Journey Summer 2019

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issue no. 9 | Summer 2019

an alumni publication of Lifeline Children’s Services






Journey Lifeline Children’s Services 100 Missionary Ridge Birmingham, Alabama 35242 Phone: 205.967.0811 Website:



JENNY RIDDLE Contributing Editor

CONTR IBUTOR S Anne Lawton, Ashley Newell, Christie Mac Segars, Dana Stewart, Jenny Riddle, Josh Moody, Lynn Beckett, and Neisha Roberts

WHAT 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

MEET OUR COV ER FAM ILY The Moody Family of Gardendale, AL

A Letter from Herbie PRESIDENT & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR I pray you are having a blessed start to your summer of 2019! I’m thrilled that you have found this issue of Journey. Our gracious Lord continues to use and grow the ministry of Lifeline for His glory and it’s our privilege to present these articles as evidence and an encouragement for your family. First, don’t miss the article on Stand for Orphans by my precious wife, Ashley. It has been humbling to see a simple idea birthed in her heart, and the hearts of our children, grow into something so impactful. Our prayer is that this summer your family will make a Stand for Orphans with Lifeline. In this issue, we also take a look at siblings and adoption. While summer is certainly a time of fun and family bonding, lack of routine can bring tension and family conflict, especially among siblings. It’s our hope to present you with practical advice that can make this season of your life memorable and enjoyable. Lifeline’s ministry to orphans and vulnerable children in India is quickly growing and expanding. One of the many rewards of my role at Lifeline is visiting our ministry partners at home and around the world. It is incredibly humbling to see what the Lord is doing with His people on behalf of the vulnerable. In May, our Vice President of International Ministry, Josh Caldwell, and I had the opportunity to visit many of our partners throughout India. We visited with Isaac Manogarom in

Chennai who has operated a home for 19 girls for the last nine years. One of Isaac’s many prayers has been to see the local evangelical Church engage with these girls. While in Chennai, I had the opportunity to open the Word with 10 ladies from local churches, encouraging them from Ruth toward gospel justice for the orphan. The Spirit moved these ladies to tears, questions, and then an action plan, which included a meeting with the pastor of one of the most influential churches in the city. The next day, Isaac and I sat down with the pastor and began to plan a city-wide church conference to tackle gospel-driven orphan care. We are abundantly grateful for your partnership in the work to which God has called us. Our hope is that this issue is helpful and informative so that you are able to grow in your relationship with your children and with the Lord. Please reach out if there are specific ways that we can pray for and assist your family. On behalf of the fatherless,

Herbert M. Newell, IV President & Executive Director

Summer 2019:




08 Embracing Fostering Together

16 Cover Story: Siblings in Real Life

10 Helping Siblings Address Conflict with P.E.A.C.E.

19 How to Help Your Family Thrive in the Summer

12 Promoting Sibling Attachment after Adoption

21 How to Pray for Birth Mothers

14 Stand for Orphans: Thinking Outside of Ourselves


Update from India written by NEISHA ROBERTS, (UN)ADOPTED COORDINATOR, AND JENNY RIDDLE, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR International Adoption Lifeline’s India program has seen great interest over the past couple of years, and 2019 is proving to be a year in which we have been blessed with growth and increasing opportunity for ministry. Herbie Newell, Lifeline’s President & Executive Director, and Josh Caldwell, Lifeline’s Vice President of International Programs, traveled to India earlier this year and had successful meetings with officials from the governing adoption board (CARA), which highlighted our commitment to serving this amazing country. Our international adoption program has already seen more families home so far in 2019 (16) than all of 2018 (13). With 15 children already matched with families this year, we expect to see many more prayers answered for children who have been waiting for their families. We also expect more great stories from the 125 current Lifeline India families and can’t wait to share them with you! If you would like more information about Lifeline’s International Adoption India program, visit Opened Doors for (un)adopted® Not only has our international adoption program grown, but doors have been opened for (un)adopted to begin work with girls within the country of India to help give them a hope and future in their native country. (un)adopted is pleased to announce a new partnership formed in May 2019 with STEPS Home in Chennai, India. STEPS was founded in 2007 by Isaac and Tara Manogarom. The Manogaroms, who are Indian and have two children through national adoption, currently care for 19 girls at STEPS. The girls receive love, care, housing, schooling, and, most importantly, are shown the love of the Father and taught that they are valued. (un)adopted is excited to walk alongside the Manogaroms and their staff as they care for these 19 girls, finding ways to best meet their needs and plan for their future. But these 19 are a small speck inside the bigger number of 20 million orphaned and vulnerable children in India. That’s why the Manogaroms have a heart for reaching the Indian people with the call to care for the orphan through something they call the Save Her initiative. (un)adopted’s heart is to equip the Body of Christ to manifest the Word to vulnerable children, so this initiative is right on track with the ministry’s main goal. For more information about what’s going on in India, to see options for service trips, and to learn about ways you can partner through (un)adopted, email

Summer 2019


Family Milestones

Preschool Graduation Caris Burns, age 5, graduated from preschool and is headed to kindergarten in the fall. In June, she will have been home for three years from China.

