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.

RESPONSIBILITY
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.

PRO-LIFE
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.

LOVE
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.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
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.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Parent Training

We (Stacey and Matt) are currently in the 6th week of our 9 week parent training that we offer for foster and adoptive parents. I have had some questions about what exactly this training is; so here is a little more information about the training that we teach.
The training is called "The Connect Course" and is 9 weeks long. We meet for 2 hours every week with anywhere from 4-7 couples. The training/material is through Empowered to Connect (ETC).

Brief Description

ETC Parent Training equips parents with a holistic understanding of their child’s needs and development while empowering them with the tools and strategies to effectively meet those needs, build trust, and help their child heal and grow. The training is taught from a Christian perspective and focuses on a wide range of topics and issues relevant to adoptive and foster parents, including helping parents understand the impact of their child’s history, what they themselves bring to the parent-child relationship, the fundamentals of attachment, the impact of fear, and the importance of meeting their child’s sensory processing, nutritional and other physiological needs.

This training relies heavily on the Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) model developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and her colleagues at the TCU Institute of Child Development. If you are an adoptive or foster parent and have not read "The Connected Child" by Dr. Purvis, it is a must read. 

There are over 130 couples all over the nation who are teaching these trainings throughout the year.

Click HERE to see if there are any trainers near you. If you are interested in attending our next training in the Michiana area, please get in touch with me at matt@villagetovillageintl.com. 

Will Trust-Based Parenting Work for My Child? from TAPESTRY on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Update on Oasis

You may have heard or read something about what we call, Oasis. Oasis is our initiative to help youth who are facing this overwhelming challenge of aging out of foster care. Check out the graphic below to see what happens to those who age out. We need to do better.
Stats about aging out youth

An Enlarged Vision
We are enlarging our vision from thinking about a house or apartment complex to something called an Intentional Neighboring Community (INC).
An INC is the coming together of people from all walks of life to live intentionally as caring neighbors, embracing those among us who are most vulnerable, and surrounding each other with a culture of friendliness, kindness, helpfulness, and consideration.
The INC Approach
  • Assistance is community driven
  • Based off the universal need for caring relationships
  • Those facing serious social challenges become assets to the community
  • Capacity for ordinary people of all ages to care about and for one another
What Does This Look Like
Purposefully designed spaces.
  • A community of 10-15 acres
  • No more than 150 people
  • 1/3 of the population is aging out foster youth
  • The rest of the population is made up of mostly seniors, then families, and singles
  • Multiple community spaces on the property
  • Self-sustaining
Sr. housing is completely integrated

INC residents are not viewed as problems to be managed, but as ordinary people with overwhelming life challenges that can best be addressed in the kind of family and community setting that we would want for ourselves. Everyone is a member of the community with strengths, skills and life experiences that add to the success of the neighborhood.


Projected Outcomes

  • Reduce homelessness
  • Reduce incarceration
  • Increase employment
  • Empower seniors
  • More children being fostered
  • Adoption of waiting children from the state of IN
  • Support for adoptive and foster parents
  • Reproduced across the state of IN
If you would like to give to help make Oasis a reality you can do so here or if you have any questions about this please email Matt at matt@villagetovillageintl.com 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Milestones


On August 4th, Village to Village Intl. will celebrate 5 years of existence. I can remember back to when this was just a dream in my head. We had just completed our first adoption, and the financial cost for us to do so was on the front of my mind. I had many conversations that went the same way; I would share about our adoption experience, they would congratulate me and end the conversation by saying something like; "That is great that you could do that, but we could never afford to adopt." My first reaction to such statements was that it was an excuse, but I also had to admit the reality that adoption is an expensive process.

Sometimes I am blessed with the curse of not being able to get something off my mind, and this was one of those times. I kept thinking of different ways to remove this financial barrier. I wanted to do something that was not currently being done and I wanted to engage as many people as possible in the process. I can still remember the day it came to me. I was driving in my purple van in the the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago and I had just dropped my son off to play with a friend. I was in my van and it hit me like a ton of feathers (I know most people say bricks, but a ton is a ton. Plus I want you to be entertained as you are reading). That day was the beginning vision of Village to Village Intl. You can read more about how we started here.

Open Hand
If there is one thing that I have learned these past 5 years is to hold the vision and direction of Village to Village Intl. with an open hand. If I look at what we are doing today and compare that to what I had in mind 5 years ago and asked; "Are those two things the same?" I would have to say; "Yes and no." We are doing some of what I envisioned but we are also doing some things that I never envisioned. This is what is so exciting to me. I never would have imagined Stacey (my wife) and I would be using the Trust Based Relational Intervention material from Empowered to Connect to train foster and adoptive families. We can train 4-6 couples per class and currently have 23 couples who are interested in receiving this training. There is definitely a need for this. 

So as we move forward, we can look back and celebrate the past, but we are always looking forward asking ourselves; "What is not being done to help these kids who are faced with these overwhelming life challenges and can we do something to make a difference?" One of our favorite quotes is from Bob Pierce and it says; "Don't fail to do something just because you can't do everything." 

People have asked me; "Why did you start Village to Village Intl.?" and to me the answer is easy and is summed up right on our logo; "Because they matter."



Monday, July 18, 2016

Positive Fatherhood #3


What is your name of your children? 
Ethan, and I have 3 children; Seth (6), Aiden (3), Keegan (1)

Where do you live?
Illinois

What is your favorite thing about being a father?
Sharing my life with my boys.

What was/is one of your favorite things to do with your children?
Wrestling on our basement floor.

What has been the most helpful thing for you in being a father?
Besides prayer, other men to speak into my life.

What is one piece of advice you have for other fathers?
Don’t be too stubborn to ask for forgiveness from your children and show that you make mistakes and need forgiveness too.

Do you have a favorite story (something funny, a mistake you made that you learned from, a special memory, etc.) that you would like to share?
In the middle of the night, I was awakened by my toddler who had to use the bathroom. He was a few weeks into potty training and I thought my son got the gist of standing up. Half asleep I stood him up in front of the toilet and let go of him while he was peeing. Losing his balance, he fell hands first into the toilet. We went from a middle of the night bathroom break to a full body hose down.