11 Things My Church Can do to Support Adoption and Foster Care

The partnership between adoption agencies and churches is vital.  What can your church do to join us in the gospel mandate to care for the orphan?  Several things:

Financial support

  • Viewing us as an extension of your pro-life ministry, make a monthly or annual commitment from your mission or evangelism budget to fund our birth mother fund or adoption grant fund.

Volunteer

  • Volunteer for events (picnic, gala)
  • Provide respite for families to have a break (weekend, or even date night)

Referrals

  • Refer women in crisis pregnancy
  • Refer families to our foster and adoption programs

Groups

  • Creation of an adoptive/foster family support group

Publicity

  • Observance of Orphan Sunday (eg, first Sunday in Nov) where we have a table, show a video, have a family speak about their experience, preach about the biblical mandate for adoption
  • Host an adoption conference with all the local agencies to present and exhibit
  • Orphan host summer tour: get a group of families to host a child for a month, or have kids attend church and recognize their attendance to draw attention to the program)
  • Annual plea to congregation to get their embryos out of storage and donate them to Snowflakes, give them life!

Missions

  • Join us on a mission trip to an orphanage

Seven Ways to Find Your Biological Parents or Child

  1. If it was a closed adoption, but you know which adoption agency facilitated the adoption, you can ask them to provide a redacted report (without identifying information) that fill in many of the clues and circumstances of the adoption. This can be provided to any consenting party to the adoption (birth parent, child, or adoptive parent).

 

  1. Many states, such as California, have a Consent for Contact form that parties to the adoption (birth parents, child, adoptive parents) can fill out. If the adoption agency gets consent from the adult adoptee and the birth parent, for instance, then the agency is allowed to facilitate contact between them.  https://www.cdss.ca.gov/Forms/English/AD904.pdf

 

  1. One very successful way to find parties to an adoption is a DNA test such as Ancestry.com or 23andme.com. Make sure to add the “extended family” module to your order…not just the health or ancestry.  We are hearing amazing stories of people all over the world finding their relatives who they didn’t even know about.  It’s entirely possible the other parities to your adoption already registered on ancestry.com or www.23andme.com and are waiting to hear from you.

 

  1. The most successful method people are using nowadays is social media (Facebook). Often parties the adoption have some knowledge of at least the first names and city where people live, or even their last names.  We have heard stories of people all of the world finding each other through social media, when all other efforts failed.

 

  1. There are “Adoption Angels” also known as “searchers” who investigate the parties to an adoption for free. Do an internet search for “adoption angel” or “search angel.”  Check out www.adoptionsearch.com

 

  1. Private investigators also can be very successful at finding parties to an adoption. They do charge a fee.  Make sure to find someone who specializes in this area.

 

  1. Try an adoption database. There are many online, such as http://www.adoptiondatabase.org/

Why Does Nightlight Require Families to Abstain from Pornography?

It is standard practice for adoption agencies to ask about pornography usage during the home study.  In fact, these questions are part of the SAFE home study questionnaire, and also the Prepare-Enrich questionnaire.  Why is pornography usage relevant to a home study?  And why does Nightlight ask families to abstain from its usage, and to seek counseling if it has been a problem?

Though the research is abundant, the definitive study on pornography is the “Meese report” commissioned by the attorney General and delivered to congress in 1986.  James Dobson, from Focus on the Family, was a key member of this commission.  The pertinent pages are 321-324 (see below).

The findings are:

  1. Pornography causes people to view women as inferior and as objects for men
  2. Pornography is produced by criminal organizations
  3. Pornography usage is associated with violent behavior
  4. The actors in pornography are victims of sex trafficking (see p. 354)
  5. Pornography causes men to misunderstand that “no” means “yes” since this is a common theme
  6. The instance of pornography that is non-violent and non-degrading is a very small percentage of the material produced

https://epublications.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2396&context=lnq

The home study process is an invitation to families to come to the healthiest place possible, as they prepare to take in an adopted child.

Daniel Nehrbass, President

 

Does Nightlight Support Parent’s Rights?

Many of our Christian clients are advocates of the “parent’s rights” movement, and Nightlight supports them.

The Parent’s Rights movement is the notion that parents, rather than the State, should be in control of how parents raise their children.  The issue is not actually unique to Christians, and it has created some odd coalitions of very conservative and very liberal people at times.

