Who Will Care for the Children?
About the Guest
Today on the broadcast, Sara Dorman, a clinical psychologist specializing in women's issues and crisis pregnancies, and author Natalie Gillespie, a mother and stepmother of seven, tell how their hearts were turned toward adoption when they saw the very real needs of children and unwed mothers in the U.S. and around the world.
Today on the broadcast, Sara Dorman, a clinical psychologist specializing in women’s issues and crisis pregnancies, and author Natalie Gillespie, a mother and stepmother of seven, tell how their hearts were turned toward adoption when they saw the very real needs of children and unwed mothers in the U.S. and around the world.
Natalie: It is challenging at times, and we do a lot of chauffeuring, but I can tell you that if James 1:27 said that true religion is – to care for widows and orphans, and yet there are estimates as high as 140 million orphans around the world, then I really think it's a call to the church, a conviction for the church, that we are to be there for those orphans.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, March 14th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. If you've thought about adoption or foster parenting, and it's just sounded too confusing, let's see if we can help you today.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. We have talked, from time to time, on our program about the subject of adoption. We've talked about the need that exists around the world, the number of orphans that there are. We've talked about how parents process that information and can come to a decision about should we even think about adopting? And I know a lot of parents go through that mental process and wonder, "Should we think about it?"
But the whole subject seems so overwhelming, the – what do I do? If I'm interested, what do I do? I think there are a lot of parents who say, "If I knew how to do it, we'd do it." I think we can help them today, don't you?
Dennis: When Barbara and first began to be burdened about this subject of adoption a number of years ago, we looked around amidst the enormous number of books that were being published at the time for resources to help us, as parents who had adopted a child, and I'm going to tell you something – there wasn't a lot out there.
But, gratefully, there is a new generation of books and resources being created, Bob, that are going to help parents who both want to adopt and help them after they have adopted, be successful in the process, and we have a couple of authors who are contributing, in my opinion, two very, very important works to the Christian community – Natalie Nichols Gillespie and Sara Dormon join us on FamilyLife Today. Sara, Natalie, welcome to the broadcast.
Sara: Thank you very much.
Natalie: Thank you, Dennis, it's good to be here.
Dennis: Natalie is the author of seven books and has written a great book called "Successful Adoption, A Guide for Christian Families," and, frankly, Natalie, as Barbara and I looked through your book, if it's not in here, I don't know if you need it, because you really have covered it, A to Z, in this book.
And Dr. Dormon has written a book along with Ruth Graham, someone our listeners undoubtedly know called "So You Want to Adopt Now What?" And that's intended to be a book to help people move from the want-to, as Bob talked about, to the reality.
The cool thing is, last summer, Natalie, you and your husband had the chance of giving a little girl a forever family. Tell us about it.
Natalie: Yes, Amberlie Joy FuShuang Gillespie joined us from the Chongking Province of China. My husband and I together have six children, four of whom were still at home, and now Amberlie has become our seventh, and I can tell you, as parents of an adopted child, it is the blessing to us. You are not only blessing a child, but that child comes in and changes your family even throughout the process as your kids get involved in praying for that child, and you learn that the world becomes a smaller place as they look at a sister from all the way across the world in China, and yet she is sitting here at our table.
Dennis: Yeah, and undoubtedly as you've gone through this process, that has contributed to this book, "Successful Adoption."
Natalie: Yes, when we first felt a call, my husband and I individually, actually, because we had six children, weren't sure we needed to have a seventh child, but I kept running into adoption stories everywhere, and I actually kind of argued with the Lord for a while. "I'm not going to tell my husband that I'm thinking about adopting a little girl. He'll tell me where I'm crazy."
So I finally did share with him after praying about it, and he said, "I've been thinking about that, too." And so we presented it to our children, and as we started the process and found an agency that we trusted and began collecting the paperwork, we ran into strangers and friends and church members everywhere who said, "You know, I've always thought about adopting, but it's just too hard," or "I've always thought about adopting, but doesn't it cost so much?"
And as we went through this process and realized, if it's a calling on your life to bring a child into your forever family, that He's there every step of the way, and the paperwork is conquerable, and the finances will come together, and it's just a blessing for all involved.
Bob: Sara, you came at this subject after years of working with unwed moms, right?
Sara: That's correct.
Bob: Tell me how that burden for these unwed moms became a burden for their babies?
Sara: About 25 years ago – I have a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, I was working as a volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. I had been on the board, and I was willing to volunteer my time because I personally went through a crisis pregnancy and decided the Lord had helped me to survive that, and I could use this experience to help other people, which I did.
