International Spotlight: Samoa Adoption Program


Samoa flag

Samoa is an island nation located in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean, south of the equator, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. Samoa consists of the two large islands of Upolu (where the capitol of Apia is located) and Savai’i and eight small islets. Temperatures are the same year round in Samoa, generally in the 80’s F.

Due to its remoteness, many people have not heard of it and locating it on a map may be difficult. Despite its small population, approximately 200,000, there continues to be a need for adoptive families to open their homes to a child in need.

Samoa, just like many countries across the globe, have a population of orphaned children in need of forever families. Children are orphaned in Samoa for a variety of reasons including poverty-stricken parents unable to provide for them, death or incarceration of birth parents or children removed due to an abusive home environment. Because of its small size and limited resources, international adoption is often the only option for children in Samoa who cannot be raised by their birth parents.

Here are five reasons to consider adopting from Samoa:

  • Singles can adopt from Samoa. The international adoption options for singles seem to narrow each year, yet adopting from Samoa is still an option for single parent families.
  • Wide range of ages of children, and siblings groups are available. The children who can be adopted from Samoa range in age from of 0 – 15 years old. However, adoptive families wanting to adopt younger children (4 and younger) will wait a longer time.
  • An ethical legal process. Samoa has implemented a transparent and ethical legal process that utilizes three levels of its government to ensure all adoptions happen in the best interest of the child.
  • Samoa Victim Support Group. Children matched with waiting families are cared for by Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG). The organization provides assistance to those victimized by domestic violence, abuse and neglect, and provides a safe haven not only for children, but for adult victims as well. SVSG ensures children receive loving care, counseling and medical treatment when needed. SVSG is well known in Samoa as well as several other island nations, for the good work that they do!
  • Low risk travel. Traveling to Samoa only requires one trip. Travel to Samoa is generally less risky than travel to other international adoption destinations such as places in Africa or to conflict zones.  The Samoan people are generally very friendly and laid back! For U.S. families a trip to Auckland, New Zealand is also required.

Since opening the program in 2012, we have welcomed 34 children home to the U.S. to their forever families.  We currently have three families who have been matched with children in various stages of their adoption process in Samoa.  The timelines that the most recent adoptive families experienced are listed below:

A sibling group of  eight and seven year old girls


Family waited 3 years months to be matched

Children have no special needs


A sibling group of  ten, seven and seven year old girls


Family waited 1 Year to be matched Children have no special needs

Seven years old boy


Family waited 6 years to be matched Child has no special needs

One year, 9 month old boy


Family waited 4 years to be matched Child has no special needs
One year old boy  

Family waited 6 Years 9 months to be matched


Child has no special needs

Ten years old girl


Family waited 1 year to be matched Child has no special needs

If you are interested in learning more about the Samoa program or the waiting child program, please contact our Samoa program coordinator, Viktoriia Serediuk-Buz, by emailing


Trauma-Informed Activities for Summer


family at the lake eating watermelon

Summer time brings a lot of free time, which can feel like freedom from the rigidity of school schedules. It can also be very difficult for parents to fill the open days. Below are some trauma-informed activities to keep your foster or adopted kids busy this summer.


  1. Create a huge, colorful calendar for the summer months and hang in your living room.

Allow your child to create the calendar with you. This not only gives the child a sense of ownership in the planning process, but also creates another afternoon activity for your child to complete. Provide several colors and encourage drawing images next to their events.

A big and visible calendar that your child can access freely allows them to look forward to upcoming events in the summer while also setting expectations that every day might not be the most exciting, activity-filled day.

  1. Let your child brainstorm their “yes” day.

Add at least one “yes” day to your summer calendar. Have you seen the movie “Yes Day”? Set aside time to watch it with your family and let them brainstorm their perfect day! Before the brainstorming day, write out clear expectations and guidelines for their “yes” day. Examples of expectations include – the total of all activities must be under $50, must be within driving distance, must include all family members, etc. After expectations and guidelines are set, let your child have free reign to be creative and draw images of their perfect day.

  1. Research local “foster friendly” summer camps!

Look for local summer camps that encourage foster children to join in on the fun! In Texas, Royal Family Kids Camp of Austin provides foster children aged 7-11 years old a week of fun summer camp with no charge to the family. Ask local foster families or your agency for help researching reliable and safe camps for your kids.