Here are examples of some of the issues behind the Parent’s Rights movement, and how they affect our home study requirements:

  1. We are supportive home school, and vouchers for it
  2. While we encourage vaccination, we are supportive of families who choose not to vaccinate.
  3. While we ask for proof of medical insurance, we are supportive of families who opt for programs like Medi-share or alternatives to medical insurance
  4. While we prohibit foster parents from spanking, and we offer all families education on alternatives to spanking, we do not require parents to promise that they will not spank children after adoption
  5. We support parents having sole authority over education and health care for their children, and to have full disclosure about all health care their children seek or receive

Nightlight is here to support parents in their beautiful responsibility of “training up a child.”

Daniel Nehrbass, President

Nightlight Establishes “Bright Lights Award”

The Board of Directors of Nightlight Christian Adoptions established the “Bright Lights Award” which is given in recognition of a commitment to adoption which inspires others to adopt, advocates for adoption, or makes a great sacrifice in adoption. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

The first recipients of the Bright Lights award are Jeff and Melissa Smith.

In February, 2018, Nightlight accepted about 20 families from an agency which was losing accreditation.  Their adoption from Malawi involved a sacrifice that no one predicted.  The visa was not granted as soon as expected, so Melissa lived in Malawi for 9 months while her husband and three children were in the US (but they traveled to visit multiple times).   Melissa posted this online:

What a year. What a hard, beautiful year.

2019 was a year of beauty, pain, and triumph. Leaning into God when everything around seemed to crumble. Holding on to His faithfulness when I looked around and couldn’t see clearly.

We stepped out following God’s call in our families lives, and it all seemed to unfurl into chaos. Countless times I asked myself “How can this be God’s plan?”

I see it. I see God’s plan. We’re almost completely through this trial, this season, this valley. And when I encounter the next, I will hold to this time and remember God’s faithfulness.

So often, when people asked me how I can still have faith (a question I was/ am frequently asked) my answer is simple: holding onto God’s character. I don’t know God’s plan, but I KNOW God. He is a loving, gracious God who has a perfect will and plan.

I don’t know if you’re waiting on God for what may feel like the impossible. If you feel like you stepped out in faith following His call and then what seems like all hell broke loose. He’s there, I promise. He’s shaping and in the hard. When all seems chaotic He is the calm.

Happy New Year! I hope this coming year has less valleys and more peaks and a deeper love for others and Jesus!

The Smiths were successful in bringing home two beautiful daughters, and their commitment to adoption is an inspiration to us.

Nightlight’s History

View the Visual Timeline History Here

Founding
The Evangelical Welfare Agency (EWA) was incorporated on May 1, 1963, but was originally licensed as a non-profit organization in 1959. The organization was founded by a group of churches belonging to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) who determined that there was a need to find Christian homes for babies abandoned due to unplanned pregnancy. The first office was opened in Whittier, CA. Nightlight maintains its affiliation with the NAE to this day (our Articles of Incorporation designate the NAE as the beneficiary of our assets upon our dissolution).

Domestic Adoption
James and Shirley Dobson adopted their son Ryan through EWA and have maintained a special relationship with our organization since then, as has Focus on the Family. In 1973, the name was changed to Family Ministries, and then in 1981 to Christian Adoption and Family Services (CAFS). Domestic adoption was, and continues to be a central program for Nightlight. During this era, our organization placed over 1500 infants in Southern California. Prior to Roe v. Wade being decided in 1973, an average of 8% of pregnancies resulted in adoption. But since that date, only 1% of pregnancies now result in adoption. Consequently, the mission of our organization had to change from focusing exclusively on domestic adoption. In this era, CAFS assisted with adoptions from the Cambodian Air Lift.

International Adoption
Ron Stoddart had a thriving domestic adoption law practice, but with the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, Ron knew that there must be an opportunity for adoption from Russia. So in 1992 Ron began facilitating adoptions from the former Soviet Union. To support this international effort, he created the Nightlight Foundation. The word Nightlight connotes a warm, safe home for children. In 1994 Ron was named Executive Director of CAFS, and subsequently merged his law practice and international foundation with our organization. The name was changed in 2000 to Nightlight Christian Adoptions. Nearly 1000 children were adopted from Russia through Nightlight during this era with a strong focus on school age children. The majority were adopted by families in Southern California, who reunited each summer at our picnic. Some of these picnics had several hundred children in attendance.