And girls would come in, and they would reach the place where adoption was what they wanted to consider and because of the nature of most crisis pregnancy centers, they would then send the girl to a Bethany Christian Service or a place like that to deal with the adoption issue.
I said I didn't like that. I thought these girls needed some consistency, someone who was going to be there with them every step of the way. And so for two years I would do that. I would work with an adoption attorney, we would get profiles, and I would sort of just facilitate network in terms of the adoption.
At one point the crisis pregnancy center felt that this was a conflict of interest on their part, so I packed up my toys and went home. But I continued to do this, because I continued to have a burden for these girls, because it's the scariest, scariest time of your life, and you need somebody there who can walk you through that process.
And so when the girls would come, we became a shepherding home – girls who had no place to go and wanted to bring life to their child in a world that tells them they don't have to, we would take into our home. I have nothing but boys in my house, and I think having these pregnant girls has been a very eye-opening experience and a very good one for them.
But we would take the girls into their home, and one of the people who came to live with me 12 years ago was Windsor Dienert, Ruth Graham's daughter who became pregnant at 16, out of which the book was written, "I'm Pregnant, Now What?"
We just wanted to give people – Ruth went through this process, and people thought, "Well, you're Billy Graham's daughter. You must have all the resources available to you." She did not. They made mistakes, and it can get messy. And whether it's adoption or pregnancy, you really do need someone to come alongside you and put the Lord in the middle of that equation and walk with you, and that has been my heart's desire, and we continue to take girls in, I continue to facilitate adoptions to this day.
Dennis: Sara, I want you to comment personally on this, because you ran past it rather quickly. You said a number of years ago you were an unwed mother in a crisis pregnancy.
Sara: I was pregnant. I made the choice to have an abortion.
Dennis: It's my personal opinion that one of the things the church needs to do today is to celebrate not choosing abortion but choosing to give birth and then, for some, choose to give their children to another family, place that child in a family where he or she can be raised with a mommy and a daddy.
Sara: The Bible says greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his friends. Birth mothers lay down their lives, their reputations, their figures, their families, their friends, to bring life in, again, in a world that tells them they don't have to do this. And I don't think there's any more courageous group of women than birth mothers.
The girls I work with, I said, when you really, really love somebody – and these girls love their babies – when you really love somebody you want God's best for that person whether or not it includes you, and sometimes loving someone means letting go.
Dennis: Let's talk for a moment about your own experience with your abortion then.
Sara: In the book we wrote on adoption, I write a chapter on abortion. I think abortion is a subject that is not addressed as it should be and as honestly as it should be. Planned Parenthood has a very strong voice out there and politically they're very strong. But abortion is expedient. Abortion is an immediate solution to a problem. Abortion will eliminate the evidence of your activity.
I can remember the details of the abortion that I had as vividly as I can remember the birth of my children and any woman who tells you otherwise is lying – either to you or to herself.
After that, there is a hole that's left in your soul. Just as a birth mother releases her child for adoption, she's left with an empty heart, empty arms, and an empty womb. So is the case with a woman who has an abortion. So they try to fill that hole with whatever it can be – it can drug, sex, alcohol, it doesn't matter.
But I did get pregnant again, foolishly, but this time I released the baby for adoption, and I can honestly sit here and tell you, having given birth to children and raised them, having had an abortion and having released a child for adoption, releasing that child for adoption was so rewarding. I knew that not only had I brought life, but I had been the best mother I could be to that child by doing what I did.
Dennis: I was asked to speak at a crisis pregnancy center fundraiser about a year ago, and in doing that fundraiser I did a little research and asked those ladies the number of girls that they talked to, and they said "We talk to roughly about 900 girls a year. Of those 900, 300 were pregnant that we ended up trying to help." And I said, "How many of those 300 girls gave their children up for adoption?" And I literally had to pick my mouth up off the floor when they held up one finger.
Sara: I'm surprised it was that.
Dennis: Abortion is the choice today. I don't think we realize how determinative it has become among a generation of young girls who are unwed and pregnant, but then, secondly, it's interesting – becoming a single parent at age 13, 14, 15, 16, has also become …
Dennis: Yeah, and in some cases celebrated.
Dennis: Almost a trophy at that point.
Sara: There's a verse in the Old Testament says they've lost their ability to blush. We have reached the point as Christians, I believe, and the world at large where everything is okay. It's okay. I want to celebrate adoption. I want adoption to be as prevalent as abortion.