High School Graduation

First Year of Baseball

Washington Sheffield, home from Colombia

Alek Stevens finished his first year of baseball this year! Alek came home

with his three siblings since December 2016,

from Kyrgyzstan in October of 2016.

graduated from Cullman High School in May.

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First Dance Recital Etta Goetz was in her first dance recital. Her mom and dad are so proud of all that she has overcome to do this! Etta came home from Hungary in March of 2017.

First Trip to Disney World

6th Birthday

Andrew Cornutt, home from India since July 2018, traveled to Walt Disney

Maggie Wilder, home from India since July

World for the first time with his parents Jared and Kandace Cornutt.

2017, celebrated her 6th birthday in March.

embracing fostering

together written by


After 17 years of marriage, my husband, George, and I longed to become licensed foster parents. However, our kids did not yet know about the calling God had placed on our hearts. One night around the dinner table we struck up a conversation about orphans and vulnerable children. We explained the need of foster children to have a safe home and the chance to show and tell them about the amazing love of Christ. As you can imagine, this conversation brought up many hard questions: Why are they taken from their parents? What did their parents do that was so wrong? Could a policeman come to our front door and take us away from you? After attempting to answer questions at an age appropriate level for our 7-year-old twin boys (Robert and William) and 9-year-old daughter (Caroline), we asked them to consider and pray about whether God was calling our family to the work of foster care. Throughout the coming weeks we prayed and had multiple conversations to discuss the realities of having a child in our home. We strived to educate our children about being inconvenienced, sharing everything, putting yourself last, possibly being hit or pinched by younger kids, and generally serving these children whether you feel like it or not. I will always remember when my son Robert hopped in the van with his sweaty curls after P.E. one day; with a big smile, he asked with great enthusiasm, “Mom, did we get the job, did we get the job?” It took me a moment to realize he was talking about being a foster family. It was evident God was turning his heart to our family’s calling. When asked, Caroline expressed she was on board but with some hesitation. (Who wouldn’t be hesitant after your parents are telling you to consider something that’s going to be REALLY hard?) That summer, our Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety (TIPS) training took George and I away from home every Monday evening. Our kids were perturbed that we continued to leave them with a babysitter every

Summer 2019


week, but we assured them the long training time was going to be worth it. Throughout the home study process, Caroline inquired about why we had to buy and do a lot of extra things for the children who would come into our care but never did the same for her and her brothers. During one of our home visits I encouraged Caroline to ask our social worker. The social worker explained that when we are taking care of other people’s children, we must take some extra steps to ensure they are well and safe. This answer somewhat appeased her curiosity and inquisitive spirit. The following December we had our first call. I couldn’t wait to tell my kids that they would have a four-yearold buddy in our home. My kids immediately wanted to know his name. I explained that I didn’t know his name and there would be many things about the children that came to our house that we didn’t know. William immediately and innocently asked if we would be the first to give him a name! During the December days spent with our first buddy, he made us smile as he sang Christmas songs and carols at the top of his lungs every time we were in the car. We talked with him about the birth of Jesus as we put up Christmas decorations. He needed some structure and love and was an absolute delight. One night, soon after our buddy left our home, William was making mashed potatoes for dinner and he spoke with emotion and said, “I miss our buddy.” We talked about the coming and going as well as the emotion that comes with foster care. All five of us were certain that, although there was pain in saying good-bye, the gain of knowing him and spending time talking about God with him was worth it. One day I received a phone call from one of Robert’s classmate’s mom. She said, “Anne, my son came home from school yesterday and explained to me that Robert had a foster child in his home. He also explained to me what foster care is and how it can impact the lives of other children.” She exclaimed her surprise and joy that her son had learned this from his second-grade friend at school. She was thankful for the way my second grader had explained it to her son. What a thrill to see my son not only be excited to foster but to understand and explain God’s work in the life of our family to a friend!

“All five of us were certain that, although there was pain in saying good-bye, the gain of knowing him and spending time talking about God with him was worth it.”

The first sibling set that came into our home proved to be challenging for all of us. Sleep did not come easy for them while away from all that was familiar to them. The time we spent with them felt very chaotic, as they had learned that acting out sometimes got them what they wanted. This situation was challenging. After our buddies left our home, we spent two hours around the dinner table processing all that our children had seen and experienced. It was a lot. We connected through the heartache and the experience we had walked through together—heartache for what those children had obviously been exposed to, grief over their situation, and the impact it has on those buddies daily.

