Saturday, December 26, 2009

Drop in International Adoptions

Here is an interesting AP article about the lowest number of international adoptions since 1996. Of the three leading countries in 2008, China and Russia have slowed and Guatemala adoptions have stopped all together. Total numbers into the US have dropped from 22,990 in 2004 to only 12,573 in 2009.

There are continued efforts by UNICEf and other international children's organizations to limit international adoption. A well researched document by Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Bartholet, exposes these organizations and their agendas. There are still millions of children languishing in institutions. Adoption into a permanent family is the best solution for these orphans and we must continue to create awareness and advocate for them.

HT Jason Kovacs - ABBA Fund Blog

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Randy Alcorn adoption interview highlights ABBA Fund

I work with Jason Kovacs at ABBA Fund and he interviewed Randy Alcorn earlier this year about adoption. The latest Eternal Perspective Ministries quarterly newsletter highlights this interview. My brother Dwight just called me to see if I knew that it was in there when he received the paper newsletter this week. Jason posted earlier this week about it and I thought I would do the same. It is an excellent interview. Many thank to Jason Kovacs and Randy Alcorn!

(HT Jason Kovacs)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tony Dungy and Adoption

I was sharing with a friend about Together For Adoption this morning and came across a video of Tony Dungy that Dan Cruver had posted. I really appreciate how Tony expresses his heart and desire to adopt and how he is using the resources that God has given his family to make a life changing and eternal impact on children's lives.

Always Room for One More from Family First on Vimeo.

[HT: Dan Cruver]

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The last few weeks!

Time for an update! ABBA Fund and LegacyChild were represented at the AACC World Conference in Nashville, September 16-19 (we are planning to be at the 2010 conference in Branson, MO). Wes Culver came down from Goshen, IN to help man the booth. Wes and his wife had the vision for LegacyChild and helped ABBA Fund get the memorial funds started in 2006 in memory of their son Chad. He is a realtor and also a member of the Indiana House. It was great to spend time with him and to also meet folks from all over the world!

The next weekend I spent in Dallas and Tyler, TX. I was able to have dinner with Frank Garrot and Scott Brown from Gladney and Dr. Karyn Purvis also stopped in! Dr. Purvis wrote "The Connected Child", a great resource for all parents and for anyone working with children (that covers most everyone...) - Other great adoption and orphan care resource books that Jason Kovacs posted last week!

I was in Franklin, TN October 2-3 with ABBA Fund at the Together For Adoption Conference. I was able to meet lots of new adoption and orphan care folks and spend time with Brad Davidson, The Coleys and some of the Show Hope crowd. Dr. Russell Moore, author of Adopted For Life, closed out the conference! What a powerful message (listen here) and testimony he has!

The last few weeks have been busy at the ABBA Fund office and now the new ABBA's Family Thrift Store that we are opening in King, NC. I'm in London, on my way to Oradea, Romania as I'm typing this. I'm traveling with Gordon Finley from North Carolina. Gordon started Bethesda Ministries in 1983 and ran a school for special needs children in Winston-Salem, NC for over 25 years before retiring last year. He also started a school 10 years ago in Oradea for special needs orphans. We will visit there tomorrow and also visit other orphan care ministries and church leaders before heading home early Tuesday morning. This is my first time to Eastern Europe and I have me eyes and heart wide open to what God would have me take away from this trip.

Please check out Jason's ABBA Fund blog! He has some great posts recently - not as if that is unusual... OK, time to check the flight status. More updates soon!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Orphan Sunday and Together for Adoption

A new initiative by the Christian Alliance for Orphans and Every Orphans Hope - Orphan Sunday events are being organized all over the country on November 8th. Check out the new Orphan Sunday website to see how you can be involved!
Another great event coming up is the Together For Adoption conference at Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN October 2-3, 2009. I will be there along with Jason Kovacs and his family representing ABBA Fund and Hope For 100. I look forward to seeing many of you there!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Empowered to Connect

