Saturday, May 29, 2010

First WCCC Regional Summer Picnic

To: Safe Families, Foster Families, Adoptive Families, Support Teams,
and Advocacy Team at Willow Creek Community Church (All Campuses!)
Date: Sunday, June 13, 2010
Time: 12:00 am to 4 pm
Place: Frontier Park, 1933 N. Kennicott Dr.
Arlington Heights, (Main Pavilion)

Hot Dogs, Hamburgers and Beverages will be provided. Please bring a side dish, dessert or munchies to share ~ Food will be served promptly at noon.

Come prepared to have lots of fun!

Playground, volleyball nets, basketball courts, and tennis court available. Please bring your own ball, Frisbees, and/or other lawn games.

You are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets.

There will also be crafts, balloons, and face-painting for the little ones!

To be better prepared, please R.S.V.P. to Cecilia at by June 6th with the following information:

Number of Adults and Children attending, Children’s’ ages, and let us know if you will be eating with us. Thanks!

Human Rights Advocate Somaly Mam to Speak at DePaul University




FRIDAY, JUNE 11, 2010

Breakfast 8:30 A.M.
Program 9:30–11:00 A.M

DePaul University
Cortelyou Commons
2324 N. Fremont Street
Chicago, IL 60614

Please join us in a rare conversation with Somaly Mam,
a remarkable human rights advocate from Cambodia whose
courageous battle against global sexual slavery and for
universal rights for women continue to inspire and
touch so many lives.

Named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009,
Mam’s tireless efforts to end human trafficking have been
supported by the United Nations, praised by the State Department
and earned her the first Roland Berger Human Dignity Award in 2008.

Mam has also been selected as the 2010 Honorary Degree Recipient for
DePaul University’s School for New Learning. To view Mam’s full bio,
see the Somaly Mam Foundation website at:

Limited seating so RSVP required at by June 9, 2010. Contact Shannon Stone-Winding at or 312.362.6367 for more info.
Directions to Cortelyou Commons can be found at

Discounted parking for this event is available at the Sheffield Parking Garage at 2335 N.
Sheffield Avenue and at the Clifton Parking Deck at 2330 N. Clifton Avenue.

If you are interested in attending with others from our group, please contact Lynn Herzog at

Friday, May 28, 2010


Join us for LYDIA's Annual Benefit Gala on Thursday, November 11, at the Donald Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont! This special evening will feature Mike Breaux of Heartland Community Church. Mike Breaux is currently a teaching pastor at Heartland Community Church in Rockford and was formerly on the pastoral staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Mike is the author of two books, Making Ripples and Identity Theft.

The event will feature a silent auction, complimentary dinner and program, and an opportunity to contribute financially to LYDIA.

They are currently looking for Table Hosts, Gala Sponsors and donations for their Silent Auction.

If you are interested in attending together as a group or being a table host for our group, please contact Cecilia Puczek at

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Below, is a list of updates and changes to various international adoption programs, put together by Loving Shepherd Ministries (LSM). It is their goal to keep church ministries and families aware of program fluctuations and changes. In the world of international adoption, a flow of constant change can be expected. To received e-mail updates from Loving Shepherd go to

Russia - There has been uncertainty and unknowns since the tragic incident of the 7-year-old Russian boy, adopted by a U.S. family, who was sent to Moscow on a one-way flight and abandoned. Since this occurred, there has been speculation of a call by the Russian government for a moratorium (suspension) on all U.S. adoptions from Russia. In recent meetings between the Russia and U.S. government, significant progress has been made, and an agreement on basic principles of adoption has been reached. This agreement is to establish an improved intercountry adoption process. Based on this agreement between both countries, the adoption process will continue to be open to new families.

Haiti - As of April 14, 2010, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Department of State announced that the Humanitarian Parole program was ending and that Haiti was reopening the adoption process. However, LSM cautions families interested in Haitian adoption that it is still unclear how the adoption process will be affected. The Haiti government is accepting dossiers under the same laws that were in effect pre-earthquake. However, the government is currently looking at new adoption laws. It is anticipated that the Haiti adoption process may actually take longer than it did previously. Therefore, certain agencies have reopened their Haiti program to a limited number of new families. Again, much caution is urged for new applicants, and agencies are asking for much patience.

Ethiopia - As of May 9, 2010, the Court of Ethiopia officially announced that adoptive parents must appear at a federal court hearing for their adoptive child in order for the adoption to be approved. This new requirement will affect all pending and new adoption cases and will now require two trips to Ethiopia for adoptive parents.

