an alumni publication of Lifeline Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Services
A Celebration of Beginnings India Program
An Unexpected Journey Fostering After Adopting
The Power of Community Mentoring Other Families
Changes for China
A letter from Herbie... President & Executive Director
appy Fall! The Lord is doing great things among us, and I hope this letter finds you and your family nn Newell ely Ad resting in His great mercies. As you d an ie, rb hley, Emily, He L to R: Caleb, As turn the pages of this magazine, I am confident you will smile at the Lord’s work through Lifeline and families like yours. This issue explores the power of community created through adoption. I am thankful for Amanda Knotts and Jamie Clayton candidly sharing their experiences with us. “Life is better together.” This is true of our walk as followers of Jesus Christ and especially true when walking through the ups and downs of adoption and fostering. Knowing that power of community led us to the formation of the Alumni Family Council. We are delighted to have alumni families committed to developing connection for alumni families as well as helping with essential communication. Please complete the Alumni Family Survey we will be emailing out in the next few days. It includes simple questions about your experience and expectations. This will be key information for our Alumni Family Council going forward. Discover and read about two Lifeline families that adopted internationally, and now are obeying the call to foster care. The Ledlow’s and Fillebaum’s share how the Lord prepared and equipped them to open their homes to vulnerable children and families in a new way. Recently, we celebrated our first India adoptive families coming home with their children. Thank the Lord for the growth of this program and for providing families for children from India! Karla Thrasher also provides updates regarding the changes in the China program. We praise the Lord that He has provided ways for many families’ processes to go unchanged in the midst of these shifts. We recognize that change often brings feelings of uncertainty and fear, but hope to minister to families and children by pointing them to the foundation of our faith. Currently, our 2nd Kids Camp for Colombia is taking place in Birmingham, Alabama, providing a wonderful experience for 16 children. We pray their experience shows them how valuable they are to the Lord and us. We have been thrilled to partner with the government of Colombia for two 2017 Kids Camps and look forward to repeating this program in 2018. Please pray for our ministry as we look toward the end of 2017, and all that He desires to do through us. Our Change One Life campaigns is kicking off soon, giving you and others the opportunity to partner with us to change lives for His glory through adoption, fostering, (un)adopted and family restoration. Also, take note that during July we kicked off our daily Defender Podcasts. Make sure you subscribe and listen as our heart is to encourage and equip the body of Christ to care for and manifest the gospel to orphans and vulnerable children. If there are ways we can pray for your family, please be in touch with us. We are thankful for you as we enter this season of recognizing His blessings in our lives. We are here for questions or needs so always feel free to call on us. On behalf of the fatherless,
Herbert M. Newell, IV President & Executive Director
What is Journey? Journey is an alumni publication dedicated to our families who have been through the adoption or foster care process.This is a way to stay in touch with Lifeline’s ministry, to celebrate along with other families through milestones and stories,and to encourage your walk with Christ and the well-being of your family in the days ahead!
What would you like to see in your next issue of Journey? We love hearing from you! Send us what you would love to read about in the next issue of Journey to
-----------------Meet our cover family! The Nichols:
(left to right)
Malinda, Dhanya Sri, Zack & Evie Photographer: Spark & Arrow
In This Issue... Milestones from Lifeline families just like you
Devotion He Cares
Kids Camp Update Colombia
Program Update: Changes in China
A Celebration of Beginnings: India
Holiday Traditions Taking Time for Precious Moments
Families Mentoring Families The Power of Community
An Unexpected Journey: Fostering after Adopting
This issue of Journey magazine is made possible through the generosity of Tim and Emily Pennington.
