issue no. 8 | Fall 2018
an alumni publication of Lifeline Children’s Services
PROTECTING THEIR STORY WHILE TELLING HIS
an open adoption PARENTING IN THE TEEN YEARS FAMILIES COUNT™
Journey Lifeline Children’s Services 100 Missionary Ridge Birmingham, Alabama 35242 Phone: 205.967.0811 Website: lifelinechild.org
EDITOR IAL KRISTIN WHITEHURST
JENNY RIDDLE Contributing Editor
CONTR IBUTOR S Angie Blackwell, Ashley Newell, Beth Perez, Caitlin Estes, Charlie Ann Bishop, Christie Mac Segars, Elizabeth Ann Hall, Jamie Clayton, Jenny Bailey, Karla Thrasher, Kristy Tharp, and Lynn Beckett
WH AT IS JOUR NEY ? 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? We love hearing from you! Send us what you would love to read about in the next issue of Journey to email@example.com.
MEET OUR COV ER FAM ILY The Crook Family of Knoxville, TN Andy, Jennifer, Ian (9), Hensley (6), Lucas (4)
A Letter from Herbie PRESIDENT & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
What a privilege to present you with the Fall edition of the Journey magazine. My time at Lifeline has included much travel with our team and ministry partners for strategic planning and urgent ministry throughout the world. While traveling, my wife and best friend, Ashley, stays at home praying for me, caring for and homeschooling our three children. My favorite trips are those rare times in which my sweet wife and children are able to travel with me and experience the work firsthand. During the summer of 2013, we were all blessed to travel for 7 weeks throughout China. My son, Caleb, accompanied me for a pastors’ training in Uganda with a team from (un)adopted in 2017. This summer, our family was able to be in Colombia for 5 weeks training foster parents, hosting an indigenous pastors’ training, and helping our team on the ground strategically plan for the future. The time in Colombia was priceless, and you will read an update in this issue on the exciting work the Lord is doing through our team in Colombia. We pray that more families can travel together on mission. Therefore, it was a delight to share this experience with our children (Caleb, age 13; Adelynn, age 11; and Emily, age 8) while co-laboring with my precious Ashley: “From July 15 - August 17, our family traveled to Bogota, Colombia and three other Colombian cities. I never know what will be in store on these trips, but always pray that the Lord would simply use our family for His glory. Faithfully, the Lord gave us many moments that will be highlights of my life, and my kids’ lives too. Our main priorities in Colombia were to help lead caregiver trainings in orphanages, helping with a training of more than 100 foster families in each of the cities of Manizales and Pereira, as well as being a part of a local pastors’ conference in Bogota. There was such joy in serving with Beth and Oscar Perez, Lifeline’s team in Colombia, and in seeing God’s people coming together to care for vulnerable children! The conference for local pastors in Bogota was truly one of the highlights of my life. I can think of nothing else that so clearly embodies the mission of Lifeline. We were equipping the local body of Christ to care for orphans
and vulnerable children right there, in their neighborhoods. It was inspiring to see the local church get so passionate about how they could care for orphans both personally and corporately. It was such a pleasure to lead a session on ‘how the church can care for children from hard places.’ I reminded these sweet saints that Satan will always seek to discourage adoptive and foster families with the lie that the task is impossible. I was able to wash these brothers and sisters in the Word of God, reminded them that only God can help them resist the lies of the devil and give them the strength to care for the vulnerable. Another sweet highlight involves our children! One day while Herbie and I were training foster families in Pereira, I found our kids befriending the security guards in charge of the government building where the training was taking place. Together we conversed in our broken Spanish and their broken English. Near the end of our conversation, our new friends told us that they had always wanted to meet Americans, but were also very nervous. It is humbling to be from a country which is met with such high regard worldwide, yet also a huge responsibility. It was our honor to meet these young men and our prayer is that they saw the light of Christ in our conversation and in our smiles. As we departed the training, they asked that we never forget the Colombian people. I’m thankful that my children were willing to get outside of their comfort zone to share the love of Christ with those we least expected.” Thank you for your commitment to pray for the ministry of Lifeline. Our hope it that this issue is helpful, informative, and provokes you to a greater trust in our sweet Jesus. May the Lord bless you as we finish strong in 2018. In Him,
Herbert M. Newell, IV President and Executive Director
LUCAS’ FAVORITE THING ABOUT FALL:
“We all get to pick a pumpkin. Mine is the littlest.”
08 Navigating an Open Adoption
18 Protecting Their Story While Telling His
10 Parenting in the Teen Years
19 Families Count and Changed Perceptions
12 Latin America Update: Colombia
20 I’m Coming Home
14 Alumni Council Update 16 Heritage Trips: Part 2
22 Upcoming Events
Update from China written by KARLA THRASHER, CHINA PROGRAM DIRECTOR
With the changes in China over the last year, we have continued to pray for this country and we know so many of you as alumni families are eager to see how the Lord continues to work. During the first week of September, Herbie Newell, Josh Caldwell, Karla Thrasher, Angela Mains and Ann Maura Hinton participated in the CCCWAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Social Work training program in Yinchuan, China. We spent five days training social workers from orphanages in the Ningxia province. The topics we covered during our presentations were child development, the neurochemistry of the brain, attachment, sensory integration and how trauma affects children. In addition, we worked together with the participants on managing cases long-term, facilitating nurture groups and learning activities to use when working with children. It is our desire that with the knowledge and practical information we shared, the social workers will be able to positively impact the lives of the children in the orphanages and foster care. Our time together was successful from both a professional and relational standpoint. Yinchuan holds a very special place in our ministryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heart and we were grateful for this opportunity to spend time with Director Du and his staff.
