Know More Orphans Intensive

The Know More Orphans Intensive will be held later this month, on Saturday February 28th, at the Grace Life Baptist Church in Bessemer, Alabama. Topics covered will include:

– Pre-Adoption: Beginning the Adoption Journey
– Special Needs Adoption
– The Changing Tide of International Adoption
– Adoptive and Foster Fathers: Are You Leading or Along for the Ride?
– Older Child Adoption – Do You Have What It Takes?
– Developing Ministries for Adoption, Foster Care, Orphan Care
– Attachment 101: How to Understand Kids From Hard Places
– Connecting While Correcting: The Art of Relationships
– Foster Care: An Overview
– Sibling Attachment in Foster Care and Adoption

The Know More Orphans website also says that: “This conference is intended for anyone who is interested in serving vulnerable and orphaned children. If you are a foster parent, adoptive parent, orphan advocate, social worker, community or church leader please make plans to join us.”

We will definitely be there – and we hope to see you there, too!

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Finding Mercy, Part 2

hosea143_revisedThe Prophet Hosea is telling the people of Isreal about the need for repentance and the promise of an all-loving and all-forgiving God. In 14:3 he says that the orphan finds mercy in God, and to no longer attribute the good work of God to ourselves because He is the true source of goodness, mercy, and compassion.

I think this also applies to human orphan care when we take care of orphaned children because God asks us to, and we share God’s mercy by doing that and then attributing that act of compassion to God—who deserves all the glory. 

“I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him.” (14:4) This reminder of how deeply and truly God loves and forgives us can humble us and remind us of how important it is to extend that absolute, unreserved and fearless love to orphans.

The message about caring for orphans is so clear throughout the Bible. Not only does God specifically ask us to care for orphans in James 1:27, but we also see many examples that describes us, God’s children, using orphans as a metaphor. God knows us in all our sinfulness, and yet over and over again He has chosen to care for us. If we can see the whole world as a part of God’s family, then extending compassion towards orphaned children comes naturally as a way of showing an understanding of what God has done for us. 


 

caroline_bioCaroline Peoples recently moved to Prattville with her husband from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where she graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in Public Relations.

Caroline believes that adoption is an inspiring way of sharing Christ’s redemptive love. She hopes that, through her position as Community Relations Manager at The Adoption Law firm, she will be able to share the importance of this act of love and servitude, and to help bring others into and through the process of adoption.

Finding Mercy, Part 1

For the next few weeks, we would love to share some of our thoughts with you in the spirit of inspiring hearts to orphan care and adoption. Please know that we would be delighted to hear your comments too!

 

hosea143_revisedIn Hosea 14:3, Israel is repentant of their sins and crying out to the Lord for His help. Israel relied on their own strength and their own gods to help them, instead of relying on God’s promise of protection. The Lord was righteously angry, judged Israel for their sins, and separated Himself from them. This chapter is the cry of Israel begging God to return to them. God graciously hears their cry, and turns his anger from Israel.

 

Hosea 14:3 uses the phrase, “In You the orphan finds mercy”. In other translations, the term “fatherless” is uses instead of “orphan”. From the different commentaries that I have read, the term “fatherless” is used to describe the destitute state of Israel. They were helpless and in desperate need of a Savior, similar to the condition of an orphan.  Israel realized that they have sinned and tried to find help and strength through their own manpower. They realized that they are in a sense “fatherless” because they were severed from their True Father. They learned that they could not find mercy and forgiveness through themselves. Israel confessed that they can only find mercy in God who never fails to be our Helper in our time of need.

 

When Israel confessed their sins and surrendered their lives to God, God was quick to give them mercy. If you are a child of God and you are straying from Him, we can find rest and mercy in Christ our Savior alone. If we are truly fatherless and separated by God through our unconfessed sins, then again God is quick to provide His love and mercy to us; but only if we confess our sins and surrender our lives to Him and Him alone.

 

We learn from this phrase that God is our merciful Savior and He will come to our rescue when we seek Him and confess our sins. However, gathering from the text of the chapter, we also learn that God will punish us for our sins. Even though Christians strive to walk in the Word, we are sinful beings and our selfish wants and desires will guide our path. We need to rely on God’s strength and mercy, because ultimately He is in control. But as a Christian, it is so encouraging to know that I can always find mercy in my Savior. 

Rachel Hines srachelerves as the Office Manager/ Paralegal for The Adoption Law Firm. She is a native of Montgomery and studied Psychology at Liberty University. After several mission trips and her involvement with the foster care system, she developed a desire to counsel young boys and girls in need of families. She is passionate about demonstrating the love of Christ by finding orphans forever families through adoption and foster care. Through the legal field, she aspires to establish justice for children who are abandoned and in desperate need of permanent families.

