Check out this short book review on The Connected Child, a must have for any foster/adoptive family. If you are one of AGAPE's families be sure to join Facebook Live (on the private group page) 8 pm on February 21st for our first discussion!
A home in Raleigh, North Carolina is seeking to meet a need that many do not realize exists within foster care: young adult foster homes.
Mary Arnold, Director of Social Services for AGAPE of North Carolina, explained that while many people associate foster care with a 0-17 age bracket, they often “do not realize that there are 18 to 21 year olds in care that need a home as well.”
The home in Raleigh seeks to meet this need by providing a foster home for 18-21 year old girls, hoping to give them stability and a jumping off point from which to pursue personal, educational, and career goals.
Currently, the home consists of a foster mother and two young women. Arnold makes monthly visits to the home, checking in with the girls and their foster mother. These visits consist of talking to the girls about various aspects of their lives, including schooling, employment, social adjustment, and the living situation within the house.
While the house is technically a foster home, Arnold acknowledges that the day-to-day functioning of the home works differently since the residents are adults. Unlike younger foster children, the girls have the option choose this foster home. They have chosen to commit to living in the home, understanding that they have the freedom to “pack their bags and go.”
One of the most interesting aspects of young adult foster homes lies in the mutual investment of both parties; Arnold explains that girls can, and have, interviewed the foster mother and the managing foster care agency in order to determine whether or not the home is the right fit. The foster mother also has the opportunity to interview the girls as well, creating a mutual relationship of interest and understanding.
Arnold also explains that the need for any and all foster parents is also growing, explaining that she has received quite a few calls regarding children as of late that she has not been able to accept or place due to the lack of available foster homes.
Finally, when asked what she wants people to understand about young adults in foster care, Arnold states:
“They have so much to give. They are full of love, but they have been hurt, so there’s not a lot of trust there at first. But once you open the door to them, they have so much to give that it is endless. We need to support them so they can be the people that God created them to be.”
The ReMoved films are produced by Nathanael & Christina Matanick, co-directed by Nathanael Matanickand Tony Cruz, and written by Christina Matanick.
Little Kevi is torn from the only life he has ever known and struggles to make sense of how he fits between two worlds and two mothers. The 3rd in the ReMoved Series.
We all fell in love with Zoe from ReMoved 1 & 2. Now they tell a different story - to capture a broader range of the foster care experience.
By Mary Arnold
We are committed to providing these young women with the support they need to assist them in becoming the independent, strong women that God created them to be (Psalm 139:13).
Have you ever wondered what happens to teens when they turn 18 and “age out” of the foster care system?
The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 provided a provision that allows states to receive federal money for programs associated with supporting young adults who choose to remain in foster care up to the age of 21. North Carolina is one of 25 states to extend foster care beyond 18 years of age.
AGAPE of NC opened Young Adult Foster Homes in October of this year for young ladies aged 18-21. We are committed to providing these young women with the support they need to assist them in becoming the independent, strong women that God created them to be (Psalm 139:13).
The young ladies will all be working on different goals while residing at Young Adult Foster Homes. Some will be finishing up high school. Others will be going to college or working to save money to buy a car or rent their own place to live.
Ms. Fay Evans, who has a passion for helping young women and assisting them with the transition to the next phase of their lives, is our resident Foster Parent for our Young Adult Foster Homes located in Raleigh. Ms. Evans has worked with teen girls for over 20 years. She prays for each girl daily -- those who are in her care and those who will be coming into her care. She prays for God’s direction and wisdom in leading the young ladies toward independence.
AGAPE needs additional women volunteers for Young Adult Foster Homes. Ms. Evans will need respite care providers for the home, and we would also like to have mentors from congregations in the area for each young girl. If you have an interest in volunteering at Young Adult Foster Homes please contact Mary Arnold by email at: email@example.com or by phone at: 919.673.7816.
By Leah Tripp
The conversation surrounding foster care can often contain misconceptions or inaccuracies that can make fostering seem intimidating or impossible for potential foster parents. The following article will debunk five common myths associated with foster care.
Myth 1: “I have to be married to foster a child”
There is no marital requirement associated with foster parenting. In fact, according to The Foster Coalition, 30% of foster parents are single. Foster parents can (and do) come from a variety of backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, and stages of life. To learn more about what AGAPE of NC requires of foster parents, click here.
