Helpful resources

Holiday Guidelines

Hi friends.  The holidays are coming and it is the most magical time of the year right?  Maybe not for some…as a parent with children that have come via adoption I know that holidays tend to stress me out even more then everyday life.  My family is often traveling, we are in new places, routines get thrown off, there are a lot of people, stress is high and suddenly that special day has become hard.  This is true not only for my family but also for others with children who have entered their families via adoption.  This is especially true if those children have just arrived home or if they have special needs.

Orphanage/Institutionalized care often breeds unregulated or unhealthy eating habits, promotes social awkwardness and might even teach kids the wrong ways to gain attention that they crave. Once children are in their forever homes, parents are working hard to help their children create healthy boundaries with food, social situations and appropriate feelings of love.

As the holidays are approaching and we enter busy season we have asked parents of adoptees what they wish their families knew, without having to explain in detail.  The tips below are from adoptive parents that struggle with these issues at family gatherings or large social settings with friends, please keep these things in mind if your celebrating with a family in these situations.

I wish my family understood…..

1. Food Issues

Many children coming from orphanage settings have food issues.  Some children are picky and eat hardly nothing, they might have their favorite foods and that is it.  Please do not make them eat everything on their plate.  Let their parents help them pick out food and encourage them to eat if they are picky eaters.
Other children coming from orphanage settings will likely […]

So it’s not all unicorns . . . now what?

We at Project Hopeful believe in the power of prayer.  And not just a little bit.  We pray for things like the complete eradication of HIV in our lifetime, as we did last month.  We know that we serve a mighty God who is able to do all things, in His will.  So we pray, and pray a lot.

In addition to prayer, however, we also encourage adoptive parents to take advantage of the many God-given resources that are available when the difficulties of parenting children who were adopted arise.  Just like we would never tell scientists to stop searching for the cure to HIV because we are praying, neither would we suggest that someone who is in the valley with their child “just pray” and fail to take advantage of the lifeboat that God may have sent to them.  Last week this point was driven home for me as I was speaking to a friend of Project Hopeful.  She was just finishing her first Empowered to Connect conference with Karen Purvis and was sharing some of her learnings with me.  She wrote:
[Purvis] believes that the neuroplasticity of the brain makes it possible for the brain to overcome almost any prior insult with purposeful parenting.  But simple prayer and love  . . . will not be enough. [Purvis believes] reprogramming WILL NOT happen unless parents approach it knowing the science and how to use injured brain areas to get to ones that are currently offline.  That was sobering for me. I feel a new responsibility to approach my kids mindfully, purposefully. 
As I read my friend’s email, I was convicted about how often I choose to overlook warning signs that my children’s brains may be experiencing […]

Short term missions

Around ‘The Church’ there has been a lot of negativity toward organizations and individuals participating in short term mission trips. I find it very interesting because 10 years ago there were attacks against Christians for NOT going and just ‘throwing our money’ at the poor.  I wanted to enter this conversation because it is very personal to me.

In 2008, I went on a two week mission trip to southern, rural India.  Until that point I had never seen poverty.  On this trip I saw, smelled, tasted, touched, and encountered a whole new world.  The reality of what I experienced touched me in a profound way.  I literally came UNDONE!

In 2009, my husband returned with me to India.  On this second trip we asked God to break our hearts for what breaks His.  He was faithful to answer.  We built relationships with some girls at an orphanage where we were privileged to spend three days.  It was a wonderful facility!  The children were well cared for, and loved, and still they DESIRED to BELONG in a family.  We returned home broken.  We completely changed the way we thought about our money and where and how we spent it.  We sold our cars; we down sized our lifestyle; and we opened our hearts to adoption.

Fast forward 5 years.  In addition to our four biological children, we have three adopted children ages 6, 2 and 1.  All three of our children who were adopted have special needs:  either HIV or Down syndrome.  I also began working for Project HOPEFUL where we advocate for “overlooked” orphans all over the world.  We work with HIV+ mothers to empower them so that their children will never be orphaned.  Our three […]

Project HOPEFUL materials now available in French

Project HOPEFUL is pleased to announce that one of our brochures is now available in French. We are really excited about the doors that will open for spreading the truth about adopting children with HIV/AIDS with the use of this pamphlet.

