adoption, foster care, orphancare, Orphanprevention

World Adoption Day 2016

orphan-care-headerToday, we celebrate and advocate for orphan care around the globe! There are so many souls in need of the hope of Jesus. As the Church, we have the most beautiful command and privilege to care for those without a family. There are so many resources and amazing organizations to come along side. The need can feel so overwhelming but God, the Creator of the universe, has chosen to use US for this mission. Individually we can commit to changing one life with the Gospel of Jesus and together we can shake the foundations of this world as we see God bring justice to the vulnerable and forgotten! There are SO many opportunities so just take the first step of obedience and watch God work in your life and the lives of others! It’s truly an amazing journey!!!

  Step 1. KNOW THE NEED

    • The births of nearly 230 million children under age 5 worldwide (about one in three) have never been recorded, depriving them of their right to a name and nationality.1
    • As of 2013, an estimated 17.7 million children worldwide had lost one or both parents to AIDS. Most of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa.1
    • There are an estimated 140 million orphans worldwide.
    • Last year, nearly 9,000 children were adopted internationally.4
    • Inter-country adoption has decreased 59 percent from its high in 2004, due primarily to restrictions by sending countries.5
    • There are approximately 400,000 children living today in the American foster care system, of which about 100,000 are in need of an adoptive family.
    • Every year more than 25,000 children age out of foster care, leaving them without families of their own.4
    • 81.5 million Americans have considered adoption. If just 1 in 500 of these adults adopted, every waiting child would have a permanent family.4

      [http://showhope.org/9-stats-about-the-orphan-crisis%5D

      Step 2. EMBRACE THE CALL

      Psalm 68:5
      Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.”

      James 1:27
      “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

      John 14:15-21
      If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

      Step 3. DO SOMETHING

    • http://lifelinechild.org/ 
    • http://worldadoptionday.org/
    • http://www.thearchibaldproject.com/
    • http://147millionorphans.org/
    • http://abidefamilycenter.org/haiti-adoption-program_300x188

      Here are some great organizations and ministries to join as partners! Become a foster parent, apply for adoption, financially give to an unadoptable ministry, encourage to foster/adoptive families, advocate for the fatherless, provide for orphan prevention ministries, show support to single moms, become a mentor to young foster/adoptive teens, mentor young families, volunteer at a pregnancy support clinic, etc. Anything is better than nothing! God will use the smallest act of obedience in an extraordinary way. Share your orphan care stories with me!!

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foster care, orphancare, Respite care

Weak Made Strong

“…they are weak; He is strong….” 

Four kids under the age of four years old. What were we thinking when we said yes to a respite placement this past week?! Respect to all the mamas out there who keep their sanity while bathing, feeding, and carpooling multiple children!

This week was a bit of an adjustment as our normal routine became quite different with two additional little cuties in our home. The Lord did a sanctifying work in our hearts. It easy to conceal idols of comfort and convenience until the Lord chooses to give you an opportunity for obedience in which He is really using to squeeze out your selfishness.

It’s been a while since we have received a respite care placement but we felt led and trusted God would provide (which He graciously did through many ways including the rice crispy treats my neighbor delivered, the items our friends purchased for our new kids, and the much needed cultural advice and hair help from one special friend!!) It was beautiful and a bit challenging to help our children open their hearts and home to others. We loved being able to tangibly demonstrate with our kids how to love our neighbors and those in need.

I’m continuing to learn this journey is one of joy and sorrow. It’s not always easy, comfortable, nor convenient. It doesn’t feel heroic or glamorous. It’s tough, real, and broken. Yet, just as we are all weak and were enemies of God, in His infinite grace and mercy He chooses to enter into our brokenness and wrap His arms around us with the safest, most secure embrace. He is the hospitable and kind Father who welcomes us into His family through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus.

Today, the children transition into a more long-term placement. As we were driving to daycare for the last time, I wanted to use this opportunity to speak life and the Gospel into their young hearts. We prayed together then began to sing “Jesus Loves Me”. It seemed like a new song to the kids, but they so wanted to learn it. I have the worst singing voice -seriously- but she asked me to sing this song with her about 7x before we arrived at school. I could feel her soaking it in and I fervently prayed this truth would shine into the deepest wounds of her heart.

As I was starting to feel anxious about their future and their hearts, I heard her whispering “they are weak but He is strong.” God gently and sweetly through the voice of a vulnerable child reminded me that HE IS STRONG for her. He is aware of every detail of her life. He created and knows her more deeply than anyone in this world. He loves her so much He sacrificed His own Son’s life for hers.

