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The Orphan Crisis Without Adoption

We could spend hours or days (or longer) debating the question of whether everyone is “called” to adopt or whether it is even a call or a command or whether the Church is necessarily failing because everyone hasn’t adopted.  Today, we set those questions aside and talk about non-adoption options for supporting orphans, or maybe even preventing them.  Let’s discuss “caring for widows and orphans in their distress.”  James 1:27.

Project HOPEFUL operates a number of programs specifically designed to address the needs of widows and orphans in the countries where we operate.  For example, our Hope + Sisterhood program in Uganda, Ethiopia, and soon, Guatemala, partners women and families from the United States with women who are HIV positive from these countries.  The goal of the program is to give the women a “hand up” out of poverty and to help them become self-sustaining as a family.  Many of the women in our program are widows or have been abandoned by husbands upon learning of their positive HIV status.  Most have children, some of whom are positive.  Rather than continue the cycle of poverty and relinquishment for adoption, the Sisterhood seeks to empower these women to start businesses and use the financial support they receive for six months to plan for the future and family sustainability.  For more information about our Hope + Sisterhood, check out our website:

Village of Hope cares for special needs orphans in San Lucas, Guatemala and teaching them about the love of Jesus Christ.  VoH welcomes families and children into its “Village” where these individuals are loved on by house parents, provided food, shelter and education.  The goal is to create a loving home where the people we serve […]

Addicted to God Through the Orphan

This post is by our staff member, Jen Knapp:

Two years ago today, with great anticipation, I boarded a flight for Accra, Ghana. My husband stayed back with our other two daughters. I was finally going to bring Juliana home! The last six months of our second adoption had not gone at all how we expected. Not a surprise…now that we’re veterans! It was like a bad dream you couldn’t wake up from. Everything that was supposed to happen didn’t. Every promise that was made was broken. Every extra
documentation the Embassy asked for wasn’t enough.

Friends fasted. Neighbors cried. Government officials petitioned. We could not find favor in getting Juliana her Visa to come home. Thirteen weeks felt like thirteen years.

Until. God showed up.

He showed up in a very unexpected, powerful way through the organization I am writing this post for. Out of no where, I was reminded about an article I had read the previous winter. The article was in People Magazine about the founder of Project HOPEFUL. God prompted me to remember this article SO THAT I could find them at the right time. It seemed like God wanted to manifest his power and presence through the favor of this organization. And He did just that. Project HOPEFUL was used by the Lord to bring justice to a part of our adoption case that was unjust.

I was reminded again this past weekend of the responsibilities I have as a follower of Christ to grow up. To mature. The bible says in 1 Peter “like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” [1 Peter 2:2-3]. […]

Adoption Is Not About You

A post from our staff member, Deb Steiner

There is an article circulating on Facebook right now entitled, “Marriage is not for you.”  As a single person, I read the title and thought, “You got that right.  Apparently.”  Ha!  But then I read the article and realized that the title was just one part of what this husband was saying.  Marriage is not for you . . . it’s for family and for your spouse.  It’s laying down SELF for another person (and family) in a total and complete way.  It’s not about you.  

November is adoption awareness month, and I’m just going to say it:  Adoption is not for you.

I am a huge advocate for adoption in those cases where a child is truly in need of a family (more on that in another post).  My brothers were adopted; my three children were adopted; I have supported countless friends in their adoptions.  It would be crazy to think I’m anything other than an {huge} adoption advocate.

And yet . . .

I don’t want you to adopt.  I don’t want you to adopt if you think it’s a fad.  I don’t want you to adopt if you are doing it for your ego or to receive accolades from people you do and don’t know.  I don’t want you to adopt if you have a savior complex.  I don’t want you to adopt if you are filling a God-sized hole in your heart.  I don’t want you to adopt if you intend to treat your children who were adopted differently than your biological children.  {This seems painfully obvious.}  I don’t want you to adopt if you think you have to.  I don’t want you to adopt if you can’t say now that it’s FOREVER.  Please, don’t adopt.

