Foster care & adoption infused into church plant
Jan. 20 is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Meanwhile, the planters -- Stephen Myers and Steven Giblet -- have worked to cultivate a culture within the church conducive to foster care and adoption.
Now in its second year, the church plant of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma currently is meeting at Canyon Ridge Intermediate School in the Mustang school district.
"Our goal is to make much of Jesus in our city and beyond by making disciples who are satisfied in Him. Foster care and adoption fit into our goal because adoption is Gospel language," Myers, The Well's lead pastor, explained. "Choosing to love children who don't have a home and bringing them into your home points to the reality of what God has done for us through His Son Jesus."
Through the church plant, Myers and Giblet, pastor of care and discipleship, are disciple-makers leading by example. Myers and his wife Jonna have adopted a daughter named Lydia. Giblet and his wife Jessica have fostered many children, eventually adopting Demetri.
"When Jonna and I married, the plan was to wait a couple of years and then start a family," Myers said. "From the beginning, adopting a child was one of the ways we wanted to grow our family. We just didn't realize that it would be the only way for us to grow our family."
Stephen and Jonna learned a couple of years into their marriage that they probably wouldn't be able to have biological children. "Anyone who has ever received that news knows that it is a devastating blow to your identity and the dreams you have for your future," he said.
"We started by pursuing foster care with the goal of adoption. We became DHS-certified but learned, after months of waiting, that the chances of adopting a newborn were very slim," Myers said. "We are foster care advocates, but at the time we longed to have a newborn baby."
In 2016, Stephen and Jonna were matched to adopt a little boy. The elated couple prepared for the arrival of their new son. They arrived at a hotel near the hospital, ready to take him home, only to learn the birthmother decided to keep the baby.
"A couple of weeks later, we got another phone call saying we were selected by a new birth mother who was going to have a little girl," Myers recounted. "When Lydia came into our lives, we gained perspective. Though painful, the years of trying and failing to get pregnant and the failed adoption we experienced were all a part of God's sovereign plan for our family. If we were able to have children biologically and if we were able to adopt that little boy, we wouldn't have Lydia Faith. Grace, grace, God's grace."
"Soon afterward we became certified," Giblet said, "and our first foster care children came to our home," a brother and a sister, ages 4 and 2. "They were physically and emotionally neglected. They came to our house with a few belongings in a Walmart sack and needing a bath. They were only with us a short time before they moved on to a home that was excitedly ready to adopt them. That was in 2014. There is rarely a day I don't think about those two precious babies," he said.
The couple continued fostering other children who moved on to live with other families. "Then in November of 2015, a skinny, crazy-haired little boy named Demetri came into our home at 3 in the morning," Giblet said. "This began a slow, hard process that left us heartbroken on multiple occasions, as he would go back to his mother, only to return to us a few short months later.
"Jessica and I prayed often for Demtri's mother," Giblet said. "We never prayed for her to fail, even though we desperately wanted Demetri back in our home. But we prayed a very specific prayer, and it was in August of 2017 that Demetri's mother called and repeated my private prayer back to me almost word for word and told us that she loved her son dearly, but she knew we did too, and she wanted to relinquish her rights and for us to adopt him.
"This was not expected. It is a sacrifice and gift that my wife and I can never repay to her. On Dec. 1, 2017, Demetri became fully and wholly our son."
Myers and Giblet offer counsel to pastors who wish to cultivate a culture of foster care and adoption in their church. "We talk about foster care and adoption often," Myers said. "We reference adoption in our sermons; we use our own experiences as illustrations to help people see that foster care and adoption are Gospel issues. We pray for orphans. We partner with organizations to help provide foster kids and families with things they need."
For information from the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma about how to implement a culture of foster care and adoption in your church, visit www.bgco.org/foster. For information from Southern Baptists' Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, go to www.erlc.com and enter search terms "foster care" and "adoption."