Saturday, December 4, 2010

How Can the Church Help? Part 3: Willing to Change.

This is a continuation of a post I started in September entitled "How Can the Church Help?"

I believe that Michael Monroe is correct in his assertion that the church must do five things in order to become safe places for adoptive families: Become Missional, Become Open and Willing to Learn, Become Honest and Prepared to Get Messy, Become Willing to Change, Become Committed for the Long Haul.*

In this post I want to look at "Become Willing to Change." For those that celebrate Advent, we know this is a time of preparation, hope, and expectation. A prominent figure in the first Advent was John the Baptist. John was "a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'" (Matt. 3:3) It was his job to help the people prepare themselves for the coming of Christ. How were they to prepare? John's answer was, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt. 3:2) Repent is not a word we use often today. In Greek this word is "metanoeo" which means to change one's mind or purpose.

The Kingdom was near because the King was near. With Christ coming into the world things were changing. God's people needed to change in light of the coming kingdom. Repentance is God's way of creating a favorable environment for His Spirit to work in our lives. Those that were committed to this type of change received John's baptism of repentance and prepared to live in the Light of the Kingdom of God.

What changes do our churches need to make to fulfill God's plan to look after orphans and widows in their distress? Remember this isn't some add-on. James says that if our religion (worship of God) is to be pure and undefiled we will do this. This may call some of us to radically realign our thinking, plans, purposes, and practices. Churches that are willing to change "will serve as an integral part of the visible Gospel being lived out in the lives of countless adoptive and foster families, all for the glory of God."**

* Monroe, Michael accessed February 6, 2010

** Ibid

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adoption Month Guest Blogger: Beth Jones

November is Adoption Month. To honor those who have followed God’s leading to adopt, our post features part of our friends’ story. Darin Jones is a medical device sales representative with Neomend, Inc. He enjoys running, music, and working around the small farm they live on in central Illinois. Elizabeth (Beth) Jones is currently a teacher at Crossroads High School in Tiskilwa, IL. She enjoys teaching, running, music, and playing board games. Together they compete in road races and triathlons. They have 3 teenage daughters and 2 adopted sons.

Another Kind of Marathon

IT'S A BOY...or to be more accurate...IT'S TWO BOYS!!!!

In early December of 2007 my husband, Darin, and I were each in our own vehicles driving to separate commitments. It was a Saturday morning. As is my habit when I'm driving I turned on the Christian radio station and the weekend top 20 countdown was on. After a few minutes they featured an interview with Steven Curtis Chapman. He was talking about a song titled "Crazy" on his new album. When the interviewer asked what inspired that song, Chapman replied that his house was a little crazy right now because he had 3 older boys and they had recently adopted 3 younger girls. I thought, "He must be crazy!" Then I felt a tug on my heart for orphaned children. I passed this off as early symptoms of "Empty Nest Syndrome" and thought nothing else about it for the rest of the day.

Later that evening my husband says to me, "I heard an interesting interview on the radio this morning..." I instantly knew what he was referring to even though he VERY RARELY turns on Christian radio preferring to listen to his own cd's or talk radio. We talked about adoption in general for a few minutes, mentioned that our stage in life with 3 teen age daughters was kind of nice because we had so much more time for ourselves, and didn't speak about it again for a couple of months.

During those couple of months which were very busy with Christmas, New Year's, etc the subject of adoption kept coming up from random places. We'd drive by a billboard on the highway, hear an ad on the radio, see an article in a magazine, read a passage in the Bible, even notice the "adopt-a-highway" signs along the road.

Then in February 2008 we received an email from Darin's aunt who lives in South Dakota. It told the story of how she had received a wrong number call on her cell phone a few days before. Being Norwegian, she struck up a conversation with this perfect stranger in Arizona. She asked the woman who she was trying to reach and why. The woman said that she was trying to contact a friend of hers to ask for prayer for a 10-year-old boy named Michael. This little boy had been adopted at the age of 3 and had formed no significant bonds with his adopted family and was up for adoption again. Darin's aunt promised to pray for Michael and spread the word to others that she knew would pray for him as well. As Darin and I read this our hearts were stirred. We weren't sure what we should do. We prayed about it and felt that we should get some more information. Maybe God planned to bring this boy into our family. So with shaky hands and a quivering voice I called the adoption agency just to inquire, no commitments. I spoke with a woman named Leslie who told me that there was already a family committed to adopting Michael, but they had other waiting children if we were interested. Were we interested? I wasn't sure. I told her that we might be, but that at this point we were only gathering information. She asked what country we would like to adopt from. I said that we had been on several missions trips to Central America and were captivated by the big brown eyes of those beautiful children. She told me that they had a program in Colombia and asked for other particulars. I told her that IF we adopted we would want brothers over the age of five. She took down all of our information and promised to call me back.

The next day I was on the train to downtown Chicago to spend the weekend with Darin at a trade convention he was working. She gave me the names and brief information of two brothers, ages 5 and 11 from Colombia. Tears came to my eyes as I started thinking about the possibility of adding these two little boys to our family. Tears are streaming down my face even now as I remember that conversation and how it started our adoption journey.


Darin, Beth, and their three daughters, Alexandra, Miranda, and Sydney, traveled to Colombia in May 2009
to bring home Mauricio and Miguel. To read the rest of their story, visit their blog at

Sunday, October 17, 2010

She's the One

Last month I wrote a blog post entitled “Puzzling.” In that post, I explained that our adoption agency denied our application after we had sunk over $4500 and five months of our life into the process. Emotionally, I was a wreck. I walked away.

After a few days of reprieve, the logical side of my brain kicked in. (Poor Don. I really don’t know how he handled this news or his whacko wife.) I wasn’t ready to move forward, but I needed to know how long our paperwork would be good and what our alternatives were (since adopting from Russia was out of the question).