Over the last couple of years we have seen […]

Pearls, anyone?

A post by our FIG director, Traci Heim:

I’ve been thinking about orphans lately.
Shocking, I know.
I talk often with people about all aspects of adoption, and cost is something that always comes up.


So today I’m thinking about orphans and cost.

I will tell you that cost is a widely misunderstood concept; most often because its scope has been minimized to something as inconsequential as dollars and cents.

As in: How much does the typical adoption cost?

In monetary terms, one could say that the average eastern European adoption of an HIV+ child lands right around $24,000 to $27,000.

Is that it?
Is that the cost in its entirety?

I recently heard a TV evangelist caution people considering adoption to “count the cost.”
He eluded to mental illness, sexual abuse, and behavioral issues as things to very carefully consider. It was clear that he considered it far to high a price to pay; the underlying message was that in his mind, these children weren’t worth the cost.

Here’s the thing.
He wasn’t wrong to identify those areas as areas that cost something.
They do.
Where he was absolutely wrong was in assuming that the price was too high.

The true answer to what an adoption costs is:




What we all need to understand is that every person,
every child,
every orphan
is worthy of the cost.

We know this because Jesus paid for our salvation with his life.
How can the redemption of someone else not cost us the same?

He died to redeem us.

In adoption, we live to redeem them.

Matthew 13:45
The kingdom if Heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all he had and bought it.

Matthew 19:14
But Jesus said suffer little children, and […]

Not Impressed.

A post from Tesney Davis:

Rescue those unjustly sentenced to die. Don’t hesitate to step in and help. If you say, “Hey, that’s none of my business.” Will that get you off the hook? God knows what you know. He’s not impressed with weak excuses. -Proverbs 24:11-12, NLT & The Message mash-up

Since God first wrecked our lives in a most excellent (and most difficult) way through adoption, I’ve gone back and forth, to and from extremes. At first I was all “full throttle ahead, everyone should adopt, and why aren’t they” with my approach.

Then I felt The Lord pressing me to be a little more graceful. I felt him nudging me to be quiet for a while, to listen, offer support, and to let him change hearts. I started learning more about adoption. I visited other countries and saw first-hand how family preservation is so much better IF it’s feasible. I got in touch with Kirill’s birth mom, learned his birth story from her perspective, and realized that family of origin is always the best option. But it isn’t always an available option. 

For Kirill, and most orphaned children with intensive special needs, adoption is probably the only solution. This is where my passion has been re-ignited over the past few months. I’ve felt God telling me it’s time to speak up again. Maybe a little more boldly than ever on behalf of orphaned children with special needs.

Orphaned children with special needs. Let’s talk about that. Let’s allow the reality of their situations to sink in for a moment. A child with special needs with a loving, nurturing family will have some obstacles to overcome. A child with special needswithout a family…well, their obstacles are almost insurmountable. Depending on the country, […]

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    I know why you THINK you can’t adopt or be involved in foster care….

I know why you THINK you can’t adopt or be involved in foster care….

A post from one of our staffees, Jenny Clark:Orphan Sunday 2013. (On this day last year, I announced on my blog that I was officially starting the process to adopt a child with Down syndrome. I would have NEVER imagined that a short 71/2 months later that baby would be born and become mine.) I know why you think you can’t do it, because I used to think it too. And I know why we think that way. One reason is that we have convinced ourselves that we are not “called”. Our Western churches teach us that we are required to show up for church each week, and give money to support that church. We are required to be “good people” so we can make it to heaven. The rest, we are told, is based on “being called”. No need to go on a mission trip if you are not called. No need to help the poor unless you feel called. No reason to reach out to widows if you don’t feel called. Worst of all we have been taught that we can spread the Gospel just by our actions or inviting someone to church. If you don’t feel called to open your mouth and spread the Good News, then that is cool. Leave it to the missionaries and the preachers who feel “called” to share the Gospel. That mindset is where I believe our attitude towards adoption and foster care was born. It is optional. It is not my problem unless I feel called. Leave it to the people who do feel called. The second reason is very simple. Americans have an idea of what […]

Through Tears…..

