an alumni publication of Lifeline Childrenâ€™s Services
Stand for Orphans
The challenge is on!
Siblings: Adjusting to adoption
Why we say "yes"
Perfect for Our Family: Piper's Essay
A letter from Herbie... President & Executive Director
ummer may be a slower season for you – filled with vacations, ell camps, beach trips and days at the Adelynn New Herbie, and hley, Emily, As b, le pool. For others, the summer schedule Ca R: L to brings an added challenge to your household as many activities and normal routine is suspended. I pray that no matter your circumstances, that you can take time to enjoy your family during these summer months, and that as you do that you would pray for Lifeline and particularly for funding during the slower summer months. In this issue of Journey, we take a look at the dynamics of sibling relationships and adoption. One of the common themes our Counselors and Post Adoption Team address is helping families work through relationships between siblings. Sometimes those challenges happen right away, and sometimes they present themselves years down the road. Many times, children shock us with a love, protection and understanding of what their siblings need - see the beautiful essay from Riley Piper about her brother Nolan. Also in this issue, read about the Allyn family, whose adoption story took many twists and turns as the Lord mapped out His plan for their family to adopt from Poland. Also, see the update on Lifeline's Spring China Kids Camp, and don't miss the highlights of a couple of families who have plugged in, to meet needs within our ministry! (Maybe your family can jump in, too?) Lastly, make sure to notice the touching reminder of the ups and downs of foster care from the Leeke’s, one of our families in South Carolina. As Lifeline kicks off our third summer of Stand for Orphans, we are excited to see children get involved on behalf of vulnerable children locally and around the world. Many families have already signed up to participate and we look forward to seeing all of your photos and fun! The goal for this summer’s Stand campaign is to raise $200,000 and have all 50 states participate. We are thankful for a generous donor that has matched donations up to $50,000 and expect another matching partner as well! Please partner with us and host a stand in your neighborhood, church, or local area. You can find an updated Stand for Orphans kit and even purchase a deluxe kit at www.standfororphans.org. This campaign is special to my family as it is the fruition of a dream of my own three children. Their heart was to find ways to impact orphans from the park in our neighborhood, and God has taken this simple idea and expanded it for His glory. Thank you for reading this issue. As always, let us know if there are specific prayer requests you have or ways we can serve your family. Call or connect with us any time!
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 as we include 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!
Together Defending the Fatherless,
(left to right)
Ken, Zac, Zoe, Deanna, Zuri, and Zander
Herbert M. Newell, IV President & Executive Director
In This Issue... Milestones from Lifeline families just like you
Devotion Have You Lost that Loving Feeling?
Siblings: Adjusting to Adoption The Collett Family: Ukraine
Perfect for Our Family: Riley Piper's Essay
God's Grand Plans: Allyn Family Adoption
Families Giving Back The Dupuis & Huff Families
Foster Care: Why We Say "Yes"
Kids Worth Fighting For Kids Camp 2017
Milestones Adams Family
“We brought Davis home from Hungary in December 2012. Years later, we have seen incredible progress in his gross and fine motor skills! Lately, one of his favorite activities has been using his newfound motor skills in rock climbing!" -Wendy Adams, Birmingham, Alabama
“Sue Ling Hillman, age 9, who came home from China during March of 2015, was super excited to be a big sister for the first time this Christmas! Jesse, age 2, came home from China during September of 2016. Sue Ling 'showed him the ropes' to all the Christmas activities. Thank you Lifeline for being a part of building our family!” -Amy Hillman, Clinton, Mississippi
Letters to Lifeline
We love hearing from you!
Email your stories to email@example.com for a chance to be featured in our quarterly publication of Journey!
This is Brett Leonard and Avery Carrington, who were on the same softball team this spring in Birmingham, Alabama. Their U6 Wildcats team won the championship! Congrats, girls! 3
Congratulations to Alex Donald, the oldest son of Donny and Sharon Donald, who graduated from Hoover High School a few weeks ago! Alex and his sister and brother were adopted from Ukraine. Hoover, Alabama
EQUIPPED TO LOVE
Equipped to Love is a resource to help family and friends support the adoptive and foster families in their church. Because God’s people have stepped out in obedience we have many children who come into our churches from foster care and through adoption. Churches want to support these children and families well.
BOOKS WE RECOMMEND:
I Wished For You by Marianne Richmond
Often, children who have experienced neglect, abuse, and trauma have challenges and differences that can cause them to not fit well in many of our traditional church programs and settings. The Equipped to Love training curriculum is designed to help individuals learn how to understand the needs of these families and provide them with practical support. Topics in this training include: caring for families, interacting appropriately with children with compromised beginnings of life, demonstrating sensitivity for adoptive and foster parents, understanding the unique needs of children from hard places, exhibiting language sensitivity, and managing challenging behavior.
Access this free resource at: lifelinechild.org/equipped-to-love
ADOPTIVE & FOSTER PARENT CONNECT GUIDE
Remember our Adoptive and Foster Parent Connect Guide! It’s available to you to facilitate connection with other adoptive and foster parents! This guide provides a framework to allow space to build relationships, offer advice, and share the adoption and foster care journey. We’ve learned that newer connection groups benefit from structure and short outlines.
Forever Families by Natalie Sutyak
This free guide provides all the components needed to start an adoption and foster parent connection group. Included are suggestions for group format, supplies needed, a confidentiality agreement, group evaluations, facilitator outlines, and printable worksheets for participants.