Milestones 5th Birthday
Emma Kate Pannell recently celebrated her 5th birthday! She came home from China in December of 2013. “It has been such a joy for us to love her and watch her bond with her three older brothers.” -Robert and Jennifer Pannell Trussville, Alabama
Congratulations to Joshua Cornett on earning the STAR scholarship from the Mercedes-Benz program to attend Shelton State Community College! Upon completion of the Mercedes-Benz Systems Technical Program, he plans to work full-time with Mercedes-Benz at their plant in Vance, Alabama. -Jasper and Sarah Cornett, Birmingham, Alabama
“I love having fun with my brothers!” -Rooney Davey, daughter of Andrea and Justin, home from Haiti in January 2017. Waukee, Iowa
"Isaiah loves his new baby brother!" Isaiah came home from Ethiopia in August 2016. -Jared and Jessica Kime Birmingham, Alabama
First Mission Trip
Olivia Huitt, 13, was adopted from Ukraine in 2011. This photo was in the midst of her first mission trip this summer to Detroit. “We had people coming out to look at our work site to see what we were doing. When the opportunity presented itself, Olivia would march up to them, introduce herself and strike up a conversation. When it was done, she would ask what their needs were and pray for them. Brave girl.” -J.D. and Hannah Huitt, Sullivan, Missouri 3
Celebrating a Daddy's Girl
In August of 2016, Gina, pictured above, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She cradled her, swaddled her, fed her, and loved her for 24 hours, then she placed her in the arms of the mom and dad that she handpicked to be her daughter’s parents through adoption. The reasons she made this decision are many but mainly because she wanted her baby girl to have a dad. She was able to meet the adoptive parents before the birth of her child and says she knew immediately they were the right parents for her baby girl. A few weeks ago, on her daughter’s first birthday, Gina got to see her daughter for the first time since she kissed her goodbye at the hospital. She saw her play, crawl, and laugh. She saw her face light up when her daddy walked in the room. That sweet baby girl screamed “dada dada” and crawled into his lap for kisses and cuddles. Gina knew she made the right decision for her daughter, but on this day, she got to see her decision. Gina kept saying “Olivia really is a daddy’s girl! I knew it!” By the end of the little birthday party, baby Olivia was reaching for Gina to tell her goodbye. After the party, Gina could not stop smiling. She was reminded that it was her decision for adoption that allows Olivia to be a daddy’s girl and said she has never been more proud of her daughter and herself for making the decision that changed them both forever. Birmingham, Alabama
Journey Fall 2017
He Cares by Jenny Riddle, Communications Coordinator
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” -John 11:33-37 (ESV) You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. -Psalm 56:8-9 (ESV)
esus wept" is the shortest verse in the Bible, and we all may know it because it was the easiest verse to memorize. I knew the context in which the verse exists, but it wasn’t until recently that the verse became more than a well-known factoid; it became a profound truth of my faith. My young son, who was weary from an abundance of failed medical procedures, became angry and emotionally voiced his concern that God wasn’t listening to our prayers and questioned why God would allow such pain. He drew a picture of a broken heart to show us how he felt. I had been where he was, and when I spoke to him of God’s great plan and love for us, it was through the experiential lens of the same doubt and despair. “There was a man in the Bible, and Jesus didn’t show up for four days, and the man died! What was He thinking,” he painfully asked. I then explained that the Bible tells us exactly what was happening in the story of Lazarus: Jesus was going to glorify God by demonstrating His power over death—something even greater than the ability to heal sickness. God was going to be glorified through Lazarus in a huge way! My little boy was unimpressed—too young to understand the concept of a “bigger picture” but acutely aware of pain. Then, the Lord whispered a huge truth in my heart: God cares.
Jesus knew what was going to happen to Lazarus. He knew Lazarus would live again. He knew the pain would be shortlived. Because of the pain of death, God would be glorified through Lazarus in a way that healing his sickness never could. Knowing all of these truths, however, didn’t make Jesus aloof to the pain of those He loved. When Jesus saw the people hurting, He wept with them. I took my son’s hand, and with tears in both of our eyes, I pulled him close and explained the profound truth of the shortest verse in the Bible. “We don't always understand why God acts the way He does, but we can always trust that He is doing it for His and our best, and we can always know that He cares for us, and He hurts when we do. He isn't happy when we hurt.” A few minutes later, he brought us a picture of a heart only half broken; a few minutes after that, he made another picture of a heart—this time it was whole. He needed to know that God cared. The truth is, so did I. Maybe you do, too. Maybe your kids do, too. The reality is that those of us who read this magazine know the incredible joys of obedience, but we also know the shadows of the valleys more than we’d like. Walking through those times, know that God cares; He does not take our tears lightly; He is for us. Plant those truths solidly in your heart, and even when it is breaking, He can make it whole.
C OL OM BI A Kids Camp Updates by Beth Perez, Latin America Director We have had a new opportunity this year to partner with the country of Colombia to host our first two Colombia Kids Camps. During August, we had a blast hosting six beautiful children in Texas for 2 weeks! Lifeline was able to partner with Here I Am Orphan Ministries to give the children a fun, educational experience in which they were each able to stay with a host family. The kids had a blast learning English, making new friends, and getting to experience so many new things! Our heart behind Kids Camp is to give the children an opportunity to have a fun experience to learn about American culture but, more importantly, to know the love of Christ. This is also a chance to get to know the children and to, in turn, be able to advocate and help them each find a forever family.
As a result of the recent camp in August, five of the six children have a forever family! We are so grateful to see the Lord provide loving, Christian families for these children. We are still advocating for Nelly to find her forever family. We were also able to build great new relationships with churches, families, and ministries throughout Texas! We are thrilled to share there will be another Colombia Kids Camp in Texas during June of 2018. We will need host families, volunteers, and advocates, so you can begin praying now about ways to help. We are also grateful for the chance to host the Birmingham Colombia Kids Camp during October 8-18th! Colombia will be sending 16 precious children to Birmingham, Alabama. In addition to the 16 children attending
camp, we will be hosting three orphanage directors. This will be an incredible way to share the gospel with everyone coming from Colombia, to bring awareness to the community, and to advocate for these children to find forever families! Though these camps may not happen in your community directly, there are ways your family or church can partner with us to help provide this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Please ask the Lord how He may lead you to serve. We look forward to sharing updates with you as the Lord leads us to partner in Kids Camps! You can learn more about camp and the children at: lifelinechild.org/colombia-campin-birmingham/.