I may not be able to walk with her through this life but I can point her to the One who will always hold her hand no matter where she goes. I am not the Savior. Jesus is the strong Savior who reaches into the brokenness and saves the weak making them strong through His steadfast love. This could not be more comforting as I drive away knowing our paths will most likely never cross again. This journey and moments like this are possible because when we are weak, He is strong for us and we are forever connected through the love of our good, good Father.

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foster care, parenting resources

Sovereign Mercy

Currently, we have the joy of raising two young children. We are so thankful to have this opportunity to provide them with a safe, loving home.

The #1 question that I am asked about foster care is “How long will yall have the children?” This is a valid question since foster care is “temporary” parenting. The answer to this question is “we don’t know for sure.” This is a vague answer; I want to bring more clarity to why there is so much unknown.

We would love to adopt. It is not the ultimate goal of foster care, but our hearts are completely open to adoption should the Lord allow it. However, before we would be asked to adopt these children there are many requirements that must be met. Firstly, after the children are removed from the home, the courts decide if the biological parent(s) will receive a reunification plan. This is a 6-month minimum plan where the parent(s) must complete training, home studies, drug-test, etc. If a non-reunification plan is assigned, both the biological father and mother must sign over their rights (unless the courts determine that the parents rights are immediately “terminated” by law due to dangerous circumstances.) Secondly, blood-relatives receive top priority. Yes, even above the rights of the current foster parents. The family is allowed to list relatives and these references must be given the option of caring for the children. Finally, if all parent rights have been terminated and no relatives have come forward to care for the children, we will possibly be given the opportunity to pursue adoption if the courts permit. The children are in our care until any or all of the steps have been met.

With all this being said, there is a lot of unknown attached to foster care. However, there is also SO MUCH JOY attached to foster care. The challenges of dealing with courts, families, and appointments are worth everything just to experience life (even if for a brief season) with these children. We love this season with our children. So much laughter fills our home.

In moments of anxiousness about the future, I dwell on the sovereign mercy of God. The Creator God of the universe knows EVERY detail of this situation. He even knows the exact number of hairs are on their little heads. He is aware of their plight. Every twist and turn of his or her story is under His control.

[Side story: We were “taking a short break” from foster care and felt a sudden, compelling prompting to volunteer our home again about a month earlier than we planned. Denying our desire for “comfort” and pursuing obedience to this calling, we called DEFACS to let them know we wanted to foster again. THAT DAY within hours we received a call about these two precious children. THANK YOU, GOD, for grace to be obedient!! We would have missed out on great joys that these children have brought into our lives.]

Not only is God in complete control, but also He is GOOD. His goodness is displayed in His mercy on our lives. Without Him, we have no hope. On days that feel out of our control (in reality, that’s every day!), I cling to the promise that “God loves these children more wisely than I could ever love these children.” How comforting!! As much love as I have for these children, I can rest in complete peace of the unknown because He loves these children infinitely more. The One who writes their stories loves them with a greater love than I could ever imagine. This is the sovereign mercy of Jesus Christ. He is both supremely sovereign and full of tenderhearted mercy. This is how we can walk this journey with joy. Jesus, only Jesus.

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foster care, orphancare, parenting resources

Flourish 

flour • ish: to grow healthy, to prosper, to thrive 

If I could use one word to describe what foster care means in our household, it would be “flourish.” 

Children who come to us from hard places (neglect, abuse, loss, etc.) are not here by their own choice, nor are these children here by chance. In each of these situations, choices have been made. Whether its birth parents, and/or relatives, social workersjudges, many people have made choices that have led to this hard place in which our children find themselves. When you step back and look at the situation, the circumstance seems so bleak. 

Just as all hope appears to have completely deserted these young recipients of mistreatment and unfathomable loss, the light breaks through; the dawn arises; the budding sprout peaks through the cold winter ground. The glimmer of hope becomes a small sparkle as it gradually bursts into a flood of sunlightdashing its warmth on the tender hearts of hurting children. 

This warm, glowing, radiant light is the hope of Jesus Christ. He restores our HOPE. This truth alone is one that makes my heart sing. Even more, what absolutely humbles me is the beautiful truth that God’s chosen avenue of the hope of which I speak is YOU and its ME. It’s in our smile. It’s in our hugs. It’s in our edifying words.

