One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children, is our unconditional love. That goes for all parents; birth, foster, or adoptive. StandUpGirl is a champion for the gift of adoption and would like to ask you to join us in celebrating the support and resources we provide for young women in crisis, by joining our friends in their heartwarming story and joining our family by donating today. Every donation will go directly towards providing life affirming resources to women in a crisis pregnancy situation.
This fall the StandUpGirl.com Foundation welcomed a new member to our board of directors. We want to take this opportunity to introduce our newest team member, Alan O’Kain, and his wonderful and unique family. This family is a living example of the beauty of adoption.
Alan and his wife, Victoria, have been supporters of StandUpGirl.com for about 6 years and are frequent guests at our Portland area events. Originally from California, Alan and Victoria both have a background in law. This background proved useful when, about 10 years ago, they decided to pursue adoption. They each individually had a heart for adoption, and now married, with 6 biological children between them, they had the resources to pursue that calling.
During these past 10 years they have welcomed 5 children home from China. Paul, now 15, was the first, followed by Jude, Lulu, Luke, and Harmony. The children were all a bit older, and knew no English, when they joined the family, making adjusting to a new country and culture difficult. Many arrived with only the clothes on their back, and with a variety of health challenges. Some had nearly aged out of orphanage care in China. With a loving and stable home, where they are promised “we will never leave you”, they have blossomed. And where it is has been possible in meeting the kids academic challenges, the O’Kain’s have enrolled their children in Christian schools, to help in pouring God’s love into their lives. “It’s been quite an adventure”, say Alan and Victoria, but they feel “blessed to have the opportunity to do this.”
The O’Kain’s would also like to offer some encouragement and advice for those interested in pursuing adoption. Alan says “God will give you the energy and resources to help you do it,” and Victoria advises getting a mentor who has previously adopted to help navigate a process that can be long and difficult.
Will more children be joining the O’Kain family? Victoria says it’s always a possibility.
We are so excited to have the O’Kain’s as part of the StandUpGirl.com Team. We hope you have the privilege of meeting them someday, possibly at one of our future Portland area events.
On October 24, 2015 in the middle of the night, I was wide awake and literally compelled to go into our empty nursery and pray. That night, I sat in our third bedroom and prayed over our adoption. I prayed for our child and the birth family, and the story that God was writing. I stayed in that room for over 3 hours and filled 11 pages in my journal. This never happened again, and I didn’t think much of it until nine months later.
Nine months later, a brave woman gave birth to our baby girl. And as we pieced together our stories, I learned that Ellery was conceived on October 24th, 2015. The night I was called up to pray, was the night that all of our lives were greatly changed by one sweet baby, even if none of us knew it yet. The final chapter of our adoption journey, really started to unfold last spring.
In March, we were matched with a birth mom who was having a little boy. On April 4th, we received a phone call saying that the adoption had fallen through. And just like that, we were back at square one.
The next morning, on April 5th, our adoption agency met with a birth mom named Emilie. At this meeting, she was shown our profile book. And the very next day, she chose to meet us. Had our adoption fallen through even one day later, Emilie would not have been shown our book. Seventeen days later, we walked into our adoption agency to meet Emilie.
My heart was pounding as we walked into the little conference room. I remember seeing Emilie, and her mom and her sister for the first time. Emilie was was standing, and we hugged right away. Within minutes, I loved her and her family.
Throughout the meeting we cried, Emilie cried, and her family cried. Tears of heartache, mixed with tears of joy and relief. We talked about Emilie’s story, her dreams, her love for this baby. We talked about our life; our dreams, and our love for adoption. The hour and a half flew by.
As we sat across from Emilie, Kenny and I would look over at each other; and I could tell we were both thinking the same thing. This is the reason. This is the reason for all the confusing paths and closed doors and hard choices that we had to make: Emilie and her baby were going to be a part of our lives forever.
On Saturday morning, we got the official phone call. Emilie had chosen us to be her baby’s adoptive family. We were so grateful, and really happy.
We spent the next three months getting to know Emilie. We hung out several times and we texted quite a bit. We met her whole family. They all met Parker. We shared meals together; and it seemed like we had known each other so much longer.
Over the months, Emilie has become more than our child’s birth mom. She is our friend and an extension of our family. And because this is her story too; we wanted you to hear her own words.