Making the decision to adopt is the easiest part of the process. Once our options opened up, it became more confusing. Domestic vs. International. Asia, Africa, Europe or Latin America. I expended several weeks talking with friends who had adopted and researching different countries on the internet. Each had its own pros and cons. I considered cost, wait time, travel time, whether the children were in orphanages or foster care, what medical conditions each country dealt with, which countries had girls, which countries had toddlers, etc. I spent my days investigating and my evenings describing my findings to Don.

Late one evening, Don and I hovered over the desktop computer in our basement. Several hours into that evening’s quest, we were still debating which country to pursue. We typed in a search for Guatemalan orphans. A picture of the cutest girl, about three years old with pigtails, drinking out of a straw at a McDonald’s popped up. She was an absolute doll. I flatly stated, “That’s it - she’s the one,” promptly shut down the computer, and went to bed.

Don and I didn’t talk about adopting for a few days, but when I broached the subject again, we learned we had each been praying for that little girl. So I took a deep breath and called the adoption agency listed next to her picture. I was still a bit wary, but the Director helped me feel comfortable with her services. She read our home study and found nothing to prohibit us from adopting. I guess I finally asked about that little girl enough. She said to me on a Wednesday, “It sounds as if you are serious about her. Let me verify she is available for you to meet.” She called back Thursday and asked how quickly we could fly to Guatemala. We left Sunday. I didn’t sleep for three days.

Through all this, I blindly followed God. I put one cautious step in front of the other not knowing the final destination. Can you describe a time in your life in which you blindly followed God?

For His Glory,
Barb :-)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

How Can the Church Help? Part 2: The Missional Church

For the church to help those who answer God's call to adoption, she must be missional. A missional church has been defined as "an authentic community of faith that primarily directs its ministry focus outward toward the context in which it is located and to the broader world beyond."*  Michael Monroe suggests "the term also clearly emphasizes a need to become intentional and focused in communicating and living out a message of hope and love."** Furthermore he adds, "Churches that are missional as it relates to adoption and foster care reach out to adoptive and foster families. They must determine to become intentional and focused about living out the heart of God for the orphan and loving and serving families who faithfully respond by adopting or fostering."** Adoption reflects God‘s heart and missional purposes in the world.  In James 1:27 we are told, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." With this being central to God's heart, adoption and orphan care is in the very DNA of the church.

As an expression of our DNA, the church must move from thinking of adoption and orphan care in terms of private callings of individuals to becoming an integral part of  the local church's mission, vision, and purposes. When we think of adoption as Christians we must not only think about individuals or individual families. This is sometimes an overall fault within the evangelical church. God has called the church as individuals and collectively to "Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow"(Isaiah 1:17).  Jason Kovacs suggests, "All our orphan care and adoption efforts ought to be done as God's community (the church) on mission in this world by the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot care for the fatherless as effectively alone as we can in community. We can do more for God's glory and the good of the fatherless as the body of Christ, with all its parts working and serving in the power of the Spirit, together".*** The church's attitude is reflected in the church's education, budget, and practices.  We are not all called to adopt, but we are all called to fulfill God's purposes.

If the church is going to fulfill its missional purpose in the world, it has to be a learning church. The church that is willing to learn is going to be more effective in reaching out to all types of families. Additionally, the church will better enable its own people to express their desires to be missional through adoption. Churches need to become educated on issues that face foster and adoptive parents. This begins by understanding our own adoption into the family of God.

What is your church doing to care for orphans?  What has been helpful to you?  What can we do differently or better?

By God's Grace,

*Ronald Carlson
***Jason Kovacs, Glorifying the Father of the Fatherless: How Families Can Change the World for the Glory of God and the Good of Orphans. Together For adoption e-book. 18

Friday, October 1, 2010

One Less

I was planning on posting part two of my last blog today until I came across this video. Thank you Kirsten and Diana.

Because of Christ,

One Less by Matthew West (The Story Behind The Song) from emicmg on Vimeo.

Below is a video of West's song. Someone added pictures to tell his/her story.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How Can the Church Help? Part 1

In a 2002 nationwide survey commissioned by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption reported that “When asked ‘where would you turn for information or advice about how to adopt,’ 52% of married couples indicated they would turn to their local church.” While churches were viewed as good sources before adoption, “The same survey showed that post adoption people were nearly twice as likely to turn to their local bookstore (20.5%) as they were to their pastor or local church (11%) for support or help in dealing with post-adoption issues.”* The explanation for this discrepancy is that high percentage did not feel as though the church was helpful to their needs. In fact, they did not see the church as a “safe place” for their families. Ministry leader Michael Monroe put it this way:

I believe that adoptive and foster families are making it clear – they are saying that far too often our local churches are not “safe” places for them – or at least not as “safe” as they can and should be. The unavoidable reality is that many families have responded in faith by pursuing adoption or foster care, sometimes against all odds and in the face of significant and daunting challenges. Simply put, these families have refused to “play it safe.” They’ve said “Yes!” to the lifelong journey of adoption or foster care . . . and I believe that our churches must in turn discover how to honor these responses of faith, obedience and courage by becoming communities that openly welcome, truly understand and fully embrace adoptive and foster families.*

Monroe suggested that the church must do five things in order to become safe places for adoptive families: Become Missional, Become Open and Willing to Learn, Become Honest and Prepared to Get Messy, Become Willing to Change, Become Committed for the Long Haul.

For those of you who have adopted or are seeking to adopt:  How has your local church family supported you?  What do you wish church leaders knew about adoption?

*Monroe, Michael  accessed February 6, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Just as I began to warm up to the idea of adopting, we received the first of many blows.

