May is National Foster Care Month in the United States, a time to celebrate and support families and professionals who serve children with open hearts and homes. Wesleyans recognize the part we all can play in helping the most vulnerable among us. This May, you are invited to recognize and celebrate one Wesleyan family’s journey in foster care and adoption.


It was the last day of training required for our family to be licensed for foster care. There were many things happening in our lives, and I wasn’t very confident about welcoming someone new into our home. As part of the closing, the presenter shared about three siblings who were pre-adoptive, meaning they needed a forever family as soon as possible. Their court day was pending. Birth mom had made one of the hardest decisions ever and surrendered her rights, but birth dad could not be found. He wasn’t expected to make a court appearance and if he didn’t, the children needed to be adopted.

This was no traditional foster care arrangement. We would never fully foster. We would only foster long enough to start the process to adopt.

This was a lot to take in and I was overwhelmed. I’d never met these children. My mom was suffering from Alzheimer’s, and I sensed her days were numbered. I traveled extensively for a living, and I couldn’t imagine how being away for days at a time would be healthy for children who were experiencing deep pain, trauma and already wrestling with separation anxiety. Honestly, I couldn’t fathom how to care for one new child much less three.

We moved from Florida to Indiana with a vision for the future that was abruptly disrupted, and I needed time to mentally and emotionally transition. I remember asking, “What’s going on, God? My world is turning upside down. Slow down, please.”

Various weeks before the training, our oldest teenage daughter informed her adult parents that we needed to move forward with adoption during this season.  Almost consecutively, my husband came home talking about the guest speaker who was at the pastors monthly meeting representing a local foster care agency. At the time we were a family of three, so I was clearly outnumbered, and despite my hesitancy, the  journey towards fostering began.

During the intake visit, every adult in the family was asked to complete paperwork. I remember a section I thought would allow me to draw the lines and establish boundaries. From a very long list, I selected behaviors I felt our family could “handle” and provide support. My husband was realistic, but my list clearly indicated how I expected the perfect foster care child, free of trauma and ready to fit into our family and our unpredictable world. I had this figured out and communicated it had to be nine-year old girl, we could eventually adopt if it was right.

With my life in chaos, this was all I could give during this season. These boundaries gave me a sense of control, even if it was false control. It was also comforting to know Indiana’s Division of Children (DC) was backlogged and it could take up to a year for us to get a call. I felt this would allow me time to prepare for adding a new member to our family; however, my ideas quickly crumbled and then it happened.

Our last foster care training conversations would forever change my life. Once my daughter heard about the three siblings, she asked for their ages — “2, 3 and 8,” they said — and she was smitten. They proceeded to share their story, pointing out that our home had the perfect square footage for three siblings. “Families with large houses were hard to find” we were told. “If we don’t find a home large enough for all of them, we’ll have to separate them. We have no choice.”

Spiritually, I knew God calls us to care for orphans. I’ve preached about it; so deep in my heart, this was clear. Emotionally, it was easy to get caught up. The kiddos are adorable. I also knew what my Mom would do. But realistically, it was illogical. “We just can’t do this. Not now. The timing is off. We don’t even have a car that is large enough for a family of six.”

After many other comments, someone in the training blurted, “How can it not be God? These kids are in your neighborhood.” I heard it. The message was clear. It was a loud plea, a cry for help on behalf of those children and it instantly gripped my heart. But God would not do this now. Right?

Eight months prior to this meeting, they were transported from a county three-and-a-half hours away. In the middle of corn fields lived the only family in Indiana who met the ‘housing’ requirements, but they could not adopt. Despite the ongoing efforts, the agencies could not identify another home. And there we stood — almost licensed for foster care and with a big enough house.

The drive home was filled with tears. I was frustrated and very angry, especially at God for putting me in this predicament. He knew I loved him, but I didn’t understand the timing.

With only days to decide, I sought God for clarity and needed confirmation. I turned to research and spent sleepless hours searching for anything that would speak to my reality.

Initially, the results of my search were discouraging but then it happened. I came across one article, a blog of a couple who fostered and then adopted four children at the same time. The father was a Hispanic pastor, involved in theological education — the real miracle was I had previously met him!

After searching for a connection through social media, I sent him a message on September 15, 2019, asking him to meet and talk with me about foster care. He remembered me and immediately responded with a date and time.

You’d think that was sufficient, but I needed one more sign.

The foster care process requires applicants to have a support system and options for respite care. Being relatively new to the community, we reached out to a couple in our small group who also lived in the neighborhood.

Although we didn’t know each other well, I decided to ask for advice. I briefly shared about the foster care training and mentioned about the three siblings being pre-adoptive. The words barely left my mouth and she immediately responded, “I know those children. My daughter babysits for that family. They’re in our neighborhood.” How did she know what I was talking about?

Just a few blocks up the street in the very same neighborhood was another Wesleyan family. We had not previously met them, but they were the first to love these siblings. They introduced them to God, offered stability and coordinated the care these children needed. And so, we took them in — not just the children but all of them.

The day the children would move into our home, they were not picked up by someone from the agencies and then dropped off at our place. Instead, they transported by this Wesleyan family. We talked over tea and cookies, but most importantly we held hands and prayed over each other’s family. We inherited from them amazing grandparents for our children — keeping their support system in place. We committed to getting to know one another and to begin this new journey as a large extended family.

The children moved in, we went to court, and the children were no longer pre-adoptive. That made the journey very hard and long. My mother left the earthly realm to be with Jesus a month after the children joined our family. Two months later, COVID-19 shut down the world and it would create all types of challenges we would have to navigate. Those were dark days. We had no respite care and the trauma surfaced in unexplainable ways. It complicated the fostering process, and even when we knew we would adopt the children, we were dependent upon the courts reopening for way longer than anyone expected. Amid all this, our communities made their presence known.

One family gave us their Suburban to help our growing family. We received needed “foster care” shower gifts (car seats and strollers). Others left special treats, charcuterie boards and all kinds of sweet drinks at our doorsteps and from a distance offered encouragement. Our neighbors carried us through a very difficult season, and we will be eternally grateful.

The Bible doesn’t say much about neighborhoods, but the message about what we should do for our neighbors is clear. Jesus said, the next best thing after loving God is to love our neighbor. The three littles were our neighbors who God was calling us to love in ways I didn’t know I could love.

Who’s in your neighborhood? God brought two Wesleyan families together to care for these children. Along the way, others from within and beyond came to reflect the kingdom of God here on earth.

What’s your part? If you can’t foster or adopt, draw near to those who are embracing these opportunities. Hear their stories. Offer respite care. Bring a meal. Mentor those children and extend any kind of support. Be a neighbor, por favor. How could you not?

On April 1, 2021, surrounded by family and friends who were physically and virtually present, we officially adopted and now have a story of our own that we are privileged to share with neighbors, like you. As expected, it was God from the very beginning. We just needed the additional nudge. So, we extend to you what we by grace have receive and invite you Church to love on a family fostering, adopting or with adopted children. It takes all of us in the neighborhood so “won’t you be a neighbor?”

Rev. Dr. Joanne Solis-Walker is an ordained minister of The Wesleyan Church, an associate dean and professor in the practice of leadership at Candler School of Theology, Emory University and a partner and strategist of CaminoRoad, A Development Company.


Is God calling you to consider foster care or adoption? Hephzibah62:4, a subsidiary of The Wesleyan Church, is dedicated to equipping and assisting Wesleyans to follow the call to transform the lives of vulnerable children. Learn more about Hephibah62:4 and their grant opportunities for Wesleyans at