Tissues were being pulled from pockets and purses, sniffles could be heard round the room, and on several occasions, an emotional audience burst into celebratory applause and nervous laughter! (Are you allowed to clap or laugh in a courtroom)? There were even a few “amens”! All these people were gathered to witness “gotcha day” for two families from Grace Church who are significant in the leadership of our ministry. On Thursday, God smiled as six children between these two families lost the identity of “foster kid” and claimed a new identity as part of a forever family!
The first proceeding was for Eric & Jen Lewis’ family. Eric serves as a secondary Bible teacher and the Spiritual Life Director at Lititz Christian School. They already have a son, Ray, who is now joined by four siblings who were adopted on Thursday. Unique to this proceeding, was a personal, heart-warming, and sincere expression of gratitude by the judge, which is highly uncharacteristic for a legal proceeding. The judge shared that as he read the stories of these children to prepare for the hearing, he could clearly see how each child has been growing and thriving in the Lewis home. This was also evidenced by the gallery packed with people who have been impacted by this family. He further expressed the significance of this family’s example to our community through their foster-care and adoption journey.
Later in the afternoon, the gallery was once again packed for a second Grace Church family’s hearing. Our Pastor of Student Ministries, Jeremiah Kleylein, along with his wife Nicky, adopted their two foster children who were each placed in their home at birth. After taking the stand and being grilled about birthdays, anniversary dates, and intentions to adopt, the judge, again, shared his sincere appreciation for this family’s commitment to these children. Noting the large number of “free baby sitters” in the courtroom, he suggested that now that the children are out of the foster-care system (which only allows court-approved supervision of the children), Jeremiah and Nicky can go on lots of dates!
To celebrate this exciting day, more than 80 Grace Church staff, Lititz Christian School staff, and family members of the Lewis’s and Kleyleins gathered in the Grace Church café for a pizza party! The festivities included a time of reflection about the significance of adoption – and the parallels of our adoption into the family of God as Christians. We TOO get a new name, forever. We TOO enjoy the rights and privileges of a new family situation. We TOO are part of a whole new family! We thanked God for the closure that Thursday represented in these journeys, and we enjoyed food and fellowship together!
Please continue to pray for the many children around the world and in our own community who are in need of a new identity in a forever family! Pray that God would continue to call families like these to the ministry of foster care and adoption! And please consider what you can do to be active in supporting the many great efforts already taking place!