Summer at the Beach
Duncan, home from Uganda in 2010, was proud of his new K’Nex from his recent birthday celebration. Duncan is the son of Michael and Toria Edwards in Chicago, IL.
This is Ridge, home since 2016, and Rivers, home since 2014, at the beach in Gulf Shores this summer. Their parents are Tim and Jerica Vanoy from Vance, AL.
Celebrating 5 Years Home “Ella loves her family, her dance classes and Disney World.” Ella, home from China in January 2013, is the daughter of Brandon and Meredith Greer.
Competing in the Special Olympics “This was April 27, 2018, at the Special Olympics where Leah competed in the softball throw and the 40 meter dash. It was amazing. Her teachers made the sign we’re holding and tons of them came to watch her. We are very blessed by such a supportive school.” Leah, home from China in 2013, lives with her parents Greg and Sarah VanderWal in Tuscaloosa, AL.
New School Year
Matt and Michelle Wilson and their daughter, Miriam, home from Uganda in 2010, traveled to Uganda and Kenya for Miriam’s heritage trip during summer of 2017! The Wilsons live in Helena, Alabama.
“This sweet boy started 1st grade a few weeks ago and has risen to the challenge! He loves his teacher, friends, and school, but most of all he loves Jesus - he has the biggest, sweetest, tender heart towards the Lord.” Jean Marc, home from Haiti since 2016, is the son of Angie Koch in Ballwin, MI.
Open Adoption written and compiled by
LIFELINE DOMESTIC TEAM *Names have been changed to protect privacy.
Families who have adopted domestically often have the unique opportunity to have a relationship with their child’s birth mother—an open adoption. Although domestic adoptions used to be strictly “closed” in communication, Lifeline prepares families to keep communication open when possible, allowing a meaningful connection for their child and the opportunity to show the love of Christ to his or her birth mother. For those unfamiliar with open adoption, it can seem like a scary concept: How will you relate with a woman who is a stranger to you? Would the birth mother try to take the child away? Sam and Pam Smith*, a Lifeline alumni family, heard questions exactly like these when they began their adoption journey in August 2015. Truthfully, open adoption wasn’t initially comfortable for them. After years of infertility treatments, they decided God was calling them to grow their family through adoption. They entered the process focused on growing their family, but ended up with a heart for their future child’s birth mother, as well. God slowly shifted their perspective from one solely focused on growing their family to an “openness and love at the purest level” for their future birth mother. “When God called us to adopt, he changed our hearts,” Pam explained. They shared this decision with family and friends, and explained their desire to keep their future child’s birth mother up-to-date with what was happening, to find ways to keep her involved in their child’s life, and to make sure she knew she would be a special part of their family, too. When they received a call on April 28th, 2016, that a birth mother, Emily*, chose them as parents, they prepared to welcome a son and a birth mother into their family. Once again, they humbled themselves before the Lord, as they realized their desire to love and include her may need to look differently than they imagined. In fact, Pam admits that she needed to adjust her expectations and “really stepped back and let [Emily] set the pace.” They gave Emily the time and space she needed after Luke’s* birth so
that she felt comfortable and respected. At the root of their willingness to have a flexible, open relationship is a heart for Emily, a dedication to God, and a love for Luke. Pam explains, “Every decision we make regarding her, we ask ourselves, ‘What would Luke want us to do?’ Twenty years from now, we want to be able to look at him and say that we did EVERYTHING we could to foster an open and loving relationship between him and his birth mother. And, when she needed love, we showed her love. And, when she needed help, we helped her. And, when she needed grace, we gave it to her.” Each open adoption is different, but the desire to share the love of God with birth mothers who chose life for their children is a powerful call. The Smiths hope to continue answering that call to love extravagantly and faithfully. They advise prospective adoptive parents—or other domestic adoption alumni—to pray now for the birth mothers of their children: “Pray for your [child’s] birth mother and your relationship with her. Talk to your spouse about what an open adoption looks like to you. Do your best to share a vision of what it looks like now, before you’re chosen.”
CONSIDER THESE IDEAS AS YOU SHARE CHRIST’S LOVE WITH YOUR CHILD’S BIRTH MOTHER:
- Ask your child’s birth mother how you can pray for her, and incorporate those requests into prayers with your child. - Involve your child in writing a birthday card for her — Lifeline can ensure it’s sent to her. - Celebrate the ways your child is similar to her birth mother. - Develop special traditions related to your child’s birth mother into your child’s life. - Ask your child what he would like to include in your yearly update to his birth mother. - Share some of your child’s favorite foods and activities, and find similarities with her birth mother. - Encourage communication with your child about his adoption by discussing his story and how excited you were when he came to your family.
Lifeline joins with domestic families to equip them for birth mother ministry through the home study process and our Rooted in Love adoption conference. If you’re a domestic alumni family seeking more ways to care for your child’s birth mother, contact our office for additional support and resources.
PARENTING IN THE TEEN YEARS developed by CHARLIE ANN BISHOP, EDUCATION INTERN, AND ANGIE BLACKWELL, INTERNATIONAL SOCIAL WORKER The teenage years can bring about a lot of change for the teenager herself, the parents, and the family dynamics as a whole. Navigating the road that is adolescence can be tricky, trying, and surprising but also can be a fun and joyous adventure. There are a multitude of factors that can impact a child’s development at any stage including family dynamics, community, culture, environment, socioeconomic status, and many others. Adoption or being placed in a foster home can add a whole new layer to how children develop as adolescents. A huge factor to consider is that a child adopted as a toddler and a child adopted or in a foster home as a teenager, will likely have numerous different factors to consider as they progress through adolescence.
