Sunday, April 25, 2010


I just finished reading the book Sold by Patricia McCormick. A friend recommended it to me and I couldn't put it down. It was in the young adult section of the library but I'm not sure why. It certainly is not light-hearted fare. The book was a quick read though and I finished it in one night (and I'm not a fast reader). In the book, McCormick tells the story of Lakshima, a 13 year old girl in Nepal who is sold by her stepfather to a brothel in India. McCormick's writing is poetic and paints for readers a picture of sexual slavery through a series of short day-in-the-life vignettes. Sadly, the story, while being a work of fiction, is based in fact - lots of fact. All over the world, human beings are being bought and sold like property. The more I have gotten involved with the orphan crisis the more this issue of human trafficking - and sex trafficking in particular - keeps coming up. If a child is an orphan and ages out of an orphanage, as often happens to children around Lakshima's age in places like Russia, how is that child, because that is what she still is at 14, going to survive other than to sell the only thing she has - her body? As a part of the Benevolent Bazaar our ministry hosted at my church's women's retreat, we featured a group called International Princess Project. They work in India to help women who are getting out of the sex trade by providing them with job training so they can support themselves - and their children - with dignity. If a mother can support herself with a safe job that feeds her family, then her children are less likely to become orphans in the first place. So really it is an issue of both intervention and prevention. Girls and women who have been trafficked are in need of rescue and those who have not yet been trafficked need to be protected from this fate by being educated about what is really going on when someone comes to their village and offers them a job as a "maid" in another country. Right now, Children's Hopechest is launching a program in Moldova to fight sex trafficking of young girls in this poor country. You can buy a necklace for Mother's Day that will help to fight both orphanhood and sex trafficking through Adoption Fathers. Proceeds from these sales will help support what Hopechest is doing in Moldova.

I am anxious to learn more about this important and tragic issue, particulary as it relates to orphans. Next on my reading list is the book Not For Sale. The bottom line is that something must be done about this. Innocent girls not much older than my own should never have to endure the horrific things that little Lakshimas all over the world do every day, powerlessly imprisoned in their own lives.

As far as it depends on me, I cannot let this happen on my watch to children who in essence become orphans when they are sold. Not as a mother of two young girls I would die to protect. Who is going to protect orphaned girls like Lakshima? It has to be me and it has to be you. It's going to take all of us.

To read more about this issue, check out my blogger friend Brandi. She's been writing some great stuff on this lately.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Sad Story, a Random Story and a Funny Story

We are gearing up to head to Minneapolis in just a few days for the national orphan summit. We will have the opportunity to meet some of our wonderful blogger friends in person and we can't wait! Since I have been MIA on the blog lately as a result of all of the happenings with our orphan care ministry, I have had to save up three stories that I have been wanting to share. Here goes:

1. The Sad Story. I was never - and I truly mean never - sick before we had kids. When I got so (SO) sick with the flu a few weeks ago, I decided that I had to go see a doctor. I ended up going to see a random doc that I had only seen once a few years ago. (Did you catch that? She had only seen me ONCE before this encounter; that will matter later). She diagnosed me with some random flu virus and a flare-up of mono and said that there wasn't much to be done as these were both viral issues. I was sent home and told to rest (which is really easy to do with two toddlers). Anyway, a week later she called me in person at home to check up on me. I thought that was nice given that doctors rarely do that these days. She then proceeded to tell me that she didn't want to frighten me but that multiple viral infections can be early signs of HIV infection (they can also result from exhaustion!). "I know your children are from Africa..." she said. I had mentioned that I was adopting children from Africa when I saw her two years ago. Nevermind that she had ZERO information about my sexual history (the main way HIV is spread!) and ZERO information on the medical status of my children. She just assumed that since they were from Africa, they must have HIV and therefore could have infected me. WHOA. I could not believe it. I proceeded to tell her that my daughters and I had had no exchanges of blood (did she need a refresher on how HIV is spread?!) and that neither I nor their pediatrician had any reason to believe that the girls were anything but healthy. Our conversation then evolved into something like this:

"Well, were they tested...?" she asked.