Now, abortions are going down, teen pregnancies are going down. Adoption needs to be thought of as something not only to celebrate but I positive terms. I don't know how to communicate this to people. Young girls get pregnant at 16, and, oh, the boy will be there. "He'll stick by me." No, he won't. "My friends will help me out." No, they won't. And there isn't a 16-year-old girl in the country that's ready to be a mother. The brain doesn't mature until 26, and I'm not sure any of us are ever ready to be mothers, but we are.
I just think adoption doesn't necessarily always conjure up positive images in people's minds, because all you ever see in the media are the children being torn out of their adoptive parents' homes at two years of age or something like that. We don't hear positive stories. We need to.
Bob: We are hoping that there is a shift in the cultural thinking that moves away from this. Most parents who are considering adoption are infertile couple who are saying, "We are trying to solve our dilemma." But the orphan crisis that exists around the world is forcing us to a new paradigm, and that is not that infertile couples ought to consider adoption but that every couple ought to ask the question, "Would God have us adopt?"
Bob: And if a couple comes to the conclusion that, you know what? If there are orphans who need a bedroom, we've got one. We can open our home. Natalie, what are the biggest obstacles those parents face in moving from, "Okay, we could do that," to bringing home a baby.
Natalie: Well, I think a lot of facing adoption, particularly if you already have children in the home, is the fears, is how is it going to affect our relationship as a couple, how is it going to affect our other children in the home? Will we be able to split any more of our time in this busy American society and both give the rest of our family what it needs but also be able to really nurture this life.
Bob: As a mom with six kids, four who are still at home, and now you've brought home a new adopted child, that had to be huge for you. I mean, it's hard enough keeping up with the kids you've got, isn't it?
Natalie: It is challenging at time, and we do a lot of chauffeuring. We spend a lot of time with edutainment in our car listening to wonderful programs like FamilyLife, but I can tell you that if James 1:27 said that true religion is this – to care for widows and orphans, and yet there are estimates as high as 140 million orphans around the world, then I really think it's a call to the church, a conviction for the church, that we are to be there for those orphans, and it's kind of shameful if we don't step up to the plate.
I think that if you don't get involved in adoption or orphan care, you are missing such a blessing of God's redemptive grace. It is an amazing picture not only of the way He brings us into His family, but what I recognized in preparing for the book and for my own child, Amberlie, is that in searching Scriptures each person that God chose to save His people was an adopted person.
Well, you start with Moses, who led the Israelites out of Egypt and go on to Joseph, who was adopted into Faro [sp] and Potiphar's house and saved Israel from famine, and then go on to Esther, who was adopted by Mordecai who stood up to the king and saved the Israelites, and then, of course, Joseph adopted Jesus, our Savior.
And so when you get involved in an orphan's life, you have the privilege of watching that call that God has on their life, and I think it's extremely strong.
Dennis: I want to ask you this because the statistics are overwhelming – 81 million Americans have considered adoption, and yet if you look at the number of both domestic and international adoptions on an annual basis, it's less than 100,000.
Dennis: You answered this question in your book "Where do you find children today?" We have a ready-made foster care system that has lots of children available for adoption today.
Natalie: We do, and the costs are slim to none. And, in fact, the IRS, right now, in our country, offers a tax credit of almost $11,000 for adoption, whether it is domestic, international, or from foster care. And even for foster care, if you do not have $11,000 worth of expenses, you receive a refund of your taxes of $11,000 over five years.
Dennis: So the government's even saying, "We want you to do this as well."
Natalie: We want these kids to have a mom and a dad, the experience of a family. How can we expect a generation of children without the experience of family to grow up and ever be capable parents or people who can then have a family.
Bob: You know, there is renewed interest in adopting out of the foster care system, but you know where it's coming from, don't you? It's coming from gay couples who are saying, "We'll adopt here." And, all of a sudden, because there is this need, and gay couples are saying, "Well, we'd love to do this," and because people in the church aren't stepping forward and doing it, it's creating a social dilemma where we say, "Is it better for them to be in foster care or to be living at home with two daddies or two mommies?"
Dennis: I was asked to testify in the state of Arkansas to a Senate subcommittee on this very issue, Bob, about gay adoption, and I was the token evangelical sacrificial lamb in this time of testimony, and it's really interesting. It becomes an emotional issue, and yet it really is about what's best for the children. It is about children having a mommy and a daddy. And it was at that point I wish I could bring a couple into the Senate subcommittee that I go to church with – their names are Charlie and Cookie Wilson, all right?