Access this free resource at: lifelinechild.org/adoption-support-group-guide Journey Summer 2017
Have You Lost that Loving Feeling? “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” -1 Corinthians 13:1-7
hen we think about love in the Bible, probably the “most popular” passage of scripture is 1 Cor. 13. This passage comes at a point in Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth in which he is admonishing them to unity through the use of their individual spiritual gifts. These gifts had caused division in the past, so Paul interrupted his thoughts on spiritual gifts to bring us this entire chapter on love. It’s almost like he’s saying, “Wait. Before I continue, I want to make sure you all understand something very important . It doesn’t matter what gifts you have, doing anything without love is worth nothing.”
Paul clearly states that acting without love is worthless, but he gives hope in the truth that love is action. Look at Paul’s description of love in verses 4-7. Most of those descriptors are direct actions and have little to do with the emotion one feels toward another. Acting patiently, acting kind, not acting rude, not acting selfishly, rejoicing at the truth, bearing the unlovable parts of someone else, hoping in the healing of Christ, and enduring all things with our children—those are actions that we can do whether the emotions are there or not. In this sense, then, love is not emotion but, rather, is acting lovingly.
Basically, Paul wants the Corinthians to know that it doesn’t matter how much they know, how gifted they are, how great their faith is, or how spiritual they appear to be, actions without love are void of impact. We can see this truth all around us, and we have probably experienced it personally. But, what if the feelings just aren’t there? Surely we aren’t to condone hateful or rude actions just because we don’t have feelings of love toward someone.
“Fake it ‘til you make it.” We’ve all heard it. And, there may be days, months, even years that we have to implement it because we simply struggle with the emotions. But, there is a love that doesn’t involve how we feel, and it comes only from the Lord. The love Paul is talking about is the emulated love of Christ, who loved us enough to die in our place, despite our sinfulness. A commitment we have made to our children to protect, care, and love them is a commitment we’ve made to act lovingly, even when we are about to pull our hair out.
Let’s take that thought to a level most of us don’t want to talk about—our kids. Some parents immediately attach to their children in a strong and deep way; the love is overwhelming and almost palpable. Many parents, however, take time to fall in love with a new precious face that is now turning their world upside down, even for the better. Hear the experts when they say, “That’s normal.” And, hear Paul’s hope.
If and when you find yourself having lost that loving feeling, remember the hope and instruction of Paul’s words: we love when we act lovingly. Do all things with love and from love, and the feelings will (eventually) follow suit. by Jenny Riddle, Communication Coordinator, Lifeline Children’s Services
3 Easy Steps to take a Stand for Orphans this summer! 1. SIGN UP! Visit StandforOrphans.org and download your FREE printable kit! 2. MAKE A PLAN! Pick a date and time for your stand, and determine what you want to sell! It can be cupcakes, lemonade, handmade crafts… whatever you want! 3. HOST YOUR STAND AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Invite everyone you know! Use the resources in your kit to share with them about the needs of orphaned and vulnerable children, and how THEY can make a difference too!
Will your family take a stand for orphans®?
Check out new merchandise in the Lifeline store!
Journey Summer 2017
SIBLINGS: Adjusting to Adoption
Collett Family Mike, Heidi, Ryan (19), Rachel (17), Alyona (17), Zhenya (16), and Logan (15)
During 2013, the Collett family went from a household of five to seven, including five teenagers, when they adopted Alyona and Zhenya from Ukraine. Since growing their family, they have adjusted to their new normal, including navigating challenges stemming from the dynamics of sibling relationships. We are thankful to Heidi and Mike for sharing their experiences, where they have seen progress, and what they would share with other families in similar circumstances. The Background Mike and Heidi had talked about adoption since 2003, when their youngest son, Logan, was three years old. With their three biological children close in age, they waited to move forward with adoption. When they attended a production of the Children’s World Choir at their church in Trussville, Alabama, in 2011—nine years after they first discussed adoption; the Lord brought adoption to the front of their minds. Heidi describes the clarity of God’s call at that moment: “We had put off what we knew God had called us to do for long enough!” Their three biological kids— who at the time were 15, 13, and 12 years old—were 100% on board with
the idea of adoption. During January 2012, the Lord used a meeting at the Lifeline office to lead their family of five to consider international adoption in addition to domestic. During May 2012, after months of praying and searching for wisdom from God, Mike and Heidi signed an application for international adoption, praying that God would close any doors they were not meant to walk through. The week after they submitted their application, Heidi got a call from a friend to help with twelve Ukrainian children who were in town for a hosting camp. The children were going
to a water park the next day, and Heidi’s friend knew the Colletts had a season pass to the same park. Although terrified, she went and watched the kids running around, having a blast. Zhenya, the Colletts future son, was part of that group. At the time, he was set to graduate from 9th grade the following year, which meant he would attend a trade school after his 14th birthday. The Colletts had envisioned adopting a 9 or 10 year old—NOT a teenager, but for the next few weeks, Heidi found herself at camp wanting to be around these kids.
JOURNEY TITLE By October 2012, the Colletts were well into their process, and Heidi ended up traveling with her friend to Ukraine and seeing Zhenya again. She got to ask him if he wanted a forever family. He answered a resounding, “Yes.” On the same day, Heidi noticed a girl playing in the distance, and her heart melted. Her name was Alyona. The following day, Heidi asked Alyona if she wanted to be adopted, and after some necessary conversations, Alyona said, “Yes!” So, Heidi left that trip knowing who their new children would be—TWO more teenagers! In March 2013, the Collett family of five went to Ukraine to adopt Zhenya and Alyona and become a family of seven.
