By Marilyn Tinnin
Promise Kids Get New Beginnings
New Beginnings International Children’s and Family Services, Inc.’s mission statement describes an overwhelming task. The organization based in Tupelo exists for the purpose of “promoting life and new beginnings for birth mothers, children and adoptive parents through adoption, adoption education and support and orphan care.”
The mission is personal for Debbie Velie, Adoption Ambassador. She and her husband Tom, president of New Beginnings, adopted two baby girls from South Korea in the early 1980s. The joy these daughters brought to their family truly altered their career paths ever after.
They had been youth ministers for a United Pentecostal Church International congregation in Wisconsin but moved to Tupelo where they took positions at a local home for needy and orphaned children. Their deep love for children and their genuine concern for the plight of orphans continued to grow. They went back to college to get degrees in social work. Sixteen years later, Tom took the reins at New Beginnings.
Since New Beginnings’ founding in 1988, hundreds of children from within the United States and from China, Poland, and Nepal have found loving families. There continues to be a worldwide orphan crisis and the reasons are many—war, poverty, and death of one’s parents to name a few. At least 140 million orphans dream of having their very own forever family someday.
Last October and November, New Beginnings was matched with two orphan homes in China they had not worked with previously. Through this one-to-one partnership, New Beginnings’ goals are to work on behalf of children who, as Debbie said, “were falling through the cracks,” and to improve their quality of life while they wait to be adopted.
Although the children had been placed in an orphanage soon after their births, the records on them had not been updated in quite a while, or in some cases, there were no written records. The stringent rules and regulations governing international adoption include proper and as complete as possible information about each child. Without appropriate documentation, these children would have virtually no chance of being adopted before they age out of the system.
The first week, the team spent time in the two new homes updating files. The team included two pediatric physical therapists, a doctor, and several non-medical volunteers who, working through an interpreter, updated information and made notes that would be helpful later in greatly increasing the chances for adoption.
During the second week, the team visited a variety of homes concentrating on children with special needs. These children seem to truly be the forgotten ones who have the greatest likelihood of falling through the cracks. New Beginnings has appropriately named these children the Promise Kids. Debbie says, “When you read on their cards what the diagnosis is, some of them sound quite daunting, but then you meet the child and see how very hard they are trying and how much they want to be adopted. It is amazing what many of them can do.”
Debbie describes beautiful children with sweet and loving personalities who have been in the orphanage their entire lives. They have seen other children leave with happy smiles on their faces walking hand in hand with a forever family. The clock is ticking for these who are left behind, and New Beginnings is determined to make their dreams come true, too.
If you are interested in taking an Advocacy Trip with New Beginnings as a volunteer or as a part of the medical team, or if you would like to be an advocate, contact Debbie Velie at 662.842.6752.