“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which isChrist in you, the hope of glory.”  [Colossians 1:27] 

After all, orphan care is a reflection of the Gospel. We were slaves to fear. Now we are children of God. He is our loving Father who protects, provides, and pursues us with His unfailing love. This is the joy behind our story of foster care. Through this unique circumstance, ware able to experience the same type of sacrificial care that our Eternal Father has for us! God loves to see His children, who born of dust, become the most beautiful bride for His Son Jesus. He fervently pours out His grace on our lives. He enjoys watching us grow (which includes the times we fall and the times we run). He loves seeing His children embrace all the riches of His glorious grace. He delights when we flourish, thrive, and prosper in the inheritance that He intended for us as His beloved

As I see our children begin to trust, love, smile, and sing, I am filled with joy! This must be how God feels as He walks with us in our sanctification. He must rejoice as we learn and begin to believe that we have truly been freed from fear. We are safe in His arms. Protected by His adamant love for His glory and our good, we are able to run AND fall THEN run again AND fall again; because we know that although we are mortal, fallible creatures, we have been given an inheritance that is imperishable and will never fail. 

I long to see our foster children run freely and laugh uncontrollably because they understand the freedom they are given in our love towards them. But even more than this present moment, I desire with every fiber of my being to see these children run to Jesus in wholehearted pursuit of His Kingdom. No matter what family they belong to on this earth, through Christ these children will belong to a forever family that will never be shaken and to a faithful Father who delights to see them flourish.


From my mother’s womb, you have chosen me
Love has called my name 
I’ve been born again into a family 
Your blood flows through my veins

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

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foster care, orphancare, Orphanprevention, Respite care

Safe Haven

“It is important to realize that we care for orphans NOT because we are rescuers but because we are the rescued.” -David Platt

There is nothing within our sinfully depraved, selfish hearts that would cause us to care for others (especially others who have suffered traumatic loss through very unique and challenging circumstances.) All is grace. Grace to love and grace to sacrifice. Without the grace of God in our hearts we would not be doing what we are doing today.

I pray that knowing this truth is comforting and encouraging to you! We are not special. We are not more qualified. We are not more spiritual. We are just like you. We work jobs, we love serving our church, we love traveling, and we love spending quality time with our friends and family. I pray if God is prompting your heart to pursue orphan prevention through foster care that you would have the grace and confidence to step out in faith knowing that your Father will be with you every step of the way.

I understand that everyone’s calling to orphan care will look very differently. That is the beauty of the Gospel. We are all unified by our love for Christ and his creation; yet, our obedience to this love has many diverse avenues within the Church. Encouraging, advocating, and providing meals and resources for adoptive/fostering families are all beautiful avenues of this ministry. Just last night, I needed two pencils so that our current foster children could finish their homework. My next door neighbor not only provided the two pencils but also brought over homemade chocolate chip cookies. However insignificant this may seem, it was huge act of love for the two young girls who were removed from their home earlier that day.

In this blog, I do want to highlight one specific avenue of orphan care/prevention: respite care.
We have been able to host two respite care placements in the past two months. Both of our experiences have been wonderful!! In respite care, the certified parents are called and asked (you do have the ability to decline if the requested placement does not fit with your current schedule) if they would be willing and able to receive a placement for a night or a couple of nights until a more permanent placement can be made. To my knowledge, many calls are made in urgency of needing to remove the children as quickly as possible for their safety. If the parents choose to accept this short-term placement, the social worker explains the details and coordinates their arrival later that day. The duration of the stay is very brief, but we have learned that it can be the most wonderful time to intentionally love these children.

Last night we received two of the sweetest girls (7 years old and 9 years old). I have to be honest, I have been amazed with all our foster children’s politeness and genuinely kind attitudes. (I know that this is not always the case and that is okay too). But, I want to debunk the myth that all foster care children are emotionally unstable and have pretentious behaviors. I love doing respite care. Because the time of their stay is so brief, it causes us to be very intentional with our attention and affection towards the children. We enjoy the opportunity of providing a safe haven, a warm meal, a clean bed, and childhood fun (movies, wii, reading books, etc.) to children who have recently suffered traumatic loss that is in no way a result of their own fault.

Just like any other calling in our lives, respite care does not require perfection or a completely clean house. Respite care just requires a willingness to care. If only you knew how often I would say “Hospitality just isn’t my gift. I can’t cook. I hate cleaning. Our house is our haven from work and ministry. I just don’t think I could ever let someone come live with us.” Yep, 100% verbatim what I have said in the past. Like I stated earlier, “all is grace”. God’s grace in my heart allowed me to see past my “self” and learn how to host little children in my “haven” despite my imperfections. I pray that God continues to allow us to offer our “haven” as a safe haven for children in need.

