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Third Time Charming

Couple’s final foster care adoption is witnessed by 1,000 people in a memorable ceremony.
Bob W. Griffith, executive pastor at Journey Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and his wife, Wendy, officially adopted Sarah recently in front of about 1,000 students, parents, teachers, and courtroom officials.

Griffith greeted the Feb. 20 declaration by the judge, “This order is final and irrevocable,” with great enthusiasm.

“I felt the change happening for her, I understood the gravity of what it meant,” Griffith says. “With the stroke of a pen, the trajectory of her life changed forever. It is the power of a covenant and a promise.”

Sarah came into the Griffith home five years ago, at only 7 months of age. She represents the third, and final, foster care adoption for the family. The couple also have three biological children.

The Griffiths didn’t plan to have six children, nor did they plan to expand their family through foster care and adoption. Despite fertility issues and two miscarriages, Wendy eventually gave birth to three children. With those three young children — Lindsay, Mark, and Madison — they might have considered the family complete.

However, Wendy began to feel a call to foster care when Madison entered kindergarten. As she prayed about how she could be intentional and effective in ministry, Wendy sensed God revealing she needed to focus her efforts more in a season of mothering.

“I knew I could be a mom to one more,” Wendy says. “That began the foster care discussion in our home.”

At the same time, Bob had been speaking with city officials to find out how the church could best meet community needs. Among the greatest deficit areas? Foster care and mentoring.

“We felt convicted to do it ourselves, and we believed it would encourage others to do it, too,” Bob says. “God opened up so many facets of ministry. It has been a wave.”

Thanks to training through COMPACT Family Services, Journey Church has become a leader in training adoptive and foster care families in Kenosha. Bob serves as a representative of COMPACT Family Services, the AG adoptive and foster care ministry based in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Journey Church attendees now comprise 20 percent of all the foster families in Kenosha County.

“Through foster care we have the opportunity to connect with a child and their family,” Wendy says. “We became passionate about the people who don’t always walk through our church doors.”

During their time in foster care ministry, the Griffiths have fostered and adopted Kelsey, 6; Sarah, 5; and Brooks, 3. For the first two adoptions, they invited friends and relatives to the courthouse for the ceremony. But for their final adoption, they wanted to make a powerful statement about God’s heart for those who need a family.

They spoke to the leadership of Kenosha Christian Life School and representatives of the judicial system to arrange for the adoption to take place at the school.

“An adoption is an unforgettable experience,” Wendy says. “Even when they reach adulthood, the kids will remember the day they saw a child adopted.”

Children in attendance saw the judicial system at work and learned about their civic responsibility to care for families. During the event, Bob had the opportunity to talk about the heart of God for adoption.

Griffith will graduate with a doctorate in April from Southeastern University, with the AG CompaCare foster care ministry as his project focus. He is involved in rallying other local congregations to stand in the gap to meet foster care needs. Nine local churches are participating in training through the 1Hope organization using the CompaCare model.

“It’s worked for us,” Griffith says. “Now we are replicating that as a byproduct of our personal story of adopting.”

Rebecca Burtram

Rebecca Burtram is an Assemblies of God pastor in Charlottesville, Virginia, a pastor's wife, mother to three, and an English teacher. She is the author of Our Broken Hallelujahs, and she blogs at rebeccaburtram.com.