Will COVID-19 Cease International Adoption?

 

Borders closed and lockdown began. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit early last year many countries suspended their foreign adoption programs as borders closed and lockdowns began. While many view this as a reaction to the inability to travel, it was also necessary as many countries temporarily closed courts and adoption central authorities – or determined how to move cases forward with new work-from-home protocols. Countries with weak infrastructures, particularly the third world countries we work in, were truly challenged by this due to lack of technology and processes that required in person contact. We had many families whose cases came to a standstill while others were impacted by additional quarantine time in country–requiring safety protocols such as testing prior to travel.

Accommodations were made. Some countries made adjustments that loosened some of their adoption requirements. For example, Haiti accommodated the required bonding time between the adoptive parent and child through virtual meetings. A Jamaica family also had their court process take place over Zoom.

COVID-19 will not cease intercountry adoption. Intercountry adoption is an emotional journey for parents so understandably many of the unknown obstacles from COVID-19 were, and continue to be, difficult for families working to bring their child home. But COVID-19 will not cease intercountry adoption. It is apparent that adoption central authorities and other countries’ commitment to working toward the best interest of children who need families has not waivered.

COID-19 has strengthened our resolve: If anything, the pandemic has strengthened the adoption communities’ resolve to work harder for waiting children. We have been successful in matching more waiting children and moving families through the home study and dossier process. It seems as though the time at home has allowed parents to make a decision to adopt and focus on the plethora of paperwork required. We are very optimistic that we will see travel restrictions lifted and processes moving at a more normal pace by summer.

The time to adopt international is NOW. Orphans are mentioned in the bible over 40 times which tells us there will unfortunately always be children who need safe and nurturing families. We are called to take care of these children because, for whatever reason, they have become orphaned from their biological family. If ever there was a time to adopt internationally, it is now. This is the perfect time to prepare, start a home study process and review waiting child profiles. While the effects of the pandemic may slow the process, delay travel, or worse, add risk to the process, we cannot become apathetic toward the needs of children all over the world.

Learn more about how to help. Intercountry adoptions have declined by 87% in the past 15 years while the number of orphans in the world has increased to over 140 million*. The pandemic adds another layer to this juxtaposition that potentially increases children’s need for families both domestically and abroad. At the least, please visit www.saveadoption.org/the-crisis and learn more about how you can help intercountry adoptions to the United States continue to place children who have not been able to find families in their own countries.

Is 2021 Your Year to Donate?

 

The turn of a new year tends to bring about themes of renewal, fresh starts, decision making, and conquering goals. For those of you who have found yourself at the end of your IVF journey, you may have come face to face with the decision this past year of what is to be done with your remaining embryos. This decision may be one you never thought you’d have to face and wish you didn’t have to. It may seem daunting, or you may not feel emotionally prepared, but it is never too early to search out the answers you seek. Now is a good time to take the first step.

The Donation Option

Have you ever looked into embryo donation and adoption? Did you know there was such a thing as an adoption model for donating your embryos? The thought of your embryos belonging to someone else may be one that seems unbearable, but many who have faced these fears have found placement through an adoption program was right for them.

Reasons to Donate:

  • Embryo donation is a life-giving option for your embryos!
  • Through embryo donation with adoption agencies such as the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, you have the ability to choose who will adopt your embryos and the peace of mind that they have been deemed physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially prepared to raise a family by adoption agency professionals.
  • You created your embryos because you wanted a family. Now you can help someone else do the same.
  • Certain embryo adoption agencies (like Snowflakes) allow for communication with adoptive families and updates on children born from the embryos.
  • Many clinics will not accept embryos that have been frozen before a certain date. The sooner you donate your embryos, the more likely they are to be accepted by an adoptive family’s clinic.
  • Storage costs have become difficult to manage.

Take the First Step

It all starts with one simple step: asking questions. Often, it is the fear of the unknown that keeps us from moving forward.

Where to Start:

In this New Year, make your resolution one of gaining knowledge, educating yourself, and taking time to reflect on tough questions and emotions you may have been avoiding. The fear of the unknown can be crippling. The good news is that one small step can be all you need to allow yourself to take another, and then another, and then just one more until you find the answers and peace of mind you have been seeking.

To learn more about embryo donation, visit EmbyroAdoption.org.

 

Nightlight’s History

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.

Facing the Unknowns in Adoption

 

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life is unpredictable. Unpredictability and unknowns often leaves us uneasy and uncomfortable. This causes us to find ourselves trying our best to control situations because control leads to more security and less anxiety. It’s our human nature to desire a clear picture of how things are going to happen, but the truth is, adoption is an unpredictable process and no two cases or situations are the same.