Friend of Adoption – Altar84

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We at The Adoption Law Firm continue to take the opportunity to further publicize organizations who are partnering in the care for the fatherless.  Today we would like to take a look at Altar84.

Altar84 is a Birmingham, AL based, non-profit organization founded on Christian principles.  According to their website, Altar84 serves in the following four areas.

  • Speak up for those without a voice and demonstrate the Gospel
  • Ongoing education and equipping for the Church and the family
  • Nourish both their physical and spiritual needs
  • Gather and provide resources to fight against the root causes of the orphan crisis

Altar84 is a great resource for churches looking to start an orphan care ministry.  They will partner with a local church to equip the church in the ministry of orphan care.  They will also provide resources needed to carry out this work.

Altar84 is another great organization who we at The Adoption Law Firm gladly consider a “friend of adoption”.

To further understanding the ministry of Altar84 and how they can be a help you your church, visit their website at www.altar84.org.

(UN)ADOPTED 3RD ANNUAL R(UN) FOR ONE

runforone-lifeline-bannerOn Saturday, August 16,  Lifeline Children’s Services is hosting a 5k run and a kids fun run to raise support and awareness for their (UN)adopted ministry at three different locations: Birmingham, AL, Louisville, KY, and Fayetteville, GA. (UN)adopted exists to make a difference and initiate effective change by proclaiming the message of the Gospel to orphans worldwide to provide immediate and eternal hope for those who have never heard the good news. Help support this wonderful cause by bringing the whole family out and enjoy a great day of running/walking for orphans! For more information and registration, please visit http://runforone5k.org/.

Unfailing Love Retreat

unfailing love retreat bannerThe Unfailing Love Retreat is a weekend of encouragement, education, and rest for adoptive and foster mothers. The 2nd Annual Retreat will be held at Ross Bridge Resort and Spa in Hoover, Alabama on September 5th and 6th, 2014. The main speaker, Traci Newell, is part of Lifeline Children’s Services as the Education Coordinator in the Domestic Department. Through helping people with the process to foster/adopt, she discovered a God-given love and passion for empowering families through training and that passion is still alive today. This will be a wonderful opportunity for mothers to come together and encourage one another. If you are not able to make it, please consider donating to this event. For more information and registration, please visit http://www.unfailingloveretreat.org/.

Response to the documentary “Children Underground” & Ministry Hightlight for Lifesong’s “Indigenous Adoption” Program

Response to  the documentary “Children Underground”  & Ministry Hightlight for  Lifesong’s “Indigenous Adoption” Program 

I really did not expect the documentary Children Underground to tug at my heart the way it did. As a documentary about street children I expected it to be sad, but after seeing the very terrible conditions these street children were living in and knowing that they were easy targets for human trafficking and sexual exploitation I was  beyond sad…i was angry, but most of all I was reminded  about a personal encounter I previously had with a “street child.”

About a year ago, for the first time in my life, I had an interaction with a street child. I remember not being able to eat or sleep for days after meeting her because she was constantly on my mind. She was 15 years old at the time and she was train-hoping with two other guys she met on the streets and happened to be in my city for a few days when I met her. She had been living in the streets for about 2 years because her mom was very abusive and bi-polar and made her sleep with older guys for money. When she turned 13 she decided to run away from that life, and had been living on the streets ever since, but to me she was the most beautiful and most happy girl I had seen in a long time.  She  had the biggest dreams for her life, she shared with me her love for planting things and how she wanted to own a big farm one day and plant healthy, organic food. She shared that with me while taking a bite from a two day old cold McDonalds hamburger, telling me that she knew how unhealthy that was for her, but so grateful to the worker from McDonalds who gave her so much food two days earlier. I spent three special hours talking to her and the two guys she was with, but the most special part of the day was praying with her and talking to her about the LORD. After our prayer time, I went in to give her a hug and she refused to hug me because she said she had not showered in two weeks and was not smelling pleasant, but after insisting she finally hugged me really tight, and with tears streaming down both of our faces, I spoke words from scripture over her and told her she was loved, special, and a daughter of the King. It was such an eye opening experience for me and as I watched this documentary, this experience kept playing back in my head and I thought about what possible solutions to the fate of street children could be.

The documentary suggested that putting these street children back home with their families or putting them in shelters would help eliminate the problem, and while I think that is a good solution, I also think that providing other loving homes to these children is a good way to keep them out of the streets. While no family life is perfect, most of the children that choose to be in the streets do so because they have had very bad home experiences, and sending them back to these homes with their scars is almost like giving them a death sentence. I would recommend that a solution is for Christians to take care of the street children in whatever community they are living in, and show them what a healthy family looks like because I know that unconditional love can change people.