Before you hear those words, please know this: Adoption is laden with layers of joy, and grief and beauty. And sometimes all at once.
When Emilie hand wrote us a card, to share that her baby was a girl, we were so excited. But there was also an ache in my heart. Em was going to sacrifice this sweet bond that a mom and her baby girl share; and she was gifting that to me.
As I held onto Emilie in the hospital while she labored and as we all saw Ellery for the first time, there was joy and awe for this beautiful little life, but there was also heaviness because we knew what was coming.
As Emilie held Ellery inthe hospital, kissed her head, and handed her to me one last time, I could hardly breathe. This moment was sacred and we all knew it. As I looked around the room, tears flowed down the cheeks of Kenny, Emilie, her parents, her sister, and her brother. Ellery is deeply loved. And that is what I will always know, Emilie loves Ellery, so much. Her chosen loss, her entrusting Ellery to Kenny and me, is drenched in brave, genuine love.
Every day when I look at Ellery, this sweet, amazing gift, I am reminded of Emilie. Ellery’s life is beautiful. She is a picture of God’s faithfulness and perfect work. I still can’t believe that we were chosen to be her parents.
Hours after Simone Biles received a “disappointing” bronze medal on the balance beam, the gymnast sat down for an exclusive interview with TODAY. But with all cameras on her, the Olympic champion turned the spotlight on someone else.
Once again, Simone Biles reminded the world the beauty that comes when we find peace and fully trust in God’s plan.
As the most decorated woman gymnast in her sport’s history, Simone Biles is the superstar of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The 19-year-old’s rags-to-riches story is an inspiration to millions around the world, but it’s what liberal media is hiding about Simone Biles that’s touching hearts even more.
Many wonder where Simone’s brilliance and resilience derives from, but you don’t have too dig far to find where her gift of gymnastics comes from: Simone is outspoken about her Christian faith.
Simone’s faith in Jesus Christ has always played a prominent role in her life and success. When I learned everything Simone endured on her road to Rio, I realized God was using her in extraordinary ways..
The Bible is full of calls to action. Throughout scripture, God invites his people to pray, serve, and obey. Oftentimes, these actions are focused on meeting the needs of those who find themselves marginalized, as Jesus’ life exemplified. Today, he continues to invite us to love the oppressed and powerless, to seek justice for the widow and the orphan.
Show Hope is a movement to care for orphans, and we believe God has called us to be proactive against the orphan crisis.
Here are four actions the Bible tells us to take:
“Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” — Isaiah 1:17
In Isaiah 61:8, God says he loves justice, and he asks us to do the same. He wants us to take action and work to care for children who are living as orphans. Although the statistics associated with the orphan crisis can seem overwhelming—there are more than 140 million orphans in the world, and every 18 seconds, another child becomes an orphan—we must do what we can to defend vulnerable children and encourage others to join with us in this work. Every step taken, no matter how small, can make a difference in the life of a waiting child.
“He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.” — Proverbs 28:27
God’s heart for the poor and powerless is woven into the fabric of the biblical narrative. Several times, the Bible encourages all to give to the poor and needy. Deuteronomy 16:17says, “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.”
Sometimes it seems easier to just “shut your eyes” and ignore the brokenness of this world. But God asks you to do the opposite. For you, this may mean collecting and donating extra change or becoming a Show Hope sponsor. Through using the skills God has given you, you can help restore the hope of a family to waiting children.
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” — James 1:27
Sometimes we need to physically see things to realize how important they are. Directly experience the needs of waiting children, whether they’re in your own city or across the world. Offer your heart and talents to serve children in the best way possible, and be open to the work of God in your heart as you do.
The New Living Translation of James 1:27 uses the term “caring for” instead of “to visit.” Caring is not a passive term. When we use our time and resources to meaningfully step into the needs of children who have been orphaned, we are following God’s call for the purest form of religion.
“I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the orphan who had no helper.” — Job 29:12
Every person might not be called to adopt, but every person is called to do something. If God has placed adoption on your heart, don’t ignore the call! Take action! Maybe this means you should begin the adoption process. Maybe you should research opportunities to provide foster care in your own community, or support those who do. Maybe God is calling you to get involved in caring for children through sponsorship and prayer.
God has uniquely gifted each of us to make a difference for good in the lives of others. Ask him to show you the ways he is calling you, and don’t hesitate to follow where he leads.