If you ever have any questions about any of the ministry opportunities concerning mentoring, respite care, foster care, adoption, etc., please contact me via email calliegbailie@gmail.com. I may not know that answer, but I would love to learn with you! We want to be available as a resource for all families.

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foster care, Orphanprevention, parenting resources

Bittersweet Goodbyes

“Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

Foster care, adoption, biological parenting are very different, yet very much the same. Any and every form of parenting is hard work. Parenting is sacrificial. Parenting is temporary. Period.

I have previously mentioned the “shock” of parenthood we felt the first couple of days with our foster children. I have many friends with new born babies and teenagers who experience the very same “shock” in almost every new season of life. Every season of life has difficulties and joys whether it is a season of childhood, singleness, career, marriage, parenthood, etc.

In the blink of an eye, seasons come and seasons go [time tends to speed up the older you become, or so it seems]. Some seasons of life appear all too short, while other seasons feel as though to last f-o-r-e-v-e-r. In reality, regardless of the number of days allotted to a specific season of life, all seasons are just that: seasons. Every season has a beginning and an ending accompanied by a beautiful and/or challenging in between period. In light of our unfathomable eternity, seasons come and go before we even understand all that was lost or gained in that given time.

The beautiful bitter sweetness of seasons is that these periods of time are ever-changing. Understanding this truth makes living in the current season that much sweeter, as well as, making the exiting of the season sometimes quite painful. As we grow and change in this brief lifetime, seasons will come and go along with the people and experiences of each moment. Although a season will not last forever, the experiences and transformations to which a season impacted our lives will resonant throughout eternity.

Foster care is a more “evident” temporary lifestyle, because the goal of foster care is the reunification of the family unit. Restoration is truly our hearts’ desire. This does not mean that the ending of a season with our foster children is painless. There is grief that comes when parting with a child you have grown to love and cherish as your own. I do not want to belittle this “bittersweet pain” in any way. Jesus is with us at this very moment. We choose joy because we are not “losing” these children. We choose to view reunification as a means of celebration. God is in the business of restoration and we want to help others pursue this in any way possible. Not every situation will be joyful. There are definitely situations of reunification that foster parents must cling to the power of God’s sovereign goodness even in the bleakest of situations. Every reunification situation will be unique.

In our current situation, our foster children are being reunited with wonderful family members who we pray will continue to care and love them as we have. We are celebrating that the Lord has allowed us the opportunity to “stand in the gap” for these precious children. We are celebrating all that He has accomplished in our hearts during our time together as a family. We are celebrating that although we may no longer hold these sweet kids in our care, we now have the ability to become nurturing influencers in another child’s life. We are celebrating that our current foster children have gained a safe environment with loving family members. As we process this change in season, we are reminded of the reality that there are so many children in need of Gospel-love. We want to open our arms even wider to receive whomever the Lord intends to give us on this journey.

However, I do want to say to our friends and family please understand that comments such as “well, this is good practice for your own kids one day,” or “I could never do that because I would be too attached to the children,” do not ease our pain in any way. Firstly, these were our children. We are real parents, just like you! We feel all of the same joys and struggles that you feel as a parent. This is not a trial run. This is the real deal just in a very brief season of life. Secondly, I want to encourage you to never limit God’s plans for your life with walls of fear, safety, and comfort. We are attached. Yes, it’s very painful to part with these children we love dearly. I understand that not everyone is called to become foster parents, but to our friends and family, I can testify to you that there is nothing special about us that makes us able to handle this pain more easily than anyone else. God’s grace is sufficient for all. In every circumstance, we can trust that He will provide the grace needed to endure and even embrace His will for our lives.

In this moment of pain and joy, I am clinging to the verse, “Jesus came not to be served but to serve.” We want to exhibit this characteristic of Jesus’s humility as much as possible in this circumstance. Like all parents, we were given an opportunity to selflessly love and nurture two sweet little babies in a traumatic time of need. Just like all parents, we were not guaranteed a certain number of days with our children. The Lord gave us time as a gift to steward with the help of His Spirit in our lives. Just like all parents, we loved sacrificially with little to no thankful understanding from our children. Just like all parents, there were challenges and joys. Just like all parents, our time of parenting was temporary.

With the reality of this truth, I ask myself and I would ask you the same questions, “How are we investing the time we have been given with our children (spouse, co-workers, friends, and neighbors)?” “If we made a pie chart of our time, what would fill up the most space? Business and activities, social media and ESPN, or family devotionals?” “How much of our time is spent for the Gospel pointing others to Jesus and making disciples?” Through our experience with this sudden change in season, I want to gently but boldly encourage you to invest your time wisely.

