Category Archives: adoption

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Home for Good Liverpool

I have spent a lot of time up in Liverpool recently. It’s been great to see Home for Good Liverpool taking off up there thanks to the support of Frontline Church, Bridge Chapel and Liverpool Lighthouse.  Helenor and Phil Watson and Si and June Valentine are local heroes doing a brilliant job pulling things together. They have some big meetings coming up so please pray for their work across the city. The aim is to help find all the foster carers and adoptive carers that the city needs so that every vulnerable child finds a permanent and loving home.

More and more of these Home for Good city and town hubs are picking up thanks to the inspirational work of Home for Good Southampton which saw unprecedented numbers of families from churches stepping forward for fostering. Since the Southampton example we have seen things  begin to develop in Reading, Leamington , Doncaster, Leeds, Bristol, Bath and many more towns across England. We’d love to see more so let us know if a city or town wide initiative where the church takes the lead in finding homes for vulnerable children through fostering and adoption is something you can help us get going where you are.

Today I spent the day filming for the Home for Good Father’s Day initiative. I got to meet some amazing people from the city including Mark and Erica Hedley a very inspirational couple. I will give you more details closer the time. But it was great to be able to coincide the visit with the Hillsborough Memorial Football game and to do some photography at Anfield. Huge thanks to Mark and Sue Wright and Liverpool Football club for making that possible. I was with Rob Purbrick a fantastic photographer and film maker who gave up his bank holiday to help spread the word about the need for vulnerable children to find foster and adoptive homes.

I will give you further news of the Father’s Day material as soon as I can, but you might want to reserve a 5 minute slot in your church service so that we can help find Foster Father’s for the children in care in your town. Thank to everyone for their help !

Michael Owen

still a class act, Michael Owen was in good form today

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recognise anyone here?

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sooo excited I forgot to open my eyes

 

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All out at All Souls

Just on my way home from a lovely evening with All Souls Church, Langham Place.  It was a very moving evening with testimonies from a young man who was adopted aged 8 now working at All Souls Church, an adoption social worker who works for a London borough and a High Court Judge who is often making difficult choices about whether to remove children from at risk families or not.  Mark Meynell was in fine form preaching up a storm on God’s heart for the vulnerable and God’s heart for adoption. I had the opportunity to call for a practical response to the pressing need for more adoptors and foster carers.

It was no accident that we were doing this on Mother’s Day as churches across the UK used our Mother’s Day material to help spread a vision for finding homes for the vulnerable children in our towns and cities.

In the time after the service I met two people who had grown up as orphans – one abandoned by his family in a Romanian orphanage another older lady who spent the first part of her life on the streets of Columbia learning how to fight for survival. Both told me about how the church had become a family to them and now both want to help make a difference for vulnerable young people.

 

view from the pulpit at All Souls

view from the pulpit at All Souls

As a student All Souls Langham Place was a place that loomed large in my imagination. The Rev Dr John Stott was the rector there and was churning out a whole of string of books that formed my understanding of what it means to be a Christian. His books Issues facing Christians Today, The Cross of Christ, The Bible Speaks Today on 2 Timothy, Romans and Acts was the incubator for my understanding of biblical theological, biblical exegesis and how to develop a generous confidence in the gospel. So what an honour it was to be speaking at John Stott’s home church. Stott represented to me the centre ground of evanglelicalism. He was confident about the core of the gospel and yet remained gracious and hospitable in the way that he related those he disagreed with. It seemed like a fitting place to be revealing that Home for Good is soon to become it’s own charity. Birthed from the Evangelical Alliance we look to help the church live out the gospel with respect to the vulnerable children in our communities. Home for Good aims to unite evangelicals from across the different streams: we have had the privilege to be given stage time at:

Acts 29 European leaders event,
Pioneer leaders conference,
New Testament Church of God of Prophecy Midlands conference
Praise Chapel

We are also going to be at both Spring Harvest and Word Alive because we recognise that wherever you are from the evangelical world “caring for widows and orphans” is part of the church’s DNA. We recognise it is going to take the whole church pulling together to meet the need across the UK. That if we the church step up to the challenge to find foster and adoptive homes for everyone that needs it we make a huge difference in the lives of children from difficult backgrounds but we will also give the nation a mini parable of the adopting love of God.

