International Spotlight: India

 

We have been working with India for a little over 30 years now. Nightlight’s India program first began in Missouri with Love Basket Adoptions in 1984. Love Basket merged with Nightlight in 2015 and brought this wonderful program along with them. India is a Hague country, and we work directly with CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority), that oversees all adoptions in India.

Our India program has continually grown over the years and has successfully found many loving families for waiting children in India. Since our India program first started, we have been able to welcome around 400 children into their forever families here in the U.S.

Typical Ages, Wait Times, and Special Needs

Both male and female children are available for adoption in our India program. Most of the children that we see available from India are around ages 2-15 years old with special needs. India also has older sibling groups available, as well as children with no special or medical needs 8 years and older.

Families adopting from India are able to be matched with a child with special needs from India’s Waiting Child Portal. Families adopting a waiting child with special needs, can be matched in around 6-12 months after being registered with CARA. An additional option for families that have NRI status (Non-resident Indian) or OCI status (Overseas Citizen of India), is to wait for a referral from CARA of a child with no special needs; however, prospective adoptive parents that are open to special needs will have a much shorter wait time.

Typical special needs can vary from minor to severe; however, many are manageable with proper medical treatment. Some common special needs we see in the children placed from India include: vision and hearing issues (including deafness and blindness), heart conditions of varying degrees, developmental delays, thalassemia, cleft lip and/or palate, hydrocephalus, and malformed and/or missing digits/limbs. Families that are open to these types of needs would be a great fit for adopting from India. In most cases, we see significant improvements in children with special needs once they are able to receive medical treatment and live in a healthy environment.

Recent Matches

So far this year, Nightlight has found new forever families for 6 children! In addition to this, 9 families were able to return home with their children this year. Below are the ages and medical conditions of children recently placed from India:

  • 3 year old girl: microcephaly
  • 2 year old girl: congenital deformity of feet
  • 5 year old boy: leg spasticity & dystonia
  • 3 year old girl: birth hypoxia
  • 8 year old girl: no special needs
  • 3 year old boy: low birth weight, premature
  • 9 year old boy: no special needs
  • 4 year old girl: cerebral palsy

Grant Opportunity

For families that apply to our India program in the month of October, Nightlight will waive their $500 application fee! Applications must be submitted by October 31st, 2022.

If you are interested in adopting from India or hearing more about our program, please reach out to Kate Resh at kate.resh@nightlight.org . You can also find more information on our India Program webpage.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

 

October is recognized as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, with the aim to honor the millions of families who have experienced loss of children through miscarriage, stillbirth, termination for medical reasons, or infant death.

Historically, such a loss either was not recognized as significant or was just one of those things we did not talk about, even though an early miscarriage represents a profound loss for hopeful parents. It is important not only for our society to recognize and give voice to this type of loss, but also for those who have experienced it to allow themselves to grieve and to honor the children they have lost.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, stating, “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.”

Here are some small things you can do to honor those who have lost pregnancies and infants. Even if you have not experienced this kind of loss, anyone can participate.

  • Participate in the International Wave of Light campaign by lighting a candle at 7 p.m. (your local time) on October 15. You can share photos on social media platforms using the hashtags #waveoflight, #waveoflight2022
  • Join a walk or other remembrance activity on October 15 (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Remembrance Day).
  • Help spread awareness through social media.
  • Ask your local government to recognize and officially proclaim October 15 Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
  • Wear a pink and/or blue ribbon, or tie pink and blue ribbons around trees.
  • Join a local ministry or church support group for grieving families or those facing infertility.

Many families have experienced joy after pregnancy or infant loss through the miracle of embryo adoption through the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program! Visit Snowflakes.org to learn more.

7 Myths and Misconceptions about Foster Care

 

There are many myths that exist when it relates to foster care. Many of these myths and misconceptions may either prevent someone from becoming a foster parent or even act as barriers to a successful foster parenting journey.

