Yearly Archives: 2017

#GivingTuesday

Black Friday’s been around for 56 years; Cyber Monday for 12. Only 5 years ago, another day joined the others, a day with a very different purpose, Giving Tuesday. Last year, on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, through worldwide efforts to promote giving to help others, $177,000,000 was raised on that day alone!

Since the start of The Sparrow Fund in 2011, we’ve never done Giving Tuesday. But, 2017 is different, because 2018 is going to be different. We want to care for caregivers in deeper ways, bigger ways, world-changing ways. So, this year, we’re doing it; we’re joining the Giving Tuesday movement. Because we know that in order for us to give generously, we need others to give generously.

We’ve looked long and hard at where we are headed and long and hard at our projected and actual budget. All that has led us to the Giving Tuesday goal of raising $5,000 on Tuesday alone and $8,000 over the week following. Of every dollar that comes in, 2/3 will go directly to our new grant program for adoptive families and 1/3 will go to training.

We want to give too. After all, we’re about caring for caregivers. And, all of you who give are kinda our caregivers too.

So, we’ve put together what very well may be our special-est gift ever that we will be sending out to every donor who gives $50 or more.

For every donation of $50 or more, we will send you the gift of this notecard set . Each one of the 6 designs professionally printed on linen patterned cards (size 4.25″x5.5″) features artwork from a child at one of the orphanages in China where we serve. On the back of each card is a photo of the artist with a little information about him or her.

You may fall so in love with them that you want to keep them for yourself rather than give them away.

Don’t worry. Just in case you can’t part with the notecards, we put this together.

For every donation of $100 or more, the donor will receive the notecard set above as well as an exclusive invitation to join artists and Christian entrepreneurs Cassie and PJ Upton of Blush Design Co. in an online lesson in integrating prayer and art, specifically to create a gift like no other perfect to give to a child, spouse, or loved one this Christmas.

Every single donor, regardless of amount donated, will also be entered into a giveaway, just for fun because we like fun. We’ve got the Seeds of Christmas cd, Seeds of Christmas DVD, Seeds of Christmas worship guide, Seeds of Christmas Bible memory cards, Seeds Christmas tee, a personal note from Seeds Family worship, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp, 2 signed copies of 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas: An Advent Devotional for Adoptive and Foster and Parents, a 2018 calendar from Rachel Kick at MiniPress, a one-of-a-kind sea green geode necklace from Guangzhou, China, and two nativity paper cuttings handmade in Beijing by a Christian artist–a giveaway worth well over $160!

Go ahead. Let’s start giving. Together. And, let’s make Giving Tuesday 2017 and our year of giving in 2018 more than we ever imagined.

Donate online by clicking the cute little yellow button below. It’ll take you right to our PayPal where you can decide how much you want to give via credit card and simply click to make it happen.




Wanna go all old-school on us and give via check? Make it payable to The Sparrow Fund and mail it to:

The Sparrow Fund
124 3rd Ave
Phoenixville, PA 19460

The Sparrow Fund is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization. What that means is that all gifts to The Sparrow Fund are tax-deductible as allowed by law. If you would like a copy of our 501(c)(3) ruling letter from the IRS, please contact us; we will be happy to provide you a copy.

If you are interested in donating stock, property, or other gifts in kind, please email us to discuss all the how-tos. The bottom line is that we’re all for it.

Recharging

The trees are full of color, and the air is crisp. It’s the perfect day to start recharging. Tonight, about 25 guys will be gathering around a campfire. Whether they are sitting on these benches enjoying the warmth of the fire, taking a walk around camp thinking about the message they just heard about knowing and experiencing God’s love for them, simply enjoying some rare quiet moments, sharing stories and laughing with new friends about whatever it is guys talk about, or roasting marshmallows (one never outgrows s’mores), we trust that every single one of those men will be blessed and recharged to be the man, husband, and father God wants them to be.

Together Called 2018 Registration Now Open!

You may be all maple and pumpkin lattes right now; we are too. But, we’re already got a vision for March because we’ve got big plans for the weekend of March 23rd-March 25th.

We’ll be at the beautiful Bear Creek Mountain Resort with about 110+ other married couples for the 6th annual Together Called. That’s a little under 150 days from now…not that we’re counting.

