Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Long Distance Parenthood

There is a beautiful little boy waiting in Uganda for his Mom and Dad to come for him. He is in a good place, with caregivers that love and care for him. But, he does not yet have one mother and one father whose world revolves around him. At least, not that he knows of yet.

As soon as is humanly possible, this little boy’s mom and dad will be headed to Uganda to bring him home. They have worked through the home study process, have been approved by the United States to adopt, and have waited (somewhat) patiently for travel time to come. Dad has daydreamed about his son napping in his lap and when Mom sees his empty crib, she pictures him reaching for her from within. It pains them to feel a parent’s love for their child from such a distance.

The adoption journey is not for the faint of heart. This process includes heartbreaking delays, requires supernatural patience and an unwavering trust in God’s timing and plan for your family. Even the tiniest detail of your process was ordained by our God. We can breathe a sigh of relief! No one can thwart His plans!

"Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the Lord is a just God. Happy are all who wait patiently for Him." Isaiah 30:18

“He executes justice for the fatherless.” Deuteronomy 10:18

The Truth is that the Lord loves His children. Those with no earthly father have a heavenly Father that has an indescribable, unconditional love for them. He promises them justice. And for parents longing for their child to be in their arms, He promises mercy, compassion, and happiness for their patience!

This family will travel to Uganda for their son, soon. God will fulfill His promises to His people!

Claire Davis, LGSW
International Social Worker

Monday, June 28, 2010

Stocking Stuffer

Traditions have always been important to me. I enjoy things like going to the lake on Memorial Day and the 4th of July, having macaroni and cheese at both Christmas and Thanksgiving, and unpacking Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving after all the festivities and cleaning are done. But one of the best traditions happens on December 20. Don't go checking your calendars... there is most likely nothing there. This is my "got me day" (or to my parents "gotcha day"). On this day, almost 3 months after I was born, my parents met me for the first time. This happened here, in the Lifeline office, and ironically in the same room that I sit and work in every day.

Now I sit in the same room writing this blog.

I had spent the three months between my birthday and my "got me day" in an infant care provider home. For "got me day", the sweet couple made my mom and dad a stocking since it was so close to Christmas. They decorated the stocking with a snowman, a Christmas tree, and my parents' names. I laid in Lifeline's office, in a white bassinet, stuffed in a stocking until my parents came to meet me and bring me home.

Now the tradition begins!

Ever since that day, every December 20, my parents put me back in the same stocking to see how much I have grown. I have to say... I have not grown any taller in the past few years, but still--the tradition continues.

I am so glad it does!

In looking back, I can see how this small tradition always reminded me that I was adopted. Hearing the story of “got me day” and celebrating it, helped ensure this wasn’t a subject to hide, but to celebrate, rejoice and share with others. I feel like as an adopted child, it is good to celebrate the day that God made you a family. Little traditions like this help remind us of the thin threads God has in our lives and the blessings He has given to us. God made us a family almost 26 years ago, and I am sure on December 20th, new pictures will be taken of me with my feet in a stocking.

Marie Collier
Administrative Assistant

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lessons from a GPS

Our family very recently spent a week at the beach at Ft. Morgan, Alabama.... yes, we knew there was oil coming. In fact, we even got a call from the rental people telling us that very thing but we decided this was our family time that we had etched out and we were not going to be denied. Thankfully, we saw no oil. We were blessed with beautiful weather and even sweeter time to spend just with each other.

Our youngest daughter, Grace, came to the beach after a class on Tuesday. She is not very good with directions and was concerned about getting lost. Despite my husband and I giving her directions complete with highway numbers and landmarks, she still wound up borrowing a GPS system from a friend. Grace made it to the beach fine and we road together on the trip home Saturday. On our way back, she wanted me to use the GPS even though she was aware that I knew the way without it. I told her that when visiting prospective adoptive couples or foster parents that I prefer to have written directions from them that give me names of roads and landmarks, such as turn right at the McDonalds or you will pass a large church on the left. Regardless, she plugged in the GPS navigation system anyway and put in our destination (our home). Now many of you have these so I don’t need to explain any of this to you but this thing was totally new to me. It told us what direction to go and how long to travel that way. It also told us how long it should take us for the entire trip. This went fine until we had to stop to get gas and pulled off the road. Then the GPS began telling us to “turn around” and to get back on the original road. When we didn’t, it stated “redirecting” and then told us how to get back to where we needed to be. Then it redirected, calculated how to get home by way of the new “path” we had chosen.

Later, we had to turn off to get something to eat, drink and use the bathroom. Well, same routine of hearing it say “turn around”, “get back on the correct road”. Once we started driving again it would again announce “redirecting” and would proceed to do so. Wow, when we decided to get off the interstate and take some back roads due to horrible traffic the whole system went nuts but soon said “redirecting” and pointed out the way home. Here again the system was showing us that there was still a way to make it to our destination but by a different route.