 

Myth 1: There are many children under age 5 awaiting a foster family.

  • Children under the age of 5 represent less than 30% of the children in foster care, while children under the age of 1 only represent about 7% of kids in care. It is critical to keep in mind that oftentimes, those young children are also part of a larger sibling group with older siblings who may be elementary age or teenagers. The average age of a child in care is 8.

 

Myth 2: I can’t be a foster parent because I will get too attached.

  • Though this can be a difficult reality for a foster family, the purpose of foster care is to get attached to the foster children entering the home. That is what these children desperately need. However, that does not negate the significant loss that foster parents will feel once foster children are reunified with their families. It is a heavy burden, one that is challenging and emotional to navigate during a family’s fostering journey. It is almost important to note, however, that foster children have experienced significant loss and trauma, to a degree that a child, no matter the age, ever should. As a society, it is our responsibility to care for the most vulnerable of our population and fulfill the needs of these children during this time. If we as mature, stable adults can step in so that they experience a little less loss and trauma, why wouldn’t we?

 

Myth 3: Adoption is the primary permanency goal in foster care.

  • The primary goal of foster care is for children to be reunited with their birth families. About 50% of children who enter foster care will return home to their families, while another 25% of children exit foster care with the permanency outcome of adoption.

 

Myth 4: All foster children have experienced physical and sexual abuse.

  • Neglect is the highest reason for entry into foster care. Parental substance abuse is the second highest percentage reason for entry into care. It is important to remember, however, that children enter foster care at no fault of their own, and each deserves love, safety, and stability, no matter the reason they enter care.

 

Myth 5: The problem is too big. I can’t make a difference.

  • Foster care is a major crisis in the United States. It cannot be fixed by one foster family. However, the impact that a foster family will have on each child placed in the home has the potential to influence generations to come. It takes one family at a time to show children from hard places what it means to be unconditionally loved and supported.

 

Myth 6: Foster children will be grateful to be in your home.

  • After all, you went through all sorts of paperwork, appointments, interviews, and phone calls to become a foster parent. You sacrifice so much to be a foster parent. Imagine, though, what it must feel like as a child in foster care – you have been removed, involuntarily, from your family. You may not understand why. You have to change schools; you don’t know if you will see your siblings or pets again; the new home smells different; you have new siblings; you miss your teacher and your classmates; and instead of sleeping on the top bunk, you are now stuck on the bottom bunk. The inherent trauma of entering foster care is significant, and it is critical for foster parents to remember that it is not a responsibility of the child to be grateful to be in a safe and loving home.

 

Myth 7: Working alongside the child’s biological family is too hard.

  • Children in foster care oftentimes have a strong desire to be reunited with their families. While partnering with the biological family can be challenging and complex, it is also deeply rewarding and important for the child in foster care. The child, no matter the permanency outcome, has a deep connection with his/her family, and any negative feelings associated with reunification are oftentimes sensed by the foster child. If something is wrong with their birth family, isn’t that the case for them too? They’re related, aren’t they? Honoring and loving a child’s biological family is a way to also love the foster child in the home. In addition, many parents of children in care were also in foster care themselves and experienced trauma as well.

 

All data was provided by KIDS COUNT Data Center. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, please visit our Foster Care page here.

Country Spotlight: Taiwan

 

Nightlight’s current Taiwan program has been operating since 2017 and has placed 12 children to date. It is a smaller program and we work with Chung Yi Social Welfare foundation. They are licensed by Taiwan’s central adoption authority and operate ethically, following all Hague, US, and Taiwan standards for care. Taiwan has a strong social services system and the majority of the children available are placed with foster families. Once in care, children received regular evaluations and medical and early intervention services before being adopted. Chung Yi does an excellent job of preparing children for adoption, which includes talking with the children about their future family and life in a new country, as well as preparing life books for them.

