Tuesday, November 30, 2010

To Exchange Gifts or Not...That is the Question

Christmas is just around the corner...trees are up, lights are sparkling, folks are shopping!  During the holiday season, adoptive families and birth families can get really stressed out about the whole topic of gift giving....to exchange gifts or not to exchange gifts, that is the BIG question?

Unfortunately, there is not one answer that can be applied, across the board, to every adoptive family and birth family.  However, this is a time of year that you should remember one another and send a greeting, regardless of if it includes a gift or not.  Remember that it is the thought that counts.  It is better to send a card than do nothing because you have allowed yourself to be frozen in panic.

I have witnessed adoptive families and birth families who enjoy exchanging gifts and others who have chosen to keep their relationship focused on the relationship and don't want to burden either family with adding to the Christmas shopping list.  It is certainly individual and the most important thing is to communicate and talk about it if the uncertainty of know what you should or shouldn't do has caused you to stay awake at night.  Simply say, "I've been thinking about Christmas coming up and I sure want you to know how much you mean to our family every month throughout the year, but wondered what your thoughts are about whether we should exchange gifts or not?".  It comes out much easier than you might anticipate - and you'll feel so much better once you know what's expected.

If you choose not to exchange gifts, there are still some great ideas for the holidays: 

Send a photo card, making it more personal than the standard greeting and really think about your message inside (don't use your standard, 1 line greeting that you will write on all 100 of your cards). 

Make an ornament for the Christmas tree and mail it in early December. 

Consider sending an "update letter" and some new photographs.  This is a great idea for birth parents as well.  It is easy for birth parents to think that they have nothing to tell about themselves, but make an effort at the end of this year to tell the adoptive family about you and your family and include updated pictures of yourself. 

Share a holiday tradition between families.  Maybe it's a special breakfast that you enjoy as a family, a story that is read annually, a Christmas movie that's a "must" in your home, a family recipe, etc. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Celebrate Adoption" Skating Party Pictures

To celebrate National Adoption Month here in Lynchburg, Family Life Services hosted over 225 people at the LaHaye Ice Center for the "Celebrate Adoption" Skating Party!  The group was composed of friends of the ministry, birth families, adoptive families, and foster families.  Many families had adopted through FLS or had used our services for pre or post-adoption services and we had some families join us from the community.

Through the generous donations of two local families, we were able to provide free skating, free skate rentals, pizza, cupcakes, drinks and a professional face painter for all to enjoy.  We hope to be able to continue to make this event an annual tradition for our agency as we feel that it's a wonderful time for old friends to reunite and new friends to get acquainted!  You can view a sample of pictures from the day here or in the album on the sidebar. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wendy's Story: Lives Changed, Futures Restored

This was written by a birthmother who received counseling and services from our organization in 2002.  When asked what this ministry has meant to her, this was her response and testimony to the life-changing efforts of FLS & LGH.

If the Liberty Godparent Home & Family Life Services had not helped me in 2002, I would not be where I am today and I would not have been able to kick my drug habit! When I came to the home, they told me I was too old for the residential program but agreed to talk to me about my situation and see how they could help. I cried and told the director, at the time, what I was going through - I had a two year old son that I could not take care of and I was pregnant with another child in addition to having a drug addiction. They never turned their backs on me, regardless of my circumstances or my age. I haven’t done anything illegal since the day I stepped foot into the Godparent Home. When I placed my son for adoption through Family Life Services, the ministry helped me to get a job at Liberty University where I worked in Admissions for four years. I then transitioned into overseeing the Customer Service department at a large company where I have worked ever since.

I see my birth son about three to four times a year and have built a very good open adoption relationship with the adoptive mother and father. I have full custody of my oldest son and am now parenting a younger son as well. I am getting ready to get married June 11, 2011 to my best friend and we have been in a relationship for nine years. I am also an active member of my church. If it wasn’t for Family Life Services and the Godparent Home, I have no idea where I (or my two children) would be. They truly saved my life and gave me hope for a bright future. I am so thankful for this ministry’s investment in my life and will tell this story to anyone that will ask!

Wendy is pictured below with her fiance.  Thank you for sharing your story of a life impacted and changed!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Help an FLS Adoptive Family Help Orphans

We had the privilege of working with a couple, Jim & Susan, to help them adopt two children from Ethiopia earlier this year. They have a passion for adoption and have recently entered a contest with Dave Ramsey called The Great Giving Challenge and have the opportunity to help other adoptive families by giving away $1000 to five adoptive families who need help funding their adoptions. I want to see this happen and how appropriate would it be for this gift to become a reality during National Adoption Month!

In order to win, they have to be one of the top ten videos on Dave Ramsey’s website and then judges will choose three videos and will award $5,000 to each family to give away. They need a lot of votes, but it is achievable. Please go to the following link and vote for Jim & Susan’s video: http://bit.ly/cSiSFc You can vote once a day from now until November 7th and it will even give you an option of being reminded to vote each day (perfect for me!). Feel free to pass this along to your friends, post it on your blog, share the link via Facebook, etc.

Lets help this family help orphans find a forever family.

Great Giving Challenge Contest Entry: PureJoy
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