THE SALEM STORY

1. What led you to begin the adoption/foster care process?

When we adopted out first daughter from China in 2006 we visited an orphanage for special needs children.  It totally broke our hearts!  We got in the taxi to go back to the hotel later that day and through our tears we gave God a promise....that if He ever called us again, our answer would be yes! That prayer changed our lives forever. 

2. What is the greatest blessing from your experience?

People tell us all the time that our adopted children are so fortunate to be here.  And I guess that's true.  A few of them would not be alive today had they not been adopted by us or another family. But the ultimate blessing has been for US.  They have taught us so much about what truly matters in life. They have taught us to slow down and appreciate each day as a gift.  And they have taught us to rejoice in the things that we so often take for granted. 

3. What are some of the challenging aspects?

Raising six children who have special needs means that each day can definitely have new challenges. And they do! No day is ever the same and issues crop up all the time. Some days it feels like every day presents some kind of challenge. But we have learned along the journey that God's grace is enough for us--He is present in every circumstance and in every trial we face with our children. His grace meets us right in the middle of the challenge. We have actually learned to just embrace the difficult days and trust that something good will always come out of it...because it always, always does.

4. How can the church support you?

Sadly, church has been our greatest heartache and challenge in raising our family. Over the years we have been involved with a few churches and have always struggled to find a place to call home. The church simply has not known how to care for our family. They have not known how to reach out, provide child care or just come alongside us. We understand! The church in general is just not equipped to care for those who have special needs.  It's been a lonely journey and at times the isolation has felt heartbreaking. Thankfully, this year we did find a church who has gone out of their way to love us and provide the care that each one of our special needs children needs.  For that, we are so grateful. To answer your question, I would say that the greatest way that the Church can support families like ours is to find tangible ways to help...especially when it comes to parents being able to sit in church together while their child is taken care of. So many special needs families no longer even go to church because they can't find a place where their family is supported.  This breaks my heart. 

5. What advice would you give others, who are interested in pursuing adoption or foster care?

Stand with arms and hearts wide open.  Go into it with realistic expectations--being fully prepared for the journey to be hard and stretching. But even in the hard and the challenging, God shows Himself faithful and true.