Thursday, June 2, 2016

I'm In!

Another Foster Care Awareness Month has come to a close. What? You didn't even know that May was Foster Care Awareness Month? Maybe we need to do a better job at making people aware!

So, what should you know about Foster Care? Well, there are hundreds of kids right here in Indiana who are currently being cared for by adults who have stepped up and said "I'm In!".

Those adults are not paid. Many people don't realize this. They are given a Per Diem by the State to help offset the cost of caring for the kids. This is to feed, clothe, and house the kids. It is to provide activities, school supplies, toys. It buys diapers and formula and computers and phones. It covers transportation costs, which can be extensive with visits, meetings and appointments. Anyone who has anything to do with kids realizes that this amount, which begins at a rate of about 90 cents an hour, doesn't begin to cover the expenses. And remember, they also supervise, entertain, hold, soothe and build up these kids 24/7. They do it because they believe in what they are doing, and want to be a positive influence in their lives.

Foster Families can be many different things. It can be a husband and wife, who have no children of their own. Or they can have kids of their own. They can also be husband and husband, or wife and wife. Couples do not have to be married. Single people can foster. Foster parents can be above 50, or 60, or 70 or more. People of any race are encouraged (kids often prefer families who look like them or speak their native language). Families may rent or own their home or apartment. Being rich is not required, we just need families who are able to meet their own basic financial needs. Families can look many ways. Can you see yourself here?

Kids in care are not in Foster Care because of something they did. It is not because they were bad or because they are difficult. They are in care because their homes and families were not safe for them. They are often removed due to abuse or neglect. Sometimes it is because their parents are in legal trouble, many times related to drugs. Kids may be struggling in reaction to these events, because these are difficult things to experience. Foster parents need to be understanding and supportive to help children heal.

And last of all, for those of you who are afraid to become a Foster Parent because you are worried that you will get too attached, WE NEED YOU! Kids need people who will get attached to them. They need this to feel important and to grow and to heal. They need this to learn what a healthy relationship looks like and what it feels like, so hopefully they will be able to create those positive relationships as they continue their lives. Will your heart be affected? Yes. Will it be worth it? YES.

If you would like additional information on becoming a Foster Parent, please check out the DCS website If you would like information about adopting children who have been in foster care, see

Friday, March 11, 2016

Great Expectations

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice. 
In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
(Psalm 5:3 NIV)

In the morning, the event we have long been planning and praying for will kick off.  The Every Child team has started each of our meetings with prayer for this event, our speakers and leadership, the people attending and the fruit that will come from it. It is with great expectation that we pray the Every Child symposium will be a catalyst for change in the way vulnerable children in our state are loved and welcomed by the faith community.  It isn't just a calling some of us have. It is one of the commands Jesus gave to His people. 

Defend the weak and the fatherless;

    uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. (Psalm 82:3 NIV)

The numbers of children continue to rise. It is time for us to. It is time for the system to be overwhelmed by the number of Christ followers that desire to stand in the gap for the hurting. It is time to stand on our feet and form a bridge to success for them. It is time to walk with their families in the muck of their chaos until they are walking on holy ground. It is time to raise our hands and use our voice to empower, encourage, and advocate for them. It is time to breathe life and love in to their lives. It is time to open our homes and our families to them. It is time to use our hands and feet as Jesus' hands and feet. It is time to say, not on our watch. These are God's children. These are our children. 

Will you pray with us, that this symposium sparks a shift in our history when the body of Christ gave Jesus their yes and stepped forward to make the difference in the life for Every Child. Pray with great expectation that the Holy Spirit would move through the speakers, the attendees, volunteers, our churches, and our state. Pray that Every Child in Indiana would feel the fruit of our labors and the love of Jesus poured out on them. 

Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (Mark 11:24; The NIV)

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. (John 15:16 NIV)

We look forward to seeing you at Light of the World tomorrow at 8:30am to check in. Late registrations are accepted now and on site. Every Child will start promptly at 9am. We are excited to watch God at work!

Monday, January 18, 2016

That moment.

There are moments where your life is changed forever. For me, one of those moments was when my
husband and I were in Russia, adopting our youngest son, getting ready to climb into a car to take him home. Seared into my memory is a picture – a picture of many other sweet children standing in the cold parking lot with snow piled around them with absolutely nothing to do.

They had to stand outside for 20 minutes every day so they wouldn’t develop rickets.

