22 minutes


Every 22 minutes a child in the UK enters the care system, most of them need a foster home.

On any one day 59 000 children are in foster homes.

There’s a continual need for more foster carers as more children are in the care system than ever before and 14% of foster carers retire or give up fostering each year. Fostering is one of the hardest but most rewarding things you can do. It isn’t for everyone – the children that come into foster care have often come from hard places – they may well have suffered neglect or abuse, they may have all sorts of additional needs. If you want to make a difference in someone’s life – not just by sending money but by giving yourself. Fostering is a life changing experience.

Fostering will change you and your family. Yesterday I’d had a long day at work and yet when I got home I got the joy of teaching a little boy how to ride a bike with stabilisers for the first time – he kept shouting out “awesome” and punching the air – just a few weeks ago when he came to us – he was withdrawn and tearful a lot of the time – to see this little boy start to become all he can be is one of the reasons I became a foster parent.

Fostering Fortnight begins soon – check out this website to find out if you are the kind of person that should apply.



We need your help.

I believe that the church is uniquely placed to help with the need for more foster parents and to be a place of support and welcome to foster families. We are starting a consultation process so we want to hear from anyone interested in fostering and adoption –

1 Current and prospective foster carers – to understand your hopes, fears and experiences

2 Church and denominational leaders perspective – to understand how we can begin to change the culture in churches around fostering and adoption

3 Social work professionals – to get a grip on best practice

Your engagement will shape this project at every level. All of our plans are open so getting involved now at this early stage will really help us. There will be 6 regional consultations in Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Belfast, London and Glasgow – please check on the link below for more details.

Its high time that the church became known again for being good news to our culture and what better way than to offer hospitality, hope and help to some of the most vulnerable children and their families.

Please get in touch by registering your interest at our website here.

Photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)

Social Media and Changing the World

Photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)

Here’s a 4 mins and 30 seconds long talk I was asked to give at the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town two years ago. It is interesting to reflect that this was the only talk given about social media at the whole 10 day long conference. A lot has changed since this talk was given. Take a look at the talk and then let me know what you would have said given 4 minutes to talk about this subject to an international audience.



Orphan Summit Day 2

Final morning session kicks off at Saddleback church – here’s a live blog.

The biggest predictor of homelessness in the USA is a young person who “ages out” of the foster system without family.

Now Family radio takes over the stage and we do a live recording that will be broadcast later:

Listening to Che A female FBI Analyst speaks at the Orphan Summit who entered the foster care system during he senior year of high school after her dad became an alcoholic and become abusive. She found friends who had workaholic parents and who didn’t notice that they had an extra house guest for a week or so. In the end the church took care of her and found her a way out of the abusive / nomadic system.

Foster kids don’t ask for help – you just need to see it and do it.

Che’s church decided to get involved with her life and got stuck into social services to work out how they could help. Che’s 7th grade Sunday school teacher stepped up and became her foster carer. When Che was getting married – there was no one to giver her away. So when the pastor asked “who is it that gives this woman away” Che’s entire church stood up and said “We do.”

Now hearing from another lady who was taken into care aged 12. But her Christian foster family let her down. They continually pointed her out as her foster daughter – she would be introduced not by her first name but as their foster daughter. They would

At 16 she was up for adoption – lots of people were really negative to her “why would anyone want you? Wouldn’t it be better to ‘age out’ of the foster system and you will have more financial assistance for college.” But she really wanted a forever family. She created a life book and her caseworker told her that a family were so impressed with your book that they made you a family book. When she opened the front page of the book it was her Department of Children Services manager and his family. She was 17 at the time and the family really wrapped around me and from the beginning she felt like she had come home.

Both women are asked to imagine that their foster mum or their adoptive father was there and to express what they mean to them. The women look nervous about this, and then the interviewer announces that they have a surprise for them and the foster mum and the adoptive dad – walk on to the stage. Its a very moving moment and both girls break down “We are professionals we never cry” they say. Che says to her

I feel loved because you loved me.


Dr Sharon Ford – State of Colarado Chldren Services
Susan Jacobs – special advisor for international children services – US Department of State
Honourable Inyumba Aloisea Rwandan minister of gender and family promotions
Rick Warren is chairing.

