November is National Adoption Month! Did you know that 140 million children worldwide are estimated to be orphans? This month, our focus is to spread awareness for the children who are waiting to be adopted. Every child deserves a loving family to call their own and to feel wanted and needed. Together with your help, we can raise awareness about adoption and ensure these kids find their forever families.
Here is a sneak peek of what’s coming this month:
- Featured Waiting Children
- Answers to the top questions about adoption
- Information about the most common special needs in adoption
- Reasons to adopt an older child
- Family adoption stories
- Volunteer opportunities
- And more!
Fall is in the air, pumpkins are everywhere, and it’s almost time for Halloween! We would love to see how your family celebrates the spookiest time of the year. Our annual GWCA/CAN Halloween Photo Contest starts today and ends Thursday November 2nd. Send photos of your little witches and ghosts to email@example.com to participate in our contest! Here are the categories for this year:
Best group costume
We’ll share all submissions and announce the winners on November 3rd. Click here to check out previous contest winners. We hope you have a safe and fun Halloween weekend, and we can’t wait to see all of the adorable costumes!Read More
I stepped off the plane and it was just how I remembered, except this time I was alone. As I entered the immigration area, I was pushed and shoved as individuals tried to get green forms and get in line to exit the airport. An overwhelming feeling came over me, and I thought, “Can I do this? Can I really do this trip by myself?” I put a forced smile on my face and got in line to hand off my form and exit the airport. As I got on the escalator (that typically does not work), I felt the heat of Haiti hit my face. It was all so surreal. I was back in a place that felt so comforting and yet so foreign all at the same time. As I made it over to the baggage area my mind began racing, wondering if someone was going to be outside to pick me up and how I would find them in the large crowd. Filled with anxiety, I continued through the airport towards the exit. And just like that, I saw a familiar face and all of the mixed feelings I felt previously were gone. I knew I was supposed to be here, and I was beyond excited for this new avanti.
This second trip to Haiti was not only about adoption, but it was also about finding comfort in being alone in another country. So comfortable that I would soon be able to lead my own group in Haiti. I want to help bring awareness to a cause that many people do not know about, I want to show individuals another culture, and I want to present an opportunity to be completely selfless. This has been a dream of mine since my first trip.
Am I nervous to lead an entire group in a foreign country where I am not fluent in the local language? Absolutely. But, I feel like this has been my calling for a long time and instead of letting fear hold me back, I am letting go and letting God lead me.
*avanti- Creole word for “adventure”
– Hilary Clemons, Senior Adoption Counselor/Orphan Care Team Leader
- Click here to apply for the Orphan Care Trip!
- Check out Hilary’s Blog: Help, Hope, Haiti
- Learn More About Haiti Adoption
- Contact a Haiti Adoption Specialist
Be the Change You Wish to See in the World
UPDATE: Our Orphan Care Team is back from a successful trip to support the orphans! Stay tuned for more information about our next Orphan Care Trip.
Would you like a way to directly give back and help children in need this upcoming holiday season? Do you want to see how YOU can truly make an impact? Then join Hilary December 1-5, 2017 for Children of All Nation’s first Orphan Care Trip to Haiti! This trip is perfect for anyone interested in supporting a good cause or learning more about the culture in Haiti.
You will be travelling to Haiti with an experienced guide. During this trip you will have the opportunity to work directly with children, complete orphanage projects, explore local businesses that support orphans, and even go to the beach!
There are limited spots available, so apply as soon as possible! For more information, please contact our Orphan Care Team Leader Hilary at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 512-323-9595 ext. 3062Read More
Have you ever heard the phrase “the ripple effect” and how one thing that you do can create a chain reaction for other individuals and ultimately impacts those around you? That is exactly what ended up happening for two girls living in Haiti through my discovery of one simple photo on our server…
I stumbled across this photo one day on our server while I was still working in the dossier department and had no idea at the time that one day I would be taking over the Haiti program. I remember turning to my co-worker who had worked here for several years and asking about them. When she did not know much of their story, I walked down to the CAN room to ask the current Haiti case manager more about their story.
This photo, the one you see below, is the exact photo I found two and a half years ago. This photo forever changed my life and eventually ended up changing theirs…
As I walked down to the CAN room and began asking questions about these two girls, some statements were made to me that broke me to the core. “They have been available for adoption for a while but not many families want to adopt older children”, “if families want to adopt from Haiti they want little ones because you can still get young children from Haiti.” I walked back down to my office and could not get over what I had just heard. Families adopted older children all the time. I knew this because I was the one doing the paperwork for the adoptions. I saw it all the time, and why had no one moved forward with them? Days passed and even months passed and I was constantly checking to see if they had found a family, and the answer was always no. Everyday I prayed for these girls and asked God to bring them a forever family. The family I knew they deserved. I still did not know much about them, but ever since I first saw that photo I could not get them out of my head.