  1. Schedule weekly play dates with friends to give yourself a break!

Do not be afraid to ask for help! Summer can be exhausting and it is important that caregivers take time for themselves as well. Switch off weeks with friends to host kids in your home that allows each parent to get a break every month. Support is essential to staying sane.

  1. Create a routine for days the family is hanging out at home.

There is no pressure to give your child the most active, engaging, and full summer. Brainstorm activities that the family can do at home to keep everyone busy. Set incentives for chores, offer more responsibilities to the child that they would not have time for during the school day, and encourage creativity with the games you have at home.

  1. Limit screen time and encourage outside time every day.

Do not forget to utilize nature as a resource. However, be mindful of the rising summer temperatures. Create a “water drinking” challenge to make sure your child is getting enough water throughout their day when it is extra hot outside

  1. Review water safety with your child every month to remind them of the importance of being safe (even if they know how to swim).

As a parent, it is impossible to keep your child away from dangerous situations at all times. However, we can make sure our kids are aware of the dangers and equip them with the knowledge to have a safe and fun summer. Review DFPS water safety tips monthly. Let your child take turns reviewing the guidelines with the family.

  1. HAVE FUN!

Let the summer be a way for your family to increase connection, safety and stability. Continue to provide your kids with the structure and nurture they need to be their best, healthiest and happiest selves! Stick to a routine, even if every day might be a little different.

Partnership Parenting in Foster Care


partnership handshakes

The reality of foster care is that many professionals and families focus on the children and forget about the parents of these children. The Department of Family and Children Services (2009) describes partnership parenting in foster care as a family-centered approach that merges the dual roles of placement and rehabilitation into one path. It emphasizes the foster parent’s need to care for the child while establishing a co-parenting relationship. Partnership parenting is one of the most frightening and challenging topics for foster parents. Families enter the world of foster care to support children and families in need but are often hesitant to reach out to biological parents. Often this fear comes from handling the unknown, feeling the need to protect the child placed in their home, and not wanting to hurt the biological parents given that they are caring for their child. For parents with a criminal history, this can also present fear for foster parents when partnership parenting.

Although many unknowns exist within foster care, one truth continues to reign: Children need their families. Removing a child from their home is one of the most traumatic experiences a child can endure. It is a day of grief, loss, sorrow, and confusion for most children. Even if their environment were abusive, unsafe, or unfit, the child would return home to be with their parents most of the time. In addition, it is also a day of loss for the parents. The dynamics of a family can change within several days or hours when a child is removed and brought into foster care. The questions remain through all of the hurt, pain, and unknowns. Why is this important to partnership parents, and how do we do it well?

The North American Council on Adoptable Children provides an extensive list detailing the importance of partnership or co-parenting. Some of the benefits include:

  • Relationships between the birth parents and the child can be maintained.
  • Birth parents can be reassured their child is in a safe and loving home by forming this relationship with the foster parents.
  • Foster families can be viewed as a resource, not a threat.
  • Visitation planning can become more simplified.
  • Support and relationship with the foster family can continue once a child returns home (Stevens, 2018)

Partnership parenting is for the benefit of the child, the birth parents, and the foster parents. Below are several suggestions for beginning a partnership parenting relationship with the child’s biological parents in your home.

  • Facilitate phone calls (when allowed by the courts)
  • Keep a journal of the child’s achievements to share with the biological parents.
  • Include birth parents in birthdays and holiday celebrations.
  • Provide the biological parents with school pictures and other work from the child while at school (art projects, good test scores)
  • Keep a photo book of the child for the biological parents to see their growth and achievements. (Stevens, 2018)



Georgia Department of Human Services. (2009). Partnership Parenting Guide: Good for the Community. Better for Families. Best for Children.  Partnership Parenting Guide: 1–8.

Stevens, P. J. (2018, July 11). Co-parenting or shared parenting. The North American Council on Adoptable Children. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from


Who is Who in Foster Care


organization flow chart

With each child or youth placed in a home there comes a team of professionals all dedicated to working together to make sure that each child has their needs met, feelings heard, and long term goals driving their decisions. For many it can get confusing as to what role everyone is playing, and who is responsible for what.  Let’s take a look at these roles and responsibilities in foster care.