The Realities of New Siblings and the Dynamics of Being Home Adjusting to real life as a family of seven, including five teenagers, has had its challenges. Although they knew the adjustment would have obstacles, hearing about them and living them are two very different things! The dynamics between siblings have been, at times, difficult to navigate. In many ways, their experiences represent typical relationships between five teenage siblings. For example, they have watched Rachel face the challenge of having a sister (the same age) who was unsure of her own preferences regarding personal choices such clothes, make-up, or jewelry. Uncertainty lead Alyona to simply want everything Rachel had, which quickly grew old to Rachel, as she did not want to be imitated or to have to share everything. However, she feared sharing those feelings of resentment with her parents. Heidi and Mike learned to let Rachel know that she could share her feelings with them. They made changes, such as giving the girls separate rooms, which
improved the situation. The relationship between Zhenya and Logan, was difficult at first because Zhenya picked on Logan. Heidi and Mike had to know when to get involved and to help the boys navigate through that relationship. Though nothing is perfect, the boys would not know what to do without each other now! The Colletts have also faced tough decisions about school, as Heidi homeschooled her children for many years, including Zhenya and Alyona’s first three years at home. Last fall, they decided to put Alyona, Zhenya, and Logan in public schools, and that has been a great decision for their family. Additionally, Zhenya and Alyona have known each other longer than they have known the rest of their family, and Mike and Heidi have learned to respect that relationship. The two can argue between themselves or with their siblings, but are always fiercely loyal to their family as well. Despite the trials of the last four years, Heidi remembers more joy and love than any negative circumstances. They have learned that no family has a perfect sibling situation. They have seen times when circumstances bring certain siblings closer and then times when they can be indifferent towards each other for no specific reason. Mike and Heidi have navigated when to step in and when to make changes. Mike knows that each of their kids are committed to their other siblings.
Advice for Fellow Families When asked what advice they would share with fellow families that are newly home or in the midst of similar
dynamics in their family, the couple offers the following advice, in their own words:
1 Remember, an older child has a relatively developed personality, heritage, and culture that has no relation to you. We attempted to respect this from the start and to celebrate our kids’ Ukrainian culture. I would not want someone to remove my history and change me, and they don't either.
2 Don't expect "hugs and kisses" that are real at first. You can absolutely expect artificial emotions and manipulation. Please don't take this as you would a person with a more healthy history. They will intend no evil by these manipulations; it is simply what they know. If someday you are allowed to see true affection, it is beautiful! Once, one of our kids could see I was seriously worried about an issue at work. This child gave me an unexpected, true hug.
3 As you respect the emotional issues of an older child, remember they are YOUR kids, and they now live in our country. If you give them permission to not follow the rules of their new home and country, you are setting them up to fail. You are also almost certainly setting your family up for a crisis. Don't expect immediate results. Choose a few things that are important in your family and work from there.
4 Carve out family time. For us, it’s typically on Sundays, and on vacations. Vacations force us all to be together with no distractions, and such a designated time has helped us grow together so much!
Journey Summer 2017 Journey Summer 2016
A Note From Our Post Department: Although the attachment between parents and child is imperative, connection between all immediate family members is equally important. Consider how you most often feel connected to others. People tend to connect with one another when they spend time together in play, work, or creating shared memories and traditions. Therefore, as you promote good sibling attachment and relationships within your family, keep the following suggestions in mind:
• Have fun together as a family. Play is the languages of children and builds connections. Team the children against the parents for team unity in games of tag, water balloon fights, charades, or simple board games. • Develop a new family motto. The Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development encourages families to have the following rules: “stick together, no hurts, and have fun!” Guide your children to develop hand motions for all three guidelines.
Adopting children close in age
• Partner with your biological or previously adopted child(ren) to be a guide for the new child(ren). Emphasize that their new sibling doesn’t understand things like routines, rules, and where items are in the home. Your children who have been in the family for longer can be a resource to their new sibling. • Work on a family project or common goal together. Make a bird house for grandparents, plant a garden, or enter an event as a family such as the Lifeline R(un) for One®. • Be attuned. When your child experiences difficulty in adjusting to a new sibling you will note changes in behaviors and demeanor. Reflect your observation to the child as you tuck them in at night with, “You seemed a little quiet today; how are you doing?” or “I noticed that you weren’t kind to your brother; that is not like you. I wonder what is going on.” This lets your child know you see them and are willing to listen. It communicates they are not alone. Allow them to share honestly without judgment. • Make individual time for each child. Sharing a parent’s attention is hard! If a child knows he will have a parent’s undivided attention, even once a week, may aid in his tolerance of the extra time a parent spends with the new sibling. Assess the child’s feelings about the adoption. Is the adoption what they expected? How is it different? What is hard for them? What has been the best part? It is common for a child to wish for the family they had before the adoption. Validating your child’s emotions about the adoption will go a long way in promoting acceptance. • Reassure each child of his/her place and importance to your family. • As much as possible, continue your family traditions. The Sanjines If celebrations Family: Nick must and be Jennifer, modified in Brandon the first(10), year post-adoption, assure your children they are not forgotten and Daniella you will return (8) , And to them Michelle in the (6)future; then, enlist their help in making some new traditions in which everyone can participate. Maybe it is time to make Taco Tuesday an official family tradition! Whether your children are close in age or not; whether they are the same or different genders; whether they verbalize any challenges or not; helping our children grow in their love for each other must be a priority. In families with children who have a history of trauma, having parents who are attuned to any potential issues that might prevent attachment and who are proactive in helping positive relationships form between siblings is vital. Please know our Post Adoption Team is available to talk through any sibling or attachment questions with you. Please do not hesitate to contact us through email at Angie.Blackwell@lifelinechild.org or at 205-967-0811.
