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. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Reflections on Father's Day


I am writing this post the day after Father's Day. A day that was filled with words of affirmation, encouragement, and love from my wife and all of my kiddos. One of the things I try to teach my kids is to look at situations from a perspective that is not their own. You know the old idiom, "Put yourself in someone else's shoes." I began to think about the kids I know who are growing up without their father, an absent father, or any family for that matter. As I began to pray for these children and youth, I was reminded of a song by Lecrae called, "Was It Worth It?" This song has truly helped me "Put myself in someone else's shoes." I hope it does the same for you.




"Was It Worth It"
(feat. Derek Minor & Crystal Nicole)

On birthdays and Christmas I used to have you on my wishlist
Held my son the first time, looked him in his eye
And thought to myself, what kind of fool would ever miss this
I ain't ask for you to sleep with mom and make me
Plus I'm your blood, why would you leave, what was so important
They told you smash broads roll up the weed
I guess that buzz got you high enough to float over me
I hope that every dollar that you made, every girl that you slave
When you close your eyes at night, I hope you say it's all worth it
Every graduation, birthday, game that you missed
I hope what you got instead make you feel it's all worth it
Being a, father's expensive and it cost you may ignore
Just know man, your grandson is paying for it
Can't ask myself what would dad do in hard times
'Cus that that man he'll be writing one of these rhymes

All these hearts that you broke, all these lies that you told
All this pain that you own, years all alone
Nights away from home, tell me
I hope it was worth it, was it worth it
Tell me was worth it, tell me was it really worth it

Listen, a lot of rap dudes never had a daddy
That's why we want approval from Nas like he family
But, it ain't just Jermaine, it's Dre to the game
To the Birdman saying that he's the father of Wayne, man
What happened to us better yet what didn't happen
No happy family 'cus daddy left me
Deep in this valley, of the Shadow of Death
I'm felling the breath of repetitiveness on my neck
Ate me alive while daddy was getting high
Trying to chase after something that I'm certain he'll never find
When the whole time, he could have had my young mind
Somewhere along the line I guess he spent up all his time
Sent me this birthday card out of the blind, when I was nine
Inherited a bunch of of pain and some empty memories
Wishing that he picked me up from elementary
I wish he could have seen me on my graduation
Taught me he to raise the son, and told me congratulations

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Foster Care Awareness

Did you know that May is foster care awareness month? Now let's be honest, it seems like every month is an "awareness" month for something, all of which are well deserved of having their own month. As I thought about the purpose of having a whole month dedicated to foster care I focused in on the word "awareness."

Awareness is defined this way; "concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development."

When I read this definition, I asked myself; "Is foster care something to be concerned about?" and "Are people well-informed?" My answers to these questions were; "Absolutely, we need to be concerned about foster care," and "No, I do not think the average person is well-informed." 

This first video does a great job of informing us about the situation of foster care.



These next two videos give you a little idea of what it might be like to be a child in foster care.






Would you please consider sharing this post during the month of May to help bring awareness to this all important issue. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

2016 Dodgball Tournament Recap

Our dodgeball tournament was a huge success this year! Why was it such a huge success?

Reason #1: We had the most teams that we have ever had.
We had 10 teams show up to try their stake at becoming the 2016 Village to Village dodgeball champions. In the end there could be only one and that team was J2 Marketing.
Congratulations to our champions!
Reason #2: We raised more money this year than any other year.
This year we raised over $4,500!

Reason #3: We had some amazing sponsors.
In total we had 8 sponsors.
1. Nate Stemm with Edward Jones in Elkhart, IN
2. Hose and Go Car Wash in Elkhart, IN
3. Goodwill of Michiana
4. Technical Repair Solutions in Mishawaka, IN
5. Shepard Swim School in Elkhart, IN
6. Encompass Nutrients 
7. Community Chiropractic and Wellness Center (Three locations in IN)
8. First Place Trophy in Elkhart, IN firstplacetrophy@gmail.com

Reason #4: We had a magnificent host.
A special thank you to Elkhart Christian Academy and Mr. and Mrs Newland! We cannot thank you enough for jumping in and helping us with the tournament this year. You definitely went above and beyond and for that we are grateful.

Reason #5: Everyone involved had a blast.
I cannot tell you how many people came up to me and told me how much fun this event was. Not just the people who played, but also the people who were watching.

Congratulations to our 2nd place team - Elkhart Police Department
What was left of our 3rd place team, The Ninja Turtles, at picture time



Friday, April 22, 2016

Positive Fatherhood #2


What is your name of your children? 

Miriam 10, Maggie 7, Evelyn 3, Gavin 1

Where do you live?
Iowa

What is your favorite thing about being a father?

Just being loved by my kids.  When I can be at my best, serve them well and see they way they return that spirit makes me feel like Superman.  It’s wonderful to see them grow, change and develop.  The time and effort (and money!) it takes to invest in them means other selfish things have to be set aside; but the returns are well worth it.  When my youngest daughter asks to sit on my lap, when my 2nd oldest wants to go to the hardware store with me, or when my oldest earns a new privilege I feel like a million bucks.