We’d love your prayer and support as we enter this exciting new stage.  Please drop me a message below so we can keep you informed on how things are going at this exciting time for the UK church.

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We wanted to help someone…

Claire is a fighter. She doesn’t give up easily and its a good thing too. Claire is definitely someone you want on your side when the going gets tough.  I have seen Claire in action – its because of her tenacity  championing the needs of children in care that Care for the Family got excited about Home for Good.

Claire’s adoption story is  a powerful one, it should come with a health warning. Claire and her husband Alan, already had three birth children when they felt lead to adopt a child with additional needs. Watch it if you want to be inspired and challenged, skip it if you like playing things safely.

 

Claire’s story – Mother’s Day 2014 from Evangelical Alliance on Vimeo.

Help us make the most of Mother’s Day this year by putting the need for 6000 children who are waiting for adoption in front of the UK church. Watch this video then share it as widely as you can.

Claire and Alan’s story features in the Home for Good book.

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Rachel used to avoid Mothers Day services…

Rachel and Jason have been dear friends since we were in a church together in Harrow.  Rachel told me recently that Mothers’ Day was a really difficult day for her as she and Jason had been trying for a child for some time. Rachel explained to me that  she would either not turn up at church at all that day or try to stay out of sight helping out in creche or youth ministry on that day.

With Mothers Day coming up this weekend, its important for those of us in church leadership to be careful about how we handle the pastoral implications of this day. But it is also important we put before the church the need to find adoptive mums for the 6000 waiting children in the UK. Many of these children have experienced some pretty terrible things in their lives already and to keep them waiting for a new mum seems to be adding insult to injury.  We must handle mother’s day sensitively but we cannot let the needs of the children in our towns, villages and cities go unheard.

One way you can help is to watch Rachel’s powerful story, share it as widely as you can and if possible show one of our Home for Good Mother’s Day videos in a church service or small group meeting.

This is Rachel’s first Mothers’ Day as an adoptive Mum. Lets pray for more adoptive mums like Rachel can celebrate Mothers’ Day next year with their children . With your help we can make a difference to all the #6000waiting.

 

Rachel’s story – Mother’s Day 2014 from Evangelical Alliance on Vimeo.

See also Dianne’s story.

Check out the Home for Good book, which also features Rachel and Jason’s story.
Home for Good

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Dianne’s life was going along fine until…

Its been a privilege to get to know Dianne Louise Jordan over the last couple of years. We bumped into eachother when I was talking about the season of Advent on Songs of Praise (my one and only foray on SoP). Dianne was presenting and shared some of her story with me and she has been a wonderful advocate for Home for Good ever since.

Dianne was kind enough to share her powerful story for us to help inspire women single, married, with kids already or with no children to think about stepping forward to adopt.

For more information drop me a line or go to the Home for Good website. 

Watch this video, share it and think about showing it or one of the three other mother’s day videos in your church or community on Mothers Day.

Dianne’s life was going along fine, she was an in demand actress and then something terrible happened… watch the video to see what happened next.

One in eight hundred

World Downs Syndrome Day

There is a hidden genocide going on. A friend of mine told me she went in for a routine pregnancy check up a couple of months ago and was told by her midwife that she should have the amniocentesis because she would “of course want to abort” if it was her foetus was found to have Down Syndrome. My friend was shocked by this response.

I read recently in the Guardian that in Denmark “95% of all Danish parents to be, decide to have an abortion if they find out that they are about to carry out a baby with Trisomy 21″ the indicator for Downs.  Now I am sure no one makes these kinds of decisions easily, and I am not seeking to bring guilt or shame but I do want to help prospective parents to see things differently.

As a family we had the joy of caring for a little girl with Downs Syndrome for three and a half years as foster parents until she was adopted. We still miss the pleasure of her company, her gentle grace and infectious laughter. Her picture is on our mantle piece and we think about her often.

I encourage you to share this short film as widely as you can. It may change the way we see children with Downs Syndrome. It may help end a genocide.

Photo source.
T
hanks to @lizzshaw01 for flagging up this video to me.