 

Most families in our program adopt waiting children, but families can also register for the blind referral process and wait to be matched with a child based on their preferences. To be successfully matched, families should be open to children up to at least the age of 5, with mild special needs, such as developmental delays, and children with a birth parent history of alcohol and substance abuse. Depending on each family’s preferences, the wait time to receive a referral can range from about 6 to 24 months. Once a family is officially matched, the process in Taiwan will take 12 to 18 months to complete.

 

The wait time for a referral can be significantly shortened if a family chooses to pursue adopting a waiting child. These are children who have all necessarily investigations and paperwork complete and are only waiting to find their forever family. Some examples of current waiting children available for adoption are:

10-year-old Boy – No special needs

10-year-old Boy – Vision impairment

9-year-old Boy – Developmental delays, mild intellectual disability

8-year-old Boy – Cognitive and speech delays, mild intellectual disability

8-year-old Boy – Mild cognitive delays, hypothyroidism

7-year-old Boy – No special needs

6-year-old Boy – Developmental delays

5-year-old Boy – Speech and motor delays, vision impairment, epilepsy with no current symptoms

5-year-old Boy – Mild speech and motor delays, Epilepsy (fully stabilized with medication)

3-year-old Girl – Comprehensive developmental delays, vision impairment

 

Child profiles can viewed on Nightlight’s Adoption Bridge website. If you are interested in learning more about these children, you can inquire to view their full file. You can learn more about Nightlight’s Taiwan Program on our website or by contacting Liana Stoddart at liana@nightlight.org.

International Spotlight: Burkina Faso

 

Nightlight opened our Burkina Faso program in 2014 and we have seen this program come a long way! Burkina Faso should be of interest to any family considering adoption from Africa. Burkina Faso is signatory to the Hague Adoption Convention, ensuring protections are in place to provide oversight that intercountry adoptions are processed in the best interests of the Burkinabe children. Burkina Faso is a stable and predictable African adoption program meeting the needs of orphaned children in Africa.

Since opening the program in 2014, we have welcomed 20 children home to the U.S. to their forever families. Despite the recent pandemic, we currently have ten families who have been matched with children in various stages of their adoption process in Burkina Faso. Just this year from January to August 2022 Nightlight has received seven matches of children to waiting families. Of these matches the child characteristics and timelines families experienced are listed below. However, it is important to remember, matching timelines were greatly impacted by the COVID19 pandemic, when we saw delays in all country programs, including delays in the country’s ability to match waiting children with families, and therefore these timelines are not necessarily reflective of new families entering the program.

Families in 2022 to date have been matched with children with the following characteristics and experienced the following wait times:

  • One year old girl Family waited 3 years 10 months to be matched
  • One year old girl Family waited 1 Year 11 months to be matched
  • One year old girl Family waited 2 years 8 months to be matched
  • Two year old boy Family waited 3 years 3 months to be matched
  • Four year old boy Family waited 4 years 2 months to be matched
  • One year, 7 month old boy Family waited 1 year 7 months to be matched
  • 9 year old boy Family waited 4 months to be matched (pre-identified child)

As you can see our Burkina Faso program is breaking records in 2022! Some of the children referred this year were considered “healthy”, others had mild or correctable medical needs. Of the children matched, one child had more moderate medical needs. While families may opt to wait to be matched by the central authority with a child considered “healthy”, prospective adoptive families will be matched much more quickly if they are open to children with additional needs and selecting a child from the special needs list. Burkina Faso issues special needs lists several times a year and families may opt to be considered for a child on the special needs lists if they have a submitted a dossier and it has been accepted.

Additional needs of children on this list could include medical conditions such as Hepatitis B, Sickle Cell trait, Sickle Cell disease, HIV, children born of incestuous relationships, children born to birth mothers with mental health conditions, mental handicaps, deformed or missing limbs, deaf-mute, developmental delays, malnutrition or children older than six years of age.

Once matched, families can anticipate traveling to Burkina Faso to bring their child home approximately 11-12 months later, without any unforeseen delays. Families are required to stay in country for 14 days prior to bringing their child home.