It didn’t take me long before I pointed out to our daughter how the GPS system is like the word of God and/or his plan for our lives. Trying to find an analogy here (as I attempt to do with so much in life!) I pointed out that once we are believers, we know what our destination is-–Heaven. Once we have received salvation, we are assured that Heaven will be our final destination--Hallelujah!! Yet, while the final destination is the same for all Christians just what life journey we take to get there is that wonderful interplay between us and our Lord. The destination of our eternal home is plugged into our lives just like we plugged in the destination of our home on Grace’s GPS. There is a route that is mapped out by the system (or God’s best plan) and we set out to follow it to the best of our abilities. Before we know it though we are enticed off the path by the things of the world (such as us stopping by a fast food place) and the Holy Spirit cries out to “turn around” to get back on the path that God knows is best. Sometimes we may quickly get back on the path but at other times we make a much longer exit than we should. Then there are many times where we get off the path, take a different route, but still God can “redirect” us taking a path that while it may not be His best plan for us, it is a plan, a path that will still result in the same destination.

Brothers and sisters, hear me say that God knows the plans and has the best plan for our lives, but he gives us free will to determine what route we will chose to travel on our journey through life. Just as the GPS redirects when we veer from the journey it had decided is best, our heavenly Father can still use whatever twists and turns our life takes to his glory. I am reminded of the beautiful story of Joseph where his brothers sold him into slavery as a result of their hatred and jealousy. But God was able to use what man intended for evil for his own good and for the glory of God himself.

Just know that God has a route for each of us and wouldn’t life be great if we always followed that route! Yet, God can take you no matter what road you have wandered down and “redirect” you to arrive one day at your final destination--HOME.

Renee Griffin, LBSW
Domestic Social Worker
Lifeline Foster Parent Coordinator

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Blessings--Responding to your crisis of belief

“You are such special people to do this--you must be angels.” How many times have Mark & I heard this and thought “Ha--If they only knew us!” People are usually referring to our recent adoption of Guan Pu–-now known as David Michael Lucas (aka Mikey). Mikey was born with complete bilateral tibial hemimelia. This is a big fancy word for his legs were pretty messed up below the knees. Below his knees it was just a little pouch of flesh where his tibia should be and two very disfigured feet. He had 2 toes on each foot (they were the cutest toes I've ever seen) and walked on his knees. I first saw his file in January or February of 2008. My initial thought was; "Wow, that little guy is going to need a really special family.” In April of 2009 his file landed on my desk again. He was still waiting for that “special family” to come and get him. Little did I know--that special family was us.

When Jesus called the 12 disciples, he chose 12 of the most ordinary, uneducated and despised individuals in the land. Among them were tax collectors, political activists, failed fishermen, and skeptics. Now, I would not say that Mark and I are “uneducated and despised”, but we are ordinary. There is nothing special about us that would tag us as the ultimate adoptive family or super star parents. In fact, if you knew us ten years ago--you would have met two self-centered people who couldn’t see much farther than themselves. We adopted our twins Valerie and Vanessa seven years ago in 2002. Our daughter Zoe was born to us 10 months after we brought them home. We had 3 beautiful daughters and we thought our home was complete. Our flesh was selfish and we had built a comfort wall around our home. We didn’t want to have to tear down that wall. But we knew that God was asking us to step up to the plate again and raise another child for Him. What if we said no? I could have easily dismissed it as a hormonal girl/mom thing and gone about my work and continued to advocate for him. After all, this kid was 6 years old and would need to have both legs amputated. I’m sure there is a much better family for him than us. Everything in our lives would be changed. Do we really want to do this? Is this fair to the girls? Where would we get the money? We had reached a crisis of belief. The crisis of belief is a turning point where you must make a decision. You must decide what you believe about God. How you respond will determine whether you go on to be involved in something God-sized that only He can do, or whether you will continue to go your own way and miss what God has purposed for your life. There is a misconception among many Christians that God will never give you more than you can handle. Yes, He will. But He also has made a promise that he will always be with you and guide your path. I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. – Isaiah 42:16

We accepted God’s invitation. Mikey came home in January of this year and had major surgery in May. He is no longer that sad little boy I saw two years ago. He is the son God chose for us before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4). We have front row seats to watch God’s glory unfold in the lives of each of the children He set aside for us as well as the incredible responsibility to raise them as He intended. And, like the twelve men who followed Jesus Christ, we also have constant failings, struggles, and doubts. Would we have chosen this path for ourselves?--Probably not. Would we have it any other way?--Never!

Adoption is only one of the many, many ways that God will use someone to fulfill His purpose. What is God calling you to do and how will you respond to your next crisis of belief?

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; - Jeremiah 1:5

Janell Lucas
International Adoption Specialist
WA Office

An Introduction

My name is Laura Hausen, and I am a new International Social Worker for Lifeline. I recently graduated from the University of Alabama with my Master’s in Social Work. I have been with the agency just 4 weeks, so I thought it most appropriate to write about the way in which the Lord has lead me to this agency, and how He has been working in my heart over the past several years of my life.