Rick explains that he was speaking 4 years ago at the Davos economic summit.

There are three sectors – public, private and faith sector.
The three legs of the stool bring stability – each of the sectors are needed.
Just like in a football game – you sometimes need to take out a big player by a team tackle.

The Orphan crisis is so big we need to team tackle it.

500 000 orphans were scattered across Rwanda after the 100 days that saw 1000 000 people massacred.
Immediately in 1994 there were 104 orphanages started and then a national education and recruitment process
They have no closed 70 orphanages because the children are adopted by many many Christians from the churches. People came and asked to the ministry and asked for a child – and they didn’t ask if the child was hutu to tutsi they just wanted a child.
There are 34 orphanages still running – but we want to encourage domestic adoption. There are now roughly 3000 orphans left (from 500 000).

Rick explains that he serves on the president of rwanda’s advisory panel and that Rwanda wants to be the first country in the world where there are no orphans and no orphanages.


Now ambassador jacobs-

Esther was adopted by Mordecai – kinship care
Moses was adopted – don’t think things worked out as his foster care – an abandonment
Hannah – handed her son Samuel over to a relinquishment

The state department completely support transnational adoption. We think the hague convention is the only way to guarantee an ethical transnational adoption. It provides a legal framework for transnational adoption. When the hague adoption is not used there are fears of kidnapped or trafficked and often the child is not legally available for adoption. See the following website.


Now Dr Sharon Ford from Colarado explains that at the age of 10 – 12 a child can consent to their own adoption – it varies across the US. A fragile young person they might say No. We need to ask them the right question
“who are the people in your life that you are really connected to”
“who do you want to be with you when you buy a car?”
“who do you want to stand with you when you get married?”
“who do you want to be there when you graduate from college?”

A lot of our older foster children in the US are not in family foster placement because there are not enough
It is families responsibility to raise children not the state.
Justice for kids who need to be kept safe – we need enough family foster homes for to keep them safe.
This lady is on fire – its so exciting to see such a senior so fired up for the children in her care.

Ambasador says “the government needs the help of faith based organisations to help children all around the world
Sec Hilary Clinton says “every child deserves a champion” if they can’t find a champion in his or her family

The number of one determinative factor if a child succeeds in life they need the involvement of a caring adult -it does not need to be a parent.

Kids want to be connected not with another kid in a gang – they want to be connected to an adult. Will you come?
Dr Susan Jacobs is amazing – she preachers fine sermon calling everyone to action.

That was an amazing session – a real model for conferences everywhere.


Now Kay Warren is on she is electric.

She asks a simple question “If I were to die who would I want to take care of my children?”
the answer is not an orphanage – I would want t a family for them. If I want a family for my children why should I want anything less for the orphans of the world.

Saddleback aimed to have 1000 families adopt – 500 domestically and 500 transnationally.
We are over

We all need children in our life – they keep you young, growing and humble. Children need you in their life.

8 reasons why you cannot solve any global problem

the first time you use it say “Rick Warren says”
the second time you use it say “it’s been said”
the third time you say it “i have always thought”

1. We have the largest participation

2. we have the widest distribution

3. we have the longest continuation

4. the church has the fastest expansion

5. we have the highest motivation

6. we have the strongest authorization

7. we have the simplest administration

8. we have the greatest conclusion




Orphan Summit Day 1 Evening Plenary

This was my liveblogging from the evening plenary session.

We heard a very moving story from a couple from Irvine California who were part of the Safe Families initiative which aims at a preventative measure to help struggling familes avoid having their children taken into the care system. The wife explained how the mother had been given up on by everyone in her life even her church and so the wife decided she was going to believe in her. It was a really helpful insight into this project that provides another tool for churches to get alongside at risk families not just at risk children.