Nightlight is currently offering new families the ability to waive their application fee (a savings of $500) if entering this program. Applications must be accepted by August 31st, 2022.
Can you provide a family and forever home to a child in need in Africa? If you are interested in adopting from Burkina Faso, contact samantha@nightlight.org or visit our Burkina Faso webpage.

History of Adoption Laws and Practices

 

Adoption has a history dating all the way back to Biblical times. When we look at the Bible, we can clearly see God’s heart for adoption and orphans. For us, as Christians, we are adopted into God’s family as chosen children. While it has developed and changed over time, we can see the importance of adoption and how it can impact and change lives. However, for this blog, we will talk about adoption through American history.

The orphan train was started in 1854 by Charles Loring Brace. Trains brought orphaned, abandoned, and poor children from urban areas in the Northeast to rural areas in the Midwest with the hope for a better life. The orphan train idea started the modern idea of foster care even though some of the orphan train concepts were questionable. In fact, the phrase “put up for adoption” can stir up a negative response as it relates back to the orphan train era where children were lined up like livestock up on the train platforms. Prospective adoptive families, mostly Midwestern farm families, came to view the children to determine which children looked the strongest and healthiest.

Beginning in the mid-19th century, Massachusetts passed the first adoption law in the United States. This was the first law to protect the interest of the child above the interest of the adoptive family and required a judge to determine if the birth parents gave consent for the adoption to take place. The adoptive family also had to prove that they were able to provide a suitable education for the child or children that they were adopting. In 1891, Michigan passed the first law that required adoptive parents to prove their moral character and ability to support and educate a child. This was a step up from the Massachusetts law as the parents did not have to prove they had good moral character. Interestingly, animal protection laws existed before adoption laws!

The aftermath of World War I left more children orphaned than ever before. The Social Security Act of 1935 led to the expansion of foster care and after World War II, adoption started to rapidly increase to include infants as well as school-age children. Generally, children were matched with same race parents. However, as the demand grew for babies, transracial adoption began. The first record of a transracial adoption occurred in 1948. In 1994, the Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) prohibited agencies from denying placement opportunities or delaying a child’s placement based solely on race, color, or national origin.

From 1958 to 1967, the Indian Adoption Project was a federal program that forced Native American children to be systematically removed from their families. White families adopted these children even with no reason for the removal. These families tried to assimilate the Native children to white culture. The government thought that adoption was the best option for dealing with the Native American “problem.” This practice was later outlawed through the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978 by setting federal requirements regarding the removal of indigenous children and allows the child’s tribe to intervene in adoption cases.

The history of international adoption began shortly after WWII. “War orphans” from Germany, Vietnam, and Korea were put on waiting lists for Americans to adopt. Harry and Bertha Holt led the way for creating the first international adoption agency which still exists today. They started with adopting eight children from Korea and then urged other couples in America to adopt children from Korea.

While adoption has not always been a positive event in history, things have changed. In 1993, the Hague Convention established rules and regulations regarding how intercountry adoptions occurred. They ensure that adoptions are completed legally and ethically. The Hague Convention still exists today to ensure that adoption service providers are accredited, all fees and expenses are disclosed beforehand, and all legal processes are followed.

Since adoption first began, a lot has changed. The wellbeing of the child is first and foremost when it comes to making decisions. Transracial, transcultural, and transnational adoptions have continued to grow rapidly, and the history of adoption will continue to change. As history continues to change, the adoption option, hopefully, will become more prevalent, because every child deserves a loving family.

By: Regina Smith

 

Resources:

Adoption History::Timeline of Adoption History (uoregon.edu)

Roe v. Wade: Decision, Summary & Background – HISTORY

 

Role of the Foster Parent in Educational Advocacy

 

Enrolling a child in Pre-K and preparing them to start their educational journey is a very exciting experience. School is one of the main areas that lays the foundations for learning and growth in a child’s life. However, what do we do when a child has not had this experience? How do we respond and advocate for a child who struggles with or has never attended school on a consistent basis?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, “A positive PK-12 education experience has the potential to be a powerful counterweight to the abuse, neglect, separation, impermanence and other barriers these vulnerable students experience”.