  • County Caseworkers: These individuals work directly with the county in which the custody of the child is held and work with all parts of the families. They meet with biological parents to help them with their treatment plans, they conduct searches for extended family members that could function as a kinship placement, and they report everything back to the court to make sure the judge is up to date on all things.
  • Guardian Ad Litem (GAL): This is the legal representation for the children and youth in care. They visit the foster homes, speak with the children, and advocate for their needs. For children old enough to make requests or share their preferences, the GAL can advocate for what they want or help them understand the realities of the case from a legal perspective. While the GAL’s work to represent what is best for the children in court, they also work with the attorneys assigned to the family members to make sure everyone is up to date with legal matters.
  • Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA): This is a role that is not necessarily guaranteed on every case, but a very beneficial one, if it is an option. The CASA can provide a variety of services from functioning as a mentor to youth, helping with transportation, or simply being an extra hand on deck if you need it.
  • Parents Legal Teams: Each parent will have their own lawyers assigned by the courts, and these legal teams are separate from the legal representation of the children to ensure that all needs can be considered and reported to the courts. The parent’s legal teams will always fight for a return home of the children, and will share updates on the parent’s progress in court.
  • Therapists: While in care children and youth will be in a variety of services and will have therapists that can keep the team up to date on progress and concerns. Therapists will often provide updates to be shared in court, and can also be available to help foster parents by offering suggestions and sharing methods that they are working on in therapy that the foster parents can try at home.
  • Foster Care Advocate: While working with Nightlight you will be assigned a Foster Care Advocate who works directly with you and advocates for your needs as the foster family. They can help connect you with resources, offer training suggestions to help with your case specific needs, and partner with you to serve the children in your home to the best of your ability.

All of these roles are important in ensuring that children and youth are in stable and secure homes while they wait for permanency.  Each individual will bring experience, wisdom, and ideas that will serve the children and family.

Honoring and Connecting with Birth Mothers



Have you ever loved someone so much that the thought of losing them terrifies you? Imagine getting to know someone for 9 months of your life, feeling their every movement, enduring sleepless nights, and many days of discomfort. These physical and emotional struggles cannot be ignored or avoided before having to say goodbye to this child. There are many reasons that women and couples place their children for adoption. They do not have support either from the father or from their family. They may have other children that they are already raising, or they just do not feel stable enough in their own life, not wanting to bring a child into the chaos.

This blog is meant to share a birth mother’s perspective, honor her place in your child’s life, promote healthy relationships among the adoption triad, and encourage birth mothers to surround themselves with those who honor and respect her decisions and choices. Many of these women rise above their circumstances and own personal desires to make a brave decision to place her child for adoption.

There are many misconceptions and myths about adoption that can create fear and uncertainty for birth parents. Some look at adoption and see it as the abandonment of the child, and that the birth parents are simply taking the easy way out of a difficult situation. Most birth parents that contact our agency are looking for help, guidance, and support in the midst of one of the most challenging times of their lives. They are thinking and looking ahead to the future they would like their child to have. The majority of birth parents would choose to parent if their story was altered for the better, but choose to make the difficult and heartbreaking decision of separating themselves from their child to place them with another family. The last thing they are doing is “abandoning their child.” Making an adoption plan requires commitment and dedication from birth parents. They are expected to meet with their pregnancy counselor regularly and provide Nightlight staff with accurate medical and social history; all while continuously having difficult and emotional conversations about why this adoption plan is the choice they see fit. By enduring this intentional process, birth parents are exhibiting the love and attachment they already have for their unborn child. It is important for outsiders to understand the complexity of adoption and the work that goes into it before casting judgement. The truth about birthparents is that they care deeply for the well-being of their children and genuinely want the best life for them.

If you are an adoptive parent, it is important to honor your child’s birth family because they are their first family. It is essential for adopted children to remember their birth family and know that they are loved and respected. One way that we do this at Nightlight is by educating our staff and adoptive families on positive adoption language. The type of language used with adoption is key to create a healthy and positive relationship for the adoption triad. Some examples of positive adoption language are instead of using “she gave her child up for adoption,” using “she placed her child for adoption.” And instead of using the term, “unwanted child,” use “child placed for adoption.” Many of the myths surrounding domestic adoption and birth parents comes from the negative adoption language that is commonly used. Speaking poorly and using words that have negative connotations can make the child interpret those words or phrases to mean that the child’s past and origin are not respected.