Michael and Amy Monroe have been great advocates for Dr. Karyn Purvis and her work. Empowered to Connect is a wonderful new online resource featuring articles, videos and audio. The Connected Child is a book that I would highly recommend for any family preparing for adoption or looking for answers. It's great that this information is being compiled and made available online!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Camp Nathanael

I spent at least one week every summer at Camp Nathanael when I was a kid. Now my kids are having a great time at Camp Nathanael! We spent last week swimming, riding horses and camp fires. I was a team leader for 29 high school teenagers. Heidi helped out with Kid's Klub for the staff kids and they had a fun week hiking, riding and making lot's of crafts! We're now in Lancaster, Ky staying at a guest house on a farm with some friends. The girls are excited about riding horses again tomorrow and we'll be heading home Tuesday.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Christian Alliance for Orphans

Summit V in Irving, Texas has come and gone. It was great to see many friends and also to make many new ones! Excited to see how the Christian Alliance For Orphans moves forward with Jedd Medefind as the Executive Director. It was great to meet him and I believe he is ready to do the job! He is passionate about adoption and engaging the church to get involved in caring for orphans.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Adoption from China in 2009

This is an interesting article that I read today from Time magazine. "
Why Americans Are Adopting Fewer Kids from China"
I believe that a lot of this is propaganda about there being fewer orphans in China and how many are being adopted domestically. It is also going to take several generations for them to begin valuing their girls. It would be great if some of this speculation could be backed up with statistics. But who would believe them? I do hope there is a cultural shift beginning to take place because it will take in-country orphan care and adoption solutions to really make a large impact in the future for the orphans in China.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ryan Hall's Boston Marathon workout

Jason Kovacs forwarded this video to me on Wednesday. I became aware of Ryan Hall and his testimony when I signed up for the Marine Corps marathon last year in D.C. and subscribed to Runner's World. Ryan was was on the cover of my first issue and his story was very inspiring. This video of his workout for the Boston Marathon is great! Marathon workout video.

It motivates me to get out there and train for the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon. I may slow the 8 mile training runs down from 38 minutes to 88 minutes. Just at first though... I'll be running with my brother-in-law Andy and his 15 year old son Drew again this year. Drew is planning to win his age group and break whatever records there may be for that group. Lots of miles ahead but looking forward to raising money for Love Without Boundaries and the China orphan care work they are doing!

Adoptive Dads blog

Check out the ABBA Fund's own Jason Kovacs on the Adoptive Dads blog along with Michael Monroe from Irving Bible Church and several other dads. The series will unfold over the next several weeks and is entitled "The Reality of Adoption: Confronting Common Myths".

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Amazing China experience

Most of you know by now that I left for China on Feb 27 and returned March 13. I traveled to Xi'an with Mark Chellis to bring home their miracle daughter Lily. The Chellis' were becoming tired of the wait as China adoptions have become long and drawn out. They spotted a little girl at Starfish and pursued her for a short time. Sadly, she is still waiting on paperwork but will hopefully be adoptable soon. After almost giving up, they found Lily listed with their agency and then found out she was also with Starfish. It is amazing to see how God works sometimes through relationships. They were able to be matched with Lily and even have video conferences so she knew "Baba" was coming. So the first amazing thing about this trip was the miracle of bringing Lily home.

The second amazing experience was the opportunity to stay at the Starfish foster home. Little did I know that I was about to be staying 9 nights in an apartment with 10 babies! I left RDU early Friday morning to connect in Newark for the direct flight to Beijing at noon. Mark and I arrive in Beijing around 3pm, change our Xi'an flights with China Eastern from 7pm to 5pm and arrive in Xi'an at 7pm Saturday evening. About 26 hours of airports and flying and we are finally at the starfish home and ready to go to bed. As we were getting on the elevator in the apartment building, we met the 5 nannies that were going home and the 2 night shift nannies were taking over at 8pm. We walk into the apartment and drop our bags in our rooms (3 bedrooms, so Mark and I each had our own room). Starfish had just taken 10 more babies the first of February - 9 cleft babies and one heart baby. I walk back into the the living room where 3 or 4 of the 8 babies in there were crying (two were in the back bedroom as they had been running fevers). I picked up a little baby and rocked him to sleep before laying him back in his crib. It was dark, so I didn't know if I had a boy or a girl and didn't know a name or anything. The next morning I go back to the same crib and I pick this little baby up again. The English name on his crib was "Bryan" and he was also number 8. Each baby has a number to help with bottles and other items that are personal to them. I picked Bryan up again and again over the next 9 days. Every time I came into the living room, there was Bryan. He was almost always content and wide eyed, looking right up at me. What could I do? I'm not sure how many times I fed him, but every time I walked in the room I heard the name "Bryan" amongst smiles and all the other Chinese words that the nannies were saying. The nannies knew I couldn't resist so I always ended up holding Bryan and his warm bottle.