Journey Fall 2017
Changes in China This summer brought two major changes to the Lifeline China program. New regulations for adoptive families were released, and we received notice that all orphanage partnerships would be ending in 2017. The new regulations were announced in July by the CCCWA and went into effect immediately. They both added and relaxed requirements for families desiring to adopt from China. The end of orphanage partnerships is a result of a larger law in China affecting all foreign NGOs. This law also put an immediate end to advocacy camps both in the US and in China. We interviewed Karla Thrasher, Lifeline China Program Director, about how these changes will affect the future of the Lifeline China program:
What are some of the specific changes that have happened in China over the past year? The changes happening in 2017 have affected both families adopting from China and the Lifeline China program overall. The new regulations for adoptive families, implemented in July of 2017, now limit the number of minor children currently living in the home, no longer allow concurrent adoptions of two unrelated children, and require the youngest child in the home to be at least three years of age. There will also now be a year required between adoptions from China. We want to focus on positive changes also being made, including lessening the marriage and health requirements that have kept many families from adopting over the last several years. The new regulations also eased the financial requirements for ex-pat families wanting to adopt from China. We are especially grateful as this will allow more of our missionary families living abroad to consider adopting a child from China. In addition to new regulations specifically affecting adoptive families, the new NGO law that was passed in January of 2017 has affected many of the projects and initiatives that Lifeline has been a part of in China, including ending orphanage partnership programs and suspending Kids Camps both in China and in the U.S.
How will these changes affect Lifeline’s China Program from an adoption perspective? We don't see the ending of partnerships or camps negatively affecting the adoption process or our ability to match families with waiting children. The China adoption program remains strong, and the CCCWA remains committed to preparing files for adoption. In addition, there are still many children of all ages and levels of special needs needing to be placed in families. As files are prepared, they will now go to the shared list and participating agencies will be able to access them there. If you are a long-time follower of adopting from China, you will remember the term “shared list”. Lifeline has many years of experience with matching from the shared list and we were very successful during the time when this was our only mode of securing files. At this time, we are confident that we will continue to be able to match families according to the current timeframes. If we begin to see any changes to the current patterns/timeframes, as always, we will communicate this to you as well.
How will these changes affect Lifeline's work in China? With or without an “official partnership”, we want our families to know that Lifeline is still very committed to our thirteen partnership orphanages. Our plan is to remain in contact with them as closely as possible, while working within any parameters issued by the CCCWA. We have developed many close relationships with officials, caregiver staff, and children in the orphanages and desire to continue those relationships. We are hopeful that China will also work out the details of the pending NGO registration process soon so that we can resume trips to the country that we hold so dear. Our desire is to continue to spend time with both the personal and professional contacts we have made over the years. We include the CCCWA in this group of professional contacts and are grateful for our ministry’s long-term relationship with these officials.
How do you see these changes affecting the future of international adoption in China? International adoption is ever-changing and ever-evolving. We are fortunate that we don’t see extreme changes in the China program as often as we see them in other countries, and we are fortunate that the CCCWA continues to be supportive of inter-country adoption. Lifeline is encouraged that the CCCWA is committed to as many children as possible being placed in loving homes and also committed to excellence in insuring the children of China are protected through the process of adoption. They are doing their very best through all of current changes to protect the entire China program. This is encouraging to us as an orphan care ministry as we desire to see the China program thrive.
A Celebration of Beginnings: India The Master Architect Burdened to adopt from India, the Nichols family attended an informational meeting at Lifeline in 2014, even while knowing that an international adoption program for India was not yet in existence. But, God was busy behind the scenes, crafting a beautiful story no one could have imagined. Unknown to the Nichols, Lifeline was in the beginning stages of creating an India program. Soon after they shared their hearts with Lifeline staff, they were asked if they wanted to be the pilot family for the India program, and the answer was a resounding YES. Looking back over their journey, Malinda Nichols reflects on what she hopes happens as a result of being the pilot family for this program. "It has been such a unique privilege to be the pilot family for Lifeline's India program, knowing that our adoption journey--filled with both absolute joys and incredible challenges--will help bring home other precious children from this beautiful country.”
Foundation of Prayer and Dependence
Photography provided by Spark & Arrow (sparkandarrow.com)
The challenges that the Nichols and others experienced were many. But, God was busy moving. Meredith Campbell and Morgan Terch, Program Coordinators for India, feel privileged to be witnesses to all that He is doing. Morgan understands that this program is not of our own doing, but God orchestrating it all. She explains, “We are fully dependent on the Lord, and we have seen Him move mountains for these kids.”