Other ways to unite the adoption triad is through honoring the child’s birth family. This can be done in a variety of ways like creating a Lifebook with your child that includes photos and information about the birth family. Adoptive families can encourage and help their child write notes and letters to their birth family, either to send or to keep. One of the biggest and most beneficial ways to honor birth families is by humanizing them and keeping them a regular part of the child’s narrative. For example, saying, “Your hair is curly, just like your birth mom’s! I hope you grow up to have the prettiest hair just like hers.” Using statements like these inform the child about their first family, while also helping them humanize and think about them in positive and practical ways.

It is essential to understand that birth mothers and parents are people like everyone else. These mothers needing assistance or placing their child for adoption are the opposite of “bad parents.” Placing your child for adoption takes courage and careful consideration because it is an incredibly emotional experience for the birth mother and the child. This is why it is especially important for adoptive families to create a safe space for birth mothers to share their feelings and communicate with their child freely and without judgement.

Birth mothers especially need support and care from the people they are around. If we all work together, we can help birth mothers feel like loving heroes that want the best life for their children. If you are a birth mother, please know that you are not alone in this journey. Know that you are loved and valued by so many for your bravery. Your decision to place your child for adoption is a selfless act of love.

There are several resources available for birth parents that offer a variety of services and information. One of them is Nightlight’s Post Adoption Connection Center. Please seek help and support, knowing that you are not alone.

Christian is our Middle Name

What does it mean for Nightlight to be a “Christian” agency?  How do we express our faith?  We share God’s truth and love in the following ways:

  •  Monday prayer time on Teams and Bible Study
  • Monday morning prayer time in offices 
  • Speaking to Our Clients Through Scripture printed booklets for all staff to use with clients 
  • Our Statement of Faith on our website 
  • “What’s Christian About Adoption?” brochure printed and distributed and on website 
  • Email to families asks them to send prayer requests 
  • Praying with families during home visits as appropriate 
  • Tangible acts – showing up with a meal if someone had surgery, etc 
  • Begin or end Teams meetings with prayer 
  • Hanging Christian graphic art or bible verses in the office 
  • Bible verse placards identifying doors/offices  
  • 1 Week mission trip benefit for staff every 2 years 
  • Market Place Chaplains minister monthly to our staff
  • Staff Attend Christian Alliance for Orphans summit 
  • Participate in Orphan Sunday at churches 
  • Encourage staff to donate money to Orphan Galaxy 
  • Send Christian books at gifts to staff for wedding anniversary 
  • Practicing the spiritual disciplines as a staff together (fasting, solitude, service) 
  • Offering forgiveness 
  • Being “in the world but not of It” 
  • Scripture sent with international referral 
  • Sending “we prayed for you” cards 
  • Presenting stories of how God worked in our client’s lives
  • Bible verses on website pages 
  • Bible verses on invoice, receipt, letterhead, agreements 
  • Bible verses on email signature line 
  • Our logo and middle name 

International Adoption Spotlight: Nigeria


map of Nigeria

Nightlight opened our international adoption program in Nigeria in 2016 when we began a partnership with Morgan Hill Children Foundation. Morgan Hill is currently the only organization licensed by the Ministry of Youth and Development to provide adoption services in Lagos, Nigeria. They are a non-profit organization that is dedicated to humanitarian and children advocacy work. There are many states in Nigeria and each state has its own adoption laws that must be adhered to. Lagos is the only state that will allow non-Nigerian citizens to adopt.

Nigeria is a very successful adoption program but it can be difficult due to fluctuating timelines, times of civil unrest, and other factors. In 2022, we saw 7 children come home with their forever families in this program. Though it is not an easy program, we still have many dedicated families who persist through the long travel times, wait times, and bring home their children. We currently have matched all waiting families in this program and we would love to have some more families working through the process.


Nigeria is not overly strict with their requirements for adopting parents. Here are some requirements in this program.