Amanda de Lange runs the Starfish foster home. She was telling me the stories about the 50+ children she has cared for and how many times she is drawn to a child at the orphanage by their crying out in their crib. Many times in the orphanages the babies stop crying and it is unusual to hear a cry. I found it interesting that after such a long day and being so tired that I was drawn to Bryan by his crying. Less than 4 weeks earlier, he had been in the government orphanage and didn't even cry for the first few days at Starfish. He weighed 11 pounds at 8 months old when he came to Starfish. God has something special in store for Bryan. Heidi and I are talking about what God would have us do. Since I've been home, we've already had friends and family want to provide all the funds for Bryan's surgeries and also pay for us to adopt him. It is amazing how God uses people and relationships to change lives.

The third amazing part of this trip (sorry I use amazing so much, but I guess I have to since it was amazing) was the Guangzhou experience. Mark and I were ready to get home but we still had the US consulate appointment and other formalities to go through. We stayed at the White Swan with families from all over the US and had a good time on Shamian Island. If you haven't adopted from China then you may not know that this little island is where 90%+ of American families stay while finalizing the China portion of the adoption. All of the other countries have their consulates in Beijing but for some reason the USA still has theirs in Guangzhou, near Hong Kong. The amazing part of Guangzhou was not being at the White Swan or being on Shamian Island, but it was about Xing, a little girl from Fujian Province.

I have to go back a couple of years so you will understand. During the summer of 2007, our family went to Camp Nathanael in Emmalena, Kentucky to speak at "high school" camp as the missionary speakers. I grew up going to Camp Nathanael and worked summers there during high school and college. I had lost touch for about 15 years since moving away to North Carolina. Normally, they have guest missionary speakers from Brazil, Mexico or some foreign country and they do a great job speaking. They take offerings to raise support for their mission work. Our heart is for orphan care and adoption in China, but we lived in NC and didn't want to raise money for ourselves. But we did want these high school teenagers to understand the orphan situation in China. Heidi had this great idea that we raise money for a specific orphan in China and personalize this for the campers with a face and a name. We contacted Love Without Boundaries a few weeks ahead and they sent us information on Yu, a little girl that needed heart surgery and we needed to raise $2,500. Amazingly, the campers broke the record for high school week giving and gave $1,050. I always like to motivate with matching funds and we had found someone to do that so the kids would know their donation would be doubled. $2,100 was sent to LWB! I told the campers that they had probably saved a life and now this little girl had the chance to be adopted and that I would keep them updated. When LWB received the funds, I received an email back telling me that Yu was already covered and could they use the funds for another little girl. Yes, this is where Xing comes in. Here is a photos that came with the email from LWB about Xing, a 2 year old with a congenital heart defect (VSD). I forwarded this to camp and asked them to let the campers know. A few months later we received an email from our friend Sarah Ledford. She was raising money for a little girl, Xing, from LWB and her brother and sister-in-law from Winston-Salem, NC fell in love with this little girl. They wanted to pursue an adoption but weren't sure where to start. Sarah arranged for me to have dinner with them and Sarah and I tried to lower their expectations as we explained how difficult it is to pre-identify a child for adoption that probably wasn't even in the China adoption system yet.