The faithful prayers of Meredith and Morgan have been such a part of this program, that it is almost palpable. Malinda remembers how their support and dependence on God was evident: “I can't imagine this process without the support we got from Meredith and Morgan every step of the way. From those initial conversations in 2015, to our time in-country with Morgan, and now as we are home, we have felt the heart that they--and all of Lifeline--have for connecting children to families, and making sure those families are equipped to care for their children. We are forever grateful to the Lord and His work through Lifeline for our precious daughter.”
A Celebration of Beginnings The summer of 2017 has been a time of tremendous celebration in all that God has done, and is doing, in our new Lifeline India program! Just in the last four weeks, we have witnessed three new little ones joining their families in the United States, including the Nichols’ new daughter! These families are beginning their new lives together, and their stories together are beginning.
A Holy Burden We're burdened for India because we know the need: 1. India has the largest population of orphans in the world. 2. International adoption is an avenue that is opening wider for families to obey the call to care for orphans in India. 3. The greatest need in India is for families who are willing to adopt children with special needs.
A Few FAQs about India • There are many younger children available for adoption. • Only 1 trip to India is required and usually lasts for 10-14 days. • India is a special needs program, with needs that range from minor to severe. • Parents must be between 25-55 years old, and those with a composite age of 90 or less are eligible to adopt a child up to 4 years old. Those with a composite age of 100 or less are eligible to adopt a child between 4-8 years old. • Parents must have been married for at least 2 years. For more information about Lifeline’s India Program or to begin the adoption process, please visit us at lifelinechild.org/country/india or call us at 205-967-0811.
L to R: Malinda, Dhanya Sri, Zack, and Evie Nichols
Journey Fall 2017 Journey Summer 2016
Baltic Family, Haiti
Brasher Family, Haiti
Bussard Family, China
I'm Coming Viera Family, China
Donaldson Family, Hungary
Gress Family, China
Celebrate with us over the children who have come home to their forever families March-July of 2017.
Wilder Family, India
Cinadr Family, China
Duke Family, China
Fitzgerald Family, Haiti
Gwyn Family, India
Clark Family, Kyrgyzstan
Henricks Family, China
Rorabeck Family, China
Hoisington Family, China
Holleran Family, Costa Rica
Middleton Family, Colombia
McKee Family, China
Mills Family, Costa Rica
Nichols Family, India
Mouser Family, Colombia
Peterson Family, China
Schaus Family, Colombia
Johnson Family, China
Nelson Family, Hungary
Peyton Family, China
Taber Family, China
White Family, Haiti
Journey Fall 2017
STAND FOR ORPHANS SUMMER 2017 As we close out another exciting season of Stand for Orphans®, we are thrilled to report that children who took a #standfororphans this summer raised over $100,000! This simple, fun initiative was created BY kids FOR kids three years ago as an opportunity for children to understand that THEY can make a BIG impact on the life of orphans and vulnerable children in their communities and around the world. Since its founding, children have raised over $400,000 through Stand for Orphans to help fuel Lifeline’s mission to equip the Body of Christ to manifest the gospel to vulnerable children! Mary Beth Brown of West Point, GA has held a
they wanted me to help raise money for
stand the past three summers and raised over
their new baby or help other children
$6,000! She’s sold everything from magnets
that were not adopted yet. They told me
and homemade lip-gloss to cookies and dog
I should aim to help other orphans in
treats! Mary Beth is using her time, talents, and
need. The only problem is that I did not
resources to make an eternal impact on the lives
know how to help. A few days went by and
everything they need. We should give
of vulnerable children locally and around the
my aunt and uncle heard about Stand for
back because God has blessed us so
world! This summer, we caught up with Mary
Orphans. It was a perfect fit for what I
Beth and wanted you to hear more about her
wanted to achieve. God put Stand for
Stand for Orphans story:
Orphans in my life at the perfect time.
What is your favorite thing about Stand for Orphans?
You seem to gain a lot of traffic and media attention at your Stand! Tell us how you get the word out each summer! We usually get the word out by sending
One thing I love about Stand for Orphans is
email, sharing the news on Facebook©, and
getting to have a fun time drinking lemon-
personally inviting people at church and
ade and visiting with family, friends, and
school. Our local newspaper has also been
neighbors in the summer sun. I also like
great to print articles about my stand.
making the crafts, looking on YouTube and
Now that I’ve been doing it for 3 years,
Pinterest for ideas, and planning out the
people know to expect it each summer!
crafts I will make for my stand. But most of
Tell us about yourself! How old are you? What are your favorite things to do?
all, I enjoy spending time with God,
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
studying His word, and asking Him to guide
God has been so good to me throughout
I just turned 13 years old. I attend
this journey and has blessed my efforts
Springwood School (Lanett, AL) where I
greatly. He has brought people to come alongside and support me, and He has
In my free time, I like making crafts for
What would you tell other kids if they were thinking about doing their own Stand?
Stand for Orphans and for my blog.