A final and major task that adolescents work to achieve during their teenage years is the formation of their identity. Teens develop their identity using the interactions they have with the world around them, the personalities of those closest to them, their culture, and many other influences. For any teen, this process of balancing certain traits of their family with those of the world around them and melding those together in who they desire to be in the world can be difficult. For a child who has been adopted, this process can be profoundly more confusing, because they may desire to develop pieces of who they are from the culture of their birth family or traits of their birth parents but may not have much information or know how much to rely on their past informing their identity. They also may struggle to form an identity if there are still earlier developmental stages that have not been resolved.
In her book Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens, Debbie Riley identifies four key pieces of a teenager’s development. During these years, teens are working towards becoming more independent and self-sufficient—being able to accomplish tasks on their own or make decisions for themselves rather than fully relying on their parents or caregivers. They also turn more towards their peers for validation. For older children who have been adopted or are living in a foster home, their path towards independence can be a rockier than that of a teen that has not experienced adoption, foster care, or any form of trauma. Some teens can have an internal battle between the desire for independence and the desire for safety and security that is found with their foster or adoptive parents. This is especially true if there are any feelings of abandonment or being “given up on” by their birth parents or other caregivers. Therefore, teens that have been adopted may not lean as much on their peers as other individuals their age do.
SO...what do we do as parents to help and encourage our children during this stage of development that has so many significant life implications? Here are a few practical ideas:
1. Find the balance of safety and allowing independence. Give them gradual freedom and allow them to learn from their own mistakes.
2. Openly discuss life dreams and plans, and let them dream big while gently helping them explore how to make those (or other less grandiose dreams) come true. Assist them in setting short and long term goals: have visuals and write them down. Use the Internet to explore all the options the world has for them.
3. Listen without always having to have an answer or “fix it.” Sometimes they just need a calm, understanding and
A second task that Riley mentions that is intertwined with independence, is the reconstruction of the adolescent’s superego, or value system. Younger children desire to please their caregivers and follow the same value system as their parents, but older children are beginning to develop their own value system and can often be influenced by individuals outside of the family and, oftentimes, the media. Additionally, children who have never had their social engagement system activated in a safe way struggle to be socially motivated at all. Teens who have been adopted or those in foster care often struggle with balancing the values of their foster or adoptive family as well as those of their birth parents, which can hinder the overall value-making process.
sympathetic ear to really hear their heart.
4. Have fun together and include their friends. Find creative ways to do things together that they enjoy, even if those things stretch you, and even if they don’t really want you there at first.
5. Practice good self-care so you will be rested and have patience to tackle each day.
6. Prioritize your marriage and have united relationships with each other and with your teens.
7. Don’t be afraid to seek help from friends who have survived and learned to thrive during the teen season.
8. Seek family counseling, if needed, and know the payoffs
As children enter the adolescent stage of development, they begin to have an increase in hormones, which can result in increased sexual urges and aggression. Balancing the tasks of adjusting to these increased urges and feelings, connecting with and pleasing their adoptive or foster parents, and considering the identity of their birth parents and whether or not they are destined to follow down the same path . . . this is a tall order. All of these emotions can bring about difficulties in the process of forming expectations, rules, and connections within the family for both the child and parents. Fall 2018
will be worth the time, co-pays, and any initial fears associated with professionals who can help.
9. Pray without ceasing. Do this individually and with your children, not telling God what you want to happen, but asking Him to teach and guide each of you on the journey.
10. Repeat 1-9. Resources Cited from Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens, by Debbie Riley
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2018 g raduates Olivia Hood
Olivia is a graduate of Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Alabama.
Dasha graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a bachelors degree in social work.
Tryton is a graduate of Adullam House Christian Academy in Wetumpka, Alabama.
Faith Yuefei Hilton
Faith is a graduate of Fred T. Foard High School in Newton, North Carolina. She plans to attend Lenoir-Rhyne University in the fall to pursue a degree in social work.
Thomas Hatcher Thomas is a graduate of Park Crossing High School in Montgomery, Alabama.
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Alena is a graduate of Hoover High School in Birmingham, Alabama.
Latin America Update:
Colombia an interview with
ELIZABETH ANN HALL AND BETH PEREZ
For the last six years, our Colombia team has seen much growth with regard to adoption, growing from five waiting families during 2012 to more than 40 families in process today. Over the last six years, more than 150 children have come home to forever families as a result. The Halls are one of these families, and they recently completed their second adoption from Colombia. When asked what led them to return to Colombia, Elizabeth Ann Hall explained that they had truly fallen in love with the culture and people of Colombia and had Fall 2018
an amazing experience in their first adoption: “It is a fairly stable program; it moves quickly if you are adopting a child with a special circumstance, and the Lifeline staff in the Colombia program is AMAZING! ” Beth Perez, Lifeline’s Latin America Program Director, and her husband, Oscar, live in Colombia and work hands-on with the adoption program, partnering with our in-country team, and supporting families when they come to Colombia to finalize their adoptions. Having Beth in Colombia with the
