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Our expectant parents, adoptive families, and other clients all come from different walks of life, but they all have one thing in common—the great love they have for their children. Here, they share about how they have been touched, impacted, and changed through their experiences. 

Pregnancy Support

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As the mother of two small children from a long-term relationship, Andrea was grateful their father was involved in their lives. So when she became pregnant in a subsequent relationship and the father was not ready to be involved with a child, she was more than a little concerned. “I could not imagine my child not having a father in her life,” she said.

Deciding to consider an adoption plan, Andrea contacted Bethany and began to work with a pregnancy counselor. When she found Eric and Maribeth among the adoptive parent profiles and met them, she liked them right away. “They were the kindest, sweetest, loving couple,” Andrea said. They exchanged numbers and soon Maribeth began to accompany Andrea to doctor appointments.

On the day of Andrea’s induced delivery, Maribeth was present when the baby was born, and Andrea made sure her daughter’s new parents were able to spend time with the little girl they named Hazel Grace.

“I didn’t stay in the hospital long,” Andrea said. “I thought getting back to my other two children would make things easier for me. I didn’t know it would be so hard.” Processing all that had happened was hard, but she was grateful for her counselor, who was available to answer texts or phone calls and visited with her to talk things through. The process was challenging, but deep down in her heart, Andrea said, she knew making the adoption plan for her daughter had been the right thing to do.

Fifteen months after Hazel was born, Andrea said, “I was scared about adoption at first, but it’s been the best experience, and it’s changed my whole outlook on life. I didn’t know adoption could be like this. I am so grateful for everything Eric and Maribeth do. They invited my children, who love Hazel, and me over to their house, and have trusted me to take Hazel on my own to family events. My whole family has met her. We see her about every three or four weeks, and Maribeth sends photos and updates in between. I am blessed to have them in my life.”

Choosing Bethany was important to Andrea because it is a Christian organization, and she has a strong faith. “They were kind, caring, and understanding of the spiritual aspects of what is involved,” she said. Andrea has continued receiving Bethany counseling and support, and she has not only returned to school for a bachelor’s in family studies, but she works with her counselor at Bethany to offer mentoring to other young women developing adoption plans.

“I learned I was stronger than I thought I was,” Andrea said, “and I tell other women going through adoption plans that they are choosing life for their child, and that it takes an incredibly strong person for this most unselfish act of love.”

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Often, we think that holding on is what makes us strong. Sometimes, the greatest act of strength is letting go. 

When 17-year-old Taylor found out she was pregnant, her very first thought was about abortion. In fact, she only began considering adoption when a family friend shared that one of their children had been adopted. 

Another family friend told Taylor about Bethany Christian Services, and she realized adoption was the right choice for her and her unborn baby. 

“I wanted the best for the baby,” Taylor says. That’s when she began the difficult and courageous journey of letting go.

Taylor attended regular meetings at Bethany to learn more about the adoption process, and she started looking through the adoptive parent profiles on Bethany’s website. Immediately, she focused on one particular couple—Joe and Meg—the same couple her mom and a friend had also been drawn to. 

Taylor met with Joe and Meg regularly and even spent the night at their house to see where the baby would sleep once he arrived. Their open adoption created a loving support system for both Taylor and the adoptive parents. 

As a high school senior in the county with the highest number of teen pregnancies in all of South Carolina, Taylor has become a vocal advocate of adoption, even sharing her story in her high school newspaper. 
She wrote: 
Liam Joseph was born October 15 at 4:38 a.m. He weighed 6 pounds and 8 ounces and was 20 and 3/4 inches long. Two days after his birth, I had to say goodbye until I see him again. We had an entrustment ceremony in the hospital room where a few people spoke. Then I handed Meg and Joe my son. It was the hardest day of my life. 

It helps my grieving to know that I will communicate with the parents and Liam throughout the weeks, but nothing can fill the hole that tore my heart when I handed over my son—when all I have ever wanted to be is a mommy. I had to think of Liam instead of me this time. It was not my time to be a mommy; it was Meg’s turn. 

Since Liam was born, Taylor has met with him and his adoptive parents twice, and they e-mail regularly. “I have cried,” Taylor says, “but I know he’s with a family who was ready to care for him.”

Though this was the hardest decision Taylor has ever made, she is content knowing she made the best decision for Liam. 

“I’m going to be a really good mom someday,” Taylor says, “just not yet.”

Infant Adoption

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If there is one thing Alex and Susan know it’s that “life is full of surprises.”