Do it! I would love for more kids to get
the talent of making crafts and being
am on SGA and in the theater program.
multiplied my simple offering. He gave me
involved with Stand for Orphans. You don’t
artistic, and He has given me this platform
How did you hear about Stand for Orphans? Why did you decide to take a stand three summers ago?
have to make crafts or sell lemonade. God
and wonderful opportunities. Stand for
gave each person special gifts to be used
Orphans and Lifeline Children’s Services
to serve Him. So you might sell something
will be a big part of my life from here on
When my aunt and uncle decided to adopt
completely different than me. I also want
out. I want all the glory and honor to go
through Lifeline several years ago, I wanted kids to get involved so that they can
to the Lord and not to me. I am just being
to help in some way. I asked them whether
used as His vessel to do His kingdom work.
remember how blessed they are to have
R(UN) FOR ONE & FAMILY REUNION
On Saturday, August 19th, 1,437 runners
ways. And ultimately, they were running to
support a girls’ home and four sewing centers.
and walkers from 48 states across the
share the love of Jesus Christ. From hundreds of
Through the girls’ home, 38 girls are currently
country and from seven countries across
people together to one or two people running
provided with a place to live, learn, and grow in
the globe came together for R(un) for One. down their neighborhood street, the R(un) for
a loving and caring environment. The direc-
One grew again this year, raising $152,581.
tors of the home intentionally pour into the
They were running for vulnerable children we
Some were kids who raced a 1-miler! Some had
lives of the girls, and, because of their love and
serve around the world through (un)adopted
lightning speed of 19:29, our fastest recorded
leadership, the girls are thriving under their
time this year. We are thankful for our alumni
care. Developing Hope and (un)adopted have
by providing education, job skills, life skills, and support in various
families who participated and for all of our
also partnered in opening four sewing centers
partners and the 206 volunteers who arrived
in Pakistan in an effort to reach vulnerable
early to set up, stayed late to clean up, and
women in the community. We continue to see
did everything in between!
many women’s lives impacted through the center as they learn of their value in the Lord
Some of the lives impacted through
and are equipped with desperately needed life
(un)adopted and through the R(un) for One
and job skills. We have also seen two churches
are girls in Pakistan. We partner with an
planted and developed alongside this ministry
organization called Developing Hope to
to orphaned and vulnerable girls in Pakistan.
On August 13th, eight girls and two caregivers at the girls’ home in Pakistan accepted Jesus Christ and were baptized. They were baptized along with 27 other local believers. What a glorious day! We are thankful for the support we receive to continue to follow the Lord’s leading to partner and serve vulnerable children through (un)adopted.
Journey Fall 2017
H O L I D AY T R A D I T I O N S
Taking Time for Precious Moments "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." -John 1:14 NIV
oing around the table to say what we are thankful for….a family game of football in the back yard…setting out the Nativity set…piling in the minivan to go see Christmas lights and get hot chocolate…these are all great holiday traditions you may have had growing up and now are continuing in your own family. They all started somewhere! Beginning or continuing holiday traditions in your family can forge special bonds that draw you closer together and give your children memories to store away in their hearts and minds forever! If you need some inspiration or just want to start a new tradition, here are a few timeless and out-of-the-box ideas to help your family set aside time for a few precious moments during the hustle and bustle. Happy Holidays! Consider the holiday traditions we see as normal that will be overstimulating to your child: a tree in the house with bright, flashing, multi-colored lights, festive decorations, bells ringing everywhere, multiple new environments and experiences, and interactions with many people. Whether your child has been home a few weeks, months, or even longer, please do not assume that you can “do Christmas” like you always have in the past. This year might just need to be different. There are many things you can do to help your child adjust well.
Leaves of Gratitude
Take a few steps out your back door and put your little ones in charge of finding the perfect branch to make a tree that you can all create together! Each family member can write messages of thanksgiving on leafshaped cutouts, or ornaments in whatever shape you want, to hang from the branches. If you have small children that canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t write yet, let them color or draw what they are thankful for! This link can take you to simple instructions for your Gratitude Tree: premeditatedleftovers.com/naturally-frugal-mom/gratitude-tree-activity
Celebrate the Season of Light
The winter solstice, which takes place on December 22nd, is the shortest day and longest night of the year. In the midst of Christmas busyness, taking a few moments to recognize this day can mean a few moments to slow down and bask in the light of Christ. Eating by candlelight, going out to look at the stars, or even making your own luminarias to put on your front porch can symbolize a time out to remember the Light of the world, born in a manger to save us from our sins. Here are instructions for simple paper cup luminaries that even small hands can help make: littlebinsforlittlehands.com/quick-and-easy-paper-cup-luminaries
Unwrap the Gift Game
This game is similar to musical chairs, in that the action starts and stops with the music. Select a present that anyone in your family would enjoy winning. Wrap the present in several layers of gift wrap. Ask everyone to sit in a circle on the floor or around a table. Turn on some music and tell family members to pass the gift around. When the music stops, the person who is holding the gift gets to remove one layer of gift wrap. Keep turning the music on and off until the gift is unwrapped. The person who peels off the last layer of gift wrap wins the gift!