Myth 2: “I have to be wealthy” or “it’s expensive to adopt”
In contrast to some international and private domestic adoptions, the process of adopting through foster care is essentially free. Many agencies, such as AGAPE of NC, offer free trainings, financial reimbursement, and ongoing support for foster families. In addition, many states and government programs provide tax credits or reduced costs for foster children and their families.
Myth 3: “I have to be willing to adopt to be a foster parent”
While adoption can be an option for foster parents, it is not a requirement. The ideal goal for foster children is permanency, which can be found in the form of reunification with parents, kinship care, long-term fostering, or adoption. Respite care is also an option for individuals who are interested in providing short-term care only.
Myth 4: “I need to have children/parenting experience”
While parents with children are more than welcome to become foster parents, there are many foster parents who do not have children of their own, and have never parented prior to their participation in the foster care system. Many foster care organizations, including AGAPE, provide training for potential foster parents, as well as ongoing support groups and sessions for new foster parents.
Myth 5: “Foster parents have no say in which children are placed in their home”
Foster parents reserve the right to say “no” to any potential placement for any reason. AGAPE, and many other foster care agencies, also allow parents to express preferences regarding the children they feel comfortable accepting as placements. Foster parents will never be forced to accept a child into their care.
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that there is no equation or situation that creates the “perfect” foster parent. Children in foster care need stability, compassion, and support. If you feel that you can provide a loving home for a child in foster care, please visit https://www.agapeofnc.org/foster-care/ or call AGAPE of NC at (919)673-7816.
A program at Wake Technical Community College
The Fostering Bright Futures (FBF) program is a student success program that addresses the overwhelming need for a comprehensive support structure to assist our community's foster youth in making the transition from Wake County's foster care program to independent young adulthood.
Hear Kelsea tell her story and learn more at https://www.waketech.edu/student-life/fostering-bright-futures.
By Kimberly Scott
Matthew 22:36-40 says “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” I started out with this verse because God’s hand has been in the hearts of fellow christians, of our communities, of commercial businesses and of our government by the ways that they’ve responded to the many natural disasters that have occurred this year.
Christians and communities alike have banded together to help the individuals/families/businesses that have been affected by fires in California, hurricane Michael, hurricane Florence, earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, flooding in Japan just to name a few for 2018. While these natural disasters have been physically devastating, it has also been a reminder of Gods spirit of love and compassion that has infected humanity across the world.
God used these events to remind us how tenuous our plans can be but also to remind us and the world of what really matters when others are hurting and in need.
Businesses and governmental aid have come to the rescue. Several well known businesses such as Wal Mart, Home Depot, GoFundMe, Starbucks and Walgreens are a few who have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to disaster relief. Governmental agencies that are there at ground zero ready to lend aid, risk their lives and delve into danger for others include FEMA, the Red Cross and numerous First responders.
My prayer and challenge for 2019 is that, as quick and fierce as humankind rises to the challenge with the natural disasters that have been talked about above, they will see, they will feel and they will act for the devastation of parentless children and hurting families that are a part of the mission of AGAPE. Strengthening Families One Child at a Time.
Happy New Year! Our prayer and challenge for 2019 are that all will see, feel and act on behalf of the parentless children and hurting families that are a part of the mission of AGAPE. Strengthening Families One Child at a Time. You can find the Winter Newsletter here.
We are extremely grateful for the work our volunteers perform and the ways they minister to AGAPE of NC! We try to make each volunteer’s experience enjoyable by offering opportunities that match individual skills, interests, and passions.
Some of our current volunteer projects involve working “behind the scenes,” helping with many administrative tasks while other volunteers take on jobs where they may become a “face and spokesperson” for AGAPE. Areas where AGAPE heavily relies on our wonderful volunteers include:
Foster Care Backpack Volunteers
These folks organize donation drives; collect, inventory and store donations; periodically coordinate a group to fill AGAPE’s backpacks with those donations; and deliver the filled AGAPE backpacks to Department of Social Services Offices in various counties a few times a year.
Beth Storms, Kenitra Williams, Teresa Jenkins, and Carol Woollens (together with a lot of other helpful servants) have been instrumental in helping us to grow this ministry.
We are always looking for newsletter content and welcome anyone who has a foster care and/or adoption story to write and submit an article. We express appreciation to some of our recurring authors: Kia Carter, Erica Asbury, Lydia Huth, Beth Storms, and Jordan Upton.
Time and talents shared by Angela Hardison are also invaluable. For the last couple of years, she has diligently worked on lay out, editing, and printing of AGAPE’s newsletters.