Katherine and Jeffrey Reed, director of Lifeway Kids, are joining the Together Called leadership team for the first time as our keynote speakers. We’ll also be joined by singer/songwriters Philip and Jessica Morlan of Seeds Family Worship; Jeff Nitz, Chief Operating Officer of Patrick Henry Services, and his wife Cheryl Nitz, Director of the Attachment & Bonding Center of Pennsylvania…just to name a few.

Registration for TC2018 opened last night, and we’re currently at about 70% capacity which means there’s still time for you to jump in and join us. And, we’d seriously love that.

What you get:

Friday night refreshments; Saturday breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two; Sunday breakfast for two; Friday and Saturday night stay at Bear Creek Resort; and all retreat programming and fun. {$489 per couple}

For those couples who simply cannot leave their children for two nights, we offer an abbreviated registration which includes Friday night refreshments; Saturday breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two; Friday night stay only. {$349 per couple}

We offer a limited number of day-only spots which include only Friday night refreshments; Saturday lunch and dinner for two; and retreat programming…with a little less fun. But, hey, you’re still a part of it, and that’s a good thing. {$179 per couple}

Thought you could make it but turns out you can’t? We will refund your registration cost minus $50 up until March 7th, 2018.

So, what’s stopping you? Click HERE and register now!

My niece’s neighbor is ready to come home {Advocating}

It’s hard to understand why some children get matched right away while others wait and wait and wait. There’s no sense in it really.

Three years ago, in a little room full of babies in the middle of China, a boy captured my heart. He captured all our hearts actually.

We noticed him right away. He looked like a typical 6-month old baby, lying in a crib, sucking his fingers, intently watching the happenings in the room, particularly these strange women with big noses who were smiling real big and laughing with his caregivers. His eyes lit up and his smile was as big as ours when we’d simply turn and talk directly to him. His whole body got excited when he was picked up, which made all of us and his caregivers giggle back.

His “next door neighbor” was a sweet baby girl doing much of the same, a little girl who became my niece. Two years ago. My niece Ava has been home two years. She’s loving life in a family. Meanwhile, the boy who laid beside her in that room still waits.

Last year, when volunteers returned, he was in a new room where children were no longer laying in cribs but running around the room and playing on colorful mats. He is both entirely different from when I met him and entirely the same. He’s full of energy. Responsive. Bops to the beat he constantly makes with his toy instruments. Runs. Thinks he’s jumping. Feeds himself. Scribbles with a marker. Puts puzzles in place and celebrates when he does.

Whoever created his file and prepared his papers for adoption knows him well. They described him as a handsome boy who is obedient and clever. They said he is active, loves to play outside, especially in the little car that he can drive around. When he is spoken to, they said he seems to have a mischievous expression when he answers. They said his hands and feet that are different than other kids are why he’s there. They are why he waits. Yet, they aren’t holding him back. He carefully builds block towers, taking a block in and out of a cup, and carefully turns pages of a book.

He’s so ready to come home and be someone’s boy.

____________________________________

Interested in learning more about this sweet little guy? He’s currently available for adoption through WACAP who is offering a $3,000 grant to the family who wants to make him their son. Contact info@sparrow-fund.org to learn more about where he is and our experience with him. Contact wacap@wacap.org to request to review his file.

____________________________________
 

Jennifer lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her husband John and their three children Maddox, Evangelyn, and Harper. She is a stay-at-home mom who volunteers with Love Without Boundaries. They believed their family was complete after the birth of Evangelyn, but the Lord had much bigger and better plans. After Jennifer traveled to China in 2014 to volunteer in orphanages, and she knew that they had a daughter in China. In May 2017, they brought their youngest daughter Harper home. Jennifer’s heart was broken for children without families and those without a voice; ever since, she has been advocating and sharing their adoption story.

Our favorite classroom-friendly sensory tools

Trauma and the way children handle sensory experiences are intimately connected. Simply put, traumatic experiences are primarily handled in the same parts of the brain that process sensory input. And, when that part of the brain is affected by trauma, sensory processing can be affected too. As we support children in the context of relationship to navigate trauma, we can see significant changes in what had been challenging in terms of sensory processing. Likewise, as we support our children’s sensory processing, we can also set them up to better learn, meet expectations, and connect, mitigating significant symptoms of their trauma.