Countdown to Christmas
We are excited to make our Family Advent Calendar Cards available you this holiday season! These Scripture-based cards are a wonderful way to lead your family to focus on the hope of the gospel message as you lead up to the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Each day features Scripture along with a brief discuss to help prepare your family's hearts for the Christmas season. You can register for your own FREE set at lifelinechild.org at the first of November!
Journey Fall 2017
Resources Our Education and Counseling team is excited to share our new Adoptive and Foster Parent Connect Guide, available free to our families! The guide provides all the components needed to start an adoption and fostering support group. Included are suggestions for group format, supplies needed, facilitator outlines, and other information. Find the downloadable kit at: lifelinechild.org/adoption-support-group-guide.
BOOK God Attachment by Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Joshua Straub
BOOK Listen and Learn First English Words by Sam Taplin
the defender podcast Our Defender Podcast is the perfect thing to add to your morning commute! These 10-minute podcasts are made to mobilize, encourage, and equip Christians to spread the gospel and care for vulnerable children and families. New episodes are available weekly. Check it out and be sure to subscribe on iTunes today!
The Power of Community The Knotts Family | Decatur, Alabama
“Life is better together.” Those are the words one of Amanda Knotts’ friends used to describe the reason their community of adoptive families has been so important to each of them over the last few years. Gary and Amanda Knotts live in Decatur, Alabama, and have four children – Sophie (9), Lily (6), Isaac (5) and Isaiah (5). They adopted Isaac and Isaiah from Haiti. About 15 years ago, God gave Amanda the desire to adopt a child. He did not give Gary that same desire at the time, so Amanda waited. About six years ago, their home church had an Orphan Sunday service, and Lifeline’s former International Director Dave Wood spoke at it. During the service, he shared a poem about two friends in an orphanage. One friend was adopted by a family, while the other was left at their orphanage. That day, Gary came home and said he was ready to adopt. And he wasn’t ready to adopt just one child. He was so touched by the Orphan Sunday service and that poem that his exact words were, “We have to adopt two boys. We can’t leave a friend behind. Let’s seek out twins.” On hearing the words she had longed to hear for many years, Amanda knew it was time to begin their adoption journey.
endure the waiting in their process. That connection on Facebook turned into praying for each other, meeting in person, and even getting to travel to Haiti together to spend time with their children before they could bring them home. Amanda says their first year home was much harder than she expected. Once they got through the first few weeks home, better known as the “honeymoon phase,” they began to see how hard attaching and adjusting would really be. “Grief takes on many different forms and I think between both of our sons we may have experienced it all,” she says. “From physical grief - hitting, punching, kicking - acted out toward me, to pulling away to be alone, to fear, quietness, screaming fits, overeating, every different aspect of it brought new difficulty. Dealing with ours sons’ grief looked different every day. Sometimes it was as easy as holding them close as they processed it all, while other times they just wanted to be left alone. Learning how to read our children and gaining their trust took time, and that was very hard to do.” Those same families that encouraged Amanda and Gary through their waiting process are also the ones who understood what they were going through once they got home, and walked them through parenting and attachment. “I have found encouragement, joy, and sorrow with these other families. Adoption can be hard at every stage. We have gone through these things together. They have reminded me to give myself grace, to take care of myself, to still pour into my husband, and that I am doing all of this for the glory of God,” she says. “Only someone who has been there or who is there now can truly understand what you are walking through.”
That was during 2011, and the couple was led to adopt from Haiti. That meant a timeframe of two-three years for adoption. Amanda describes their wait as long and hard, and, at times, more Gary and Amanda Knotts with their children than she thought her heart could enSophie, Lily, Isaac, and Isaiah. dure. The family traveled to Haiti during August of 2013 to meet their sons and then traveled one more time Though they are scattered across the country in Florida, California, before their third and final trip to bring Isaac and South Carolina, Texas, Ohio, Alabama, Virginia, Michigan, Idaho, Isaiah home during June of 2014. Their process took a total of two Oregon, and Louisiana, they now make an effort to see each other and a half years. About a year into their waiting process, Amanda on retreats or even schedule weekend getaways to stay connected. started to get on their orphanage’s Facebook® page each morning to And just like the families that reached out to encourage Amanda and get any glimpse she could of their boys in pictures. She quickly Gary, the Knotts now reach out to others who are waiting to encourrealized other families were doing the same thing. age and connect with them. “I have been given an amazing group that only God could have blessed me with,” says Amanda. A couple families reached out to her, and she was so thankful for that. And so began a close knit circle of families that knew exactly how “They’ve blessed me with a safe place to share the joys and hardships of each other were feeling. “I suddenly realized I wasn’t on a raft in the adoption…they’ve given me a place to be real. We just weren’t meant to middle of the ocean all by myself, because that’s what I had felt like before go through these things alone. No one should have to.” that,” she said. Connecting with other families gave her strength to
JourneyFall Spring Journey 2017 2016
An Unexpected Journey:
Fostering after Adopting
Eric and Courtney Fillebaum with their children Kylen, Holden, and Ann Marie, admiring the little blessing they are fostering.
