Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Adoption Tax Credit Extended and Increased

Amidst the intense controversy of the health care bill signed into law by President Obama, there’s at least one provision every orphan advocate can cheer. The adoption tax credit was preserved for another year…and increased in value!

To encourage and support adoption, the adoption tax credit was expanded by President Bush and Congress in 2001. This increased the value of the credit from $5,000 to $10,000, and indexed it for inflation (meaning the credit would increase each year to keep up with inflation.) For 2010, its value had risen to $12,170. However, the 2001 increase was scheduled to “sunset” at the end of 2010. This would mean that any adoptions finalized after December 31, 2010 would be eligible for—at most—a credit of only $5,000.

This sunset has now been extended one year. That means that it will need to be extended again before the end of 2011. For the present, however, this extension comes as very welcome news for families considering adoption or in the adoption process.

Specifically, the provisions contained in the health care bill include:

•The current adoption tax credit has been extended until the end of 2011;
•The value of the adoption tax credit has been increased from $12,170 to $13,170.
•The increase is “retroactive,” meaning that any adoption occurring after January 1, 2010 is eligible for this higher credit.
•The credit is now refundable. This means that even families that owe zero taxes can receive the full tax credit in the form of a tax refund to help with their adoption-related expenses.

To read the legalese in the bill itself, see page 903 of 906 the following link.

Source: Christian Alliance for Orphans blog

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ECFA's Annual Love In Action Dinner

Evangelical Child and Family Agency (ECFA) is an evangelical Christian social services agency. They provide many services, including adoption, pregnancy counseling and care, family counseling, and child welfare services, which include foster care and family preservation. Their highly trained staff is supported by numerous volunteers who contribute many hours to make their success possible.

The mission of Evangelical Child and Family Agency is to protect and nurture abused, neglected and dependent children, and strengthen the quality of life for individuals and families. They do this by providing quality social services from a biblical perspective.

I invite you to support the work of ECFA by attending their 60th annual Love In Action Dinner featuring Mike Breaux of Heartland Community Church and singer Babbie Mason. The event will take place on May 7, 2010, 7:00 pm at the Oakbrook Marriott.

Dinner is complimentary, but reservations are required (age 16 and over, please). An offering will be received to help underwrite ECFA’s ministry services.

If you would like to be a part of the Love In Action Dinner, call ECFA at 630-653-6400 and ask for Rita or send an e-mail to Attn: Rita Re: Love In Action Dinner.

For more information about the work of ECFA, visit them at

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Chapel’s Foster Care, Safe Families, and Adoption Conference

The Chapel, in Libertyville,believes that God cares deeply about children in need of families. He calls believers to help care for these children in James 1:27a: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (NIV).

Today this need is very real, just as it was in James’ day. Make plans to attend their Open Hearts, Open Homes conference and discover how God might be calling you to look after children in need!

The cost is $20 and includes a light breakfast, coffee, a catered lunch, a variety of breakout sessions, resources, networking opportunities, DCFS training hours, and a keynote presentation by Jeff Griffin, co-senior pastor of The Chapel and adoptive parent. The conference will take place on Saturday, April 17, 2010 from 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at their Libertyville Campus: 1200 American Way, Libertyville, IL 60048.

In addition to the keynote speaker, attendees can choose two breakout sessions.

____ Session 1: Beginning the Adoption Journey
____ Session 2: Helping Children Heal
____ Session 3: Becoming a Safe Family
____ Session 4: Adoption Conversations

____ Session 1: Bonding Through Play
____ Session 2: The Men’s Panel
____ Session 3: Why You Should Consider Being a Foster Parent
____ Session 4: Adopting Children with Special Needs

For more information, to register or to volunteer, visit or contact

Thursday, March 25, 2010

International Hosting Program For Orphaned Children

Would your family consider hosting an orphan in your home for 5 weeks this summer? New Horizons for Children connects Christian host families willing to share the love of family and the love of Christ with orphans from Latvia, Russia and Ukraine. Hosting is open to families nationwide. If you are willing to be an orphan's family for 5 weeks, contact New Horizons for Children by calling 678-574-4677 or on the web at

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Safe Families

The local Daily Herald newspaper in the Chicago area published a compelling three-part series about a single mom in need, and the "Safe Family" who stepped in to help. Below are the links for each of the articles. I think they did a great job telling the story from both perspectives.
For more information about becoming a Safe Family, visit

A young mother's painful choice, Giving away child if just for a while (3/22/2010)

Stability eludes mom, jeopardizing baby's return home (3/23/2010)

Bonds forged in strife, two families redefine relationship (3/24/2010)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hands Around the World Culture Camp

When my daughter was five years old she started attending the Hands Around the World culture camp. Over the past five years her camp experience has been a favorite part of her summer as she has learned about and connected with her Chinese heritage. My youngest daughter, also from China, has joined in the fun the past three years as well. In addition, I've had the privilege of volunteering as a room mom and also working in the kitchen, and have seen first hand the fun and learning that takes place.


