With November being National Adoption Awareness Month, who better to talk to than our own families here at Grace Church who are directly involved with adoption and foster care? We sent out a few questions asking them about their own experiences about the ‘calling’ to get involved. Here’s what some of them had to say…
There are a lot of different accounts of how families have come to make the decision to adopt or foster. What was it like for you/your family? Was it a booming-voice-from-heaven experience or maybe a persistent whisper?
“I’ll start off by saying that we had never even talked about doing foster care/adoption. After the Haiti earthquake in January 2009, my husband said, “We could handle one more.” It shocked me, and I can’t say I was fully on board with the idea. We checked into Haiti adoption, which was closed at the time so we didn’t pursue it any further. A couple of months later, Brian was listening to a Family Life broadcast on WDAC by Russell D. Moore on their story of adoption. I knew nothing about it until he told me, “By the way, I ordered a book online about adoption, so just look for it to come”. Then came the series of messages at church on caring for widows and orphans, and the numerous people that we ran into that had fostered/adopted. We then realized that we were being led to explore adoption/foster care.”
“We weren’t really pursuing adoption. We sort of fell into it. When the process of our child’s adoption was being finalized, we could look back and see how God had been leading us this direction, but in the process it wasn’t that clear. We were committed to taking one step at a time and were asking God to slam doors shut if we weren’t supposed to proceed.”
“I think we always knew adoption was in us but we never really discussed it. Through 5+yrs of trying for biological children with no answers on why we could not, we just decided to stop the game. We had been running ourselves ragged trying to do the kid thing on our own. We tried to control the process. We decided to test the waters of foster care and just see what it was all about. What came next was nothing short of a whirlwind. In the span of about two years we were approved and placed with three children. As soon we let go it was incredible what God did.”
“We had discussed adoption before we were married and were definitely planning to pursue it, but our plan had adoption AFTER having our own biological children first! Of course, God changed the timing of adoption when we learned of our infertility.”
After you answered “the call”, what was your first thought? What came next? How did you find out how you needed to proceed?
“I hate to be “this honest”, but my first thought was “how in the world are we going to pay for this”? We were working with an organization that guided us through the requirements and process, but one of the first steps was receiving a bill from the organization for $12,000 to process the adoption. There were other costs above and beyond that as well. Since we had an identified options (where the birth parent asked us to consider adopting), we went with the organization that the birthmother was already connected with for counseling and planning.”
“We had a choice to make….obey what we felt God calling us to or not?? (It would’ve been easier to choose “not”, but we would’ve missed out on what God wanted to teach us and the many blessings and incredible people that we met through foster care. Not to mention the two little boys who are still dear to us.). We still were not clear which direction to go, but thought we could just go through the foster care training with no obligation to get involved. We simply called Lancaster County Children and Youth and and in January of 2010, (a full year after Brian’s first comment) we went through the 2 Saturdays of training, and felt even more that this is where God was calling us to be. We had not even received the final “you’re certified as a foster parent” paperwork, when we got our first call to pick up a 15 month old little boy. The adventure began…”
“We wouldn’t be completely honest if we said that we weren’t cautious and a little afraid. It’s a big decision to take responsibility for another life, so it does require proper thought, prayer and counsel from others. The nice thing about fostering and adoption is that there is a LOT of paperwork and preparation before you would even have a child placed in your home, so it gives you time to adjust emotionally and mentally. “
“We looked at a number of organizations and finally settled on Bethany Christian, which to us, seemed to provide the best training and support and had an excellent reputation from those that we spoke with. They truly did a wonderful job of walking with you every step of the way and we would highly recommend them!”
The concept of being “called” to adopt or foster is hefty and could imply a lot. What are your thoughts on the Church’s role in caring for orphans and those in need? What does that look like?
“I personally feel this is one of the areas that the church really needs to step up. Our society looks to the government to solve its social ills when really that is the universal “calling” of the church. There are small ways we can make a difference that may not feel as hefty. Especially if a church commits to be a network that surrounds the families that do decide to take the hefty part. When churches get this right it’s amazing what happens. Case in point is the Bishop W. C. Martin’s church in the meager town of Possum Trot, TX. Over 70 kids lives have been changed by one church who got it!
Another way is by a program championed by Bethany Christian Services called Safe Families. Think church based voluntary foster care for at risk families. Check out http://www.bethany.org/lancaster/safe-families-children and consider how Grace Church could jump in. There are placements ready in Lancaster right now! This is a unique opportunity to help kids but also speak directly into the lives of their parents and perpetuate lasting relationships and the opportunity to point them to Christ. “
“Our process has been pretty easy compared to some of the other stories that are out there. However I can completely understand how some who can struggle with control would struggle in the system. It is a process that is long and tiring. Yet we have come out the other side saying we would have it no other way. We learned a ton about ourselves and what it means to trust God. I believe that the church is called to care for those in need. The question is, what does that look for individuals. If you don’t feel called to foster care/adoption , think about simple ways you can care for those that do. simply getting approved so you can babysit.”
“We firmly believe that taking care of orphans and children in need is not optional, but a mandate (James 1:27), if you are going to take your faith seriously. There are many WAYS to fulfill this mandate that doesn’t necessarily require a person to take children into their home. We simply could not have adopted our five children without the spiritual, emotional and material support of so many people. There are also huge financial burdens that can be lifted by those whom God has blessed financially, particularly for those amazing families who endure the lengthy international adoption process or those who adopt special-needs children.”
“I don’t think you can be a follower of Jesus – the real Jesus in the Bible – and not be concerned about the plight of the orphan. Scripture is very clear that if your heart is aligned with Jesus and the Word, your heart will be “for the orphan”. I don’t think that means everyone is called to adopt – but there are great ways that ANYONE can help out with the crisis of 153 million orphans worldwide. I’d love to see every single Christian be able to identify at least one thing that he/she is doing to care for orphans.”
We hope this new Q&A format has provided you with some helpful insight and will serve as a reminder to keep these families and the rest of our church family in your prayers as we continue to ask God to give us a heart for the fatherless.
In the meantime, here’s something we can ALL ask ourselves:
Am I “able to identify at least one thing that [I am] doing to care for orphans”?
Make sure you check back on the blog for more Q&A as we take a look at a different topic next week!