Six months had passed since I started working in dossier, and I found myself at a standstill. I had always worked in direct care so moving into an office type setting was hard, and I was really starting to miss working one on one with clients and children face to face. I did a lot of soul searching and decided it was time that I started looking for another job. I was offered a job with a different company and came into work with a heavy heart to give my notice. However, God works in mysterious ways, and clearly my work here was not finished just yet… One of the managers told me that a position was opening up in the office and that I would be a great fit. Also, with my background, it seemed like something I would enjoy a little bit more. The position was an International Adoption Counselor for Children of All Nations, and this position meant that I would have an opportunity to match children from various countries with their forever families and counsel families through the process. I was immediately intrigued. I said I would like to take some time to think about it, but by the next day I was sold. They offered me the position with CAN, so I packed up my current office and moved down the hall. I was ecstatic for this new opportunity and role. I immediately wanted to be trained to take over Haiti.
As we began training I quickly realized how difficult Haiti was… The program had no structure, the timelines were long, and current families had been waiting for what seemed like forever to be matched. Even though I tried my best to stay optimistic, I was feeling a little discouraged and overwhelmed. As I learned more and started to develop my own internal structure, working with the country continued to get easier everyday. Haiti was also in the process of transitioning into becoming a Hague country, and even though this would mean the country itself would eventually have more structure no one really knew what that would actually look like moving forward. With the changes happening in country, cases stuck in IBESR (the central adoption authority) and the idea of hiring a new rep on the horizon I proposed a trip to Haiti… my first time ever traveling there. The trip was approved, and I immediately went back to the same photo of those girls. I was going to meet them.. face to face.. the girls I had been praying for for over a year now.
I arrived in Haiti, and below are some of the photos I took with the girls. Meeting them for the first time was like seeing old friends, and we hit it off from the very beginning. They both spoke English fairly well so I had an opportunity to learn various things about them. Some of the things that I learned about them was that they both loved the color red, one wanted to be an English teacher while the other wanted to be a pediatrician, they both could not wait to have a car and they liked to have their nails painted. I spent time with them every day, and when it came time to leave Haiti I was a mess. The oldest clung to me and asked me to come back for her birthday and if I could not do that then when could I come back. I told her, “this is not goodbye this is just see you later.” A tear streamed down her face, and she gave me the biggest hug she had given me all week.
I got back to Texas and was beyond determined to find them their forever family. The advocacy began, and I was constantly talking to individuals in country about their paperwork, working with marketing to promote older child adoptions from Haiti, and even using my own personal social media for outreach. While the search continued I needed them to feel special, important, and cared about so we mailed them birthday cards (see photo below).
I came into work everyday praying this would be the day I got the call… a family specifically wanting older children… from Haiti. The advocacy continued, conversations were had but no one seemed to be ready to pull the trigger and move forward. Then, just like that, my prayers were answered.
I answered the phone and the woman on the other end went on to say that they were interested in older children, potentially siblings and from Haiti. I was on the edge of my seat and blurted out, “I am not sure if you would be interested but I met two older girls while I was in Haiti.. They are amazing.. I have been trying the entire time I have been back to find them a family.. Would you be willing to think about it?” Immediately, the woman answered yes and said that after everything I said about them she had to take a look at the two girls I spoke so highly of. And just like that the family applied, contracted, and sent an email that included this: “Thank you so much. I couldn’t sleep last night because of our excitement and the weird path that led me to you. I’ve got chili bumps!!!”
I had found them a family.
And, not just any family.. The family I know that I had been praying for. I was beside myself… There are a lot of times when you are working in the adoption world that it feels odd. A lot of things you do, the advocacy, that extra email or phone call all impact the life of a child that you typically have not met. But YOU are changing their life. And sometimes it is really hard to wrap my mind around what I do, and with their case specifically I could not even formulate words; I still can’t.
Time passed, the family completed their dossier, and we suggested the match to IBESR. This is not something we are typically able to do, but since the girls were older we knew we had more of a chance of IBESR saying yes. IBESR told our rep in country and the creche director that they agreed on the match and would issue the referrals, so we waited and waited for the paperwork to come through.
Four months later, we had a match.
Before the family was able to travel, another trip to Haiti was approved for me, and I was going to get to see the girls again. It had been over a year since I saw them last, and I started wondering if they would even remember me. I felt very emotional going to Haiti this time. I was traveling alone and seeing kids again that were now matched with my families. I had so many thoughts running through my mind, but I just kept coming back to the girls. I arrived in Haiti and all the fear and worry I felt before was instantly gone–I was in my happy place and my heart was full.