I guess I should start with how I chose social work as a profession. I attended Samford University as an undergraduate to pursue a degree in Psychology, with the hopes of one day becoming a Clinical Psychologist. In my last semester of school, the Lord began to press upon my heart the field of social work. I had never considered this profession before; however, the social workers’ proactive approach to service was becoming increasingly appealing to me. So, I began to research and pray. Perhaps the most important thing I discovered was the theological implications woven into the very foundation of the social work profession. What I found is that these professionals unconditionally serve and advocate on behalf of those in need. This is so closely tied to the example Christ set for us. And isn’t this the mission of the church? Isn’t this our purpose as believers? At this point of realization, I was sold; social work was the career for me.

After graduating from Samford, I began pursuing a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Alabama. I knew going into the program that I had an interest in the field of adoption and foster care, and so I chose my concentration accordingly- children and their families. I also knew from the beginning that I wanted to use my social work degree in a ministry capacity. Over the two years I spent at Alabama, the Lord increasingly affirmed my decision to pursue a ministry driven child placing agency, and so I set my sights on Lifeline Children Services. It is no secret that this agency is a wonderful outlet for ministry. I was also familiar with Lifeline’s foundational beliefs, and knew how closely they resembled my own. I was sold on the agency, its purpose, and its ministry. However, I had to find a way to make the agency sold on me. After a series of interviews, and much prayer, I was offered a job here at Lifeline- the day before my graduation.

As I previously mentioned, I was brought on board as an International Social Worker, and I will be heading up the new Haiti program. I really could not be more thrilled about this opportunity! I work with quite possibly the best staff imaginable doing a job that I love. I am certainly thankful for the Lord’s guidance in getting me here.

Laura Hausen
International Social Worker

Monday, June 21, 2010


This can be a very depressing book depending on how you read it. All is vanity-- work, pleasure, knowledge, things, etc. Our ultimate end is death--and Solomon (who many believe wrote this book) seemed to think that the ending (death) is better than the starting (birth) because everything in life is vain-empty-futile.

What’s missing? This is good to ponder. I think--perspective. I don’t see an acknowledgement of God’s goodness and gifts--or a personal relationship with God as David had. God gives pleasure (though there are proper boundaries), God gives knowledge--though we’ll never know/understand all we can, He gives beauty (music, people, creation). And God gives things--though we should not hold onto them for satisfaction over the Lord--they won’t last or satisfy long term.

Indeed, there is futility in life (at least at some level) when God is not the center--when He is not our first satisfaction and enjoyment. I’m not sure I see Solomon enjoying God as his father David did. Where was the break down between father and son? Was there something David did not do so that Solomon caught this? Just food for thought.

When the Lord is the center, then we enjoy Him, and we can better and freely love others and enjoy them.

Gina Linden
Birthmother Social Worker

Friday, June 18, 2010

One Step at a Time

It is very easy for me to become overwhelmed by the future. I have never done well with change or not knowing exactly what is ahead. I tend to be fearful and want to be in control.

However, I am aware that if I always knew what was ahead of me, and exactly where I was supposed to go and what I was supposed to do, there would be no need for faith. And that is the very essence of a relationship with the Lord. Having a relationship with Him means surrendering control. It means getting out of the driver’s seat and inviting Him to sit down there, taking control of all of the twists and turns, deciding the speed you will travel, and determining the detours you will take along the way – all of which will serve to teach you to trust Him further. If God revealed to us the final destination from the start, we would not need Him. We would try to figure out our own way to get there. We might arrive at the destination, but we would miss the journey. And that is just as important, if not more so.

God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). It is not a sunrise or giant spotlight. It reveals just enough on the path ahead of us for us to take the next step. This keeps us walking with Christ. This is the beauty of walking with Him – complete and total dependence. Faith that He knows what we need and where we need to go. Trust that His timing is perfect and that His plans are better. Those plans are definitely not easier, but they are always better. And His plans are so wonderful and so complete that they not only include our best interest, but are intertwined with the best interest of all of His people. What a mighty God we serve! How deserving He is of our faith, our trust, and our very lives. Let Him lead you today, one step at a time.

Allison Fuqua
International Social Worker

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Trust in Him

Psalm 37:3-5
“Trust in the Lord and do good; live in the land and be safe. Seek your happiness in the Lord and He will give you your heart’s desire. Give yourself to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will help you.”

Good Morning – this is Stephanie from International at Lifeline –

This verse is easy to “hand” to someone else to encourage them and to advise them on how to live life, but it is not so easy to do when it involves your own self. Isn’t that just like life – it is easy to tell someone else to do it, but much harder when you must do it yourself.

