Archive for children

Teachers Who Love Kids

Posted in education with tags , , , on February 9, 2008 by len20

Teachers who love kids more than their own agenda are the best kind of teachers. My kindergarten teacher friend is a great example of someone who takes educating her students very seriously, but not so seriously that she forgets why she loves it so much.

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A Final Tally on the Alternative Baby Shower

Posted in all about me, alternative baby shower, God's Kids, Orphan Care with tags , , , on January 9, 2008 by len20

Baby AnnouncementI’m so happy to announce that Madelyn raised $900 for orphaned children!

To all of you who sent gifts, thank you! I’m going to leave the donation link up on my profile page for a little while longer just in case someone wants to put us over $1,000.

The Alternative Baby Shower has been a lot of fun to promote, and as you can see, Maddie is tickled pink by the results.

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Maddie Has Raised $675 For Third World Orphans

Posted in all about me, alternative baby shower, God's Kids, Orphan Care with tags , , , on December 20, 2007 by len20

We’re at $675 for the Alternative Baby Shower. I’m pumped! Lot’s of our family and friends have contributed including Men in the Making, the small group I’m a part of that focuses on our roles as young husbands. Thanks, guys!

The shower will continue through December. I’d love to top $1,000! If you’re interested in helping us get there, check it out.

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Stakeholders in the American Adoption System – Identify Yourselves

Posted in Adoption, Orphan Care with tags , , , on December 19, 2007 by len20

I’ve really enjoyed the discussion happening on the “Is the Adoption Discussion One-Sided?” post. Aside from just enjoying a good discussion, I really think that we are all motivated by our compassion for kids and our desire to improve the parts of the system (in this case, the adoption system) that can be improved.

I’d like to propose that we air out some more of our laundry by identifying the stakeholders in the adoption discussion. I’ll make an effort to name the major players and give a brief description of their perspective. Then it’s open season to add, subtract, correct, and criticize. I have not included the ugliest players in the adoption game – those who use the system to exploit and abuse helpless children. I do not consider them to be stakeholders in this discussion; I consider them to be garbage.

Here we go.

1. Generation X Adoptees – adults age 25-40 who were adopted

Perspective: The American adoption system is good, but not great, certainly not perfect. While they may feel that they grew up in a loving home and were a welcome member of the family with brothers, sisters, mom and dad, they acknowledge that being adopted has had an effect on them (for better or for worse) that many would prefer (from their perspective) to glaze over. Being adopted hasn’t made them just like everyone else with a loving family; this part of their identity has made them unique. They are unique emotionally, psychologically, and with regard to developing their family tree. They are ready to embrace this uniqueness.

2. Baby Boomer Adoptive Parents – adults age 41-60 who have adopted children into their family

Perspective: Adoption has changed their lives for the better. The American adoption system is far from perfect primarily because of the expense and bureaucracy that prevents loving, well-intentioned parents from adopting more children. They adopted for a variety of reasons including a sincere desire to have a family of their own and to provide a safe, loving home for children who needed help. They consider their adopted children their own children and would ideally like to believe that their adopted children feel no differently about their membership in the family and self-identity than any biological children. Because adoption has been such a deeply personal and fulfilling part of their lives, criticism of adoption can be hurtful given that they adopted with the best of intentions.

3. Baby Boomer Biological Moms – adults age 41-60 who have given up a child to adoption

Perspective: I think this may be a mix. I know that there are women who are dealing with serious emotional and psychological pain after giving up their child possibly decades ago. They would love to have that decision back, to do it over, to do it better. They either have or would like to reunite with their biological children. They want to talk with them, to tell them who they are and to discover who their children are. On the other hand, I also think there are women who have found peace with their decision knowing that they made the decision in the best interest of the child. I need more help with this one.

4. Generation X Prospective Adoptive Parents – Adults age 25-40 who are considering adopting

Perspective: They are passionate about finding solutions to the great problems in the world – poverty, oppression, injustice. Vulnerable children are a focal point for their compassion. However, they have heard stories of adoptions that have not turned out well, and are more aware of potential negative outcomes than previous generations. They are afraid of doing more harm than good in their own lives and the lives of the children they would adopt.

5. Generation Y Orphans – 143 million orphaned children under age 18.

Perspective: Their perspective is probably still being formed. I believe our responsibility is to figure out how to best serve them.

6. Who Have I Forgotten?

Alright, let’s hear from you. Tear it up.

