If you have never heard the song, Disturbia, part of the lyrics go, "Disturbia, it's like the darkness is light", and then it continues with words about mental illness.  I'm not mentally ill, but this song is going around and around inside my head today. 

Here is why.  You know how expensive adoption is, and with special needs adoptions, how limited your timeline is, especially in the beginning with the 90 days to get your dossier to China.  Not really enough time to complete something like a home equity loan with title searches and property surveys if you could/would choose that route, and not a lot of time to research other options.  So I sent an email to the churches in our state that belong to our conference (our church is actually affiliated with two conferences-my email was only to one of them).  This email went only to those with email addresses, explained the money that we needed to raise in 90 days, how we had prepared already by having a medical evaluation of the child in question, who our homestudy would be completed by and who our agency was.  Amounts needed were detailed, and the amount that we would then spend ourselves--double the 90 day figure--was listed.  I asked if any of the congregations could help us, either with a donation or by contributing toward a specific fee, and told them that if they were uncomfortable with sending money directly to us, they could send it to our church treasurer and our church could hold it in trust for us.

I have never made an appeal for assistance to a church before.  I have been the treasurer, clerk, deacon, and moderator.  We got and still get requests from elusive projects and programs that are not nearby.  We get requests from this conference for donations that the conference will then control-the last time that we made a pledge to them it was for a capital improvement fund which they then denied us access to, even though the fund was "sold" to us as a fund for member churches to access when making capital improvements.  So we determine our own giving.  We give to a Christian camp, we give to the elementary school, we give gifts to widows, we give gifts to the food pantry that we started, we give gifts to a mission school run by a former minister on an Indian reservation.  But the point is that we give gifts to projects and programs that we are personally familiar with so that we know what the money is being used for and we know that it won't get "eaten up" by administrative costs.  So I thought, what can it hurt? to make a personal appeal to churches in my state.  Some won't answer; some might take a special collection for us; some might offer an outright donation through a quarterly tithing such as our church does.  I didn't send an email to local churches, because I thought that I should visit them and make a personal appeal.

Today I got an email from one of the conference ministers, commending us on opening our homes and hearts to a special needs child.  The letter then went on to say that conference member churches do not give financial assistance directly to people and that they get confused when a request such as mine comes to them.  (Since when, I wonder, and how come we never got that memo?)  So I was asked to not contact any of the churches with a direct appeal and told that they would be communicating with their member churches to let them know that they did not/do not endorse personal requests for financial assistance.  The letter was not signed In Christ's Love or anything like that, but was signed Sincerely, and below the signature was the pre-printed stuff that goes with an electronic signature, including a statement about how donations to the conference helped to support their mission of changing lives.

Okay, now I have to say that I understand their position, and I even understand that the letter comes off colder than it was probably intended to (I'm guilty of this-our church members always ask me to write business letters because I'm so "good at it"-but I'm so matter-of-fact that people are often offended by the letters.  They are not rude, just factual, and recipients expect something softer from churches.)  But I'm disturbed by the fact that the conference would tell member churches not to make any direct financial contributions in response to requests such as mine.  And I'm disturbed by the fact that they feel it necessary to send a message to their churches of non-support for requests like this.  So I must take some time to digest this.  Here in New Hampshire we have a long-standing tradition of not liking any form of central authority.  That means in government, in religion, in education.  Our state motto, on our license plates, is "Live free or die..."  People always joke about it, but the rest of the quote is "...death is not the worst of evils." and it refers to government.  This email, from a governing body of independent local churches, bothers me both as a New Hampshirite and also as a church member.

But now for some Good News!  Our social worker finally got back to us and our old agency has agreed to do our homestudy for this adoption, which will probably save us hundreds of dollars.  They have stopped doing adoptions in our state, but continue to do them in states around us, so there was a question of whether or not they would be able to help us out.
 


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