As I reflect on our first months as foster parents, I realize that it’s nothing like what we pictured it would be. In some ways, it is better than we imagined it would be. In other ways, it is harder than we anticipated. It’s hard to watch your kids mature in a difficult way. I am thankful it’s happening under our roof, and that we can process the emotion and the questions they are having. I am also thankful for our commitment and opportunity to be there for vulnerable children. Our family’s first foster care conversations happened around the dinner table. We continue to gather around the table to talk about what we experienced together with another buddy. Sometimes those stories lead us to talk about our dependence on the Lord and His call on our life to share with others about Him. And, sometimes the conversations lead us to laugh and just remember. It is a privilege to be the hands and feet of the Lord and to answer His call together, as a family. Anne and George Lawton became foster parents in January 2019 and are real estate agents in Birmingham, AL. They are thankful for their partnership with Lifeline as foster parents and being able to give back to Lifeline through their work.

Summer 2019


Helping Siblings Address Conf lict With

P.E. A .C.E. developed by


In Romans 12:18 Paul gives these challenging words, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” For any relationship this is a challenge, but sibling relationships bring their own special joys and difficulties. The relationship between siblings will likely be the longest enduring relationship in one’s lifetime. These relationships can provide deep love and connection, but they can also create deep frustrations. Siblings know weaknesses and can “push buttons” like no one else. However, the sibling relationship provides unique opportunities for children to learn and practice important skills that can be applied to any relationship they will have throughout their lifetime. It is the parents’ role to help children develop these skills. Although certainly a complicated task, parents can use the P.E.A.C.E. acronym to help lead children through arguments and relational disruptions.

P is for PROACTIVE Be aware of circumstances that may make conflict more likely, and be proactive in mitigating the conflict that can come from them. Take note of when and how often conflict occurs between your children. If the conflict is happening at specific times of the day, flare ups might be prevented. Regular food and hydration can keep their blood sugar levels stable and their moods regulated. For example, we all get cranky, and our level of tolerance dips when we are tired and hungry. Giving regular snack, drinks, and rest might prevent many conflicts. Does the conflict happen at certain Summer 2019

times of the day? Is it during the morning rush to get everyone ready and out the door? Then, consider creating extra time in the mornings so those last minutes needs do not cause stress. Do conflicts happen in the late afternoon, when everyone needs an energy boost? During the afternoon lulls everyone may need to have times of quiet and play in separate rooms to avoid tensions.

E is for EMOTIONS/EMPATHY When there is conflict in your home, connecting with the feelings and emotions you have as a parent is important. When

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there is a flare up between our children we want to take care of it before it gets out of hand. But, before you rush to put out the “fire,” consider applying the Stop, Drop, and Role (roll) advice from firefighters. Stop and make sure that you are calm. Your children will take on your emotions, and you could escalate the situation. Use calming techniques such as deep breathing to become regulated. Remember that you have a High Priest that can help you in the midst of escalated emotions. Once you are calm, drop down to or below your children’s level; this way, you will not appear threatening and can help them not become defensive.

Finally, and most importantly, remember your role as parent. It is not your responsibility to solve your children’s conflict, but it is your job to provide them with the tools they need. It is your job to teach them how to calm themselves, understand their sibling, and work toward compromise. Once you understand your own emotions and the role you have in your children’s conflict, then you can respond to each child with empathy. Listen to your child’s feelings and emotions behind the issue. Let your child know that you understand working through conflict is difficult. As your child feels heard and understood, she/he can come to a place of calm and be able to work on problem solving with her/his sibling.

A is for ACCEPT In Romans 3:23 we learn that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Because of the Fall and our sinful nature, conflict is inevitable. Although inevitable, we can view it as an opportunity to teach skills in conflict resolution, which will make relationships stronger and deeper. It is with the help of the gospel that we can resolve conflict in a healthy way. Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson from Peacemaker Ministries give four principles to use as we respond to conflict: • Principle 1. Go Higher. Ask, “How can I focus on God in this situation?” • Principal 2. Get Real. Ask, “How can I own my part of this conflict?” • Principle 3. Gently Engage. Ask, “How can I help others own their contribution to this conflict?” • Principle 4. Get Together. Ask, “How can I give forgiveness and help reach a reasonable solution?”

and one-on-one time with a parent? As you seek to understand what is driving the behavior, you will see patterns that emerge and character issues that you can begin to address with your child.

E is for EQUIPPING God’s desire for our relationships is stated well in 1 Peter 3:8-9, “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” As parents we can use sibling conflict to equip our children to reach this goal of peace in relationships. We can begin to equip our children to become self-aware, to learn to regulate their strong emotions and feelings, and to develop life skills of leadership, compromise, and negotiation. For more in depth information on teaching these skills check out Jim and Lynne Jackson’s The Peace Process at Connected Families,, and Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson’s book, Resolving Everyday Conflict.

most importantly, their own future family. As you practice bringing P.E.A.C.E. to your home by being Proactive, Empathetic, Accepting, Curious and Equipping, you will be amazed at the way your children will grow in their ability to resolve and eventually solve their own conflicts and problems, and you will find that peace is restored to your home. RESOURCES: Safe House by Joshua Straub The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. & Tina Payne, Bryson, Ph.D. The Peace Process by Jim and Lynne Jackson, Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande, Kevin Johnson

Parents have the unique opportunity to impact how their children relate to others, teaching them to understand the importance of learning and practicing relationship skills at home in a safe environment. Parents can help children understand that the skills they are practicing with their siblings will impact their relationships with friends, teachers, coaches, employers, and

You can teach these four principles to your children to help them navigate their role in conflict resolution.