As you consider the way your child processes sensory input, we recommend Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals by Angie Voss as well as all of Carol Kranowitz’s Out of Sync Child titles.

And, given how often we’re asked for recommendations for tools children could use in a classroom to provide opportunity for sensory input and, therefore, increased support for focus and learning, we’ve come up with a list of some of our favorites to share with you.


Stretchy bands for children to put around chair legs so that they can keep those feet moving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bouncy Bands is a brand personally recommended by an OT for how easy it is to take on and off.

 

 

 

 

Adhesive velcro strips to simply stick inside or under a desktop for little fingers to touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boinks marble/mesh toys are great quiet fidgets and our favorites of our teams to take to orphanages.

 

 

 

 

 

Stretchy toys are another quiet option that can meet the needs of some kiddos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A spiky sensory bracelet your kiddo can wear all day long.

 

 

 

 


An inflatable wiggle seat is a good option as long as a teacher doesn’t mind some wobbling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chewigem makes some great chewable necklaces that are incognito and come in oodles of colors and designs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These sensory-friendly pencil toppers are moveable and reusable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a favorite classroom-friendly sensory tool? Let us know what it is so we can share it!

Searching for the You We Adore {get it here exclusively}

Our love searched the whole world for the you we adore.

It’s how it starts, a book we all want to read. A book with a message we all want to give our kids, a message that makes us take a deep breath.

You are valuable.
You are worth searching the whole world up and down for.
And, I am so glad I did.

Bestselling children’s illustrator Richard Cowdrey brings the words and underlying messages to life with playful color and adventure on every page. And, Valerie Westfall’s words empower parents to say I love you in a creative way to their child adopted domestically or brought home from every corner of the world.

Moms and dads have been reading it aloud to their babes before bed and have given the book as gifts to their children as they leave for college. It’s been given as a shower gift and purchased for university libraries for graduate students to better understand what a child needs and how important connection is.

It’s kind of wonderful. And, we’re thrilled that because of a generous donor’s belief in the work we do for children and families, we now have all remaining stock of this book to offer to you. 

To order your copy, click HERE. There is a form to complete and information about how to pay the $20 for it to be shipped to you. We also have a coordinating activity book available for an additional $5 featuring more creative ways to engage with the book and with each other.


ORDER HERE

What others have said, in case you need a little more convincing:

“…a deceptively simple book that delivers a profound message of love and family.”
-Andrea Poe, The Washington Times

“…The enchanting story and wondrous illustrations draw on a child’s fascination with imaginary play—a powerful tool in developing their self-image.”
-Louise Bachtold, Phd., Professor Emeritus Human Development, University of California

“This is a book we know at first glance belongs in school and classroom libraries everywhere, as well as in the homes of adoptive families.”
-Teachers.net

“There are as many stories of adoptive families as there are children who joined their families through adoption. And while one book can certainly never encapsulate the myriad experiences that exist, Valerie Westfall’s Searching for the You We Adore comes as close as any book can. Lovingly and expertly illustrated by New York Times bestselling artist Richard Cowdrey, this book takes young readers on a journey—at the core of which is love.”
-Samantha Hines, Editor, My Three Sons – Best of Adoption Blogs

“Adoption is different for every family it touches, but the love and longing for a child is the same. This book puts that love in the spotlight as the message…and your child as the main character.”
-Amy McCollum, adoptive parent

“Beautifully written and illustrated, it will bring tears to your eyes. My children will never outgrow this book!”
-Leslie Wozniak, adoptive parent

Searching for the You We Adore is a book that will be treasured, taken to heart, and become part of the tapestry of who you are, for it touches deep within the heart of a child, and also the adult.”
-Jody Capeheart, Educator and School Administrator

ORDER HERE

BE KIND. Help us keep helping.

Maybe you’ve heard. Working in China right now is a little tricky. New countrywide policies for foreign nonprofits working there are leading a lot of nonprofits to pack their bags and head elsewhere. We’ve thought about that. And, frankly, it would make our lives a bit easier. But, we are not convinced that’s what we should be doing. In fact, we’re pretty convinced that we’re being called to press on in spite of it all.

This fall, we’re heading over there once again, going to three different cities, visiting caregivers and children they care for, and doing all we can to build new relationships and secure existing ones so we can keep on helping not just this year but for many years to come.