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Halls for their second adoption proved invaluable. Elizabeth Ann remembers, “We were able to meet for meals, and she would come by the apartment to see how we were doing. This gave us the opportunity to confide in her and talk with her regarding any difficulties or questions we were having during our time in country.” When we facilitate adoptions in a country, our hope and prayer is that ministry opportunities will broaden to impact children in a holistic manner. Our goal is to assist the local church to engage
in caring for vulnerable children in their community. During the Halls’ month-long stay in Colombia, they had the opportunity to witness this dream become reality. “It was wonderful to see the Colombian people getting engaged in orphan care in their communities,” says Elizabeth Ann. Our ministry in Colombia is becoming a picture of the holistic nature of ministry that only the Lord can bring about. We asked Beth to share more insight on exciting things the Lord is doing in Colombia. What is an area of growth that most excites you? For years, we have seen separate ministries or opportunities at work in Colombia, but this year we have seen the Lord really bringing it all together—the body is working together in one accord, and it’s absolutely impossible to stop from growing. We are seeing children impacted by the local church, by the ministries wanting to strategically offer ways to empower older children and young adults, by believers coming here from the USA on mission teams to show them Christ’s love, and by mission-
al families adopting them into their families and showing them unconditional love. We are seeing how all this, in turn, impacts the lives of believers here in Colombia and back in the States. How has (un)adopted® grown in Colombia recently? Our (un)adopted team has been partnering with local church pastors to help share a biblical foundation of God’s heart for the orphan and how they can get engaged in helping meet the needs of children in their own country. These pastors joined together and hosted our first ever Orphan Care Conference. It was amazing! What was your perspective on the caregiver trainings we recently conducted? The really cool thing is that it all started with a post-adoption family giving us a scholarship to host a few trainings in 2018. With that gift, (un)adopted and our adoption teams have paired up to conduct over 10 caregiver and foster care trainings to help love, empower, and train over 800 caregivers in Colombia. Our heart is to train in the best ways to care for children
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and to show caregivers that they are valuable as well. Many caregivers have approached us during and after the trainings to tell us how much it meant to them and how it changed their perspectives in how to best help the children. Prayerfully, these caregiver trainings will continue to open doors for further holistic orphan care. Leaving Colombia to return home was bittersweet for the Halls, as they were heartbroken to know there were children staying behind who would never have the opportunity to experience the love of a forever family. Elizabeth Ann Hall expressed how much she appreciated knowing the work of Lifeline and (un)adopted will continue:
“We are so blessed to be able to partner with Lifeline and (un)adopted to help provide a way for these children to hear the gospel and have a chance to succeed when they age out. It is exciting to see what God has in store through the local church in Colombia.”
to our families Dear Fellow Alumni, Happy Fall! If your family is anything like mine, it seems that while God is preparing the earth for a season of rest, family life is still pushing full steam ahead! There are football games to watch and attend, apples to pick, homework to be done, dinners to cook and deadlines for school and work continuing to mount up. We know each of these things are a blessing but boy, do they make life busy! The Alumni Family Council has been busy too! Our top priority over the summer and into the fall has been launching the Family Mentor Program. You may remember volunteering to serve as a mentor in our Alumni Family Survey last fall. If you volunteered, you should have received an email from us with a mentor job description and application! We want to be sure every family is fully equipped to support new families so your quick return of the application will allow us to get you matched with new waiting families! If you missed it, you can still apply to be a mentor! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know you’re interested in serving as an alumni family mentor. A mentor doesn’t have to be an expert or get it all right, all the time! A mentor’s primary role is three-fold: To listen, To encourage and To pray! If you’ve adopted and have experience to share, you would make a great mentor! We are excited about the mentor program and other alumni programs we are working to roll out. We’d love your ideas on how we can best support you and your family as you continue to grow. Please feel free to contact us any time! In it with you,
Jamie Clayton Jamie Clayton, Alumni Family Council Chair email@example.com
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Building Bridges of Hope written by Sue Badeau Coloring is not only relaxing and fun, it has been shown to increase focus, reduce anxiety and stress and support well-being. For children who have experienced trauma, and the adults who care for them, simple everyday tools that enhance healing are worth their weight in gold. In this unique coloring book, nationally known child welfare and trauma expert Sue Badeau pairs tips and strategies for parents and caregivers.
Bubbles and Butterflies written by Sue Badeau “Have you ever said “Calm down!” to a child who is spiraling out of control? It doesn’t work too well. When a child is sad, scared or angry, these feelings can often lead to challenging behaviors at home or in the classroom. Parents and other adults in their lives need effective tools to help children manage challenging emotions, re-claim a state of calm and tame difficult behaviors.
2019 UPCOMING TRIPS COLOMBIA: Dates TBD GUATEMALA: June 2-8; September 8-14; November 10-15 (WinShape Couples trip) HAITI: March & October - Dates TBD INDIA: November - Dates TBD LIBERIA: November 15-26
While there is a cost for adoption, our heart is to never let finances be a hindrance to a child having a forever family. By partnering with the community of donors for the Hope Adoption Fund, you can help give eligible families a scholarship toward their adoption.
ROMANIA: June 21-29 UGANDA: April 1-9; June 3-11; September 9-17 If you have questions or interest about serving with an (un)adopted team, look over these options, pray, and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to apply for a trip. Please keep in mind that space is limited!
You can also visit lifelinechild.org/trips for updates and additional trips.
