My name is Lyanna and I have been married to my awesome husband for 18 years. We have 4 kiddos- 3 biological and one foster kiddo. Our one year anniversary of becoming foster parents is in September.
Our foster care journey began over three years ago. While we were living our life, we kept hearing and seeing things about foster care that we were totally oblivious about- the number of kids in out of home care, the negative effects of being bounced from home to home, how few Christians are foster parents when the Church is commanded to care for these kids, and how few foster homes there were in our area. We felt like we were being led down the path to foster and didn’t know where to start.
There was a church leadership convention in town that I went to and one of the classes was called “How to Start an Orphan Ministry in your Church” led by Steve and Sandra Hogue, who are awesome examples of what foster care and adoption should be. And sitting in the class already were Josh and Sabrina! I knew them a little since our kids were friends but we were more like acquaintances. We waited until the end of the class to talk about why we were there and what our plans were. And we left it at that.
A few weeks later, Jennifer and I met at the McDonald’s playground so the kids could play and wouldn’t you know it- her heart was being drawn towards foster care and adoption, too!!
Now, I don’t believe in coincidences. I truly think that our paths were all supposed to cross and that we were supposed to do something for the fostering community. But what?????
So we all met and shared our hearts with one another. We agreed that the Lord was directing us on this path. We chose a name- ECHO- Everyday Christians Helping Orphans- because that’s exactly who we are. We are moms and dads with kids and schedules and busy lives. We think everyday people can help someone and make a difference. So we kept meeting and planning. We knew we had to know what we were talking about and who we were before we presented this ministry to our pastor.
We met with him and told him our ideas and our mission. He was instantly excited! That made us more excited!! We officially launched ECHO on Mother’s Day of 2012 by having a diaper drive at our church. And over that month, we collected over 2000 diapers!
This just made ECHO more exciting to us- people were responding and eager to help foster families, too. And we started hearing the same thing over and over- “We knew foster care existed. We just never thought about it while we were busy living our own lives. You guys have brought foster children to our attention.”
And that is one of our goals- to not only meet the physical and spiritual needs of foster, relative, non relative, and adoptive families, but to bring awareness to our community of the great need there is for quality foster homes in our area. And that you don’t have to be a foster parent to help foster children! You can donate items or donate a few hours of service. Being a blessing to a foster family is also a way to bless foster children.
It has been amazing to see this ministry grow- from keeping donated clothes in trash bags in our garages to now having 4 donation centers in our area to better serve these deserving families. When the Lord calls you to something, when He places something in your heart that you cannot stop thinking about- just say YES to Him. You may not be educated or rich or you may have never led a ministry, but none of that matters. All it takes is a willing heart.