Perfect for Our Family
Essay by Riley Piper
We often have parents who are praying about pursuing adoption and wondering how the children already in their home may be affected by this process. Troy and Jocelyn Piper adopted their son Nolan (5) from Hong Kong during 2016. They have three other children: Colton (21), Riley (18), and Jaimee (12). Currently, they are in the process of adopting again from Hong Kong! Riley Piper wrote this insightful essay for her English class about her perspective on their family’s adoption of Nolan: Ever since my family made the decision to adopt my little brother Nolan, who has cerebral palsy and cannot walk or talk, tons of friends, acquaintances, and even family members have been asking me the same questions. ‘Why did your parents choose a child with special needs?’ Or ‘Did you guys know that he had problems when you picked him out?’ Or even ‘No offense, but why wouldn't you guys pick a normal kid?’ I know that nobody was trying to be offensive when they asked these questions because, to be completely honest, I kind of wondered, too. Wouldn't it be so much easier on my parents and my whole family to have a ‘normal’ kid? Why would we choose a special needs kid when there are completely fully-functioning, healthy kids all over the world who need adopted too? But, now, that Nolan's here, I feel completely awful for ever questioning my parents decision. Why NOT adopt a kid with special needs? That's the real question. Nolan was most likely left on the side of the road as an infant because his parents realized that he was a little different. And yeah, he is a little different. He can't talk, he can't walk, and he eats baby food and wears diapers as a four year old. But does that make him any less-lovable or less deserving of a home? Of course not. Nolan may be a little behind compared to most kids his age, but he's also one of happiest, if not the happiest four-year-old I know. It breaks my heart to think of all of the special needs children sitting in an orphanage, some who will never get adopted because of their disabilities, because they'll be too much work. The ladies who worked at Nolan's orphanage were so shocked that my parents actually came to Hong Kong because they figured that they would back out; they didn't think anyone actually wanted Nolan. So many kids like Nolan spend their entire "He is a perfect addition to childhood in an orphanage and after they age out, they lay in a hospital bed for the our family and one of the best rest of their lives.
things that ever happened
to me." My parents knew that having a special needs child would be a huge adjustment for our family, but why not give a child the opportunity to live a life outside the bed of an orphanage? Nolan has been in America for five months and the progress he has made is outstanding. He babbles all of the time and can repeat some words too. He has such a cute personality and the biggest smile you'll ever see. Who cares if he's not like the rest of us? He is a perfect addition to our family and one of the best things that ever happened to me. My parents are the most loving, accepting, hardworking, and altruistic people I know. They made a perfect decision. Journey Summer 2017
GOD'S GRAND PLANS:
The Allyn Family's Poland Adoption A
fter Lisa Allyn and her husband, Matt, had tried unsuccessfully to have a second biological child, she began to think about adoption. Matt, however, was not quite ready. One day, Lisa saw a sweet-faced, blue-eyed little girl from halfway across the world named “Anika” whose picture was posted by a friend on Facebook. With her heart jumping, she brought up the possibility of adoption again. And, again, Matt was not ready. She struggled with why the Lord would put adoption so heavily on her heart, but not on her husband’s. But she waited. A couple of weeks later, Matt came home and said they should pursue this little girl. They hurried to find out about next steps but were told that another family had already filed paperwork to adopt her. Left wondering what to do next, the couple prayed and decided to adopt internationally from Poland. From that point, the Lord led this family through ups and downs that revealed His will for their family. Lisa put their story together recently and shared it with us! “I remember speaking to Jana at Lifeline for the first time as I was driving to work. She told me Poland was a fantastic country to work with, but the chance of us receiving a referral from there would be slim as most of the children from Poland are sibling sets and would be older than our 3 year old daughter. She asked us to consider Hungary. After learning more about the country, we decided to file our dossier in Hungary. We waited for a referral. And waited. And waited. While waiting, we were preparing our home and hearts. We decided to attend a national adoption conference in October of 2013. It was a wonderful weekend and while on the way home, we both discovered we were feeling that we should consider a domestic adoption instead. Neither of us understood why we felt the Lord leading this way but we were open it.”