Orphan Host Program and Humanitarian Aid
To assist with international adoption, Ron began Detsky Dom Partners (Russian for Children’s Home) which became a separate non-profit organization in 2009. Detsky Dom Partners raised money for and organized orphan host tours. These were primarily from Russia but later from Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Colombia, Taiwan, and China. It occurred to Ron that people would adopt older children if they could only see them. But getting a large group of adopting parents to go to Russia would be difficult….easier to bring the kids to the US! With that vision, the concept of orphan host programs was born, and later turned into a global phenomenon and gave birth to other organizations and agencies doing the same. The first tour was in 1995 and over the subsequent twenty-five years, Nightlight has brought 600 kids on tours: most of whom got adopted. Most of the host programs included well-rehearsed dance and song routines with children in traditional cultural costumes. In 2011, Detsky Dom Partners changed its name to Every Child has a Name (ECHAN), in order to reflect the more global reach of our organization. ECHAN continues to be active with its own board of directors. The organization hosts an annual Monte Carlo Night as its primary fundraiser to support orphan host programs with Nightlight.
One of the couples who watched the host kids perform (the Nixons, from Southern California) were inspired to give a tithe of their estate to Nightlight in their will. We received this gift in 2015 and were able to purchase our California building which put us in a much better financial position as owners rather than renters. The host program enabled Nightlight to form strong partnerships with churches, especially Calvary Chapel of Anaheim.
In 2011 we also began Orphan Galaxy, a humanitarian fund for orphanage support, anti-trafficking efforts, vocational training, and adoption scholarships. This fund is primarily comprised of monthly $25 donors.

Snowflakes®
In 1997, John & Marlene Strege (who Ron Stoddart knew from his work with youth at a local church) were interested in adopting. They had learned that frozen embryos were being donated anonymously through clinics, but they were not comfortable with the impersonal approach to transferring the parental rights of unborn babies. They asked Ron if it was possible to “adopt” embryos. As Nightlight has proven over the years, the question wasn’t whether or not it could be done, but if this is God’s plan, how can we do it. Ron wondered, “What do people do with their left over embryos from IVF? Do you think we could get them to donate them for adoption?” The Streges reached out to Dr. Dobson at Focus on the Family about the ethical and biblical allowance for embryo adoption. Ron had committed to applying social work best-practice to embryo donation, which to that point had always been anonymous. This best practice includes a home study, matching by social workers, and openness afterward. The biggest hurdle, of course, would be getting people to donate. To this point, most clinics in the nation were lucky to have a handful of embryos available. In partnership with Focus on the Family radio broadcasts, Nightlight was able to get hundreds, and later thousands of families to donate embryos. So, where did the name “Snowflakes” come from? At Christmas time in 1997, Ron and his wife had dinner with John & Marlene Strege at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. During dinner, the Lamb’s Players gave a soliloquy about the beauty of snowflakes and how they were frozen, unique, tiny and a gift from God. (We later trademarked the name Snowflakes in 2007.) In 2002 pro-life groups asked President George Bush to halt funding of embryonic stem cell research, and Nightlight was named as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the federal government over this issue. Mr. Bush took the extra step of creating the Embryo Adoption Awareness Grant. Nightlight has received this grant every year since its inception. President Bush hosted three birthday parties at the White House for Snowflakes babies, and mentions Nightlight twice in his autobiography.

Adoption Bridge
In 2013 Nightlight created Adoption Bridge as the only crowd-funding site with no overhead fee, and to also offer “Dear Birthmother” profiles and Waiting Child profiles. Since that time, the site has raised over $300,000 in adoption funding, featured nearly a thousand waiting children, and twenty thousand users, with over 6000 visits per month.

Mergers
In 2008 Laura Beauvais approached Ron Stoddart about Nightlight merging with Carolina Hope Adoptions, which had a history of work in Guatemala, Cambodia, and Vietnam. This greatly increased the reach of our domestic program as we opened our SC office. In 2011 A Helping Hand Adoption found itself in sudden need of an executive director, so Ron asked Lisa Prather (who was working in the SC office) if she would help lead the agency in KY. We formally merged with AHH in 2014 after transferring the license to work in China, which became Nightlight’s largest international program. In 2015 Mike and Debbie Nomura approached Nightlight about a merger of Heritage Family Services (OK), followed by Frank Block from Love Basket in 2016, Cathy Sones from Generations Adoptions (TX) in 2017, and Michele Jackson from MLJ Adoptions (IN) in 2020. We also acquired the staff from Children’s Hope International (MO) in 2019, which strengthened our India program. We acquired the files and some assets from Embraced by Grace (FL) in 2019 and Life for Kids (FL) in 2020, which helped establish our Florida office. When asked why agencies approach Nightlight about merger, one executive director said, “the organization’s business savvy and risk tolerance.” We have also acquired a reputation among the adoption agency community as “open source” and non-competitive. Nearly all of the mergers were the result of personal relationships built in the National Christian Adoption Fellowship, a group of about a dozen agencies founded in 2009. The mergers have also been the result of an overall decline in the field of adoption, where consolidation makes sense for an economy of scale, and Nightlight stands out as having a full diversity of services to offer clients and provide for economic stability.