____________ FIND OUT MORE AT: lifelinechild.org/hope-adoption-fund - 15 -
Heritage Trips the Tharp Family
Scott and Kristy Tharp always knew adoption would be a part of their journey. According to their plans, adoption would happen after having biological children and when they could afford the financial cost of it. However, God’s plan was different than theirs! After years of trying to have a biological child, a heartbreaking miscarriage, and a big move, the Tharps opened their hearts to God’s timing for adoption. Over a span of four years, from 2011 to 2015, God brought their family together. Kristy is fluent in Spanish, so the couple was drawn to Latin America adoption programs. At first, they worked toward adoption from Peru, and when God closed that door they were led to Costa Rica. One day while looking through pictures of waiting children, both of their eyes were drawn to a group of three sisters. God opened doors to quickly change their paperwork to adopt three children instead of one, and to be approved by PANI (the governing body in Costa Rica) within the right timeframe. During June 2015, they spent five weeks in Costa Rica to adopt their three girls! Immediately after coming home, Scott and Kristy began planning to take their girls to Costa Rica to honor their daughters’ heritage and enjoy their country of birth in a way that was not possible in 2015. They made the trip in July 2018, when their daughters Sharon, Ashley, and Alondra were 15, 13, and 6 years old! We asked the Tharps about their experience and have also included some words of advice from our post-adoption team:
What was the motivation for your trip to Costa Rica? We wanted to return and allow our girls to have a visit to their home country as well as to visit PANI, Yolanda, and the Hogar Cristiano where the girls spent three years before joining our family. When you are bringing the girls into your family for the first time, the time in country is actually very stressful. You may visit places and see sights, but it’s under the guise of getting to know your children, hoping they will start to bond, wondering if you are being too lenient or too strict. It’s all about the kids. This heritage trip was a chance to see Costa Rica without the stress of learning how to be a parent. We went places and saw sights as an already established family. We went to have fun! And we DID! How did you prepare your girls for this trip? We openly talked about the trip, let them know when we purchased the tickets, allowed them some input into the places we chose to stay, and created a count-down chain with 172 links in it (that’s how many days were left before we got on the plane). Each night after dinner, one of us would go up and tear off a link from the chain. It started off hanging from two window curtain rods and then onto a lamp. It was so fun to watch the chain get smaller and smaller! Why did you visit certain people and the home where the girls had lived? It was important for us to see the people who made our adoption possible and thank them again for all they did. Our girls are such a blessing to us. We have our moments when we want to pull each other’s hair out, but we love each other so much and can’t imagine life without one another. We wanted everyone to also see how the girls are doing well; they still speak Spanish; they still remember them; and they are prospering in their new home. We also feel, especially with the visit to the Hogar Cristiano, that it was good for our girls to see the sisters and “tías” and their old friends. Most of the girls from three years ago are gone, but they were able to visit with some girls from the home that they knew three years ago. Ashley’s best friend was still there, and that was sweet. One of the sisters had us help make bread, which is something our older girls used to do when they were at the home. It brought back good memories for them.
Were there any specific emotions your girls experienced on the trip? Were there any challenging emotions along the way? When I talked to the girls about their emotions today, they just said they were very excited about the trip. Sharon specifically said, “I was excited to go to Costa Rica because I have not been in my country for three years, and I wish I could have stayed longer than two weeks.” Ashley said, “I was excited to go to Costa Rica because I miss my friend so much, and she was very helpful, and she understands me very much, and she loves me.” Ashley was speaking about her friend who still lives at Hogar Cristiano. Do your girls talk about your trip since being home? What are some things they seemed to enjoy the most or meant the most to them? Our girls have talked a lot about the trip— some with us and some with their friends and church friends. They enjoyed the things we did, like going to the volcano-fed thermal waters, doing water slides at the resort we visited one day, snorkeling at the Tortuga Islands, and spending time at the Hogar Cristiano. But they also reflect on having been back to “their country.” Ashley talks about getting to see her best friend, who she loves so much and who understands her. We are thankful to provide our girls with this trip that honors their heritage! What advice would you give to other parents who are considering taking a heritage trip? Most of my advice is given above, but talk openly about your trip if you have older children, and give them input! I would also say to have a mix of fun planned with going back to where they have been. You will be surprised at how very different this trip is from the one you may have had for adoption because there is just not that stress. I’d also give a very simple logistics tip, and that is to rent a car so you have freedom to go on your own! And, don’t be afraid to eat at the local restaurants, by asking around to the locals. They are less expensive than the tourist traps, and are better food. Our girls loved the authentic home cooking. It comforted them! Lifeline’s post-adoption team has some encouraging words of guidance for families who are planning heritage trips: There is no magical age to go. There is no magical length of time to stay.
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There is no magical agenda while there. There may be “magical moments”, but there will also likely be tears. There will be questions unanswered and places unvisited. No two stories or children are exactly the same, and even among siblings, there might be different needs and feelings associated with heritage trips. As you consider taking your internationally adopted child back to his or her birth country, keep in mind that identity formation is not an event; it is a process. Feeling connected to the city or village of birth is not a date on the calendar; it is continual journey. Many significant memories can be made on a trip and relationships can begin or be strengthened, but a week long “vacation” is only one part of a big pie called connection. It can be good to consider going to the central authority or previous homes (orphanages or foster families) if possible and if the child is ready for that. Please consult with our Program Directors about what is best in each country. Lifeline also encourages families to visit our in-country teams to encourage them and share time with them. It is a true blessing for them to see children and their families. If families would like to bring gifts (like books, clothes, games, etc.), finding out the needs of the orphanages or homes by contacting the program point before traveling is always appreciated! In some countries there are guidelines and protocols, so please be respectful of those and, again, help your child form positive connections. Our children need to feel positive connections with the part of their identity that is their birth country, its people, and its culture. Begin making positive connections before placement in your family and continue it over your child’s lifetime. Whether you go to simply experience the sites and truly have a “vacation,” or you are there for much more, soak it in with your child, and be prepared for the highs and lows that it can include. Consult with other families that have been and with your social worker or counselor for what your particular child might think, feel, and need on this very important trip. Please refer to our previous issue (Summer 2018), which gave 10 specific suggestions, and be watching for our future issues which will provide even more information about heritage trips.