JOURNEY While considering their next step towards a domestic adoption, the Allyn’s were surprised when a friend from church approached them the very next week! The friend informed them of a young lady who was pregnant and seeking to make an adoption plan for her child. Over the following weeks, the Allyn’s placed their international adoption on hold to pursue this domestic adoption. Through a series of difficult, confusing, and hurtful circumstances, the domestic option fell through. The Allyn’s were heartbroken and angry, but continued to trust the Lord to pursue forgiveness and remind themselves that God was in complete control. Lisa called Jana again and told her they were ready to reopen their file. “On October 15, 2014, my phone rang as I was running on the treadmill. I let it go to voicemail. It was Jana calling. She had some information for us that she wanted to talk about. Jana calling us was not unusual during any given week, but this time it seemed different. And it was. She had a referral! A little 14 month old girl . . . from Poland! Excitement filled my heart! She was emailing us the girl’s information along with a couple pictures. She wanted us to read it over, pray about it, and get back to her in a couple days. And there she was. A sweet faced, blue-eyed, blondie on the other side of the world waiting for a family. I can clearly remember looking at her picture for the first time, tearing up and thinking, ‘I think that is my daughter.’ We accepted her referral and started the process of getting our paperwork filed with Poland since everything had been completed for Hungary. It took a couple months but eventually it all arrived and we found ourselves waiting once again. This time, though, it was for the judge to issue a bonding date so we could travel to meet her! We waited . . . and waited . . . and waited. That waiting brought us to March 19, 2015. This time, Matt got the call from Jana. She received word from Poland that our daughter, who we were waiting to adopt, had a younger brother and they would like to know if we would consider adopting him as well. This was a younger brother. . . a little boy born one month before the domestic baby that we were to adopt was born. Wow! God was preparing us all along! It didn’t take much consideration. We had already been approved by the United States government to adopt 2 children. We traveled in August of 2015 and met both of our children in their foster homes—on my birthday. Due to a number of reasons, both adoptions could not be completed during the same trip to Poland in 2015. We brought our sweet little Agata home on October 3, 2015, and our son, Aurek, home on August 7, 2016.” The Allyns have witnessed first-hand God’s plans for the good of His children. They sum up their story by proclaiming the goodness of God’s plan, even when they could not understand what was happening around them.
“Even when our world seemed to be uncertain, confusing, and disappointing, God had the BEST plan already laid before us. It was just a matter of us trusting in Him and waiting on His timing.”
Journey Summer 2017
Giving Derek and Rebekah Dupuis Athens, Alabama Derek and Rebekah Dupuis began the process to adopt domestically in April 2015. While they were waiting to be matched, they shared that they were praying for their future child’s birth mother. They were praying for her child and for her holistically: for her safety, for peace, for her to be in the right place at the right time, for her future family, and many other very specific requests for this brave woman they did not yet know. Derek and Rebekah truly understood the heart of birth parent ministry, and it was evident in their love for their child’s birthmother. The Dupuis were matched in April 2016. They now have a beautiful little boy, HWD. To this day, the couple has a set of prayer cards to use each day to pray for their son’s birth mother, including praying for her salvation. Earlier this month we got an email from Rebekah asking what the needs are for our pregnancy counseling ministry. After sharing a few needs with her, Rebekah contacted us again. This time, she wanted to let us know why she had inquired. For their son’s first birthday party, Derek and Rebekah wanted to honor their son’s story. The invitations read “To honor our son, in lieu of gifts please bring a Chickfil-A, Starbucks, Target, or Walmart gift card to be given in his name to Lifeline Children's Service for their birth mother ministry.”
Rebekah shared why they were led to do this:
“If it weren’t for our son’s birth mother and for Lifeline, we wouldn’t be celebrating this little boy’s first birthday with him. We want to raise him to acknowledge who he is, and this will always be a part of his story. It affects who he is, and who he is going to become.” They recently delivered these gifts to the Lifeline office and reiterated their heart for birth parent ministry, “We believe so much was given to us throughout our process,” says Derek. “We want to give back, and we want to raise our son to do that, too.” If you’d like to find out ways you can support our pregnancy counseling ministry, contact Dana.Stewart@lifelinechild.org.
Back Shane and Stacy Huff Madison, Mississippi Shane and Stacy Huff left China during their first adoption experience in 2013 knowing that they were forever changed. Stacy first had the desire to adopt when she was a teenager, and early in their marriage the couple talked about it as something they would do “later.” In 2008, years after having two biological children, Will (18) and Jenny (15), the couple agreed they wanted to adopt, but neither felt peace about moving forward. In 2012, the Lord worked on both of their hearts separately until they both realized He was calling them to adopt. They turned their application in to Lifeline during December of 2012 and began the process of adoption from China. The Huffs have adopted both Emily (15) and Sarah (8) from the Guangdong province of China. Sarah is from the Suixi partnership and came home in November of 2013. Emily is from the Maoming partnership, and came home in January of 2015. While visiting Sarah’s orphanage Stacy and Shane knew they would never be able to return to the way things were before. Now they had not just heard about these stories, but they had experienced them. Now they had not just been told about great needs, but they had seen them. And, now, they knew what a joy it could be to help meet those needs! After returning home, the Huff’s prayed about ways they could join the ministry of Lifeline. Lifeline’s Foster Center in China is one area they were led to be involved first, and they began sponsoring two children
from the center. When they heard about Kids Camp, Stacy volunteered to help, and their family visited. The Huffs are also a resource to families who have questions or concerns throughout the process of adopting older children or children with special needs. Emily was 13 at the time of her adoption and near the age of not being available for adoption. Because of their experience, they understand the need and challenges of older child adoption. Additionally, they have found themselves becoming a resource for other families with questions about the special needs of children. The couple also leads the Equipped to Love training within their church, Grace Crossing Baptist, to help other families understand adoption and foster care, and how to support these families within the local church. When asked about why they are compelled be involved, Stacy answered,
“I truly feel like the biblical mandate to care for the orphan doesn’t end for us just because we’ve adopted. There are ample opportunities to be involved. It’s a joy to be able to meet a need.” You can access Lifeline’s free Equipped to Love training at lifelinechild.org/equipped-to-love.