We pulled up to the orphanage and so many of the kids remembered me and then I saw the two sisters… They immediately ran over to me and hugged me. It was like no time had passed at all. I was able to spend time with them everyday, and I even had an opportunity to tell the girls more about what all I do and about their family. After the girls had a few days to process and continue to ask me questions about their family, I asked the girls if they would like to “meet” their family by Facetiming them. They immediately said yes, and so I set up the call. As we went upstairs to find a quiet place for us to call the girls said, “Can we call them mom and dad?”, “Is it weird if we tell them we love them?” A million thoughts were running through their minds, and I could tell they were nervous. I grabbed both of their hands and said, “You can say whatever you want. You can call them whatever feels comfortable. This is your family. They chose you. You have nothing to be nervous about.” They both smiled and I pressed the call button.
My week in Haiti came to an end, and I was devastated to leave. There was so much great work accomplished in one short week, but it never seems like enough because the work that needs to be done is never finished. I stopped by the orphanage to say my goodbyes, and with tears streaming down my face I got in the truck to head to the airport. All of a sudden I heard children yelling my name from the porch, the truck doors opened and I felt a lot of movement in the back of the truck. I wiped my eyes and looked around and there were a handful of children who decided they were going to go with me to the airport. One girl climbed into my lap and tears continued to stream down my cheeks. She said, “Why are you crying? Because you are sad to leave us?” I nodded my head yes and gave a her a big squeeze. She went on to say, “You do not have to go. We want you to stay.” That did it. The tears became a waterfall, and I was officially a big emotional mess.
We pulled up to the airport, and I gathered my things to head inside. All of the kids jumped out of the truck and grabbed me, and then I looked up at my girls… Both of them had tears in their eyes and then they handed me the letters below. As I began to walk towards the airport, I waved back at them both and said, “Keep your heads up. Your family will be coming for you soon” and I walked into the airport.
The adjustment coming home from Haiti is always hard for me. Not only do I miss the people and the country, but the transition from life in Haiti to Texas is like night and day. Some of you that have also traveled to Haiti or other impoverished countries may have similar struggles. The realization of all the material items that we have that are a common “necessity” here in the U.S. that are unknown objects in Haiti is unreal. And of course, the work becomes more remote, as I am no longer on the grounds and able to push things along on my own or alongside our staff in country. It is an odd transition, and it usually takes me a couple of days to shake the feeling.
After a long weekend of rest I was back at work on Monday, and I was ready to take on the week. Calls were made, itineraries were finalized, flights were booked, and the girls family was ready to travel. I think we were all a variation of excited/nervous. How would it go? Was everyone prepared? How would the girls do when they finally saw them face to face? There were so many thoughts running through my mind and then I got a call from the family. They were at the airport waiting to go to Haiti. I told them I would be praying for them and the girls and I could not wait to hear how everything was going.
I anxiously awaited to hear from them and then I received the following photos and a message that stated, “After five minutes they became part of our family. Thank you so much. We love you.”
This has been such a long journey for these girls. They have waited so long for someone to come for them and for a family to call their own. It takes a village to make each adoption happen, and I know that God’s hands have been guiding theirs this entire time. It will still be a little while before they get to come home with their forever family, but we are through the toughest part and I cannot wait to see how much they thrive when they do get to come home.
We may have been separated by two different countries, but I believe we were always destined to meet and be a part of each others lives.
– Hilary Clemons, Haiti Adoption Specialist
- Check out Hilary’s Blog: Help, Hope, Haiti
- Learn More About Haiti Adoption
- Contact a Haiti Adoption Specialist
UPDATE: We’re happy to announce that almost $2,000 was raised in the fundraiser for the orphans in Burundi! Thanks to you, the orphanage was able to purchase food and school supplies for the kids and pay almost half a year’s rent!
Ever since I can remember, when anyone would ask me what job I would like to have, I could never pinpoint a specific profession, job, or title. All I knew was that I wanted to be able to help people. I wanted to be passionate about my work. I wanted help enrich people’s lives. I wanted to leave an impact. Working here at CAN, I get to do all of those things – every single day.
Even after doing a ton of research on Burundi, it’s drastically different to read statistics versus hear the actual stories of the children. It really hits home and brings it into perspective the kind of struggles they face daily, which we would never have to worry about. Burundi is one of the three poorest countries in the world – let that sink in. I constantly find myself trying to grasp the concept that Burundians on average live off of $2 a day, and yet we don’t even think twice about spending $4 on coffee in the morning.
I’ll never forget the day our rep told me about the orphanage needing assistance, since their main donor left the country. He went on to explain the dire situation they would face if they do not get funding. One can only imagine how this would impact not only the kids, but also the workers there who are already extremely underpaid. Hearing him talk about the conditions of the orphanage, the children’s daily lives, and how some of the children ended up in the orphanage put into perspective how lack of funding would negatively influence these sweet children’s lives.