We then a heard a powerful story from Pastor Emanuel Jones from Liberia and the famine he experienced during the Liberian war. In the middle of the war and living his whole life without a father – from the first time he heard the gospel with clarity – he came to understand that he didn’t have an earthly father but he had a heavenly father. He explained how he became part of a UN initiative called Guns for Bibles aimed at Liberias child soldiers– “Drop your gun and Pick up a Bible” the project saw somewhere in the reason of 10 000 child soldiers disarmed. (Apparently there is quite an ambivalence towards the UN from many at the summit so this is a very helpful story). Pastor Emanuel explains that he understands that the difficult things that happened to him as a young man were so that he could help the many foster children that now call him father. The Pastor receives a standing ovation from the entire room.

Francis Chan is now on stage. Will try and capture the thrust of this talk – I won’t type fast enough to catch everything…)

We must start with thanking God for our salvation so that we don’t get arrogant. 1 John 3:16
We must avoid being quick to do and slow to thank (long pause) we have always got to thank God for the cross.
Think about all the things you did after you became a believer that were so offensive to God.
I think back to 25 years ago and i was so full of hypocrisy and sin – its a joke that I should be on stage.
It wasn’t that I was sinful and then I became a christian – I was in leadership and I still sinned against him.
Thanksgiving is the key to avoiding arrogance.
This has to be about Jesus – he is the one that has to get the glory.

The gospel centred church or the social gospel centred church – it should all be joined up.
Adoption is a physical manifestation of the gospel that we preach.

I thank God from the moment i wake up till the moment I go to bed for saving me.
I naturally lay down my life for my brothers as a result of this.
How much do you actually pray for God to ignite the hearts of people for adoption?
My daughter has released an album now and we tour around together – its a dream come true – She plays and I preach.
We prayed for her – so that the Holy Spirit comes into her life without his work we will just manage behaviour.
I told my daughter “I have never seen the Holy Spirit in your life and that scares me because if you died today I think you will go to hell.”
I balled my eyes out all night that she would know God.
I said God you have used me to bring hundreds of people to know you all around the world – but I can’t do anything in my own home.
But then she told me one day “Dad you were right the Holy Spirit was not in me – but he is now”
How much time do you spend praying for this?

(struggling with this in lots of ways-
lots of guilt being heaped on the audience:
-you are not praying enough
-you are not thanking God enough
lots of dropping in of all the things that Chan has done – I pray all night, i told my daughter, i see people won for christ all around the world… )

(note to self – must check myself when i preach that I don’t fall into this in my preaching)

Chan quotes James 1:27 (must be 10th time today from the stage… )

He’s now telling a story about a couple in their 60s who have adopted 11 foster children: Irene and Domingo and the wonderful things they are doing.
(great focus is on other people now)

Chan tells us he is 44.

We must be careful to force unregenerate people to love other people. It seems impossible that anyone would not want to adopt or foster – it seems so straight forward… But we have the Holy Spirit in our lives – we keep thinking all the time of ways in which we can help other people ( man I don’t know anyone that does that all thee time- perhaps everyone is unregenerate then?)

We now say a closing prayer.

Speaking with a friend after the talk – he found it a confusing talk – it sounded like Chan was saying anyone regenerate would adopt… but I don’t know if Chan has adopted – it was a confusing message… which was a shame because it has been a great day – lots and lots of food for thought and hundreds of ideas to take away for the UK.


Transnational Adoption vs Empowering Local Adopters

There is a real culture of adoption in the USA. In one seminar I sat in at the Summit at Saddleback church I was really moved to hear stories of lots and lots of families that have adopted children from Ethiopia, China and Russia. There is something powerful about seeing multicultural families – to visibly see mixed race families just walking around together here at the event – to see their pictures on websites is moving. It shouts something of the grace of God – that here is a family held together by grace. That because of the love of God race, class and ethnicity are not barriers for family.

RT @JointCouncil: Fun fact from #SUMMIT8 1 out of every 10 Korean Americans is a Korean adoptee.//Wow, wouldn’t have guessed that
04/05/2012 01:52


I was in a seminar this afternoon and Ruslan Maliuta from Ukraine made a public thank you to the American families that had adopted children from Ukraine. He explained how the example of these American families had challenged Ukranian families to adopt Ukranian children. He was so gracious and genuine in his thanks – but the implication in what he was saying is that it would be better for Ukranians to adopt Ukranian children. That makes sense to me too.