C is for CURIOUS Behind every behavior there is a thought and need that drives the behavior. Become curious about what drives your child’s behavior. Does she/he have feelings of inadequacy that causes her/him to express his needs in an inappropriate way? This might lead her/him to become the bully or victim in the sibling relationship. Does she/ he have feelings of jealousy or envy? Does she/he have a need for additional attention Summer 2019

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Promoting Sibling Attachment After Adoption DEVELOPED BY: LYNN BECKETT, LBSW

Literature, training, and conversation generally place a strong emphasis on parents attaching to their new child(ren) but connectedness between all family members is equally important. Now that you are home with your newest family member, you may be wondering, “Where do we go from here; how do we become a family?” You may have had images of your new child(ren) fitting seamlessly into your family’s routines and traditions, but now there seems to be an “us vs. them” mentality developing between your children. The following ideas can help promote healthy sibling attachment and relationships among children, helping the whole family feel like “us.”


A child’s position and role in the family may determine how easily she/he is able to accept the newest member. Be attuned to how a new child will impact the position and role for each child: • How will adoption disrupt their position in the family? Will they no longer be the oldest or youngest? • Will they go from being the only girl in the family, who now has to share the role of Daddy’s little princess? • What stage of life is your child in?

Don’t assume that the older child about to leave for college does not need you. They may feel cheated if you seem distracted and unable to engage in the excitement and business or preparation for going away. Being aware of the possible thoughts and emotions your child is experiencing can help you be attuned to potential problems.


• What is challenging? • What has been the best part?

together. (Check out Lifeline’s website for details on these activities.)

It is common for a child to wish for her /his family to be like they were before the adoption. Creating a safe space for your child(ren) to discuss fears and disappointments like this will help validate her/his emotions and will go a long way in promoting acceptance of his new sibling.

OLD AND NEW FAMILY TRADITIONS: If celebrations must be modified in the first year post-adoption, assure your child she/he is not forgotten and you will return to those traditions in the future. Then, enlist her/his help in making some new traditions that everyone can participate in. Maybe it is time to make Taco Tuesday an official family tradition with sombreros for all!

Oftentimes, understanding the “why” behind changes can help us make the adaptions needed. Educate your child(ren) on why their new sibling needs more of your attention, even though she/he may be the same age. Also, explain why her/his new sibling may have difficulty with transitions, is disciplined differently, and has differing expectations. Guide your child(ren) to connect with the emotions that her/his new sibling is feeling so that she/he can begin to develop some empathy.



DEVELOP A FAMILY MOTTO: The Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development encourages families to have the following rules: “No hurts, stick together, and have fun!” Encourage your children to develop a motto for your family. Guide them to think through questions like, “What does your family value in how you relate?” Then, develop hand motions that will help you remember your motto. In moments of discord, a simple reminder about the family motto can help everyone get back on track with behaviors and attitudes.

Sharing a parent’s attention is difficult! Try to take time daily to check in with each child, and gauge each of their emotions. Bedtime is often a great time to debrief. 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 conversation starter lets your child know you see them and are willing to listen and communicates she/he is not alone. Also, set a weekly “date” time with each child, such as breakfast out before school or a weekly walk. If a child knows they will have a parent’s undivided attention, once a week, she/ he can better tolerate the extra time a parent spends with the new sibling. During this time, assess the child’s feelings about adding a new family member. Ask questions such as the following: • How is it different from what you expected?

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Utilize the following ideas to help you to be proactive in promoting attachment between siblings and building new family memories and connections: HAVE FUN TOGETHER AS A FAMILY: Playing builds connections because it is the language of children. Team the children against the parents for team unity in games of tag, water balloon fights, charades, or simple board games.

USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM: Partnering a child with a new sibling can make him feel she/he has a new and special role in the family. Although a child will not engage in care-taking, they can help with play, learning about routines, and understanding family expectations in the home. WORK ON A PROJECT TOGETHER: Making a bird house for grandparents, putting in a garden, making cookies for a teacher or neighbor, or entering an event such as the Lifeline Kickball tournament or Stand for Orphans as a family are all great ideas for working

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It takes time to build a relationship. Do not force the relationships between siblings. Your role is to provide positive space and opportunities for the relationships to grow. Let your child(ren) develop a relationship with her/his sibling on her/his own time table. While they may not be BFFs by the end of the first year, you should see some positive changes and steady (although it may be slow) progress in their connections. If you do not experience this and feel that the children are in a negative pattern of interactions, or just stuck in how they relate to one another, then seek out the help of your Lifeline Caseworker or a Lifeline Counselor. Whether your children are close in age or not; whether they are the same or different genders; whether they verbalize any challenges or not; it is a parent’s role to help children grow in their love for one another. For children who are recently home, who have a history of trauma, parents must be attuned to any potential issues that might prevent attachment. As you create space and time for your children to express their feelings about changes in the family and as you engage in activities for fun and connection, you will be making memories that will begin to bring the whole family closer together. Resources: Purvis, K. B., Cross, D. R. & Sunshine, W. L. (2007). The Connected Child: Bringing Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Stand for Orphans: Thinking Outside Ourselves written by


