Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) is adding a key --- and historic --- component to its already comprehensive array of services to children and families. The 135-year-old nonprofit is assuming ownership of Christian Adoption Services (CAS) giving BCH the ability to aid families with domestic and international adoptions. The Boards of Trustees for both entities approved the acquisition during their September meetings.
“This is an extraordinary way for Baptist Children’s Homes to celebrate its 135th anniversary,” says Michael C. Blackwell, who has served as BCH President/CEO since 1983. “Now more than ever, boys and girls need to be cared for by dedicated families who can give them the love and protection they deserve. Bringing in the proven expertise of Christian Adoption Services expands our ability to offer children hope.”
BCH and CAS were already working together through an official partnership that was established in July 2019. That relationship allowed the two organizations to refer families to one another in their areas of expertise: BCH with foster care and CAS with adoption. According to Kevin Qualls, CAS President, this move is a natural step forward.
“We have been able to help children in ways that would have been impossible without this partnership so we are excited as we enter this bold, new chapter,” he shares. “Our goals and the passion we share for serving children and families align perfectly with one another.”
Qualls served for 22 years in church ministry, in both North and South Carolina. He was the Next Generations Pastor at First Baptist Church in Charlotte for four years before joining CAS in March 2016. Qualls will stay on in a major leadership position with BCH and continue to oversee the adoption services.
“The acquisition makes perfect sense,” Qualls continues, “and the winners are the North Carolina and South Carolina children we will be able to serve by bringing our resources together.”
BCH operates locations throughout North Carolina as well as two cottages for orphans in Guatemala with a third one under construction. Because of the acquisition, BCH now has a presence in South Carolina through the CAS office in Spartanburg.
“As we expand our presence, we strengthen the overall scope for BCH’s mission of ‘sharing hope...changing lives’,” Blackwell emphasizes. “Bringing in the ability to handle adoptions adds an essential service to our continuum of care for children who need Christian families and stable homes.”
From its beginnings in 1885, BCH has offered safe, family-style homes for children in cottages where child care workers meet around-the-clock daily needs. Many of the children BCH serves come from situations of abuse and neglect where the Departments of Social Services have assumed custody. In 2018 alone, more than 16,500 children were removed from their homes by Social Services.
A few years ago, Blackwell and Keith Henry, BCH Chief Operating Officer, added Family Foster Care as a complement to its Cottage Care program. Currently, BCH has 85 family foster care homes throughout North Carolina.
“As the needs of children and families continued to evolve and increase, especially because of the opioid crisis in our state and nation, we recognized the importance of offering additional options of care -- options to best respond to a child’s specific needs,” Henry explains. “Introducing Family Foster Care was one of those key resources. Adding Adoption Services is the other.”
As the number of children in state’s custody has steadily increased throughout time, quality placement options have been stretched thin.
“As an accredited organization, we are committed to not only providing multiple placement options but ones that are vetted using the highest possible standards,” Henry says. “This is important for the child’s well-being first and foremost, but this also helps us provide the best resources to an overwhelmed child welfare system.”
BCH is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) which uses a peer-based assessment system to promote best practice standards. In 2019, BCH scored a perfect rating on 99.99% of the 1,084 standards that were evaluated by the COA review team. CAS is accredited by the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Approval and has placed over 2,000 children in Christian homes in its 41 year history.
“We believe in offering nothing less than the highest quality of services,” Henry says. “We are taking that standard to an even greater level through this expansion of BCH’s Family Foster Care/Adoption Services program. We are adding Christian Adoption Services’ strong foundation of quality services to our own.”
Together, BCH and CAS have almost 176 years of experience in providing compassionate services to bring help, hope and healing to vulnerable children.
CAS was founded in 1979 as a result of the success that Doris Woodward, who established the adoption organization with husband Jim, had in facilitating adoptions from her native country of El Salvador. When the organization’s office moved to North Carolina from Maine in 1989, a counseling program evolved in response to pregnant women who were exploring the option of adoption. CAS is headquartered in Indian Trail and has offices in Thomasville, Rocky Mount and Spartanburg, SC.
Baptist Children's Homes was "founded on faith" in 1885 by John Haymes Mills, who also established the Oxford Orphanage (now known as the Masonic Home for Children). BCH oversees a variety of services for children, families, intellectually/developmentally disabled adults, and aging adults throughout North Carolina as well as orphans in Guatemala. BCH’s administrative offices are located in Thomasville at its oldest campus. In acquiring CAS, BCH now operates in 29 locations throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Guatemala.
“As we go through the acquisition’s transitional process and begin to map out an exciting path forward, we do so in a spirit of confidence and expectation,," says Blackwell. “The world around us is ever-changing and can be filled with uncertainty for the youngest and most vulnerable members of society. In the midst of it all, BCH remains a lighthouse -- a beacon of hope -- that now shines brighter than ever before because of this historic new endeavor.”
By Blake Ragsdale, BCH Director of Communications