Fast forward to March 12, 2009 and dinner at the Italian restaurant on Shamian Island, Guangzhou China with friends from Winston-Salem, NC that I met 2 years ago. They have a new addition! Below is Xing (Melyn Hales), now 4 years old, with one of her sisters and her new mom and dad, Beth and Terry Hales on the famous red couch at the White Swan. I think that's all I need to say about that.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Xian China trip

I've been in Xian since Saturday night with my friend Mark from Maine. We met in Nanchang, Jiangxi China in 2004 when we were adopting our Sarah Hope. His wife Donna is at home with 5 year old Rose.

What an amazing experience it has been to stay at the Starfish Foster Home in Xian as Mark and Lily continue to bond. We are scheduled to leave Monday and head to Guangzhou for the US Consulate stuff. We've met people from South Africa, Denmark, Sweden and England during our stay here. Great to see so many people volunteering to care for the least of these. 19 children (counting Lily) have now been placed into permanent homes around the world.

Maybe I can start blogging more. Great experience so far!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Connected Child Conference March 6-7, 2009 - Winston-Salem, NC

This conference is a great opportunity to hear Dr. Karyn Purvis in person! Here is the registration form and more information below from an email I received Friday from Chuck and Sarah Ledford.

I want to remind families that The Connected Child conference is quickly approaching.  The conference is Friday, March 6th for pediatric professionals and the same conference will be presented to parents   / soon-to-be parents   / or "eventually I want to be a parent" individuals,  Saturday, March 7th.  Details can be found at
I would like to note than many of you completed the post conference evaluation following last years' conference.  The number one comment was for more information to be shared regarding the neuro chemical component to caring for our children.  Dr. Kellermann, a colleague of Dr. Purvis', who serves the children Dr. Purvis works with, to promote healthy neuro transmitters, will be participating in this conference.  We are extremely blessed to have him coming from Wisconsin to spend the weekend in our area.  Several families from Grace Connection (including ours) are already familiar with Dr. Kellermann's work.  Personally, he has been serving our children for about 18 months.  The Ledford family can give a huge "testimonial" towards his work!
So, please be sure to visit the website to purchase tickets.  The tickets are very reasonably priced.  If you discover at the last minute you need additional tickets, tickets can be purchased  at the door.  However, we need to have a firm number of attendees as a catered lunch is included in your ticket.
Thank you to Children's Home Society of NC, the Coalition of Licensed Private Adoption Agencies, ABBA fund, Caroline's Promise and Amazing Grace Adoptions for sponsoring this years' conference!  Please spread the word of the conference to other families.  This is not just for adopted families.  We are targeting all families as it is certainly applicable to every family!

Hope to see you there!
Sarah Ledford,
Author of The Brown-Eyed Girl Series and Co-Founder of Grace Connection, "connecting families through the world of adoption"

Monday, February 9, 2009

Financial assistance for adoption needed more than ever

I read this story in a Kansas newspaper this morning - the Lawrence Journal. Times are tough, but this story provides even more incentive for us to help families overcome the financial barriers through ABBA Fund and Hope For 100 partnerships with local churches. Christine does a great job covering many of the dynamics involved and unlike most reports, she mentions the adoption tax credit! Interest free (no interest) adoption loans provide a great solution for adoptive parents and then they can capture the adoption tax credit ($12,150 per child for 2009).
By Christine Metz

February 8, 2009

Parents are expected to make sacrifices for their children all the time. But for Vanessa and Brian Palenske, those sacrifices came long before the baby.

Since 2006, the Basehor couple has been saving money to adopt — bargain shopping, cutting back on vacations and dining out less frequently.

But a year into the process, the Palenskes have had to turn down several matches because the $25,000 they’ve saved up wasn’t enough. Much of the unexpected costs, which is sometimes $10,000 more, comes from the attorney’s finder fees.

“The price is so astronomical, and to be honest with you, that part has been extremely frustrating,” Vanessa Palenske said. “In my mind, it doesn’t make sense for things to be so costly because we are talking about placing a price on a life.”

Economy affects adoption

Because of the economy, some couples are putting adoption plans on hold.

Some potential parents are being more conservative and others have dropped out of the adoption process altogether, said Shawn Kane, executive director of American Adoptions, an adoption agency in Overland Park.

