Responding to Respite
Don't miss any stories. Follow AG News!
Xavi’s mom, 22, lived in a meth house with 11 other people, including the child’s father, also an addict soon imprisoned for dealing drugs. The mother — one of nine children her own mother had given birth to with eight different men — herself had aged out of foster care. Like her mom, she already had been in and out of prison. Child Protective Services had rescued Xavi’s sister, Carly, a toddler, from the house.
In March 2017, Rick DuBose’s journey into orphan care became incarnational. Years before, Aaron C. Blake Sr., had raised awareness of the problem to DuBose, who then served as Assemblies of God North Texas District superintendent. Blake explained how orphans in every church’s backyard need the love and care of Jesus through His people.
That message drew DuBose’s son and daughter-in-law Ryan and Lauren DuBose, then executive and worship pastors at Life Church of Midlothian, Texas. They heard the Holy Spirit call them to involvement and opted to provide foster care to children under age 5, so they’d be younger than their two sons. The couple completed the CPS-required training and became licensed foster parents in late 2016.
Even though Rick had responsibilities leading the AG district with the most churches in the U.S., he and his wife, Rita, recognized the Lord’s call upon them to obtain respite care certification. Lauren DuBose’s parents, Joe and Melissa Chiles, pastors of Trinity Life Church in Mesquite, Texas, also took the classes to become licensed respite caregivers.
Congregations supported the families.
“Church people were buying cribs, clothes, and strollers so we would be ready at a moment’s notice,” Ryan says. “People rally when they catch the heart of God. Everybody jumped on board.”
In early 2017, Ryan received a call from a social worker: CPS had a 13-month-old girl who needed immediate placement. That night, the couple took Carly into their home. Her new foster grandparents also were prepared.
“We fell in love with her,” Rick DuBose says. “We could enjoy her like a little granddaughter.”
A month later, however, CPS contacted Ryan and Lauren DuBose again. Carly’s mom was about to deliver a premature baby, Xavier. Because of the mom’s ongoing drug use, the state would not allow her to keep the child. As CPS policy is to keep siblings together when possible, Ryan and Lauren must either take the newborn or the state would find a new placement for both children.
However, months earlier Ryan and Lauren already had agreed to lead worship in Spain for an Assemblies of God World Missions retreat. They knew providing respite care for an infant, a year-old baby, and the couple’s two sons for a week would be a big challenge for their parents, who already had huge responsibilities.
“The stress that came about in that moment was real,” Rick remembers. After prayerful discussion, Rick and Rita agreed the newborn should be with his sister and stay with them.
“His position required so much time from him,” Ryan recalls. “But he found a way to make it work because his heart was to do what it took to make it happen.”
Lauren DuBose and CPS workers awaited Xavi’s birth in the hospital right before she and her husband left for Spain, transferring the children to Rick and Rita’s capable care. Soon after, however, the depth of the children’s mother’s meth addiction became evident. Newborn Xavi went into withdrawals, screaming, his body rigid.
“The boy was in turmoil,” says Rick, who paced the house praying in the Spirit over Xavi as the baby shrieked. “I could see the torment he was in.”
On the fourth day, the baby took a turn for the worse and at 11 p.m. Rick and Rita called the CPS caseworker, who recommended rushing the infant to a hospital. As Lauren’s parents cared for Carly and the grandchildren, Rick and Rita held Xavi and prayed over him while he suffered through a spinal tap, his life in peril.
After a sleepless night, the couple received the welcome news that the infant was out of the woods. The sibling pair then spent the early months of their lives with Lauren and Ryan, who lived near Rick and Rita.
Ryan says his father provided compassionate respite care despite his taxing work schedule.
“He knew this is what the Bible calls us to do,” Ryan says. “It’s a matter of obedience.” Through early summer 2017, the babies periodically stayed the night with Rick and Rita.
Carly and Xavi’s great aunt and uncle ended up adopting the children, now ages 4 and 5 and mentally and physically healthy despite having been born to an addicted mother. The adoptive parents invited Ryan and Lauren DuBose to be present in the courtroom for the adoption and introduced them to the judge. The DuBose and Chiles families remain close with the children, attending their birthday parties. The adoptive parents gave the boy the middle name Ryan.
Ryan and Lauren DuBose now pastor Gracehill Church in Dallas. They became respite caregivers, providing care to five additional children. He encourages his congregation to become involved in foster care.
“There’s no greater access to the heart of God than the foster or adoption world,” Ryan says. “I have never grown more emotionally and spiritually than while having children in foster care.”
“Even older people can get involved with respite care,” says Rick DuBose, 64. “It was a good moment in our life, a moment we’ll never forget.”