When adopting, there are two major phases of paperwork. The first is the home study (which must be in-state). The second is through the adoption agency which will match you with a child. There are various stages within each phase, but I will spare you the details (of which I don’t remember now anyway). It is not necessary to have two agencies, but we did because the adoption agency we chose was out-of-state. However, we worked with both from the beginning (Sept. 2005). We completed the requirements for the out-of-state agency. We submitted mounds of paperwork (remember the six page checklist from my previous post), read books, sent income statements, and spoke with a representative several times. However, they could not officially approve us until the home study was complete. But, by this point, I figured that was a technicality.

I was wrong! Our home study was finished in Jan. 2006, and in Feb. the out-of-state agency denied us for financial reasons. Baffled does not describe how we felt. The incident was strange and unsettling. We knew their requirements and easily met them. Three phone calls later, I was still clueless. They would not budge.

Why bring this up? One, you may be able to relate somehow to this story, if not through adopting, then some other odd occurrence in your lifetime. Two, because that’s the way life is sometimes. Unexplainable. Puzzling. Bizarre. But, then, I suppose if we could explain everything we wouldn’t need faith. And this brought us to our knees.

We began to question the initial call to adopt. Had we heard God correctly? Or could I use this as an excuse to escape? (Yes, a tiny part of me hoped God had just been testing us and was now relieving us of the responsibility.) We had lots of questions and no answers. It was as if we were attempting to put a puzzle together without all of the pieces. After a few days, I threw my hands up in surrender. Lord, I don’t understand. I don’t think I ever will. But, I know that you are bigger than all of this and you are in control. I trust you.

With that, I decided to take an emotional break – and walked away.

Have you ever been in circumstances that required you to blindly trust God?
Can you relate to the need for an emotional break from a troubling situation?

For His Glory!

Monday, August 30, 2010

I Love Adoption

I recently clicked on the “like” button for a Facebook group called “I Love Adoption.” I have discovered that several of the other members do not love adoption. In fact they loathe adoption. Most of these women had a negative adoption experience. Throughout the page these ladies mock and ridicule those who believe that adoption is a good thing. I know this from a first-hand experience of being mocked. To their defense, I will say some of their arguments point out legitimate and sometimes horrific failures of systems and people. Additionally, they remind us that the adopted child has often faced incredible losses and pain in life. Dr. Sherrie Eldridge, herself an adopted child and now a psychologist working in the field, has written:

As with most everything in life, adoption has positive and negative elements. None of us wants to acknowledge the negative, painful side-that is, loss. But the truth is, the very act of adoption is built upon loss. For the birth parents, the loss of their biological offspring, the relationship that could have been, a very part of themselves. For the adoptive parents, the loss of giving birth to a biological child, the child whose face will never mirror theirs. And for the adopted child, the loss of the birth parents, the earliest experience of belonging and acceptance. To deny adoption loss is to deny the emotional reality of everyone involved.[1]

How can I love adoption? Sin is the cause of pain and loss, not adoption. I am not suggesting there are certain people who are more sinful than others. What I am suggesting is that when sin entered into the world it affected the entire created order. We live in a fallen world. In a fallen world we have sin, death, and separation. Sin wages war against the very fabric of community. The family is just another casualty of this unrelenting enemy. When these ladies stand against sin they are in agreement with God. God is for truth and justice. God is for families staying together. But, God is also a master of bringing hope when it appears hope is gone. Sometimes God brings hope through adoption. I love adoption like I love redemption. Redemption is not necessary in a perfect world. I hate the sin in my life and in the world that made God’s loving redemption my only hope. But, I love God and His redemption. And I Love Adoption.

Because of Christ, Don

1.Eldridge, Sherrie Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wished Their Adopted Parents Knew (NY Dell Publishing, 1999), 4-5

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Drowning in Paperwork

One of the purposes of our blog is to talk about real every day issues surrounding adopting. One of those issues is paperwork. For two and one-half years it felt as if the nitty-gritty details of trying to bring home our child was a full-time job. I spent many hours, sometimes daily, trying to find the right information to put in the right blank to avoid the hassle of extra work or delays. I repeatedly wondered why anyone would put themselves through this grueling task just to abuse the child he/she worked so hard to bring home. (This thought was partly prompted by the news headlines highlighting so many horrible adoption stories.)

As soon as Don came home from Russia with the news God said, “Adopt,” I got busy. I figured the sooner we started, the sooner we could move on with it. I still wasn’t fond of the idea, but was resigned to the fact that it was going to happen. I don’t mean to sound callous, but my fear was more tangible than my faith. And the more I read, the more fearful I became.

Without going into lots of boring details on “how to” adopt, I’ll tell you that because the original adoption agency we chose was out-of-state, we also needed an in-state agency to complete our home study. Between the two, we were required to complete numerous applications and read several books, as well as attend seminars and interviews. One six-page document asked which physical and/or mental disease or problems we would accept in a child. It presented a checklist. Club feet, yes or no. Cleft palate, yes or no. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, yes or no. Six pages! I scheduled an appointment with our physician just to find out what many of the terms listed on those pages meant. He may have wondered why this crazy lady with the deer-in-the-headlights look on her face ever considered this venture. It was apparent I was in over my head.

And, that’s exactly how I perceived myself - drowning without a life preserver. With each seminar I attended and each book I read, I felt less and less adequate. Add to that the guilt associated with picking and choosing what type of child we would accept. The weight of that decision was heavy. This was a privilege most aren’t offered and I didn’t want to “throw out” a child God intended us to parent. So, we prayed and we said “yes” to each illness or negative situation we felt God would equip us for. And, for each “no” checked, I prayed someone else would check “yes.”

Thankfully, the rest of our home life was running smoothly. When I lifted my head out of the water to look around, it was reassuring to see my two sixth graders keeping up with their school work and my preschooler doing well. But, I still couldn’t quite see how a little girl would fit into the equation. I tried to wrap my mind around having another child in our home. I tried to visualize a daughter. A girl! I began to walk around the house wondering where she would sleep and where we would put her toys, etc.

