Yearly Archives: 2017

Here’s what we think of him {advocating}

It was a Tuesday afternoon when I met him. He jumped off the school bus with his friends, and they all came running for us. He’s smaller than the others, but that doesn’t stop him from keeping up with the rest of them. His big smile lit up his whole face as he watched the happy reunion between his friends and their former host families. As we greeted each child, smiling and charading our hellos, the nannies pointed to his hands. They wanted to make sure we noticed that his are different.

They didn’t mean it in a negative way really; they just wanted us to be aware. We already were. Admittedly, his hands and his size are the first things we noticed about him. But, we also noticed the concern and curiosity on his face as he awaited our reaction. I wonder what he thought in the half a second he waited. What will they think of me? Will they dismiss me? Will they want to play with the other kids? Will they think I’m weird?

We smiled and waved our hands at the ayi, using the universal charade for no problem, no worries, never mind. And, we turned to him, bent down to look right into his eyes, and said “You’re perfect.” He didn’t know what we said; surely, they don’t teach those words in his primary school English class. But, he knew what we said. The big smile returned to his face, a smile that remained for the rest of the week.

As quickly as we had noticed his size and his hands, we forgot about them. As we played games, made crafts, and painted, he showed us that he doesn’t let anything hold him back. When it was time for fun, he cheered and teased, enjoying the kids, staff, and our team, and being enjoyed by them all. When it was time for crafts, he patiently and carefully held his paintbrush to create his masterpiece.

What we had told him is truth. He is joyfully perfect in so many ways; beautifully and intentionally designed, and waiting for someone to remind him of that everyday. I wonder who will be his reminder.

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Interested in learning more about this sweet little guy whose advocacy name is “Miller”? He’s currently available for adoption through Madison, a good agency which is offering a $3,000 grant to the family who wants to make him their son, with an extra $1,000 grant for any family who says yes to one of their waiting children during the month of December. Contact info@sparrow-fund.org to learn more about where he is and our experience with him, and contact Sarah at Madison to request to review his file. We can’t wait to meet the family who gets to make this kid their son.

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Angi Augsburger was introduced to The Sparrow Fund when her own family received a grant for their adoption. She got further involved with The Sparrow Fund when she was matched with a little boy from one of the orphanages where The Sparrow Fund serves. A year after he was home, she traveled back to China, this time as a volunteer on one of The Sparrow Fund’s teams to serve at her son’s orphanage and then again not long after on a trip to another orphanage where she met “Miller.”

Who will get to see his smile everyday? {Advocating}

“Duncan,” before I met you, I didn’t know too much about the illness we grown ups call “thalassemia.” I knew it had something to do with the blood that pumps through your body and makes everything work. But, I didn’t know much more. I hadn’t come across it in all my years of working with kids.

But, then I came to China, and I met you. One of the grown ups at your orphanage told us you had thalassemia and that quite a few of your friends have it too. No one would know it really if it weren’t for the black bag around your neck, holding your pump.

That’s because you don’t let it stop you. You don’t let it become you. You are you. You are not thalassemia; you just happen to have it. You are strong. You are patient. You are easygoing even though life doesn’t always go so easy. You are happy and are known for your smile.

But, even though you seem so happy where you are, I want more for you. I want a forever family for you. I want a mommy and a daddy to say that boy is ours. I want them to love you and like you and learn from you way more than I’ve learned from you. And, I want you to show them and let them stand by you so you can all show the world that having thalassemia doesn’t mean you are broken or less able but that you are stronger because of it.

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Interested in learning more about this sweet little guy whose advocacy name is “Duncan”? He’s currently available for adoption through Madison, a good agency which is offering a $3,000 grant to the family who wants to make him their son, with an extra $1,000 grant for any family who says yes to one of their waiting children during the month of December. Contact info@sparrow-fund.org to learn more about where he is and our experience with him, and contact Sarah at Madison to request to review his file. We can’t wait to meet the family who gets to make this kid their son.

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Erin Garrison has been a pediatric physical therapist since 2010 and was first introduced to The Sparrow Fund through serving on an orphanage trip in October of 2016. It was during this trip that her heart was stirred and she was drawn to a big career change in order to serve children living in orphanages, their temporary caregivers, and families who move forward to adopt them. Her passion is to help equip and train the orphanage staff on developmental and handling techniques to assist in reducing delays. She also seeks to be a therapeutic resource for families as they transition children to home and get connected to the services needed. You can contact Erin directly at eringarrison@sparrowfund.org.

#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.

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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.

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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!