St. Andrew United Methodist Church hosted an Adoption Seminar to provide information on adoption to their congregation and community. Several speakers shared their adoption experiences. These included adoptive families from the church, a woman who was adopted as a teenager from the Methodist Home, an adoption attorney who is also an adoptive parent, and several adoption agencies. Some of the adoptive families started out as foster families and decided to adopt the children in their care. Some became parents through international adoptions. The support and love these families received from St. Andrew’s congregation was evident and heartwarming. The seminar covered major issues such as making the decision to adopt, costs, the home study and post-adoption issues. For more information please contact: Kimberley Weatherford - 678-494-0991 (Home)
Linking Congregations to Foster Kids - First Presbyterian Church, 189 Church Street, Marietta, Georgia.
Congregations can serve as serious stakeholders in caring for foster children in our counties. In 2005, First Presbyterian, established the Adoption/Foster Connection Committee, with three goals:
- To raise congregational awareness of foster children in Cobb County;
- To serve them and those who care for them;
- To recruit foster parents, adoptive parents, Court Appointed Special Advocates, and members of Citizens Review panels.
To date, no new foster or adoptive parents have come from the congregation, but in less than five years, the committee raised awareness of foster children in the congregation and provided much needed services:
- As a kick-off project, the committee met with a representative of Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) and the Foster Parent Association and learned they needed plastic bins to store off-season clothing. A congregation-wide collection netted 83 bins.
- A church school collection of personal care items--toothpaste and toothbrushes, combs and brushes, soap, shampoo, deodorant--provided several large boxes of items to emergency homes that take in children when they first come into care.
- One spring, a congregation-wide collection netted 97 prom dresses for the Foster Care Support Foundation event that outfits teen foster children with formal outfits so they can attend the prom.
- Each year a women's running group in the church takes as its service project to bring underwear and socks to each meeting for foster children. The first year, they collected three large black bags of much needed items;
- The church school now donates its entire February offerings to the Foster Parent Association to help provide meals for their meetings.
- One Christmas season, the youth group collected 97 teddy bears one January to be given to children who attend citizens review panel meetings.
- One July, the committee sponsored a two-week seminar for all adult church school classes in which participants heard a pastor speak of the theological bases for caring for "orphans," and then heard from a foster parent, an adoptive parent, and a former foster child.
- Three members have been trained for citizen review panels and one has become a Court Appointed Special Advocate.
- The church provided meeting space for a continuing education program for 350 school counselors on neglected children.
- Tables in the narthex each May and November celebrate National Foster Children month and National Adoption month with resources and brochures.
- One fall, an evening dessert brought together a few adoptive parents with prospective adoptive parents and Faith, Hope, Adoption staff.
- Several members of the congregation have helped serve meals to special foster family events.
- One May a member of the congregation who is a media specialist in a public school was able to provide over 100 new books for foster children.
Most exciting, in the fall of 2008, the committee spearheaded the formation of a county-wide network of churches to serve foster children. So far nine congregations have agreed to be available to foster parents in their own local neighborhoods, and several of them already have active committees working on issues related to foster children and adoption. E-mails link them to the DFCS and the Foster Parent liaison as needs arise.
Other needs which a local congregation can meet:
- Tickets for special events;
- Childcare for foster parent events or special nights out (caregivers must have a criminal background check);
- A meeting place for supervised visitation with parents on weekends when DFCS is not open (First Baptist, Marietta, provides this);
- A meeting place or gift certificates so separated sibling groups can unite for a meal or special visit;
- Youth group activities for foster teens;
- Volunteers for annual DFCS fund-raising events;
- Mentors and tutoring programs;
- Scholarships or reduced rates to church day-care programs for foster children.
The possibilities are endless, the need is great.
For more information please contact: Patti Sprinkle, Phone: 770-431-0145, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org