Then one day, it happened. I was walking down the street holding Kenneth’s hand and I stuck out my other hand for . . . My heart sunk. Someone was missing. I realized it was my daughter. I was trying to grab her hand, but she wasn’t there . . . yet. However, hope emerged. The fear still existed, but there was a glimmer of hope.

For His Glory!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Name and a Promise (Part 3 of 3): Guest Blogger Diana DePriest

It was 4 am on a Monday morning that I was awakened out of sleep to a ringing phone. The baby wasn’t due for another week, and we were still waiting on the DOJ to straighten out the fingerprint issue. As I aroused to consciousness I remember uttering, “No, no, no, it’s too soon, we’re not ready!” But it didn’t matter that we weren’t ready, G’s water had broken and there was no putting it off, Ethan was on his way.

I spent that day making arrangements. I had to get flights for Neal and I to Shawnee where E was to be born. We had to pack Jake and get him ready for Grandma’s house. I wasn’t even out of my pajamas yet when the phone rang again just after noon pacific time. The baby was here, it was a boy! Ethan was born.

Jake home on a school holiday was the first person I told, we danced and shouted and celebrated he was a big brother. Neal came home and we headed off on to the airport. After we landed we got a rental car and drove more than an hour to the hospital. We made it to the hospital just around midnight.

Ethan had a few health problems at birth, a couple of deformities we were made aware of that first night. And he had a skin condition that had the hospital staff on edge. I will tell you the truth, when we saw him for the first time that night he was a little bit of a mess. G was frightened with his challenges we might change our minds. To be honest the thought never ever crossed our minds. God had brought him to us, God had given us his name. Who were we to question the process?

The hospital was so accommodating, they settled Neal and I into a private room with the baby who hadn’t even bothered to wake to greet us. Exhausted from the long day Neal and I each lay down in separate hospital beds and fell fast asleep. It was some time later that I was awakened by the most pitiful little cry. Fumbling in the dark I made my way over to him and lifted him in my arms. It was the moment the crime was committed. Right then and there Ethan stole my heart. Broken, beat up and needy, and I would have done anything for him. He was my son, and I was in love.
“Hello Ethan,” I told him, “I love you.’ And I surely did. It was that love, and my faith in my God that would lead me through the next three years. I didn’t know it at the time but the road ahead of us was long and difficult. But before the journey began, there I met my most precious traveling companion, and he had met me, his mom.

Diana DePriest is wife for nearly 20 years to Neal, and mom to Jacob, 16, Ethan, 9, and Victoria, 8. Since giving her life to Christ in 1992, she has served in various ministries, including pro-life, post-abortion, women’s and youth ministries. With a passion for the Lord and her gift in writing she has been an avid blogger since 2008 when she felt the Lord called her to it as a new avenue of ministry. She writes regularly about her faith ( and her family (

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Name and a Promise (Part 2 of 3): Guest Blogger Diana DePriest

We started talking about names for our unborn baby. I learned a long time ago, that biblically speaking the meaning of names was very important. Since I had somewhat failed in naming my firstborn “the deceiver” because I wasn’t aware of it, I didn’t want to leave my second child in the lurch too. (No worries about our oldest, his middle name means “God is my Judge” so in the big picture, it all panned out.)
We quickly decided that if the baby was a girl, we would name her after my cousin, who has a beautiful name that she’s never used. She’s gone by a cute nickname since she was in the bassinet and although I am not a huge fan of naming people after family members (I am named after two, and the one I share my first name with always seemed sort of annoyed about it.) But for an adopted child I thought it might be nice to bestow a family name. But I wanted to make sure it had a good meaning as well.

I always knew I liked the name “Elijah” if I had another boy, but I had no idea what it meant. So I sat down at my desk at work and brought up a website on baby names. As I clicked through links, finally a page of boy names starting with the letter “E” began to scroll down the page. As I skimmed the column on the left, a name on the right jumped out at me. Now, this may sound a little unbelievable, but “jumped out” is actually sort of an understatement. In my memory it was more like it floated out into 3-D with neon arrows pointing at it from every direction. Truth be told I had never heard the name before and I sat at my desk and read it out loud.

“Ethan.” I said.

And then, “Ethan Mitchell DePriest.” It flowed off my tongue like it was meant to be. In the moment that I said it, I knew the baby we were waiting for was a baby, and I knew that was his name. It was one of those supernatural moments. God was with me and speaking and I had heard Him, so I ran downstairs to tell Neal.

“Honey,” I said, “the Lord just gave me the baby’s name. It’s Ethan Mitchell, I know he’s going to be a boy.”

Neal true to form looked at me and smiled, “OK,” he said, because he never really questioned me when I told him I felt I had heard from God. “What does it mean?”

And that was the really cool part, on the page that I first saw the name, the definition was listed as “Permanent.” How cool is that? Our adopted son, permanently ours. And Mitchell, my grandmother’s maiden name, a family name for our adopted child means, “Who is like God.” I loved it! Still do.

A couple nights later I got my regular call from G. That night she wanted to talk about baby names, she was curious if we had made any decisions. Knowing her faith and her understanding of God was different than ours, I didn’t want to freak her out by telling her God had given me the baby’s name and that I already knew it was a boy.

So I told her the choice for the girl name (Adriana Yvonne, in case you’re wondering.) And she told me it was pretty. Then I told her the boy name, “Ethan Mitchell.” After I said the name G got really quiet on the other end of the phone. Really quiet, uncomfortably quiet. Finally, I asked her, “Do you hate it?” And then I held my breath.

Her answer came slowly, “No,” she said, “I don’t hate it at all, if I had kept him, I was going to name him Ethan Michael.”

I felt the Holy Spirit fall. It was absolute confirmation. As it happens, Mitchell and Michael mean the same thing and come from the same root. God had put this little boys name in both our hearts.