A post from Dawn Patterson, Director of Hope + Sisterhood, Uganda.

As much as I love Uganda and truly do long to be there….life in Uganda is hard.  Very hard. Days are long and the work is never done. Most families don’t eat dinner until 8:30 – 9:00 at night and rest…..I don’t know that there is a word for rest in Uganda.

One of our beautiful HOPE+ sisters has cancer. I met Sarah for the first time in January 2013. She is a precious woman with 4 beautiful children. She lost her husband to AIDS in 2005.

We got to see Sarah again in September when we visited her. She was very weak and we were told she had cancer.

But she still had the sweetest spirit about her.

Sarah had a hysterectomy 2 weeks ago. This was done at Mulago hospital in Kampala. I have never heard anything good about this hospital. Apparently, her brother and sister sold whatever possessions they could to come up with the funds to have the surgery. They didn’t ask for help or funds…..they didn’t even share that Sarah was having the surgery. I don’t know why but I suspect it was because they didn’t think there was anyone to help.

Today, my dear brother Richard spent the day at the hospital fighting to get Sarah the blood transfusion she has needed for two days. We have a good friend who is a nurse who just happens to be in Uganda and she went to meet Richard at the hospital to help assess the situation. Here is her message to me after her visit:

“OK. Just left hospital. She does not have uterine cancer, she had cervical cancer. Typically surgery fixes cervical cancer depending […]

Hope + Businesses!

It’s hard to put into words all that we have seen and wrap my head around how such a small financial gift for 6 months can literally change a life forever.
We visited several of our sisters’ projects.  I was moved to tears more times than I can count.  The joy that radiated from these women is indescribable.  I was so proud of each and every one of them.  When I hugged them, I didn’t want to let go.
Edith has a hair salon and it’s amazing.  Annette actually constructed her store HERSELF.  Juliet grew her small road side stand and is now working from a beautiful store.  I could go on and on.  And when I have reliable electricity and more internet, I will probably do that.
Please, please, please consider being part of this amazing program.  You will be blessed beyond words and you won’t regret it.
This is what redemption looks like.















Hope + Sisterhood Trip to Uganda

I’m having trouble putting this trip into words.   They joy has been overwhelming but the sadness has been so deep.    This morning started with a precious woman who was very malnourished because she chooses to put her son in school and sacrifices meals to do that.  She is a trained laboratory technician but she can not get work because of the stigma that surrounds HIV.  She loves the Lord and has the light of Christ in her eyes.  This afternoon, I had a woman ask me if I would take her HIV+ baby and adopt her because she feared she would not live long enough to raise her.   In between these encounters were moments of joy, celebration and singing.  We visited many sisters and their successful projects.  They are thriving and so unbelievably grateful for the support they have received.  One sister very proudly told me that she was able to purchase eggs….this is a big deal because eggs are very expensive.   When we gave the sisters {just} 2 kilos of beans they erupted into song and dance.  While the moment was filled with joy I couldn’t help but ask myself the question:  have I ever been that grateful for anything?   Much less, food???  We’ve had the opportunity to share the Gospel with two Muslim women.  We’ve received news that two sisters who were Muslim have accepted Christ.  One sister shared her son’s medical certificate with me that showed he tested negative for HIV, because of the medicine she takes!  She was beaming!!



These women are amazing.  Their faith is inspiring.  Their sadness compels me to action.  I believe in this program more than I can ever put into words.   The HOPE+ sisterhood isn’t just changing the lives of women in Uganda….it is changing me.




If you are interested in becoming a sister, please email me […]

The Radiance of HOPE

She’s come a long way baby…..
This.  THIS is what hope looks like.




