Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Foster Care Mom's Coffee Gathering

An Invitation.....

Who: Current or prospective Safe Families Foster Moms, DCFS Foster Moms, and Moms who are interested in playing a supporting role even if they are not
fostering children themselves.

What: Come to enjoy a time of sharing foster care experiences and ideas.

When: Tuesday, October 27th, 9:30 a.m.

Where: The home of Terri Hooker: 2000 S. Ela Road, Schaumburg IL 60195 (847-366-7502)

Children are welcome. Please mention how many children you are bringing,
and their ages when you r.s.v.p.

Coffee, Tea and Pastries will be served.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lydia Benefit Gala

Join AV4HC as together we attend

LYDIA's 2009 Benefit Gala

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Erwin Lutzer

Monday, November 16, 2009

5:30 p.m. Silent Auction
6:30 - 9:00 p.m. Dinner & Program
Location: Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Road, Rosemont, IL

Dinner and parking are complimentary.

An opportunity to make a financial contribution will be presented.

Please consider supporting this organization whose mission is: to strengthen families to care for children and care for children when families cannot.

If you are not already registered and are planning on attending, we would love to fill tables and sit together. If you would like to attend with others from AV4HC, please r.s.v.p. to Sandy Kemink at or phone: 847-202-8973

For more information about Lydia and their programs, visit

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

2009 Midwest Adoption Conference

The 16th Midwest Adoption Conference is being held at Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL on Sunday, November 1, 2009. This annual conference is for adoptive families, prospective adoptive parents, adoption professionals, adult adoptees, birth parents and foster parents.

This year's Keynote Speaker is Dr. Jaiya John, PhD who is an author and speaker and Founder of Soul Water Rising, a global human relations mission.

For more information and to register for this conference, please visit

Please note that despite the location at a Christian University, this is not a Christian-Based conference.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Adoption & Foster Care Conference

Tapestry, the adoption and foster care ministry at Irving Bible Church, will host its annual adoption and foster care conference on October 24, 2009, in Irving, Texas. As in past years, the conference will include a great line-up of practical breakout sessions that are highly relevant to adoptive and foster parents. This year’s conference sessions include topics such as the practical benefits of play, sensory processing issues, talking with children about the difficult realities of adoption and foster care as well as two sessions focused on older child adoption – just to name a few.

In addition, this year’s Tapestry Conference will once again feature speakers from TCU’s Institute of Child Development. Tabatha Gunn will lead a session entitled Making Sense of Sensory Issues, while Dr. Karyn Purvis will be featured during the general session with a talk entitled The Connecting Link: What Parents Need to Bring Healing to Their Children.

We hope that you can attend this year’s Tapestry Conference. However, if that is not possible we will provide future updates as to how you can obtain CDs, DVDs and other materials relating to the conference. In the meantime, be sure to check out resources from past Tapestry Conferences.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ode To The Abused Child


To all those who -
hear the stories
or witness the bruises
and notice
and stop the world
and time
and the spin
are sick of excuses
and finger pointing
and waiting for officials to act
or government to solve problems
or parents to grow up

To all those who -
can't wait for the cycle to wind down
or the qualified to intervene
or meth to vacate from our neighbors
or fathers to exhaust their rage

To all those who -
are willing to be educated
and feel inadequate
and get dirty
and wade into the filth of humanity
and expose your heart

And you -
don't mind having your world collide with suffering
or gut wrenched
and tears gushed because of inequity
or believe that there has to be a better way
and will shift time and money to captain change

So I declare -
I will rise
I will see
I will fully feel and act
I will be bold
and rude
and loud about love

I will not mistake money for power or authority for responsibility
or even permission for a purpose
I will not hesitate or think it’s someone else's problem or job
I will own it
I may not stop it
but I will slow it down and I will inject hope
and I will rescue one, maybe two
today, someone is me
today, no one is me
today, everyone is just me
child abuse sucks for everyone -

so I declare:
I am the solution!

Glenn Garvin - June 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Voice for His Children Celebrates It's First Year

It was August 19, 2008, just over one year ago that a group of interested Willow Creekers met at my house to check out the possibility of banding together to serve orphans and vulnerable children. When I reflect back on what God has done in the past year, all I can say is "Wow!".

This posting is not a celebration of programs we've started or children we've served, contacts we've made or successes we've achieved, though all of these things have happened. It's a celebration of God's goodness, His leading, His faithfulness and His provision while using imperfect servants like us.

For me, this has been a year of seeing God in a new light, discovering his heart and passion for children, especially orphans and children in vulnerable situations. I've discovered his heart for adoption and realized that not only do I have adopted children, but I AM an adopted child of God. That I was an orphan with no voice and no direction and no one to nurture me until I met my heavenly father who adopted me and gave me a voice, gave me direction and welcomed me into His family for eternity. Indeed my heart has grown closer to God as I've discovered His love for us, His adopted children.

This past year has also been a year of connecting with some incredible people from churches, ministries and organizations that are on the front lines of serving orphans. With each new connection I am energized and inspired by the movement of God, working through His people. It has also been a wonderful experience to be connected with Willow Creekers, whether paid staff or volunteer, who are so passionate about the work of God. I am so proud to belong to a church where "the least of these" matter and where my passion and desire to serve orphans is supported, encouraged and celebrated. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of expanding a vision of serving orphans, adoptive families and foster families.