Nepal - The U.S. State Department issued an adoption alert for this country on May 4, 2010. Due to the possibility of an indefinite nationwide strike, the adoption process and appointments at the Embassy are halted. According to the U.S. Department of State, "The U.S. government strongly discourages prospective adoptive parents from choosing adoption in Nepal because of grave concerns about the reliability of Nepal's adoption system and the accuracy of the information in children's official files."

Adoption certainly requires much faith, patience and stamina. Please remember: It starts with only one. By listening to God's call we can, one by one, care for the needs of the orphans worldwide. It only takes one person, one family, one church, one heart and one passion to bring the message of the orphan to God's huge family.

If your church or families have any questions or concerns in regards to adoption, please feel free to contact Jen Schwartz, LSM Adoption Services Manager, at

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Illinois Law Provides Adoptees Access to Family History

SPRINGFIELD -- Adopted people will have more access to Illinois documents about their family history, under a new law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn Friday.

Normally, the original birth certificate of an adoptee is legally sealed, but legislation passed this session would make it standard for birth certificates to be released, unless the parents giving up a child specifically ask to be anonymous.

Under the legislation, adopted people born in 1945 or earlier could get their birth certificates right away.

Adopted people born after 1945 would have to wait until November of next year, after their birth parents have had a chance to file an objection if they want.

Many adoption advocates support the law, but some, like state Rep. Keith Sommer, a Morton Republican with two adopted children, fear the law could lead to problems as adopted children seek out their parents later in life, if the parents have not learned of the law and taken advantage of its provisions allowing them to remain anonymous. A Cary-based group called Adoption Reform Illinois criticized the new law as not going far enough, saying any adult should be able to obtain unredacted birth records.

"Any proposed change that does not recognize adult adoptees as having the same rights and responsibilities of every other Illinois resident is unacceptable," the group said in a prepared statement urging lawmakers to revisit adoptee rights. The proposal passed the Illinois House 74-39 and cleared the state Senate 36-16.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

ORPHANetwork In Need of Computer Software for Nicaraguan Children

The following message is from ORPHANetwork, a ministry that serves orphans and vulnerable children in Nicaragua. Please help them if you can.

Have you ever been sitting on a couch with your computer, fuming at some paralyzing, ridiculous problem with the technology, only to see it fixed by someone less than a fourth of your age?

Either way, it's becoming the norm that children grow up with computer skills. And when something becomes critical to growth and success in society, ORPHANetwork wants to jump on it to give our kids every opportunity possible for a new life.

Amerigroup has given our children 50 laptops, and 7 full desktops to equip our orphanage partners to teach computer skills to each and every one of our children. These computers will make their way into feeding center 'cyber cafes', into our orphanage classrooms, and allow our children to fully develop in the technology arena.

We're beyond grateful to Amerigroup for their gift, and excited for their partnership in raising our children.

There's one step left to the equation, and it's where you come in: ORPHANetwork is in need of software to run each and every one of those 57 computers. They're coming to us wiped totally clean, with no operating systems, no software packages, no programs.

So we're calling out to you! WE NEED COMPUTER PROGRAMS!

Do you have spare licenses of your current operating system or software? Maybe you bought a 'family pack' and only used a few licenses. Do you have friends with spare programs?

Specifically, we're looking for:
1. Windows operating systems
2. Microsoft Office (for least Word and Excel).

We want our kids to learn how to type; to learn programs like Excel; to be given every opportunity out there. Will you help us and be a part of it?

If you've got a spare program, or would think about gifting a new package to us - send it to our address:

1500 N. Great Neck Rd.
Virginia Beach, VA, 23454

Thanks so much for coming alongside our kids as we lay every opportunity possible at their feet!
Cole Bingham
Director of Communication and Marketing

ps - sorry Mac users, we're only looking for PC products, but you can absolutely still find friends with PC software and make those connections for us!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit on CBN Television

Source: Christian Alliance for Orphans Blog

Alongside a compelling news report on Summit VI, commentary from Pat Robertson on why Christians would…or would not…adopt is likely to stir serious controversy. It’s worth watching the polite but highly-charged exchange between Robertson and co-host Terry Meeuwsen. (Embedded at bottom of post).

Many orphan advocates likely will wince as they hear Robertson express sentiments like, “It [adoption] can be a blessing, if you get the right child.” The troubling statements, however, offer a striking reminder of three important realities. First, that many people harbor deep and understandable fears about adoption that must be gently and honestly addressed. Second, that even many Christians still hold the mistaken view that a successful adoption is primarily about building a family by finding the right child, rather than a decision born of both obedience and love–both of which spring from response to God’s loving adoption of us. And third, that much has changed even in the past several years, as Christians have re-awoken to the biblical call to care for orphans in their distress–not merely by sending checks overseas, but by opening their hearts and homes.