Mail Distribution Administrators
Although AGAPE delivers our newsletter & other information via email to those of you who have e-subscribed, the numberof people interested in AGAPE continues to grow. So, we still send a lot of mail through the postal service.
We appreciate Latrelle Dechene, Mallory Scott, and JaimeTodd for all their work stuffing, folding, stickering, labelling, stamping, and going to the Post Office.
Event Planners & Hospitality Coordinators
Volunteers from all over North Carolina coordinate AGAPE events at their churches and in their communities to raise awareness about the needs of the children, teens and families AGAPE serves. We recognize we could not do it without these tireless individuals.
If you would like to Volunteer with AGAPE of NC in one of the capacities described above, or if you have other ideas about ways you want to get involved, please contact Kaye Orander at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-810-7178. She would love to talk with you about having a vital impact on AGAPE’s mission to serve children and families in North Carolina.
By Jordan Upton
While most Americans are familiar with Dave Thomas and recognize him as the founder of fast-food restaurant chain Wendy’s, many are unaware of his philanthropy. Thomas’ most passionate mission and the role he embraced the most was as an advocate for adoption and ensuring every child had a safe, loving, and permanent home.
Thomas was born in 1932 in Atlantic City, New Jersey and was adopted at six weeks old by Rex and Auleva Thomas. After his adoptive mother passed away when he was only five, Dave spent the majority of his childhood traveling the country with his father and spending summers with his grandmother, Minnie. Dave spent the rest of his life working in restaurants and eventually opening Wendy’s in 1969. Wendy’s would become a commercially successful restaurant and now has over 6,500 locations worldwide.
While Dave had a passion for food, his greater passion was advocating for adoption and ensuring that all children had a loving home. Thomas established the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in 1992 as a national non-profit charity. It remains the only public non-profit in the United States focused exclusively on foster care adoption.
The Dave Thomas Foundation offers a variety of signature programs such as Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, which awards grants to local public and private agencies who are in turn able to hire adoption professionals who are able to place children on the longest-waiting placement lists into adoptive families. Another program includes Adoption-Friendly Workplace which works to make adoption an affordable option for working parents by establishing benefits, reimbursements, and financial aid for those who wish to adopt.
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has funded nearly 400 adoption centers across the United States and Canada, helped co-found National Adoption Day, and as their mission statement says, “we strive to make the world a better place through foster care adoption” because the children in foster care “deserve nothing less than our best effort”.
By Kimberly Scott
This September AGAPE has launched our 3rd Annual CHANGE FOR LIFE giving campaign to run through the end of the year! Once again, we challenge you to save your spare change and prayerfully consider your intentional support for AGAPE of NC.
AGAPE, and the communities we serve, were blessed by the amazing response showered upon us during the campaign last year. When all the CHANGE FOR LIFE donations were counted (during Q1 2018), you had provided over $91,000! Let’s Glorify Him by aiming much higher this year so more children, teens and families may benefit from our Christ-centered outreach!
THANK YOU in advance to the churches who will set aside a special time to collect contributions dedicated to AGAPE during our CHANGE FOR LIFE giving campaign (on top of the monthly, quarterly, and annual financial support you have already committed).
MANY THANKS to all the individuals, too, who will give to AGAPE during this coming giving season – and throughout the year. Your regular support helps sustain the mission we are all called to in James 1:27.
Everyone’s gifts directly impact the growing circle of AGAPE foster & adoptive families opening their hearts and homes to children & teens, birth families reunited through our post-adoption services, and those who seek counsel from our professional and compassionate counseling staff.
If you or your church would like more information about AGAPE and our plans to create CHANGE FOR LIFE, please visit our website: www.agapeofnc.org and find us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram @AGAPEOFNC.
Your donations support and equip AGAPE of NC foster families who are opening their loving, Christian homes right now to children in need. Sometimes the time together is brief, sometimes it’s for longer periods, and sometimes it’s FOREVER! Please watch & listen as the Finch family shares what happened when God laughed at their plans.
A California police officer is now a father of four after adopting a baby from a woman who is homeless. This heartwarming story will melt your heart and just possibly motivate you toward adoption and foster care.
By Jordan Upton
Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS) is not a formally recognized disorder but is a term that has been used since 1995 to describe feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression that some parents feel following an adoption. PADS usually affects adoptive mothers and can be attributed to a variety of factors.