Programs are available for children adopted from China, Southeast Asia, Korea, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and domestically for African American or Bi-racial kids. The Cutting Edge group is a multicultural group made up of teenage adoptees. The children spend the day learning the language, history, art and games in a fun and relevant way and enjoying an ethnic lunch. But most importantly, the children forge friendships with other adoptees from their own birthplace.

The day camp will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Roselle, IL from July 26th - July 30th, from 9:00am - 3:00pm. The deadline for registration is July 1, 2010.

For more information or to register, please visit, or call Gail Walton at 847-255-8309.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Heart Gallery of Illinois

Want to learn more about Illinois children who are waiting to be adopted? The Heart Gallery of Illinois provides a perfect opportunity to discover these children through a series of beautiful portraits and informative biographies.
In addition to the portraits, their spring reception will also feature several speakers with expertise in foster care and adoption, as well as a variety of take-home resources for families. The spring reception is free and open to the public.

Date: Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Time: 4:00 - 7:00pm

Location: Jackson Junge Gallery, 1389 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL

If you would like to attend with others from AV4HC, please contact Brooke Loske at For more information about the Heart Gallery of Illinois, visit

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Webinar: "Parenting Children from Haiti & Other Hard Places"

On Thursday, March 25, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm, Dr. Karyn Purvis will be leading a free webinar entitled Parenting Children from Haiti and Other “Hard Places”. During this webinar Dr. Purvis will spend one hour answering parents’ questions on parenting their children from Haiti, and other “hard places” (which she will define). There will also be an opportunity to ask questions about attachment, sleep issues, behavior challenges, family dynamics or any other challenge you are facing.

The webinar is offered by Adoption Learning Partners and the response has already been tremendous. Space is limited so be sure to register soon!

For more information or to register on line, go to

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Advocacy Opportunity

I invite you to participate in the following advoacy opportunity from the International Justice Mission (IJM) .

In the last month, 10,000 IJM supporters have joined us in calling on President Obama to protect vulnerable children and families from trafficking and exploitation, in Haiti and around the world. This outpouring of support inspired us at IJM to set a goal of doubling that number by the end of this month. 20,000 signatures will send a powerful message to this Administration that Americans care deeply about the fight against slavery, at home and abroad.

The President is setting his agenda and now is the moment to act. Please take just 30 seconds to click the link below to help make our message 20,000 strong by adding your name today!
With deep gratitude for your support,
Eileen Campbell
Director of Justice Campaigns
International Justice Mission

Monday, March 15, 2010

LifeSong Webinar

Are you considering starting an adoption fund at your church?

Is God stirring in your heart to take the next step toward engaging your local body of believers?

You are invited to participate in a webinar and conference call with Lifesong and Michael Monroe of Irving Bible Church, Tapestry Adoption and Foster Care Ministry on Thursday, March 18th at 2pm CST/3pm EST

This call will be held on a monthly basis and will allow interested leaders to hear first hand how Lifesong can partner with your ministry.

The webinar will include:

* An overview of the Lifesong Church Adoption Fund concept.
* Lifesong partnership with churches and solutions to overcome "Common Barriers".
* Personal testimony/experience from Irving Bible Church / Tapestry Ministry of how Lifesong has partnered with his church and ministry, including obstacles he encountered.
* Concerns churches often face when starting an adoption fund
* Q&A - an open forum allowing you to ask your questions to Michael Monroe (Iriving Bible/Tapestry) and/or Lifesong staff

Please join us for this opportunity to hear the heart of a ministry leader and adoptive parent.

To Register Email Lifesong at

Please also send the name of your church and your top 3 most pressing Questions or Concerns regarding a Church Adoption Fund (if applicable) to

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
Christi Ucherek
ph: 309.747.3558
fax: 309.747.4647

Sunday, March 14, 2010


A quote from Henri Nouwen, internationally renowned priest and author, respected professor and pastor:

"The word compassion is derived for the Latin words pati and cum, which together mean "to suffer with." Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears.

Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Six Words for Adoptive Families to Live By!