“Time is precious. We are fragile. Life is short. Eternity is long. Every minute counts. Oh, to be a faithful steward of the breath God has given me.” – John Piper, Life as a Vapor

“Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreath; the span of my years is as nothing before You. Everyone is but a breath even those who seem secure.” Psalm 39:4-5

“What is your life? You are a midst that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesian 5:15

“Conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; knowing that you were not redeemed [or ransomed] with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood, as a Lamb
unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:17-19

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foster care, orphancare, parenting resources

One Night of Childhood

She will always have a special place in our hearts. “B” (11 year old girl) was our very first foster care placement. We had received a call around 3:00pm about a child who needed a temporary home to care for her until her more permanent home was ready to receive her. This type of foster care placement is called respite care. Respite care is a very temporary stay (just a few of days). This a great way to care for children in need of a home if a longer “commitment” of time is a hindrance to you. IMPACT training classes are required to be certified for respite care, but it is totally worth the effort!

We were told she had been in and out of the foster care system at least 3 times. Because of this constant transition, she had previously exhibited behaviors that were challenging. Empathy is the key here. To be taken from your mother who is loved dearly three different times and placed in three different homes each time is not a normal childhood by any means. I cannot imagine the pain of loss this child has experienced in such a short amount of time.

As the car pulled into the driveway, Gabe and I said a prayer together blessing our home and our time with her. We opened the door to see a young girl carrying one bag of clothes and a bookbag. We awkwardly hugged and introduced ourselves. As we went inside, she immediately picked out “her” room. She then commented on our Christmas tree saying, “I love Christmas. I like this tree. My mother could not afford a tree this year.” We sat down on the couch with caseworker as she explained B’s story a little more. We talked about medicine, school routines, and food allergies. I will admit it was a lot to take in and I was getting overwhelmed thinking about the responsibility of caring for this child. Just as my eyes began to glaze over and I was beginning to become flustered, the verse “My grace is sufficient for you” washed over my mind. Praise God that my capability comes from the promise of His grace in my life.

Once the social worker left, B opened up and began chatting with us about everything under the sun. She was not shy and we were slightly surprised to see how well-behaved and polite she was acting. We went out to eat pizza, watched “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs II,” and drank hot chocolate. It was such a fun night together!

We were under the impression that she would be with us for at least a week. However, late that night we received a call that she would be leaving at 7:00am the very next morning for her new permanent home. We chose not to tell her until we woke her up the next morning. We wanted the one night we had with her to be very special for her. We wanted to pour our love out for her and give her a night of normal childhood!

This may seem romanticized; it truly was a great night. Having the opportunity to give a child something every child deserves: love is very fulfilling. But, I must be honest about something that is not a romantically portrayed image of foster care. The sinful nature, that is, my pride. As we were eating dinner I realized an emotion in my heart that I am ashamed to admit. I felt a certain insecurity; I felt pride. As we sat with a child who was obviously much older than our marriage I thought to myself, “What are people thinking about us right now? Are they judging this situation? Do they think that because of her appearance and behaviors that we have failed to care for this child?” This placement was not the cookie cutter family portrait. This was not a cute little baby. B was a young girl with poor hygiene and special needs who was in desperate need of love and care. These terribly honest thoughts were a revelation of sin in my heart that the Lord needed to chip away and He did later that night.

As we were driving home from eating pizza, B began to make up a song and sing it quietly in the back seat. These were the exact words that she sang to herself just loud enough for us to hear, “Jesus loves all of the children. Jesus loves every boy and girl. He cares about every child. Jesus loves me. He died on the cross for my sins. We believe in Him. We are His princesses and His princes. Jesus loves every child.” Tears streaming down my face, I humbly thanked the Lord for this beautiful reminder given through this beautiful soul. We rejoiced when hearing of B’s childlike faith.

I share this with you because I think there is a tendency to think that we are “saviors” because we have chosen to care for orphaned children and children in need of a temporary home. This could not be further from the truth; we are frail, imperfect human beings who are striving to serve the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ. Without the grace and mercy of God, we would not choose to love selflessly. By nature, we are all self-centered, egocentric humans who love ourselves more than anyone else. The beauty of the Gospel is that because God chose to love us in our self-centered depravity, we can now choose to love others with a selfless love. In a moment of ugly weakness, Jesus shattered my pride into a million pieces. Through the sweet, sincere song of a child He brought those pieces back together to form in my heart a compassion that only He could create.

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