Foster Care
In 2012 Daniel Nehrbass joined Nightlight as the Executive director of the California office of Nightlight and Ron Stoddart focused on the Colorado office. Ron retired in 2013 and Daniel became Nightlight’s President. Ron later joined Nightlight’s Board of Directors. In 2012, Russia ceased intercountry adoption with the United States, forcing Nightlight to plan for a future of diverse services. In addition to a dozen other countries, Daniel made the decision to open international programs in Colombia and Haiti, which became central to our International adoption program. But the board of directors also decided to amend our mission to include foster care. We opened a foster program first in Colorado in 2013, and today each office has a foster program in the works. Nightlight added other initiatives to make the client experience more stable in the midst of a volatile field, such as “portability” of their case from one type of adoption to the next, which includes financial incentive to move to the program that will be most successful. In 2019 the Colorado accepted a challenge from the state to innovate a new type of foster placement called Homes for Hope, where permanent foster family resides in a home provided to them, and accepts emergency placements supervised by Nightlight. This partnership characterizes our organization’s commitment to “find the Yes,” boldly believing that all problems are surmountable.

Info for Kids adopted from Russia

We receive several questions from people adopted from Russia, especially as they become adults.

  1. I would like to travel to Russia.  Am I still a Russian citizen?
    1. You are still a Russian citizen unless you have formally renounced your Russian citizenship by sending your Russian passport to a Russian consulate in the US, and they have confirmed that your citizenship has been revoked.
    2. The Russian government is currently not issuing visas to individuals with U.S. Passports who are Russian citizens, but require them to travel to Russia on a Russian Passport
    3. If you are male, and you have not renounced your citizenship in the manner above, it is possible the Russian military can conscript you to service upon entry to the country
    4. You may travel to Russia on your valid Russian passport if it is still in your possession. No visa is required.  But you will need your US passport to return to the US.
    5. If you do not have your Russian passport, or it has expired, you will have to renew it with the Russian consulate.
    6. You are not able to travel to Russia on a US Passport unless you have renounced your citizenship in the manner above.
  2. I would like to find my birth family in Russia.  May we suggest you contact an expert named Tony Carruthers
  3. I have money in a bank account in Russia.  Can I get access to it?  We may be able to help.  email [email protected]

We also recommend contacting David Schunk, who consults with adoptees about getting Russian records.

https://russianadoptees.wordpress.com/contact/

 

 

Steps to Take if Your Agency Loses Accreditation

 

Since January, 2018, on average, an international adoption agency has lost accreditation every two weeks.  In fact, there were 168 accredited adoption agencies beginning in 2018, and today there are only 112.  The main reason agencies are losing accreditation regards disputes with the accrediting entity about how to interpret regulations.

If your agency loses accreditation, we recommend the following steps:

  1. File a complaint with the US State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues if you suspect the accrediting entity has acted unfairly toward your adoption agency.  You can contact them at [email protected]
  2. Look for a new accredited adoption agency to represent you as a Primary Provider. You can see the list of possibilities here.
    1. Please be advised that fees you paid to your prior agency are not likely to transfer to the new agency. The fees you paid were for services rendered, and your agency did provide services.  It is possible that your new agency will provide a courtesy waiver of some fees.
    2. Also please be advised that if your agency goes out of business, which is often the case, you are not likely to recover any of the documents for your case because there will not be any employees to help you. So you should gather all the documents you can immediately.
  3. If you are unable to find a Primary Provider after a diligent effort, notify [email protected] that you have not been able to find an agency.
  4. Consider joining a class action lawsuit with other families who have been affected. If you would like your name on a list of possible families affected, email [email protected]  Keep in mind that in order to join a suit, you must have suffered a loss such as
    1. Inability for you to complete your case
    2. Loss of documents
    3. Loss of fees

Home Study Skills Workshop

 

Thank you for registering for our Home Study Skills Workshop.