Alex was adopted as a child, and when the couple married they planned to adopt after having biological children. But infertility moved adoption forward, and they entered into the process with a request to adopt a child who was at least part Asian. 

Enter Joshua, a beautiful little boy of Cambodian, Laotian, and Cuban ethnicity. His 16‐year‐old mother hid her pregnancy from everyone, labored at home, and then traveled by city bus to a hospital. There she gave birth prematurely to her son and, desperate, asked for help. The nurses called Bethany on her behalf, and through them Alex and Susan were chosen to be his adoptive parents. The couple met Joshua in a temporary placement before taking him home a few days later as foster parents with intent to adopt. 

Typically, a newborn will lose some of their birth weight and then gain it right back. But instead, Joshua continued to lose weight. Three or four weeks of tests and hospitalization revealed that he had a brain malformation, and he was eventually diagnosed with Septo‐Optic Dysplasia. As a result, he would have vision, pituitary, and cognition challenges. In fact, the couple was told he might never see, walk, or talk. 

As required, their Bethany worker informed Alex and Susan that they were not obligated to adopt   Joshua if they felt his challenges were too much for them. But Susan had already bonded with Joshua. So had Alex, but he felt led to seek confirmation from God on this new journey. As they prayed, they felt God saying to them, “Just as you would accept a biological child, this is the child I’ve given to you.” 

“We had some people in our lives concerned for us and wondering if we should not have adopted him because raising him would be hard for us,” Susan said, “but I knew he was my child, from God.” 

Joshua is vision‐impaired though not blind, he can walk, and he has some verbal skills. He has also been diagnosed with autism. But he receives special education in his community, and in the words of his mother, “He’s doing great. He’s a happy guy!” And, Susan added, even though he is has physical challenges, “his sisters adore him.” 

Yes, sisters. The couple has since adopted Hope, and two months after her adoption, Susan discovered she was pregnant. Yet another surprise, Anna joined the family. 

“We didn’t expect a biological child after all. And we didn’t sign up for a child with special needs,” Susan said, explaining that they did not initially think God had given them that ministry. “But not only has Joshua opened a lot of doors for us to share God with the special needs community, being his mom is one of the greatest blessings of my life.” 

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John and Ann had always wanted to adopt a daughter, but for many years into their marriage, it seemed God had other plans. Their family grew with three boys, and eventually grew again as their sons married and had children of their own. Still, as empty nesters, John and Ann remained willing to adopt. When an earthquake rocked Haiti in 2010, they began to seriously consider international adoption as they were moved with compassion over the children who were left without parents. 

“We were set on a school-age child,” Ann recalls, “since we had already been blessed with babies.” Bethany’s Hattiesburg office director in explained that adoptions in Haiti were on hold, but there were babies right there in Mississippi who needed loving homes. Ann’s response? “I told them I was too old for a baby!” Despite her empty-nester status, Ann’s heart broke for these local children. She sent John a text message: Instead of a child from Haiti, can we adopt a baby from Mississippi? John immediately replied: Yes! 

They filed the paperwork, and the process was smooth and swift. They were, in Ann’s words, “paper pregnant” in just under four months. 

They didn’t have long to wait. Less than one month later, John and Ann received a call about an African-American baby girl, Addie-Beth, just three weeks old. Surprised and overjoyed, they welcomed the baby into their home the following day. “Our hearts burst with love the moment we saw her,” John said. 

Ann resigned her teaching job to stay home with Addie-Beth, and John unexpectedly lost his job soon after that. But God worked this for their good—this allowed the couple and their baby girl  to move closer to their grown children so their whole family could be together again. 

Now 4 years old, Addie-Beth continues to bring joy to her parents. “She is smart, funny, and beautiful all rolled into one special little girl,” Ann said. “I especially love it when our oldest granddaughter, who is 10, calls her Aunt Addie-Beth.” 

Looking back, John and Ann are amazed at how God has guided their every step. “I know the need for international adoption is great, and so many people go that direction,” said Ann. “But I have become a huge advocate for domestic adoption. We have a great need right here in our communities.” 