Journey Spring 2017
Foster Care Why We Say "Yes"
Cathy and Jonathon Leeke and their children, Meredith, Grayson and Eleanor, are a Lifeline foster family in Daniel Island, South Carolina. They are currently loving on one little boy in their home.
JOURNEY “I was reminded recently how easy it is to focus on the brokenness of the system and the limitations of our grown up influence and power within the system…and to lose focus of the kids. I was having a conversation that was saturated with an undeniable and seemingly never ending list of ways the system doesn't work. It was to the point that I was almost ready to throw in the towel and say, ‘You know what, you're right. We should stop fostering. It's terrible and it’s never gonna get better.’ And then our little guy walked right up to me and stretched out his arms for me to pick him up, signed ‘please’ and said ‘Mama’. And in that moment, there wasn't a grownup - a politician, a case worker, a teacher, an administrator, a doctor, an attorney - participating in a broken system. It was just me and him. When we focus on the kids, and not the system, it's so easy to say yes. Our little guy is pretty gosh darn adorable. We get comments about him and his long eyelashes all the time from strangers in public. ‘Oh, I just want to squeeze him and take him home with me’. Sometimes I want to scream, ‘Yes! Yes, you can. Him and thousands more like him. He's in foster care and was in need of a home and a family. We said yes, and now we get to squeeze him and take him home!’ How is he so desirable sitting cutely in the grocery cart and moments later so undesirable because he's listed as one of the 400,000 kids in foster care?! He's the same kid!!! I don't think our little guy is ever not adorable. I just think it's easy to focus on the grownups who make up the broken system (PS, I'm one of them so taking some of the blame here too) and not the kids. Because if we can stop and think about the innocent children who could be transformed by healing foster homes, it's easy to say yes.”
-Cathy Leeke, Lifeline Foster Mom
Families Count™ Update: We continue to watch God work through Families Count, our family restoration and preservation ministry designed to give local churches a platform to minister to the parents of children who have been placed into the local foster care system, or are at risk of entering it. Nationally, one-third of children who are placed in foster care and then reunited with their birth family will re-enter care within three years. We began Families Count to address this trend, and to get to the root cause of family disruptions. The results of Families Count have been dramatic. Completion rates for the program are 200-300% greater than comparable programs where this ministry has been implemented. We now have churches implementing Families Count in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, South Carolina (launching this fall), and Texas.
One of the important parts of Families Count is the mentor and participant relationship that helps develop a support system. Pictured here are Stephanie and Tara, who became friends through a Families Count class.
For more information on our foster care program, contact Jennifer Travis at Jennifer.Travis@lifelinechild.org. If you want to know more about your church leading a Families Count class, contact Traci Newell at Traci.Newell@lifelinechild.org. JourneyFall Spring Journey 2016 2016
Kids Worth Fighting For by Jenny Riddle Lifeline Communications Coordinator & Adoptive Mom This past March, ten children and additional officials from Chongqing, China came to Birmingham, Alabama for Kids Camp. The goal of Kids Camp is to shower these children with the love of Christ and provide them with unique experiences. It also gives Lifeline a chance to know and advocate for these precious children. Our son was adopted from Chongqing, so the chance to attend the China family reunion during Kids Camp was priceless for us. When we first met our son in China, he thought it was HILARIOUS to slap my husband in the face. As first time parents, we didn’t have any friends whose experiences as first-time parents included their newborn slapping them with glee, so this was new territory. Furthermore, he despised my very presence, which created some steep challenges with attachment between us. I’m not gonna lie: adoption and parenting have been the most difficult things I’ve ever done. They have broken me. They have wounded me. They have made me feel like a crazy person on more days than not. People sometimes ask me, “Would you do it again?" The answer is quick but not easy; the journey behind it was not all rainbows and butterflies. While we were at Kids Camp, we were able to interact with many of the children who had flown all the way from China to be there. There are a lot of adjectives that I could use to describe them: funny, mischievous, cute, joyful. But, those wouldn’t give a full picture of these children. There was a small boy there who only had one arm. Yet, he opened a pack of crackers using his one arm and his teeth. He then poured the crackers on a napkin and ate them. His lack of an arm did not slow him down. And, while that’s inspiring, oh, how I wish he had a mom that could help this small child understand that he doesn’t have to attempt life on his own—that he has someone in his corner to help open the crackers and to cheer him on as he learns to succeed in this world. I also saw a smiley girl who enjoyed giving others a swift kick in the pants, literally. She surprised me with an impressive kick to my backside (which, by the way, drew the ire of my protective young son, who had once wanted to kick me himself). I explained to my son that she was excited and wanted attention from others but didn’t understand the difference between good and bad attention yet. This precious girl needs a mom and dad to show that she is valuable as she is and doesn’t need to seek out attention in destructive ways. She needs to be shown
JOURNEY that people are not for hurting. She needs a family to walk the long road of developing her confidence. And, then there’s Randall. Randall is an older child who is close to aging out and losing the option of a forever family. He was such an older brother figure to the younger kids, holding and caring for them. But, he is still a kid. I saw him attempt a practical joke handshake (with ice in his hand) with a volunteer. He needs a dad to teach him about hand buzzers. He needs a mom and dad to affirm his brotherly love toward others while allowing Randall to be a kid who gets taken care of—not the other way around. These kids have come from difficult situations, and their lives are a reflection of the pain that comes from the lack of a caring, permanent family. They can be immature. They can be difficult. They can find joy in slapping.
