Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Update from Safe Families National Director, David Anderson

I thought I would update you on our current knowledge of the Haiti situation. If you've been following the news, you probably know:

  • 150,000 confirmed dead with estimates of 200,000 total
  • 194,000 injured
  • 3 million affected
  • 800,000 to 1 million displaced
  • 300,000 children below 2 yo in need of critical nutrition

These are staggering numbers. Although searches are still going on, efforts are expanding to meet basic needs of food and water. Flights into and out of Haiti are increasing as well. They are now projecting 130 - 150 flights per day. United will again be flying charter missions later this week to drop off supplies and bring back people.

I've also learned a lot about the State Department. Illinois had us prepare for what they thought would be a surge of Haitian children starting last week and possibly continuing on for a period of time. This weekend, I was contacted via phone and email by a number of orphanges who were seeking assistance in extracting children. However, as time has gone on, it appears as though the State Department is standing firm on only allowing US residents or Haitians with pre-approved Visas to enter the States. They did ease some immigration restrictions by expediting children who were already in the pipeline to be adopted and had a family identified. So far, 263 orphans have been evacuated and connected with adoptive families. However, as of yesterday, the US embassy in Haiti halted the evacuation of orphans who were already in the pipeline to be adopted, per David Levanthal from Hope for the Orphans. Paul Pennington from Hope for the Orphans was in Haiti at the US Embassy yesterday with 20 children who were pre-approved for adoption and had awaiting families. They were told that the evacuation of those children is on hold. Paul returned to the states last night.

So... until the State Department eases immigration standards, that's where we are. However, they are routinely reviewing these decisions and changes may occur depending on need and capacity. Recent statements by the State Department indicate their commitment to provide support to Haitians in their own country. We've had discussions with DCFS yesterday about providing short-term care (6 months) to help alleviate some of the suffering. This was well received. However, until the State Department eases standards, this probably won't be an option.

Thanks so much for your interest. Keep praying for the people of Haiti and for wisdom for people in the State Department. The Christian Industrial League and the Red Cross are still processing legal immigrants coming on flights from Haiti. We've let them know that some of our families may be interested in accepting a parent and their children.

As we get more information, we will keep you informed.



Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Morning Update

Safe Families for Children is proud to report that an army of Christian volunteers was mobilized over the past two days to plan and prepare for the arrival of Haitian orphans. At this point we are not certain if or when children will arrive in Indy. We ask you to join us in praying for the release of the precious children.

There are apparent misconceptions about the seriousness of the request to us but we believe that God did not begin this movement of people in vain. I would like to share with you some of the incredible stories of how God moved in the State of Indiana.

Within 12 hours, we were able to report to DCS that we would be able to accommodate all 300 children. These first 12 hours were primarily night-time hours. It became apparent that the response to take children into our homes would be overwhelming.

We accumulated data about interested families, starting first with our own "safe families" and knew how many children they could accommodate, the age preference, the gender preference, background check information, and whether or not they hoped to adopt.

A group of ladies prepared clothing bags at Kingdom's Kloset, so that each child would be able to take with them a bag of new or gently used clothing.

Donations of headlice and ringworm treatment were secured, as we were told that most if not all of the children, ages 1-11 would be infested.

Republic Airlines was reported to be ready at a moments notice to pick up the children.

A team of people began preparing to send meals to the families who took in children.

Data for volunteer nurses, doctors, pharmacists, dentists, translators and social workers/counselors was compiled.

Later, groups of people were in prayer for the successful release of the children, as we learned that efforts to ID the children by the Haitian government was holding up the process, and communication in Haiti had been slow and ineffective.

The Chicago Safe Families office was at the airport, on standby to recieve orphans from the plane that arrived there on Wednesday evening, which held an unknown number of children.

This only touches the surface as I am certain families were preparing their hearts and homes to assist.

We thank you all for such an incredible response, and we continue to stand prepared in the event that children begin to flow into Indiana. Again, we believe that our God is purposeful and we were diligent in our efforts to seek His almighty guidance as we responded to what we believed was an urgent and pending need.

Obviously you have tremendous capacity to "Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy" Psalm 82:3. I urge you to use the passion that God has stirred in you for the benefit of the children, whether they be Hoosier or Haitian. There are hundreds of children in our state waiting to be adopted, and families struggling right here in our city, with hunger, homelessness, unemployment, and inadequate support. Please consider becoming a foster parent, a Safe Family, or an adoptive family for one of Indiana's kids if in fact a Haitian child does not arrive at your home.

Sincere thanks for the outpouring of generosity, energy, and support. We will continue to update the blog as we learn more about the situation.