 

As a social worker in the domestic adoption field, here is some advice I would give to potential adoptive families:

 

  1. Prepare for every situation.

When working with prospective adoptive families, sometimes I hear them say things like, “I don’t even want to think about the possibility of the expectant mother changing her mind because it’s too hard to think about.” Instead of this mind set, I want to encourage any potential adoptive families to prepare for the outcome of the expectant mother choosing to parent, because it does happen, and that should be celebrated and not dreaded. Before birth. expectant mothers can make an adoption plan, but this plan cannot become concrete until she signs relinquishments. It is important to understand the struggle and hardships the expectant mother is going through while she makes this decision and love her through the process despite what the outcome may be.

 

  1. Be flexible and understanding.

When you are going through the adoption process, your social worker is not going to be able to tell you exactly how things are going to happen, because even they do not know how things will unfold. Adoption is a fluid process and although we can do our best to educate and prepare for the birth and hospital time, there is no way to clearly know how that time will look. For example, before birth, an expectant mother might make a tentative hospital plan stating she does not want to spend time with the baby, but post-delivery, she may decide she wants the baby in her hospital room.  Don’t be alarmed by this kind of change, but be understanding of the mother’s wishes and desires. Changes like this does not necessarily mean the mother is choosing to parent, but she may realize time with the baby is the best thing for her emotional and mental health. It is helpful to remember that she is the child’s legal mother until relinquishments are signed, and it is our job to best support her in any way possible.

 

  1. Realize that when you are struggling, she is as well.

Adoption is scary for potential adoptive parents, but it is scary for the biological parents as well. While you are thinking about your lack of control in the situation, the expectant mother often feels the same way. Many women pursuing an adoption plan are in crisis situations, feeling out of control of their life as they never thought this would be a chapter in their story. This can be terrifying and they often fear that the adoptive family will not like them, will not love their child as their own, and the post adoption plan and contact they are being promised will not come to fruition. As a potential adoptive parent, make it your goal to get to know the expectant mother and ease some of these fears for her. Often, this will also make you more at peace with the situation as you get to know and love her during the process.

 

With all this being said, here is one thing that you can rest assured in- everything will work out and will fall into place the way God intended it to. Despite the fears and unknowns in adoption, take peace in the fact that God has already written your story, and He knows the exact plans for you and your family. The staff of Nightlight Christian Adoptions is excited and honored to walk through your adoption journey with you and support you in any way that we can.

 

An International Adoptive Family Story

 

God’s plan is perfect. God’s timing is perfect. God is faithful. Always.

 

I first received a file from Hong Kong and started advocating for this little girl (referred to as “Ella”) almost 4 years ago when she was only 1.5 years  old.

 

A lot of families showed interest in Ella but none moved forward because her special need was scary on paper with several unknowns regarding treatment. Ella was later matched with a family in June 2017. Several months later the match fell through due to personal reasons from the adoptive family. I continued to advocate for this sweet girl but didn’t receive any serious inquiries or commitments.

 

In April 2018, I received an email from a woman named Mrs. N that started out with saying “I’m not even sure how to begin this email, so please bear with me if I ramble. I was looking online at your waiting children and saw Ella’s profile and was interested. However, we’ve got a few hurdles that may mean it wouldn’t work, so I thought I’d ask before diving in.”

 

They had many hurdles. First, they were a military family stationed in Germany. They had 4 sons in the home. She also shared that they had actually recently been matched with an embryo and would be doing FET in June of that year.

 

At first glance, this just did not seem possible. Hong Kong won’t work with families who live outside of the US. Hong Kong is a guardianship country which makes the paperwork and post placement very complicated  or even impossible for families living overseas. Hong Kong also tends to favor families with 3 or less children in the home. I explained the obstacles and ended up telling the family that since they are already matched with an embryo, maybe they could consider international adoption again after the baby is born.

 

Mrs. N later responded with “Thank you so much for your response. I’m feeling so drawn to Ella, so I have a few more questions for you, if you don’t mind.  I just keep looking at Ella’s picture and thinking maybe the child that is already born and in need is the higher priority. I’ve looked at waiting children sites before but have never felt the pull like I do with her. I just don’t know what it means. My head and heart were so wrapped up in the embryo adoption, I honestly don’t even remember how or why I ended up on your site looking at Ella’s picture. It wasn’t even something we were considering. So I apologize for being very clueless. This has kind of blindsided me – in a good way…”

 

Mrs. N then told me they just received news from the military that they were scheduled to return to the US 2 years earlier than planned and will be stationed in a state where Nightlight is licensed in only 3 months! After a few more discussions, I sent the family Ella’s file to review and they submitted their application to the Social Welfare Institute (SWI). The SWI absolutely loved them! I told Mrs. N that I could not hold Ella’s file for the next 3 months while they are in Germany. She understood but was hopeful. In the meantime I had 2 more families submit an application to the SWI to be considered for Ella. The SWI finally responded and said they are waiting for the N family to return to the US because they want to place Ella with them!

