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Loving Families for Israel’s Children-at-Risk

ICEJ AID

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29 May 2019 (All day)
Loving Families for Israel’s Children-at-Risk

 “A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity…” (Psalm 68:5-6)

The Father-heart of God and His emphasis on family is clearly displayed throughout Scripture. It is the Lord Himself who sets people in families. So what a tragedy when anyone, much less a child, winds up “fatherless”.

Although Israeli society places high priority on families and children, there are still approximately 367,000 at-risk youth in Israel today. Over 10,000 children have been removed from their homes by social services, and only one in four are currently in foster care. Although 120 children on average are adopted each year, the standard waiting period for adoption is five years. That is a long waiting period for a developing child to spend outside a secure family structure.

Since every child deserves a permanent home, ICEJ AID is becoming more involved in adoption and foster care programs in Israel. One example is the adoption adventure of Colin and Helen. An ICEJ team recently visited their home to hear their amazing story first-hand.

When Colin and Helen made Aliyah from the United Kingdom to Israel in 2009, they fully intended to start a family. But soon after settling into their new home, the couple was faced with the heart-breaking reality that they could not conceive children on their own. Unwilling to give up on the dream of raising children, they explored adoption.

Adoption in Israel, however, is no easy journey. In addition to the normal bureaucracy, family court hearings, batteries of psychological tests, and home inspections familiar to any adoptive parents, Israel also requires the prospective parents and children to be from the same religious background. Although Colin and Helen are both believers in Yeshua, Israel considers Colin to be Jewish and Helen to be Christian. Although religiously-mixed households are relatively common in Israel, finding a baby with a matching religious heritage is rare.

In faith, however, the family submitted an adoption application which was rejected, not based on religion but due to Colin’s age. Frustrated by this answer, Helen cried out to the Lord and immediately heard Him say: “I am going to give you a child and it is not going to be difficult.”

When Colin & Helen learned of the desperate need for foster parents in Israel, they contacted an Israeli agency and applied to be a foster family. The social worker assigned to them was candid with the couple, explaining that although Colin’s age would not be a problem for the purposes of fostering, it would prevent the fostering arrangement from ever becoming an adoption. But she promised to do her best to find them a young child who needed their care.

Once their application was submitted, Colin and Helen had one small concern: The next three months would be filled with travel outside of Israel. Colin had speaking engagements in several countries and Helen would be traveling with him. The agent assured them the approval process would take at least that long and they could travel without worry. Happy and trusting the Lord would answer their prayers, the couple proceeded with their travel plans.

Imagine their surprise when, the day before departure, the social worker called. A baby boy, born the day before, was in need of an immediate home. Since the child had one Jewish parent and one Christian Arab parent, the agency saw Colin and Helen as an ideal match. Shocked at this development, the couple considered cancelling their travel plans. However, with so many people relying on them, they prayed and told the agency they felt to honour their commitments abroad.

Resting in the Father’s promise
The baby boy who was a perfect match for their family was sitting at the hospital waiting to be loved. Once again, Colin and Helen put their trust in their heavenly Father; His timing was perfect, and He was in control of their future as parents. In that moment, His promise to “give them a child and it will be easy” became their foundation, and peace rolled in like a flood. So they began their three-month speaking tour, resting in the Lord’s assurance that He would provide.

And provide He did. Upon their return to Israel three months later, the couple were astonished to discover that their social worker, convinced this baby was “meant for them”, had placed the baby in a temporary three-month situation and he was now ready to come home with them. In the joyful months that followed, the Lord began to open doors that Colin and Helen had never anticipated. Even before “Joshua” was placed in their home under a foster-care arrangement, the Israeli agency decided to make an exception and allow Colin and Helen to begin the adoption process.

Throughout that process – which involved a battery of interviews, questionnaires and hearings – the unique religious makeup of their family, which seemed to perfectly match Joshua, became a constant topic of discussion. Colin recalled being asked numerous times, by social workers, lawyers and others throughout Israel: “So what exactly do you believe?”

At one point, however, this miraculous story seemed destined for a disappointing end: When it came to adoption, the state of Israel considered Colin and Helen together to be a “Jewish family” and Joshua a Christian, thus religiously incompatible. They had already waived the age restriction but were unwilling to suspend the religious requirement. However, many professionals involved in Colin and Helen’s story and touched by their love for the boy and each other, voiced their support. Once again, Colin and Helen rested on the Lord’s promises, despite the possibility that this baby they had fallen in love with might ultimately be taken away.

After many legal discussions, it was decided that the adoption could go ahead! But the Lord did not stop there: Before Joshua’s adoption could be finalised, the couple were informed that his birth mother was pregnant again, and the social worker who had first placed Joshua in their home wanted them to consider taking the sibling as well. The Lord had already been speaking to both Colin and Helen individually about growing their family even more. By the time the social worker came to their home, armed with her list of “reasons why” they should consider this, their hearts were already prepared, and the “yes” came naturally.

Three become four, and impact many
The story of “Lisa’s” journey to join this little family contained some of the same obstacles they encountered the first time. The state once again had a problem with the seeming incompatibility of religions, but the Lord made a way and the court decided not to separate the siblings. Lisa joined her brother and new parents and both children were officially adopted into Colin and Helen’s family.

Colin and Helen’s adoption saga has had a powerful impact on their local congregation, which is comprised of Jewish and Arab believers. Joshua was the first baby of both Jewish and Arab descent in the fellowship and seemed to tangibly symbolise their “one new man” identity. In addition to fulfilling Colin and Helen’s dreams of becoming parents and placing two unwanted children into a loving home, the Lord is using their story to reconcile and strengthen an entire community.

Call to action
While Joshua and Lisa are now part of a happy family, many more children are still languishing in Israel’s social system, desperately in need of a loving home. Join us in making sure they are placed with suitable families here in Israel! Your gift to ICEJ AID will help expand adoption in Israel and provide much-needed support for foster- and adoptive parents once accepted. (Note: Children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.)

Give to ICEJ AID today.

 

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