ALPHARETTA, Ga.—Lynette Ezell and Tera Melber shared many joys, frustrations, challenges and triumphs over the last 15 years as their families have journeyed through the process of adopting children. Now, the two former Kentuckians are sharing that experience and knowledge with others.
Hosting the North American Mission Board’s “Adopting and Fostering Home” podcast, the two friends seek to encourage and equip God’s people and the church to battle for the hearts and lives of children at risk.
“We believe that if the church is going to champion the cause of foster care and adoption, the church has to be prepared for what that means on a daily basis,” Melber noted.
Melber and Ezell would know. They have watched their daughters and sons process and make sense of birth stories and unanswered questions.
“As they work through their beginnings and the implications of their stories, there have been times when I have really understood Romans 12:15,” Melber said. “Paul writes, ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.’ Adoption is beautiful yet complex. Through our parenting journeys, we have experienced some of the highest highs and the lowest lows.”
The Adopting and Fostering Home podcast, available on iTunes, walks with singles, couples, parents, empty nesters and those curious about adoption and foster care through the beginnings, myths and lessons of the calling with candor.
“We have a wide age range in our house,” Melber said. “So, in one day’s time, I could be talking to our oldest children about adult things or helping the younger ones with Algebra and Latin homework and teaching our 15-year-old how to drive.”
But it’s not juggling multiple schedules that makes their families unique.
“Add to that, on any given day, we could receive a letter from a birth mom in the mail, have an unkind comment made to our child due to the color of their skin or discuss a future of returning to their homeland,” Melber said, adding with a smile, “You know, typical stuff.”
Because the complexities of adopting and fostering can be messy, Ezell embraces the power of transparency in adopting and fostering.
“I believe we dig deep and bring transparency to the table,” Ezell said of the podcast, but also of her adoptive home. “Adoption isn’t all cute babies and colorful families. It’s a lifelong call to tough parenting with no-strings-attached love.”
The podcast extends its aim to motivating the church and surrounding adoptive and foster families with love and support.
“We don’t want adoptive and foster families to feel isolated or alone in this calling,” Ezell said. “It’s a tactic the enemy uses to defeat us. We want to battle that with hope, encouragement and truth from God’s Word. He loves our kids more than we ever could. They were His before they were ours, and we know He alone will bring our families to completion.
“The honor of knowing these children and getting to do life with them is beyond amazing,” Ezell added. “He is a champion of the fatherless; I love seeing Him work all things for His glory.”
Those who listen to the Adopting and Fostering Home podcast have heard Ezell and Melber discuss some of the most difficult challenges they’ve faced over the last decade and a half — things like not understanding the system or the inability to erase all children’s past pains.
“We may not always agree with the law” related to adoption and foster care, Melber said. “It does not always seem to support the best interest of the children. Yet, through adoption and foster care, I have a deeper trust in the Lord and His sovereign hand. In a sense, this journey has forced me to trust the Lord more than I thought I was capable.”
“Learning to navigate such an unpredictable, broken system is challenging,” Ezell agreed. “The lines are blurred. Adopting and fostering families grow weary of waiting or fighting the government’s changing policies. And though these faithful families are in the trenches with these wounded little ones, they sometimes aren’t listened to or supported very well.
“The hardest part of adoption for me is my inability to erase all my children’s past pains,” Ezell stated. “Trauma doesn’t tell time; it can hide for a very long time then hit them blindsided. I don’t want the enemy to ever convince them they’re unworthy because their birth parents had to release them. I want to see them embrace God’s plan for their lives and know a beautiful life of Kingdom work.”
Both Melber, whose husband David is vice president of Send Relief at the North American Mission Board, and Ezell, whose husband Kevin is NAMB’s president, share how opening their hearts, homes and lives to adoption has changed the fabric of their families and church families.
David Melber is the former president of Crossing Ministries of the Kentucky Baptist Convention; Kevin Ezell is a former pastor of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville.
“Kevin and I are seeing our children wrap their arms around this calling as well,” Ezell said. “Our oldest daughter and her husband have adopted domestically, and our second oldest and her husband are about to receive their first foster placement. Our family is close, and we support one another as the Lord leads each of us.”
Ezell attributes the adaptive and loving nature of this difficult journey to “open hands and holding our schedules loosely — allowing the Lord to change plans and fill our days as He sees fit.”
“I believe this is a biblical mandate,” Ezell said. “I also believe that serving and caring for the fatherless is to reflect the heart of God to a lost world.” (BP)