 

Fast forward to February 2020. COVID was spreading throughout China and Hong Kong  and making its way to the US. Being in the military, Mr. N had to receive special permission, a 30 day notice, and top clearance to even travel to Hong Kong. It was a roller coaster of yeses and nos from the military as to whether he could travel or not. The family booked their flights and were scheduled to leave in only 2 days when Mr. N was told by the military that he could NOT travel. Hong Kong typically requires both parents to travel. What does this mean for them and for Ella who was expecting her mommy and daddy to be there in only 2 days to meet her. The family worked with their Congressman and Mr. N’s Commander to try and find some way to get to Ella.

 

The family was on their way to the airport anticipating Mrs. N would be boarding the flight alone when Mr. N received a call from a one star General giving him permission to get on the flight! Ella got to meet her mommy and daddy the very next day and was a daddy’s girl from day one.

 

Ella has been home 10 months now and is celebrating her first Christmas in the US and with her forever family. She is the perfect addition to the N family and her brothers absolutely adore her! She loves to sing and will request whoever is with her to sing along as well.  God knew the N’s were Ella’s family all along. With every obstacle from beginning to end, He was faithful.

written by Stephanie Muth

What is This ICPC Thing?

 

One of the best things about adopting through Nightlight is that families have the opportunity to be selected by an expectant parent in any one of our ten offices across the country.  To think that you live in OK and might be considered as an adoptive family in South Carolina is an exciting thought, and brings hope of expanded possibilities. Some families might say it’s also one of the hardest things.  Why? Not because they hesitate one second to travel to get that precious baby  or taking off work a bit longer, but the wait to come home….that long, no specific time period, sit in a hotel room in an unknown city process known as ICPC.  Maybe taking a more focused look at the process will help make it more understandable–and therefore, tolerated a bit easier when the time comes.

 

The ICPC (short for the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) has been around since 1950’s when it became evident that moving children from one state to another for the purpose of foster care or adoption, needed some safeguards.  Its goal was to shut down improper, illegal or incomplete processes that left children in new states without proper support, permanency plans or legal parents.  By 1990, every state and the Virgin Islands had passed laws creating ICPC regulations.  So, technically, it is a compact between the states, not a federal law.  It applies to children sent out of state for adoption, foster care, treatment or residential centers.  Every state has a Compact Administrator (generally a staff in the state office) who oversees the coming and going of children between states, and assures that the legal work is done properly and the documents are in place to assure the placement is being done legally and in the best interest of the child.

 

Now, back to the “waiting to go home” process.  Because of the need for each state to approve the move of a child from one state to another, it is required that the child not leave his state of residence until that work has been done.  Let’s a couple lives in Kentucky and they are chosen to adopt a child in Missouri.  They travel to Missouri and are able to be there for the birth of their daughter.  What a wonderful experience to see that birth and be able to take her home from the hospital.  They return to their hotel room, very happy and longing to go home where they can see their family, who eagerly awaits their return.  But things are now at work in the background that will determine when they can go home.  The agency will have prepared some paperwork as before the baby’s birth, including the home study and all supporting documents.  But, we have to wait other documents, such as medical records. The last documents to be completed are the legal consent forms by the birth mother.  Once all the paperwork is collected, it is sent to the ICPC office of the sending state (where the child currently resides).  They review it and approve.  Sometimes they have questions, or ask for additional documents.  Once approval is given, they send it on to the receiving state, where the child will be residing.  That office does the same thing—reviews to make sure all documents are in order. The agency knows when each step is taken.  We are notified when the sending state approves, and also when the receiving state approves.  We’ve learned over the years of doing ICPC, that anxious adoptive parents making calls to check on the progress, or complain because it’s taking too long, is just not successful and actually interferes with the process.  ICPC offices are frequently handling many cases at one time, and they need to focus on their reviews.  We know from our experience that these workers are diligent and very aware that the families are in hotels waiting to leave. They work even harder when big holidays are coming and families are really anxious to leave.  These are the reasons we can’t tell you exactly how long it will take—there are several things we can’t control after the placement, but we do our part of submitting the paperwork as quickly as we can.  As soon approval is given by both states, families are free to leave immediately.