Two Birmingham families found that after growing their family through adoption, God was calling them to continue loving vulnerable children in a new territory: becoming foster parents. Jason and Tori Ledlow added to their family of two boys when they brought their precious daughter, Zoe, home from China in 2014. A little while after being home, they were ready to go back to China and adopt again. However, being a school teacher, everyday Tori saw children who were in tough situations; she wished she could take them home to show them the love and support they deserved. This reoccurring exposure to children in need was what eventually led the Ledlows to consider fostering. Their children were on board with the decision, and they received their first placement of 11-month-old twins. Eric and Courtney Fillebaum share a similar story. Courtney always knew she wanted to adopt. In 2015, they brought home Anne Marie from China, now 3 years old, adding to their other two children, Kylen (6) and Holden (5). Courtneyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dad did ministry in the inner city when she was growing up, and she saw countless stories of broken homes and hurting children. She had a dream one night about a little girl with a hospital bracelet who needed help. This dream was the final push she needed from the Lord, and they soon began the process to become foster parents.
An unexpected strength Ultimately, the goal of fostering is reunification with birth families. Therefore, one struggle common to many families who are considering fostering is the idea that their family will grow to love and become attached to a child in their care and then be heartbroken when this child leaves their home. The Ledlows and Fillebaums would counter that fear with the knowledge that each child deserves to be loved so much that there is grief when they are gone. Loving this way doesn’t come from their own strength, though. Tori acknowledges that people share this fear with her all the time. For her, it’s not some superpower, or special gift that makes being a foster parent possible. She knows what these kids have gone through to be removed from their homes and brought to hers. “I know that’s harder than anything I will have to go through…I want them to know they are safe and know they are loved and let them heal a little. We know our strength comes from the Lord and we know He can do the things we can’t . . . like letting them go home,” Tori said. Courtney said she feels the same and sees the struggle as a blessing to see God working everyday. It’s hard not knowing if she’ll get to see a child grow up. She reminds herself to just love them everyday for the day they are here. When talking about their current child in care Courtney said, “We will lose sleep. We will wash bottles, rock, burp, and LOVE. We get to be part of his story. Whatever it is . . . We only have the strength and energy to do this because God is doing it for US every single day.”
An unexpected ministry When this process began, Tori knew her ministry was to care for the children God had placed in their care. When she realized the placements were temporary and the children would eventually return to their birth families, her heart opened up further, and she knew ministering to birth families was also a part of God’s plan. She has recently connected to the birth mother of their current placement, recognizing, “I know she doesn’t have a good support system so I want her to know someone is there and we are pulling for her . . . And we want her to know we are there even after they go home.” For Courtney and Eric, it’s not about trying to fix the birth family. It’s about encouraging them, being the support system they don’t have, and breaking the cycle to show them what unconditional love looks like.
An unexpected joy One concern for both families when beginning the fostering process was how their children who had been adopted would respond. Because of their background, fostering within an adoptive family can communicate a lack of permanency to children who have been adopted, causing stress and attachment issues. For both the Ledlows and Fillebaums, this concern was assessed throughout their fostering training and process. Their children’s understanding of family and fostering was evaluated, and they were prepared accordingly by professionals and their family. Nevertheless, many challenges come with the fostering process. Courtney wondered how Anne Marie would feel and how she would respond to a new little one, but she loves it. Anne Marie loves being able to share her room with other children. “She has an unbelievable example from her older siblings . . . Seeing my ‘big’ three love on [our current placement] . . . They can care for a baby better than most teens or even first time moms,” she said. For these families, the simple joys are what make it worth it. Seeing the way their other children, both biological and adoptive, have opened their arms wide to the children in their care was completely unexpected from both families. Fostering is difficult - both families agree - but watching their children gives them encouragement on the hard days, the peace of knowing this is what is right for their family, and even the strength to accept a new placement when their heart still hurts from the last goodbye.
An unexpected impact The impact of fostering reaches far past the child in your care. The people around you see what you are doing, and they want to love that child. In turn, they see that being a foster parent can be possible for them, too. Courtney said the impact their current placement has made on the people around them has been huge. The little boy they are now caring for has already changed the world for the better in his few short months of life. She said they have seen two families sign up for foster care classes because they have met him, and their eyes have been opened to the need around them. If you feel the Lord may be calling your family to continue to make an impact on vulnerable children through fostering, or for more information on Lifeline Children’s Services foster parent resources visit lifelinechild.org/foster-parenting-training-classes.
Journey Fall 2017
Lifeline Alumni Family Council We are excited to announce this group that has come together to serve as an instrumental voice on behalf of you, our Alumni families! The Lifeline Alumni Family Council is starting as a small group of families, and we pray it will grow and develop into even more support and connection for newly home families. We are thankful for you!