Explicit in Robertson’s concerns is an important theme wise adoption advocates repeatedly sound as well: “Count the cost.” Yes, many adopted children come from very difficult places, and the journey to a full sense of belonging and permanent family often is rife with difficulty, sacrifice and even sorrow. But this is only one piece of the story, and not the most important.

A segment of Robertson’s exchange with his co-host Terry Meeuwsen, who powerfully defends a truly Christ-hearted view of adoption, captures the issue well.

Robertson expresses serious concerns about adoption, warning of serious emotional, developmental and spiritual problems, and worrying, “If they’ve been brain damaged as a child, what’s going to happen?”

Meeuwsen affirms Robertsons’ fears, but then challenges: “…I think all children who’ve been through any kind of trauma certainly have emotional needs, for sure, and as you’re saying, spiritual needs. On the other hand, I would say, ‘If not us, who? Who sets those children free? Who teaches the truth to them? Who loves them to wholeness? It ought to be Christians.”

Robertson: “Well, I think it’s all real lovely but…”

Meeuwsen: “Well, it’s not ‘real lovely.’ I mean I think that lady that talked at the end [Lisa Harding] said it all when she said, you know, ‘I have the privilege of being daily being delivered from my own selfishness, from my own irritations.’ And you are. I’ve always said that if there’s a flaw in your marriage, in your family, in your character, it is all going to rise to the top. But it’s a bigger picture and if you’re called for it, go for it with gusto!’”

Terry Meeuwsen would know; she is a mother of seven, five by adoption.

See the full story and commentary here:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mom's Coffee

June Coffee for Safe Families & Foster Moms

When: Tuesday, June 1st

What Time: 9:30-11:30

Where: Kari Schacke’s House

1754 E Forest, Des Plaines

We are meeting a week early this
month, hoping to catch everyone
before school lets out for summer.

Our group continues to grow!

Among other topics, we will discuss
plans for the summer and fall.

Children are Welcome.

Please let me know if you plan to attend.

Terri Hooker

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sunnyridge Family Center Announces Embryo Donation & Adoption Services

What is embryo adoption?

In the United States there are an estimated 500,000 human embryos in frozen storage. These embryos were created by couples pursuing pregnancy via in vitro fertilization.

After these couples have completed their family building and must determine what to do with their remaining embryos. Keep them frozen? Donate them to science? Discard them? Or entrust them to another couple struggling with infertility?

The actual process of embryo donation and adoption is governed by contract law in the United States. Several adoption agencies and clinics have chosen to wrap the process in the safeguards of established adoption practices. This protects you, the child, and the donor family.

At this time Sunny Ridge can provide home studies and post adoption services for couples in Illinois and Indiana who are hoping to build their family through embryo donation and adoption. To download a brochure, click the following link.

How Does Embryo Donation and Adoption Work?
Couples who have embryos in frozen storage choose to donate them to another family. This choice gives hope to another family pursuing their dream of having children.

This donation can be made anonymously or in an open arrangement. In an open adoption, the donating and adopting families agree upon the match. The level of openness between the families is also determined by the families themselves.

How do we get started?
For more information, contact Becky MacDougall at Sunnyridge Family Center at (630) 754-4522, or attend an upcoming Adoption Information Meeting. You can also visit for lists of agencies and clinics who have donation and adoption programs.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Foster Care Prayer Vigil

Last night was a wonderful time of prayer, stories and connecting at our 2nd annual Foster Care Prayer Vigil. We had a great turnout of people who have a passion to serve the most vulnerable in our society. We heard stories about God's involvement in children, families, foster care professionals and the Church, and prayed for all those involved in the foster care system. With 143 million orphans world-wide, and 500,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, the need is great. Yet we know that God's heart for these kids is greater still, and He has called us to care for them.

As I came home and started to unwind, I was struck with a sense that the time I spent that evening was very significant. We all have so many demands for our attention, but I could not think of another thing I could have done that evening, that would have held as much importance. It was really a privilege to share the evening with all of you that attended.