“Permanent.” I didn’t know it at the time, but it was more than an encouragement, it was a promise. It was a promise we would hold to for more than the next three years. It would be my prayer more times than I care to recall, “Lord, You gave me his name, You told me he was permanent.”

Diana DePriest is wife for nearly 20 years to Neal, and mom to Jacob, 16, Ethan, 9, and Victoria, 8. Since giving her life to Christ in 1992, she has served in various ministries, including pro-life, post-abortion, women’s and youth ministries. With a passion for the Lord and her gift in writing she has been an avid blogger since 2008 when she felt the Lord called her to it as a new avenue of ministry. She writes regularly about her faith ( and her family (

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Name and a Promise (Part 1 of 3): Guest Blogger Diana DePriest

As we sat across from Ethan’s birth mother (who I’ll call “G”) and her mom that December evening, it was almost as though you could hear life clicking into place. She had asked us to parent her unborn child and we had excitedly agreed. We had asked God to drop it in our laps if adoption was our will for us, and He very clearly had.
After G and her mom spent a few more days we said farewell at the airport and hit the ground running. The baby was due in just over 2 months and we had a lot to do.

We had an acquaintance at church who was an adoption attorney. We hired her and she helped us get the adoption ball rolling by finding a Christian agency that we could begin our certification and home study through.

There were so many things to do, fingerprinting and child proofing, we had to get CPR certified and First-Aid trained. We moved the cleaners and locked up the medications. We measured the temperature of the water out of every spigot and made sure nothing was wrapped in foil in our fridge (yes, it was a particular of our agency.)

It was a lot of work but thinks all went pretty smoothly, and we passed all the obstacles quickly, except one. There was a glitch with Neal’s fingerprints. When they sent them off to the Department of Justice, they came back with a hit from circa 1986. To my knowledge Neal had never had any trouble with the law, but the DOJ report refused to clear him.

When I went to Neal, he knew exactly what the hit was for. A dumb kid of 16 with his only real run-in with the law. He was never formally charged with the crime, but as a kid he and his buddy went on a “beer run,” which in layman’s terms means, he shoplifted a six pack. And when the police came after him he and his fellow idiot friend ran from the cops. By the time the policeman caught him he was mad, and he wanted to teach Neal a lesson.

Perhaps a believer in the “scare them straight” mentality the police man decided to teach young Neal a lesson, and put him through the booking process while he waited for his mom to come and pick him up. As part of that process, he fingerprinted Neal and he landed in the system. Of course it was until some 14 years later that any of us had any idea about it.

Perhaps you are thinking, “They are supposed to expunge his records! He was a minor!” Well, that’s what we thought to, but instead they had simply sealed the records, which was a red flag for the DOJ. They could not unseal them to assume our agency he wasn’t a murderer or a child molester, even though he had never even been charged with a crime, much less convicted of one.

So our attorney friend began the process of trying to have the record unsealed and we were assured it would take no time at all to straighten things out. So we just continued to jump through the hoops place before us and waited for the DOJ to catch up.

Diana DePriest is wife for nearly 20 years to Neal, and mom to Jacob, 16, Ethan, 9, and Victoria, 8. Since giving her life to Christ in 1992, she has served in various ministries, including pro-life, post-abortion, women’s and youth ministries. With a passion for the Lord and her gift in writing she has been an avid blogger since 2008 when she felt the Lord called her to it as a new avenue of ministry. She writes regularly about her faith ( and her family (  

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Indian Children in Need of Sponsors

A few years ago I traveled to Southeast India to dedicate a church through Commission and Compassion Ministries. I am grateful I experienced first-hand the work my friend Pastor Bontha is doing through this ministry. Churches are planted, pastors are trained, and children are cared for. Many street children are fed and hear the Gospel on a weekly basis. In addition to this work, he runs an orphanage for boys. At the Mercy Home, the boys are fed three meals a day, have a roof over their heads, hear the Gospel, and attend school.  Most of these children would be homeless and working hard labor if it were not for the love shown  to them at the Mercy Home.

While on this trip I walked along one of the beaches where the tsunami hit that started our adventure with adoption. As I walked the beach, I was reminded of the detruction and the burden that God placed on my heart for orphans.

Below are some recent pictures of the boys at Mercy Home.

The sponsor of one of the boys pictured above has passed away and there is a new boy that has come to live at Mercy Home.  These boys are shown below. Rajkumar, on the left, is 9 years old and in 3rd grade. Rajasekhar, on the right, is 12 years old and in 5th grade.

Both of these boys are in need of sponsors. For $25 a month, you can make sure they have all their basic needs met and are in a Christian environment.  If you want additional information on either of these boys please ask me.  Below is a video of my trip to India.  Hopefully it will help show the ongoing work of Commission and Compassion Ministries.


Saturday, July 31, 2010


When I finally got the two-by-four message from God that He wanted us to adopt, I wouldn’t say that I embraced the idea so much as I was resigned to it - like a fact I read out of a textbook. Don wasn’t convinced yet and I didn’t know the details, but I knew some day there would be another child in our household.

We began our research. This mostly consisted of internet searches. We discovered the Indonesian children orphaned by the tsunamis were not available. However, Don was headed to Russia on a mission trip. So, our assumption was that God wanted us to adopt a Russian child. With that in mind, we kept looking for information.

Our second “discovery” was that there are no cheap adoptions. When this shocker slowly seeped into Don’s brain cells, his wide eyes told it all. “We can’t afford this.” That was his closing statement one day.

We each had our concerns about adopting. Mine centered on the logistics of caring for another child, while Don’s were big picture, mainly monetary. At one point, during a discussion about cost, I told Don, “If God wants us to adopt, He will provide.” And, that is exactly what happened.

Several months later, Don left for Russia. One of his traveling companions was my step-mother, Janice. We had told only a select few about this crazy idea and our parents did not make that short list. However, while traveling, the group visited an orphanage and learned about the Russian orphans. At one point, Janice actually suggested adopting to Don. He told her we were considering it. She offered financial help. Bingo! That piece of the puzzle fell into place.