American brother and sisters “trust that the local church leaders know their context better than you” Eric Munyemana (rwanda) #summit8
03/05/2012 21:41

Erik Munyemana from Rwanda also graciously thanked the delegates for their partnership in orphan care but also noted that Rwandans can be partners in orphan care alongside their American brothers and sisters. He also was asking for support for Rwandan adoptive parents for Rwandan children.

There seems to be a bit of an “elephant in the room” here as to how to work through the different approaches.

I wonder if it is a mixed economy that is needed.

In the UK we have recently reopened the debate about mixed race adoption – from my conversations with health professionals, a child psychologist and social workers. There does seem to be good reason to encourage where possible same race adoption. It helps with issues of identity, not always feeling like you have to explain your family situation every time you walk in to a shop or a park. But race is one of a series of factors that make a good placement – it is not the trump card – that outweighs all other factors. if you had to chose between a child waiting indefinitely for adoption or placing a child into a mixed race setting – you would I believe certainly place a child into the mixed race placement (I argued as much on BBC News 24). Is it the same with transnational adoption – a Ukranian family may be the best for some of the adoptive children – but that does not trump all other factors for the children in question?

Anyway it would be great to have the conversations here at some point. I am no expert – just a parent in mixed race marriage with mixed race adoptive daughter who is keen to work these issues through

What do you think?


Do not invest in orphanages invest in families – Ukranian adoption expert Ruslan Maliuta #summit8
03/05/2012 21:39
Orphan Sunday-1

Why don’t we like the term Orphans in the UK?

A huge part of the Orphan Summit’s work relates to the “Global Orphan Crisis.” I know that UK readers might have a slight hesitation (ok some of us might have a major hesitation) with the term orphan. I am trying to work out why we don’t like orphan so much.

1. Is it that it sounds Dickensian – a kind of paternalistic Oliver Twist type image comes up in our minds?

2. Is is that it is not a technical term in the care system in the UK – we talk more about at risk children or children in care?

3. Is it that it sounds like the children are completely bereaved at bereft of family members – when actually many of the children needing adoptive parents or foster placements may actually have living parents who are just not able or not willing to care for them?

Would love your input on that – there feels no way we can use the word Orphan in the UK for the kind of work we are seeking to do. But nevertheless it is a strongly biblical word – 40 times in the scriptures if I am not mistaken.

So help friends – why don’t we like the term orphan ?



Summit VIII

Orphan Summit VIII day 1

So here I am at the Orphan Summit hosted by Saddleback Church, Lake Forest – Southern California. What follows is my live blog of the morning plenary session. I unintentionally kicked off a bit of twitter storm through tweeting from the conference something that one of the speaker said. I have put my instant reactions in brackets – the rest are either quotations or summaries from the platform speakers.

So the orphan summit kicks off in earnest today, yesterday was the presummit intensives link here.
We are in the main auditorium of saddleback church, it’s a 3400 seater venue.

Jedd Medifind who directs the Christian Alliance for orphans which connects over 100 agencies that work in “orphan care” kicks us off with a welcome.

“Justice and mercy flow from the gospel” is our catchphrase for the morning.

“The deepest needs of a child are not met on a macro scale but through the love and touch of a family supported by the local church”.

Now Rick Warren takes to the stage.

“163 million orphans in the world, 113 000 in the USA.

If one church in four got one family to adopt an “orphan” there would be no more orphans. ( I am not sure this is true – because sadly even we managed to adopt all of the children needing adoption at the moment – our societies are still generating more children that need adopting so it will be an ongoing concern)

We lack the willingness for us to work together

James 1:19ff is quoted

Pastor George Ndhawa from Kenya represents the global church by leading us in prayer – (great to have a globalrepresentative so many of ourconferences don’t bother with this at all)
Geoff Moore is the host for the morning session – apparently he is a famous musician.
(Spookily he has the same glasses as rick warren – must be a dress code I didn’t know about :0) )

Now Dr Pastor Crawford Loritts from Fellowship Bible Church is speaking. Loritts is an adoptive Dad.