This was the case with one of the children in foster care whom I have the privilege of knowing and working with. Before entering foster care, this particular child had 20 absences and 11 tardy slips in their Kindergarten academic school year. Given this information, we were aware that this child did not have an understanding of consistency in school attendance. The foster parents were aware that educational support and advocacy would be a crucial part of their role for this child.

Transitioning to a new school is very difficult for children of all ages. Being in a new environment and struggling with personal trauma from moving into a foster home can cause certain behaviors to arise. Due to his lack of consistent school attendance and participation, the transition into school was very challenging. As a result of his behavior, this particular child was immediately isolated from his peers. The foster parents stayed in constant communication with this child’s teacher and became aware of a separation he was experiencing in the classroom. The teacher moved him from a table with his peers to a singular desk in the corner with tape on the floor. Seeing the effects of the isolation, they immediately took action by meeting with the teacher as well as other members of the educational staff. Although they initially did not receive the support and resources necessary for this child, they remained persistent with the school. They valued the child’s educational foundation and purposely faced all road blocks that could possibly hinder his development. A meeting was established with all parties involved with this child, including attorneys and social workers. Through the foster parent’s persistence, a 504 plan was created that tailored to the child’s strengths and needs.

Watching this child grow academically has been an amazing example of how educational advocacy is an important component of being a foster parent. This child is now thriving in school and receiving valuable services throughout the school day. He even received student of the month! The foster parents continue to monitor his progress and have since formed great relationships with the school administrators and staff. Through small steps, the foster parents have helped create an environment where this child has grown and continues to learn in spite of his previous academic shortcomings.

There are many ways to advocate for your foster child academically:

  • Attend/request IEP and 504 Plan meetings
  • Request weekly updates from the student’s teacher on their progress
  • Attend parent/teacher conferences
  • Update the teacher on changed behaviors the child is experiencing
  • Be persistent!
  • Involve the child’s attorney or other legal parties if necessary
  • Encourage and support the child in their educational journey
  • Disclose information about the child’s history only when allowed and deemed beneficial to help the school meet their educational needs
  • Reach out to school counselors and other resources for support
  • Communicate needs, questions, and concerns with the social workers involved
  • Listen and act as their voice! Your voice matters!

 

View other resources for additional guidance for you and your foster child:

https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/foster-care/index.html

https://blog.edmentum.com/parent%E2%80%99s-guide-special-education-and-iep-process

https://www.understood.org/articles/en/playing-a-role-in-the-iep-process

 

By: Abbie Cox, Nightlight Foster Care Advocate

“Fun in the Sun” Adoption Fundraising Ideas

 

It’s summer, and there is no better time to plan and execute an adoption fundraiser. The options are limitless. Here are five ideas which merge summer fun and adoption funding:

Car Wash – Gather a group of family and friends to have an old-fashioned car wash. Advertise the event on social media including date, location, and time. You choose whether to have a set amount for services or accept any donation. Play some oldies music, laugh much, and lather your sponges!

Corn Hole Tournament – Who doesn’t love a rousing game of corn hole – young, old, or in between! It’s a low budget and easy to plan tournament. Participants pay a donation entry fee. Design t-shirts or hats to sell. Have food and snacks available. The game is played elimination style, and spectators can cheer the others to victory. Have creative, low-cost prizes for the winners of each round. Download a Corn Hole Tournament bracket here – https://www.cornholeworldwide.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Cornhole-Tournament-Brackets.pdf

Garage Sale – This event is a win/win for all involved. Your family and friends get to de-clutter their closets, and you will make money from the clutter! Plan in advance and ask your friends for donations. Have a donation drop-off site or offer to provide pick-up services. Price the items reasonably. Your goal is to move inventory. Strategically choose a high traffic location. Advertise in advance and have large, brightly colored signs posted. Let shoppers know their purchases will help bring your child home and post a “Donations Accepted” sign. Have bottled water in coolers to sell or let your “littles” set up a lemonade stand. If you have inventory left over, choose a location on the other side of town, and after a week or two to recover, go for round #2. Don’t forget to gather sacks/bags and have extra change available to get started.