When Don arrived home, he announced, “We are going to adopt.” My reply: “Can we please get a girl?”

Thought to consider: God is not limited. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) and we have access to Him and, therefore, His resources. Amen!

For His Glory!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Abba! Father!

Galatians 4:4-7 "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'  Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God."
Paul points to our adoption to confront his opposition. He shows that those who claim to be the natural heirs of Abraham and seek to be justified by the law have put themselves in an inferior position. In these verses he contrasts the position of natural heir, which is no better than that of a slave, with the superior position of the adopted son.  God has no biological children. John 1:12-13 "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."  As children of God we have the privilege and the security to approach the creator of the universe as, "Abba! Father!"
In the July edition of Christianity Today, Russel Moore shared a story about the deadening silence he and his wife experienced while visiting their soon to be adopted sons in a Russian Orphanage.  The babies in this orphanage have learned that their cries for food, warmth, touch, and love will go unanswered.  So over time they quit crying. Moore tells how day after day he and his wife would say goodbye to the boys in silence. That is until the last day of this visit. He writes,  "Little Maxim fell back in his crib and let out a guttural yell. It seemed he knew, maybe for the first time, that he would be heard. On some primal level, he knew he had a father and mother now. I will never forget how the hairs on my arms stood up as I heard the yell. I was struck, maybe for the first time, by the force of the Abba cry passages in the New Testament, ones I had memorized in Vacation Bible School." *

How awesome is it that we know our heavenly father hears us?  How awesome is it for a child to know that his parents will hear his cries? Unfortunately, statistics show us that there are over 100 million orphans in the world today. Many of these children do not know the security of knowing their cries for warmth, food, and love will be answered.  "If any group of people should be inclined to visit orphans in their affliction in order that they might remove them from it, it should be those in whose hearts the Spirit has placed the "Abba! Father!" cry. It should be those who, through their adoption as sons in Christ, have the sure hope of final and full deliverance from "the sufferings of this present time" (Romans 8:18). **  We are not all called to adopt, but we are all called to care for the children of the world.  Many of these children live right in our own towns and states. 

How can you be used of God to help these children?



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

All in God's Plan: Guest Blogger Diana DePriest

“Empty arm syndrome” is what I used to call it. Neal and I were the parents of a wonderful 6-year-old little boy, but we just knew our family wasn’t complete. Having our oldest had been difficult, and even after his birth we continued to struggle with infertility, and more miscarriages, but we just knew we weren’t “done,” and wanted to expand our family.

We come from a church where adoption is common. I can think of several good friends there who are also adoptive parents, including our head pastor and his wife. But despite all the exposure to adoption, it was still intimidating to us, but it was something Neal and I both had in our minds, and so we talked about it, it was as though there was a tug at both our hearts.

Maybe it was the long run of adoption nightmare “made for TV” movies that made us really nervous about pursuing the process. I had a background in pro-life ministry and had spent time helping put together books filled with “open adoption” applications. I had seen how couples/ families prepared single page presentations for birth moms in hopes of being chosen to be adoptive parents. I often wondered how they labored to choose the pictures and words they could fit on a single page in hope that a young woman in crisis would choose them to give their unborn child.

Adoption remained a topic of discussion between Neal and I but we struggled to find the courage to jump into the process with both feet. Finally, our prayer to God became, “if this idea is really from You, we need you to make it really clear, undeniably clear. We need you to throw it in our laps. ”

So it was in September of 2000 as I sat in a hot room waiting for Jacob’s piano lesson to end when my cell phone rang. I walked out into the hallway to take the call from my pastor’s wife. With the sound of scales being played in the background, I listened as she told me about a young girl who was in a crisis pregnancy. Not even 21 and a drug addict, she was pregnant with her third child. Her grandmother, who was doing most of the raising of the first two felt she was too old to take on the responsibility of a third. She was determined that this child should have a better life, and she was hoping she could convince her granddaughter to give the baby up for adoption. Pastor Carol told me how she had been praying about the situation and every time she did, Neal and I kept coming to her mind as adoptive parents. She wanted to know, had we ever considered the possibility of adoption?

When I finally got a hold of Neal later that day, we both sort of shrugged our shoulders. A drug baby was certainly not the ideal situation, but we had thrown it up to the Lord, we had asked Him to throw it in our laps if it was His will, and here without ever having made mention to anyone that we were even considering the possibility, we had gotten the call. We knew God’s will didn’t always fit the ideal, but we also know we did not want to say no to God’s will.

So we began to discuss the situation with our families, who quite frankly thought we were nuts at best, and probably foolish to boot. They didn’t think taking on a drug addicted child was a good plan at all. But our heart to obey God outweighed the need for our family’s approval, so we kept talking about it, and waited to hear from our pastor’s wife again with more news.

It was just a couple weeks later when I found myself again listening to our son’s piano lessons as my cell phone rang again. There on the other end of the line was Pastor Carol. She was calling to let me know that despite her grandmother’s best efforts to convince her otherwise, the young woman in the crisis pregnancy was determined not to give this child up for adoption. She just felt it would be too hard and too cruel. I have to say of all the arguments surrounding adoption this one is always the hardest for me to understand. To think it cruel to give up your rights to give your child a better life is an argument I cannot comprehend, but it is also the most difficult mindset to change. So as I listened to Carol, I wondered why our hopes had been risen at all when clearly this child coming into our family was not God’s plan.

As she finished telling me about the girl deciding to keep her baby, she ended her story suddenly with a “but” that I had not expected. “But,” she said, “as it happens I got another call today from my mom. There is a couple in her church whose granddaughter in Oklahoma is pregnant. She doesn’t want to keep the baby but she doesn’t believe in abortion. Would you consider talking to her about adopting your child?”