International Adoption

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“Would you ever adopt?” someone asked as Becky and James sat around a campfire with some high school friends. Adoption came up because they all knew a young teen who had made an adoption plan for her child. Not knowing they would one day marry or that God was planting a seed, the just-barely- dating couple both answered yes. 
When years later starting a family presented challenges, the subject of adoption resurfaced. “Maybe God is telling us to adopt,” they thought. But it wasn’t until after the birth of their three biological children that the seed God had planted took root. Taking notice of room for one more at their large kitchen table, in their van, and in their hearts, the couple realized they were ready. 
They were eventually led to work with Bethany. With two sons, it might have been logical to ask for another daughter. But they were open to whatever child God had for them, whether that was a child with special needs or a child adopted internationally or domestically. 
Then one day they received information from Bethany about a little boy in China who was 2 years old and deaf. “Looking at his picture was parallel to looking at an ultrasound for a biological child,” Becky said. A published author, she was thrilled to learn that he loved picture books. In addition, Becky had studied sign language in college. 
The couple told their children (Andrew, now 13; Anna, now 11; and Jacob, now 8) they weren’t sure if they would be able to adopt this boy but that the whole family should pray about it. And they did—right up to the time they all went to China to get Joshua. 
As James and Becky waited for their son in a room with another adoptive family, a boy about 9 came in. Through interpreters, the other adoptive parents asked, “Do you want to come home with us and be our son?” 
“Joshua was only 3 and deaf, and he hadn’t been taught sign language at the orphanage. He was not going to be able to answer if we asked him that question,” Becky shared. “But when the other boy said yes, it was as if Joshua was answering yes too.” 
Becky had prayed that Joshua would get the photo album they sent ahead. When he came in with it in his arms she knew her prayer had been answered. And someone had kindly written in their names in Chinese. 
Now 6, Joshua has filled that space for one more in their family for over three years. “Each time we have added a child to our family,” Becky shared, “we have no longer been able to imagine our lives without them. And we can’t imagine our family without Joshua. He has been a joy from the start.” 

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Imagine you are a six-year-old boy living in a Ukrainian orphanage, where you have been since you were three. You have food, clothing, and shelter, but little else—no love, no future, nor any softness in your life. Once you had a best friend, who was like your brother, but he was adopted and now you are by yourself. 

Fast-forward one year. A family in the U.S. has adopted you, and from day one, you realize that you have found the home you longed for. You have parents and siblings who love you and a future as big as the promise of America. Better yet, your best friend lives close by, and his adoptive mom and yours are friends. You get to see him often. It is like having an extended family. 

Now you have some idea of the difference that international adoption has made for Igor. Life-changing is too modest a description. 

It all began nine years ago as Igor’s adoptive mother, Ann, listened to the radio during her morning commute. “I heard information about the orphanages in Eastern Europe and all the children in need of families. I was surprised to hear that there were a lot of boys waiting to be adopted.” 

After discussing adoption with her husband, Ron, and then with their three children, Ann was put in contact with Kristen, who had recently adopted a boy (Misha) from Ukraine. They had to leave his best friend (Igor) behind.   “The rest, as they say is ‘sweet history,’” says Ann. “We went through all the informational sessions and training, and about a year later we had our Igor.” 

Eight years later, Igor still remembers dodging rocks hurled over the orphanage fence by the local kids, feeling afraid at night, receiving poor medical care, and wondering whether the police would take him away if he cried, as the nurses threatened. But today things are very different. The outgoing 15-year-old plays on his school’s basketball team, runs cross country, enjoys skiing and playing video games, and loves riding his bike and four-wheeler. 

As for he and his friend, “Igor and Misha are true brothers at heart,” says Ann. “When they get together, they love to do activities at home, ride bikes, go running, eat, go to sporting events, and shop. They stay up until all hours talking.” 

Igor says, “A hero can be strong and famous and do big things, or just a regular person who tries to help other people. My hero is a single mom who adopted my best friend in western Ukraine and helped me find a loving and caring family too.” 

But the family’s journey of adoption didn’t stop with Igor. In October 2010, Ann learned of a 15-year-old Ukrainian boy just months away from “aging out” of his orphanage. Already thinking of adopting again, Ron and Ann immediately began the process. With God’s grace, they surmounted the numerous challenges, and in April 2011, they brought their son, Alexander, home. A high school senior, Alex is an active young man who enjoys playing varsity soccer. 

“The happiness and love that our two adopted sons have brought to our family far outweighs what it took to accomplish the adoptions,” observed Ron and Ann. “This country was built by men such as Alex and Igor—great people who just need a chance and a place to grow.” 

Foster Care Adoption

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As a single woman, Donna wondered about adopting a child who would not also have a father raising her. And she still wonders about that. But she also recognizes that her adopted daughter has a loving home she might not have had otherwise.

In 2005, Donna began her application for foster care adoption, but it wasn’t until 2007, when she heard a radio broadcast about Bethany’s classes and their work with foster children, that she more intentionally pursued the idea. She had a busy life, but she also very much wanted to be a mother, and there were children who needed one. So she completed classes and the approval process and then waited.