Proceeds from Benefit for Burundi will go directly to this orphanage in Bujumbura, where many of our kids come from. Any contribution goes such a long way to support their needs, from housing to food to other basic necessities. Our first Benefit for Burundi will be our T-shirt drive that starts September 5th! Our goal is to raise $300 in 30 days, and all proceeds raised will go towards covering rent for the orphanage. By supporting housing for the children, this ensures that the children will have a safe place to live until they find their forever homes.
-Katie, Burundi Adoption Specialist
While Hurricane Harvey has brought devastating floods to many areas of Texas, we have been very fortunate and are happy to announce that our Austin office has not been impacted. We are safe and operating under normal business hours. Our thoughts are with our friends, families, and fellow Texans who have been impacted by the hurricane.
That being said the team at GWCA/CAN/SAE are gathering donations for Central Texas Food Bank and Austin Pets Alive to be allocated to our friends in need all over southern Texas. If you are local we encourage you to donate to the above organizations or you can bring your goods here and we’ll deliver them for you.
If you would like to participate, please bring whatever of the following:
- Canned Foods
- Anything from this list for cats/dogs (note that they do not need any dog food or dry food anymore.)
We appreciate your support and our continued thoughts go out to all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
248 Addie Roy Rd. Suite A102
Austin, TX 78746Read More
I am an International Adoption Counselor here at Children of All Nations! I work with families during the inquiry phase, referral phase, and send them through the travel phase. I manage our Latvia and Burundi programs – additionally, I will also help manage Latvia Hosting for this coming winter program. Prior to working as an International Adoption Counselor with CAN, I worked with the GWCA Post-Adoption Team.
2. What do you enjoy most about your job?
It’s hard to choose just one aspect of my job that I enjoy the most, so I’ll tell you my top favorites. I love talking with inquiring families about the international adoption journey and helping educate them more on what all it entails. Adoption is a topic everyone is aware of, but few begin the process knowing the ins and outs of how it all works. As one can imagine, some of the best days are when I’m able to match kiddos with their forever families! There’s no greater joy than being able to match a kiddo or sibling group with a loving family with just a little bit of advocacy. I have the opportunity to share incredibly courageous kiddos’ stories and make sure their voices are heard and they aren’t forgotten.
3. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?
Although the ups far outweigh the downs, it doesn’t make the hard days any less difficult. I get to work so closely with our wonderful families, which also entails being with them through all of their struggles. Having to make sure families have realistic expectations, give families not so good news or sometimes not being able to give any news is the hardest. Although this might be the most difficult aspect of my job, it’s one of the most rewarding in the sense that I get the opportunity to be side-by-side my families during the highs and lows of their adoption journey.
4. Why do you love adoption?
I love adoption not only because it’s been a part of my life for so long, but the idea in its self is beautiful and inspiring. It’s one of the most incredible things to see daily how a family bond and love can surpass race, culture, religion or background. Although there are many kids orphaned across the world, there are also multitudes of families waiting with open arms to embrace the child they have never met who lives thousands of miles away.
5. Fun facts about Katie:
- I’ve traveled to more countries than I have US states
- I speak German
- I’ve been playing the piano since I was 7 years old
There are only 7 spots left in CAN’s Haiti Healthy Track program for 2018, and they’re filling up quickly! Families in the 2018 program will be able to submit their dossiers as early as October of 2017, so now is the perfect time to get started!
Our Haiti Healthy Track program is for families who are interested in submitting their paperwork to be matched with a younger, medically healthy child. If your family is open to adopting an older child, a sibling group, or a child with medical needs, then our Haiti Waiting Child program may be a better fit.
Each year we’re given a limited number of spots to fill for each of our Haiti adoption programs. These spots typically fill up very quickly, so we encourage families to get started right away when they’re ready to begin their journey.
If you’re interested in learning more about CAN’s Haiti adoption program, our program specialist, Hilary, would love to speak to you! She recently returned from a trip to Haiti where she was able to visit the creches that CAN works with, meet the children, and work on program development. For more information, contact email@example.com or visit our website today!
As the summer comes to an end, we are preparing to say goodbye to two incredible volunteers who have helped us immensely — our summer interns! These incredible interns have truly gone above and beyond over the past few months to help out with our agency’s programs. While we are so sad to see them go, we are very excited to see what their futures hold!
Thank you so much for all of your hard work this summer, and good luck with your future studies!
Internship opportunities at GWCA, CAN, and SAE!
Are you a junior or senior in college? What about a graduate student working on a master’s degree? GWCA, CAN and SAE offer internships to students in various fields of study to provide hands-on experience in international adoption and cultural exchange. This is incredibly beneficial for students interested in pursuing careers in international studies, communications, marketing, social work, psychology, sociology, and business. What’s the best part? Internships can be custom-tailored to your specific major and specific area(s) of interest!
**Note: These internships are unpaid. If you or someone you know is interested, please submit a cover letter, resume, and availability to: firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More