We understand that the road to success in orphan care is typically a very long road. Often years go by before we can see tangible success. However, we often get small glimpses of how God is using the work we are doing to accomplish the mission He has put in our hearts. We are thankful for chances to celebrate the victories He gives us, which encourage us and give us strength to continue to pursue excellence in best practice orphan care.
HENRY KEEPS HIS FAMILY TOGETHER
Andrea, Anderson, David, and Henry Jr. were abandoned by their mother. Knowing that he couldn't go to work during the day and care for his youngest not yet in school, Henry, their now single father, sought out the assistance he needed to keep his family together. Although Henry had never had the opportunity to learn to read or write, he had still dedicated himself to being a hard worker. Henry very well knew if he couldn't work, he couldn't feed the children he so dearly loved. His work as a janitor for a local DINAF welfare office put him in touch with just the right folks to advise him in his search. And although DINAF, Honduras welfare system, doesn't have any services for family strengthening, they put Henry in touch with Identity Mission in hopes that immediate support would follow.
The very next day, we were able to fill the emergency need of providing a caretaker for the youngest children at home. Otherwise, they would have been left at home daily to fend for themselves; something that isn't even fathomable to the rest of us, but is in actuality very common among impoverished families throughout Honduras. A fact that is often the cause of children entering foster care or orphanages; when a report comes in that a small child has been left home alone, DINAF doesn't have an option but to remove them from that home.
Henry did not want that to be his children's story; he wanted to do whatever he could for them to remain together as a family. That desire brought us all together, and Henry and his children were not separated! Through the assistance of Identity Mission Family Preservation Director, Carlos, Henry was even able to attain a better paying job. Identity Mission was also able to encourage Henry to attend church, and within the first month of working together, Henry and his children began attending church service with us at City Hope in San Pedro Sula. Through the teamwork of Henry, Carlos, and other IM staff; four children were prevented from becoming social orphans. We are truly grateful to all of our partners that provide the support and prayers that back our family preservation program. Truly grateful that Andrea, Anderson, David, and Henry Jr still know the joy of having a home.
"Children should not be viewed in isolation but in connection with their main carers, immediate and extended family and the wider community."
- Hope and Homes for Children -
FOSTER FAMILY BECAME FOREVER FAMILY
Antonio entered Identity Mission's foster care program at the age of 13. Although he had been in foster care technically since the age of 2, it was a very informal version of foster care; an agreement between a judge and willing single, professional young woman to provide him a home. But without training or proper support, Antonio's then foster mom began to struggle with caring for a pre-teen and made the tough decision to return him to the courts.
As soon as he moved in with an Identity Mission foster family, he began to act out in various ways: trying to run away, shouting matches, refusing to do school work. It all seemed very bleak. But with the support of their Identity Mission caseworker, Gisela, on-going training, and the encouragement from their local church body, the Moreno's buckled down and provided the love and family support Antonio needed to get through the many difficult emotions he was facing. After several months of that kind of constant love and support, Antonio soon began to do well in school and very much enjoy his life with his foster family. He continued to deal with the strong emotions of missing the foster mom that had raised him; for him, she was his mom.
Apparently, his prior foster mom was dealing with the same feelings. Soon, it was discovered she longed for him to return and regretted her rash decision in that difficult season of raising Antonio. She reached out to the judge and was connected to Identity Mission staff. With much caution, a few visits were allowed, and after much prayer, research, and contemplation, IM staff decided it was possible for Antonio to return to the woman he considered his mother. Now, Antonio and Rosa are reunited, but with the stipulation that Rosa is officially a foster mom with Identity Mission, undergoing all the training we provide, support of our caseworkers, and the company of the many other foster families tackling very similar difficulties with raising children.
We are so grateful for Rosa's and the many other foster families' hearts that choose to open their homes to children that would otherwise have no family. Rosa has decided to raise Antonio as his mom, sticking with him as his forever family. We are honored that we get to walk that journey with her, providing the means to see it a success.
"He continued to deal with the strong emotions of missing the foster mom that had raised him; for him, she was his mom."
ANNUAL YOUTH RETREAT
Due to the number of children and youth currently growing up in orphanages throughout Honduras, Identity Mission decided to host an annual retreat to reach the youth growing up in orphanages whom most likely will not be reintegrated into their biological family or adopted before they age out. For the past two years over fifty youth from orphanages all over the country have attended. They have been met with mentors from several local churches, who are committed to pouring into the youth throughout the weekend, a variety of speakers, activities, and with worship designed to assist them with discovering their identity in Christ.
Each element of these weekends are intentionally planned out so that each moment reminds these teenagers of their value; a realization that would hopefully stay with them as they entered adulthood. We have seen how these retreats have had an immediate impact on the youth, they have realized their potential that they are called to live in despite their circumstances.
We have also seen how God has used these weekends to inspire the partner churches and mentors who attended to take the next step in pouring into the lives of the youth who live in orphanages. Many have decided not only to let this be an investment that they make once a year but to build off of the relationships they began with the youth; and begin an ongoing mentorship program with them. We are astounded and overjoyed at how one weekend can expand into so much more community for these youth. We are praising God that the torch of mentoring is being taken up, and we are grateful that the annual retreat has proven to be a powerful starting place for on-going kindness and community for these youth.