What was/is one of your favorite things to do with your children?

Every Sunday night is family night.  We’ll make pizza, let the kids pick a movie and enjoy just being together.  The kids also love legos or puzzles.  When we do small projects like that together it’s great.  No stress, or pressure, just the simple enjoyment of being together.


What has been the most helpful thing for you in being a father?
A good family and church relationship.  Whether it’s other couples in my small group, the community at our local church, or the help of aunts, uncles and grandparents. Having help and support means a lot.  Kids get sick, schedules get messed up, I take on projects that are way bigger than I can finish alone, or I just desperately need to take my wife out for a date and some adult conversation.  When these things happen having support from the community of Christ makes all the difference in the world.

What is one piece of advice you have for other fathers?

1) Let your yes be yes and your no be no. and 2) Pick your battles and always win.
Per scripture I don’t want to exasperate my kids.  I want to be kind and consistent with what is expected of them, what we can do and what we can’t.  As such, if I’m parenting the way I should I communicate with them, follow up with my commitments and be consistent.  This gives them boundaries and will build the trust that Dad is fair and he can be counted on.  To that end, kids need to be kids and I shouldn’t demand that they be perfect.  It’s ok to let small, unimportant things go.  Not every battle needs to be fought.  However, there are times when kids need firm discipline and instruction.  When No means no and obedience should be expected.  These are the times that it is imperative to stand firm.

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?
Since I don’t make mistakes, I have limited things to share here but will do my best.

Several years back Miriam was taking horse lessons.  One day, the horse decided to shake its mane rather briskly.  Miriam was unaware and unsuspecting of this, as it caught her by surprise she was tossed off the horse and landed face down in the dirt.  I was watching from the side and saw the whole thing happen.  I rushed up to her and saw right away that she was ok but didn’t want the slightest thought of discouragement to enter her mind.  So I said “Hey Miriam, way to go!  You’re a real cowgirl now!”  The other instructors praised her as well for her first fall.  Miriam sniffled a couple times but then, without hesitation, climbed right back on the horse and finished her lesson.  I don’t know that I’ve ever been more proud.  Miriam had every reason to quit, but she literally got back on the horse.

Bonus:  Little kids need nutritious food and naps.  You can save time by having your kids do both at the same time!

Friday, April 15, 2016

We Say Goodbye To An Amazing Lady

This week we lost an amazing lady who gave her life to help children and families. Dr. Karyn Purvis passed away on Tuesday, April 12. I (Matt) will be forever grateful for her and her work of helping kids from hard places. The material that she developed and has shared with so many has been the conduit to so many children being able to experience deep levels of healing. We are committed to spreading this hope giving message and we will continue to do so through hosting the simulcast and teaching our 9 week parenting class. Our prayers are with the family of Dr. Purvis and her team at TCU. Thanks for investing in the lives of children.


In an attempt to give you a little picture of the impact this material has on families, we thought we would share with you some direct quotes from our simulcast we hosted last weekend. Enjoy.

"This was such a helpful weekend of information and learning."

"I am so thankful to take home the various resources to not only integrate with your future adopted child, but also to our biological children right now."

"This was our first time attending ETC and we loved it! Such great info. Hope to come next year."

"It was eye opening to hear Dr. Howard say...'The consequences of neglect are far more serious then that of abuse. By giving these kids a voice we are telling them they matter and have value.'"

"Our takeaway was, behavior emerge from needs."

"I feel more equipped and encouraged to address parenting that often is intimidating and seems unmanageable."

"I have received some tools I am very excited to put into practice."

"I am hopeful that the things I have learned will bring healing and growth to our family."

"You have to regulate yourself first before you can help regulate your kiddos."

"Where was this 19 years ago?"

"This has really helped me understand behavioral and emotional needs."

"This has been so good!"

"We now know for sure what has happened to our biological son while raising him along with our adopted children, thank you!"

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Positive Fatherhood #1


What is your name of your children? 
Terry has 6 kids and 2 grandkids.
Felicia who is married to Mike, Zachary who is married to Morgan, Chase who is married to Alexa, Logan, Jacob, and Anna.

Where do you live?
Terry lives in Indiana

What is your favorite thing about being a father?
Pouring into the kids life's and watching them grow into adults 

What was/is one of your favorite things to do with your children?
Sitting around the table for our evening meal together. Praying, eating, and sharing about our days. This might sound boring but I remember doing this growing up with my parents and siblings. It's amazing what that time each day does to keep a family close to each other in a busy world. 

What is one piece of advice you have for other fathers?
Work harder at being a father than at your job. Don't come home from work and isolate yourself in front of the TV. Be an "involved" husband and father.

