Ten years ago, Focus on the Family President Jim Daly asked New Life Church pastor Brady Boyd if they could put their heads together and do something to help foster children.
Daly knew firsthand how difficult being in the foster care system can be: He was a foster child when he was 9 and 10 years old.
“It wasn’t a great experience,” he said.
Maybe, the large Christian organization based in Colorado Springs and the northeast Colorado Springs megachurch could rally others to help improve the lives of foster children, was the thought.
“I remember thinking we have 400,000 children in foster care nationwide, with one-quarter available for adoption,” Daly said.
“If one child was placed for every three churches, it seemed like an achievable goal.”
The Wait No More program kicked off in Colorado Springs, with 1,500 attendees from local churches, government agencies and other community supporters in attendance.
“That got the ball rolling, and got 600 of the 800 kids available in our community adopted over time,” Daly said.
Over the past decade, nearly 4,000 families have initiated foster care or adoption from foster care as a result of Wait No More events held across the nation, Daly said.
A 10th anniversary Wait No More event will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at New Life Church, 11025 Voyager Parkway.
The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is requested at wait nomore.org/colorado, or call 1-800-A-FAMILY.
Information about becoming a prospective foster family or foster-adopt family will be available through education, inspiration and personal stories.
Colorado Springs residents Mike and Leesa Worley attended the first event in 2008 and decided to become foster parents as a result. U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn recognized the couple last month as the “Angel in Adoption” for Colorado’s 5th Congressional District.
“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may the world,” Mike Worley said. “If one family from every church in Colorado Springs opened their home to a needy child, we wouldn’t have any kids waiting to be adopted.”
Not everyone wants to bring home a foster child, Worley said, but that’s OK because everyone can do something. The Worleys started an email system called Care Portal that connects donors with foster families’ needs, such as bunk beds for a home that accepts two children.
“We saw the gap between the community and answering needs of children in foster care,” he said.
It’s hard to provide foster care or adopt children who have been in the system, Worley said: “These are not Gerber babies.”
They are drug babies or children from abandoned, abused, neglected or traumatic home situations.
“They all come with challenges,” Worley said. But, “It’s a positive, not a negative. Our lives have been changed for the better.”
There are 6,752 children statewide who need foster care services today, Daly said. Nearly 290 are waiting for a family.
Wait No More has expanded to include not only foster care and adoption but also respite work, such as volunteering for an afternoon to take a foster child to a park or out to eat, and wraparound services to help support foster families with donations of car seats, for example.
The Worleys’ program is detailed at beautifulredemption.com.As part of Saturday’s event, Focus on the Family will give the Helping Children Thrive Award to Fostering Hope, to honor the organization for its work in supporting Pike Peak region foster families and teens and children aging out of the child welfare system.