As you read about the activities that have taken place this past year, I hope it will remind you as it has reminded me what a good God we have and that apart from Him we can do nothing.

Our first initiative was the Lydia House Safe Families program. To date, we are in contact with all the Willow Creek/So. Barrington (WCSB) Safe Families and have monthly support meetings so that they can be supported, encouraged and educated while they foster children. We also have a support team that is available to provide respite care, logistical items and childcare during the monthly meetings. Our prayer is that a solid core of SF will be built, and many more WCSB families will consider becoming foster families.

In November and December, a group of us hand-made and personalized 175 Christmas cards for orphans in Nicaragua being served by OrphaNetwork (O.N.). Our hope and prayer was that these cards would somehow let them know that God loves them and is watching over them, even in the midst of their circumstances. We were also able to partner with O.N. to print and laminate for them hundreds of pictures of children in a community where they serve. The pictures will be used at an outreach event at a local church and for spreading the word about the work of O.N.

Four of us from A Voice for His Children (AV4HC) had the privilege of attending the Christian Alliance for Orphans Conference in Dallas, TX last spring. God stirred the hearts of many others who prayed for us and donated enough funds so that the four of us could go. It was an eye-opening, heart-melting, God-connecting time for all of us. We were educated, inspired and challenged. One of our team members, Brooke, was so moved by the Heart Gallery display at the conference, that she is now working on starting one here. The Heart Gallery is a display of beautiful portraits of children in foster care that are adoptable. It raises awareness and breaks some of the stereotypes of children in foster care. It also gives God a chance to tug at people's hearts as they look at the beautiful portraits and open their hearts to considering adoption.

We started the AV4HC blog where people can come to be inspired, supported, educated and learn about serving opportunities. Through the blog we have been able to rally some advocacy opportunities so that people could sign petitions and call Senators and Congressmen to have them support legislation that specifically pertains to orphans, adoption and vulnerable children. With the help of the International Justice Mission (IJM) several of us were able to meet personally with our Congressmen to discuss a bill that seeks to combat child trafficking.

In May we celebrated National Foster Care week by holding a prayer vigil where we prayed for foster kids, foster families, social workers and our DCFS system.

This summer we piloted a 5-week study called "Considering Adoption". My husband and I led the group with three other couples. It was a rich time of going deeper to discover God's heart toward orphans and adoption, and to facilitate discussions about adoption in each of the families. We are now recruiting additional adoptive families to lead the study in their neighborhoods. We have also designated a follow-up 1-day workshop for families that have decided to adopt and need more information to take the next steps.

I pray that each of you who reads this will prayerfully consider how God is calling YOU to serve orphans. We'd love for you to become a part of what God is doing for His children through "A Voice for His Children". Please check back soon for opportunities for you to serve in November as we celebrate National Adoption month, and Orphan Sunday on Nov. 8th.

Dina Ackermann

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Haiti Adoption Update

The Joint Council of International Children's Services has released the following update regarding adoptions from Haiti:

UNICEF estimates that 490,000 children are orphans in Haiti. This translates to just about 6% of Haiti's population. In 2004, at the height of intercountry adoptions into the U.S., over 350 children were served through intercountry adoption into the U.S. Thousands more were served by the orphanages in Haiti, which often provided support to the community. However, over the past three years the processing of adoptions in Haiti has slowed to a crawl. Abandoned children endure adoption processes lasting two or three years before being united with adoptive families. Not only is such lasting institutional care damaging to the children who wait and wait, but the slowed process has had a negative effect on the many desperately needy children of Haiti who are not waiting in orphanages. Many orphanages support free medical clinics, schools, nutrition programs and family preservation programs. Orphanages have been a resource for temporary care for children following a family crisis, such as a fire or illness. But now that children languish in orphanage care for years, orphanage directors report that the beds are full, the food and medicine supplies are insufficient, and the children needing temporary care are left on the streets with little prospect for life.
In an attempt to move towards transparent and democratic government, Haitian officials now adhere to the Haitian Constitutional law regarding adoption, written in 1974 by Jean Claude Duvalier. While the law of 1974 places severe limitations on the size of family and age of those who may adopt, it also allows Presidential Dispensation for those not meeting the family size or age limitations. Unfortunately, Haiti lacks an organized and transparent system for obtaining Dispensations. This confusion over Dispensations, along with the absence of a sense of urgency regarding institutionalized children has caused extensive delays in the adoption process and further victimizes children who have already lost much.
Haiti has a pending solution to this legal logjam. A newly proposed adoption law will clarify who may adopt; increase protections for Haitian children, their birth parents, and adoptive families and streamline the adoption process. This legislation is supported by the United States and French governments along with the NGO community, including Joint Council. Joint Council's work in Haiti has been extensive, from working with the Haitian government, adoption service providers, orphanages and other NGO's on developing and implementing Standards of Practice for Intercountry Adoption, which were signed at the U.S. Embassy in Port-A-Prince in January 2009 (see Joint Council's page on Facebook for the pictures) to advocating for a change in the current law.
In August Joint Council launched the first of many advocacy efforts to support the change in law. Joint Council's efforts, entitled the Haitian Children and Families Initiative, strives to ensure the new law is implemented. A second effort will occur this month. This effort will include a petition to U.S. Congress requesting support of the law. You can sign the petition by clicking here.

More details on this month's initiative will be available on Joint Council's Haiti country information page in the coming week.