The adoption process itself can be an emotional rollercoaster, but challenges may continue even after parents have brought their child home. There may be bonding issues, residual emotions about infertility, overwhelming pressure to be perfect, or a let-down that occurs after accomplishing a major goal or life milestone, like getting married or graduating from college.
Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome may present itself through:
● Loss of interest or enjoyment in activities you used to enjoy
● Fatigue or loss of energy
● Excessive guilt
● Feeling powerless
● Feeling worthless
● Sense of hopelessness
If you or someone you know may be experiencing these feelings post-adoption, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Reach out to a therapist or counselor. Contact AGAPE staff for their guidance and referrals. Take time off - whether it’s time off work or a day away from home to clear your head - take care of yourself so you can better take care of others.
Remember, you are not alone. A study by Purdue University found 18-26% of adoptive mothers reported depressive symptoms within the first year of bringing home a new baby or child.
Asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. You, your child, and your family as a whole will benefit when you are honest about your feelings and seek help to be and feel your best.
By Jordan Upton
In 2007 the National Public Radio morning show Morning Edition began a series titled “Adoption in America”. This four-part series examines the highs and the lows of adoption with four families and adoptees. The listener learns various aspects of adoption and how lives are impacted in sometimes unforeseen ways.
Part one talks with Judy Stigger and her now 26-year-old adopted son, Aaron. Over 30 years ago Judy and her husband, after discovering infertility issues, decided to adopt. They adopted two biracial children. Judy and her husband are both white. Judy and Aaron discuss the obvious and unexpected issues (such as the skin color of the angels on the family Christmas tree) involving race the family have faced.
In part two, NPR’s Steve Inskeep hears a harrowing story from the Smolin family who adopted two girls from India in 1998. The Smolins were told that the girls were orphans who were looking for a new home in America. But, when the girls arrive in Atlanta the Smolins learn this was not the case. The two girls, Manjula and Bhagya, were emotionally distressed and tell their new adoptive parents that they had a home and a mother in India and that they were taken from her. The Smolins learn that the biological mother of the two was poor and in order for her daughters to be taken care of had temporarily placed them in a boarding school. This school turned out to be an orphanage and the director essentially sold the girls overseas and had given false information to the adoption agency in America.
Part three has Susan Soon-keum Cox tell her story of being adopted by an Oregon couple after spending her first four and a half years in South Korea. Adopted in 1956, Susan was one of the first children from overseas to be adopted in America. Susan’s childhood was spent learning how to be an American and she essentially lost all touch with her Korean heritage. Cox, now the vice president of an adoption agency, advocates for the retainment of an adopted child’s heritage and culture, which was not the case when she was adopted.
Finally, in part four author A.M. Homes talks about being adopted just after her birth. Growing up with no intention of finding her birth mother, Homes, then 32 years old, came home to find a voicemail stating that “someone is looking for you”. That someone, was her birth mother who wanted to get in touch. Homes talks about the complicated histories of her birth mother and her birth father, who she would also eventually meet, and how these events and histories have shaped her own understanding of identity.
These heartfelt, unique, and diverse stories are all available for free online at
By Jordan Upton
This American Life is a weekly radio show based out of Chicago. The program has been on the air since 1995 and has produced over 600 episodes, which are now aired on over 500 public radio stations across the United States with over 2 million listeners. Each episode typically consists of several stories from journalists, writers, comedians, and various others who share common themes, traits, or ideas. In an episode from August of 2007, the theme was “The Spokesman”. In it, four different stories are told about people being forced into a spokesman-like role, dramatically altering their lives plunging them out of common anonymity.
The second story shared on this episode focuses on Anthony Pico of California. Anthony was born into the foster care system after his mother, a crack addict fled the hospital after giving birth. Anthony never knew his father and therefore was shuffled from relative to relative, facing abuse and neglect along the way. At age 12 Anthony was adopted by a relative who cared for him, but after their death two years later he was forced back into the system. Then, at age 15 he was placed under the care of another relative who also passed away when Anthony was 17. The tragedies in Anthony’s life forced him to see the foster care system not only in California, which is the nation’s largest foster care system, but as a whole, and he saw it needed reform. So at age 15, Anthony began public speaking on behalf of foster care reform to judges, legislators, groups advocating for foster children, and anyone who would listen. And in 2006, Anthony was appointed by California's Chief Justice to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care in order to represent the youth voice in California's court.