By Karyn Purvis

We often tell parents that there are six words for adoptive families to live by. Practicing these words have can bring dynamic hope and healing to even the most difficult situation. Founded in the love of God, the six guiding words are Be Compassionate! Be Firm! Be Proactive!

Be Compassionate! Never forget for a moment, the suffering and pain your child experienced before coming to the safety of your home. Childhood traumas remain ever-present for our children influencing their behaviors in dramatic ways. Remembering that most aberrant behavior is driven by fear and pain will temper parental responses. When our children feel understood, they will begin to feel safe enough to connect to us in ways that ultimately bring deep healing and joy. I love remembering the tender passage from the Gospel of John when Jesus stood with Mary and Martha at the opening of their brother’s grave. Even knowing He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, Jesus felt the grief of Mary and Martha, and wept with them before revealing God’s plan. Jesus knew what was to happen, but he mourned with them in their time of mourning.

Be Firm! Although we are deeply compassionate about our children’s fear and pain, we still need to provide instruction and direction, guiding them to life skills that are empowering and healing. Clear, firm, achievable expectations for appropriate behavior need to be taught in concrete and tangible ways, so that our children can understand them. Most children who come from “hard places” have survival skills that are driven by the primitive regions of the brain. When we teach them, it is important to demonstrate clearly and simply our expectations. God’s heart about discipline is demonstrated in Scripture, “Fathers provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord.” Clearly, God’s admonition is balanced by equal parts nurture and compassion.

Be Proactive! By keeping a behavioral interactions journal for one week, patterns of behavioral problems become clear. Using this information, we develop proactive strategies to help our children success BEFORE they can fail. If transitions from home to school are a problem, we develop a shared strategy for resolving the difficulty. In being proactive about our children’s behaviors, it becomes clear to them that it is not “them against us”, but rather is a shared journey of helping them learn new life skills. My childhood pastor had a whimsical way of talking about Creation (passage). He reminded us that “God didn’t create fish on Tuesday and tell them to flop around on dry ground until Thursday when we planned to create water, but rather he created water and then the fish. God made a proactive plan for success!”

Appling these six words, for example with a child who is stealing and hording food, may look something like this:

· Be Compassionate! “Sweetie, I understand that you were hungry many times before you came home to us, but I promise you will never be hungry in our home. We will always have plenty of food for you.”

· Be Firm! “However, it is not okay for you to sneak into the kitchen at night and steal food to hide in your room.”

· Be Proactive! “So here is our plan, anytime you are hungry you can come to me and ask and I will come to the kitchen with you and we’ll have snacks together until you are full! And you can go with me to the grocery store and help me chose nutritious wrapped snacks to put in a basket in your room that you can eat anytime you feel hungry.”

By using these six words, we touch the hearts of our children, connecting with them and empowering them to trust us and to let us guide and support them as they begin to heal.

A copy of an expanded article on Six Words is available in its entirety at

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit VI

With Haiti’s earthquake drawing global focus to the plight of orphans, Christians from across America and beyond will gather in Minneapolis, MN, for the Christian Alliance for Orphans’ Summit VI on April 29-30, 2010. The objective: to inspire and equip Christians to “care for orphans in their distress” through adoption, foster care and global orphan care ministry rooted in the local church.

What you can look forward to:

· Featured speakers will include national champions of orphan care and adoption, including John Piper, Mary Beth Chapman, Tom Davis, Doug Sauder, Stephanie Fast, Jedd Medefind, and Al Mohler. Compelling voices from the global church will join as well, from Africa to Central America.

· Music will be led by Steven Curtis Chapman, Peder Eide, Desperation Band and other artists.

· More than 50 workshops delivering nuts-and-bolts for adoption, foster care and global orphan programs – designed for both laypersons and leadership

Orphan care resources for church ministries, as well as personal orphan care and adoption journeys.

Breakouts will also include 5 “Hague Hour” Credits for Adoptive Families.

Q&A sessions and networking opportunities with respected adoption, global orphan and foster care organizations and veteran ministry leaders.

For Christians stirred by the plight of orphans, Summit VI offers the biggest and best opportunity of the year to learn how to act upon conviction. To learn more and register now, visit the Summit website here.

A taste of breakout topics:

· Haiti and the Local Church: What’s Next?