Though she regularly looked on the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange’s website (MARE) for children waiting to be adopted, it wasn’t until spring 2010 that she received her first call. An 8-year-old girl was not in an ideal home situation for her. When Donna picked Brooklyn up, she looked at her in the car and asked, “Are you afraid?” “No,” Brooklyn answered, an answer that marked the beginning of Donna’s understanding of how much this little girl had been affected by neglect, abuse, and being “passed around.” And now she was being further separated from her four siblings, two younger ones in a foster home and two older siblings with their new adopted family.

For the remainder of the summer, Brooklyn was with Donna and Donna’s family on weekends – just getting to know each other. They had a few road trips did a little camping, shopping and just tried to be a normal family. Brooklyn wanted to call Donna “Mom,” but Donna was reluctant to embrace that relationship too deeply for Brooklyn’s sake; she didn’t know whether or not she would be able to adopt this little girl as her own.

Donna had completed the Home Study process becoming licensed for foster care adoption in September 2010 and Brooklyn was returned to Donna’s care as a foster/pre-adoptive placement. Donna did not know if she would get a call that Brooklyn was hers to adopt or if she would be placed elsewhere and may never see her again. But the judge decided Brooklyn would thrive best in a home such as Donna’s, and in July 2011 Donna officially became Brooklyn’s adoptive mom.

Today, Brooklyn is twelve, “going on sixteen.” Though she struggles with her relationship with siblings being too distant despite Donna’s efforts to keep them connected, Brooklyn leads an active life— involved in dance, playing an instrument, school, and church. She also shares Donna’s large extended family, including many cousins for Brooklyn.

“It’s been five hundred times harder than I thought it was going to be,” Donna shared candidly, referring to the impact such difficult experiences in formative years can have on a child. “Much of Brooklyn’s learned behavior was based on survival, not thriving. Something inside gets broken.

“You have to be called to do this,” Donna went on. “It’s difficult. But you have to acknowledge reality and then move on. Brooklyn is a great kid, loving, and we have a great relationship. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

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In March of 2011, Dave and Mishael began a life-changing journey that started by taking a little girl into their home through foster care. The initial experience only lasted for seven weeks, followed immediately by caring for a larger group of three siblings over the summer. In September, however, a call came from Bethany that would have longer-ranging effects. Three sisters, ranging from 16 months to 4 years old, and their 2-month-old preemie brother were in need of a foster home that could bring the siblings back together. Multiple foster agencies, were involved and mounds of paperwork needed to be shuffled, but before long, the children were moved into Dave and Mishael’s home with their 11-year-old biological son A.J. playing the role of big brother.

The couple experienced an emotional rollercoaster between caring for Mikey, who weighed just five pounds when they brought him from the hospital, and all of the other children’s needs. They attended doctor appointments and family visits designed to support reunification with the children’s birthfamily, as well as court hearings every three months. For nearly two years, they provided a loving voice and home for the four siblings. They had no idea whether the children would be reunited with their birthfamily or not, but that is an ever present challenge when fostering.

“It’s rewarding to be part of reunification,” Mishael said. “But you have to be prepared to love a child who may not become your own.”

The courts eventually made the children available for adoption, and as Mishael shared, “We knew we couldn’t let them go.” In December 2013, Dave and Mishael adopted Penny (6), Mary (5), Maddie (3), and Mikey (2).

Although the couple does not have a completely open adoption, Mishael has a Facebook page designed to share pictures and updates with some of the birthfamily. The children are also able to see their grandparents. “It’s good to keep the lines of communication open to the degree you think is best,” she said.

For those thinking about fostering—whether or not fostering could lead to adoption—Mishael cautions that they must be a voice for children in their care. “It’s not a job for the timid. You have to be an advocate; you can’t be on the sidelines, and you have to listen to the children as well.”

Dave and Mishael have decided to keep their home open for the possibility of fostering or even adopting another infant. The kids are old enough to understand and are excited to welcome another sibling, even though they know a foster child might not become a permanent part of their family.

Mishael and Dave are grateful for A.J., now 14, and his help as a big brother, as well as for the prayer and support they received throughout this experience. As they wrote to their church family shortly before the adoption, they have definitely had to learn to rely on God. “God always put people in our lives to encourage and help us,” they wrote. “We could not have done this alone.”