"Yes, they were tested multiple times and all tests showed they were negative for HIV."

"Oh...Well, you're probably ok then."

What was frustrating in this experience is the rampant stereotyping seen here ("all Africans have HIV") from a medical doctor. To just drop the "You may have HIV" bomb on me without ever having tested me - or my kids - and knowing almost nothing about me (who I am sleeping with or have slept with) just blew my mind. Needless to say, I am hoping to find another GP.

2. The Random Story. So, as I have shared before, I have become fairly evangelical about orphans and adoption. That seems to be a fairly common experience for adoptive parents upon their return from the developing countries from which their children originate. It excites me that I am now the "orphan lady" on town. It's a mantle I will gladly wear. Recently, I was leaving my gym when one of the trainers who knows I have adopted children called me over to the front counter where he was talking with a tall, blonde-haired, young woman in black glasses. He introduced us and told me she wanted to adopt in the future. I of course lit up and launched into my "adoption rocks" speech while also answering some questions she had. I told her that I'd be happy to give her my phone number in the event she wanted to talk further. I also wanted to connect her with our ministry. She put my number in her phone and that was that. I found out the next day from another trainer I know who also knows her that she is a hard-core porn star. Yes, you read that correctly. A porn star. She is training with the guy I know to lose weight for her next "film". So now I, "orphan lady", have my cell number in a porn star's phone. Not sure what to do with that one. My brother reminded me that is why you ask people for their business cards rather than giving out your number. Oops.

3. A Funny Story. It has been raining here lately. I say that to provide context. The other day, Junia decided after seeing some bathing suits at Target that she needed a new one. She is obsessed with the fact that she is growing and told me she is now too big for her old bathing suit. Her old suit probably still fits fine but I opted to humor her as a reward for good behavior. We went to Target and she picked out a very cute white suit with ruffles for $7. The next morning at 6am I was awakened by a little face right in mine whispering loudly "MOMMY! I need help." There in front of my sleep-filled eyes was the Big Bear with her little face squished into the leg hole of her bathing suit which was wrapped precariously around the top of her head. Her wild AM curls were sticking out every possible opening of the suit. She was adamant that she had to put her bathing suit on right then and there at that very moment (at 6am!) - even though it was raining. She ran around the entire morning in her bathing suit unwilling to be coaxed out of it for any reason. I somehow managed to get her to add her bathrobe to the ensemble for warmth. Look out summer, here we come.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Yes, I'm Still Here and $1400