We would like to give public thanks to Rachele DeMeo for her labors on behalf of Project HOPEFUL of this translation work. Rachele DeMeo was born in Nîmes, France (as P.K. (Pastor’s Kid) and M.K (Missionary’s Kid)), where she spent the first nineteen years of her life, and graduated with a French Baccalaureate. After a year of College, she moved to Maryland to complete a B.A. in Education, intern for a Congressman and teach. She moved to California for a teaching job and furthered her education graduating with a M.A. Additionally she pursued a Masters in Education specializing in Teaching and Learning. She’s been translating since 1998. She’s also had experience teaching K-2, 6-12 and College-level/Adults. She specializes in teaching French, English and Italian.

She currently teaches French at MiraCosta College and is a freelance translator. She lives with her husband, 9-month old baby, 2 dogs and 3 cats in Oceanside, CA.

Thank you, Rachele!

If you would like to download this brochure, you may do so HERE .

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    1 in 4 Americans believe HIV Can Be Transmitted By Sharing A Drinking Glass

1 in 4 Americans believe HIV Can Be Transmitted By Sharing A Drinking Glass

You might recall the inspiration for our Truth Pandemic campaign video was the statistic by the Kaiser Family Foundation that levels of knowledge of HIV/AIDS had not increased in the US since 1987.

The newest report doesn’t offer much hope that a lot has changed. Still, 25% of Americans don’t know the three main ways HIV can be transmitted and HOW IT IS NOT. This kind of ignorance is unacceptable. Project HOPEFUL will continue our work as ever to ensure that anyone who is willing to listen knows the TRUTH about HIV/AIDS and orphans with the virus.

Have you shared our video with your friends lately? If not, maybe today’s statistic will inspire you to decrease the number of people still afraid to share a drink with a friend who is HIV+ by giving them a healthy dose of reality. Truth is contagious. Spread it

Do you know the truth?

The day we learned the Kaiser Family Foundation had conducted a study determining that levels of knowledge about HIV/AIDS had not increased in the United States among the general population since 1987 we knew something HAD to change.  Project HOPEFUL is working hard to do our part to change that statistic through our educational initiative called the Truth Pandemic.

Project HOPEFUL’s goal is to spread the truth about HIV/AIDS and orphans with the virus in pandemic proportions so that no orphaned child will suffer due to lack of knowledge. Because waiting orphans need families NOW, we’re driven to do whatever we can to make a difference. But, we need your help!

Please, take a moment to watch our video and learn the facts about HIV/AIDS:

Today’s Project HOPEFUL giveaway will test your knowledge of the facts and help you spread the TRUTH to the people around you.  Simply copy/paste the questions below, add your answers, and email them to Every contestant who answers all the questions correctly will be entered into our drawing to win an exclusive Project HOPEFUL “Send Me” tee shirt. (Hint: all the answers can be found by watching the Truth Pandemic video above or reading through our Your Questions Answered booklet)

These “Send Me” tees will be sold to help Project HOPEFUL raise enough funds to take our educational workshops to every state and help us spread truth further!

By taking these simple steps you can be an advocate for change and help eliminate social stigma. Who knows? Maybe the person you share the facts with today will become a parent to a waiting orphan with HIV/AIDS tomorrow?
Giveaway Questions:
1.) What are the three main ways HIV is transmitted?

2.) What does HIV stand for?

3.) What […]

New Prevention Research on Breakthrough Microbicide

An interesting article on a new vaginal microbial gel used in studies to reduce transmission of  HIV.

HIV Transmission Prevention Between Discordant Couples

A study including over 1,700 couples in nine countries (the vast majority heterosexual) demonstrates that early treatment with HAART  medications for the HIV-positive partner can reduce transmission of HIV to the uninfected partner. Through the early intervention of treatment the risk of transmitting the virus to the uninfected partner drops by 96 percent.