And that’s why we do Kids Camp. Kids need love. They need families. We believe in the power of God to transform lives and to work miracles through the hard work of families who believe that children are worth fighting for. These kids are worth fighting for. Their Creator already made that clear when He died for their souls. So, would I walk this journey again? In a heartbeat. Because he’s my son. And, he’s worth fighting for. My son and I may have been broken, but God is rebuilding; my son and I may have been wounded, but God is redeeming. God places the lonely in families and never leaves them. Are you ready to join the fight for vulnerable children? You can view the children available for adoption from Kids Camp at lifelinechild.org/kids-camp-birmingham P.S. For those of you wondering, our son stopped slapping, and it has been a beautiful journey to watch God knit our hearts together in attachment over our four years home. And, these days we have hard days but many Top Left: Sarah Good, Lifeline mom, helps Ethan with a Bible story craft. Top Right: Brandon Mallette, Junior Board member adopted through Lifeline, and Harrison pose for a photo during the Thanksgiving celebration. Bottom Left: Charlotte flips through the Jesus Storybook Bible. Bottom Right: Brittany Deboer, Lifeline intern, plays with Wyatt. Photos by Sarah Privett and Will Good. Journey Summer 2017
Kickin' It for Kids On April 29th, the Lifeline Leadership Board hosted our 2nd Annual Kickball Tournament in Birmingham, Alabama. Groups of families, friends, church Bible studies, and co-workers kicked and ran and cheered their teams on! The event raised more than $21,000 that will benefit our foster care program, specifically for the recruitment, training and equipping of new foster families. It takes about $2,500 to train and support one new family, so this tournament will help with 8 new families. Congrats to our Kickin’ It for Kids Champions, the “Bunty Wabbits” and “Legatron!” A big thank you to our sponsors and to Jonathan Quisenberry Photography for taking incredible photos of a fun day!
Being Present â€“ Family Fun Section
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BIRMINGHAM, AL MOUNT PLEASANT, SC BELMONT, NC TOPEKA, KS RUN WHERE YOU ARE
Journey Spring 2017
Upcoming Events Go to lifelinechild.org/events to see how you can get involved!
Stand for Orphans: June-August 2017 Kids, families, and partner churches wowed us through the summer months, as the 2016 Stand for Orphans raised $116,687 through 319 stands! Stand for Orphans is BACK in 2017, so get ready for another great summer! Visit standfororphans.org for more info!
R(un) for One: August 19, 2017 Join us for our annual run to benefit (un)adoptedÂŽ, as we continue to grow this event Runforone5k.org nationwide and even worldwide! Your family can run, form a team, and even have your own group to Run Where You Are, wherever you are!
One Day. One Voice. One Purpose.
Share the Story 2017: October 24, 2017 Please make plans to us for our annual fundraising dinner and silent auction in Birmingham, Alabama. More details to come!
Upcoming Webinars: June 8: A Journey Through Hungary and Krygyzstan Adoptions June 13: All Things China June 15: Road Map to International Adoption July 13: Foster Care July 20: Road Map to International Adoption August 17: 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!
JOURNEY Thank You to Our Partners January-April 2017 Steve and Ann Adams Sarah Adams Ryan Adams Wendy and Matthew Adams Kevin and Adrian Alexander Luke and Ali Allen W. Markey Auen Michael and Jenny Bailey Laurel Bailey Gabriel and Callie Bailie Jeff and Denise Ball Paul Barber George and Patricia Barnes Michael and Rita Barrett Shane Barrett Michelle Barrett Patrick Bassett Bryce Batts Richard and Tara Baxter Katie Beaton Charles Martin Beavers Kasey and Louis Belva Nathan and Stacie Berck Jim and Kathy Black Douglas and Patti Black Ashley Black Charlotte Bland Steven and Caroline Bobo Ashley Boggs Mark and Lisa Bond Ben and Michelle Botos Lee Anne Bowling Bradley and Brittany Bowman Corey and Ruthie Braun Mallory Breed Daniel and Carrie Brock Courtney and Lee Brooks Krystal Brummitt Amy and Richard Buckley Staci and Josh Caldwell Joshua and Jennifer Calhoun Karlun and David Callanan Amy and Michael Catania Brian and Caris Chan Christine Chance William and Kim Christenberry Zachary and Nicole Chryst Alena and Jonn Michael Clark Cassandra Clarke Cameron and Jamie Clayton Aimee and Heith Comer Jacquelyn Couture Tim and Deanna Crist Merritt and Chrissy Cullum Rhonda and Peter Dahlin Phil Darke Aichia Dauphinais Dovie and Othel Davis Lloyd and Ann Davis Scott and Sandy Deaton Susan DeCarlo Alicia Denbeste Aimee Dial Hillary Dickey John and Mary Coleman Dobbins Richard Dodd Donny and Sharon Donald Steve and Kelly Driggers Cara Duffey Derek and Leeann Dupuis John Brooks and Martha Emory Amy and Grant English Philip Erdoes Micah Evans William J. Farrar Paul and Judy Feist George E. and Jennifer Files Jeff and Ellen Flannery