In this story, which was recorded over ten years ago, the reporter with Anthony is Douglas McGray. McGray follows Anthony for weeks as he travels giving speeches on his life and background in the system. Anthony was 18 at the time and was living in a group home with other 18 year-olds who were about to age out of the system. McGray discusses the hardships of not only children in foster care but, specifically, the children who are about to age out of foster care. McGray discusses a massive study conducted by the University of Chicago that looked at this exact group. At the end of the year-long study, it was concluded that nearly 70% of these kids had dropped out of high school, half had lost their health insurance, half of the girls had gotten pregnant, 15% had been homeless, and 1 in 5 had been in jail.
While Anthony is an advocate for all foster children, he himself is still a foster child. During the story, the listener is able to hear Anthony’s eloquent and powerful speeches to groups at lavish dinners, while also learning that Anthony has fallen behind in school. He is 18 and has gone to 6 different high schools over 4 years. He has fallen a full year behind and is not close to graduating. In an attempt to catch back up in school he enrolled in a six-week summer program but his public speaking caused him to miss orientation and his first full week of classes. The stark dichotomy of positive, confident speaker at elegant gatherings to the scared, frustrated 18-year-old kid trying to go to school is heartbreaking.
In the years since the story has aired Anthony has not only received his GED but also a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy from Loyola Marymount University and continues to be an advocate for reform in foster care and a mentor for those in the system.
Anthony’s story can be heard online for free at https://www.thisamericanlife.org/338/the-spokesman For more information on Anthony Pico please visit http://anthonypico.com/bio/
By Jordan Upton
Trisha Merry won a regional mother of the year competition and was titled “Mum in a Million” for her outstanding work as a foster care parent. Mrs. Merry has fostered over 700 children and adopted seven in her 50 years of experience.
Mrs. Merry gained an excellent reputation as a foster care parent and was often the first call for emergency placements and large sibling groups. In 2015 she published a book, “Four Waifs on Our Doorstep” which described the last sibling group she and her husband fostered and eventually adopted.
Throughout the book, she voiced her frustration with certain authority figures who failed the children in her care. She constantly pushed them to do better, to keep her kids’ best interests at the forefront of all decisions. Using these difficult situations as more purpose for writing the book, Mrs. Merry explained:
“I’m hoping just one foster carer, just one adopter, one social worker, perhaps one social-work manager, one psychiatrist, one teacher, one whatever, will pick it up and read it and sit and think.”
While the book mentions some of the traumatic incidents that led to the children being placed in care and eventually on the adoption track, Mrs. Merry tried to keep the overall story hopeful and inspiring. She did not want to dwell on the kids’ past, but “loved being able to open their doors to life.” She focused on the future, the opportunities now available to those in her care.
When telling her now-adopted children about her reason for sharing their story, Mrs. Merry said:
“I would like a child who’s been in the care system, perhaps who’s just been kicked out at sixteen, to pick up our book and read it, and be inspired by how you’ve turned your lives around. I would like it to help them.”
For more information on “Four Waifs on Our Doorstep” see:
Your donations support and equip foster families in your community who are opening their loving, Christian homes right now to children in need. Other Christian families assist them in this mission work by occasionally providing respite. Please watch & listen as the Williams family shares why they became Respite Providers.
By Jordan Upton
Bonnie Hendrix is now 30 years old. As we speak on the phone I hear the playful and raucous laughter of Bonnie’s two children, aged four and two, and Bonnie frequently has to take a sidebar from our conversation to answer questions posed by her curious kids. I was put in touch with Bonnie to hear and share her story. AGAPE has had a large impact on her life: she was adopted when she was two months old and recently was reunited with her birth mother.
Bonnie’s adoptive parents, Randy and Joyce, were on AGAPE’s Tennessee-based waiting list to be placed with a baby. When the couple heard no news of any children needing a home, they switched to AGAPE of North Carolina. After making this switch to the North Carolina branch, the couple was contacted about the birth of Bonnie while they attended a baseball game. Bonnie jokes “...it’s always funny I get to tell people that my mom was at a baseball game on my birthday.” This is one thing that surprised me while speaking with Bonnie about such intimate and dramatic details of her life: her unwavering sense of humor. The openness and willingness to discuss such events in her life with a relative stranger were both pleasantly surprising and uplifting.
Bonnie grew up in a happy home with Joyce and Randy as her adoptive parents. Two and a half years after taking Bonnie home, Joyce surprisingly became pregnant and the couple welcomed another girl into their family. Bonnie was raised knowing that she was adopted. Bonnie tells me how her mother explained to her that “I had not grown under her heart but in it”, and that her parents had always welcomed and supported Bonnie’s idea of finding her birth mother if she ever wished to do so. It is easy to see how caring and compassionate Bonnie’s parents are, especially considering how hard situations like those could be. Three years ago Bonnie decided to embark on that journey.