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Mums for Good and Forever

I have been having mixed feelings about Mothers Day for a number of years now. Don’t get me wrong, I think mothers are amazing and a day to celebrate their role and calling is more than appropriate. I want to shout to the world about my wonderful wife’s amazing ministry as a birth mum, adoptive mum and foster mum. Not to mention my own mother’s care for me and the Christlikeness I see in  so many of the mums I know.

But Mother’s Day has  always been a bit of minefield for church leaders as we try and navigate the pastoral complexities of Mothering Sunday service. The daffodils we hand out to mums and indeed all the women in the church can be a lovely moment but it can also feel like a consolation prize for some women who for whatever reason have not had children.  Also as someone who has lost their Mum the day  is a poigniant reminder of the massive hole in my life I still feel so I can understand a little of those that are wrestling with nursing elderly mothers or caring for sick relatives. With all of these pastoral challenges you might wonder why we are trying to encourage the church to make MORE of Mother’s Day.

This Mother’s Day we are calling the church to look at things in a different way. We want to help the church both celebrate motherhood but also look at the fact that there are 6000 children in the UK that need a new Mum (and /  or Dad).  These children have been removed from their birth parents and are waiting in foster care to be adopted.  Ofcourse when we put this need in front of our churches we need to be careful to speak well of those that have relinquished children and to be sensitive those in our churches that have experienced this difficult experience. But we still need to call the church to play its part in taking responsibility for the children that are in need of adoptive mums. Once an adoptive child comes into the church family the rest of us have an important role as  spiritual aunts and uncles to these children – a far from insignificant role.

We have produced some really good mother’s day resources and want to encourage you to make the most of them.

Take a look at the following video, share it and encourage your church leaders to show it on Mother’s Day.
Lets make the most of Mother’s Day this year.

 

 

little girl and father in rural landscape

one in eight hundred

I found the picture gallery in today’s guardian very moving. It was entitled one in eight hundred because those were the odds that a Danish couple were given for having a child with Down’s Syndrome.

I have linked to the photos from the Guardian site - as produced by Mario Wezel.

Why was I moved?

I miss our foster daughter, a little girl that we looked after for three and a half years who had Downs Syndrome and these pictures remind me of her. She literally shared joy with everyone that she came across. When she left us 80 people turned up to say goodbye to us – nearly all of us were in tears.

But I was struck by the photographer’s comments.

In Denmark, the more effective prenatal screening becomes, the fewer children are born with Down’s syndrome, as couples make the painful decision to terminate a pregnancy. In 2012, there were only 20 Down’s syndrome births in Denmark…
More than 95% of all Danish parents to be, decide to have an abortion if they find out that they are about to carry out a baby with Trisomy 21′These photos show the amount of love that Emmy; the five year old little girl pictured have for her. Mario, the photographer documents how hard it was for Emmy’s parents to get her accepted into mainstream school and he argues that we live in an inclusive society yet still children with Down’s are deemed unacceptable. 

I read not long ago, in the Guardian a comment is free piece by Sarah Ditum on why sex selective abortion; which is seeing more girl babies aborted than male ones, is not sexism as it is simply a woman exercising her rights over her body. So I guess by that same argument the termination of children with Down’s is the same right be exercised. But these photographs and the love that these parents are showing tell another story. To me they say

that every child’s life is valuable,
that race, gender and ability are not to be the basis by which a life is counted valuable.
that the termination of a life due to any of these factors is the greatest kind of intolerance.

I hesitate to write about the subject of abortion as we the people of faith have done and said some pretty horrible things on this subject. I do understand that difficult choices have been made and are being made. Yes I am trying to do my best to make adoption a viable option for those who feel unable to care for a child with additional needs. Yes it is important that our communities need to think harder about how to practically support those that care for children with additional needs.  But I can’t help but think of the little girl we had the privilege to care for for three years knowing that 95% of parents ( in Denmark at least) would have had her aborted. Take a look at these photos and ask as the photographer himself does, whether the right choices are being made.

 

 

Finding Mum and Dad at an Adoption Party?

Well done to Channel 4 for producing a moving and compelling documentary about children in foster care and the need for adoptors.

6000 children in England are waiting in foster care for a forever family – an adoptive family so this is an important and urgent issue.

