Janina DeHart woke suddenly. The dream that pulled her from her night’s sleep gripped her heart.
“I dreamed that we adopted two boys,” Janina recalls. “The dream was our celebration party welcoming them to our family.”
Janina and her husband, Mark, were unable to have children. They had discussed the idea of adoption before, but it never went further. The couple believed that Janina’s dream wasn’t simply coincidence––it was providence.
“I knew by putting our faith in God that He was going to open doors, and of course, He did,” Mark divulges.
As “preachers’ kids,” Mark and Janina are familiar with Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) ministry that provides compassionate, cottage homes for boys and girls. However, they did not realize BCH now offered Family Foster Care where couples can be trained and licensed to be foster families.
When Janina learned this information from a co-worker, they set up a meeting with BCH staff and began the process to fulfill their dream.
The DeHarts weren’t the only ones with a dream. Brothers Nathen and Tylor, who were previously homeless and living in a tent with their mother, longed for a family. They had been removed from their mother’s custody and came to live at Drake Cottage in Franklin. The siblings gained a family through their cottage parents, Scott and Connie Cummings and John and Glenda Mercer, as well as the other boys in the cottage.
“Our cottage parents were able to provide for us, and we didn’t have to worry about not being able to eat and not being able to do things,” Nathen explains.
“We had a shower instead of having to bathe in a creek,” Tylor recalls.
Even though they were receiving the care they needed, the boys still dreamed of living in a permanent home with a mother and a father.
“We never really had a dad because our dads left our mom,” Tylor says. The brothers had the same mother but two different fathers.
After living at BCH for almost a year, the dreams of the DeHarts and the boys began to come together. The staff arranged for Nathen and Tylor to go on a weekend visit with the DeHarts as the couple’s foster care licensing was being completed.
“Here’s these two beautiful kids standing there, both grinning from ear to ear,” Mark remembers. “It’s like I had just become a dad right then.”
The bond between the boys and the couple grew stronger as they spent more time together. It wasn’t long before the DeHarts officially became foster parents to Nathen and Tylor.
“I didn’t know I had that much love in me for somebody that I’ve never known, but I love these boys like they’re my own kids,” Mark adds, his eyes glistening with tears. “I’d do anything for them. I love them to death.”
On October 24, 2019, the two dreams became one as Mark and Janina officially adopted Nathen and Tylor. They celebrated with family, friends, and BCH staff members during an adoption party like the one from Janina’s dream. But this would not be the last celebration to take place during the family’s first year together.
On June 13, 2020, a small group gathered at a picnic shelter by the Tuckasegee River. It was not only Nathen’s 16th birthday, but it was the day the two brothers would be baptized.
“They became Christians after they moved into the Children’s Homes,” Janina shares. “They had experiences that first year they were living at the cottage. Each at different times, the boys made decisions.”
With friends and loved ones watching, Nathen and Tylor were immersed in the river’s flowing waters by a pastor from the family’s church and their adoptive father. Mark embraced his sons as each one emerged from the river. With tears streaming down his face, Mark raised his hand skyward and praised God.
“I’m just glad that God is using me and Janina to help these young boys,” Mark declares. “I want them to grow up in a Godly home to be able to be a witness for Christ. I know they’re going to be; they already are.”
God has changed the lives of Nathen and Tylor and the DeHart family through your gifts to Baptist Children's Homes' Annual Offering. Please give to the offering at www.bchoffering.org/give and encourage your church to collect an offering. Information and resources can be found at www.bchoffering.org
Article by Blake Ragsdale, BCH Director of Communications