Unlike the first situation, this baby was not going to be addicted to drugs, the mother of this child was also determined to give her baby life, and she truly did seem to be more concerned about the best interest of the unborn child and not hung up on her own rights to raise him. We had asked God to drop the right situation in our laps, and we were still willing to obey, but when we returned to our families to share with them about this new situation, their hearts were far more open and receptive, and the resistance to us adding to our family in the way of adoption seemed to dissipate.

By late October we began to have contact with the birth mom through letters and emails, by November she and I talked almost daily on the phone, and it was early December 2000 when she and her mother came out to California to meet us face to face for the first time. Her situation was not ideal either, she told us at the time that the baby was the result of a date rape, and much of her extended family did not support her decision to give the baby up, but she was strong.

By the time we sat in a Chinese restaurant just a couple weeks before Christmas with her and her mom, we had already become fully invested in her and her unborn child. As she sat across from us we answered all her questions, told her stories about our life and family. As dinner ended she asked us finally, “Will you be the family for my unborn baby.” We didn’t even take a breath before we answered to tell her how honored we would be. I think that’s the moment we became parents again of our 2nd child.

We had no idea what would lay ahead in the next 3+ years. Our adoption story got very complicated after that night, but we had asked God to show us clearly His will, and we believed completely that he had. It was what we held to over the next 40 months between the night she asked us to take her son in, and the day we signed the papers that declared him completely ours. But we held to the Lord, and to the promises He made to us along the way, and we had at that moment embarked upon one of the most difficult and most amazing seasons in our lives.
This December, 10 years will have passed since that night in the Chinese restaurant, and I cannot begin to express the amazing things we have learned about the Father Heart of God in those years. To experience the miracle of adoption is at times beyond words. Words fall short to express the way God has revealed His heart to us, but also to have had the opportunity in some small way to experience having the very heart of God, is nothing short of a miracle. Becoming an adoptive parent is to get a glimpse of what it is to love another the way the Father first loved us, and to have that opportunity, and to know that truth is worth any challenge it brings along the way

Diana DePriest is wife for nearly 20 years to Neal, and mom to Jacob, 16, Ethan, 9, and Victoria, 8. Since giving her life to Christ in 1992, she has served in various ministries, including pro-life, post-abortion, women’s and youth ministries. With a passion for the Lord and her gift in writing she has been an avid blogger since 2008 when she felt the Lord called her to it as a new avenue of ministry. She writes regularly about her faith (  and her family (

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Home School Convention April 2005 - Part 2

The instructor introduced herself. “After my husband and I finished raising our children, we decided to adopt. We are now home schooling our adopted children.”

My ears perked up. Oh, no. The room disappeared—like a scene from a movie in which everything goes dark except the spotlight centered on the main character. I never heard another word the instructor spoke.

I sensed God’s presence and picked a fight. You do remember who you are talking to? I planned on being a career woman. I wanted TWO children. I am now raising three. And you have me at home with them—home schooling, no less. I am not motherly—that requires warmth, kindness and a caring disposition, of which I possess none. I am a mediocre parent, at best. I barely finish each day with my sanity in tact and the children unscathed.

He couldn’t possibly be talking to me. This was major. A big deal! How can I handle another child? I am already messing up three of them. I went on and on stating my case.

I must have sat in the wrong seat – God was definitely talking to the wrong person. I had received someone else’s message. That must be it!

God did not budge. He listened, but did not change His mind. My rational arguments did not work. He patiently waited while I spilled my guts, but did not give me the out I was looking for. So, after I had exhausted my list of excuses, I gave up and gave in. I took a deep breath, blew it out and said, Lord, I would rather reluctantly stand in the center of Your will than tell You no.

When the session ended, I made a beeline for the ladies room. I locked myself into the handicap stall. I had held back the tears for half an hour, and the dam burst. I sobbed – as quietly as I could so as not to disturb my “neighbors.” What God was asking began to soak in. How did I get to this point? I am content with my three boys. I love my life. And, now I am walking on rocky ground again. As the tears dropped, so did my desires. I loosened my grip on my life and let go of the craving to stay comfortable. I wanted to start this journey with a willing spirit.

I pulled myself together and left the ladies room. When I met up with Don, he said, “Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you.” (This was before we had cell phones.) I stated quickly, “We are going to adopt and I don’t want to talk about it.”

For His Glory!
Barb :-)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Home School Convention April 2005 - Part 1

Don and I sat at an indoor picnic table eating lunch. I watched families peruse the home school booths searching for curriculum. My mind wandered. What booth do I still need to visit? I looked at the hand-written list next to my sandwich. Sonlight. Abeka. Rainbow Resources. What session should I attend next? They had canceled the session I had chosen. I scanned the catalog. None of them looked appealing. Eenie, meenie, minie, mo — math? So be it.

Don started talking. The high convention center ceiling didn’t lend for an intimate conversation, so I leaned in, tuning out the noise of the crowd around us. “Have you thought any more about adopting?”

Gulp. “Uh . . . no.” I thought back to our first discussion four months ago. This topic hadn’t come up since then.

“I think we need to talk about it again,” he stated seriously.

“OK,” I agreed. “What do you think of me attending a session about math?” I asked, deliberately changing the subject.


Before the teaching began, the instructor introduced herself. “After my husband and I finished raising our children, we decided to adopt. We are now raising and home schooling our adopted children.”

We have many divine appointments in our lives. Have you had a divine appointment related to adoption?

For His Glory! Barb :-)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Children Awaiting Families

Here are some photos from the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Missouri Adoption Heart Gallery  I attended  at The Mark Twain Museum. Showcased are photographs of 240 Missouri foster children awaiting adoption. I was delighted to see the ceremony and pray that God will use this event to find homes for the children. My hope is to host a gallery at my church for children in Illinois in the near future.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

God is Radical

What? Who me? You must mean someone else, Lord. This was my reaction when God first stirred our hearts toward adoption. Actually, this was my reaction throughout the adoption process, and still is my reaction, periodically, as I parent our four children.

