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Agencies come together for kids

November 24, 2008

John and Molly Price say they've wanted to adopt a child for years. The Morrison couple, who have a 9-month-old daughter of their own, say they recognize the need.

"There's plenty of kids and not enough parents," John said. "We just felt that if they needed a good family, we wanted to be that good family for them."

Andrew and Danelle White of Louisville have a 11/2-year-old daughter, and they aren't sure yet if they want to adopt. But they said it's probably what God wants them to do.

"I do believe he's calling us to do something," Andrew said. "We're just not sure yet."

The couples were among an estimated 1,500 people who came to New Life Church on Saturday for what a Colorado official said was a first-of-its-kind statewide adoption collaborative - a partnering of state and local governments, churches, ministries and adoption agencies to focus attention on the plight of Colorado's 700 foster children.

While that number might seem low compared with other states, adoption advocates say it's still too many.

"Wait No More: Finding Families for Colorado's Waiting Kids" offered prospective parents an opportunity to start the adoption process - to learn about the need for homes for foster children, to find out how the state's adoption process works and to get an unvarnished look at the problems parents might face.

The four-hour event included a series of prominent speakers in New Life's main auditorium, while representatives of social service agencies from around the state and nonprofit adoption services staffed tables in trade show-like fashion to provide information.

Wait No More officials said they hope it serves as a template for other states to address their problems.

Colorado's population of foster children is small number compared with the thousands in California, Texas and other states, officials said. But the need for parents never diminishes, said Sharen Ford, a Colorado Division of Child Welfare Services' manager.

Even as adoptions were finalized this month for 150 children across Colorado, more were coming into the system, she said. And government can't be counted on to be the perfect parent, Ford added.

"It (government) doesn't even make a good grandparent," she joked.

That's why loving and patient parents - who aren't expected to be perfect themselves - are needed for children who often come from dysfunctional homes and whose behavior can be unexpected and problematic, Ford said.

"Take a chance on making the difference in the life of a child," she said. "Colorado's kids need Colorado's families to step up."

For more than a year, evangelical Christian ministers have urged their church members to do just that. Beyond the desperate need, it's also God's word, said New Life Senior Pastor Brady Boyd, one of Saturday's speakers.

"It's one of the primary mandates of Scripture for the local church to take care of the widows, the orphans, those who can't defend themselves," Boyd said afterward. "The church should be the very mechanism, the very community to take these kids into their homes."

New Life has asked its members to adopt 100 children, Boyd said, and is challenging the state's 3,000 churches to consider taking one child each.

Jim Daly, president and chief executive officer of the Springs-based Focus on the Family ministry and himself an orphan and who grew up in foster care, said Saturday's event rekindled a church tradition of reaching out to help people - in this case, children.

"It's one of the main things the church can do," he said.


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