Safe Families for Children

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In spring 2013, Michelle, a single parent, and her three preschoolers were in trouble. With no home, no family support, no child care, and no job, Michelle didn’t know how she was going to stop the downward, homeless spiral they’d been in for months. And she was worried about her kids.

 When Michelle was staying in a mission with her sons (4 and 3) and daughter (1), she heard about assistance through the Safe Families for ChildrenTM (SFFC) ministry, which provides a safe, temporary place for children to stay while their parents work through a crisis. But she did not think she could let her children live with people she didn’t know without feeling like a “bad” mother. So she instead struggled on, accepting what assistance was available.

 After her stay at the mission was over, Michelle ended up in a hotel. But she still had to wait forty-five days for government-assisted daycare that would allow her to look for a job, and she knew she couldn’t go on unless someone could help her with the children. This time she prayed about SFFC and then talked to a SFFC Family Coach to learn more about the ministry. What Michelle learned was enough for her to feel comfortable about meeting two approved Host Family volunteers in her area. They met Michelle  and the Family Coach at a local mall before meeting Michelle’s children. “I had such good vibes when meeting the moms,” Michelle said, citing what a difference it made to meet the people who were offering to help. The moms no longer seemed like “strangers,” and she decided to let her children stay with them so she could look for a job.

 Over those forty-five days, Michelle not only looked for but found a job, with the assistance of one of the families. But she still did not have her own home where the children could safely live with her in a stable environment. Once more, the host families stepped in with more support than Michelle had imagined possible.

 Michelle explained. “After I got my job, they helped me find a place to stay. And I’ve been able to keep my job because they have continued to care for the kids as needed. I can get to work even when they get sick or if I am called in on weekends when daycare isn’t available.”

 Then, in the middle of August this year, Michelle moved into a house she is renting as a result of the  host family helping her make a community connection. She is at last able to provide the stable home she had so wanted to establish for her children.

 “I think I would still be homeless without Safe Families for Children,” Michelle said. “And I want others to know they can get help too—without guilt. Safe Families for Children is a trustworthy program, and it’s been such a blessing to me. It’s not about foster care or strangers. It’s about people with big hearts who open them up to you and your kids.”

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When the Safe Families for ChildrenTM (SFFC) intake coordinator arrived at the home of Justin* and Jerome*, she found two energetic and friendly young boys, ages two and three. Justin and Jerome’s mother reached out to SFFC for assistance while she looked for a full-time job and another place to live. There was no one to watch the boys while she searched and finances kept her from paying a sitter. Having no other options, she sent the boys off to SFFC with full backpacks and a picture of her in case they needed to “see” their mom. Saddened to see them go, Justin and Jerome’s mom chose not to escort them to the van because she didn’t want the boys to witness her tears. In four short weeks however, she would see them again under  entirely different circumstances.

After an adventure in the SFFC van, Justin and Jerome arrived at the Davidson’s. Upon their arrival, they were greeted by a pint-sized puppy who was clearly excited to see them. In a few hours, the Davidson’s own son would arrive home to meet his new friends. Since he had only older sisters, the idea of playing with “brothers” for a month excited him.

Distracted by the puppy and the new surroundings, little Jerome didn’t notice his older brother’s developing angst. When the SFFC intake coordinator grabbed her keys to leave, Justin realized that he wasn’t heading home with her, he was actually staying with the Davidsons.

Justin quickly grabbed his backpack, pulled out the picture of his mom (that she had wisely included) and kissed her image. Carolyn said, “Justin, is that your mom? She’s beautiful!” With that, Justin’s angst seemed to disappear.

Justin warmed to the Davidsons and the boys began their month-long adventure while their mom worked to stabilize her family. The boys kept in touch with their mom when she would call Carolyn to check in a couple of times each week. Justin and Jerome felt safe and stable while waiting for their mom to get back on her feet.

Although adding two little boys to the family mix, at times, proved to be hard work for the Davidsons, according to Carolyn, it gave the entire family the opportunity to live out the call to care for others. They did this not only by taking the brothers in, but by praying with Justin and Jerome each evening before bedtime. The Davidson’s church family also fell in love with Justin and Jerome. They eagerly interacted with the boys each Sunday and brought them gifts before they returned home.

When the family returned the boys to her, she dropped them off at their new apartment, where their recently-employed mom showered them with hugs and kisses. They gleefully returned her affection and were thrilled to see her. Their mom’s goals had been met! The joyful reunion, and mom’s accomplished goals were evidence that, in this instance, the Safe Families for Children's model worked just as intended.

 *Names were changed for privacy purposes.