Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Keeping adoptions ethical

Hague Convention

We want to give orphans homes, not create orphans for our own desires to be fulfilled! Sadly, many countries still take part in unethical adoptions. Babies are taken away from mothers and some mothers simply birth babies to give away to "wealthy americans." Make sure you do your research of the orphanage, the agency and the country. Know where the children are coming from and know what the fees are going towards.

If you are considering adoption please take a moment and look through what it means for an adoption agency and it's countries of service to be accredited by the Hague Convention. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Reason to Adopt

In case you missed the memo, I am a strong, strong advocate for adoption. That's probably too mild a term. If I could literally shake the body of Christ into action on behalf of the orphans you can rest assured that I would have my hands around it's neck! However, there are a few caveats I have for adoption. 

Adoption is not a cute, cuddly way to grow a family. As a Christian, adoption should not simply be about adding a chubby bundle of smiles into your family. Nor should it simply be about saving the world. If that is the case then we miss the mark. 

Adoption is brokenness. What should never have been, is. What should never happen, has. A child is left alone in the world. A child is hurt by hands that should have protected. A child is pushed away by arms that should be holding fast. It is muddled and broken. A family is torn apart. 

It could be a teenage mom that has no idea how to parent a baby and has to die to herself to give her baby to a family that will know how to parent. She will be broken in the process. It could be a mother who cannot feed the mouths that she has and she knows that another mouth to feed means someone will not survive the year. Can you put yourself in their shoes? Can you understand their anguish and feel the deepness of their grief? Can you see our Savior's tears as He cries out that this should never happen?

Love will not be enough. Love and warm affection and security are not enough. They could never undo the damage. Love could never cover all the pain. Love alone could never be enough.  

Christ is enough. He has always been more than enough. He is the Healer of our souls and He will heal their souls. Being part of adoption is being a part of the battle for a soul. In all of eternity the greatest of all battles is the battle for a soul. You will enter into a daily spiritual battle.  If you are not ready for a battle then you need to ready yourself. Drink in the words of Scripture, memorize it, study it, and bathe in the adoration of your Savior. Lift your hands, stretch them high and know the greatness of your God.

As followers of Christ our reason for adoption should be because He has called us. He has called us to care for the broken things of this world. He has told us to love the unlovely. He has called us and He will equip us. He will equip us to be a part of His plan of healing. It is often a long journey filled with heartache and restoration and grace.

Can you see it? Can you imagine being a part of God's restoration? Can you see into eternity and picture the children and families restored? Can you feel His passion for these fatherless children? Can you understand His joy when we bring them home?

Oh, my friends, we have been given a deep responsibility. He is calling us to bring them home. Together we can find a way to be a part of His redeeming love. We must find a way. It cannot be for them. It must be done for Him and through Him.

Bring them home. He will equip. He will restore. His love will be enough. Reclaim them in the name of Christ.

~ Katie

Monday, February 20, 2012

Re{claimed ... what does that little squiggle mean anyway?

    If you’ve seen our name several times since we started our organization, either on Facebook or on our blog, there are probably two things you think when you see it. 1) Oh neat, fundraising for people who are adopting! And 2) why in the world have they named it “reclaimed” and what is that little doodad in the middle?
    Just like in naming your own child, there is so much thought that went into our organization’s name.  I am so excited to share with you what the name stands for, and what it is that we hope Re{claimed can accomplish. 

    The go-to verse in church circles regarding adoption is often James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”   Of course, the verse is in regards to widows as well, but for our purposes today, I am going to concentrate on “orphans.”  It is clear in many other areas of the Bible as well, that God calls us to help children, especially those who are not cared for.   I have always been interested in orphans and adopted children… I had good friends growing up that were adopted.  As a child of the 80’s, one of my favorite movies was “Annie.”  Those after-school specials (or soap-operas) raised that question that some either feared or begged God for – is this my REAL family?  Was I adopted? (dun, dun, dunnnn)  Adoption also had a harsh tone to it.  My generation is probably one of the last where adopted children did not have much information growing up regarding their origin.
    I had my first encounter with orphaned children on a mission trip to a third world country.  Their ages ranged from 3 to 17 years old.  It was a Christian run orphanage, and even though they longed for earthly families, they were taught and truly believed that they had a Father who loved them.  A Father that HAD adopted them into His forever family.  (Forever Family is a term used to describe when a family has legally adopted a child, as opposed to a foster family.)   