PROTECTING THEIR STORY whil e t elling hi s
written and compiled by JENNY RIDDLE
Not too long ago, I asked a trusted friend and co-worker to read a blog, in which I shared some personal emotions about the early days of being a new mother through adoption. I asked him to send me his thoughts, and I was incredibly thankful for his insight: “The one thought that I have is how would [your son] feel if he found this blog and read it twenty years from now? . . . Just a thought that I would like you to consider and count the cost of your openness and make sure you are completely comfortable with it.” I took the feedback to heart and reworked a few sentences, ensuring the focus remained on God’s work in my story as a mother, without jeopardizing my son’s feelings or story. Although we need honesty about the challenges and joys of adoption, we also need a healthy understanding of boundaries. Therefore, in this day and age when pictures and words live forever on the Internet, I sought and gathered wisdom from fellow adoptive parents and social workers that can serve as guides to help us, as families, tell our stories. Share Your Story, Not Your Child’s Ultimately, much of the story we want to tell belongs more to our children than to us. However, there are appropriate and healthy ways to share our stories without usurping the story of our children’s lives. Ask your child’s permission The first guiding principle is to ask your child
for permission. This principle is imperative for all parents, particularly as children get older and especially for children who have a story to tell that involves trauma. Remember, the Internet is forever Adoptive families often feel isolated in their communities and need to reach out. Circumstances like these make sharing a lot of information tempting because families desperately need support, prayer, and connection with others who understand. In these instances, we may need to seek out a smaller, more private opportunity to share.
birth country, his birth family, or others in a way that airs private grievances? Should I Share a Picture? • Ask your child’s permission but also help teach them that the Internet is forever. Just because your child is OK with it now doesn’t mean either of you will want it shared five years from now. • What does your child need most in a particular moment—the camera or emotional support and understanding?
Point others to the gospel We don’t always understand why certain situations arise in our families or why God allows them. However, 2 Corinthians 1:3–4 reveals that God uses us to minister to others who may be walking the same path. When we tell our stories, the ultimate goal is to point to the One who writes our stories. Only He can give true comfort; only He can bring true healing; only He can redeem.
Can I Share Our Story Better? • Can I personalize this story or reword it so that it takes the focus off my child and places it onto my story? • Who could be my sounding board to help me decide what personal parts of my child’s story are appropriate to share and what should be omitted? • Are there any identifying words or details that could be omitted to provide more anonymity and privacy to my child, while still getting my point across?
Should I say it? Ashley Yeager, a Family Therapist at Lifeline, helped develop some questions that will help families navigate the question of “Should I tell this story?”
In today’s culture, we have platforms for sharing, and we want to make sure we are using those opportunities with Godly wisdom as we connect with our children and love them beyond today.
• What is the smallest number of people with whom I can share this issue to seek support? • How could/will my child feel if she read my statements when she is a teenager or adult? • Can this story help others in a positive way? Has my child granted permission to share? • Am I speaking negatively of my child, his
Written and compiled by Jenny Riddle, with information gathered from the collective wisdom of professional counselors and adoptive parents.
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Read the full blog here: LIFELINECHILD.ORG/PROTECTINGTHEIR-STORY-WHILE-TELLING-HIS.
FAMILIES COUNT and CHANGED PERCEPTIONS an interview with JENNY BAILEY
Mike and Jenny Bailey are a Lifeline alumni family living in Birmingham, Alabama with their four children. After adopting from China, they have continued to partner with Lifeline to care for children and families. During 2017, Jenny felt God pulling her heart toward foster care. At first, she thought that meant becoming a foster family. However, after multiple doors closed to that possibility, she discovered she could support and mentor birth families as they worked toward reunification. Jenny first served as a mentor for a mother who attended a Families Count course at a nearby church. When her own Sunday School class was exploring local mission opportunities, she invited Traci Newell, Lifeline’s Education Coordinator, to speak about Families Count. Jenny’s class decided to work toward beginning a Families Count ministry with their church. After completing group and mentor training, the first class began in June 2018. Jenny currently serves as the Families Count Coordinator for her church. We asked Jenny to share her perspective of working with the Families Count ministry, including her expectations and perceptions of the people she would meet: Did you have any expectations of the parents that would be coming to Families Count? I expected the parents to just be there to check the box and get the certificate. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. They Fall 2018
asked questions, participated in discussion, took notes, and were genuinely engaged. I was also blown away by how supportive they were of each other. They comforted each other and educated each other in ways that we never could have. They understood the system and gave great advice to those that were experiencing challenges that they had already been through. One of the challenges of Families Count can be finding people within a church to commit to serving. How did you go about seeking help from within your church? Although we initially began Families Count as a class mission project, we did involve other church members to assist with childcare. Our meal was held during our normal Wednesday night family dinner. Everyone was so welcoming of our parents! For our class that will begin in September, we will be reaching out to our entire church family to recruit mentors and transportation assistance. Several of our current mentors have maintained relationships with their mentee. We want these relationships to continue as long as they are needed. In order for that to happen, we need new mentors to volunteer. How have you seen your church get involved in Families Count so far? I had faith that our church would welcome the parents and support them. I believe they went above and beyond. Many of the members really engaged with the parents during dinner. We held a baby shower for one mom; our benevolence fund has helped purchase a refrigerator for a family; and a
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couple in the church donated a push mower to a couple who needed help maintaining their lawn. Are there any people you have met with whom you have developed a friendship or whose story is special to you so far? There are three moms that I talk to and see several times during the week. Four of the class participants have continued to come to church on Wednesday nights. One couple also comes on Sundays and actually got married by our pastor at our church! We planned a wedding shower for them as well. How has your role involved with Families Count changed your perception of parents who are in these situations? I have realized how much these moms and dads love their kids and what they are going through to get them back. I always had compassion for the children in foster care but never once felt compassion for the moms and dads. I just assumed the worst in them. I realized just how hard some of these moms and dads had struggled and how broken in spirit they are. The majority of the class participants had been raised in foster care and felt like failures for allowing their kids to suffer the same heartbreaks. They found themselves in a deep hole and just didn’t know how to dig themselves out. Families Count is not the answer to all of their problems. However, it does introduce and re-enforce Who the answer is and how to find answers in the Word. For information on future Families Count trainings, please contact Traci Newell at traci.newell@ lifelinechild.org.