As most engaged couples do, Don and I discussed children before we were married. We were thirty years old and each had a son. I told Don that I had always wanted two children. He said the same. Two. (Although, I also thought I’d have girls, so I was shocked when I learned I was pregnant with JT. But, that’s a different story.) As our conversation developed, we decided to add one more to our ready-made family.

Kenneth was born two years after we were married. I settled into my role as a home school mom, and later, a pastor’s wife. By the time Kenneth was four, we were cruising along enjoying the rhythm of our lives. My older boys were fairly independent in their school work. And, Kenneth didn’t need round-the-clock attention. I loved our country home, church, and home school friends.

That’s where I was, mentally and physically, when God poked at my heart about adopting (see previous post). Maybe I was too complacent in my relationship with Him. Or maybe it isn’t about me at all. That’s a radical idea. But, isn’t our God a radical God? He calls us to make radical decisions - decisions that others can look at and say, “Only God could do that.” Isn’t that how we reflect His heart?

What radical decision has God asked of you?

For His Glory! Barb :-)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Missouri Heart Gallery Project

The Mark Twain Museum will have a special exhibit from June 30 to July 5th. It is unique in that this exhibit will feature photos and stories about children in foster care. “Their interests are different, but these children all have one thing in common: they reside in foster homes and will never return to their biological parents. They – and more than 2,000 other children like them in Missouri – need ‘forever’ homes.”*

Mixed emotions flowed as I read about this event. My first thoughts and feelings were delight and excitement that the needs of these children are being recognized. Then, as I browsed the pictures, tears rolled down my checks. My heart breaks for God’s precious children who are without families. God has called us to care for widows and orphans. As Christians, we have stood against abortion and proclaimed that there are no unwanted children. Yet, there are thousands in Missouri alone. The Church has a huge task before her. We are not all called to adopt. But, we are all called to do something. I pray that God will use this event to find “forever homes” for these children.

Click here for photos and stories of these children:


Wednesday, June 23, 2010


“Cataclysm – Asia’s wall of water wreaks a disaster of biblical proportions . . .” read the January 15, 2005 issue of World magazine. “On December 26th, 2004,” the article continues:
. . . a 9.0-magnitude earthquake rumbled four miles beneath a Southeast Asian sea, waking a wall of water that within seven hours swept the Indian Ocean from Malaysia to Mombasa; swallowed coastal inhabitants by the tens of thousands, from lowly fishermen to luxury-class beach frolickers; raised the ocean’s table by nearly a foot as far away as San Diego, and – before it ended – caused the very Earth to wobble on its axis, to lose a fraction of a second and to force global positioning satellites into recalibration.*
“Some 230,000 people were killed and the livelihoods of millions were destroyed in over 10 countries.”**

You probably remember the tsunamis hitting Indonesia. Don and I cried and prayed and were convicted to give money as we watched the terror on the news.

The disaster rocked the world – literally. There was an outcry of help for the victims, and the next week, the same magazine reported that over 10,000 children were left orphans as a result of the loss of lives due to the tsunamis.*** That issue also featured an article about a family who had made adoption a way of life. The headline read “Adoption: How one ordinary couple with extraordinary compassion helped build an adoption-friendly church.”**** For the first time, God poked at a place in my heart I didn’t know existed. It was a small poke, but enough to get my attention.

I approached Don. “Hey,” I casually said, “wouldn’t it be neat if we could help out one of these children and adopt them into our home.”

Much to my surprise, he said, “Yeah, it would be.”

A passing thought chalked up to emotions for a group of children turned into one of our most adventurous undertakings.

Have you considered adopting? Are you an adoptive parent? What did God use to “poke” at that place in your heart?

For His Glory! Barb

*Belz, Mindy. “Cataclysm.” WORLD 15 January 2005: 20. Print.
**Shah, Anup. “Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster.” Global Issues, Updated: 07 Jan. 2005. Accessed: 23 Jun. 2010.
***Vincent, Lynn. “Tsunami’s second victims,” WORLD 22 January 2005: 24-25. Print.
****Olasky, Susan. “Leading by example,” WORLD 22 January 2005: 22-23. Print.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father’s Day

As we celebrate and honor fathers, we are compelled to give all praise and thanks to our heavenly Father. Because of Him we are able to cry out, “Abba Father!” (Rom 5:8)

We’ve titled our blog “The Father Heart of God” because adoption reflects God‘s heart and missional purposes in the world. The parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15) is not typically thought of as an adoption story; but, it clearly reveals the Father‘s heart for our adoption. A son walks away from his father‘s love, travels to a far off land, and lives as a Gentile. When he finally comes to his senses, he seeks to return to his father -- not as a son, but a slave. Upon returning, the son confesses his wrong and asks his father to make him as a slave. The Father not only receives him (salvation & justification), but reinstates him as a son (adoption). As Trevor Burke puts it ― “God does not only justify people and then leave them destitute with nowhere to go – he adopts them into the warmth and security of his household.”

What a great God we serve. Leave any praise you have for either your heavenly father or a special father in your life.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

“Daddy, I want to believe of Jesus.”

Our six-year-old adopted daughter woke us up New Year’s morning with these precious words. She had been home nine months. “Wow!” I thought, as my not-yet-healed heart lifted and tears rolled down my cheeks.

A lot of the “whys” were answered that morning. Why adopt? Why us? Why this particular girl? Why did the process take so long? Why the emotional turmoil? Why were there so many obstacles? . . . Why are there orphans?

We invite you along as we attempt to unravel the answers to these questions. Please join in the discussion. We hope you participate with your stories of struggles and joys—weeping and rejoicing.

We promise that we do not have all of the answers, but we cling to God’s word as we live the life God has called us to “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6

For His Glory! Barb :-)