Heidi Floyd Cody and Jen Foster Gregory Franks Robert and Alison Funk Emily Galloway Stacy Gay Caroline Gemes Roger and Caroline Gibson Morgan Gilley Cindy and James Gleason Doug and Lee Ann Glidewell Cynthia Gordon Catina Gordon Christopher Gordon Karen Graham Misty Grant John and Abby Gray Jerry and Connie Green Brent and Lauren Griffin Lindsey Grist Wayne Grubb Robert and Shawn Grubb J.P. Gutierrez Keith and Keri Haire Taylor and Caitlin Hammond Teressa Hamner John and Bonnie Hardison David and Laurie Harper David and Danette Harper Tanner and Victoria Harris David Hart Keith Harwood Jenny Hays Carl and Janine Heincker Charlsie Hendon Ryan Hennessy Joseph and Valerie Hepburn Nathan and Elizabeth Herren Sheila and Kerry Hervey Jennifer and Tobe Hester Janet and Theodore Hibbs Matthew and Emily Hinshaw Tristan Hobbs Eric and Natalie Hochstetler Cindy and Philip Hoisington Dozier and Mary Wall Hood Ryan and Melanie Horrell Rosetta Hudson Stacy and Shane Huff Melody Hughes David Humphrey Rebecca Humphreys Pam and Lewis Hundley Wesley James Cooper and Anna Johnson Carla and Wade Joiner Aaron and Meg Jones Kylie Jones Anna Judek Austin Keim Lisa Kelly Amanda and Joseph King Angela and Chris King Richard and Connie Kinney Harry and Sarah Knight Kim Korson Caroline Kosakowski Ronald and Stacy Krueger Sherry Krulitz Randall Laney Kieran Lang Larry Laughlin Matt and Kadie Laughlin Melissa Lawler Sydney Lawson George and Anne Lawton Carol G. Lazar Jonathon and Catherine Leeke Tine Livesay
Becky Lloyd Russell Lloyd Jared and Sarah Lloyd Matthew and Beth Lodes Britton Lynn Jody MacCaughelty Chelsea R. MacCaughelty Eric and Meredith Mann Karen and David Manner Allison and Reed Markham Annette Martin Kevin and Sophia Martin Virginia McCahan Elizabeth McCarty Karen and James McFarland Mark McGrane Kristy McKinney Brandi McKinnon Ashley and Andrew McMakin Paul McMenaman Rachel Miley Steve and Kim Miller Mitch Miller Marcie Morris Sydney Morrison Frederick Morton William Mosteller Aaron Patrick Mandi Mowery Valerie Mowery Drayton and Fairfax Nabers Carlton and Brenda Nell James and Kendell Nethery Susan and Herbert Newell Adelynn Newell Deanna Newman Morgan Norris Mandy and Ruben Nunez Linda Oglesby Amy and Nicholas Oliver Dana and Russell Owens Jonathan & Deborah Packard Deborah Palada Mari Parker Bradley and Carroll Parsons Amanda Patton Mark A. and Nancy Peeples Vicki Penrose Eugene Peters Kevin Peters Rodger H. Peterson Betty Phillips Jana and Josh Phillips Emily Pilling Rachel Pilston Joshua and Amanda Pinnick Lori and John Pitner Patrick Pittman Amy Platt Tammara and Steven Poage Jessica Poiner Jack Pope Eddie and Nina Powers Josh and Amy Preskitt Eugene and Heather Preskitt Larry Price David Pullen Ann-Marie Rader Colby Ray Mike Reilly Kyndra and Frank Resso Lori and Scott Reynolds Bethany Roberts Heidi Robinson Paul and Leanne Rogers Nathan and Cheryl Ross Kelly Roy Alan and Mallory Rushing
Lynn and Linda Saathoff Ellen and Jamiel Saliba Grant Scarborough Marty Schlossman Tracey Scholl Bryan and Angie Seamans Annalisa Siczka David and Jennifer Sides Gabrielle Signorelli Linda and Tim Sims Jerod and Allison Sinclair William and Susan Slappey Christopher Smith Katherine Smith Sherri Snell Sherry Spearing Amy Springfield Becki Stacks Keith and Robin Stanley Andrew Steele Micah and Jamie Steele Chelsey Stephens Mike and Ashley Stockard Randi and Rick Stones Jeanne Tarwater Holly Taylor Sarah Temple Lois and Michael Temple Jeff and Susan Terch Laura Tessendorf Brooke Thomason Derek and Christin Thompson Karla and Jamie Thrasher Mike and Gail Tindell Katie Traylor Brian Tribble Calvin and Kim Turnipseed Anna Tyler Lynne Underwood Ross and Stephanie Vander Noot Bill and Kelly Vandiver Diane Vannoy Maddi Vaughn Jordan and Katherine Vaughn Austin and Christy Vincent Curtis and Kati Wallace Marcia Washburn Nancy Way Jim and Aimee Weaver David and Margaret Weik Alisha Weldon Jackie Weldy Chris and Brittany Welsh Rick and Paula Werts Marianne and Jayson West Larry and Becky White Sarah White Kristin and Joey Whitehurst Robert and Aimee Whitlock Blake and Shae Wilson Jennifer Wilson Vicki and Brad Wilson Nathan Winter James and Brandy Wohlers David and Johnna Wood Lauren Woods Gerald and Bonny Worzella Les and Kelli Wright Jennifer Wright Alison Wydner Katie Yadusky Krisha Yanko Denise and Peter Young Mohammed and Uzma Zaman Russell Zimmerman
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Journey Summer 2017
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