Monday, June 19, 2017

June 18, 2017

June 18th came and went. For me, it was a special day. My kids and wife took me out for breakfast and I gorged myself on pancakes. I received notes and letters from my kids that were filled with kind words and gratitude. I called my dad to tell him thank you, wish him a happy Father's Day, and tell him I loved him. All of this is pretty much what every Father's Day has been like in my life from the time I could remember. This was and is my reality and I am so grateful for that.

Not everyone is as fortunate as me. On Father's Day evening we watched the movie "The Shack." In this movie one of the main conflicts of the main character is how his broken, abusive, and messed up relationship with his earthly father affected how he viewed his relationship with God. Likewise, I am currently reading "Unashamed" by Lecrae. The morning after Father's Day this is what I read:
I have never called anyone "Dad" my entire life, so thinking about God as my Father felt weird. As a child and teenager, I wondered if my biological father abandoned me because I wasn't good enough or worthy of love. I felt like maybe one day I could earn his respect, affection, and presence. This distorted view of what a father is like bled into the way I related to God.

I am not sure anyone would deny that our relationships, or lack thereof, with our fathers here on earth affect how we might view or relate to God. With this being said, think about the millions of children who have no father, think about the hundreds of thousands of children in the US who are currently in foster care, and think about the children who have had their fathers walk out on them.

One of the many things I love about God is that He is a redeeming God. He takes old and broken things and makes them new and whole. When we chose to be involved in adoption and foster care, we get the opportunity to be part of God's redeeming plan in the life of that child. We get the opportunity to model the love of a father so that whatever their distorted view of a father is, it will not continue to bled into the way they relate to God.

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 are back from the Train the Trainer class that is offered by Empowered to Connect. This training has enabled 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 teaching these trainings in the Michiana area. We currently have over 20 couples interested in the training. They are excited to start training this fall.

A Special Thanks

We were awarded a grant from the Community Foundation of Elkhart County to help pay for the Troyers to attend this training. 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