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Adoption Forum Calls for Faith Communities to ‘Do More’ for Foster Children, Families

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Unread 06.01.18, 10:50 PM
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Adoption Forum Calls for Faith Communities to ‘Do More’ for Foster Children, Families

On 06.01.18 01:56 PM posted by Jeremiah Poff

Religious leaders, scholars, and government officials are challenging the nation’s Christian communities to “do more” for foster care families and children.

A series of panel discussions hosted by the National Review Institute late last month* focused on the role of communities of faith in helping children in the adoption and foster care system.

The issue of adoption and foster care has received renewed focus after Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer signed a bill May 18 aimed at protecting faith-based adoption agencies from being forced to facilitate adoptions and foster care placements by LGBT couples if the agency objected to doing so on religious grounds.

The panels’ discussion, however, focused primarily on the importance of supporting and assisting children in the foster care system, as well as foster families and adoptive parents.

“Pro-life efforts don’t end at the birth of a baby,” said panelist Sarah Zagorski, who was raised in and out of the foster care system and who credits the institution for saving her life. She urged those in attendance to “remember the 5-year-old that’s wasting away in a home today and consider what you can do.” Zagorski now is special projects director for Louisiana Right to Life.

Charmaine Yoest, associate director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy at the White House, said that the foster care system has been stressed in recent years by the opioid epidemic.

Yoest, a former vice president of the Family Research Council, said that more than 100 people die each day from opioid overdoses, and many of those are parents—in the process, orphaning their children.

But the issue isn’t limited to orphaned children, Yoest said. Many parents are incarcerated or lose parental rights owing to drug use, and that also contributes to the increase of children in foster care.

The three panels all stressed the unique role that faith communities play in preserving families and providing support for children and foster parents.

“If we can just unite around, and support, one foster family or one foster child, we can make a difference in their lives and really help to solve this crisis of our time,” said Lisa Ann Wheeler, president of Carmel Communications, a public relations agency that has run publicity campaigns for several notable faith-based films, including “Paul, Apostle of Christ” and “Hacksaw Ridge.”

A visibly emotional Wheeler recounted that she and her husband spent 15 years of their 21-year marriage dealing with infertility and struggled to have children. Eventually, they opted for becoming licensed foster parents, shortly thereafter adopting a little girl. They have since served as foster parents to 15 children.

The incoming chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, told attendees that being pro-life means “not just preventing abortions,” but also helping give “every child a chance to thrive.”

The Catholic prelate from Kansas City, Kansas, said that part of his mission for the committee is to make the issue of adoption and foster care a priority.

“If we’re going to be true to our pro-life convictions, then this has to become a burning issue,” Naumann said.

The archbishop said that it was important not to be “discouraged by the numbers” and to remember that Mother Teresa served one person at a time and yet made a tremendous impact in the poorest communities of India.

With so many parishes across the country, Naumann said, the Catholic Church could have an enormous impact on the foster care system if just one married couple in each parish became foster parents and the parish community simply rallied around that family to support them.

The event concluded with remarks by Elizabeth Kirk, a former law professor at Ave Maria University and at Catholic University, who said that all Christians are called to a “radical hospitality” and had a “duty to render justice to orphan and the widow.”

Kirk, who was adopted by her father at a young age when he married her mother, called the current foster care crisis the “present-day cry of the orphan” and said that that call “resounds around scripture.”

She emphasized the need for faith communities to do more to support families in crisis, because such support helps keep children with their biological parents and reduces the need for the foster care system.

“We need to do more to accompany parents whose children are in the foster care system, to get them the help and support they need to be able to parent successfully,” Kirk said.

The post Adoption Forum Calls for Faith Communities to ‘Do More’ for Foster Children, Families appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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