By Julie Cupples, LBCH Communications
ALEXANDRIA – Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home & Family Ministries partnered with Louisiana Family Forum and Calvary Baptist Church in Alexandria to host the inaugural 127 Foster and Adoption Conference on Saturday, Nov. 16.
Over 150 enthusiastic participants included current foster and adoptive parents, families interested in foster care and adoption, and pastors and church ministry leaders wanting to learn about orphan care ministries.
The general session began with a warm welcome from Dr. Perry Hancock, President of the Children’s Home.
Hancock pointed the conference attendees to James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans… in their distress…”
Hancock reminded the audience that even though everyone is not called to be a foster parent, all Christians are called to care for orphans.
Louisiana Family Forum President Gene Mills shared the story of Davion Only, a child in foster care who asked a local church congregation to help him find a forever family. Mills told the general session audience that there are currently 287 children in Louisiana foster care, like Davion, in need of an adoptive family.
The conference featured keynote speaker, Bruce Kendrick, a foster-adoptive dad from McKinney, Texas, and Director of Embrace Texas, a ministry that equips churches to reclaim the care of the orphan and waiting children.
Bruce and his wife, Denise, have four biological children and five children they have adopted domestically, internationally, and through foster care, ranging in ages from infant to 21 years.
Kendrick encouraged attendees through sharing his family’s foster and adoption story and by emphasizing the positive impact the local church has had in helping them implement James 1:27.
Devona Able, a foster and adoptive mom attending the conference, stated, “My husband and I needed this. It normalized our struggle. I was feeling like we had failed because it’s still hard. We haven’t failed. It’s just hard. Thank you!”
In addition to the two general sessions, participants chose two breakout sessions to attend that included: Introduction to Human Trafficking and Children at Risk, Helping Hurting Children through Grief and Loss, Keeping Your Foster/Adoptive Child’s Story Sacred, Biblical and Theological Foundations for Adoption, Foster and Adoption Orientation, Addressing Issues of Trauma with Children, Behavior Management Techniques that Work, Establishing Church Ministries, Foster Parenting 101, and Working with Birth Parents.
The conference was free, provided child care for children birth to age 12, and offered four training hours for certified foster parents. Volunteers helped to facilitate the event, including Louisiana College students majoring in criminal justice and social work and WMU members from Calvary Baptist Church and other local churches.
K. B. Thomas, an adoptive mother waiting to bring her daughter home from Africa, shared, “With this major life change drawing near, I came expecting to learn so much at the conference and was not disappointed. What I didn’t expect is how encouraged I would leave just from being with other parents in Louisiana who share the same passion and have gone through similar struggles. The fellowship and relationships built at this conference were invaluable.”
Joe Garner, pastor at Northside Baptist Church in Lafayette and certified foster parent, stated, “The 127 Foster and Adoption Conference was a valuable experience for our foster families who attended. Not only did it provide us with some practical training and encouragement for the trials of foster and adoption care, but our people were able to connect and fellowship with others throughout the state who have a similar calling. This kind of equipping and encouragement is invaluable to anyone involved in orphan care.”
Louisiana Baptist Foster & Adoption Network, a ministry of Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home, is committed to helping local churches begin orphan care ministries.
If you are interested in foster care, adoption, or orphan care ministries, please contact Beth Green at 318.343.2244 or firstname.lastname@example.org in north Louisiana, Alice’ Harper at 318.664.5361 or email@example.com in central Louisiana, or Courtney Eichelberger at 225.454.4648 or firstname.lastname@example.org in south Louisiana.