On that note, I would like to highlight a ministry that does a good job of getting Christians in a community involved in the fate of the children in their community. Lifesong for Orphans has a program in Ukraine called Indigenous Adoptions which seeks to encourage the body of Christ in Ukraine to adopt locally. Their premise is that while it would cost an American family $25,000  to adopt a child from Ukraine, it only cost $500 for a Ukraine family to adopt a child, so they encourage churches and families in America to support Ukraine families that are seeking to adopt.

I think this is a great strategy in getting local Christians to serve the people within their communities who need help, and also letting them enjoy the benefits of opening up their homes to orphans. For more information on how to support this ministry contact Rich Metcalfe – rich@lifesongfororphans.org.

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By Salem Afangideh

Salem Afangideh is a second year law student at the Jones School of Law. A native of Nigeria, Africa who is currently interning with The Adoption Law Firm and Personhood, Alabama. You can find her blog about her law school experiences at lawschoolstruggles.blogspot.com.

AGAPE: Women’s Prayer Breakfast

TAgape Women's Prayerhere are very few things more beautiful than a group of women getting away from the stress and business of life that constantly pulls for their attention, and getting together to pray. Agape of Central Alabama is giving women the opportunity to do just that.

On September the 4th 2013 from 8am – 9:30am Agape will be hosting a Women’s Prayer Breakfast at the Wynlakes Country Club. With some special moments like getting to hear U.S. Rep Martha Roby give a keynote speech, and a time to honor women that have made a difference in their community, as well as praying for those that are seeking God’s will to make a change in our world – you will not want to miss this event. So please make plans to attend. To order your ticket or for more details, please go to  http://www.agapeforchildren.org/women/.

Repairing Broken Tapestry

AfangidehTim Keller, in “Every Good Endeavor:  Connecting Your Work to God’s Work,” talks about the role of Christians in repairing the areas of the world that have been broken. He encourages Christians, in whatever field of study they pursue, to embrace a worldview that looks past the brokenness to see how things are supposed to be, why they are not the way they should be, and what we can do to return things to the way they should be.

One area in our world that is broken today is the area of orphan care. UNICEF has estimated that there are between 143 million to 210 million orphans in the world today, and statistics have projected that in 2015 there will be nearly 400 million orphaned children worldwide. 400 million children – innocent, vulnerable children who through no fault of their own will find themselves in a position without a mother/father to love, discipline, and teach them…unless Christians do something about it!

The good news is that every year, about 250,000 children are adopted and brought into their loving “forever families,” but sadly every day 5,760 more children become orphans (Orphan Hope International). There is a lot of work to be done if we want to see the end of this sad trend of increasing orphaned children.

Like the The Hague Adoption Convention Preamble so beautifully says;“The child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.” To have a healthy next generation, we need families to open their eyes to the problem of orphaned children all around the world, and families that are willing to open their arms and their homes to these orphaned children.

Most Christians will probably agree that adoption is a beautiful picture of how God relates to us. When we get to verses in the Bible that talk about how God has adopted us as His children, and has brought us into His family, we are so filled with joy in her hearts and so thankful. Yet the thought of adopting orphan children fills a good number of Christians with dread and fear and with the justification that only certain people are “called” to adopt children. However, James points out that “Religion that God our father accepts as pure and undefiled is to look after the orphans and widows in their distress.” And throughout other places in scripture, God repeatedly commands His children to look after the orphans and fatherless. God’s heart clearly beats for the orphans and fatherless and Christians are entrusted with the same responsibility whether that means foster care, actually adopting, providing financial resources to those that are able to foster and adopt, providing quality legal or medical services to adoptive families, or something as “small” as providing free (or cheap) babysitting services to aid those in the front lines of orphan care.

Tim Keller further goes on to say that “to do justice means to go to places where the fabric of shalom [peace] has broken down, where the weaker members of societies are falling through the fabric and repair it.” Our orphan care system is broken, and we are in need of the people of the LORD to stand up, pick up the broken pieces and stand up for these approximately 147 million vulnerable people who are so close to the heart of the LORD. The universal Church of Jesus Christ has been called to “repair the broken tapestry of orphan care.” Will we answer the call?

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By Salem Afangideh

Salem Afangideh is a second year law student at the Jones School of Law. A native of Nigeria, Africa who is currently interning with The Adoption Law Firm and Personhood, Alabama. You can find her blog about her law school experiences at lawschoolstruggles.blogspot.com.