 

In the meantime, the families that plan ahead to be in their “temporary home” for several days fare the best.  So, make the best of it!

Here are some ideas for how to get through:

 

  • Plan to focus and enjoy just being together with your new little family member, whether you’re in a hotel or sitting in the hospital.  These times can enhance bonding and allow for lots of attention and nurturing for the baby.

 

  • Learn some things about the city you’re in, and explore as much as you can, especially if you arrive before delivery day.  This will help pass the time and can become a part of the birth story you will have to tell your child.

 

  • Bring books or computers or things to do in those quiet moments when the baby is sleeping (if you’re not asleep yourself!) It’s a good time to reflect on the journey that you’ve been on and the life ahead of you.  Take lots of pictures and videos, send them out so family can see what you’re doing each day.

 

  • Never hesitate to ask the staff of the office where you are about anything you need–locations of grocery stores, baby stores, restaurants, parks, places to go, and attractions unique to that city.

 

  • Once you are home, life will get very busy and we hope the memories of your entire experience will be a positive one, especially those days and moments created by waiting through the ICPC process.

written by Debbie Nomura, LCSW | Executive Director – OK Office

Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day

 

 

What memories do you have as a child around this time of year? Perhaps, like me it was the family gatherings, the giving of gifts, blessing those who are not so fortunate, or just watching the snow fall. It always looked so beautiful as its gentle blanket covered the landscape. Each snowflake adding its own impact.

 

In celebration of the season, I remember cutting out snowflakes, adding glitter, and using them to add a little sparkle to my daily life. Did you ever cut out snowflakes in order to decorate for the winter season? And did you know, there is even a special day allocated to that every year. The day is called, “Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day.” This year it’s celebrated on December 27th, 2020. Imagine all around the world people are making unique paper cut outs of snowflakes.

 

Some of us only think about snowflakes during the winter months, but there is more than one meaning for the word snowflakes. Do you know another type of snowflake that while frozen inspire people to get excited about love, hope, and happiness?

 

These are the kind that exist throughout the year. Here in the U.S. its estimated that there are over a million of these types of snowflakes. Imagine a million frozen snowflakes. That’s a lot of snowflakes! If you haven’t guessed by now, I am talking about frozen embryos.

 

The idea of using the word “Snowflakes” to describe frozen embryos was coined by a company called Nightlight Christian Adoptions, who handles various types of adoptions, including embryo adoptions. In fact, it was Nightlight who started the whole idea of embryo adoption here in the United States.

 

What is Embryo Adoption? Couples who grow their family through the process of IVF often find they have more embryos than they need to build their family unit. Therefore, once their family is complete, a couple may place their remaining embryos to be adopted. This is a beautiful gift for an adopting couple who, without the placing family’s kindness, may never have had the opportunity to become pregnant and have a family they can call their own.

 

During this holiday season of love and goodwill, perhaps, you might give a thought to the million or more embryos that are just waiting to be born. Maybe you, yourself, have embryos you would like to place for adoption. Or maybe you’re someone who would like to adopt embryos, to have the opportunity of becoming a parent, and welcoming a new baby into your home. Each one adding their own little sparkle.

 

written by Jen Grams

Waiting During the Holidays: Survival Tips

The holidays are a time for merriment, cheerful moments, and spending time with loved ones. But for those who are waiting to adopt, the holidays may be a difficult or painful reminder of what is missing.  Waiting to adopt can be hard at any time during the year, but it can be particularly difficult during the holiday season. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 NLT. Here are some things to try as you wait to adopt during the holidays.

  1. Start a new tradition- Putting off creating new holiday traditions because you’re waiting to adopt can be depressing. There is no need to wait! This holiday season, make new memories and start a few fresh family traditions that you’ll look forward to year after year. Bake cookies on Christmas Eve, take a drive in your pajamas to look at holiday lights, have a s’more’s and cocoa night. Creating new traditions as a couple now allows you to have more time to enjoy them together.

 

  1. Taking an adoption “breather”- Taking a step back to think about things other than your adoption process can give you some time to relax and rejuvenate. Hang out with friends or family, read a book, go for a hike, check out a National park, bake, watch a movie. Give yourself time to breathe, and when you are ready to think about adoption again you will come back with a renewed perspective.

 

  1. Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care – exercise, take a bath, get enough sleep, eat good food. Buy yourself a gift, go out for a spa day. Channel your energy into doing something nice for yourself. You deserve it.

 

  1. Start a journal- You may consider journaling as a way to express your emotions or save it to give to your child one day to show your feelings while you waited for them to join your family.