When sharing this thought I am reminded of two different scenarios, but they both come back to the same thing--my walk with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

My first thought is adoption--it is easy for me at Lifeline to say to an adopting family to trust in the Lord because it is all in His timing. But you see, I understand this advice from the standpoint of an adoptive mother. It is not so easy when you make the choice to completely love a little child that you have never held in your arms. I need to take a risk. I need to completely give my heart and love to “my child” in order to become completely her mother. I need to do this without knowing how long it might take to complete the adoption and without knowing the exact path the Lord is going to take to bring my child into my arms. I need to trust the Lord with my whole heart in order to open my heart to this deep kind of love! That is hard, but isn’t that what the Lord has done for us on the Cross. He gave everything for us, and then gave us the free will to choose to love Him or not to love Him.

I do know how hard it is to rest in the Lord when I hand this verse to a family because I have lived it and once again I find myself needing to trust the Lord completely to bring my child home and into my arms! It is not easy, but it is Truth! I am walking this journey of adoption again in my own life and in my own family so if I hand this verse to you it is a verse that I desire to follow completely myself, and I don’t give this advise lightly! Christ is able, but we must be willing to follow His Word!

The second thought that came to my mind through this verse is from a discussion that my 13 year-old daughter and I recently had one evening (Sasha is adopted from Russia and she is the joy of our lives! We also have a little one adopted from Taiwan and someday she and I will have this same discussion I am sure). Our conversation centered around the “Secret to Life”, as I like to call it. The “Secret to Life” is my relationship with Jesus Christ! How is my relationship with Him today? How is my devotional life today? Have I spent time with the Lord today? Have I read His Word today? If I can not answer “Yes” to those questions should I really be asking that of anyone else?

I know that the secret to living a life of joy and peace and success is answered in those questions. I know that everything in my life revolves around my relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a new person--a different person--a better person all because of Him, but if I am not growing my relationship one day at a time in Him, then I know I am at risk for not being the kind of person He wants me to be.

Sasha and I talked about the deep meaning of this, and I have found that she is investing her time into spending time with the Lord everyday. I see it changing her into the kind of person that He wants her to be! I am so proud of her. I shared with her that I know that it is easy to tell her to do this, but it is not so easy to do myself. Life is busy and each day goes so quickly, but at the end of the day my question should be-– “Have I done the most important thing today--which is to spend time growing my relationship with my Lord Jesus because everything else in my life comes out of this relationship.” Just as I did not ask Sasha that lightly, I do not ask you that lightly because it is a question I ask myself. How is your relationship with the Lord today?

I share two prayer requests before I end my thoughts for the day:

1. Please pray for the waiting children of Bulgaria. We have 15 new children on our waiting children page! Please take time to sign the confidentiality statement (available at the Bulgaria link on the web site) so that you can view the waiting children. I believe that the Lord is asking us to pray for families to come to Lifeline to adopt these precious children! Pray for these children to come to know that their lives are a gift from the Creator and that He loves them and is their Father.

2. Please pray for rains to come to the Southern Part of the Philippines where my husband and I do orphan ministry to a government run orphanage. We knew that there was a drought in the region for some time and have been praying using the verses from Joel 2:23 “…Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rains He sends are an expression of His grace. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring.” What we did not know was how this drought was going to affect the orphans that we love and help to provide for. We have just heard that the heat is so intense in this region that some of the children have horrible rashes. They have no electricity most of the time to power any air conditioner or fan because of the drought. Much of their electricity is run by the water in the dams and since the water is so low they must have what they call “brown outs” or turning off of the electricity. So now these precious children who have already suffered so much are suffering even more in the intense heat and from lack of rain. Please pray for the Lord to bless the Land in the southern part of the Philippines with His rains. Please pray for these children and for the Lord to bring relief for them.

Thank you so very much. May the Lord bless your day –

International Adoption Specialist

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Responding to God's Call

Life is funny! At least for me, it never seems to work out exactly like the plans I set forth! I have a feeling that this is true for most people. In fact, many families that decide to adopt never planned to adopt. Because of various circumstances and/or a call that God puts on their life, they find themselves pursuing an adoption. A call to adopt is a precious thing. It does not mean the process will be easy, but it does mean a family is responding to the Lord and risking themselves emotionally, financially, and in other ways to answer that call. It takes courage to enter the unknown and sometimes confusing world of adoption to be obedient to this call. It takes perseverance to manage all the details and issues that arise during the process of waiting for your child and keeping your home study current! There are many days that are discouraging and heart-wrenching. However, the Lord gives us strength to follow-through on what he has called us to do. God has not promised us that we will have the easiest path, but he does promise He will be with us along the way. The staff at Lifeline prays for waiting families by name. We know you and care about you and also understand that the process and wait can be tedious and frustrating. But we also know that meeting your child--the child God is calling you toward--will be worth the wait.

God bless,
Margo Harwell
Supervisor of Domestic Social Services

Monday, June 14, 2010

This is Joy.

June 1st, Lifeline hosted its 5th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic where we raised funds to care for a birth mother, bring home a child, and feed an orphan for life. Everything from the breathtaking course & wonderful steak dinner, to the great prizes and entertainment will not soon be forgotten!

