By COURTNEY INGLE
November is a time of thanksgiving not just because of the holiday but because it is also National Adoption Month. An adoption experience is not always easy, so for those who have traveled that journey, “support” is near the top of the list of things they’re thankful for this season.
Hailey and Reese Berry, members at Park Place Baptist Church in Pearl, adopted their oldest child, Elias. Hailey said the amount of support they received was amazing.
“People literally poured out support for us within our church body and among our friends and relatives. It was such a beautiful thing to see,” said Hailey. “God provided through His people for His glory. We also received several grants, including (the) Lifesong for Orphans matching grant through Colonial Heights Baptist Church and (the) Show Hope Adoption Aid grant founded by Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman.”
The Berry family has one adopted son and two biological daughters. Hailey said that if they felt the Lord’s calling, they would adopt again.
Gloria Hunsberger, wife of Colonial Heights Lead Pastor Chad Hunsberger, said the struggles and support she found in the adoption process inspired her to be the advocate for adoption that she is today.
“My husband and I felt the call to adopt for the first time in 2011. The timing seemed ‘awful’ in our minds because we had two babies at the time, our youngest just six months old, and my husband was in the middle of a demanding doctoral program,” said Gloria. “God was faithful to provide the resources we needed to bring our daughter home from China in 2013.”
The call for adoption came to the Hunsberger family again. They tried to adopt through foster care but eventually pursued international adoption again.
“We were matched with our son in India in August of 2020, but the global pandemic kept us from bringing him home until April of this year,” said Gloria.
Support was vital to the Hunsbergers’ adoption experiences. For Gloria, it inspired her to become an advocate for adoption. Today, Hearts of Compassion Orphan Care Ministry is a partnership between Colonial Heights and Lifesong for Orphans in Illinois.
“Now, as we seek to help others in the adoption process, we never want a family to feel alone in the process,” said Gloria. “The financial requirements, paperwork mountains, and red tape to wade through are significant stressors for adopting families. If our experiences can help other families navigate their adoption process, we want to be quick to help.”
The adoption culture might experience a shift in the future with laws changing.
Preston Crowe heads up The Shelter Initiative at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison, in which adoption — especially after the overturning of Roe v. Wade — is one of the focal points.
“While we know that some birth mothers will choose to keep and raise their babies (post-Roe), and we celebrate that, we do hope to see the number of adoptions grow (too) as more and more birth mothers see the beauty in this option,” said Preston.
While not all families will choose adoption, Preston said supporting adoption is a job for believers — who are adopted sons and daughters of God.
“We understand both God’s heart for the orphan as well as the truth that God adopts us into His family upon salvation. Keeping this before people is important so that it becomes part of the culture of those who follow Christ,” said Preston.
“One of the best ways the church can be involved in encouraging those wishing to adopt is to look for ways to make them feel less isolated and less overwhelmed.”
Continued support is crucial even beyond the adoption itself.
“The process can be long and daunting, with many twists and turns along the way. The encouragement doesn’t need to stop with getting people into the adoption process. It needs to meet them every step of the way,” said Preston.
Not all families feel the call to adopt, but caring for orphans, whether directly or indirectly, is a beautiful demonstration of God’s love for His people to carry out.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this:
to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” – James 1:27