“Mom, can we PLEASE do a lemonade stand today,” begged the kids. They had been wanting to do one for a long time, so I reluctantly agreed to do a stand that hot day in May 2015. We gathered poster board, some lemonade, a table, and headed down to a park in our neighborhood. Although we profited about $20 that day, the Lord birthed an incredible idea in the hearts of our children. While we were sitting there doing our stand, one by one, ideas began to pop up. One child Summer 2019

commented that they wanted to give the money we raised that day to Lifeline. Wheels started turning, and my children were blurting out ideas fast and furiously: “Let’s not only give this money to Lifeline, but let’s encourage other kids to host their own stands and give the money to help kids around the world.” “What if we asked a donor to match all the money raised this summer up to a certain dollar amount?” Later that day when Herbie got home, we bombarded him with all our ideas and then asked if we could call Rick Morton, Lifeline’s Vice President of Engagement, to - 14 -

share our ideas with him as well. That night we bought the domain names and Stand for Orphans® was official. As a family, we have spent many hours in orphanages around the world in places like China and Colombia. The sights and smells are like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Seeing orphans with my own eyes definitely spurs me to do something for them. It took the simple idea of selling lemonade to bring to fruition what had been stirring in my heart for years—a means of

engaging children here at home to do something tangible to help children around the world.

to make another orphan a son or daughter, we can all do something to care for the fatherless.

From a young age, we have tried to teach our children that life is not about them. Stand for Orphans is a great way to demonstrate this truth. They use hard work and determination, not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of others. Nothing makes me more excited than to see my kids’ passion for helping children around the world who are just like them.

What should we sell at our stand? Anything! Lemonade, brownies, cookies, bracelets, slime, handmade crafts, etc. Get creative!

Many times, as the church, I think we have the mindset that serving is reserved for adults. However, I strongly believe that the more we involve children in thinking about and serving others, the more likely it will become a natural part of their lives. Thus, serving others will be carried into adulthood and throughout their lives. The values of generosity, serving others, compassion, selflessness, hard work, determination, ingenuity, and entrepreneurship are taught through Stand for Orphans. Aren’t these values that we all want for our children? Stand for Orphans is a perfect way to engage your kids at an early age in caring for others—even people they cannot see with their own eyes.

When/where should we do our stand? Location, location, location—It really does matter. The last thing you want to do is get all set up and then not have any customers. Try to go to a populated place such as a park, dog park, Farmer’s market, splash pad, your church, or in front of a local business (Make sure to ask for permission first!). Do a stand in conjunction with a yard sale—a neighborhood yard sale would be even better! Who can be involved? Anyone—young to not so young. This is what makes Stand for Orphans such a unique fundraiser. Use it as an opportunity to bring your family together to help those who don’t yet have a family. How can I get started? Sign up for your free kit at!

Help us spread the word so that numerous families will participate in the Stand for Orphans initiative, resulting in more children being helped. Post your pictures on social media using the hashtag #standfororphans and encourage others to do their own stands. Tell your moms’ groups, Bible study groups, book club, PTO, sports teams, etc. about Stand for Orphans and encourage them to do a stand as well. Ask your church if you could set up a stand one Sunday after church as people are leaving. Maybe you know someone who would be willing to match all the donations you make at your stand—who could you approach to ask if they would be willing to match? Doing a lemonade stand as a kid seems like a rite of passage. Why not make it count for something other than ourselves?

“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25 (NLT)

Stand is a simple, yet effective way to engage local communities to make a global impact. FAQs Why should you participate? There are 153 million orphans worldwide that need our help! God commands us in James 1:27 to care for the orphan and the widow. While adoption is certainly one way to care for the orphan, the reality is that less than half of one percent of all orphans will be adopted. Consequently, that leaves millions of precious image-bearers languishing in orphanages around the world. While you may not have room at the table in your home Summer 2019

1st ever Stand for Orphans in May 2015

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Siblings in Real Life the Moody Family