It was a few of the smaller, more "subtle" aspects of the event, however, which are of monumental value. I am referring to the precious children, loved and embraced by families who are now honored to call them sons and daughters. There were many adopted children present at the tournament last Tuesday, and I would like to share a moment from the golf tournament, which may have been quiet & behind the scenes, but its impact will last forever.

Sweet Lia Faith & Lily Grace, daughters Mr. & Mrs. Green adopted from China giggled and played as their adoring parents offered support wherever needed. They were a constant reminder to golfers and volunteers alike of why we were all there that day. After the tournament, I received an e-mail from Mr. Green in which he shared this:

"Lia Faith tells us often that she loves her family and then she names each one. Then she says, "I love myself, too!" She knows she was once alone, so that she could now say she 'loves herself' shows great confidence as she grows into this new little person, complete and full of grace and mercy from the Giver of all good things!"

Some words are too pointed not to share directly. The need is great, and we have the ability to pray, to give, or to go. As I reflect on the Golf Tournament and other avenues where we come together to raise support for the sake of a child, I celebrate.

We come together and golf for children like Lia Faith and Lily Grace. Seek where the Lord would have you invest your resources, time, and passion. When you give, it's a reflection of your heart. To spend time meditating on and working diligently so that His little ones find hope; this is joy.

Krisha Yanko
Development and Marketing Coordinator

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Ministry of Foster Care

In May, Lifeline began a new series of required classes for prospective foster parents at the Church at Brook Hills. These prospects, young and older, married and single, share a common thread: their desire to be the hands and feet of Christ to children in their communities who are hurting and vulnerable. For many of these families, the classes provide information that is new and sometimes alarming (it is difficult to hear about the abuse that takes place in our own neighborhoods). As one participant put it on Sunday night, “It is overwhelming.” But even with their trepidations, these families seem to agree that foster care is ministry. One meaning of ministry is service. Foster families are servants. They serve DHR by providing much needed transportation to/from doctor’s and school appointments. They serve the birth families by providing safe, nurturing homes for their children, and they serve the children in care by taking them into their homes and feeding, clothing and loving them. Most importantly, they point these children and families to Christ, the Greatest Servant of all.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross!” --Philippians 2:5-8

Traci Newell
Education Coordinator

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two Years with Emerson

On June 23, 2010 the Dummier family will celebrate two years with Emerson Laing Ru. She was adopted from China on June 23, 2008. I am an International Social Worker at Lifeline and have the honor of working with China and our medical special needs program.

The following was written on our family blog on the day that we received Emerson and the day that we toured her orphanage. She was labeled “medical special needs” due to a cleft lip and palate, but the Lord has taught me through these two years that we all have special needs, some are just more visible than others. How grateful we are that we stepped out on faith that God had this under control and if we trusted in him that his path would be revealed and we would be the one getting the blessing. Emerson is now a thriving almost 4 year old little girl. She has her parents firmly wrapped around her finger and her brother’s constant protection. More than that we know that God loves her and someday she will understand that He loves her more than her earthly parents ever can or could. May God continue to get the glory for this little life that we have had the honor of seeing her blossom. I can not say that adoption has always been easy, but we as her parents are forever changed and that has been a wonderful transformation as well.

From our blog…

Emerson Day...
June 23, 2008
We left for the airport in Beijing today at 7:15am and took a 10:15am flight to Guangzhou, China. We were up early and excited about the day. We got to the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou around 2:15pm, and left the hotel at 2:45pm for the Civil Affairs Office.

When we got to the Civil Affairs office we had to show some I.D. and our TA approval. We are travelling with two other couples. It was an amazing time seeing all of the children who were meeting their families for the first time.

Emerson, or how she answers best, Ruru, is asleep now, sucking on her two fingers. She is quite the trooper and reminds me of some other little boy from years not so long ago. She is a stoic little soul and for now keeps her own counsel. However, we did see her laugh so when things settle she will add great joy to the other pearls of laughter that seem to surround us in our lives.

The bedlam we faced on the 8th floor of the Civil Affairs was akin to a market in a small village. Everywhere you turned couples were being united with their child or baby amidst the shouting of parents and staff to do that or this, it was hot and loud, but one by one the children emerged from behind a curtain, led by their caretaker towards their new parents and a new life. In a way it was kin to child birth, a lot of yelling, tears, pain, snapping of photos, but all having a joyous feeling that this little baby or child was yours.

Emerson Ru, did not shed a tear but sat quietly while her mother held her, afraid I think if she let her go it all would disappear. She smiled several times and giggled when we chased her around, and was quiet all the way to the hotel. But with all children, there is a calm and then there is a storm, Miss Ru did not disappoint. There went dinner and there went us going into the “Oh my God, they let us take her out of here!” At least for me, Amy does a better job of it.

So as we lay our heads down to sleep, as you all raise yours to go about the busy day, our world, our family, our friends, just got a little brighter and that is a beautiful thing. We thank God.