Krista Davis for Safe Families

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

5:00pm Update

Dear Friends,

As issued in a recent statement from the Department of Children’s Services (DCS), “As the terrible news from Haiti became known, Governor Daniels directed the Department of Child Services to learn more about how the state might assist.” Safe Families was asked to respond with the capacity in which they could take in orphaned Haitian children. We began making phone calls to current Safe Families and interest inquiries flooded in.

The most recent update Safe Families has received is from John Ryan from DCS in Indianapolis. Our understanding is that, while there is no imminent arrival, efforts are still under way to help orphans leave Haiti; however, the timeframe is indefinite and we’re unsure if and when this may happen.

This has been an emotional day for all of us. We have seen your hearts expressed eloquently and passionately through thousands of emails and we recognize the personal investment that each of you have made. Please continue to join us in prayer that the Haitian orphans will be able to travel to Indianapolis in the near future.

We will continue to monitor the situation and post updates at http://safefamilieshaiti.blogspot.com as we receive them. Please refrain from contacting DCS or Safe Families at this time as we are simply unable to handle the volume of inquiries. If we are called upon to mobilize, we will be in contact with those selected to host children initially via email, as well as those who have offered services, donations and financial assistance. Once again, thank you for being ready and willing to answer this call to service. We are prepared.

In Him,

Safe Families for Children

3:30 Update

WISH TV will be airing a feature about Safe Families involvement in placing the displaced Haitian orphans at 5:30pm tonight. Also, our email account is up and running. Once again, we apologize but we are unable to respond to these emails individually.

Further communication

Our email account has been temporarily disabled due to the high volume of emails we have received. Please stay tuned as we work to set up another method of communication.

No Longer Taking Prospective Families

For Simplicity sake on our end, we will not be utilizing any social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. We will only be communicating through this blog. Any other accounts were not set-up by Safe-Families for Children.

We have more than enough applicants to consider as adoptive parents, therefore we are pulling the form from our blog and no longer accepting additional families for consideration. We will notify those families accepted for placements initially via e-mail as soon as we know exactly how many children we will be placing and when they arrive. Please do not contact us for the status of your request as we have received thousands of requests at this time.

Please keep praying that the children are released from Haiti and able to travel soon.

1:00 PM Update

5500 hits to the blog in the last 2 hours. Wow.

We are hoping for another update soon. We are also mobilizing a large number of volunteers to help sift through our volume of e-mail over the next hour. We do not anticipate being able to respond individually and personally to each inquiry.

To remind you, we are only accepting families that are serious about adopting the Haitian children and have either a current background check and/or adoptive home studies. We are only looking to place children in the Indianapolis and surrounding areas. All other areas will not be considered. The reason we are only considering adoptive families is to ease the transition for the children, hopefully only placing them in their permanent home.

We still don't know when or how many children will be coming, but it is important for you to fill out the form on this blog if you are wanting to be considered. We are only communicating with the orphanages on the ground via e-mail currently, so communication is challenging. We are in communication with DCS in Indianapolis and will keep you posted as we are able!

11:00 AM

Because of the response of families who desire to adopt children, we no longer need families who are interested in temporary housing. We are looking to place all children we receive with families who are considering adoption.

We had over 1000 hits to our blog in the last 30 minutes. Keep checking back for the latest.

NEW INFORMATION...Take a deep breath

We just got off the phone with folks at DCS and have some information.

We have confirmed that we will be receiving children in Indianapolis from Haiti. However, we will NOT be receiving them in the next 24 hours. This is a good thing. It will allow us to have a better thought out and planned response.

DCS in Indianapolis is working with 3 orphanages on the ground in Haiti. Republic airlines is trying to transport the children out of the country. The only form of communication right now is e-mail, so it is making planning a bit of a challenge. We are awaiting word for when they will be coming.

As far as how many children, we still don't know. We think 300 is more than will be coming. We have also learned that Safe Families for Children is not responsible to place all of the children. Because of the overwhelming response from so many people, we are encouraging people to guard their expectations about receiving a child. We just don't know how many will be placed through Safe Families, but it is far less that we first expected.

To give you an idea of the response, here are some details:

As of 10:31 AM, we have:

26 volunteers

5 donation inquiries

75 families interested in adoption

403 e-mail still to sort

an average of 8 e-mail coming in a minute

More to come as we know it.

10:25 AM

The response is simply amazing. We are blown away by the outpouring of compassion.

For those who don't know…Safe Families is a network of Christian families that extend a safety net to children by providing at-risk families a sanctuary where they can place their children in a time of crisis. As a voluntary, non-coercive alternative to the state child welfare system, SFFC temporarily relieves parents from the responsibility of caring for their child and provides them time to address life issues without the fear of losing custody. Children are cared for by volunteer host families that are screened, trained, and serve to demonstrate Christ’s transforming love.

As we wait for the news on the orphans from Haiti, please know that there are regular opportunities to care for children throughout Indiana.

Check out Safe Families Here: www.safe-families.org.