The fee for this workshop is $95, and can be paid below:


Training For Adoption Home Study

Oklahoma’s Leading Source of Adoption Home Study Training for 21 years

Sponsored by the Oklahoma office of Nightlight Christian Adoptions, A Non-profit Adoption Agency

Adoption Home Study Skills Workshop

Doing Home Studies & Understanding Adoption Trends

Who Should Attend:

  • Professionals: LCSWs, LPCs, LMFTs: Clergy and others with a Master’s Degree in human services who wants to become qualified to conduct adoption home study assessments.
  • Professionals who need to update the training required by law

(Note: Persons with only a Bachelor’s Degree are not eligible by law to do adoption studies unless employed by a licensed adoption agency.)

Meet the Legal Requirements to do Adoption Home Study Assessments

Oklahoma law mandates professionals in private practice and ministers doing adoptive home studies must “complete at least once every three (3) years a three-hour course in home study preparation and adoption trends. . .”

Description:  Participants in this workshop will learn:

  • The 4 kinds of Adoption Home Studies
  • The 7 statutory tasks of a home study provider
  • The 4 types of background checks – when & how to do them
  • The elements of adoption home study assessments
  • Criteria for approving or disapproving an adoptive family
  • The 5 kinds of documents required by the Court
  • Trends in adoption practice

CEU’s:           3 Hours – Approved for LCSW, with 1 hr Ethics, Approval Pending for LPC and LMFT

Fee:                            $ 95.00 –  Pre-registration Required

(Includes Power Point and sample forms sent by email)

Racial Reconciliation and Adoption

 

Reconciliation is at the center of the gospel. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 says, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

Jesus Christ was sent to this world to reconcile our sinful selves to God and call us to the ministry of reconciliation. Reconciliation means “to restore to friendship or harmony.” Christ first restored our relationship and harmony with God and now offers this same act as a ministry for us to participate in with others. Reconciliation is the very act of adoption – we were brought into God’s family after our brokenness was restored through Christ.

We see much division across our nation due to differences in perspectives and experiences. This spans across values, politics, faith, and racial issues, just to name a few. God calls us to walk in harmony with others and seek reconciliation. He calls us to see value in those that may look, act, or believe differently than us and not to separate ourselves. One of those areas is racial reconciliation, which has come to the forefront of our nation’s attention. For transracial adoptive families, you have been confronted with many feelings, fears, and concerns as racial tensions now confront us. As a world, we are challenged to consider what it means to seek harmony when any of our community is hurting and in need. What should reconciliation look like?

The process of reconciliation should first look like opening and evaluating your heart, mind, emotions, and actions, through guidance by the Holy Spirit. Laying yourself before God and praying along with David in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” As God reveals sin in our thoughts, words, and deeds, we can ask Him first for forgiveness and then turn to seek forgiveness and harmony from any that we have hurt. How might this look in a racial reconciliation context? We can allow God to examine our hearts for any judgments, prejudices, or racist thoughts, words, or deeds.

Being surrounded by our culture that has been permeated with racism, these thoughts can creep inside us, often without our realization. God can reveal these to us through prayer, reading books that address racism, listening to the voices of people of color around us, and examining our hearts. When we as individuals can do this, it plays into the greater movement of our society seeking harmony and restoration with others that have been wronged. We can seek harmony with our brothers and sisters of color around us and speak to others through our ministry of reconciliation.

Where does adoption fit into the narrative of racial reconciliation? Adoption can move us in the right direction, but this is done through changes in our hearts: not simply through the act of adoption. Transracial adoption does not fix underlying problems. A family adopting a child of a different race or ethnicity into their family will not automatically rid them or others of prejudice. When the adoptive parents open their hearts to reconciliation as they consider adopting a child of another race, He can show you any places of racial prejudice inside you to rid from your heart and mind, as discussed above. Adopting a child from another race or culture will naturally bring up conversations and comments from friends and family that will allow you an opportunity to speak the truth and confront any of their prejudicial beliefs, whether conscious or subconscious. These conversations allow others to learn about someone else’s experience that differs from their own and challenges them to understand. These are changes that can come from our experiences in adoption and can impact the greater sins of racism around us if you are mindful to do so.

Recognizing the joys and true challenges of bringing a child from another race into your home is imperative. Our desire at Nightlight is to help guide our adoptive families in this journey through education and support. We are growing the resources we have available to transracial adoptive families and hope you keep checking back on the blog for more information in parenting your adopted child.

–Heather McAnear Sloan, Director of Post Adoption Connection Center