Adoption and Human Trafficking–A Series of Thoughts…..

As many of you know, in addition to writing here on my own personal page, I also write for The Apparent Project.   That writing can be seen at The Apparent Project.

I just started a new and probably rather lengthy series of blog posts that I’m going to do addressing what I see as the obstacles and challenges of both adoption (particularly international) and also human trafficking.   The articles are going to not only point fingers at what isn’t working well but will also have ideas (both systemic and individual) that can be done to improve things for children and families.

The basis for the discussions are two articles that were written about international adoption and human trafficking – particularly human trafficking, child trafficking, in Haiti.

If you want to read the articles, you can find them at http://tomvanderwell.net/important-articles/.

Some of it will be written here, most of it will be written on the Apparent Project website.

I hope you read, join the conversation and share it with others also.

Thanks for caring.

Tom V

Change of Plans

​Originally, as I had written previously on here, I was planning on writing a book this month.   It would be a book written by an older adoptive dad (me – my kids have been part of our family for over a dozenyears) to a younger adoptive dad – one who is either thinking about adopting, in the process or has their adopted child(ren) home for a shorter time.   Kind of a “Dear Younger Me” type of book.

I am on Chapter 7, but I have decided to pause the writing of that book and write it at the time when I can give it the attention it deserves.   Why?   A couple of reasons:

1. Hurricane Matthew – as the scope of the disaster in Haitit becomes larger and larger, my heart breaks for the people I know and the people I don’t in that country, the country where two of my children were born.   I want to have the time to do some encouraging, some praying, some writing to help those who are suffering there.   

2. The U.S. Election – Prior to the election, while I had many conversations with people about politics, I made a concious effort to stay away from politics on the blog.   The results of the election and the reactions to it and the actions of many since then have given me the conviction that our country is seriously hurting right now and that now is not the time to be silent on these issues.   In good conscience, I didn’t feel that I could support either major party candidate, but I know many people who I feel are good people but chose positions that I question.   The issues, why the choices were made, where is the church’s role in all of this and why now is not the time to be silent, these are all issues that I want and feel I need to write about, explore and wrestle with.    There is too much at stake.   

So, the book about adoption is being put on hold and I want to do more to help people remember the suffering in Haiti and to wrestle with the issues that appear to be shaking our country to it’s core.

I hope you’ll continue to join me and that you’ll add your input in a tasteful, thoughtful and organized manner.

Thanks,

Tom

P.S. I will also be writing about AID, Development, Adoption, Trauma and how to help families in Haiti avoid putting their kids in orphanages over at http://apparentproject.org/blog. 

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The man on the pier – and the church on the shore?

If the church is truly going to be pro-adoption, it needs to be prepared to help after the man on the pier jumps…..

But what if, instead of saying “we only know how to say jump,” the crowd had rushed to the end of the pier, with arms outstretched, yelling “Hang on! Help is on the way! Don’t lose hope!  We are right here with you.  You are not alone!” as they threw the man a life ring?

Source: The man on the pier — Key Ministry

31 Cups of Coffee–a Project

I have a confession to make.   First off, for anyone who is reading this but doesn’t know me personally, we have 5 children and we adopted the two youngest in 2004.   That means we started the process in the later part of 2002.   So we’ve been in this “world” for 14 years.

But back to my confession….. If I could describe me in 2002, I’d describe me this way, “Boy was I naïve!”  I thought I had this parenting thing down pretty well.   We had three kids, pretty well adjusted, well behaved and such.   I could handle two more – it would just be a little louder, a little busier but not a whole lot different.

Boy was I naïve!

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately and then the music group, “Mercy Me” came out with their hit song, “Dear Younger Me.”   I’m not taking any direct material from it, but their song was a guiding format that I decided to use to write a book.

I’m calling the book,  “31 Cups of Coffee – What I Wish My Younger Me Had Known About Adoption – a look back at the last 12 years of adoption.”   It’s going to be a series of informal “chats over coffee” about things I wish I had known.

Do I have it all written yet?   No I don’t.   As I write it, I’ll be posting on here brief overviews of the chapters.   If you want to known more about it and when it will be done – see that sign up form right next to this post?   Sign up there and I’ll keep you informed.

I’m not going to guarantee it, but I’m hoping to have it written and available in time for Christmas gifts this year.

One other thing for now – 20% of what I make on the book will go to the Education Fund at the Apparent Project.   The Education Fund is something I’m spending a lot of time working on during my work days and I believe it will make a huge difference in the lives of those who are working with The Apparent Project in an effort to keep their families together.

Keep in touch, tell others who might be interested and I’ll keep sharing information here about it too.

Thanks,

Tom V

A Few Thoughts on Building Bridges

So, there is this church leader who made some comments this week about how it is more Christian (not to be confused with Christ like) to build bridges than it is to build walls.

It touched off a firestorm of controversy and media frenzy because many people felt it was aimed at a US Presidential candidate (and I use the term loosely).  

I want to share a few thoughts on another way that the church can be more Christ-like by building bridges. 

Orphan Care – Orphan Care is what you’d call a hot button issue in the church right now.   How can you not want to help poor vulnerable children?   Of course you do and of course we must, as a church follow the call of James 1:27 and “care for the orphans…..”

But wait a minute, I want to ask you a couple of questions about that:

  • Yes, the church must care for orphans, but is the church really willing to look at the communities where these kids are hurting and do what it takes to meet their need right there?    Are we willing to build a bridge to the hungry and the hurting and the struggling to help them and their kids?   Even when it’s messy?
  • Is the church really willing to take on what is necessary to help the kids after they have been adopted?   Have you ever noticed how, when someone says, “We’re going to adopt,” everyone is so happy for them and so excited and so impressed and so…….   But is the church willing to accept the fact that most adopted kids have been through more than any of us would wish on anyone and consequently they are going to have some battle scars – and those scars make parenting them hard – often way harder than adoptive parents had ever imagined.   Are we, as a church, willing to build a bridge and come alongside those parents who are struggling?   Even if we can’t solve it, just to sit there with them in their pain?
  • Is the church willing to build a bridge to the adoption community and essentially say, “We don’t know what we don’t know, so tell us how we can be the hands and feet of Jesus to your children, to you, to the children of our community?”   Unfortunately, the number of people I’ve talked to who say that their church is willing to do that on a long term basis (after the honeymoon period is over) is very very small.

Mental Illness – I think it’s improving, but I think this is another area where the church needs to do a lot more in building bridges to people in their family, in their community.    There are a lot of people who are struggling.   They are struggling with mental illness and in many cases, if not most, they aren’t able to talk to people in their church about it.    “How are you today?”   “Fine.”    We need to be more comfortable with saying, “No, I’m not fine” and in order to do that, the church needs to be more comfortable with building a bridge and meeting the people who are not fine where they are at.

But what?   You say you don’t know what to say to someone who is struggling with depression?    You don’t know what to say to someone who just had to admit their child into an inpatient mental health facility?   May I offer a couple of suggestions on what to say?

  • I’m sorry you’re going through this struggle.
  • Can we pray about it right now?
  • Nothing – don’t say anything, just be there.
  • Would you like to talk about it or tell me more?

If people in the church can step out of their comfort zone and become uncomfortable while welcoming the hurting, it builds a bridge and that’s the type of bridge building I believe Jesus wants us  to do.

It’s not easy.   Actually, it’s very hard and it’s way outside of most people’s comfort zone, but it’s two places where the hands and feet of Christ really meet the needy and the struggling.

May we all build bridges in our lives and in our churches to meet and reach those who are struggling, and in reality, we’re all struggling.

TJV