Tanna and Timothy Roush have grown their family by adopting three children from China in the past three years.
“We just knew that there were so many kids out there that needed families, and we knew that we had room in our house and in our hearts for more babies,” Tanna Roush said. “It was a faith decision we felt led to do.”
The Roushes and their three biological children welcomed two boys — now ages 4 and 5 — in December 2013 and a 2-year-old girl in June of this year.
Now, they’re helping other families through a new ministry at Lakewood Baptist Church called Jochebed’s Hope.
Led by Randy and Teresa Grimes, Jochebed’s Hope offers a comprehensive, biblically rooted view of adoption, orphan care and foster care.
The Grimes, who have been involved with adopted and fostered children for the past 27 years, established Jochebed’s Hope as a personal ministry.
Then last month, the Cumming couple joined forces with Lakewood Baptist to launch a ministry at the church on Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville.
Tom Smiley, Lakewood Baptist’s senior pastor, said the ministry is responding to a need for foster care and adoption in Hall County.
“We became aware of the tremendous need in the Hall County, Northeast Georgia area regarding the need for foster care and adoption through (the Division of Family and Children Services),” Smiley said. “So we just began to pray and to inquire about how we could establish a work.”
Teresa Grimes said she and her husband approached Lakewood earlier this year.
“It’s the right timing, the right ministry, the right people,” she said. “It was one of those instances where everything just comes together, and you know it’s the Lord’s design for you to develop this ministry.
One of the ministry’s goals is to have a group of people participating in foster care, Smiley said.
Grimes agreed, explaining Hall needs more foster families.
“As of just a couple of weeks ago, there were 256 children in DFCS care in Hall County, and they only have about 19 DFCS direct homes,” she said, adding direct homes are those licensed directly by DFCS. Hall also includes foster homes licensed by private agencies.
That means many children in DFCS care in Hall are placed outside of the county because no local homes are available, Grimes said. DFCS homes in Hall also take in children from other counties, which can impact their availability.
“We just feel like this is of absolute critical need — that it’s Hall County’s responsibility to care for Hall County children,” she said.
While educating people on foster care, Smiley said the church wants to include adoption, whether it is domestic or foreign.
“It’s just a fact that ... our vision at Lakewood is to be a regional church that really raises up fully developed followers of Christ,” he said. “That includes all aspects of caring for children and orphans. That is a big part of our Christian mandate.”
The name of the ministry stems from the story of Moses. During a time when Pharaoh ordered all male Hebrew children to be drowned, Moses’ mother Jochebed placed him in a basket and cast him into the Nile River.
“Truly the only woman in all of Egypt who could save the baby’s life is the one who pulls him from the water, and that was Pharaoh’s daughter,” Grimes said. “So it’s the first documented case of adoption in the Bible. It’s also interestingly the first transracial adoption because Pharaoh’s daughter becomes Moses’ adopted mother.”
A number of families who attend Lakewood have adopted foster children and adopted domestically and internationally — such as the Roushes.
“It’s a big leap of faith for most families. It’s very costly and it can be an overwhelming thing,” Tanna Roush said of international adoption. “I love the fact that we have families in the ministry that can help support families who are considering adoptions.”
Roush said her hope is to show anyone with a heart for adoption can take in children.
“When you know families are living adoption stories, it makes it less intimidating,” she said.
The Roushes also hope to get the opportunity to meet other adoptive families.
“We’re very excited that our kids are going to be around other adopted families — our biological and our adopted kids,” she said.
The ministry, however, is not an adoption agency, Grimes stressed.
“We don’t place children for adoption. We don’t arrange for adoption,” she said. “It’s about education, information and support as well as promoting the biblical foundation for adoption.”
An orientation meeting for Jochebed’s Hope will be 3 p.m. Nov. 13 at the church. The session is for families interested in adopting or foster care. Representatives from DFCS will be on hand.
In January a 28-hour foster parent training will begin for potential foster parents.
“I’m really excited to see what the ministry does,” Roush said.