Adoption By Example
Steve and Sandra Hogue couldn’t have biological children, so they knew the only way to grow their family would be by adopting. As is often the case with modern-day orphan care in the United States, becoming licensed foster care parents served as the avenue to adoption.
“At first we chose the foster care route to train children in hopes that we could change a life,” says Sandra, 41. “Then we realized the children were going to teach us so many things we could never have understood or experienced otherwise.”
“Once we opened our hearts to adoption, we realized it was more than just trying to fill a need of wanting children,” says Steve, 42. “It’s about changing the destiny of the lives of kids, giving them structure and introducing them to the Lord. It became a mission, a ministry.”
That mission started officially in 2004 and has resulted in adopting eight children — so far. The Hogues, now married for 18 years and living in Ormond Beach, Florida, are raising Stephen, 16; Seth, 15; Simon, Silas, and Selah, all 11; Sammie, 5; Sarai, 4; and Siloam, 3.
“Because having children did not happen naturally, we made a vow to the Lord that we would never tell Him no, or give him a number,” Sandra says. “We made the commitment if the Lord provides for us, we’ll never turn away a child.”
The mission expanded in 2013 when Steve and Sandra became the first nationally appointed Assemblies of God U.S. missionaries with COMPACT Family Services in Hot Springs, Arkansas. They serve with Intercultural Ministries.
The Hogues spend most of their weekends traveling to churches throughout the southeastern U.S., expounding on James 1:27, which states that religion that is pure and faultless involves looking after orphans in their distress. They take a 36-foot recreational vehicle and a 12-passenger van hauled on a 56-foot-long flatbed trailer. The Hogues help families find the pathway to adoption through training conferences and recruiting talks.
“We explain the problem and the solution to the problem — which we believe is the local church,” Steve says. “Not everyone is called to take in kids, but everyone is called to do something.”
The Hogues teach how church members can provide “wraparound” care for families that have taken foster children into their home, with help such as cooking meals or spearheading efforts to collect luggage, diapers, formula, clothes, cribs, bedding, shoes, and car seats.
A huge need is providing respite care or baby-sitting to give parents a break, Steve says.
He says many Christian families altruistically embark on a foster care journey after hearing of the need, but without properly understanding the spiritual warfare involved.
“A family takes in a child or siblings into a home where there is the presence of God,” Steve says. “That child may be coming from generations that have been in the grip of the enemy. When the hope of Jesus Christ is presented, there will be a clash.”
Families unprepared and without a support system are vulnerable to marital discord, he warns.
At the church presentations, Steve believes it’s important for the entire family to be visible.
“The kids’ story can inspire people,” Steve says. “We let them tell their stories.”
Most of the children the Hogues have cared for have been neglected, abused, or malnourished. One boy ready to start school had never used a toothbrush or eaten a vegetable. Another child had tooth decay from drinking soda pop instead of milk from a bottle as a baby.
The children old enough to remember their families of origin initially had trust issues, wondering whether they would have enough to eat or if they would be beaten. One boy didn’t believe it when the Hogues explained they planned to adopt him; he had heard it from two other families before.
Jay Mooney, who has been COMPACT Family Services executive director for four years, says Steve Hogue recently preached to the staff in the most powerful service he has experienced at the Hot Springs campus. Mooney is glad to have the Hogues on the team as COMPACT continues to meet additional foster care needs.
“I knew before that they were a blessed family with a unique grace on their lives,” Mooney says. “But everything I saw on the outside — that they are heroic people in reaching children — I now see they are more than that on the inside. Whenever I’m around Steve and Sandra I feel like I’ve been around Jesus. It’s also evident in their children.”
Sandra home schools the six older children, and runs a home business called Inflate-a-Set. The three-piece vinyl inflatable sets, designed by Steve, can be deflated quickly and stored on a shelf in churches with classroom space issues.
“When parental rights have been terminated, what better place to go than a godly home?” asks Steve. “If you wait to have enough money to have kids, you’ll never have kids. Every time God has opened the door, He has provided.”