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Is the Adoption Discussion One-Sided?

Posted in Adoption, family with tags , , , , on December 14, 2007 by len20

I’ve recently been getting the idea that the adoption discussion has more characteristics of a monologue from one set of stakeholders than a dialog between several different perspectives. First, there was Reunionwritings reaction to my previous post, “Study: Adoption Not Harmful to Child’s Self-Esteem” which spun the news article’s idea around on its head to look at it from the biological mom’s perspective rather than the child’s. Second, Sang-Shil’s comments on the same post asks us to seek out the perspectives of those that may not feel that adoption is “the win-win-win solution that many claim it to be.”

Finally, I ran across an article today by Elizabeth Larsen in which she argues that people who are critical of adoption are not given the same opportunity to be heard. She emphasizes the perspectives of adoptees, birth families, and adoptive parents. She writes,

I think when it comes to adoption, American adoptive parents (myself included) steer the discourse. We direct adoption agencies and think tanks. We write the home studies of prospective adoptive parents. We are policy experts and doctors and academics and journalists. We are passionate about adoption—an institution that has given us so much—and therein lies the problem: In our passion, we sometimes shield ourselves from larger discussions about the toll that adoption can take, a discussion that is in fact gaining traction across the globe. And in doing so, we are preventing adoption from evolving.

My question is, why would there be such a disparity in the dialog? Is there a lack of people listening, or a lack of people speaking?

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The Alternative Baby Shower Is On!

Posted in all about me, alternative baby shower, family, God's Kids, Orphan Care, stewardship with tags , , , , , on November 29, 2007 by len20

Ok, I got enough encouragement from friends and bloggers to make this idea happen. If you have no Idea what I’m talking about, I wrote in a recent post about an idea that Jill (my wife) and I came up with while we were walking our dog. Here’s the idea.

God’s Kids needs a big December in donations to meet the commitments we’ve made to more than 2,000 orphans across the world. Jill and I are having our first baby (anytime now), and lots of people are asking us what our baby needs. Well, the fact is that we live in the land of plenty, and our baby just doesn’t need a whole lot. So we thought, what if we held an alternative baby shower? Instead of our friends and family getting us gifts for our new baby, why don’t we ask them to give to God’s Kids to help orphaned children who know what “need” really means? Oh, and why don’t we invite the whole world to come to this baby shower to help orphans?

So we’ve done it. It’s really easy. Just follow this link to give to orphaned children in honor of Baby Leonard.

I’m really excited about this, and I hope people get into it. The shower will go through the end of the year, and I’ll post updates on this blog and at the God’s Kids site. If you like this idea, and you think that others might like it too, please feel free to invite them to the shower. We need all the help we can get.

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From music teacher to orphan advocate

Posted in all about me, education with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2007 by len20

I was a teacher not too long ago. I only taught for three years, but that doesn’t diminish my feeling that music teacher is atMe in Liberia the heart of my identity. I enjoyed being a teacher. I was – and still would be – good at it (depending on which former student you ask, of course).

I remember some of the relationships that I had with students, and I miss being an influence in their lives. When I left teaching to see what the rest of the world did from 7:00-4:30, I wasn’t sure I’d find a job or a career that would feel as important as teaching was to me. And I didn’t for about a year.

I went from writing freelance articles for the local newspaper to working in the customer service division of a giant computer software company run by a hermit who only showed his face on video-conferencing screens twice a year to update his minions on the health of the corporate machine. It was lovely. I was terrible at my job, and was fired before the end of my six month training program.

After this, God mercifully led me to ministry work. God’s Kids hired me as the Director of Marketing based on my experience in watching t.v. commercials and reading magazines with ads in them. It’s been the best job I could have possibly hoped for after leaving teaching. I’ve never been more excited about what I’m doing, or passionate about why I’m doing it.

Even though I don’t get to be an individual influence on the lives of the orphans that we work for around the world, I feel that I have some measure of influence as to the quality of life they live. So if anyone is reading this, you’ll have to pardon me when I start screaming about the state of the world’s most vulnerable children, especially orphaned children. I grew up with everything. They’re growing up with nothing, and I’m pretty sure that my life is no more worthy of entitlement than theirs.

Me in Burmese refugee campSo I’m determined to use whatever means God gives me to influence their lives for the good. If you’re reading this, I’m coming after you. I want your attention, I want your energy, I want your money and your influence, and I want your heart to be softened by the lives of broken kids.

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