Dongguan CWI
June 29, 2008
It is Sunday afternoon here, and to those of you who have been following this odyssey it is, say it with me, "it is raining!” Yes I too was surprised, and to add to the forecast it is hot. Today we visited Emerson’s orphanage. Quite the experience I must say. The good thing was it was only 1 hour away rather than 4 or 5 as some others are that are traveling with us.

Emerson’s orphanage is really nice as these things go. Apparently the city where she lived till now is wealthy and therefore the government has plenty of tax revenue to spend. This is a good thing. The city where she grew up in these many months is Dongguan. It is a city with towering buildings, expressways, five star hotels and a lot of people, though small for China’s standards. Our guide made mention that some of the people do not work here as there is so much foreign investment that the farmers lease their land to the foreign companies, draw monies for leaseholds and enjoy the good life. However, I saw plenty of people working and plenty of people who must have a different standard when it comes to defining the “Good Life”. But it was a nice city, with landscaping on and around all the major intersections and expressways, as well as shops selling the most modern conveniences.

Her orphanage lay at the end of a tree lined street, several blocks off the main thoroughfare. A guard mans the front gate which opens to a circular drive and within lies a garden with a statute of women holding a child. The front entrance reminds one of an entrance to a modern clinic or hospital. Emerson’s room was on the second floor, up the stairs and turns right. Emerson’s slept in “Baby’s room number 2.” The crib where she slept was in the middle row, middle crib, amongst 15 others. The mattress was a piece of plywood. The reasoning is that it gets so hot the wood is cooler than the mattress one would find in other cribs. Though I doubt the adults practice that at their home. No matter, as Miss Emerson was the queen of the room. Her caretaker, a very nice girl, said Emerson was her favorite child. It showed upon our arrival on the second floor. In fact she is the only other person Emerson will go to voluntarily other than us.

The second floor houses dozens of children from one to maybe three years of age. We got to see where she played, given a bath, slept and danced. Yes she is a dancer! Amy and I could not understand why she would and does start hopping around, smile and all. One room is set up like a ballet dance room. It was something neither of us expected to see. Throughout the whole visit it was an honor to see where she lived and it was depressing at the same time. You felt melancholy as you saw all those other children, sleeping or awake looking at us and some looking, though without seeing. There were children there who may never be adopted due to the severity of their conditions that may be there their entire life.

We left the orphanage with memories and photos to share with our daughter when she is older. The Director showed us out and our car and driver picked us up at the front gate. We drove away with our daughter with us. The sky that seemed only to be threatening before we arrived let loose its burden and Heaven spilled tears.
It will soon be Sunday morning at home. When you go to church today go with a simple prayer in mind, pray that all those children go home one day. Good Morning and God Bless.

Forever Changed,
Amy Dummier aka one proud mom to Emerson Laing Ru

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Meet Braylon

Braylon is an adorable biracial (Caucasian/African-American) 13 month old boy who has some challenges. Braylon was born at 23 weeks and 3 days old and has been in the care of Lifeline since March 8, 2010.

He did not pass the hearing screen at birth, however he plans to get tubes in his ears on July 7, 2010 and at that time he will also have the ABR hearing test-auditory brain response, this will give us a more accurate assessment.

He also is vision impaired and has been diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity. The doctor reports that it is too early to determine an accurate vision prognosis until he reaches at least three years of age.

Braylon also has been diagnosed with BPD-bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and is currently on oxygen, but there are plans to gradually begin to wean him off.

He has a hernia the size of a plum that protrudes from his naval that could potentially require surgery in the future. Braylon is currently receiving physical therapy through early intervention and they report that his performance is that of a five month old.

Please call Laura Armstrong at 205-972-8473 or email at laura.armstrong@lifelineadoption.org if you have questions about precious Braylon.

Laura Armstrong
Birth Mother and Foster Care Social Worker

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lunch with Lifeline

Tomorrow, Lifeline will be hosting our first Facebook event, Lunch with Lifeline! This event will be an informal discussion with some of our International Social Workers and myself. As Lifeline’s International Director, I would like to extend a personal invitation to you to attend this event. So whether you are considering adoption for the first time, or if you are at a later stage of the adoption journey, please post your questions. I believe that our Lifeline families can benefit from these written discussions on Facebook as they see questions get answered that are probably also on their mind.

Here is all you have to do... Tomorrow, simply go to Lifeline Children’s Services’ Facebook page between 12 and 1 central time and post your adoption questions. This will be a very informal time to chat with our staff about anything on your mind, in regard to all aspects of international adoption. I want everyone to feel welcome to bring their concerns and questions about adoption to the “lunch” table.

In closing, I would like to personally ask for you to partner with me in two things. First, realize this is all new to us. Our intent is to assist families and have a casual, safe setting to ask anything (there are no “dumb” questions). As we learn how to maximize this communication tool we will get better at effectively addressing the topics most important to our families. So, for tomorrow, please be patient and bear with us as we host this event and work out any kinks in this new medium of communication for Lifeline. And second, please attend this event, feel free to invite a friend, and ask me any question that you have. I am confident that over the summer this forum will grow and we may not be able to easily get to all the questions. On our first time out, this should not be an issue as many of our families are still learning that we will be offering this once a month service. Our desire is to offer “Lunch with Lifeline” once a month, so please have some fun with us tomorrow for our inaugural run!