    Fast forward to 2011, Katie and I longed to do something.  Katie was in the adoption process… a long process, as some of you know.  And I have always been inspired and felt God moving me to take some type of action, even if we weren’t quite ready to adopt.   God didn’t say in James 1:27 that some people have the “gift” to take care of orphans & widows.  It is something that is requested to “keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  I translate that in the millennium to mean – keep yourself from getting the gimmies and thinking the world revolves around one person…me.    So, if my husband and I weren’t in the place to adopt right this second, and Katie & her husband were still in waiting, we seemed to feel God was calling us to DO something.
    Katie had a friend working hard to raise money to adopt a child from Ethopia.   She asked if I would be willing to help her host a craft night where we supplied the crafts, sold tickets to guests, and a majority of the profits would go to the family.  We were tired of “fundraisers” that only gave 20% of the profits to families, and thought, maybe, just maybe, people would only need an excuse to get together.
    So, the idea was born. It was small, but it was fun.  As we talked after the first event, we wondered if people would give more money if they received a tax-benefit.  Running a non-profit (501(c)3) would mean a lot more planning, but it may work! 
    When we started our brainstorming session, we talked about how adoption wasn’t just something that was label for certain kids.  It was something that all of us who have trusted in Jesus as their Lord and Savior should understand, and have everything in common with earthly adopted children.  We read Ephesians 1:3-8 “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” 
There were three things that stuck out to us.
Chosen – Just like a family goes through the process of choosing a child, our Father chooses us.  There is just something about being chosen, isn’t there?  It means you are valued, you are needed, and you are important.  Think about a time when you were chosen (maybe in that 4th grade gym class? :-) ).  It really is something special.
Adopted – In the process of seeking out a child, many are chosen, but not all are immediately adopted.  It is a process…a long, legal one.  It is a momentous occasion for that child.  It means I belong to you.  You want to care for me and I will always be yours.   I have a new name, a new identity; legally and relationally.  God says that when we believe in His Son’s sacrifice for our sins, His raising from the dead, and return to heaven (John 3:16), we are HIS.  We are adopted into His family.  Our old ways, our life wandering in the darkness searching for love and meaning, is over.   It, also, is a momentous occasion.  It’s in “His pleasure”!  Others that we have preceded welcome us with open arms.  We have a home waiting for us in eternity.  Sometimes the process, on our end, is long, but thankfully, there is no waiting on God.  The “legal” process is quick and easy. :-)
Heirs – This topic is often forgotten or overlooked, but SO very important.  Becoming part of a family means that you are an heir.  I love the story of a friend that was adopted, and her adopted grandfather left her an inheritance when he died, just like all of the other children.  It wasn’t about the money, but that she was responsible as an heir to continue a good name, and was, indeed, family in every way possible, no matter what the blood work says.  I hope every child is accepted into an entire family in this way, but I know we live in a twisted, sinful world.  The greatest part about our adoption into God’s family, is that we are His HEIRS.  Ephesians says that through Him we are redeemed with “the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us.”  I could go on using the next verses as well, but for now, we see that we have inherited His grace.  The most unbelievable thing is that we get access to that grace, even before we get to our heavenly home. 

Chosen + Adopted + Heirs = Re{claimed

Reclaimed is defined as ‘to rescue from an undesirable state.’ It also means to ‘regain possession of.’  The unique part of God’s adoption, is that we are coming back to Him.  We believe that we were created by Him (Genesis 1-2 and Psalm 139), but chose to sin, setting us apart from Him.  Even though we ran from Him, He invites us to return, and accept all His riches in grace, love, and eternal life, if we chose to.

Have you thought about how we are all adopted before?  God uses the amazing picture of earthly adoption in families to paint His masterpiece of love, grace, and acceptance.  That is why we are all called to be involved in some way.  That is why Katie, myself, and our newest team member, Jenny, feel called to help. 
“Many hands make light work,” right? 
And a few dollars add up to many more dollars…
Maybe you haven’t given to this cause because you can only give a little.
Maybe you haven’t given to this cause because you didn’t know anyone that was adopting.
And maybe you haven’t adopted, because the mountain of finances seemed insurmountable.

Our goal is to erase all the excuses, for ourselves and for others.  Our purpose statement is this:
Helping to bridge the financial gap between adoptive children &
their families by engaging the body of Christ.

Have you thought about engaging your church, your family, or friends by supporting adoption and orphans in some way?  Maybe it is by becoming informed.  We are always baffled by how little the general public understands about adoption.  Is it creating a special church fund?  Is it hosting a fundraiser for a specific family?  

Hopefully, through our blog and fundraising events, we will educate you more on adoption.  In the meantime, pray for God to show you how He would like to use you in regards to “caring for orphans & widows”. 

May God lavish His grace upon YOU today as you revel in the gift He has given us.

Have a great day!

~ Kelly

p.s.  the little squiggle thing in our logo looked like a little hug to us!  LOL  So we thought of  the prodigal son returning to his father’s embrace and it seemed a fitting addition to the word Re{claimed.