Navigating the journey of adoption with siblings is more than words on paper. Although we need the constructive advice and guidance of experts, hearing from a parent who lives and breathes in the world of siblings can help us not only understand that we aren’t alone in this journey but also give us a practical example of what it looks like to parent siblings in real life. We asked Josh Moody, who is a father of six children and the Manager of Orphan Care Partnerships with (un)adopted, some questions about what sibling relationships look like for his family. Read his answers below and be encouraged about how the Lord walks with us through our challenges: Tell us a little bit about your children. We have six children (four biological and two who were adopted from Uganda). Our three daughters are 14, 14, and 11. Our three sons are 10, 9, and 4. (Our 10 and 9-year-old boys were adopted from Uganda in 2011.) What do the relationships look like between your children? In many ways our kids have “typical” sibling relationships. They laugh together; they play together; they spend time together. But, they also annoy each other; they fight; they pester; and they argue as well. As an adoptive family, however, sometimes you have to be prepared to deal with issues and struggles that biological families may not necessarily face. Jealousy and resentment can be very real emotions that biological and adopted siblings can both experience. Statements such as, “You love them more than us” or questions like, “Why are they treated differently” can and probably will be phrases that a parent will hear at some point. Obviously, these things aren’t true, but a biological child or a child who has been adopted (or both) can sometimes perceive circumstances this way, and it can strain relationships and create very difficult struggles within families. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had, concerning shepherding your children (both bio and adopted) through the addition of new siblings through adoption? What I mentioned above is one of the biggest challenges we have faced. We Summer 2019

do the best we can to make all of our children feel equally loved and cherished, but sometimes we feel like we have to navigate relationships in our home on egg shells. It’s hard to determine, sometimes, if our children actually feel this way [that someone is loved more or less], or if they have identified it as a way they can attempt to manipulate my wife and me. Either way, it can make things very hard sometimes. What changes in family dynamics came after new siblings were added? One obvious change was that, literally overnight, we became a multi-racial family. We had to get used to some stares and sometimes off-the-wall questions. It helps for adoptive parents to develop thick skin and realize that, most of the time, when people say something that may come across as rude, they typically don’t mean it that way. They just may not know how to verbalize what they mean. For example, one question we’ve received is, “So those (referring to my white, biological kids) are your REAL kids?” (As if my brown skinned sons are fake children.) As a family (mom, dad, and children too), we had to learn how to show grace and respond to awkward situations appropriately. How have your children’s roles in the family been impacted by the addition of siblings? How have you helped your children navigate those changes? All of our children were fairly young when our boys were adopted, so their “roles” haven’t changed dramatically. I think it might be different for families who have older children and are bringing in an additional sibling. Because ours were all younger, they have “grown up” with the same family roles for a while now. What have you found to be helpful in helping your children understand the needs and rules that may vary among them, especially when new children come home? We really just use the same set of rules, guidelines, and expectations for all of our children. Everybody is held to the same standard. (However, as you can see from a few previous answers, our kids may not always see it that way.) As

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I said before, because our boys came into our home at an early age and their siblings were fairly young as well, this was not as much of a challenge to introduce. How do you/did you encourage open communication between you and your children about what is going on in their lives and family dynamic? How do you do heart “check-ups” with them? With six children, it is certainly hard to have “one-on-one time,” so we have to be intentional with it. I may grab my boys to go run errands with me. Or, we may have a conversation with our older daughters in the living room after the younger kids go to bed. Or, I may chat with some of the kids in bed before they go to sleep. With a large family, “check ups” don’t happen if parents aren’t intentional about it. We let our children (especially our teenagers) know point blank that we are going to pry into their lives. We are going to be in their business. And that’s okay because we are their parents and it is our job to care for, disciple, and nurture them; we can’t do that appropriately if we have no idea what’s going on with them. But, I think the key is intentionality. Make time to sit and communicate with your child every single day. It can be awkward and spiritually and emotionally exhausting, but the more this is done, the easier open communication becomes. What are some activities that encourage unity and relationship building in your family? What are some favorite things to do as “play” for your family? We lived in the bush of Uganda for a few years, and one activity that we started there, and really looked forward to every week was movie night. Now, back in the States, every Friday (almost, anyway), we pile up in the living room after dinner and make popcorn or whatever snack and just watch a movie together. This is just a way all of us can be together for an extended period of time. We can kind of take a deep breath from the week for a couple of hours. We also eat dinner together every night. This is a non-negotiable. If we are all at home (sometimes there are practices, etc.), we sit around the table with no TV, no electronics, etc. and eat together. Full disclosure, sometimes it’s a disaster

(people argue, messes are made, etc.). But that’s okay. Twenty years from now, I know that our children WILL remember little things that made an impact on them—things like movie night and dinner. What are some of the most common issues/arguments that arise between your children as siblings? We have the standard arguments: “Those are my clothes, you can’t wear that;” “Stop annoying me;” and “Why did you tattle on me?” But, probably the most common issue that arises is that of “fairness,” (i.e. “You took her to Starbucks, now what do I get? It’s not fair.”). We have to explain constantly to our children that sometimes things aren’t fair. Sometimes people get to do things while someone else may not get to do something. It’s definitely a challenge keeping it “fair” in a house of six children. Do you have any tips for helping siblings who are in constant battle or are prone to have personality differences? I will give the “Christian-y” answer to this, but, hands down, it’s the best one: prayer. If we aren’t committing to praySummer 2019

ing for our kids on a daily basis, then we are completely failing them. Kids today are facing challenges and issues that generations past can’t even begin to comprehend. They are bombarded at school, on social media, and everywhere by temptation to fall into various struggles and sins. If you take into account siblings who have been brought together through adoption, challenges are multiplied exponentially because those kids face challenges that even their own peers know nothing about. Bringing your family before the throne of God daily is an absolute necessity if we are going to raise healthy, God honoring families. My wife and I pray daily for the peace of God to rest in our home. How long has it taken/did it take for basic adjustments to happen and for children to feel more like siblings than strangers? For our family, we thought this was easy, initially. The first few years of our post adoption lives we thought we were “cruising.” Our family just seemed like it clicked. We thought this adoption thing was a piece of cake. We couldn’t relate to all the struggles that we heard from other adoptive families. It wasn’t until

