Wednesday, May 10, 2017

2017 Dodgeball Tournament

A new champion has been crowned. Congratulations to the "Ninja Turtles," our 2017 Champions.

This year's runner up was J2 Marketing.
And our 3rd place team was Elk Vegas Ballaz.
A special thanks to all of our sponsors:
1. Home Again Consignment
2. North Side Appliance
3. First Place Trophy - Elkhart IN
4. Hose & Go Car Wash

And a special thanks to our title sponsor
The Elkhart County Sheriff's Department

Here are a few more pics of our tournament.

Exciting Announcement

We are excited to announce that Anthony and Lauren Troyer have been accepted into the Train the Trainer class that is offered by Empowered to Connect. This training will enable them to teach the same nine week trainings that Stacey and I (Matt) teach to adoptive and foster parents. We are so excited to have another couple who will be able to lead these trainings in the Michiana area. We currently have over 20 couples interested in the training. This training consists of seven weeks of remote training and it ends with a three-day intensive in-class training which takes place in TX at the end of May.

Not only were the Troyer's accepted into this training, but we were awarded a grant from the Community Foundation of Elkhart County to help pay for this expense. We would like to thank everyone at the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, your investment will have a direct impact on the lives of children in our community who are facing some overwhelming life circumstances. Thank you for your generosity.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What Is The Simulcast Like?

This past weekend, on April 7th and 8th, we held the Empowered to Connect Simulcast at Grace Community Church in Goshen, IN. It was a great weekend with some amazing speakers sharing about how to help kids from hard places. Here is a little look at some things that were covered.

Special thanks to Grace for letting us use their facility

Teaching our kiddos to self-regulate

Which of these 3 do your kids tend to do?

Some practical ideas to use with our kids

We cannot ignore their physical needs

Connection is always the goal

This event was even trending on Twitter

Follow the map
 If you were not able to join us this year, we hope that you will be able to join us in 2018. It will be on April 13th and 14th at the same location in Goshen. It also counted for 11 hours of continuing education hours for foster parents. So if you need some hours, plan on attending next year. If you are interested in hosting the Simulcast in your area, please let me know, I would love to help you any way that I can. Feel free to reach out to me at

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Empowered to Connect

Come experience practical teaching in a safe and supportive community as we work to equip families, churches, and professionals to better serve children impacted by adoption and foster care. Check out this video of what people have said about this conference.

For those of you who might like something a little more creative check out this video from Brandon Reyes.

If you are an adoptive or foster parent, this is the single most impactful conference you can attend. It will give you an understanding about your child/children, and you will leave with a message of hope.

You can check out this map to see if there is a simulcast location near you.

If you live in the Michiana area, here is the information:

April 7-8, 2017
Grace Community Church
20076 CR 36 Goshen, IN
For more info click here

Monday, January 23, 2017

So You Want to Adopt

One piece of advice (not that anyone is asking me) that I would give to families who are thinking about adopting is...

Ask lots of questions.
You might be thinking to yourself; "That's it, that's all you got." This isn't my only advice, I said it was "one piece" of advice. Let's break this down a little more. When we ask questions, they lead us to discovery. We do this all the time in life. Our kids come to us and say, "I was invited to this birthday party, can I go?" What is the first thing you begin to do? You start asking questions. Questions like:

1. Who is it for?
2. Where is it going to be?
3. What day is it?
4. What time does it start?
5. What time does it end?
6. Who all is invited?
7. What will you be doing?
8. Will there be any adults there?
9. Is there going to be cake?
10. Do we have to buy a present?

All of these (ok maybe only some) help us be able to make an informed decision about the birthday party. The questions we asked, helped us discover a few important details and information.