“We have families tell us that job layoffs or cutbacks is one reason, and others are just fearful of a future layoff, so they just decide to fall out of the process,” Kane said.

Meanwhile, there’s been an increase in women who are considering giving their child up for adoption, Kane said.

“The No. 1 reason why women contact us is almost always financial. A lot of times you are dealing with women who are single parents, a lot of times they have children so they already know how hard it is to parent. Fathers many times are not in the picture,” Kane said. “They definitely love the child and they want to make sure that child has a lot of opportunity, but I think there is a lot of guilt that they can’t provide the kind of opportunity that they would like to.”

Adoptions slowing

While economic hardships haven’t deterred some families from wanting to adopt children, Rodney Huey, a spokesman for the National Council for Adoption, said it has made the process harder.

“There are no figures, but intuitively it is down because everyone is under these hardships,” Huey said.

Last year, new regulations and practices were enacted as part of the Hague Adoption Convention, which has made international adoption more complicated.

Adoption agencies nationwide have folded — either victims of the economy or the tighter restrictions and shutdowns in overseas adoption, Huey said.

The drop in the number of agencies has made the wait longer for couples.

Credit crunch

Depending on the method of adoption and whether it’s a domestic or international adoption, the price can range from $10,000 to $40,000. Federal and some state tax credits are available to offset the cost.

In the past, potential parents could fund those costs by taking out a second mortgage on their home or getting a special “adoption loan.” But those sources of funding have tightened up with the recent credit crunch. And the stock market has taken a hit on their savings.

“The downturn has made money less available, made credit less available and it has slowed the process down,” Huey said.

The Walrods

Paul and Cherri Walrod of Eudora are among those who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on adoption and have gone into debt to do so. Along with their three biological children, the family includes three children adopted internationally. One-and-a-half-year-old Samara joined the family in October.

While still paying off debt from the adoptions, Cherri Walrod has seen the income from her home day care business drop by about $1,000 a month.

To help make ends meet, the family is looking at dropping their cable television, selling a vehicle and not eating out as much.

Despite the tightening budget, Cherri Walrod said she would do the adoptions all over again.

“Our plate is obviously full, but are hearts are, too,” she said.

Parents still interested

Not everyone is seeing a decline in interested parents.

Allan Hazlett, a Topeka attorney who does 30 to 50 adoptions a year, said his office is busier than usual.

“People who choose to adopt are willing to make whatever sacrifices financially necessary to do it, and it is expensive,” he said.

Among Hazlett’s clients are the Palenskes.

At the beginning of the process, Hazlett set out an itemized list on how much the process would cost, Vanessa Palenske said. But it’s the costs from other attorneys and agencies in matching the child with the parents that has been unexpectedly high.

They are still hoping for a child. In the past four weeks, they’ve been flooded with interest from birth mothers looking for adoptive parents.

Currently they have their fingers crossed on a 3-month-old baby girl.

After rushing their portfolio to an agency in Maine, they are waiting to hear whether the birth mother selects them.

Having saved a good chunk of money and with secure jobs — Vanessa is a clinical social worker and Brian is self-employed working in concrete construction — the couple wonders whether they will have an advantage over other potential parents in this economy. Still, their budget is limited.

“If this (baby) truly is meant to be ours, if this is whom God intends us to be matched with, then it will happen no matter what,” Vanessa Palenske said. “When the money comes up like that, then my thought is, then it wasn’t meant to be ours.”

Friday, January 23, 2009

ABBA Fund and Hope For 100

Another great article in the Baptist Standard about Hope For 100 and the partnership that ABBA Fund has with Green Acres. Also, the new ABBA Fund website will be launched next week!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow! in Bennett...

More photos
Snow Jan 20 2009

Hope For 100 update

Here is the update from the ABBA Fund and the Tyler, TX Hope For 100 campaign. It was a great service (actually they have 3 services) with a tremendous response and interest to foster and adopt. Here are links to a couple of news reports about the Green Acres Baptist launch - KLTV Tyler Channel 7 -- Gift of Love: Hope for 100 and Tyler Morning Telegraph -- GABC To Launch 'Hope for 100' Ministry