As we pulled away from the orphanage building that day over 10 years ago I thought – somehow, by God’s grace, I have to do more. I had absolutely no idea what that might look like and felt completely inadequate. Thus began a personal journey of figuring out how God wanted me to “do more” – following His command in James 1:27 to “look after orphans in their distress”. On this journey one of the biggest unexpected avenues has been involvement with children in foster care. They are the orphans of our society and the need is tremendous for individuals to come around both them and the foster parents. Very recently I was at an event with a high school student in foster care. A sweet, smart kid who had been through a lot. What impressed me the most was that, although his foster parents didn’t go to church, he decided he wanted to go to church, and was going to church on his own every week. I shared with him Psalm 23. Completely on his own accord, he looked it up right then and there. As I was sitting there, fighting back tears thinking of his perseverance, endurance, and determination, I flashed back to how this all began. For anyone who feels the tug of God but is not sure where to begin I would like to encourage you – just take the next step. A great next step would be attending the Every Child One Day Symposium. There will be lots of opportunities to learn from experts and explore what caring for orphans might look like for you. I know for me, following God’s prompting to “do more”, has been one of the biggest blessings of my life.

~Suzy Roth, Hands Of Hope Adoption & Orphan Care Ministry

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Is there room in your home?

“Is there room in your home for me?” the voice on the other end of my phone asked. My former foster son, Mervin was calling from his girlfriend’s phone.   “I need a place to stay”.

Mervin came to live with us when he was 9 years old and stayed in our home for over a year.   Like many of our foster children, Mervin was like family.  I loved him as if he was one of my biological children, and my kids embraced him as their brother.   He had been in multiple homes before ours.  In one of the homes, the “foster father” threatened to cut off his fingers for getting food out of the pantry at night.  He had a lot of healing to do, and needed lots of love.   Our hearts were broken when he left but we prayed that his life would be happy and healthy.  Now, at age 18 he is crying out to be brought back into his former family- “God sets the lonely into families,” (Psalm 68:8) and in our case, He set Mervin with us twice. 

During this busy time of preparation for Christmas,  I am reminded of the journey of our precious Savior Jesus Christ.  His humble beginnings as a guest in the inn set an example for each of us.  The innkeeper made room~  He opened the door for what God had planned and blessings overflowed.

As my husband Jim and I have opened our doors to God’s knock, we have found that Mervin is a blessing.  While he has described his painful life journey, his feelings of loneliness and isolation, and need to “belong”  we are blessed by being allowed to be the hands and feet of Jesus for him.  The depth of reward that we receive is immeasurable as we watch him beginning to thrive and heal.  It is a privilege and honor to be called his family.  Please consider what plan God might have for you – there are children knocking.

~Krista Davis, Executive Director Safe Families for Children Central Indiana

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Forever Family

The Every Child conference will encompass foster care, hosting, and adoption. How is God calling you to be a part of His plan? Are you ready to hear Him? The following is an account of just one family stepping out in faith to love the most vulnerable. 

In November of 2005 and December of 2006 my children were born to their first mom. Too much of life happened to them between then and the time they were placed in to our hands in May of 2009. It wouldn't be until October of 2010, that the courts finally caught up with our hearts and they were forever home. I had to look up the year the adoption was finalized because I can't believe it has just been 5 years.  There are ways it seems so much longer and life before those two is hard to remember. In another way it is a bit refreshing to think it's only been 5 years and that we've come a long way in a short time. It's no wonder some of the struggles we have gone through in the past year and I am once again reminded of the pain and grief that the redemptive story of adoption is birthed from. 

There is not a single thing I would change. I read back over a journal I kept at the time and the emotions gurgle to the surface and my eyes sting with tears. I am reminded how hard we fought for their momma to be their momma. I am reminded how sad it made me that she felt she couldn't and how angry it made me that she didn't have the skills to be. I am reminded how deeply it hurt that the system had failed yet another. I am reminded how much I loved and respected her and how it conflicted directly with my all-to-human judgement's at times. I remember my inability to understand that her life experiences could have only led her here. I will always be thankful she chose life for them and selflessly broke the cycle. I am reminded how small they were, just 2 and 3 years old. I remember how brave, how open and willing to accept our love these little children were. I am reminded how scared and angry and filled with an intense sadness they were that it seemed to seep from their souls. I am reminded how immediately I loved them. I am in awe of how much our 3 other children welcomed them in and protected and embraced and hurt for them. I am reminded how very much in love I was watching my husband father the fatherless. 

Becoming a mother to two grieving children is the hardest thing I've ever done. Stepping in to the place of a mother they loved....they still love. Truthfully, sharing their love with her has been hard. I often tell them they have enough love in their hearts for both of us and they do, but it's only honest to say that their are moments that has stung a little. The juggling of emotions that comes with this journey never ceases to surprise me. One moment I can be crushed by the weight of the burdens they've carried and yet others, felt normal frustrations at the fallout that creates in their lives. This journey has brought me the greatest moments of joy and taken me to the bottom of a cavernous pit. Our adoption story has made me feel utterly alone at times and others surrounded by God's love for us, often shown by the amazing friends and family in our lives. It has left me questioning the brokenness of this world and in amazement at it's beauty and grace. It has given my children a family but at the loss of their first mom. It has given me more than I could ever measure. 