The same is true of adoption. The questions we ask will help us discover some important information. Here are a few questions that I would suggest you ask yourself and your spouse (if applicable) as you think about adopting.
1. Why do I want to adopt?
2. Do I know someone else who has adopted?
3. Does my spouse want to adopt?
4. Am I willing to adopt an older child? Why or why not.
5. Do I really want to adopt, or do I just want another baby?
6. How will I prepare for an adoption?
7. Am I willing to learn about how to parent adopted children?
8. Am I willing to learn from others who have already adopted?
9. Do I realize that one families experience with adopting may not be our experience?
10. How do I choose an adoption agency?
11. Should I adopt domestically or internationally?
12. What would make me not choose an adoption agency?
13. What is the Hague Convention and what does it have to do with adoption?
14. Do I think adoption is cool?
15. Have I thought about special needs adoption?
16. What exactly does "special needs" mean?
17. What is a "waiting child?"
18. How do my other children feel about adoption?
19. How does my extended family feel about adoption?
20. What excites me about adoption?
21. What scares me about adoption?
22. What countries do I qualify to adopt from?
23. How do I do my best to avoid corruption through the adoption process?
24. Would I be willing to adopt a child with HIV? Why or why not.
25. Do I know any adults who were adopted? Have I spoken with them about their experience?
26. Should I adopt a child from a different race?
27. Am I willing to have hard and difficult conversations with your child about their past?
28. How will the community I live in treat the child I choose to adopt?
29. Should I avoid certain countries?
30. Should I avoid certain agencies?

I hope you find these helpful and insightful as you begin to get your questions answered. Happy asking.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Day I Age Out

I am so thankful for people like Bryan Tucker who can use film to tell a powerful story. This story is one we all need to hear and is the motivation behind Oasis.

Bryan Tucker is a freelance producer and documentary filmmaker based in Seattle. His first feature-length documentary film, Closure, secured national cable broadcast distribution, regional broadcast distribution on KCTS 9’s “Reel NW” series and is available on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon VOD. Bryan works with a variety of freelance clients in the Pacific Northwest and beyond, and seeks out projects that elevate marginalized voices and address social justice issues.

"The Day I Age Out" is a three-part series that follows two foster youths as they age out of Washington State's extended foster care system. Here are a few quotes to wet your appetite.

“All the resources that I had, I won’t have those resources anymore. They just kind of shut down.... As soon as I turn 21, it’s all gone.” - Mykell
“All of these emotions inside... I just didn't know what to do. Seventeen years of not having parents and not knowing if I have any parents — and then all of a sudden they just show up out of nowhere. That’s hard.” - Corey 

The Day I Age Out
Part One: Aging Out of Foster Care
Part Two: Fostering Independence
Part Three: Finding Home

Thursday, November 3, 2016

National Adoption Awareness Month

Throughout the month of November, we will be posting a lot of information about adoption on our Facebook page. If you have not "liked" our Facebook page, you can do so here.

According to The Barna Group, 77% of practicing Christians believe Christians have a responsibility to adopt. All it takes is a quick search for the word "orphan" or "fatherless" in your bible and you will find out that this is pretty important. The problem comes in the next statistic also provided by The Barna Group, that only 5% have adopted and only 3% have fostered (these numbers are practicing Christians under the age of 50). That is a pretty big gap; 77% say it is something we should be doing but only 8% have actually done something about it.

There are many different ways to show that one is pro-life. Some people give money to pro-life organizations, some people vote, some volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, some make videos, and much more. In my opinion, one of the most powerful ways to show that you are pro-life is to adopt a child. Did you know that 26% of all adults have seriously considered adopting a child but only 2% have actually done it. I cannot wait for the day to come when there is a waiting list of families who are wanting to adopt, instead of a waiting list of children waiting for a family.

When I was engaged to my lovely wife, we went through premarital counseling. We met with the Pastor who was officiating our wedding for about 6 sessions or so. One thing I remember from one of our sessions that has stuck with me for the past 19 years is the definition of love that he shared with us. He said this; "Love is seeking the highest good for someone else, even if it costs you something." I believe the most vulnerable person in the world today is the orphan and that is why I believe God had so much to say about caring for them and loving them. Ask yourself this question; "What does it look like for me to seek the highest good for the orphans and fatherless of this world?" Every child deserves love, safety, and a place to call home.

Now before you all get upset and think I am saying that everyone should adopt, I am not. I know that it is not possible for everyone to adopt so please do not put words in my mouth. I do however believe that we all can do something. Here are a few ideas.

1. Become a CASA
2. Join the Foster Care 15 Prayer Team for your state
3. Give $10 a month to help adopting families
4. Plan an Orphan Sunday event
5. Become a foster parent
6. Provided respite care for other foster parents
7. Adopt a child
8. Support adoptive and foster parents with what they need
9. Offer to watch a foster or adoptive families kids so the mom and dad can get a date night
10. Offer to plan a fundraiser for a family you know who is adopting (ie, garage sale, bake sale, etc.)