Cameron and Jamie Clayton China Family
Chris and Meredith Burns Domestic Family
Luke and Ali Allen Ethiopia Family
Seamus and Laura Loman China Family
Justin and Elizabeth Ann Hall Colombia Family
Casey and Chesney Stevens Kyrygzstan Family
WE NEED YOUR FEEDBACK Be sure to complete the online Alumni Family Survey coming to you soon by email! Families that complete it will be entered into a drawing to win a Lifeline Merchandise Prize Pack! 19
How We Are All Connected It happened for me standing on the tarmac outside a China Southern plane in Gaungzhou, China. There was a tiny, black headed baby girl strapped to my stomach, two weeks of noodles and hotel laundry service in my past, and an eternity of, “Oh my gosh, what have we done?” in front of me. It was then that I started to realize that, with adoption, there is no finish line. No moment of completion, no “Congratulations! you have arrived!” certificate coming in the mail. This was a process of changing and learning and loving and, most likely, it was going to look a whole lot different than I expected. Our adoption of our daughter, Ruby, couldn’t have been more textbook perfect. Thanks to our Lifeline training, our prep was spot-on. We arrived in country with perfectly (if not overly) packed bags. Our in-country experience was seamless and our new little one cuter than we could have imagined. But, what took me by surprise was, honestly, me. I struggled to emotionally connect, as our lives had been turned upside down from what I had become used to. After a few weeks home, all of the changes in our family brought about emotions that I had not anticipated as a mother, and I struggled. I was barely holding on. But God had given me a “lifeline.” Yes, my social worker was great. She faithfully checked in on us, encouraged me and pointed me to good resources, but the lifeline I needed (and that God provided) was another mamma. And, in fact, he gave me two! In our travel group, two other families were also adopting children the same age as our daughter. We hit it off and spent many hours laughing, eating, and comparing notes while in China. Back home, we all lived a couple hours away from each other, but we kept in close contact through text. It was to these others mammas, walking the same road as I was, that I felt safe to voice my crazy. What I heard was truth. “You’re not crazy. This is hard. But God has got it.” I needed those words and that mantra. I needed it so I didn’t leave anybody at Target®. On purpose. Fast forward 2 and a bit years and now I‘d just call our family a normal sort of 4-kids-and-a-dog kind of crazy. I still see those moms at least twice a year and we laugh about some of the things we did and said in that first year home. Lifeline is an agency we could count on to prepare us for adoption with knowledge and logistics. But, God stepped in to show me that I needed knowledge combined with common experience filtered through the grid of biblical truth. I needed community with insiders. Maybe your experience was different. Maybe you thrived emotionally but wish you knew more about in-country experiences. Maybe you needed connection with other parents who had a child with a similar special need. Maybe you just needed someone to pray for you and check in now and then. Lifeline is uniquely equipped to support new families and alumni families with connection and care through their large alumni network. In order to better invest in these relationships, Lifeline has recently formed an Alumni Family Council. The goal of the council is to find out what alumni families need, connect you to each other and Lifeline, and creatively utilize your wisdom to encourage families just beginning their journey. In the next few days you will receive an email with a survey designed specifically for alumni families. Please take the time to answer the questions honestly and thoughtfully, as this survey will be key in helping the Alumni Family Council and Lifeline staff know how to best serve and connect with you. Psalm 68:6 promises that God places the lonely in families. He has fulfilled that promise for so many children who now are loved in our homes, but he has also fulfilled it for each of us by placing us in the Lifeline family. I hope today you are encouraged that the Lifeline family values its alumni and longs to be a tool of the Father so that each of us experiences His presence personally and in our families.
- Jamie Clayton, Alumni Family Council Chair Jamie and Cameron Clayton with their children Lottie, Ruby, Jake, & Colby. Journey Fall 2017
Upcoming Events Go to lifelinechild.org/events to see how you can get involved!
Share the Story: 10.24.17 We invite you to join us for Lifelineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 15th Annual Fundraising Dinner Event in Runforone5k.org Birmingham, AL â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Share the Story: Hope Embraced. Join us to hear stories from men, women, and children whose lives have been forever changed by hope found in Christ.
Orphan Sunday: 11.12.17 Join us Sunday, November 12th at 6PM (cst) for an International Adoption Simulcast! Learn more about how orphan care fits into a biblical worldview, what One Day. Voice. One Purpose. the international adoption process looks like, and One hear about financial resources for adoption. Join as an individual or host a group in your home or church.
Upcoming Webinars: October 17: Changes in China October 17: Road Map to International Adoption November 16: Road Map to International Adoption December 21: Road Map to International Adoption
Take 15 Minutes to Pray with Lifeline 3rd Thursday of the month 11:00am CT/12:00pm EST Call: (712) 432-1212 Enter Meeting ID #: 762-608-199 or join us on Periscope at @LifelineChild Email David.Wooten@lifelinechild.org to be placed on the Prayer Partner email list!
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Journey Fall 2017
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