International adoption can be confusing and intimidating, but Lifeline would like to be there for you to address any fears or concerns that you may have from the very beginning to the conclusion of your adoption journey. Thank you for your continuous support of our agency and our ministry to families like you.

May God be glorified in all that we do!

Dave Wood
International Director

A Walk Through the Word: God's Story of Redemption

"Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the maker of them all." Proverbs 22:2

How many times have we judged, or been judged, by the type of house we live in, or the kind of car we drive? Unfortunately, discrimination of race, status, and wealth is all around us. But isn't it great to know that regardless of how we look, or where we come from, there are 4 things that make us completely equal in God's eyes:

We were ALL made in God's image (Genesis 1:26).
We have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
We have ALL been slaves to sin and are in desperate need of a Savior (Romans 6:23).
Salvation is available to us ALL (Romans 10:9 & 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

In the words of one of my favorites songs, by B.J. Thomas, "Though you may be a pauper or a millionaire, we all have an equal share." We can have the blessed assurance of eternal life as joint heirs with Christ, but FIRST, you must make Him Lord of your life! Friend, will you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ today, for "salvation is found in no one else" (Acts 4:12). Rich or poor, you can call on Him today!

Deanna Crist

My Heart's Desire is to Glorify His Name

My heart’s desire is to glorify His name – Isaiah 26:8

In life I find that is not always easy to do, but a verse that I desire to strive towards. I often ask myself, “How did I do today in glorifying His name?” I want to wake up in the morning and ask the Lord to live this day in me and through me so that I might glorify His name.

Good Morning to all – this is Stephanie and I have the most amazing job in the world. I am the very proud mother of two beautiful daughters via international adoption. My husband and I hope and pray to have our third daughter home within the year. Our Sasha is now a beautiful 13-year-old and she is a gift of joy! Ellianna Ya-Ting is now 5 and she is our precious baby. The little girl we have yet to bring home has turned 3.

I am passionate about orphaned children and very passionate about children with special needs. Sasha is adopted from Russia and has cerebral palsy. She was in a baby home for children with mental disabilities. What a difference a few years of love and hard work can do in a life. She is now the top of her class with the highest grades in the school. Her life is a miracle and I can say that she is now twice adopted. She has asked Jesus to live in her heart and life and He is very evident in the person she is becoming. Sasha competed in a speech meet for the schools in the area and she created a speech piece from a book entitled “Boy in Baby House 10”. It is a five-minute speech about the day Vanya is taken from the children’s orphanage and placed into an asylum home in Russia. This is a horrible, but very real place and reality for many orphaned children with special needs in Russia. The last words of Sasha’s speech make me cry every time – “This would be my life had I not been adopted.” There usually is not a dry eye in the room after she completes that last line. I pray that each day she will continue to seek to glorify the Lord with her life.

Ellianna is adopted from Taiwan and has multiple special needs, but what a joy to watch her grow, change, learn and love each day of life. She is so excited about life and simply enjoys whatever we do – “except needing to be in her car seat and not be able to get up and move about”! She was once a child that had no affect and may have died soon had she not been adopted. She was unable to sit, crawl, eat, chew or take notice of anything in her surroundings. She has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and is very delayed. She also needed multiple surgeries – eyes, teeth and bowels. What a gift she is to so many. The Lord is blessing her with healing and she is no longer that shy and scared little girl with no abilities. After two years of love and proper care she is now learning to swim, walk and talk. These are all things she was thought to never do. She has a smile that lights up the room and melts a heart. Her neurologist is even starting to take her off her anti-seizure medicine. Something we were told that would never happen by the type of seizure she was seen to have on her EEGs. She is a miracle and continues to be a miracle in progress each day I watch her life. What an honor to be called by the Lord to be Ellianna’s mother.

I know that the little girl with multiple special needs that we are working to adopt will is also a miracle of the Lord. She appears to many to be nothing but an orphan that needs to be cared for daily – a burden with no value! To my husband and I she is our daughter and she has within her so many beautiful abilities and talents. The Lord created her and He calls us to care for her. I cannot wait to watch her life blossom!

The Lord calls for all His children to care for the orphans and the widows – James 1:27. This means that for some He calls us to adopt these precious children and for some He calls to pray or provide financially for someone else that is called to adopt. He calls us all to do something about these children. I am very passionate about my life as the very blessed mother of my precious daughters. I believe that the Lord has called me to be a voice for the voiceless.