· Bridging the Great Divide: Building Positive Relationships Between Church Ministries and Government

· Understanding Childhood Development of Overseas Orphans

· A Lifelong Love: Keeping the Gospel at the Center of Orphan Ministry

· Church-Based Orphan Ministry 101

· Fundraising for Orphan Ministry

· Starting in the Right Direction: Helping Pre-Adoptive Couples Make Sound Decisions

· Now What? Helping Children Age Out of Foster Care

· The Financial Challenge of Adoption and How the Local Church Can Respond

· Engaging Church Leadership

· A Child’s Journey Through the Foster Care System

· How Does It Work? Models of Global Orphan Ministry Based in US Churches

· Practical Ideas of Orphan-Focused Events

· Understanding HIV/AIDS and the Orphan

· And many more…

And there’s more! Five sessions will provide pre-adoptive families with needed Hague credits.

· Adoption and Orphans: Becoming a Multicultural/Multiracial Family

· Adoption and Orphans: Attachment and Trauma (Part I and II)

· Adoption and Orphans: Grief and Loss

· Adoption and Orphans: Acclimating to a New Family Member

“American Christians are stirring to the needs of orphans both at home and abroad as never before. What’s thrilling is that even small ministries in local churches can make such significant impact. There are millions of parentless children worldwide, but a single statistic matters more than any other: it only takes one caring adult to make a lifelong difference in the life of an orphan.”

- Jedd Medefind, President, Christian Alliance for Orphans
For more information or to register for the summit, visit
If you would like to attend with our team, please e-mail Dina at

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Adoption-Friendly Workplaces

Apply Now to Make the National
100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces List

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is collecting information about employers with adoption benefits, such as financial reimbursement and paid leave, to compile its annual list of the nation's best. In addition to the 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces, the Foundation honors the top ten by size and the top five in each industry. Winners will be announced in national media, featured in Employee Benefit News magazine, and honored in person at the Benefit Managers Forum and Expo in Boca Raton, Florida in September of this year.
If your organization/workplace offers adoption benefits, apply by completing our brief online survey by April 1, 2010. If you would like more information about establishing an adoption benefits policy, order our free toolkit online, or call 1-877-777-4222.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Safe Families/Foster Mom's Coffee

You are invited to a Coffee
for Safe Families and
DCFS Foster Care Moms.

When: Tuesday, March 9th
What Time: 9:30-11:30
Where: The Home of Katie Marr
1518 E. Sunset Terrace
Arlington Heights, Il

Please feel free to bring your children with you. All are welcome!!

We offer support and encouragement to anyone who is actively
fostering children or who simply has an interest in playing a supportive
role in the foster care process. Hope to see you then!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Red Card

More than 1.2 billion children around the world grow up without hope and basic necessities. This large group is normally untouched by the message of God's love and compassion.

What can we do?

Red Card: Standing Against Oppression, Providing Hope is a dynamic, new family class on children at risk. Our goal is to help families understand God's heart, the biblical mandate to respond, and how they can work together to provide hope and help. We believe that Red Card will build awareness, unite families in a common cause, and make a difference in the lives of children at risk.

What's in a Name?

Fans of soccer (called football outside the USA) know that when a player commits a serious infraction of the rules, such as a flagrant foul, the referee will hold up a red card to indicate that the player is expelled from the game. Go to YouTube and type in "red card" for some visual examples.

Kids at risk around the world need referees like us to be a voice for them, to call a halt to their unacceptable situations. So in effect we are stepping in to issue a red card. Together, let's hold up the red card against the oppression of children and begin to offer help and hope to children at risk.

Program Description:

Red Card is an 8-week family class. Lessons raise awareness of children at risk, provide a biblical view of God's heart for these children, challenge believers to pray for them, and offer practical steps for involvement. The material is designed to provide eight 75-minute lessons for use in churches.

The unique feature of the curriculum is our target audience... families. We want to encourage and empower children to become advocates for the largest unreached group in the world - their own peers. Lessons will allow parents and children (4th grade and up) to learn, process, pray, and take practical steps together.

Each 75-minute lesson is interactive and uses hands-on experiences that allow participants to have impact learning, followed by family activities during the week. Although the material is designed for use in churches, it may also be used in house churches and to train short-term teams going to minister to children at risk.
For more information and to get involved, please visit

Monday, March 1, 2010

Adoption Poetry

The Mother of My Son

The mother of my son
Her hand upon my shoulder,
Crying tears of joy...
As our child comes into the world.
Eyes bright with love,
She puts him in my arms.
Her hand on his cheek,
My arms snug about him...
He is surrounded by the love
of the mother of my son and I.

© 1997 Cherie Leonard

For more poetry about adoption and foster care, visit