 

  1. Do something kind for others- No matter what time of the year it is; random acts of kindness can benefit everyone. They can positively impact others and they are great for the soul. Donate items from your home, send someone flowers for no reason, let someone check out before you in the grocery store line, volunteer at a local shelter or soup kitchen, cook someone a meal. The list is endless. Also, let others be kind to you.

 

 

  1. Pray and talk to God- Taking time to go somewhere quiet and pray and meditate is something every soul needs. Once we take these moments each day we feel more peaceful and possess the strength in our hearts to truly appreciate our “present”. Thankfully, when you bring God into everything you do, you can’t help but rejoice at all times. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

 

  1. Be honest with yourself (and others) – It’s okay to feel sad, be honest with yourself and others. Do not feel obligated to attend every holiday event you are invited to. It is okay to decline. Talk with your spouse or a close friend or family member about how you are feeling. It is also okay to enjoy the time spent catching up with family and friends or creating new traditions. Sometimes just talking about your feelings can provide the relief needed to take a step forward.

written by Nichole Chase, LMSW | Social Services Manager

What is Giving Tuesday?

 

Many people have heard of GivingTuesday, but what really is GivingTuesday? The GivingTuesday organization defines GivingTuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (December 1st), as “a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world”. It was created in 2012 as a way to encourage people to do something good for others. GivingTuesday encourages people to give, to celebrate generosity, and to make other’s smile.

As we all know, the year 2020 has had many unexpected challenges and there are many families that have been impacted in a variety of ways. This year it is extremely important, if we are able to, that we give to others. While many people associate “giving” with financial giving there are many other ways to be a part of GivingTuesday. You can give your time by volunteering, using your voice to advocate for issues or causes, giving goods to donation drives, completing small acts of kindness to those around you, or using your talents to help nonprofits.

Last year $511,000,000 was raised on GivingTuesday in the U.S! If you want to take part in GivingTuesday the organization’s website has several opportunities and ways to get involved as well as a list of organizations that you can give to.  Click https://www.givingtuesday.org/ to find out more about GivingTuesday and how to get involved!

Nightlight Christian Adoptions has many families that are in the process of fundraising to adopt a child through our international, domestic, and embryo adoption programs. If you wish to donate to a family hoping to adopt on GivingTuesday (or any day!) go to https://adoptionbridge.org/families/. You can browse through profiles of waiting families, learn more about them, and help them fund their adoption!

 

Written by Natalie Zickmund, BSW 

Domestic Program Coordinator and Post Adoption Coordinator

Giving Thanks During Your Adoption Journey

 

It can sometimes be challenging to choose an attitude of gratitude when you are on the path of adoptive parenting.  Adoption inherently involves loss and grief, and the wait to bring your child home can seem unbearable.  How can we focus on giving thanks as we go through this stressful process?

Consider taking a few moments each day to identify something for which you are grateful.  Here are some possibilities:

  • Birthmothers who choose life for their unborn child.
  • Your current or future child.
  • Your support circle: friends, family, neighbors, coworkers…. Those who surround you with practical help and a listening ear.
  • Your adoption agency or attorney.
  • Your spouse.
  • Your parents and how you were raised.
  • Your child’s birth or genetic parents. No matter how you adopt, your child has birth/genetic family.  Your child would not be the special blessing he or she is without those key people.
  • Personal growth and healing throughout the adoption journey.
  • Additional time with your spouse dedicated to strengthening your marriage.
  • Grant agencies or other financial donors.
  • Friends you have made while on this journey.
  • Employment that grants you stability.
  • Your home and community.
  • Your health and physical wellbeing.
  • Family traditions.

Research has shown that gratitude has immense benefits.

Giving thanks can:

  • Improve Physical Health.
  • Decrease Depression and Anxiety.
  • Improve Sleep Quality.
  • Help Relieve Stress.
  • Enhances Empathy.
  • Improves Self-Esteem.
  • Increase Energy.
  • Feel Good.

Here are few other interesting articles about how giving thanks can benefit you.

Research on the Benefits of Gratitude

Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude

Are you interested in developing an ongoing practice of gratitude?  If so, consider the variety of exercises provided by Positive Psychology, from journaling to making a collage or gratitude rock, to learning how to do a gratitude walk.

There are many books available specific to the benefits of gratitude and developing your own gratitude practice.  One that is fairly popular in the Christian community is One Thousand Gifts.  This list of children’s books can also help you teach your little ones to give thanks.

If you are in a season of contemplation, waiting, parenting, or supporting others who are pursuing adoption, gratitude can benefit all of us.  Find something that you are grateful for today.

 

written by Alicia Olsen