Bonnie contacted director of AGAPE, Kim Scott, who supported Bonnie’s search fully and helped in every way she could. Bonnie explains the process of filing the paperwork and sending in money to receive information on her birth mother. She was then told the information would take up to 90 days to find its way back to her. “I waited all summer and exactly on the dot 90 days later I got an email that said that they found her and that she really wanted to meet with me.” I asked if this 90 day wait was as grueling and stressful as I imagine it would be, to which Bonnie replied succinctly: “I immediately started freaking out”.
The two decided to meet during Bonnie’s fall break because she is a teacher. Joyce (Bonnie’s adoptive mother), Bonnie’s husband, and her then two and a half year old and six month old kids made the trip to AGAPE of NC’s offices. Bonnie impatiently paced the waiting room for 45 minutes waiting on her birth mother to arrive. “She was running late...she was terrible at directions which made me laugh because I’m also terrible at directions” Bonnie tells me. And then she arrived. I could feel the tension as Bonnie was telling me the story and could only imagine how this moment would feel. I was anxious as to how this story would end. And then Bonnie tells me with all of the sincerity and simplicity she had exuded throughout our conversation: “We both just started crying as soon as we saw each other. And we just hugged and it was great”.
While this was the only time Bonnie and her birth mother, Wendy, have met in person, they maintain contact over the phone and the internet. Wendy lives in South Carolina while Bonnie and her family live in Tennessee. Wendy had two other daughters, making them Bonnie’s half-sisters, and while Bonnie has not met them in person they have been in touch using Facebook. As we end our conversation Bonnie tells me that this journey has been a “really great experience” and that by contacting her birth mother it has “benefitted my whole family and I make a lot more sense to myself now”.
I was privileged to hear Bonnie’s incredible and uplifting life story. AGAPE is honored to have had a part in placing Bonnie with her incredible adoptive parents as well as helping her contact and reunite with her birth mother.
By Jordan Upton
When speaking with Marilyn Bredon, two things become apparent: her love of working with children and her faith in God. These pillars in her life led her, in January 2018, to join Agape of NC as a social worker II.
Marilyn has been an advocate for children since she was a child herself. As a Christmas gift when she was young, Marilyn was given a doll and named it Baby Sister. She knows that her parents had entertained the idea of adoption on their own, but with her insistence of wanting a baby sister, they adopted a two year old girl when Marilyn was five. When completing the adoption paperwork, five year old Marilyn piped up to give their home address and phone number, feeling very included in her sister’s adoption.
Marilyn and her sister, like their parents before them, grew up in the Church of Christ. Marilyn participated in youth group, and when she was old enough she became a leader in the children’s church Sunday morning service. She was also a leader during Vacation Bible Schools and taught bible study. In college, she ran a “Mothers Morning Out” program. Marilyn’s work with children has truly been a lifelong calling.
After college, Marilyn moved to North Carolina with her husband. While living in Durham and working for Durham County Child Protective Services, they had three children. A job opportunity moved them to Virginia, where their fourth child was born. Marilyn swears this move was all God.
In Virginia, she was diagnosed with ocular cancer. She had an ocular melanoma wrapped completely around her optic nerve. Fortunately, one of the nation’s leading doctors with that expertise was working in Richmond. Marilyn was his last surgical patient. When the job opportunity turned out not to be what their family expected, and they moved back to North Carolina, Marilyn realized God’s real purpose in moving them to Virginia - that specific place at that specific time- was so this doctor could save her life. She has been cancer-free since 2001.
Upon their move back to North Carolina, Marilyn spoke with Nicole Spickard, whose father started AGAPE. She applied in the fall of 2017 and officially started work in January 2018.
There is no such thing as a typical day in her work. What families and children need may change every day, depending on who is involved and what is happening. She was the social worker for Salem House, and is currently working with two other families that are fostering children. She may be visiting, calling, texting, and/or emailing the foster parents on any given day to discuss the children in their care. If there are older teenagers currently in care, she’ll check in with them via texts and calls too. Marilyn also helps people who are working to become licensed foster parents or renew their licenses. Some days are hectic - like during the recent July Fourth holiday when she needed to find last minute respite care after late notice of closure from a daycare. But other days, like when she receives adorable school pictures of happy children in care, balance it out.