I had no idea what to expect then. I still don't. I have a sign that hangs in the kitchen that states "never a dull moment" and it's obnoxiously true. Each stage of development greets grief differently. But at the same time, each new day is one more day they know the security of a family, the gentleness a father should bring. They are loving, kind, compassionate children that know Jesus. They are worthy. They are valued. The hard has been hard but the alternative isn't an option. She was their first mom but I am their last. She is the mother that gave them life but I, I am their mom for life. I am incomprehensibly thankful that we gave our yes to God...that when it made no earthly sense at all...when the finances weren't there....when we already had a full house...when we were in the middle of facing a layoff... that we just trusted God to have us. I am so thankful that this time I didn't blow it and let my fears win or my intellect or my feelings of self doubt. I am so thankful for stepping out in faith, for giving Him our whole yes and for jumping feet first in to the craziest ride of our lives. Happy Forever Family Day, Family.  

What an honor it is to be your mom. 

Jen Harris is a wife and a momma that strives to show big Jesus size love in her life. She is reminded in her daily failings of her need for a Savior. Jen is the Director of Volunteers for Safe Families for Children Central Indiana and is the Event Coordinator for Every Child. You can find her contributing at and musing about her life at

Monday, October 12, 2015

Introducing Every Child

Over the past 10 years, Krista Davis, Director of Safe Families for Children and licensed foster parent, has watched the Church do amazing things. She has seen God's people, inspired by the plight of the weak and vulnerable rise to send medical teams to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake. She has seen Christians tackle worldwide hunger, and child trafficking. "Our hearts are moved by the Holy Spirit, and we lean into where God calls us to serve," Krista observed. She recently sat down with Mary Beth Bonaventura, the director of DCS for our state, and listened as she tearfully discussed the plight of Indiana's children. Hundreds of children right here in our state, in our own backyards that need the church. "They need us. They are hungry, abused, alone, homeless and some are without parents," says Krista. She believes, "the Church in Indiana can do amazing things. I have seen it...I believe we can pull together to lead the nation in loving our neighbors. "Every Child" was born out of that burden for Indiana's children and the belief that we, the Church, can make a difference for every child in our state who is in need.

Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
(Psalm 82:3-4)
Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. 
(Isaiah 1:17)

Krista assembled some associates and reached out to organizations with hearts for children. Hands of Hope Adoption & Orphan Care Ministry, Bethany Christian Services and The Villages of Indiana have teamed up with Safe Families to inspire the faith community of Indiana to get engaged and serve Every Child. We agree the church is the answer for Indiana's vulnerable, neglected, abused, hungry, and homeless children. We know that we, as the body of Christ, can provide hope and change for the hurting. 

The needs are great. "Children are being abused and neglected at an unprecedented rate in Indiana. In fact, from July 2014 to July 2015 the number of children entering into the DCS system has increased by 26 percent, "shared Mrs. Bonaventura. There are currently over 18,000 children in Foster Care in the state of Indiana, 245 of them waiting to be adopted. 
Staggering statistics. In a months time, DCS receives 13,000 calls. Only a portion of those meet the qualifications to remove a child from their home. A large majority needs support in times of crisis. 

What if each of those children were met with the love of Jesus? What if before DCS was involved there was a way to walk alongside families to prevent abuse and neglect. Imagine if Every Child walking in to foster homes across the state of Indiana were offered the mercy, grace and goodness we all were freely given. What if Every Child had a family and a place to call home? We pray for a future where Every Child is loved well. 

Our one day symposium focuses on empowering the body of Christ to get involved. There will be inspirational speakers, break out sessions and practical ideas on how to love marginalized children. Interested in fostering? Adoption? Hosting a child in your home? We'll have answers to your questions on how to get involved. Wanting to start a ministry at your place of worship? Want to support those who are adopting and fostering? We will give you the steps to take. 
Maybe you've already opened your doors to children and are struggling how to parent a hurting child. Participate in an open dialogue and fellowship with others experiencing similar battles. Are you not sure where to start or how you might fit in to God's plan? Come and give the Holy Spirit room to move. 

Every Child. Expecting God to move. Giving him our yes. 

We can't wait to see you there. 

 March 12, 2016
Light of the World Christian Church

You may have been asked where is God when bad things happen to children. God must be asking where are we. The answer for Indiana's hungry, poor, homeless, abused, orphaned and neglected children is the church. Every Child is a one day symposium 
on how to effectively be part of the answer. Please join us.