her church put up the wall mats, she was beside herself with excitement and unimaginably grateful for the kindness shown to her.

You, too, can make a difference in a person’s life!  You can make a donation from our YWAM Gift Catalog for a child or a widow that will bless them immeasurably.  There you'll find ways to give something as simple as clothes or shoes or as big as a house or a needed surgery.

You can also “adopt” an elderly widow like Aselefech or a family in Ethiopia that is high risk for disruption due to death, disease or sheer poverty through our Adoption Ministry 1:27 program.  A family like Etabez and her daughter need immediate help…  **Thanks to a generous donor, this little family has been 'adopted'.
Etabez and Hana

Here is another widow who needs to be adopted:

Tewach Kassa is an elderly widow who lives alone in one small room.  She attends church, and in her own words, she has “No one. Only God.”  Tewach does have a daughter, but receives no support from her.  She has great need for food and clothing.  That’s what this ministry is all about: “…to look after widows and orphans in their distress.”  As a sponsor, you can ease one widow’s hunger and provide her with clothing.  Maybe just as important is the fact that she will know that someone, besides God, really cares.  Thanks for caring about this special lady. 

Visit our Adoption Ministry 1:27 website to select a family to ‘adopt’.

If you are interested in your church putting together a trip to Ethiopia, visit our Missions webpages for more information. Summer 2013 trips are full but we have openings for teams over Spring break or Christmas vacation. We’ll also be taking an ‘Extreme Team’ trip in January 2014 which will be made up of adventurers who will serve a local church in the remote town of Dembidollo.  This trip will involve tent camping, no water, electricity or plumbing and it will be the trip of a lifetime! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

BIG Impact Giving!

As the Christmas giving season is approaching, we’re excited to announce the launch of our new 2012/2013 YWAM Gift Catalog!  This year we have been able to add online ordering to make it easier for you to give using a secure Paypal option!

If only there was a way to adequately share the BLESSING your Gift Catalog giving is to a desperately poor family, struggling to put food in hungry tummies, provide clean water to drink or keep children protected from the elements.   I think the best way is through stories and pictures of real women and children receiving new clothes or a new mattress to replace a piece of cardboard.   Sometimes our mission teams get to be the lucky ones to deliver these gifts.  Other times they are brought by our in-country representative, Abebe.

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Recently Abebe coordinated a livestock project in the village of Gutumuma.  Mike and Dinah Monahan gave a large donation toward this project and over $900 was donated for goats via the Gift Catalog, which provided 15 goats to families of missionaries and other Christians in that village.  The extra blessing is that almost all of those goats were pregnant!  Abebe tells us that these families “are very happy and grateful and thankful about the gift you gave them.  This helps them a lot in their personal life and family life.  God bless Adoption Ministry YWAM!”

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These recipients aren’t the only ones who receive a blessing!  We hear from many families here in the U.S. whose children have saved their dimes, quarters and dollars to give water filters, food and even a house to a family across the world in Ethiopia that they’ll likely never meet.  We are so impressed with the generosity of your children – it’s a reflection of some pretty great parenting and of God’s love in action!

You can view everything available to donate from our Gift Catalog by clicking on the button below:
gift catalog button
There you’ll find something for every budget, from donkeys to dresses, sheets to surgeries, bibles to business start-ups.

Be sure to read the great blog posts below about families and kids who have given via the YWAM Gift Catalog!

Gratitude Beyond Words
See how much joy a new mattress or a bag of food supplies can give!

Big Hearts Meet Big Needs
Extremely poor widows in Adama receive new mattresses, bedding, clothing and food via our Gift Catalog

For seven brothers and sisters, the question was: How should we spend the $100 we saved all year?


**Tell us how your giving via the YWAM Gift Catalog has impacted your family or kids.  We'd love to share your story!  Leave a comment here or contact us at:


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Miracles Are Real!

Saturday evening, Oct. 13th, Adoption Ministry hosted a banquet for 360 of their closest friends.  The Tacoma Convention Center was all dressed up in black, white and silver and the festive evening celebrated the many miracles of adoption, both domestically and from Ethiopia.  Friends gathered to share a delicious dinner and shared stories of their own adoptions or mission trips they have been on.  Guests not as familiar with Adoption Ministry were blown away by the stories they heard around their table as well as from the speakers, and many hearts were touched.

Ethiopia, the hot vacation destination …?
Raffle tickets were sold for two round trip tickets to go on a missions trip to Ethiopia in 2013.  Frank and Lori Gonzales were ecstatic when they held the winning number and are eagerly looking forward to going to Ethiopia this next year.  Wahoo! 


Break my heart, Lord, with what breaks yours …
Personal stories of adoption from Washington State and from Ethiopia were shared, and Adoption Ministry 1:27 Director, Jeff Butler, inspired all to listen to the small, oftentimes unheard voices of the widow, the orphan, and the struggling family.


There are so many people to thank who worked countless hours to make the banquet as wonderful as it was. Shelly, Cheryl, Randy, Bonnie, Heather, David, Yvonne, Lisa, Alena, Jim, Jeff, Brett, Bobby and of course our staff and board.