“The family is a visible representation of what it means to be connected with God.”
“The family exists to steward God’s purposes from he generation to the next.”
“The family is a gospel unit – it is created to make clear what the gospel is all about.” (This was what I tweeted that lead to a bit of a reaction – will blog more on this later perhaps)

“The only thing that will sustain the passion for including those who are alienated is clarity on the gospel.
I don’t have a me and Jesus relationship with God – but justice in the bible has to do with:

1 advocacy
2 hope
3 witness
4 restoration”

(There are a lot of one liners here – Crawford – you can see the twitter stream later – there are ripples of applause and a little cheer when Crawford explains that he adopted because he felt he needed to do something about the abortion issue.)

Crawford uses Isaiah 58 as his base passage…

– justice has to do with addiction – the yoke of oppression (not sure that works personally)
– justice had to with oppression – people being sinned against
– I don’t believe any believer has the right to criticise government until they have got involved in justice then we can speak with integrity on a platform of what we have actually done.

We are called to be 1. Bondage breakers 2. burden bearers…

God says if you stop posturing and acting all religious then you will be the standard, you will take back the moral authority from the government , you won’t be viewed as those people who are answering questions no one is asking…
You become a model for mercy, justice, compassion and wholeness.
We establish credibility – your righteousness will go before you
Then people will say of us…
“you want to find people that love you, that really care about you, that give you what you really need… That’s what the church is all about”

Now listening to Ryan Bomberger his white mother was raped by an African American and his mother chose to keep the baby and he was them adopted. he is a prolife activist but also an emmy winning Artist. He lived as a mixed race child in a predominantly white area of America- Lancaster county. His mother’s father was a racist and broke relationship with his mother over the adoption.

There is a clear tie now in this conference between being pro-life and pro-adoption.

This is a helpful challenge in this US context to the prolife lobby that they need to step up to offer adoption. Ryan is a champion for birth mothers too. he challenges the judgementalism towards teenage mums – we forget the fact that we have been redeemed from sin and so we can’t be judgemental. We need to come alongside the young single mums that make the Tough choices in this area.

He runs a couple of websites – they have a great look and feel however you feel about the issue. Sally’s Lambs is about supporting birth mums.
He also runs the radiance foundation.

I must admit I have kept out of the abortion debate to focus on adoption – but definitely impressed by the grace and practical challenge towards mercy that Ryan offers.

Photo by Chiceaux Lynch/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Theology Boot Camp


Photo by Chiceaux Lynch/Flickr (Creative Commons)

OK for the afternoon am spending time at with Dan Cruver from Together for Adoption. Its a movement for adoption that has a strong theological emphasis. Their book Reclaiming Adoption which features the writing of John Piper.

Listened to a powerful testimony of a mum whose adopted son has recently become a Christian.

Now Jason Cornwell is up to speak on Ephesians 1. Jason is a single 35 year old with a passion for Orphan Care. (he seems nice – he might be good for my sister…)

Jason prefaces his talk by stating that the doctrine of election is a much kinder, gentler doctrine than people think and he is not raising it to be contentious but to reveal the fatherhood of God.



3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemptionthrough his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he[d] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment —to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.


Adoption and the Trinity

Father v.3-6
Son v.7-12
Spirit v. 13-14

Jason unpacks the way in which God has planned our adoption since before the creation of the world.
God predestined us to the adoption as sons so that we might be holy and blameless.
God uses adoption so that we look like one of God’s children.
We get a little of the Piper vs NT Wright debate – (I think that Kevin Vanhoozer gives us a helpful third way that could really help).
Justification – legal / forensic term.
Sanctification – renovative
Adoption is both – we are adopted from slaves (not orphans) to sons.
Jason is passionate about the centrality of adoption as a metaphor to describe God’s plan for humanity.
Stephen Suderbaker “God’s glory in creation consists of communicating the eternal glory of God to creation”

God’s plan of adoption is that we enjoy forever and participate in the love of father, God and Spirit.

How do I get people mobilised for adoption, to combat human trafficking, orphan care etc? get them to buy into what God is doing adoption.

Got to chat a little bit with Dan Cruver raising concerns about the approach that some “adoption theologians” have taken in that adoption into God’s family means obliterating the past / cultural heritage – Dan seemed to agree with me that this is very unhelpful and due to an oversimplification and overspiritualisation of adoption. These guys are reformed but take a very different line on social transformation to someone like Mark Dever. We had a good chat about the way that the problem has been a false dichotomy in ecclesiology. We are not going to agree on everything but I like these guys a lot.