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a few years later that we began to see (and are still seeing today) some issues come to the surface. By God’s grace, we are dealing with those through prayer, discipleship, and a load of great resources that are available. Adoptive families and potential adoptive families should understand that they are not entering into a 100-yard dash. They are entering an ultra marathon. It will never get “easy” on this side of eternity. Your family will always be different and the enemy will constantly battle it because he HATES the concept of adoption. He hates the picture of the gospel that adoption displays. He hates that the fatherless are being given a home. But the good news is that our God is faithful. As we walk through family struggles and hard days, we have confidence knowing that God is walking through every second of it with us, and He will not abandon or forsake us. If you have questions or concerns about sibling relationships within your family, please reach out to your social worker at Lifeline. We’d love to walk with you in this journey, no matter how many days, months, or years, you’ve been on it.

How to:

Help Your Family Thrive in the Summer written by

LYNN BECKETT, LBSW, POST ADOPTION SPECIALIST Summer often means days without schedules, sleeping in late, and staying outside playing until those last beams of the sun disappear. It also means a reprieve from early morning car pools and racing to the next activity. But, for many children, the routine and schedule of school provides security. No schedule or one that changes daily can create a feeling of insecurity and anxiety for children in care or children who have been adopted. Therefore, children from difficult backgrounds require us to adapt our schedules, lifestyles, and expectations in many ways, including the lazy days of summer. Consider the following suggestions to help you and your family adjust well to the summer season:

General Tips

• Try to maintain a routine and regular daily schedule. • Consider the individual needs of each child in the home and plan activities that will meet each of these needs. • Plan activities during the day that use large muscle groups such as swimming, biking, and swinging to promote balance and a sense of spatial orientation. Monitor closely so your child does not become overly stimulated or tired. • Institute rest time or calm activities at intervals during the day so your child is not over stimulated. • Offer snacks or food every two hours to maintain blood sugar levels and prevent “melt downs.” • Stay hydrated. Hydration has been proven to reduce aggression. • Over prepare your child for a new activity days before the event. For example, the 4th of July can be overwhelming if a child does not know what to expect. • Be aware of your child’s sensory needs as you plan or attend an event. The annual family reunion may be great fun for you but all those “strangers” may be overwhelming for your child. • Don’t assume your child understands an activity; always over explain the activity or event. • Make frequent stops during a long car trip to provide much needed deep muscle activity. Find a rest stop where you can throw a Frisbee or toss a beach ball (or, something else easy to deflate and carry). Summer 2019

Adjust Vacation Plans

For those families recently home, you are still in the process of building attachment. (Lifeline considers “recently home” as home less than a year.) This may be the year to consider a “staycation.” Don’t plan a big vacation to Disney World, where the child might become over stimulated and overwhelmed, and you become frustrated that you spent the week in the hotel room with an out-of-control child. Rather, consider memberships at local attractions for the summer, such as the pool, zoo, or children’s museum. This option allows for short day visits as your child becomes accustomed to new sights, sounds, and sensations. It is much easier to leave for home quickly when you are nearby an attraction. In addition, you will not have lost the cost of your ticket and can return at another time. While a week at grandma’s may be an American tradition for many children during the summer, you may need to forego or modify this tradition for your foster or adopted child who is newly home. Send any other children but keep your new child home for more one-on-one attention and investment in attachment.

Maintain Structure While Learning

Consider summer school as an option. Many school systems will have summer school that would allow your child to continue to have structure in their day and to remediate any skills they may need for the next school year. If your child has been home longer than a year, a day camp with lots of structure might be an option for you. If there is no summer school in your area and day camp is not an option, invite a college student or older teenager to provide tutoring each morning with your child. This option will provide structure for your child and allow you some time with your other children or for your own necessary tasks. Set a schedule that you can follow each day so your child knows what to expect. For younger children, the schedule may need to be picture-based. When the schedule varies, be sure to take a few days to prepare your child for the change in routine.

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Play, Play, Play

Play has an important role in your child’s healing, and the connections you can make as you play together will be invaluable. Take advantage of all the fun things the warmer weather allows. Many of these activities like riding bikes, jumping on the trampoline, swimming, and climbing on the play set will provide sensory input that will promote physical and brain development. They also develop core strength and literally brings down the chemistry of fear, while enhancing the chemicals that promote healing for the child. If you do not already have a sand box, set one up along with a wading pool for fun outside play. Get in touch with your inner child and run in the sprinkler together. Make mud pies and sand castles.