I'm hoping there are still some of you out there who read this blog. I haven't been able to get here for quite some time but it has been as a result of some really great things that are happening. We have been working after work every night until midnight for the last several weeks on a bunch of stuff for our orphan care ministry. God provided us with a fabulous (and FREE!) graphic designer (who is also a soon-to-be adoptive mama) who has done a bunch of design work for us including creating a really cool logo for our organization (thanks, Brittany!). In addition, two of our friends who just happen to work in photography and web development have been instrumental in helping us get our website up and running (thank you, Carlisles!). This has been no small task but it has been a total answer to prayer. Once again - the cost to us for this was FREE. (Free is key when you are building a ministry from the ground up and have a budget of zippo). I actually prayed on a Monday for graphic design and technical support and had it offered to us - out of the blue - by Thursday of that same week. Amazing! We've also been in major long-range planning mode for the ministry and have gotten several key things lined up for the months ahead. In May, we are going to begin hosting our "We Heart Orphans" parties in the homes of people who attend different churches throughout our area. At these parties, we will offer a presentation on the orphan crisis and share how people can get involved through prayer, sponsorship, missions, adoption and even shopping for the cause. We'll be featuring many of the same products we sold at the women's retreat at our parties in addition to a line of products we are developing to raise money for our own ministry and help fund adoptions here in our local community. We are building on the Pampered Chef style model that utilizes a grassroots person-to-person approach to build energy and enthusiasm for something (in this case - orphans!). We have been saddened to hear how many churches in our town aren't doing anything relevant to orphans as a part of their overall church plan but we have been so encouraged by the passionate individuals at various churches who totally "get" the importance of orphan care as a Biblical mandate and who are wanting to work in partnership with us. The invitations arrived in the mail from the printer today and will be in the hands of our first party hosts this week! I've also been burning some major midnight oil recently putting together a Global Orphan Care Bazaar for our church's women's retreat. I contacted companies and organizations that work to help prevent the causes the lead to orphaning and that provide orphan care and asked them if they would like to send me products to promote/sell to raise money for their organizations. It became a huge logistical undertaking but we ended putting out an amazing display of really cool stuff from around the world and the women loved what we had to sell. We raised nearly $1400 for organizations that serve orphans. I also had the opportunity to speak at the retreat on the topic of orphan care as it relates to the love of Jesus. I was anxious about how the presentation would go, wondering if the topic might fall flat with the audience. Clearly, God had prepared the hearts of those who were listening because the response that followed my presentation was amazing. I had three women offer to host orphan parties for us. I had people sign up to sponsor multiple children from the HopeChest program in Swaziland (9/10 of the kids I brought profiles for got sponsored!). A group of preschool teachers asked if they could have their children do a project that would raise funds/supplies for orphans and cap off the project off with a presentation for parents about orphans and adoption. Three women came up to me asking for some of the adoption resources I had brought and told me how they have had adoption on their hearts for some time. One woman from another church asked me to come and speak at their MOPS group. And the list goes on. Suffice it to say, I learned a lot about faith this weekend. I did not anticipate such an outpouring of support and left the event feeling energized about continuing to build our ministry. I saw this weekend how God really is moving in the hearts of His people on behalf of orphans. I was reminded again that it is ultimately God's work that is being done as we care for orphans in His name.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from our family to yours! He is risen indeed!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Summit VI and Happenings

I have several blog posts in the works right now but haven't been able to get any of them finished. I have been knee-deep in writing - and rewriting - a grant proposal for the orphan care ministry we started here in our community last year. I submitted it today and we are praying that if it is God's will that we will receive funding that will allow us to do even more to advocate for orphans and provide support to local adoptive families. I've been wanting to write an entire blog post on what we are doing - or rather, what God is doing - in our ministry. We've had some great events recently and have had over 70 people join our group on Facebook. We have some really great things in the works in the months ahead to raise orphan awarness, provide adoption information and help raise money to support orphaned children. I've been knee-deep in these upcoming projects too and am excited about what the future holds. More to come on that when I can find some time to explain what we've been up to! We are also excited to be heading out to Minneapolis in just about a month for the Christian Alliance for Orphans national summit. If you will be there, let us know! We'd love to meet some of our cyber friends in person.

It's strange to be "excited" about going to this event given that the only reason this conference is going on is because there is a global orphan crisis right now - one that has evolved as a result of injustice, poverty and disease, none of which are cause for celebration. Given that, it almost seems wrong to feel excited about going but I can't say I'm not thrilled about the chance to learn so much and be empowered in our ministry. Hopefully, if all of us do our part, there won't be conferences like this several decades from now because our work will be done. As we say in our ministry, we must keep on working "until there are no more orphans".

So as you can see, we've been busy around here. But what else is new? Lately, we've enjoyed...

spending time with Grammie and Papa who flew in from out of town to celebrate the girls' dedication with us;

taking a trip to a local farm where we got to hold baby chicks, milk a goat and try homemade goat milk ice cream (AMAZING!);

learning to fly a kite with Daddy;

hanging out with friends on sunny days;

getting a first pedicure - thanks to Gammy's friend who painted those sweet little toes for free (the Big Bear picked the brightest shade of orange you can imagine!);

and getting cool new shirts in the mail.

Have you seen these? If not, check out Lobsters in the Rough. The girls there are so nice and have such fun products that support orphan care. I know I'm going to do my best to raise a global poverty slayer!