Will you stand with us to that end? We’ve got a bunch of different ways you can do that.

 

  • SIMPLY GIVE. Click on DONATE and give. We need that so we can buy supplies and gifts to give to our Chinese friends.

 

  • KINDLY ORDER SOMETHING. We have several fundraisers we’re running with–BE KIND shirts (accepting orders until September 10th!), Searching for the You We Adore books (exclusively from us!), and handmade wrap bracelets from friends in Beijing (75 sold already and more ordered and arriving September 6th!).

  • SHOP FROM OUR PARTNERS. We’ve got a number of shops and businesses partnering with us in significant ways, donating a fixed amount per order or a percentage of sales. Shop purposefully and they’ll give to support our orphan care initiatives! Check them out HERE, and let us know if you have someone who might want to join the effort.

Together Called 2018 Announcement

You don’t need another conference. You need connection; you need each other. You need rest so you can press on in what you have been together called to do.

That’s what Together Called 2018 is all about. Over March 23rd-25th, at the beautiful Bear Creek Mountain Resort nestled on 330 acres in Berks County, Pennsylvania (approximately 90 minute drive from the Philadelphia Airport and 35 minute drive from Lehigh Valley International Airport), Together Called provides an opportunity for husbands and wives to step out of the chaos called everyday life and be encouraged, a place for us to learn and fellowship together as individual couples and as a community.

Whether you are just starting out in your fostering or adoption journey or completed your family years ago, you belong here. Every part of the plans for the weekend is to allow God to meet you right where you are no matter where that is. Part of those plans include bringing you keynote speakers to remind you of Truth and encourage you to connect deeply with each other and our Father God who loves us.

We can’t wait to welcome Katherine and Jeffrey Reed to our Together Called leadership team for our 6th Together Called.

Married over 20 years, Katherine and Jeffrey Reed live south of Nashville, Tennessee with their four kiddos, one of whom joined their family via adoption.

Throughout their marriage, Jeffrey has served in full-time ministry in all sorts of formal roles in the church including as executive pastor, senior pastor, worship pastor, and family and children’s pastor. In the early 90s, he wrote and produced music, including music that was a part of the 1996 Olympics. In 2013, he became the director of LifeWay Kids, one of the largest children’s ministry organizations in the world. LifeWay serves over 60,000 churches across the country and hosts more than 250,000 through its summer camps. Currently, Jeffrey serves churches directly as a ministry partner and travels and speaks at churches and various events across the country.

Katherine has served alongside Jeffrey in multiple roles in the church and in the world of education. Her Master’s degree in special education and experience working with children with all sorts of different needs allow her to speak both as a professional and as a wife and mother who has been in the trenches herself. She has written for Parent Life magazine and currently serves as the children’s ministry director at the Church at Spring Hill, near Nashville.

Make sure you join our mailing list for registration reminders, and check back to our website under RETREATS for more detailed information and the link to register for Together Called 2018 as October approaches!

Changes to China’s Program

Only a couple weeks ago, the new leadership of the CCCWA, the department in Beijing that handles all adoptions, published changes effective immediately for families applying to adopt from China. This morning, agencies started their work day with another announcement from the CCCWA, this time referring to agencies themselves.

The announcement was distributed in both Mandarin and English. Here is the full English translation.

Announcement
July 18, 2017

Relevant government departments and adoption agencies in receiving countries, Following the enactment of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations within the Territory of China (hereinafter referred to as Administration Law) since January 1, we would like to notify as follows on relevant issues about the programs carried out by adoption agencies such as the One-to-One Assistance Program, Journey of Hope Program, and Summer/Winter Hosting Program based on the regulations of the Administrative law and conclusions of competent authorities:
I. All activities concerning the One-to-One program, Journey of Hope Program, and Summer/Winter Hosting Program will be terminated. For children who have been assessed by adoption agencies through the One-to-One program before the enactment of the Administrative Law and whose reports have not been submitted to CCCWA, if their reports are submitted through the provincial department of civil affairs to CCCWA before December 31, 2017 (subjected to the approval date of the provincial department), CCCWA will post these files to the specific list of the original adoption agency. Agencies are requested to look for children within required deadline, otherwise the files will be withdrawn by CCCWA when the deadline is closing.
II. Foreign adoption agencies should abide by the business scope specified in the registration when working in China. No activities with inter-country adoption as the purpose are allowed when agencies work in welfare and charity related activities.
III. Adoption agencies should look for adoptive families according to the requirements outlined in the Review Points for Decision on the Eligibility of Foreigners Adopting from China and avoid hasty placements without discretion within the deadline.

