Sara and Chad enjoy the beach. Going to the beach for the couple has always just been about getting a few days off from work, packing a bag, and going. But their most recent trip was more of an ordeal.
In the span of just a few years, the duo have gone from thinking about starting a family to adopting and rearing five children ages three to ten. Four of the children are siblings.
“I come from a big family,” Sara begins. “I am the third of four children and when we traveled by car, you had to know how to pack.”
The couple traded their two sedans in for a minivan and a SUV in late 2020. Sara chuckles recounting that Chad had said he would never drive a minivan.
“We are experiencing change at the speed of light,” Chad muses. “Honestly, I’m doing things I never thought about doing. But when God does something, you just hold on for the ride.”
The few bags the duo would have packed now include car seats and boosters for each child, luggage for each child, and various and sundry things that each child insists are necessary for the beach trip.
“We get them buckled and finish packing around the children and that big vehicle is stuffed,” Sara laughs.
Sara and Chad began their journey when a couple from their church, Philadelphia Baptist Church in Marshville, shared how their granddaughter needed a home. The couple turned to the Lord, prayed, and agreed to care for six-month-old Skylar. When the opportunity for the couple to adopt the little girl came, they stepped up.
Only months before Skylar’s adoption was finalized, Sara and Chad were introduced to siblings: JJ age 10, Liam age 9, Kevin age 5, and Leah age 4.
“Our church invited Kevin Qualls to speak one Sunday,” remembers Sara. Qualls directs Christian Adoption Services which is now part of Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH). “Kevin shared about becoming BCH foster parents. We were interested, committed, and began the certification process and training.”
Even though the couple was adopting a child and believed God was opening the door for them to become a foster care family, they did not expect a morning phone call from BCH Family Foster Care Supervisor Gretchen Goers.
“These sweet children were ready for adoption and needed to stay together,” Sara remembers, “Gretchen asked us if we would consider fostering the siblings with the intention to adopt all four.”
It is very difficult to find families who will adopt large sibling groups. Two prior times, adoptions for the children had fallen through.
“I was hesitant,” Chad says. “For Sara, it was immediate. She would have said yes before she hung up the phone. Gretchen told us that she knew the children personally and believed they would be a great match. We told her we would call her back.”
Sara and Chad reached out to their families. They knew they would need their support for such an undertaking. The families affirmed the decision. A second long phone call with Gretchen answered many of Chad’s questions. The couple prayed earnestly that afternoon and before the sun set, they called back.
“We believed it was meant to be,” Chad says. “When you know something is God ordained, you can be confident that everything else will work out.”
Unlike Skylar’s private adoption which was a lengthy two and a half year process, the sibling’s parental rights had been voluntarily terminated and could be immediately adopted. The siblings became a part of Sara and Chad’s growing family on August 15, 2020. The children’s adoptions were finalized in December.
“It’s amazing how quickly we have become a family,” Sara says. “JJ has put Skylar under his wing like his other younger siblings. Sometimes, she would rather him tuck her in bed at night than one of us.”
Sara and Chad are often asked how they do it. Both admit that every day comes with challenges, but they agree it is worth it.
“No matter what,” Sara says, “you love on them. That’s what they need––and want the most. They need to know they are loved.”
To learn more about how BCH can help churches and couples offer support, community, and Christian homes to children, visit the Foster and Adopt website at www.bchfosteradopt.org.
By Jim Edminson, Editor of Charity & Children