Movie Night – Host a movie night in a location large enough to have an old-fashioned “drive-in” feel (public park, church, a farmer’s barnyard …). Choose a summer blockbuster suitable for all ages and family fun. Ask for an entrance donation. Sell popcorn, soda, and candy. Write your Adoption Bridge profile link on the popcorn bags so attendees can make additional donations later.

Summer Field Day – Most kids wait all year long anticipating the beloved Field Day during the final week of school. Why not host your own? Kids will have a blast playing games while their parents will love having a fun and safe activity for them. Plan an afternoon of competitive games like tug-of-war, wheel barrow race, sack race, water balloon toss … For additional creative games see – https://www.weareteachers.com/field-day-games/ Set a donation amount for registration. Have sack lunches for sale. Get businesses to donate fun prizes. Invite energetic volunteers to help run the competitions. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Finally, keep in mind your family’s unique strengths and talents. What do you enjoy doing? What are you exceptionally good at? Turn those abilities into fun and profitable fundraisers. Enjoy the summer and go make some money!

 

By: Camie Schuiteman, Nightlight Family Resource Specialist

Nightlight’s Reaction to a Reversal of Roe v. Wade

Since Nightlight Christian Adoptions pioneered the field of embryo adoptions in 1997, our agency has been thrust into the media and political spotlight for our strong pro-life position.  We advocate for the personhood of embryos, and since 1959, we have helped over 3500 women in crisis pregnancy make the sacrificial choice of an adoption plan, with our domestic adoption program in ten states.  As survivors of the abortion holocaust, a reversal of Roe is the answer to a prayer we have prayed our entire lives in which we have seen one third of our generation perish.  This court case makes abortion a state issue, rather than federal issue, and therefore we expect that God-fearing states will see a decrease in abortion while the court ruling has little effect on other states.  Pro-life advocates have always known that abortion will never be diminished by legislation or court rulings: it is a cultural issue.  We are mindful of the generation which celebrates abortion while simultaneously lamenting the paucity of babies available for adoption.

Our current generation grew up with Roe, so the culture largely did not second-guess the morality of abortion. We hope that a reversal of Roe will cause a younger generation to be more mindful of the moral issue surrounding abortion and that this ruling will spark cultural change.  Nowadays the majority of abortions are chemical (pills), rather than surgical.  Therefore, even in states with heartbeat laws, it is unlikely that abortions will cease since clandestine abortion is so readily available.  Some people assume that a reduction in abortion will lead to an increase in adoption, which is entirely possible as a cultural shift occurs where people have misgivings about abortion.  However, there is also the option of parenting, and we expect a reduction in abortion will also lead to an increase in parenting.  For many, this will be a blessing, but adoption should be on the table for people at risk of losing custody to the state, which is often the case when birth parents are considering placing for adoption, for reasons such as substance abuse issues.

Pro-life advocates are often heckled by protestors who object, “What is going to happen to all these babies who you are forcing to be born?”  Everyone who works in the field of adoption (regardless of their view on abortion) knows that the number of hopeful adoptive parents far outweighs the number of babies who would be born, even if abortion were a thing of the past.  In fact, God seems to have already done the math and devised a plan: about 1 in 6 couples face infertility issues, while 1 in 3 pregnancies result in abortion.  The bottom line is, there are sufficient ready and waiting adoptive parents for the precious babies who will be saved, and Nightlight is prepared to give unbiased counsel to parents facing crisis pregnancy.

Daniel Nehrbass, President