Dan Cruver is up:

He is tracing the “Abba father” texts:

Romans 9:4 – redemption unto adoption

Ephesians 1:3-6 – redemption unto adoption

Galatians 4:4-6 –

Romans 8:8- adoption unto redemption

“redemptive history is adoptive history” David Garner

Dan shares his work with Haitian churches and his support for the way that Haitian churches facilitated Haitian families to adopt some of the children orphaned in the earthquake.








Questions that every adoptive family needs to think through:

image from Think Out Loud (CC)

Here are 10 questions from seminar leader Michael Monroe.

1. Are you willing to acknowledge and fully embrace your child’s history, including that which you know and that which you will likely never know?

2. Are you willing to accept that your child has been affected by his/her history, possibly in profound ways, and as a result that you will need to parent your child in a way that exhibits true compassion and promotes connection and healing?

3. Are you willing to parent differently than how you were parented, how you have parented in the past, or how your friends parent their children?

4. Are you willing to educate yourself, your parents, family and friends on an ongoing basis in order to promote understanding of your child’s needs and how best to meet those needs?

5. Are you willing to be misunderstood, criticized and even judged by others who do not understand your child’s history, the impacts of that history and how you have been called to love and connect with your child in order to help him/her heal and become all that God intends?

6. Are you prepared to advocate for your child’s needs, including at school, church, in extracurricular settings and otherwise, in order to create predictability and promote environments that enable your child to feel safe and allow him/her to succeed?

7. Are you willing to sacrifice your own convenience, expectations and desires in order to connect with your child and help him/her heal, even if that process is measured in years, not months?

8. Are you willing to fully embrace your child’s holistic needs, including his/her physical, emotional, relational and spiritual needs?

9. Are you willing to seek ongoing support and maintain long-term connections with others who understand your journey and the challenges that you face? Are you willing to intentionally seek and accept help when you encounter challenges with your child that you are not equipped to adequately deal with?

10. Are you willing to acknowledge that you as a parent bring a great deal to the equation when it comes to how your child will attach and connect? Are you willing to honestly examine (on an ongoing basis) your motivations and expectations relating to your adoption journey?

There are some very helpful resources here:


From Empowered to Connect

Tapestry | A Ministry of Irving Bible Church

Adoption and Foster Care Ministry

I am in a seminar called “Developing an Adoption and Foster Care Ministry that prepares and equips families for the Journey” lead by Michael and Amy Monroe from Irving Bible Church www.tapestryministry.org

It was inspiring to hear the number of people in the seminar that have adopted sibling groups – for some reason lots of them have adopted from Ethiopia. Having adopted they are not catalysts for an adoption ministry in their wider churches. Most of the people here come from churches over 3000 people in it. But everyone here is a volunteer trying to get their churches on board for adoption ministry.


Tapestry has a three fold ministry:

– Connect
– Encourage
– Equip

Online Help – articles and resources online at http://tapestryministry.org/
Kids Closet – clothes and resources for families that foster and adopt.
Mentoring – new adoptive and foster parents
Crisis Support – being available when things go wrong
Discussion Groups – eg groups for parents waiting for adopted children to be placed.

Key messages

  1. It will not be easy
  2. It will be worth it
  3. Don’t do it alone

Tapestry is serving the wider adoption and fostering community – not just Christians. In their promotional video (see above) there is a moving story of a non-christian adoptive mum who was helped by Tapestry’s ministry and came to faith as a result. It’s an interesting model of providing on going support to the wider adoptive community ; doing it from a Christian perspective but not restricting those that receive it. Tapestry is willing to serve anyone who is doing or is keen to foster or adopt – both married, single, christian or non-Christian.

“When you do this well the state will see that the church is uniquely positioned”
Michael Monroe

Tapestry runs a parenting course for adopted and foster parents but it is increasingly being attended by parents in general.

In a recent survey 500 Christian parents said they were more likely to go to the bookstore to get support and help with fostering and adoption than they are to go for help to their pastor.