“I wouldn’t chose to buy a sofa online from DFS without going to sit on it first”
Project Co-ordinator Bridget Betts

It was unfortunate that this was the metaphor that was used to rationalise the Adoption Activity Day, because it seemed to encourage the consumer model of selection even when it comes down to choosing children. This is already often the case – adopters are encouraged to pick a child that suits them rather than considering whether they are the kind of family that these so-called “hard to place” children need. Indeed this wasn’’t the only time such a metaphor was used:

“To put it crudely it’s a buyers market”
Project Co-rdinator Bridget Betts

Sadly as we live in a consumer society it is not surprising that we see this affecting the way adoption is approached. There is often almost a shopping list approach where adopters come with pre-discussed ideas as to the gender, age, looks, or needs of any child they would consider.

I can relate to the foster carer Katy (who came across as a brilliant carer who obviously loved the children in her care and would fight for their needs) who said she felt like she was “trying to sell an unwanted product”. In her case she had two brothers who at age 4 and 6, were outside the criteria of many potential adopters.

Sibling separation (one of the proposed paths forward for Katy’s foster sons as it enhanced the possibilities of the younger child finding a home) is a painful reality for many children. Perhaps younger children are chosen because they are perceived to come with less baggage or needs, or because they are ‘cuter’, or because agencies are actively recruiting adopters who want to ‘start’ a family. Whatever the reason it is hard to extract this consumer approach out of the equation.

In fact, adoption activity days have the potential to turn this consumerism on its head. Meeting and interacting with individual children and sibling groups can and often does have the effect of putting the paper profiles into perspective. The normal process for being matched with a child sometimes involves adopters making a decision based on a photograph and a couple of paragraphs describing the child’s background and needs. It is hard not to focus on the “problems” presented with each child. Once adopters encounter a child’s personality however, it reduces the importance of whether a child has a heart defect or possible learning difficulties. So an adoption activity day increases the opportunity for a child to be connected with as a person rather than as a set of facts or figures on a page.

The downside of course is that some children will be looked over even at one of these activity days. The programme presented a child that had been to three activity days and not been chosen. I am nervous that there could be on going rejection issues if these children ever discover or work out that they had not been chosen.

The television programme also revealed that these events seem to put pressure on the adoptors too. One couple reported how they felt they were not choosing children but rejecting them.

These are exceptional times and this calls for extraordinary measures. I am fully supportive of BAAF and their desire to find adoptive homes for the children waiting for families. I wish that these kinds of ‘parties’ didn’t need to exist but I can see how they could play a part in finding the families these children need. 42 children adopted out of 250 is an encouraging statistic and means that these parties will now be rolled out around the country in an effort to help the waiting children find families.

The Home for Good campaign is calling the church to take a different approach to fostering and adoption. We want to follow the model God has set for our adoption. God did not look at us with a list of demands or requirements. God was moved by our need and did whatever it took to meet it and adopt us into his family. If we followed his example, we would ask how we could fit around the needs of the children, not whether the children could fit into our families. We would love to see sibling groups kept together, children with additional needs helped to thrive and meet their potential, and we believe that churches could wrap around and offer the support to adopters that would make this possible.

“Finding Mum and Dad” seemed to portray couples coming forward who weren’t able to have birth children. However Home for Good is looking wider. We are calling on all sorts of people to “rule themselves in” for adoption. People with and without birth children, singles, empty-nesters – all sorts of families could find room to welcome some of these children.

The programme also showed predominantly white children and white adopters. I understand in London around 70% of children available for adoption are from black and minority ethnic groups, and many of our churches are multi-cultural and could offer homes to children from all these backgrounds.

The two boys who were the stars of the show did not have a happy ending by the conclusion. They were not picked, although it was decided not to separate them, and to keep looking for that special family. But despite the boys ages and needs and constant rejection, I can’t imagine many viewers who would not have felt that they couldn’t provide a home for these two lovely brothers. For me this was the best part of the programme. It clearly portrayed that we can fall in love with ‘hard-to-place’ children, and many of us can in fact meet their needs with a secure loving home and a spare bedroom.

Come and help us to find homes for lovely children like Connor and Daniel . Get involved as a champion, a supporter or a carer at www.homeforgood.org Sign up for regular emails and together we can make a difference for these children.

You may also like the blog post “Please don’t adopt a Snow Leopard”
 

 

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