My boys came home from a youth group retreat yesterday tired, hungry, and talking about orphans. While I had hoped that the weekend would have a spiritual impact on them, I wasn’t expecting this.

“Did you know,” my oldest reported,  “that if only 7 % of the Christians in the world would adopt an orphan that there would be no more orphans?”

Brace yourself, I thought, wondering if the next sentence was going to be plea to enlarge our family. It wasn’t, but the impact of that statistic is staying with him. He wants to go somewhere and do something to make the world a better place.

I remember that passion of youth that longs to change the world. My husband and I were foster parents for several years before we started our own family, and we even discussed the possibility of adoption at the time. However, we were blessed with three wonderful birth children and laid the idea aside.

But in the back of my mind, I wondered….

One weekend about 9 years ago, I went to a retreat where the speaker shared about adopting from China. I began to ponder – did it really matter to those kids that we kept for a few weeks or months at a time? If you really wanted to make a difference in a child’s life, you would adopt one, I thought.

I returned home that afternoon to the chaos that only parents of several preschoolers can appreciate. I sat down for just a few minutes when the doorbell rang. Imagine my surprise to see standing there, towering over me, a young man that we had fostered seven years before. “I was in the neighborhood and wanted to stop by,” he said. What timing!

Yes, I got the message. It DOES make a difference whether you choose to  foster, adopt, or help those who do.

amazimaMy sons were inspired by the story of Katie Davis, a young lady whose heart for Uganda lead her to establish Amazima Ministries. She was so moved by the need of the orphaned children in Uganda that she began a sponsorship program so that these children can be fed, educated, and loved.  For a sponsorship of only $300 per year, a child receives a uniform, socks and shoes, an education, two hot meals an day, and minor medical care. I certainly couldn’t provide that much for $300 here in the States!

So, how will you help care for the orphans?  Whether you adopt a child, sponsor an orphan, or support a friend or family member who adopts, you ARE making a difference.

And the children will thank you.

I have a beautiful handcarved rattle that is a treasured memento from the days of diapers and midnight feedings. I have quilts lovingly pieced by family and friends before the birth of my first child.  These handmade gifts are valued far above the most expensive of store- bought ones. However, moms and their children may soon be denied the pleasure of owning quality, handcrafted toys when the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act goes into law in February. In an overkill effort to respond to the problems with some mass-produced items coming from other countries, a law was drafted requiring that all toys designed for children under the age of 12 be subjected to expensive third party testing and certification.

While the intent, to prevent toys containing lead and phthalates from reaching small children, is good, the effect is to put all small toy-making business owners out of business.  These people cannot afford the expense of third party testing and still sell a product others could afford to buy.The last thing our economy needs right now is a law that will force more hard -working folks out of a job. This type of law is well-suited for large manufacturers, but there needs to be an exception for small, privately-owned businesses.  How many Etsy stores, craft fair booths, and handmade toy websites will shut down if this law goes into effect as written?

If you value the choice of buying handcrafted toys, you can make your voice heard.  Just click on the cute picture of the handmade bear for a list of people to contact and groups involved in this fight. Or visit The Handmade Toy Alliance here.

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