I am crying out for the children that cross my desk and computer screen everyday. I am crying out to the Lord to bring the families of the children that I see. I work for Lifeline as an International Adoptions Specialist and am developing programs in countries that we sense the Lord calling us to. The Bulgaria program is very new to Lifeline but the Lord has opened the door and placed this program with Lifeline. There are so many children that need homes. They need to know the love of Jesus through a family they can call their own. They need a mother that is proud of them as they learn to swim or say their first word. They need a father that is able to hug them and tell them well done! They need to know that they have a heavenly Father that loves them and created them. They are not a mistake, but a beautiful gift of the Lord. I am honored to be able to be their voice and advocate. I have 15 new waiting children that I am working to get on Lifeline’s Bulgaria Waiting Children Page. They all cry out to me. I work on each document as I pray for their future family. If you think you might be their family please check out the Lifeline web site and click on Bulgaria. If you have ever thought that the Lord might be calling you to adopt and/or if you sense the Lord leading you to adopt a special needs child rather than a “healthy” child and need a place to voice your fears or to be heard please feel free to call on me.

It would be an honor and a blessing to talk with you and to share in your life. I pray that today I will glorify the name of the Lord in all I do, all I say, all I write and how I love. I hope that this might be a prayer for your life today as well. May we be the voice for those that have no voice!

In Christ's precious name,

Stephanie Carpenter
International Adoption Specialist
Lifeline Children’s Services, Inc.
Isaiah 26:8

Friday, June 4, 2010

This is my "Hello"

I am adopted.

What does that mean?

There are so many different views on adoption, and it means so many things to many people.

For the birth mother it can mean pain, loss, and sacrifice.

For the adoptive parent it can mean an addition to their family, another mouth to feed, another hand to hold, and another person to love. Finding the missing piece to their family.

For the adopted child... it means the world. And in my posts I hope to give some perspective from me, an adopted child.

I have always known that my parents were not genetically my parents. However, never once did I think that they were not "mine". They are my mom and dad, and I am their daughter, their child. I was chosen. My mom and dad did not have to be parents. They had that choice. And they chose to love me, to adopt me, to make me theirs. And this is something I am proud of. I am proud to be able to say that I am adopted. It's not something I hide, or that is a sensative subject. It is who I am. Without the loving sacrifice of my birth mother, I would not be where I am now, or who I am now. My birth mother made the hardest decision of her life, and thought of me before herself. It was not a selfish decision; however, one of the most selfless decisions that can ever be made. Never once in my life have I doubted whether or not she loved me. She showed her love for me the day she decided that she wanted me to have a life she did not feel she could provide. And I have never felt like I did not belong to my mom and dad. I am blessed to have not only a mom and dad to love and that love me, but I also have a mother to love and who loves me so much that she selflessly carried me for 9 months and gave me life.

As I give my perspective as an adopted child, I hope to share some of my experiences, thoughts, feelings, and emotions with you. I look forward to sharing how my birth mother, my parents, Lifeline, and God have given me a hope and a future.

Marie Collier
Administrative Assistant

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lifeline's First Cookbook Fundraiser

Lifeline is announcing our first EVER cookbook fundraiser! We will be selling cookbooks to raise funds for our ministry and we need your help! We are calling on Lifeline’s supporters to submit your favorite and most cherished family recipes to include in the cookbook. This will be a Lifeline cookbook, so we need recipes from everyone connected to Lifeline in order to personalize our cookbook. So, if you are interested in submitting recipes or reserving your copy, please contact Rachel at rachel.adams@lifelineadoption.org.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Walk in the Word: God's Story of Redemption

Reading Passage: 2 Samuel 24

King David had instructed that a census be taken of Israel and Judah. This stirred God's wrath, and He punished Israel with a severe plague, causing the death of seventy thousand men. But like a true shepherd, David admitted guilt of the census and asked that God's wrath be directed towards him and his family instead of the people. After three days, the Lord ended the plague and instructed him to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Araunah had a generous heart and wanted to give David anything he wanted, but David refused saying I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing (verse 24). David knew that if this gift had been accepted, it would have been Araunah's sacrifice, and not his own. He also realized that worship that costs nothing is not true worship at all.

There is always a price to pay when sin is committed. Our commitment to God is often very costly to maintain. It can cost us relationships, habits, etc. We cannot cut corners and expect Him to bless us! "He who has a religion that costs him nothing, has a religion that is worth nothing: nor will any man esteem the ordinances of God, if those ordinances cost him nothing." - Adam Clarke.

The spiritual act of worship means to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1). When we begin doing this, not only will it strengthen our faith and inner peace, but it will also increase our joy. Christ spared no expense for us - let us do the same for Him.

Deanna Crist

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Why we Golf...

As we prepare and anticipate the arrival of our celebrities, golfers, and volunteers today for our 5th Annual Lifeline Celebrity Classic, we remember why we golf. We golf to raise funds for children here and around the world so they may find hope in the joy of a family through the love of Christ. Each little boy and girl brought into this world is deeply loved by our God most high and we celebrate today as we have the opportunity to give for the sake of His children through the game of golf!

“But I will hope continually
And will praise you yet more and more.”
Psalm 71:14

Krisha Yanko
Development and Marketing Coordinator