It was mid-January, 2013. I was in the middle of a 21 day fast with our entire church. One day as I left work, my phone rang. On the other end of the line was one of my friends, a social worker at a local child placement agency. She was frustrated. I listened. In separate cars, we drove home from jobs in different parts of the city. Yet, that day, the Atlanta traffic was the least of our concern. As the words spilled out, miles apart physically, our hearts and souls connected on a deeply disturbing and heart-breaking trend. Christian adoption and foster placements were failing at an alarming rate. She saw it everyday—families who started out so strong and seemed so committed one day called and said, “We can’t do this anymore.” For me, as a pastor on staff at a local church and speaker/trainer on foster care and adoption, I too knew many of these same families. It truly was heartbreaking.
Our conversation continued to both of our homes. With motors running, we sat in our driveways asking questions, seeking answers and shaking our heads in confusion. “The Word is clear about caring for the orphan, the fatherless, the hurting…”, “These are people who love Jesus and truly felt like He called them to do this! Why would they quit? How could they quit?”, “What could we have done differently?”, “Where is the church missing it?”, “Where is our training missing it?”, “What can we do?” We eventually ended the conversation, both knowing that the answers to all of these questions were far bigger than us.
As I lay in bed that night, the hunger in my spirit for answers was much greater than the hunger in my stomach for food. I asked God a simple question, “What can I do?” He answered.
At 5am the next morning, Ready or Not was born—literally. I woke up early with 30-days of topics for a devotion in my head. Promptly, while they were fresh, I got out of bed and wrote them down. This was BEFORE coffee—therefore it HAD to be God. That morning, the Lord whispered to my heart that His children were following His heart but hadn’t truly counted the costs. I know I hadn’t.
The journey of Ready or Not is a journey to the heart of God that I’ve had to take for my own family. In 2006, as a one child family, my husband and I made the decision to adopt through our state’s foster care system. In 2007, our first adopted daughter, 11-year-old Heather, was added to our family. Today, we have seven total daughters. One from birth and six from hard places. As we near the eight year anniversary of making the decision to adopt, I can look back and say that we were in no way prepared for the journey ahead. The depth of brokenness that our family has walked through since that decision is a depth that only the Lord knows.
Ready or Not is a guide into the heart of God to care for broken and wounded children. It’s an honest exposure of my heart and our family’s journey. It’s my prayer that Ready or Not will be helpful guidepost to you as you consider God’s heart for orphaned and wounded children—whether you are already on the road of foster care and adoption, or you’re just now considering it.
Ready or Not releases the week of July 14, 2014. Beginning on June 14th, through the Ready or Not e-mail list, I will begin my own 30-day journey ahead of the book’s launch. During this time I will share daily thoughts and encouragement for those considering foster care and adoption. I will also share a free chapter from the book! Would you like to countdown with me?
Some amazing friends have been along for the ride on this journey. They’ve implemented the material in small groups, taught it in foster care & adoption training classes and added it as core parts of their church’s orphan care ministry. Here’s a few words from them:
“My wife and I have been leading a small group at our local church that is focused on prospective and current adoptive and foster parents. It was a huge blessing to take 6 weeks to focus on the Ready or Not study!
This is one of the best resources I’ve found to count the costs of adopting and fostering, while at the same time creating a supportive team to hold each other up throughout their journeys. Each week, the probing questions led to deep discussions and honest reflection, calling each of us to consider what unconditional love truly looks like in action. As a result of this study, I believe our group members have united as a community of believers to stand together through thick and thin and to trust the Lord as He sets the lonely in their families. Thank you so much for providing this valuable resource to families considering fostering and adoption!”
David Hennessey, Director for Global Movements, Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO)
“When I first began my journey toward becoming a foster mom I was full of enthusiasm and, what I believed to be, exceptional preparation. I had nearly finished raising my own five children and the training that I received from my faith based agency seemed comprehensive. It took a lot of time, so it certainly didn’t occur to me to question it. What I discovered after taking my first placement was that the emotional and spiritual preparation was completely inadequate. Where insights, that can only be given by an experienced person who has traveled the road before you belonged, there was nothing. This devotional is truly inspired and when I first read it I realized it needed to be an essential part of the preparation for all foster, respite or pre-adoptive families in our church’s ministry. It is challenging but life giving all at the same time. I could, and do, return to it over and over again for insight, comfort and inspiration. Thank you, Pam, for following the prompting that led to Ready Or Not!”
Lesli Reece, Ministry Director—Fostering Together, North Point Ministries, Inc.
“When transitioning from respite foster parenting to full-time foster parenting, my husband and I decided to prepare by going through this devotional together each morning before work. Even in the first days, the material started to slowly help us break through some surface level emotions and uncover hidden fears and reservations we weren’t aware we harbored. The poignant and honest examples followed by penetrating questions, raised issues that lurked in the backs of our minds that we’d never verbalized.
Although we’d done the initial foster parent training followed by several trainings on behavior and discipline, nothing has prepared us for the challenges of fostering like this devotional. As a couple we’ve been able to honestly reveal our fears, joys and reservations about fostering. It has opened the door for continuing conversations. If it were up to us, we would say do not start fostering until you’ve done this devotional together. No 30 days could be better spent to prepare you for the adventure ahead.”
Johnna Stein, Director of Ministry Development, Promise 686
“Foster care and adoption are beautiful. They are also full of brokenness. Potential parents need to be equipped and aware of the realities of adopting children that come from hard places. Pam Parish shares stories of her own personal journey as well as keen wisdom and biblical insight in Ready or Not. I will be recommending this book to every person that is considering foster care and adoption. Ready or Not will be an invaluable tool to help them determine if God is calling them to this journey.”
Johnny Carr, Author of Orphan Justice
“Every prospective foster and adoptive parent should be given this book in advance of receiving a child into their home. Pam speaks with such truth, passion and understanding of the journey with a child who comes from a hard place. As a foster and adoptive parent, how I wish we could have had such a resource in the beginning of our journey. This is a MUST read for those considering the decision to foster or adopt.”
Ruby Johnston, Co-Founder, LAMb Int’l