Pizza & Connection Time

A Sampling of the Heart Gallery of Illinois

The Welcoming Team
For more information about the National Foster Care Prayer Vigil organization, or to find an event in your area, visit

Friday, May 14, 2010

Russia and U.S. Talks Move Forward

The following is an update from Joint Council on International Children's Services, ( regarding Russian adoptions:
Earlier this week, Russia and the U.S. issued a joint statement on the progress of their talks related to intercountry adoption. In addition, the U.S. Department of State has published a separate statement on intercountry adoption in Russia. Both statements can be found in full below.

Both statements indicate that significant progress has been made and agreement on basic principles of an accord has been reached. From ongoing dialogue with key stakeholders, it is Joint Council’s assessment that a future agreement will most likely include the specific responsibilities of each government, protocols for direct communication between each country’s primary adoption authority, increased post-adoption reports and responsibilities and the utilization of only those U.S. based adoption service providers accredited by the U.S. government (Hague accreditation).

Joint Council fully supports a bilateral agreement and the inclusion of the above noted improvements to the intercountry adoption process. It is our understanding that while agreement has been reached on these and other broad principals, a completed bilateral accord will require additional talks between the two governments and sufficient time to bring clarity and definition to the general agreements.

For more frequent updates on intercountry adoptions from Russia, please subscribe to our blog at

On May 12-13, U.S.-Russian consultation on adoption were held in Moscow.
May 13, 2010 - Joint Statement Issued by Russia and U.S.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia issued the following joint U.S.-Russian statement today, May 13, 2010.

‘Generally, we very positively assess the atmosphere of the talks. In the course of a substantial dialogue we’ve managed to move forward on a wide range of complicated issues,’ says Alina Levitskaya, Director, Department of State Policy on Upbringing, Supplementary Education and Social Protection of Children, Russian Ministry of Education and Science.

‘Both teams are committed to reach an agreement to increase safeguards for intercountry adoption between Russian and the U.S.’ adds Mary Ellen Hickey, the head of American delegation, Managing Director, Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. State Department.

The participants of the meeting shared their views on existing difficulties in intercountry adoption and the way to resolve them. The discussions were detailed and concerned specific issues including domestic laws and international obligations of both countries.

In particular, the delegations acknowledged that any agreement being discussed would be legally binding. Each country will define its competent bodies responsible for coordinating bilateral cooperation in adoption.

Among other things, we discussed the role of authorized adoption agencies, and the possibility of further regulating their activities.

During the talks the participants reached broad understanding on overall goals and principles and discussed how to proceed toward those goals.

The delegations also agreed to exchange their revised drafts as soon as possible.

Due to the significant number of issues under discussion and the mutual commitment to resolve them as soon as possible, the consultations will continue on May 14.

Further, the U.S Dept of State, Office of Children’s Issues issued the following announcement, May 13.

A U.S. interagency team held meetings to discuss an adoption agreement with their Russian counterparts on May 12. The meetings are ongoing and will continue on May 13. The initial talks were positive, productive and conducted in a spirit of cooperation. Both sides are interested in taking steps to increase the safeguards for adopted children. The discussions were technical in nature because they involve domestic laws of two countries. There is still important work to be done and this continues to be a high priority for both governments.

It is our understanding that there has been no change in the status of on-going inter-country adoptions originating from Russia. Many thousands of Russian children, who were not adopted by Russian families, have found loving, safe and permanent homes in the United States through inter-country adoption. We are pleased to be discussing with the Russian government a future approach to ensure intercountry adoptions continue.

Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that in some parts of Russia, adoptions continue to be slowed down or delayed.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Foster Care Prayer Vigil

A Voice 4 His Children and the Compassion & Justice Prayer Team at Willow Creek Community Church invite you to spend a powerful evening, participating in a National movement to pray for Children in Foster Care, and those who care for them.

We will be sharing stories and praying for foster kids and families, Safe Families, foster care professionals and the Church. In addition, you will have the opportunity to view the Heart Gallery of Illinois and pray for these adoptable kids by name.

Date: Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Time: 4:30 pizza dinner, 5:30 - 7:00 prayer vigil

Place: Willow Creek Community Church, 67 E. Algonquin Road, So. Barrington, IL 60010, room b100 (under the Chapel)

Child care is provided for those who r.s.v.p. with the number of children and their ages to or call Cecilia at 224-402-8046.

For more information or to let us know you plan to attend, contact Dina at or 630-213-3558.

Monday, May 10, 2010

President Obama Issues Proclamation in honor of National Foster Care Month

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 28, 2010

Presidential Proclamation-National Foster Care Month


Nearly a half-million children and youth are in foster care in America, all entering the system through no fault of their own. During National Foster Care Month, we recognize the promise of children and youth in foster care, as well as former foster youth. We also celebrate the professionals and foster parents who demonstrate the depth and kindness of the human heart.