When we first heard about Noreen, her situation was dire.  Because of her HIV, her family disowned her.  They kicked her out of the shack she was living in.  She and her children were homeless and hungry.  A friend of a friend reached out to Project HOPEFUL to see if we could help.  Noreen was living in Kampala and was no where near our other sisters but we knew we had to help.

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”  James 4:17

It wasn’t going to be convenient or easy….and it didn’t exactly fit our program parameters….but that didn’t matter.  Noreen needed hope.  A home was provided for Noreen and she began receiving medical care and was improving.  But because she lived in Kampala, it was extremely costly to provide for her and her children.  We began to pray for a solution.  I contacted my dear friend Richard from Mukono and asked if he would visit Noreen.  Richard works closely with our HOPE+ sisters in Mukono & Lugazi but had never met Noreen.  After visiting her, he was broken.  He didn’t even make it home before he pulled off the road and called me.  He said “Dawn, we must do something.  I feel we need to move Noreen & her children to Mukono so that she can be cared for and her children can attend school”.  Before I even knew it, her children were being enrolled in school (FREE OF CHARGE), renovations were being made to a home owned by the ministry Richard is involved in for Noreen to live in (FREE OF CHARGE) and plans were […]

Hope + Sisterhood Uganda Takes Off!

God continually knocks our socks off with the way He has provided for the needs of our friends in Uganda.  Through the HOPE+ sisterhood, 37 women are getting a “hand up” that is literally changing their lives.  But God is also showing us there is much more work to be done.  All of our sisters & their children receive free medical care from the newly constructed St. John medical clinic in Mukono.  After a lot of prayer and conversation, we felt that it made sense for Project HOPEFUL to get more involved in this clinic.  If we can be a part of helping in a holistic way, Lord willing, could we be part of preventing a child from ever becoming an orphan?But with that decision comes responsibility and accountability which can produce the “deer in headlight” response.  But, God has consistently shown me just how much HE is in control of all of this.  There have been many nights when I have lost sleep trying to figure out how “I” was going to do this or how “We” were going to do that.  (check out this blog post:  Have Faith) What God has faithfully shown us is that all He needs is obedience.  We don’t really have to “Do” anything.Richard Kibirango is a dear friend and serves on the board of the medical clinic.  His family took care of our family when we adopted our son Joseph.  He is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the brother I never had.  I trust him with my life….and the life of my children.   When Richard visited our family in May, I felt God pressing two things on my heart….staff salaries needed to be covered for […]

Village of HOPE Guatemala: Partner with us!

When the Lord called us to start Villageof Hope, we all knew that it was way bigger than ourselves! We are so blessed by the leadership of Lifesong for Orphans and Project Hopeful and continue to be amazed at their experience and wisdom.

The other thing that the Lord continues to make clear to us day after day is that we are NOT in this alone… that this is the work of the Spirit and that He will call believers all over the world to be a part of the Village of Hope ministry.

It’s the stories that the Lord continues to write that break our hearts for the lost, the lonely, and the hurting in Guatemala.

Stories like Brenda…

stories likeMario…

stories likeRosa…

and stories like Yessica…

But that’s not where the work ends… the Lord has so clearly called us to provide family to those without… to provide hope to those with none… and to give
faith to those who don’t yet know Jesus. That’s what we are committed to and
we trust that the Lord will finish the good work that HE has started!

If you’re like many other Christians today, the Lord is breaking your heart and stirring within you to defend the cause of the orphan…. To do something about the plight of the orphan… we ask you to prayerfully consider bring HOPE to the hurting in Guatemala. The Lord can use your skills in so many ways… and in order to further our ministry, our work on the ground in Guatemala, we need the body of Christ to continue to work together… some the hands, some the feet, some the arms, some the heart… what is the Lord calling YOU to do?

Explore ways that you and your church can partner with
Village of Hope-Guatemala here.

Would you share about Village of Hope with 5 other people?
Would […]