Baxter Family. Hungary
Dickey Family, Hungary
Butenschoen Family, Haiti
Calvin Family, China
Celebrate with us over the children who have come home to their forever families March-July of 2018.
Svoboda Family, India
Thompson Family, Hungary
Knott Family, China
Vann Family, China
Makowski Family, China Fall 2018
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Cornutt Family, India
Culver Family, Bulgaria
Forni Family, China
Hunsberger Family, Haiti
McMains Family, Haiti
Orosz Family, China
Pippin Family, Costa Rica
"I will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. I will boast in the Lord; the humble will hear and be glad. Proclaim Yahweh's g reatness with me; let us exalt His name together."
PSALM 34:1-3 Wesner Family, China
Massey Family, China
George Family, China Fall 2018
Davis Family, Hungary
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upcoming events Visit lifelinechild.org/events to see how you can get involved!
Dodge for a Cause
Rooted in Love Adoption Conferences
Register online at lifelinechild.org/events.
Birmingham, Alabama January 25-26, 2019 | April 26-27, 2019 July 26-27, 2019 | October 25-26, 2019
Saturday, October 27 | Topeka, KS 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Register online at lifelinechild.org/rooted-in-love.
Sporting Clay Shootout
Thursday, November 8 | Jacksonville, FL 8:00 am - 12:30 pm
14th Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament Monday, May 13, 2019 | Birmingham, AL Save the date! More details to come.
Register online at lifelinechild.org/events.
Share the Story Events
Prayer + Webinars
Tuesday, November 6 | Atlanta, GA 5:30 pm - Doors Open + Silent Auction 6:30 pm - Dinner + Program
Prayer Partner Calls 3rd Thursday of each month for 15 minutes. Email email@example.com for more info.
Tuesday, November 13 | Charleston, SC 5:30pm - Doors Open 6:00 pm - Dinner & Program
Roadmap to International Adoption November 15 at 6:00 CST. Register online at lifelinechild.org/events.
Register online at lifelinechild.org/events.
November 11, 2018 Download free resources for your church:
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Thank You to Our Partners Aaron and Heather Spigner Aaron and Mandi Mowery Adam and Whitney White Alan and Elise Logan Alan and Mallory Rushing Alex Petty Alicia Denbeste Allison and Tyler Crow Allison MacDonald Amanda and Kevin Schmidt Amanda Steel Amber and Logan Littell Amy and Alan Botkin Amy and Richard Buckley Amy Baxter Amy Dietrich Amy Springfield Andrew and Becca Kearney Andrew and Jennifer Brown Annie and Stephen Persinger April Sullivan Arnold and Kelly Mooney Ashley and Andrew McMakin Ashley and Thomas Grooms Ashley Stephens Austin and McCall Hardison Avery and Luther Wolff Barbara Bradley Barry Parker Barton and Elizabeth Crum Becki Stacks Becky Lloyd Becky Snell Bekah and Jeff Behnke Ben and Michelle Botos Beth Chang Betty McQueen Bill and Shelley Babbington Bill F. and Sue Vermillion Blake and Shae Wilson Bob Snell Brad Ainsworth Brent and Lauren Griffin Brian and Haley Massey Britton Lynn Brooke Thomason Buddy and Sherry Starling Calvin and Kim Turnipseed Cameron and Jamie Clayton Carl Glidewell Carlton and Brenda Nell Carol G. Lazar Caroline Whitehurst Carolyn Hussar Casey Jones Catherine Roy Cathy and Jeff Brown Chadd and Caitlin Bonesteel Charles and Cheryl Schmidt Charles and Nancy Dickerson Charlie and Holly Taylor Charlotte Bland Chelsea R. MacCaughelty Cheryl Bragg Chloe Grimstead Chris and Corrie Coghlan Christine Huff Christopher and Jennifer Pearson Christopher and Leah Dubberly Christopher and Lisa Shanley Chuck and Kim Jett Cindy and Philip Hoisington Claire Brown Clifford L. Talley Cody and Taylor Calame Corey and Ruth Braun Courtney Michelli Craig Vendetta Craig Vinson, Jr. Croft Segars Curtis and Kati Wallace Cynthia Perrow Dalton Nesmith Dana Smith Dana Stewart Daniel and Carrie Brock Daniel and Meagan Murphree Daniel and Megan Kerstiens Daniel and Stacie Jackson Daniel Cheek Danny and Jill Dinkel David and Jeanie Wilson David and Karlun Callanan
David and Kim Stone David and Maria Freberg David Nelson Deanna and Tim Crist Deanna Newman Deborah Rearden Denise Wilson Dennis and Stacia Bailey Don Blevins Donny and Sharon Donald Dorothy Fawbush Dottie Neuf Douglas and Gail Acton Douglas and Sarah Spencer Dovie and Othel Davis Dozier Hood Dusty and Jennifer Wright Edith Taylor Elizabeth Burley Elizabeth Lanier Elizabeth Slay Emilee Johnson Emily Griffin Eric and Courtney Fillebaum Eric and Meredith Mann Eric and Terra Hussar Eric Nelson Erin and David Orr Ersel and Gloria King Ethan and Jasmine Holt Eugene and Charlene Peters Fawn Holsombeck Frances Miller Frank and Kyndra Resso Frank Brocato Frank Reilly Frank Sutton Frederick and Denise Morton G.A. White Gabriel and Callie Bailie Garry and Peggy Rice Gary Oglesby George and Anne Lawton George and Jennifer