Churches commit to helping families pursue adoption
By Frank Stirk | Saturday, July 23, 2011
LANGLEY, BC - When Daniel and Amanda Preston first met, they soon discovered they shared a passion for making a home for children without families.
“Based on that common interest, we got to know each other and fell in love and realized that children is something that God had put on our hearts," says Amanda. “And so a year after getting married, we started an adoption process. Daniel was 19 and I was 20."
Because of their youth, they were told they would have to wait a couple of years. But suddenly, she says, those years turned into days.
“The next week, our social worker said we have a proposal for you - and it was a little two-month-old baby boy. We were shocked. We brought him home three weeks later."
Today, the Prestons have three adopted children and expect to add another, who is currently a foster daughter. Then they plan to adopt a fifth child. Amanda also now leads an initiative called A Home for Every Child at Christian Life Assembly in Langley.
Kristjen and Tamara Hull began a similar journey two years ago. “It was as simple as God dropping it on our hearts," says Tamara, “just a burden for children needing families and really feeling God was stirring us to do something."
Tamara is the children's pastor at < a href="http://www.southgatechurch.ca/">Southgate Church in Surrey and leads a ministry launched this year called Above and Beyond. It seeks to offer support to adoptive families by raising awareness within her own congregation and other churches as well.
“We did a dessert night where we invited the local churches. We had about 100 people from 17 churches show up, “ she says.
“We have met with two other churches about assisting them in getting something started, and we've been in contact with about seven other churches, sending them resources and stuff - and that's throughout Canada."
In fact, there is compelling evidence that God is prompting many more families to make room for children who may have never known a permanent home - or any home at all.
“There are churches across the country getting on board and saying, 'We believe this is God's call,'" says Wendy Kittlitz, vice-president of counselling and care ministries at Focus on the Family Canada.
When Hope Adoption Services in Abbotsford first opened its doors to Christian couples 25 years ago, most of them were childless, says administrator Lorne Welwood.
“Now it's more like 50 per cent already have children and quite often they're motivated not by a need to create their family by adoption, but through caring about kids that don't have families, whether that's local or international."
“Younger couples, or people that before had said they'd wait until their kids were older, or whose their kids are grown - a lot of people are starting to come forward," says Preston. “There's also a lot of different ministries starting up around the same idea."
One of those initiatives is End the Wait, which Focus unveiled this spring with a five-city national tour aimed at educating people about adoption.
“We had turnouts much bigger than we expected," Kittlitz says. “In total, we talked to over 650 people, which was just tremendous for a first run at this. The response in the room was very, very positive."
Even now, she adds, “people are calling us and saying, 'What more can we do to get involved in this? Can we do some of these kinds of events in our own community?'"
Also just getting off the ground is Abba Canada, the Canadian arm of a ministry in Houston, Texas, called Abba Fund. Its goal is to raise funds that it can give as grants to families who want to adopt but are prevented by the cost involved.
“It's still in the very beginning stages, working out all the legal stuff," says Hull, who heads up Abba Canada. “We can receive funds and we have a grant application on the website."
In British Columbia, of the 1,000 or so foster-care children who are legally available for adoption, about a third are 12 years old and up - and it is these that adoption advocates are most anxious to see adopted before they reach adulthood alone.
“If you've got your first job and it doesn't go well, who do you turn to? You're getting married. Who's going to walk you down the aisle?" asks Alison Balenzano, an adoption recruitment social worker with the Ministry of Children and Family Development. “They need a family that can be lifelong, not just until they're 19."
“Not everyone is going to adopt, nor should everyone adopt, but everyone can do something to help the cause of vulnerable children," says Kittlitz. “Whether that's giving or praying or supporting in very practical ways, we think there's a call for every Christian to get involved in this movement."