Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Guest Blog: Obedience

We have a very special guest blog post from Michele, one of the families who came through our workshop in 2011...read and be encouraged!

[Whitney asked me to write about what God has taught me through our adoption experience. The first thing that popped into my head is Obedience. ]

We didn't know when we first started thinking about adoption a few years ago what this journey would look like. When God impressed upon us last fall that it was time to start this journey we still didn't have any definitive answers, like when or how. All we knew is that God wanted us to obey Him in taking the first step. In January 2012 we submitted the pre-application to our adoption agency. That was the first step. Then we received several pounds of documents to complete and we worked on completing them and got those submitted. That was another step.  God still hadn't sent us a registered letter or given us any writing on the wall to tell us what the end result was going to be. We knew only that we needed to take the next step.

At the end of April we completed our homestudy and were officially waiting for a match. We prayed daily for the child or children that God would place in our family. We were told by our social worker and others with adoption experience that we needed to be prepared to wait a long time. In my head I thought, Oh, maybe we could have child by Christmas. Wouldn't that be nice?

Over the next several weeks my husband and I talked about our yet-to-be child. Maybe if we tweaked our requirements a bit? What if we were willing to take an older child? No, my husband said, this is what we've agreed on and what we know God has told us. We've been obedient to what God asked us to do and now we wait. My mother's heart ached, wanting our child to be in OUR home and family instead of in some waiting place. But instead we waited.

The third week of June we received an email with a sheet of information attached about a precious wee boy in Sacramento County that was available for adoption. Were we interested? That morning, as we sat in our car waiting for our older kids to finish VBS, we said YES.

We brought him home July 13. A few minutes ago I left him sleeping on our bed. Our little boy is a tangible reminder of how God is faithful. Our obedience to God allowed Him an opportunity to teach us that His plans for us are best and that He has everything under control.

The other day my husband and I were talking. Jeremy was holding our wee little boy and I caught his eye and said, “Next time we adopt, let's...” And Jeremy agreed that there will indeed be a next time because God has already planted a new seed of love for a child that will be a part of our family, forever.

Friends, I encourage you, I URGE you, be obedient in all things. If you are feeling that little nudge toward adoption, just take the next step. Find out more information. Talk to people that have adopted or are adopted. Don't worry about the end result. Your Heavenly Father has a plan for your life and the life of your family that is richer and more meaningful than you ever hoped or imagined.

Monday, May 21, 2012

National Foster Care Prayer Vigil Week!

As many of you know, this month is National Foster Care Awareness Month. May has been busy with activities of honoring foster parents, blessing foster children, but the most important thing has yet to be done. This is the act of prayer.

Prayer moves the hand of God. When we see changes that need to be made in our city and world we can complain about it, or we can DO something. Many people don't see prayer as actually doing something. Well friends, in my experience, that has been the only way that anything has been ever made possible. We are not in control of many things, but we do know the creator of the world!

We are instructed over and over again to not be burdened but to cast our cares on Him. To not be anxious about anything, but to pray.

I don't know about you, but I am heavily burdened about the thousands of children who are going up in our foster care system. Would you join us and others across our nation to pray this week for kids in foster care, social workers, and families involved in the foster care system?

Family Life- Cry of the Orphan is organizing a national prayer vigil all across the United States and beyond! If you are not local, visit the website to find where your closest prayer vigil is being held http://www.cryoftheorphan.org/LocationMap.aspx

If you are from Fresno, we are going to be gathering together on Wednesday, May 23rd at 12pm in front of the Crocker Building to pray.

We will be joining in a guided, national prayer created by Family Life for our families, children, workers and churches. Click here for the downloadable pdf. http://www.cryoftheorphan.org/User/Document/Fosterprayerguide.pdf

"Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is on Heaven." Matt. 6:10


Thursday, December 29, 2011

City Without Orphans 2011- The Church is Arising

As we are winding down the year, I want to write a summary of what has been accomplished in the past 10 month of launching City Without Orphans with the help of the churches in our community. Without your involvement many needs would have not been met! Here is a highlight of the churches who stepped up and participated:

A big thank you to NorthPointe Community Church for offering your buildings to many events for our foster parents, adoptive parents and social workers throughout the year. Your generosity of your building space was a huge blessing! NorthPointe's KNOWN Orphan Care Ministry- thank you for all the efforts to help raise duffel bags, bikes and other resources for our local foster youth.

We had 5 churches in 2011 open their doors to allow us to teach our Fostering and Adoption 101 Workshop throughout the year. Thank you to NorthWest Church, North East Assembly, West McKinley Church of God, Trinity Community Church and Campus Bible Church. We hope to be able to come back and share again in 2012!

There are two churches in our community who have open their facilities for some unique things when it comes to foster children. Mt. Olive Baptist Church committed to becoming a safe, off-site, third-party visitation center where biological parents and foster children can visit. What a blessing to families as they are working on reunification! Another congregation, Crosspiont Church, hosted the Keeping Siblings Connected event in the Fall for siblings separated while in foster care. They provided volunteers, crafts and loving hearts!