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?
A funny story.... Our youngest Anna was born in Ethiopia and loves to dance and sing. We found this used karaoke machine that we gave to her at Christmas this past year. My wife and her were singing a popular pop song and I joined in singing. She stops and looks at me and says "Dad you should stick to being in the audience with that voice!" Ouch!

Monday, March 7, 2016

An Important Voice


There are many voices represented with adoption and foster care. As an adoptive father myself, it is easy to only listen to certain voices. I believe this is common in many areas of our lives. We have to be purposeful to listen to voices that may be different than ours, that maybe represent a group of people in which we do not belong, that maybe see things from a perspective that we have never seen before, that may even make us a little uncomfortable. When we choose to listen to the voices that are different than ours, it shows that our ultimate goal is understanding. We are seeking to understand something from another perspective other than our own.

This is why I believe that Angela Tucker's voice is so important! We all need to hear from her and other adoptees. Her experience is something we all can learn from.

Her questions
Her curiosity
Her bravery
Her courage
Take a listen it is only 34 minutes.

You can also learn more about her story in her documentary entitled "Closure." It can be seen on Netflix and Amazon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Positive Stories of Fatherhood

The other day I read an article by Dr. John DeGarmo that was entitled "What the Media is NOT Telling You About Dads Like Me." It starts off this way...
"Absent fathers. Abusive dads. Poor role models for children. Today's media is full of stories about fathers and dads who are absent in their children's lives; who harm their children with various forms of abuse; who are poor role models to their children on a variety of levels."
You can read the rest of the article here if you are interested.


Like most of our news and media, the stories about fatherhood that are "news worthy" are almost always negative. So I thought that it would be cool to write about the "other" stories. The positive stories of fatherhood.

Now, we are in no way claiming that the people in the stories we share are perfect in any way. They are real people, with real children, with real problems, who have and will make real mistakes that we can all learn something from or just simply be encouraged by.

We will be sharing these stories on our blog and on our Facebook page from time to time. Be encouraged that there are many fathers investing into the next generation.

Poem by Andrea Chambers

"How much time do I have, Little One?"

I met you just today...what excitement and what pleasure!
This little outfit that you wear will become a special treasure.

I don't know what you've endured in your short little life,
Or what haunting memories flood your mind when you close your eyes at night.

But let me assure you, Little One, you are completely loved and adored.
You will learn to trust and feel secure each day, more and more.

"How long will you stay with me?", I ponder as I rock you.
I haven't known you long, but I feel I can't live without you!

How long will I kiss your tear-filled eyes and scraped-up little knees?
Each boo-boo gives me a purpose because mommy is who you need.

How long will I make your meals and serve your favorite foods?
It's such a joy to hear you pray and thank Him for all the good.

I hate to say "good-bye" to you when you leave for weekly visits,
But I pack your bag with love, give you kisses, and pray for you every minute.

I know this all confuses you. It doesn't seem to make a bit of sense.
But know I am ready to hold you in my arms when you are on the defense.

I love you, oh so much, more than words could ever say.
Time passes much too quickly, and decisions about your future must be made.

How much time do I have, Little One? I really do not know.

But I am thankful for the time we are given, and oh, I love you so!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Empowered to Connect


We are so excited to be hosting the live simulcast of the Empowered to Connect Conference again this year.

The Empowered To Connect Conference is a two-day conference for adoptive and foster parents, ministry leaders, and professionals designed to help them connect with children from hard places in order to help them heal and become all that God desires for them to be. Led by Dr. Karyn Purvis (Director of the TCU Institute of Child Development), this conference is ideal for adoptive and foster parents, those considering adoption or foster care and those who are serving and supporting others, including social workers, agency professionals, church staff and ministry leaders, counselors, therapists and others all involved in adoption and foster care ministries or services. Conferences sessions will be held from 10am-6pm on both days. Light refreshments will be provided during breaks throughout the event, with “on your own” lunch breaks. All participants are highly encouraged to attend sessions on both days. Professionals may be eligible to receive continuing education credit for their participation.

Check out this video to learn a little more.


This conference is beneficial for everyone. It will help you relate better to your spouse, adopted children, foster children, biological children, students, coworkers, etc.

Maybe you are single and have no children and are thinking to yourself, "What good could I get from this conference?" You can find the answer to that question in this blog, "How Going to the 'Wrong' Conference Was the Right Thing."

Here are the details: 
Date/Time - April 8-9, 10am-6pm both days. Doors will open at 9:30am both days
Location - Grace Community Church
Address - 20076 County Road 36 Goshen, IN 46526
Cost - $20/person
If you have any questions please contact Matt at matt@villagetovillageintl.com

Eventbrite - Empowered to Connect Live Simulcast (April 8-9)

This simulcast is being offered at over 200 locations so if you cannot make it to Goshen, IN you can check out this link http://showhope.org/be-hope/equipping-families/etc/etc-simulcast/#map to find a location near you. Be sure to check it often as they are updating the map with new locations constantly.  

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