Files Grant and Morgan Barry Grant Scarborough Greg and Rene Armbruster Gregory Franks Harry and Mary Vanderwal Harry and Sarah Knight Heith and Aimee Comer Helen Pruet Herbert and Susan Newell Hillary Dickey Holly Berry Holly Taylor Howard and Katrina Hough Hugh and Susan Thomas Jack Brown James and Ann Snyder James and Betty Shannon James and Brandy Wohlers James and Carmen Peace James and Martha Darden James Caldwell James Gallagher James Helton Jamie and Karla Thrasher Janet and Theodore Hibbs Jared and Julie Thompson Jared Salmon Jason and Angela Reed Jay and Trecia Gemes Jeanne Tarwater Jeannene Mullins Jeff Wilson Jeffrey Painter Jenna and Carter Brown Jennifer and Michael Denham Jennifer Cameron Jennifer Heitshusen Jenny Brown Jeremy and Aubrey Winslow Jerod and Allison Sinclair Jessica Poiner Jill Lieser Jim and Sue Miley Joanne Braum Jody MacCaughelty Joe and Mikki Powell Joel and Melanie Owen John and Abby Gray John and Kate Birchler
John and Katherine Tamblyn John and Lynn Parrish John Beard John Carroll John Dobbins Jon Behrens Josh and Amy Preskitt Josh and Meagan Smith Josh and Rachel Steed Josh and Staci Caldwell Joshua and Amanda Pinnick Joshua and Dena Wilder Joshua and Marissa Svaleson Justin and Kara Walters Justin Hall Kamden Tharp Karen and Julian Nealy Karen Jordan Karlie Wilson Kasey and Jeremy White Kasey and Louis Belva Kathleen and Stephen Lincoln Kathryn and Thomas Petersen Kathryn Pfister Katie Baird Katie Traylor Keith and Nancy Harwood Keith and Patti Stahlhut Kenneth and Katie Hauck Kenneth and Teresa Shaw Kerry and Teri Francis Kevin and Ansley Gwyn Kimberly and Jeff Miller Krisha Yanko Krista Montgomery Kristal Haston Kristin and Ryan Maynard Kristy McKinney Kyle and Janie Davidson Kyle Bradberry Laine and Robert Ferrill Lani Gertz Lark Collins Larry and Kathleen Laughlin Larry Price Laura Gillis Lauren Eddie Lena Plunk Les and Kelli Wright Leslie and John Wolfe Libby Daugherty Linda Combs Lisa and Bryan Foote Lisa Burgess Lisa Faber Lisa Kelly Lloyd and Ann Davis Logan and Lauren Norman Louisa Prosser Lucius Lanier Lucy and Matthew Aboudara Lynsey and Kari Tibbs Maddi Vaughn Mark and Lisa Bond Mark Moraca Mark Spohn Mark Swindall Martha and Michael Pettit Marty and Stephanie Vander Noot Mary Gwin Morris Maryann Pledger Matt and Kadie Laughlin Matthew and Beth Lodes Matthew and Emily Hinshaw McKenzie Emch Megan Sims Melissa Lawler Micah Evans Michael and Amy Catania Michael and Elizabeth Norris Michael and Jenny Bailey Michael and Lauren Morales Michael and Lois Temple Michael Luke and Krystle Stanley Michael McGuire Michelle Staab Mike and Ashley Stockard Missy and Carl Grant Morgan Norris Nancy Way Naomi and Shawn Washington Natalie Hochstetler Nathan and Allison EuDaly
April - September 2018 Nathan and Cheryl Ross Nathan and Katie Dutzmann Nathan and Stacie Berck Nathan Townson Nathan Winter Pam Carpenter Pam Hardison Pamela Hodges Patricia Dorsett Paul and Leanne Rogers Philip Dobbins Rachel Harbarger Rachelle and Nick Peyton Randy Pittman Raquel Patterson Rebecca and Nicholas Holmes Richard and Connie Kinney Richard and Tara Baxter Richard Thompson Rick and Paula Werts Rita Barrett RJ and Casey Voorhees Rob and Shawn Grubb Robert and Aimee Whitlock Robert Dauch Robert Horton Robert Wise Robin Jumper Rodger H. Peterson Roger Marks Roger Yanko Roy Holmes Russ Wadsworth Russell Lloyd Rusty and April Palmer Ryan and Bethany Golden Ryan and Kristin Maynard Sam Schuessler Sarah and Mitch Adams Sarah Bailey Sarah Temple Scott and Nanette Bickel Scott and Sandy Deaton Scott Huguley Shane and Stacy Huff Sherri Snell Sondra and Charlie Martin Stacy Gay Stanley J. and Brigitte Viner Stephanie Baxter Stephen and Lynne Brandt Steve and Kim Miller Steve Grissom Steven and Amy Splawn Steven and Caroline Bobo Steven Wright Susan and Denver Nolin Susie Farley Sydney Lawson Tammy Skipper Tammy Trevillion Tania Trevino Taylor and Caitlin Hammond Therese Shaw Thomas and Cheryl Christian Tim and Sherry Harbuck Timothy and Carol Wickstrom Toby Anderson Todd and Kimberly Johnson Tonya Mayer Traci Segrest Trey and Campbell Fulton Troy and Amity Kaeb Tucker and Morgan Burke Ty Krieger Vicki and Brad Wilson Victoria Whitworth W. Earl Cooper W.J. Many Wanda Land Warren Barber Wesley and Loren James William and Kim Christenberry William and Susan Slappey William and Virginia Huguley William and Walda Gladden William J. Farrar William Mosteller William Scott Wylene Richards Yarelis Williams Zachary and Nicole Chryst
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The summertime comes and goes, but the need to help orphans throughout the year grows.
Lifeline invites you to join us in taking a Stand for Orphans YEAR ROUND! ÂŽ
That means you can host a stand anywhere at any time. Fall festivals, Christmas celebrations and birthday parties are now great places to host a stand!