Orphan Care Alliance will present an Orphan Care Support Seminar on Wednesday, Sept. 16, at Southeast Christian Church’s Oldham Campus. The seminar will focus on serving orphans and families in crisis.
After a main session at the beginning of the night, there will be two small-group tracks for those interested in connecting with the adoption and foster care community and another track on opportunities to care for children in ways that do not involve adoption or foster care.
Heather Sewell, the director of orphan advocacy and marketing for Orphan Care Alliance, said there is a place for everyone in the Biblical mandate to care for vulnerable children.
“God gives a clear call to the church to care for orphans and widows in James 1:27,” she said. “Orphan Care is a chance for the body of Christ to care for orphans the way God cares for us. Our focus that night will not only be on adoption and foster care, but on other ways to care for these children.”
Sewell will speak about opportunities to stand beside a child in the court system through CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) and about life coaching for those aging out of the foster care system.
“Judges listen to CASA volunteers because they advocate for children,” Sewell said. “Being their voice is so strategic. It makes a huge difference for a child in a frightening place.”
CASA volunteers visit the child weekly and meet with teachers, neighbors and day care workers to piece together the puzzle of a child’s life. The average age of a child who receives a CASA volunteer is 7 years old.
Another way to make a difference is through the Safe Families program at Orphan Care Alliance that provides support for families in crisis.
Southeast member Tracy Wise and her husband Greg provided respite care for a single mom and her children.
“We started out wanting to adopt and do foster care,” Wise said. “My husband would be the old man in a shoe with 20 kids. He’s so great with them. We tried Safe Families when someone at church suggested we should. The mom has been great. We’re able to give her a break. In the beginning, she was fearful of letting people in, but now we think of each other as family.”
Sewell has her own Safe Family story. She had been married three months when she heard of a 10-year-old who needed a family for 10 days.
“Before she came to stay with us, this little girl had been couch surfing with her grandma,” Sewell said. “She’d been abandoned by her mother and needed unconditional love and support through a hard time. We didn’t have all the answers, but we could care for her while her grandma found a place to live. In those 10 days, that little girl and her grandma became part of our family. Knowing her has been a tremendous blessing for us.”
Southeast member Barry Motes is a life coach, mentoring two young men who have grown up in the foster care system.
“Life coaching is a great way to make a difference,” Motes said. “These kids have no control over their life situation. They need someone willing to be a companion and hang out with them.”
Motes has brought the boys to church and included them in Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations with his family.
“I call myself a pseudo-dad to these boys,” he said. “They need someone to care about them.”
Southeast members Darren and Stacia Washausen will lead the track on creating community among foster care and adopting families.
“Often they are parenting kids who come from hard places,” Sewell said. “When these families know one another, they can share experiences and offer support. That makes a tremendous difference when they have questions or need some direction.”