Children and youth in foster care deserve the happiness and joy every child should experience through family life and a safe, loving home. Families provide children with unconditional love, stability, trust, and the support to grow into healthy, productive adults. Unfortunately, too many foster youth reach the age at which they must leave foster care and enter adulthood without the support of a permanent family.

Much work remains to reach the goal of permanence for every child, and my Administration has supported States that increased the number of children adopted out of foster care, providing over $35 million in 2009 through the Adoption Incentives program. We are also committed to meeting the developmental, educational, and health-related needs of children and youth in foster care. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided a significant increase in funding for the Title IV-E adoption and foster care assistance program. States can use
these funds to ensure those placed in foster care will enter a safe and stable environment.

In addition, we are implementing the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. This law promotes permanency and improved outcomes for foster youth through support for kinship care and adoption, support for older youth, direct access to Federal resources for Indian tribes, coordinated health benefits, improved educational stability and opportunities, and adoption incentives and assistance. Former foster youth will also benefit from the Affordable Care Act, which, beginning in 2014, will ensure Medicaid coverage for them in every State.

This month, caring foster parents and professionals across our Nation will celebrate the triumphs of children and youth in foster care as they work to remove barriers to reaching a permanent family. Federal, State, and local government agencies, communities, and individuals all have a role to play as well. Together, we can ensure that young people in foster care have the opportunities and encouragement they need to realize their full potential.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2010 as National Foster Care Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities to honor and support young people in foster care, and to recognize the committed adults who work on their behalf each day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Serving Opportunity

For the past few months, a team of dedicated people have been working to create The Children's Clothing Closet to be used by Safe Families and Foster Care Families. Donated items like clothing, baby necessities, duffel bags, blankets & toys have been collected and now need to be organized into bins and onto newly built shelving units.

Please join us for a Sorting & Organizing workday on FRIDAY MAY 21ST, from 10:00am -2:00om at CALVARY COMMUNITY CHURCH , 1000 S SPRINGINSGUTH ROAD, IN SCHAUMBURG, IL . Your help will provide much needed support for families that lovingly open their homes to kids in crisis.

Child care and refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP to Lisa if you are able to help and to let her know if you need child care.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mom's Monthly Coffee Gathering

A Voice 4 His Children Mom's Coffee

Who: Safe Families & Foster Care Moms

When: Tuesday, May 11th

What Time: 9:30-11:30

Where: Terri Hooker’s House
2000 S Ela, Schaumburg
(On Ela between Central and Algonquin.
Turn on Timber Ridge to access driveway)

Children are Welcome.
Coffee, Tea & Treats will be served.
Hope to see you there!

Please R.S.V.P. to Terri Hooker at or

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We're Back....from the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit

Brooke & Dina

Wow....What a wonderful time we had at the Summit. If I had to sum it up in a few words, I'd use the words Inspiring, Affirming and Overwhelming.

I am inspired by the ways I learned that God is moving through His church to care for orphans. I heard story after story, each one more powerful than the next, about how God is caring for His children through willing servants like you and me.

Hearing these stories, meeting so many like-minded people with the same passion, and spending time in worship has really affirmed me in my call to provide compassion and justice to orphaned & vulnerable children.

I was also reminded of the overwhelming need there is in the world to care for the fatherless. But I also know that God only calls me to take one step at a time, and to perservere as I fight to be a voice for His children.

The breakout sessions were numerous and diverse. Here's what I learned.....

Session 1: I was reminded of God's redemptive story of adoption, and it motivated me to keep the Gospel at the center of my ministry.

Session 2: I learned about a family that started a ministry to advocate for and encourage adoptions for children with HIV/AIDS and other special needs.

Session 3: I learned about a wonderful ministry called 4 Kids of South Florida, that serves foster kids who age out of the system.

Session 4: I discovered ideas to build an effective foster care ministry.

Session 5: I learned new ideas to build an effective adoption ministry.

Session 6: I learned about models, curriculum and practical advice for nurturing a heart of compassion for orphans in children & youth.

We also had wonderful keynote speakers including Steven & Mary Beth Chapman, John Piper, Al Mohler, Tom Davis and others, and we were led in worship by Steven Curtis Chapman & Peder Eide. There were also resources available at the many booths with representatives from ministries from around the country.

Thanks to everyone who prayed for this conference. The Lord definately made His presence known and I believe that God was honored.

For more information about the work of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, please visit