  1. Adoptive parents must be at least 25 years old in a couple adoption. Single women must be at least 35 years old.
  2. Our partner agency prefers that families follow birth order. There can be exceptions made if it is in the best interest of the child.
  3. Nigeria can be strict when it comes to mental health issues in the birth family. Please check with the program coordinator to see if you would qualify if you are taking medication or receiving treatment for a mental health condition.


Nigeria has both younger and older children available for adoption. If a family would like to adopt a child under the age of five, they must be open to a child with special needs. Many special needs in Nigeria are minor or manageable. These might include things like HIV, tuberculosis that has been treated, heart conditions, and more. There are also children with more significant needs who need families as well. If you are willing to adopt a child over the age of five, it is possible to adopt a child who does not have any identified special needs. It is important to note that all children adopted internationally would be expected to have some developmental delays from their time in an orphanage. It should also be noted that all children adopted internationally have experienced loss and will have trauma from this.


The process to adopt from Nigeria is expected to take 2 – 3 years from start to finish. This can be shortened if you begin the process with a waiting child or if you are adopting a child with more significant special needs. The first step would be to fill out the application with Nightlight. Once this is approved, you will complete an orientation call with our program coordinator. After the orientation is complete, you will submit your application letter to the Ministry of Youth and Social Development in Nigeria. Families are not able to make their first trip to Nigeria until one year after the ministry has received this letter. You will begin to work on your home study and once that is completed, you will file your I-600A. Then you will wait for a match from Morgan Hill.

Once a child becomes available, we will present this to your family for consideration. If you decide to move forward with this referral, you will write a letter of intent to the ministry to state you would like to adopt that specific child. Once they give you an approval and we have verified all of the referral documents are received, you will complete the referral review with one of our social services managers at Nightlight. Once that is completed, Morgan Hill will work on obtaining a court date for the custody hearing so you can begin to plan your travel. You will also use this time to obtain your Nigerian visas. This will require you to travel to the Nigerian consulate in the US in person.

Once you have your visa and your court date, it will be time to make your first trip to Nigeria. You can expect that your first trip will be about 12 weeks in total. Many unforeseen delays can happen in the process that could delay you in country. While there, you will complete a bonding period, finalize your adoption, obtain necessary legal documents, and apply for your child’s passport. After this is complete, you will make plans to come home and your child will reside at the orphanage while you return to the United States to file your I-600. When you file the I-600, the Nigerian Consulate in Lagos will be responsible for completing the I-604 investigation where they will verify that your child meets the legal definition of an orphan. Once this is approved, USCIS should approve your I-600 application. Once this approval is received, you are able to return to Nigeria to get your child and complete the visa process. This final trip is about 2-3 weeks in length.


The greatest hurdle for the Nigeria program is the length of travel time. If you feel like this is something that would be possible, it is likely this program could be a good fit for your family. We do have a few waiting children available in Nigeria that can be viewed on Nightlight’s Adoption Bridge website. If you are interested in learning more about the program and determining if this would be a good fit for your family, please contact Kate Resh by phone at (970)663-6799 or by email at

National Infertility Awareness Week: Dangerous Infertility Myths

dangerous infertility myths

Chances are if you are looking to add to your family through adoption, you may be struggling (or have been struggling) with infertility. You are not alone—about one in eight couples in the U.S. face infertility. 

When first coming face to face with an infertility diagnosis, families are often subjected to a wide-range of misinformation online, which spreads from the misconceptions, half-truths, anecdotes, and downright myths. This can come directly from in-person or online support groups, social media influencers, and Google. Sadly, this distortion of the truth is not just limited to online spaces—they can also be spread from people we know, like close family or friends.  

Here are the top five myths you may come across regarding infertility. 

Anecdotes from family and friends

One of the first people you may turn to for advice when starting the infertility journey are close family or friends. While they may offer great support, they may offer some unsolicited (and maybe downright incorrect) advice. This could include statements like, “Stop stressing about it! Once you stop worrying, it will happen… like it did for me,” or “Kyle and I started the keto diet, and we were pregnant in three months.” You can also easily find similar stories on social media spaces, like Facebook groups. While they mean well, your friends and family members are not your doctors, and your life experiences will not be the same as yours. 