Thanks to the generosity of those attending, we raised $65,000.  The event itself was underwritten by sponsors so this entire amount goes toward our programs.

We are SO grateful to God and to all of you who support this ministry through your faithful prayers and financial giving.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Preparing Siblings


One of the most common challenges we hear about after parents bring an adopted child home is the struggle children already at home have adjusting to their new brother or sister.  Sometimes it is all about losing the attention they may have exclusively enjoyed; other times it is finding their new spot in birth order.  Jealousy, misbehaving for attention, anger and sadness are very common reactions.  I hear parents say “I expected some of the issues we’ve faced with our adopted child but I had no idea how difficult it would be for my biological child.”

We’ve found several good articles at that address this issue and there are probably many more:

Here is a list of some books written for siblings (ages 3-10) of adopted kids that can be found at many libraries and read with your kids both before and after their newest sibling comes home.  Check them out and let us know if you’ve found any of these to be helpful.

The New Barker in the House
by Tomie dePaola
Is That Your Sister? A True Story of Adoption
by Catherine Bunin 
Waiting for May
by Janet Stoeke
Seeds of Love – For Brothers and Sisters of International Adoption
by Mary Petertyl 
Things Little Kids Need to Know
by Susan Uhlig
A Sister for Matthew
by Pamela Kennedy


Leave a comment and let us know what has helped you in 1) preparing your kids for an adopted brother or sister and 2) helping your children adjust after their sibling came home.  I know there are lots of parents who will appreciate what you’ve found to be helpful!

Monday, October 8, 2012

How Long Do I Have To Parent This Way?

There is a common misconception about adopting internationally that goes something like this:  Once my child is in our loving family, the healing and attachment that must take place will happen within a certain amount of time and then our family will once again settle in to what it 'used to be like'.

A very real adjustment takes place when each family member realizes that their family won't be the same - cannot be the same - and that the new dynamics of their family are for a lifetime!

From Empowered to Connect...  

"As a result of their early life experiences, children from hard places often miss out on some of the key development that is essential in helping them learn to trust and grow relationally.  As a result of their unique histories and needs, these children need parents that are willing to utilize the unique approach of trust-based parenting to help them heal and grow.

Watch as Dr. Karyn Purvis encourages adoptive and foster parents to embrace trust-based parenting as the 'new normal' that God has called them to as an essential part of the journey."

Watch the video here on the Empowered to Connect website.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Families of Faith {a repost}

by Joy Casey
originally posted in 2010

Even after wrangling with government officials and regulations that I cannot totally understand, at the end of the day I still say I have the best job in the world! I have rubbed shoulders with some of the highest caliber of parents on earth. It is a joy beyond description when I get to take a family to the orphanage, let them experience the embraces of the widows and meet the staff, and then lead them to a room for them to meet their child. The expressions of wonder and joy when a baby has been placed in her new mommy’s or daddy’s arms are simply beyond description. Video cameras are out and pictures are being snapped non-stop because the emotions of these first moments with their little one need to be captured.

I have learned a lot from these families. They have taken a journey of faith, not just in the area of finances, but the adoption process has deepened their faith and stretched their ability to trust. I read recently that the mark of Christ-followers is that their hearts are in heaven and their treasures are spent there. These families have glimpsed God’s heart for the poor and give exuberantly… constantly thinking of others’ needs and asking God how they can meet them. I hear over and over, “I want to do more!” I look at these courageous parents who have sacrificed so much to give a child on the other side of the world a home and I am in awe. These guys get it!

It is easy for the numbers and statistics regarding the poor and needy to seem almost unreal. It is certainly not something that directly affects you and I so it is easy to ignore. The idea of 26,000 children dying from starvation or preventative disease before we lay our heads on our pillows tonight is unimaginable. But now these adoptive families have seen the precious faces of children without parents and discovered that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they are not real before you hold them in your arms. But they have seen, they have held, and their hearts have been broken with what breaks God’s heart.

These families of faith who are adopting from Ethiopia will return to their communities and churches and turn them upside down. They will not be content with life as usual, and are thinking big, radical thoughts of how they can order their lives so they can give more and how they can galvanize their church to begin an orphan care ministry or take a missions trip or adopt an orphanage. I stand back absolutely blown away with the energy, creativity and love that I have seen over these past few days.

“Thank you, God, for allowing me to be here with these precious, precious families and to play a small part in connecting them with Your heart for children.” A-MEN!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Links You’ll Like


Reshaping Expectations
Long before I had a chance to get to know my son, I had created an unrealistic picture about who he would be. On top of that, I expected the adoption journey to be relatively easy once we brought our son home. Indeed, I’d convinced myself that adoption was little more than a historical fact of how a family came to be, not an ongoing journey.

How To Build Trust With A Child
Though he’s been my son for more than a year now, Sambhaji still thinks like an orphan. So do I… Trust is built on a pattern of promises kept. I trust God to keep me because He’s kept me.

Martyred Mothers
May we not live our lives as martyrs that have given up something great, and thinking that motherhood is only about sacrifice.

Was our family ALREADY connected strongly with friends who “looked” like our son? This is important not as much for us–but FOR HIM!

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