You can read a brief article on the subject HERE

CAFO Summit VII Highlights – Day 1

Project HOPEFUL is enjoying our time here at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit in Louisville, Kentucky. The Team has enjoyed the camaraderie which comes from being amongst like-minded advocates who share the same burden to see orphans receive the care they need.
The conference was kicked off with a time of worship Wednesday night with a wonderful concert from Meredith Andrews and the Desperation Band. Today we were treated to many informative general and breakout sessions by thoughtful presenters representing a wide range of topics, such as; McLane Layton of Equality for Adopted Children, Karyn Purvis of TCU Institute of Child Development, Brian Fikkert of Covenant College and Chalmers Center, Julie Gumm, author of Adopt Without Debt… just to name a VERY few.
The conference has already blessed the Project HOPEFUL team. We suspect that the information learned here will continue to inform and challenge us to as we take what we’ve learned home to digest further through prayer and meditation. There is not much that compares to gathering with like-minded organizations to compare notes on best practices and what is truly working in the world of orphan care.
On an exciting personal note, Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine of Family Life Today interviewed Executive Director, Carolyn Twietmeyer in front of the live general session audience this morning. Project HOPEFUL couldn’t be more grateful for the chance to be featured on such a prominent national radio show! Stay tuned for further details about what date the show will air.

Your Questions Answered: Dealing With Family

By: Jen Sloniger
Your Questions Answered is a blog series which addresses Project HOPEFUL blog readers’ most burning questions. Please submit your questions to:
QUESTION: How do you suggest I go about sharing news with family and friends that we plan to adopt a child with HIV? I shared with my sister (she has two children) and she seemed very anxious about the idea.
People commonly wonder which approach is best for sharing the news that they plan to adopt a child with HIV/AIDS or other special needs. There is no formula to follow for guaranteed success. But there are some helpful things to consider.

In Person Is Best
This may seem like a given, but, believe me, some people have chosen to share their big news via email, or even had family members
stumble upon their announcement by visiting their blog. This definitely is not the way to go if you want to ensure feelings do not get hurt. If you
plan on disclosing your child’s status you’ll want to make sure the people closest to you know first. Just like you might for any big occasion in
your life, plan to share with your inner circle first, and in person. Sitting down for a talk will give you a sense of people’s initial reaction to your
news and help guide you in determining who might require a little more reassurance about your decision.

Adjust Your Expectations
Though it can be a real bummer, my best advice for parents adopting a child who is HIV+ is not to expect anyone to cheer them on in a big
celebration when they first reveal their plans. Experience tells me that most extended family and friends experience an initial bit of shock upon
hearing the news. Remember, […]

Your Questions Answered: Overcoming Language Barriers

By: Jen Sloniger
Your Questions Answered is a blog series which addresses Project HOPEFUL blog readers’ most burning questions. Please submit your questions to:
QUESTION: How does a family deal with the language barrier of adopting an older child who doesn’t speak English? Is that even possible?
ANSWER: Kendall that is a great question, and actually one we’ve been asked several times before. I’m not sure how it is we hadn’t addressed it until now.

Language is a big deal. We use it for self-expression, for emotional release, for building relationships and so much more. For the older adopted child it can be difficult to lose the ability to express themselves. Especially at a time when major life-change is taking place.

Research indicates a child’s native language skills are the best indicator for their success in learning a new language. So, it’s very important parents ask their child’s caregivers whether their child is doing well or delayed in the first language. Parents should gather as much information as possible about their child’s language abilities.  This is especially true for adopted children who need to begin school soon after arriving home. A helpful checklist of questions which should be asked can be found HERE.

For anyone interested in doing more reading there is a helpful article on

There are public services available to families which help English language learners which many families tap into through their school district.

The truth is language can be a challenge for parents and children first arriving home. There are lots of tricks adoptive families use to overcome the language barrier.

Learn some key phrases and vocabulary words
If we think about this it’s pretty unfair to ask […]

State Associates Make A Difference

Project HOPEFUL has initiated a program called State Associations to expand our support system to reach families adopting across the US by replicating the successful Parent Forum we created in partnership with the University of Chicago Adoption Clinic. State Associate, Deanna Jones Falchook, is working with Duke University to bring educational resources, medical, and emotional support to North Carolina families. You can read all about the exciting advancements on the Project HOPEFUL NC Blog HERE.


If you are interested in becoming a Project HOPEFUL State Associate please contact Audrey Baker,, for more information.