Fertility Foods

We all have heard the famous fertility myth of eating oysters! While there is no specific food or diet that will magically boost your chances of conception, a nutritious and well-balanced diet can certainly help support overall health, including reproductive health. However, food choices alone will not reverse an infertility diagnosis. There is no magical food that will promote an increase in sperm production, nor reverse the damage of endometriosis.


There are so many myths surrounding medications and infertility. We are not going to pick apart each one of these in the short blog. But know that your doctor, who has the experience and knowledge in infertility diagnoses and fertility treatments, will talk with you about your concerns. Reading personal experiences of medications from Dr. Google will not help you, nor your doctor, get you closer to finding a solution.

Misinformation in the Media

At 48, Hillary Swank recently gave birth to twins. That did not happen without the help of fertility treatments. Regardless, many people may be led to believe that waiting until you are 40, 45, and even 50 to have children is entirely possible. The reality is (for women in particular) fertility declines dramatically after the age of 35, and many have to resort to egg donation to have successful IVF cycles. Other social media influencers may tout specialty teas, lifestyles, or treatments that helped them achieve pregnancy—which in reality was not the only route they took. 

IVF Treatment Success

One of the most harmful myths when it comes to infertility is that you will achieve pregnancy if you pursue IVF. Many hopeful families do pursue IVF, only to be left without any baby, or sometimes even without a single embryo. There is no 100% guarantee with IVF, or any fertility treatment, that you will walk away successful. 

Many families have chosen adoption, foster care, or decide to be childless because IVF was not successful for them. 

For some families who have been diagnosed with infertility, or were told they would never be able to carry a pregnancy, have found success through Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. This can be an amazing, cost-effective, family building option you may have been looking for! 

To learn more about embryo adoption through Nightlight, visit 

What is the difference between Christian Agency and one that is not?

What makes an adoption or foster agency Christian?  This question can be answered in a variety of ways:

1. Motive.  Nightlight was founded in 1959 when a group of churches who belonged to the National Association of Evangelicals noticed that there was a need for more families to adopt babies from unplanned pregnancy.  This was a pro-woman, pro-life, mandate consistent with James 1:27 which says “true religions is this: to look after the orphan and widow in their distress.”

Our motivation for beginning the Snowflakes® embryo adoption program in 1997 was to advocate for the personhood of embryos, and defend that life begins at conception.  We want to reduce the number of embryos in frozen storage, and increase the number who are given a chance of life.  We accept any embryo, we do not allow selective termination, nor do we allow genetic testing because we know every embryo deserves life.

Our motivation for being involved in foster care is that we want to bring better results to the current system.  People become foster parents for a variety of motives.  The reality is that some foster parents are looking for passive income, so they want the greatest number of children, who are the easiest to care for, so they can have the highest monthly stipend possible.  Other people become foster parents because they have a specific calling from God to “do hard things” and make a difference in the life of a child.  We know that the foster care system can be improved and that the Church can be the solution to the difficulty of recruiting spectacular families.

In today’s environment, international adoption is not financially sustainable.  The only organizations doing international adoption have a separate funding source, such as contributions from financial donors.  These donors are typically motivated by the Bible’s call in Isaiah 1:17 to, “Take up the cause of the fatherless.”

2. Method.  Most agencies are ethical.  We do not imply that other agencies are less ethical.  But as a Christian agency, we feel specifically accountable to a level of ethics that exceeds that of the state, federal or Hague regulations.  We are committed to honesty and integrity.  We do not operate with an “ends justifies the means” mentality.  We do not coerce birth parents to consent to adoption. We only pursue adoption cases that have a high likelihood of success, for the sake of everyone involved.

Our staff are welcome, encouraged, and free to share their faith with clients and with each other. We pray regularly as a team, and with our clients.  We join other Christian agencies at conferences such as the Christian Alliance for Orphans, where we connect with our mission.  We study Scripture together.

3. Metrics.  We measure our success by the number of embryos given life, abortions prevented, children placed in families where they will hear the Gospel, children who find permanent families, and children who escape  danger.  Our board of directors are volunteers with no financial stake in the agency.  They hold the agency accountable to ensure we do not drift from that mission.  The agency is non-profit, invests all of its funds back into programs, and the staff embrace modest salaries because they appreciate our mission.