There are more churches and opportunities to connect with in 2012. If you are interested in having your church be involved in the work of City Without Orphans contact me at whitneybunker@citywithoutorphans.com

We are expectant that God will do great things through this ministry in 2012! Will you believe that with us??

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Heart Gallery- Finding Children Forever Families

In 2001 a photographer and a foster-adoptive parent in New Mexico had this idea to start an exhibit where older children and even sibling sets waiting for adoptive homes in foster care could be displayed by photograph. This became what we now know today as the Heart Gallery. Almost every county in the United States has formed a gallery of pictures of real children needing loving, permanent homes (and sometimes pictures of actual local foster-adoptive families). If you aren't from our county, Google search your local one!

City Without Orphans is helping re-launch our local Fresno County Heart Gallery Exhibit!
You can check out this Fresno County run project at http://www.co.fresno.ca.us/Departmentpage.aspx?id=32105

We are looking for people in the Fresno/Clovis area that would be willing to get involved. Here is how you can do it:

1.)    Our exhibit is used as a great awareness piece for the need of loving families for our kids in Fresno. If you have an event, church services, or gigs that you think we can set up a table and share to the community then contact us at whitneybunker@citywithoutorphans.com

2.)    We need volunteers who are passionate about this cause and would be willing to be trained to man our booth at various events. If you are an adoptive/foster parent, a mom, or just passionate about children contact us for more information!

      3.) Lastly, if you feel led to contribute to this exhibit you can donate to City Without Orphans     
            and designate it to the Heart Gallery. Visit http://citywithoutorphans.com/#/get-involved

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

City Without Orphans Fundraiser!

We are excited to announce our first online auction to fundraise for City Without Orphans! If you or someone you know are interested in particapting by bidding feel free to send them a link to our website or blog. Here is the basic auction information:

Signing up as a bidder- 
In order to be a bidder you must create a username and a password. 
The process is very quick. Here's how: 
1. Click on any item. Then click "create an account" 
2. Enter the required fields and submit 
3. Check your email. You will receive a confirmation email. Click the link provided. 
4. Your account has now been created! Simply enter the email and password you created and you may bid on any item.
Participating out of the Fresno/Clovis Area- 
There are many items such as chain restaurants, hotels or rental stays that anyone out of the Fresno/Clovis area can bid on. We do request that these bidders bid on items that can be sent through an envelope in the mail. Gift Certificates are easy to mail. If you are out of town and wish to bid on a non-certificate item we ask that you cover shipping costs as well.

Thank you for your prayers and support!

Daniel and Whitney Bunker

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How One Local Church is Caring for Foster Children

I have been wanting to share for sometime about a church near and dear to my heart and a woman who has stepped out in faith to engage this church in caring for orphans, locally and globally.

Tina Salvador is an amazing woman from NorthPointe Community Church who I was introduced to by a mutual friend. She knew we would hit it off : we are both passionate about loving orphaned and vulnerable children!

My friend Tina decided that she was ready to share with her church about God's biblical mandate to care for orphans- in tangible ways.

Not only has she encouraged couples to seek out the possibilities of opening their home to a child, but has shown the whole church they everyone can involved in doing something!

May was national foster care awareness month so she decided to ask families in the church to donate gently used or new bikes to foster children/youth to have as their own. Many families stepped up and donated.

She also started a meals ministry for families who get recent placements of children. What a blessing to not worry about their first meals! Families with biological newborns get these services, why not foster or adoptive ones?

Just last week NorthPointe's women's ministry held a event called "Get Pampered and Give Back." The event was free- women just needed to donate a duffel bag, blanket, teddy bear or Bible to get in! You won't believe it...

Over 300 items were donated by the end of the night!! Each duffel bag will go to a child who is removed from their biological home, who usually only has what's on their back. When they do have items they are often stuffed in a trash bag.

I write this to not only honor Tina and NorthPointe for living out James 1.27, but to also show other churches what you can do to help a vulnerable child!

What will your church do?!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Family Connections

Today we had the opportunity to help sponsor an event for siblings in foster care at local ice rink. Children who have been separated from their biological siblings while in foster care are suppose to be visiting together regularly. A group of several agencies (including ours) have formed a committee to plan quarterly events for these kids. This provides opportunities for them to have fun with their brothers and sisters that they do not get to see from day to day.

The smiles on these kids faces today said a thousand words. One girl kept saying, "My brother this...and my brother that." It was evident she was so proud to be his "little" sister. Social workers at the event described moments where a youth saw a sister or brother walk through the door, elated to see them with long embraces.
To these kids family is family, in spite of  what happened to them.

I want to speak to this idea of family connections when it comes to fostering or adopting...

If you become a foster or adoptive parent it is so important to understand how valuable sibling contact is to a child. Now, there are always exceptions...if a child was harmed by a sibling or are too young or if the social worker finds it is not appropriate for whatever reason.But when you are talking about siblings who grew up together, are conscious and aware of a relationship with one another, you cannot deny that bond. I would encourage foster and even adoptive parents (I know that one is difficult sometimes) to allow your children as many opportunities as possible to keep their sibling/family connections.

A child can never have too many people to love them...really, they can't.