Jessica & Andrew W., members of Calvary Chapel in Old Bridge, NJ, licensed resource parents since 2014
“I would first like to say that I COULD NOT imagine beginning this process without the support of friends and our church ministry. It was amazing to have Lisa [ministry leader] be a part of our training to begin to form that better relationship with her. It was so great to hear about her real-life experience and her social work background during training. You knew right away she could relate 100 percent to what this journey is about. We were so blessed to have a support group right from the start with some people we knew who were already licensed or about to be. Our first placement was 3-month old twins. One of the first texts was to our ministry leader! She was there to provide us a meal, some diapers, and some clothes. She also had a crib for us to use. Just knowing we had a support base and a place to reach out if we needed anything was amazing. Through the ministry, we have made deeper friendships with families doing foster care. I cannot put into words how important and crucial this has been in our lives. Fostering is HARD! There are so many emotions and frustrations that go with all of this. It has been so amazing just to talk to someone who knows exactly what you’re going through and you don’t have to explain why you feel like that. Having this ministry in our church has really given us the ability to keep going. Our last placement was with us for almost 2 years and when he left we were heartbroken. Jesus used the people in this ministry to form a hedge of protection through prayer. Most of them could relate to our pain and provided the support we needed along the way. This ministry has encouraged us each step of the way with first prayer, second encouragement with words, and their having that physical love of Jesus. It’s been important to have other people who are qualified to help you with your children, to give you that break when needed, and knowing your child is in good care when you can’t be there. It’s just immeasurable how important this ministry is in a foster family’s world.”
Rebekah & Eric M., members of Bethlehem Church in Randolph, NJ, licensed resources parents since 2006
“My husband Eric and I have been foster parents for 10 years. We have four children, two biological and two adopted. When we started our journey as new foster parents we were very excited but felt very alone. We had the support of our local church, the agency we were licensed through, and the local Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), but we did not have any close friends who fostered or anyone who was already in the trenches. We longed for others who were in the same boat, who could guide us when we had questions or concerns. As time went on we met other foster parents in our area and our support system grew.
When we moved to North Jersey four years ago, the church we decided to make our home warmly welcomed us as a blended family with young children. They had a great children’s ministry that we quickly fell into. We were an active foster family at the time and though the church did have a few adoptive families, it had no ministry that was experienced with the ins and outs of foster care and / or adoption. Within two years, we approached the head of ministries and asked if we could start a ministry for adoptive and foster families. He readily agreed and we began meeting with a church in Central Jersey who already had a ministry and a mission statement. Their goal was to radically support families who take action on behalf of orphaned and abandoned children. Their church helped to collaborate on how to get something started and “The Blend at Bethlehem” was born. We started by having a place where families could come together once a month to find support, allowing them to share their joys and sorrows with other like-minded people who shared the same mindset of helping children through foster care and adoption.
Though we are still in the early stages, we started by hosting these monthly family potluck dinners. Families are invited to come and hare a meal and blend together with others in the same beat of life like them. We started with four families and it quickly grew to us serving 10+ families. This has helped connect new foster families with seasoned foster families and give them someone to reach out to when they have a need. We have a storage area with clothing and supplies so when a family gets a call for a new placement, we are able to act quickly and help the transition. Our future goals include, but are not limited to, having a list of people within the church who can be called upon to deliver a meal or be an available babysitter for a family, continuing our relationship with the local DCPP office, offering our church building as a place for visitation or training, having a list of professionals available for families who need counseling, and having our orphan fund available for families who are looking to adopt privately. We have also become licensed trainers for Empowered to Connect, a program specially formulated to help children who have come from hard places. We pray that God will continue to bless our attempts to support foster and adoptive families.”