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 Agencies are requested to look for children within required deadline, otherwise the files will be withdrawn by CCCWA when the deadline is closing.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.

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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!

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Planting seeds

When I made the call to travel with The Sparrow Fund to serve at an orphanage in China this past October, I knew that I wanted to get my kids involved. They weren’t boarding a plane with me to go…at least not this time! But, this trip was their trip too. Mommy was leaving and for no short time. The best way to prepare them for that was to engage them and help them grasp the vision for engaging their friends too.

So, I went to their teachers. I told them about The Sparrow Fund and about the trip and asked if they would consider being involved in two specific ways: (1) allowing me to send home a letter written by my children asking if families would be a part of the effort by sending into school specific items from our team’s wish list and (2) letting me come into the class when I was back to share about the experience. We were thrilled when they were thrilled by the ideas.

Over the next month, we collected stickers, toy cars, stickers, play dough, stickers, beach balls, and more stickers! When I finally left for China, I had a suitcase literally half full of stickers (which were a huge hit) and came back with a suitcase literally half full of little Terracotta Warrior excavation kits I picked up along the way that I thought my kids’ classmates would like chipping away at when I came in to share.

I was so excited to go into that class with those excavation kits in hand as well as lots and lots of pictures of those stickers in action. Kids recognized the same stickers they had picked out themselves stuck on the faces and fingers of children on the other side of the world. It was if those stickers made the connection between them.

I shared about China and the kids and the orphanage building and how we helped. One little boy’s hand went up right away when I explained how nearly every child who lives in the orphanage has some sort of special need.

“I have ADHD and ‘personal space’ issues. Are there any kids like me there?” he asked.

Another child almost fell out of her seat trying to get my attention. She signed with so much facial expression that I felt I understood even while I awaited her ASL interpreter’s explanation.

“All the kids in those pictures are orphans?”

My yes only spurred more questions from her that she continued to sign with her face full of feeling.

“None of them have a mom or dad? Why would their parents ever want to give them up?”

I did my best to answer their questions. I don’t know if I satisfied them with my answers. I felt at peace regardless. My answers were a window into my own process as I have faced the realities of broken relationships. I hope they planted some seeds as they start their own process and were made aware, some for the first time, of children just like them on the other side of the world who do not have families.

I have been back from China over 7 months now. The effect of my experience isn’t growing smaller as time passes; it’s growing bigger as opportunities to share continue to arise. Each of these opportunities is a gift because they serve to remind me and keep it all close. Every time, I get to relive those moments that changed my life forever.

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Announcing Recharge 2017

Recharge Men’s Retreat

Every story of how each of our families got to where we are today is entirely unique. As different as our families are, perhaps there is something we as husbands and fathers share. It is the desire to do what is right for our wives and children and, ultimately, our God and the realization that that is very, very hard.

For 5 years, The Sparrow Fund has hosted a marriage retreat to pour into couples committed to living out their calling together. In November 2017, we are hosting our first men’s retreat limited to only 35 men. We’ve named it appropriately Recharge as every part of the time is designed to do just that. We don’t want to add items to your to-do list or call out where you may be falling short. Instead, our hope is for every man there to be reminded that he matters and that he can be a powerful nurturer and hope-giver for his family.

Whether you are just starting out in your fostering or adoption journey or completed your family years ago, you belong here. Register starting Sunday, June 11th at 9:00pm EST for our November 9th-11th retreat at the beautiful Refreshing Mountain Retreat & Adventure Center nestled on 80 acres of woodland in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (approximately 90 minutes west of Philadelphia and 30 minutes east of Hershey).

Check THIS PAGE for more details as they’re set (we’re still figuring all of them out) and the link to register next week.

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Our You-Are-A-Good-Mom Mother’s Day Giveaway

In the midst of trying to remember dentist appointments and when ball team sign ups are and teacher appreciation week and shopping for birthday gifts, there’s something that’s really easy to forget. It’s easy to forget that you are what your child needs. You. Imperfect you. The one who doesn’t get it right all the time. The one who wonders if she’s getting it right even some of the time. You are a good mom.

Just to help you and all of us remember, we’re hosting a little giveaway. It’s not a fundraiser; it’s just a joyraiser and a community builder. And, we want you to be a part of it.

HERE’S HOW:

  • Look on your phone for a picture that gives a snapshot of this season of motherhood for you. Could be you on the sidelines of a big game or a graduation. Could be you pushing an overflowing shopping cart or a baby carriage. Whatever you want to share, share it.
  • Tag The Sparrow Fund on Facebook or @sparrowfund on Instagram
  • Use #IAMAGOODMOM

After Mother’s Day this Sunday, we’ll pick one winner and send out a prize package worth over $100 including goodies from The Sparrow Fund, Jenny Borba Designs, and Fund the Nations.

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