China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption Center

What we know from this announcement is that the 1:1 partnerships between agencies and orphanages that has been established for years will end at the end of this year. Also, group trips to orphanages by agencies for the purpose of advocacy and hosting programs bringing waiting children to the US for advocacy will not be allowed. What we do not know is how agencies will receive files for waiting families once the rush to secure files from their partnership orphanages this fall ends. Agencies have already submitted that question to the CCCWA today as well as suggestions of alternate matching processes to all files going to one shared list as it had been done years ago. What we are also waiting to hear is if agencies will be permitted to “work in welfare and charity related activities” if adoption is not the purpose. Point II seems to make that a distinct possibility which is very good news. Of course, if advocacy is not officially allowed to be part of those efforts, many agencies may not as interested in the work as they have been. We still are. And, we will continue to pursue how we can care for caregivers and the children in their care. Clearly, this is not without challenges; but no significant work is. We’re all putting our heads together as are our friends in China to figure it out.

China remains the largest international adoption program in the world and has been the most stable and predictable for years. We know that any change to a well established program can feel unsettling. However, we are confident that the program will continue and, quite possibly, be managed better than it has been as the new director of the CCCWA and governing leaders work hard to come up with a program that will benefit children and Chinese orphanages and best ensure the long-term success of those children in families.

Help is here!

There’s a book in the Bible called Exodus. It’s all about God’s faithfulness and grace towards a people who didn’t deserve it and His power to do the seemingly impossible. In it, God saves the Israelites from slavery bringing them right through the Red Sea, they wander the desert with God providing manna from heaven to meet their needs, God gives them the ten commandments, and He comes to dwell among them in the tabernacle. In chapter 18, Moses takes a breath from it all and has a heart to heart with his father-in-law Jethro. Moses tells him all the good stuff that’s been happening, all the things worthy of celebrating, the stories he never imagined he’d be able to tell. He also tells him all the challenges they’ve faced along the way and where they’ve seen great victory and where they hope to see victory still. Jethro listens and affirms and encourages and then he challenges.

Why are you doing this all alone? You’re going to wear yourself out and if you do, what will happen to the people you serve? Moses, this job is too heavy a burden for you to try to handle all by yourself.

Here in our little corner of a suburb of Philadelphia, in our brand new office, that’s the message we heard. We need some help to both carry our burden and increase our capacity for whatever burden God trusts us with.

Last week, help arrived pulling a U-Haul trailer with Texas plates.

When our favorite physical therapists weren’t able to make our orphanage team trip this past October (new babies have a way of affecting plans), I told them I understood entirely…and that they’d have to recruit two doctors to take their place. One of those doctors was Erin. They told me she was faithful, mission minded, an excellent pediatric physical therapist in Texas for over 6 years, and delightful. They knew she’d been feeling a nudge for something but she didn’t know what. China was never on her “bucket list,” but she was willing. They told me this was the perfect trip for her, that it would meet our need and Erin’s as well. They were right.

The October orphanage trip moved her profoundly. That place she had never been particularly drawn to now captivated her. She was overwhelmed by how hard the staff worked in attempts to meet the needs of the children. She was humbled by their servant heartedness to do this work for years on end with little to no recognition. She was astounded by the resilience of the children to overcome. Life changed for her. A second trip with us to a new orphanage only a couple months later sealed the deal for her and for us.

A few weeks ago, Erin finished her last day practicing physical therapy in Forth Worth, Texas and started packing up her bags. Last week, she packed those bags into a trailer with her little dog Calvin by her side and started the journey to the Northeast to join our team!

While practicing physical therapy privately here part time, she’s going to be a part of everything that The Sparrow Fund currently does to provide support to adoptive families and children without families and their caregivers as well as seek out and pursue growth opportunities to do all that better.

Join us as we celebrate all the parted waters and manna He’s provided, and join us as we welcome Erin!