This is a couple who have been in our church for nearly three decades, and not a public couple. I don't think many people have any idea what their ministry has been privately, but I gave them a call recently to kind of get a few of the details around their family, because I knew they had cared for a number of foster care children.
I said, "How many have you cared for totally?" And Charlie said, "82." Eighty-two – in fact, it was Easter weekend when they already had five foster care children in their home when they received a call from the state saying there was a little girl being born that had no place to go, could they take her just for the weekend?
Well, they said yes, and the weekend turned in to three years, and the three years turned her into their daughter.
Sara: That's wonderful.
Dennis: And today she is a – I believe she's on her way to becoming an RN and having her own family.
And, you know, that's the picture. It's a picture of redemption, of offering a family, but also offering the message of Christ, which is the Gospel. I believe adoption and caring for the orphan gives us a great opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ and His forgiveness with a generation of young people. I mean, think of it, 140 million children who don't have both a mom and a dad worldwide. It's a ready-made evangelistic opportunity.
Bob: And, you know, this is something that our team has been hard at work on, this whole subject, because we want to encourage churches and individuals to consider what role all of us can play, any of us can play, in helping to provide homes and families for waiting children.
Our team at FamilyLife has put together a number of resources, books and booklets and Bible studies on the subject of adoption and orphan care. And we're encouraged to be able to add to that the books that the two of you have written. Natalie's book is called, "Successful Adoption, A Guide for Christian Families," and Sara's book is called "So You Want to Adopt, Now What?" a practical guide for navigating the adoption process.
And I would think any family that is serious about considering this and wants to weigh out the pros and the cons, wants to count the cost, they would want to get copies of both of these books and spend some time reading through them and highlighting them and talking about the issues so that they can make a decision that they feel comfortable with, feel confident about, one where they truly know God is guiding them in saying yes to adoption.
We've got copies of both of these books in our FamilyLife Resource Center. You can go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and if you click the button that says "Go," right in the middle of the page, that will take you to an area of the Web where you can get more information about these resources. You can order them online, if you'd like.
Again, the website is FamilyLife.com. Click the red "Go" button in the middle of the page, and you'll get right to the area of the site where there is more information not only about these resources but about other resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife.
You can also call, if that's easier. Just call 1-800-FLTODAY for more information about these resources – 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team can answer any questions you have about the variety of resources that are available or we can make arrangements to have these resources sent to you.
You know, as you were talking about adoption as a ready-made evangelistic opportunity, I was thinking about the fact that this season of the year is one of those times when all of us have a ready-made evangelistic opportunity, especially when it comes to children, because we're just a few weeks away from Easter, and the celebration of Christ's Resurrection is one of those times of the year when we can introduce the subject in a comfortable way. Easter is on everybody's calendar, everybody is at least aware of it, and to bring up the subject of Easter, or the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, well, the calendar gives us a unique opportunity to do that.
And this year, we are doing something at FamilyLife that we want to ask our listeners to help us with. Over the last decade or more, we have distributed hundreds of thousands of sets of Resurrection Eggs. This is an evangelistic tool that presents the story of the last week in the life of Christ to children and to adults, for that matter, and many of our listeners have called to get these Resurrection Eggs to use them as a part of their Easter celebration every year.
This year, we want to get them in the hands of some folks who don't already have them, and who may be unfamiliar with the Easter story. So here's what we're asking you to do – if you will make a donation this month of any amount for the ministry of FamilyLife Today, we're going to do two things – we're going to send a set of Resurrection Eggs to our friends at Here's Life Inner City.
They're going to make sure that that set of eggs gets distributed to a family or a child who lives in the inner city who needs to hear the Gospel and, at the same time, we're going to send you a set of Resurrection Eggs that you can share with a friend or a family member, a neighbor, someone you know, who needs to hear the Gospel, and you become a part of our distribution network. You help us get the word out to more families and, again, it's an easy, non-threatening way to share your faith with others.
So can we ask you to consider going online at FamilyLife.com, make a donation of any amount. That money will be used to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, and when you do that, we're going to send a set of Resurrection Eggs into the inner city and a set to you.
When you fill out your donation form on our website, you'll see a keycode box, and if you'll type the word "eggs" in there, we'll know that you'd like to participate in this special initiative here during the month of March. Or if you're calling 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation, just mention that you'd like to make sure a set of the Resurrection Eggs gets into the inner city, and we'll sign you up for this as well.
We appreciate your support of this ministry, and we appreciate your partnership in this outreach as well.
Well, tomorrow we're going to be back to continue to look at some of the very practical issues that face families considering adoption. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, special thanks to Kenny Farris as well. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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