Prepare for Rainy (or Hot) Days

Prepare for those rainy days when you are inside by making a list of possible activities to do with your children. Use the following suggestions to get creative with your resources and space: • Clear the garage and set up a mini obstacle course. • A large refrigerator box can become anything such as a race car, airplane, or castle and fort. • Sit and spins, small riding toys, and mini trampolines will help get in the movement that children will need for the day. • Pull out the sheets, and build tents over couches and dining room tables. • Collect all the pillows from beds and have pillow piles in the family room. • Make kid sandwiches with two pillows and a child in the middle. You can give them great massages as you rub on the pretend mayonnaise to the child’s back. Consider activities that will continue to promote attachment and bonding without overwhelming the child. Summer can be a challenging time for families, but it can also be an opportune time to take advantage of less busy schedules to grow together. Hopefully these tips can help you and your child build a summer full of fun and special memories while encouraging attachment and healing.

recommended resources

Fun Games and Physical Activities written by Beth Powell Develop children’s brains and bonds with this collection of no-tech, physical games, strategies, and activities. Ideal for children who have experienced neglect, abuse, and trauma, these “real-world” experiences draw on therapeutic, trauma-focused-care play principles and promote positive attachment between child and caregivers.

I Love You Rituals written by Becky Bailey, Ph.D. I Love You Rituals offers more than seventy delightful rhymes and games that send the message of unconditional love and enhance children’s social, emotional, and school success. Winner of a 1999 Parent’s Guide Children’s Media Award, these positive nursery rhymes, interactive finger plays, soothing games, and physical activities can be played with children from infancy through age eight.

2019 UPCOMING TRIPS GUATEMALA: September 8-14 UGANDA: September 9-17 LIBERIA: November 15-24 COLOMBIA (MEDICAL): Nov. 30 - Dec. 7

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LIFELINE’S DOMESTIC TEAM At Lifeline, we believe in the value and dignity of all women, and we know that birth mothers are incredibly brave and driven by love. Our pregnancy counselors and domestic adoption team encounter amazing women every day, who seek to care for their children in sacrificial and loving ways. Christie Mac Segars, Lifeline’s Vice President of Domestic Services, shares about the unique opportunity that exists for adoptive parents to pray specifically for birth mothers and in very personal ways: We continue to be amazed at the opportunities the Lord gives us to share His love, grace, and forgiveness with hurting women. We are so thankful for our adoptive parents who partner with us in this ministry and wanted to share some of the joys we get to experience daily and ask you all to continue to pray for our pregnancy counseling ministry and for the birth mothers of your children. • Please pray for the many women who are initially reaching out in their fear and are, therefore, scared to meet with us face to face. Pray they will follow through with face-to-face meetings. • Pray for the women who have made an adoption plan. Pray they will be connected to a local church body who can wrap around them. • Pray for your child’s birth mother’s salvation (if she is an unbeliever) and an opportunity for you or someone to share the gospel with her in word and deed. The story below is an example of the precious women our domestic team encounters every day. As you read, allow it to remind you of the birth mother of your child and to pray for her daily.

SELENA’S* STORY When Selena checked in to the hospital to deliver her baby, she reached out to Lifeline. Her Pregnancy Counselor immediately came and was there for Selena every step of the way: “When I spent the weekend with her at the hospital, there were numerous opportunities that the Lord allowed me to speak truth over the lies she was believing about herself and share with her that He is the one that can take away all of the shame she was putting on herself. It was amazing to see the Lord in the details and be able to point out God’s faithfulness to her throughout the entire process of choosing and meeting the family that she wanted for her child. A few weeks after placing her child with a family, Selena was an entirely different person than the one I had met in the hospital. She was still grieving but it was very evident that she was now walking in joy and peace, and she seemed as if she was beginning to see how God was working in her story. I’m hopeful for future opportunities to share the hope of the gospel with her and pray that it begins to take root in her heart.” –Lifeline Pregnancy Counselor This story gives us a great glimpse into how God is working in the lives of birth mothers through Lifeline’s domestic ministry. As you pray for birth mothers, also remember the people in her life who are journeying with her, including pregnancy counselors who may be serving and caring for her during pregnancy and beyond. *Name has been changed for privacy.

Summer 2019

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upcoming events Visit to see how you can get involved!

Family Reunion

Share the Story Events

Saturday, June 29 | Birmingham, AL 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

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R(un) for One

Thursday, October 17 | Birmingham, AL 5:30pm - Doors Open 6:30 pm - Dinner & Program

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Being pro-life means that not only do we see abortion as murder, but we also see our apathy against injustice toward life outside of the womb as a co-conspirator in the fight for life. It means we fight for racial equality. It means we love the woman walking into the abortion clinic passionately with the love of Christ, and it means we embrace life no matter what syndrome may be attached to a person’s identity. There are many books written about being pro-life and combatting abortion, but my hope is this small volume will bring awareness that the pro-life ethic is so much bigger than just being pro-birth.”

- Herbie Newell

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