Miracles Amid a Pandemic
Valley Teen Placed in Strong, Loving Home
“I just want to move in with them,” said Alex, a 15-year-old foster child, who learned that visits with a potential adoptive family were coming to a halt due to COVID-19.
The phone line went quiet for a moment as his team processed what he had just said. Just months before, Alex didn’t even want to be adopted. Too many families before had shattered his heart and broken his trust. But this one was different. The Strong family pursued him lovingly and built trust slowly.
Finding a Forever Home During a Global Pandemic
Be encouraged that even in-the-midst-of a global pandemic, economic shutdown, and civil unrest, miraculous things are still happening all around us! A teenage boy finally understands what it feels like to trust again, to have hope in a future, and receive unconditional love.
Alex is in our Specialized Youth Permanency (SYP) program at Christian Family Care. Foster children who are considered “hard to place” by the Department of Child Safety (DCS) are referred to our SYP program. Our incredible team of youth advocates then go the extra mile to find a family that fits the child’s needs. Thanks to your support, our youth advocates placed 42 children in their forever homes this year. Alex is one of them.
A Perfect Match
When Annie and Mike Strong were married, they shared a desire to have four children. Many years, two biological children, three adopted children, and one foster daughter later, they felt like they were at their max capacity! That is, until they laid eyes on Alex.
Annie and Mike’s oldest daughters found Alex’s child profile online. Online profiles are among the many tools CFC youth advocates use to help find adoptive families for children. Mike just so happened to own the exact shirt that Alex was wearing in his photos. The girls knew they had to show his profile to their Dad.
Mike arrived home from work, and the girls were at the door, “There’s something that we need to show you.” They pulled up Alex’s profile and showed their Dad this special boy. “We need him in our family,” they said. Mike and Annie weren’t sure about that.
They always thought they weren’t fit to take in a teenager at this stage of their lives. They already had enough children in their house, how could they possibly have enough room for another? But God kept laying this boy on Mike’s heart. After prayerful consideration and many discussions with Annie, Mike went back to the profile and selected the “inquire about this child” button.
Letting God Lead the Way
He received a phone call from Alex’s Christian Family Care youth advocate. Part of the youth advocate’s job is to screen potential families and determine whether they’d be a good fit based on the child’s unique needs and past trauma. They had a long discussion about what had happened to Alex in the past, the kind of family and
structure he would work best in, and how Alex may not even want to be adopted after all of his past trauma. “That’s okay,” Mike thought. If he doesn’t want a family, then they could at least be his friends.
For many years, God pressed upon Mike’s heart the importance of discipling young men. He knew many young men in the foster care system would age out with no one to turn to, no support, and no male role model to teach them how to care for a family and that broke his heart. Mike prayed that if God wanted Alex in their family, he would make a way for it to happen. In November, Annie and Mike went to meet Alex for the very first time. It only took three hours for
them to know that this kid had their hearts. They left with a peace about pursuing adoption and knew that God would make a way.
Breaking the Bad News
They continued to make the two-and-a-half-hour drive round-trip to visit Alex until he finally felt comfortable enough to come to their house to meet the rest of the family. His CFC youth advocate would spend hours in the car with him while they drove to and from the Strongs’ house, helping him work through past trauma and prepare his heart for adoption. Alex would spend the visits observing family dynamics and getting to know other family members.
Overnight visits were scheduled to start soon, but then the pandemic hit Arizona. In order to protect the children, families, and staff, DCS put a stop to all in-person visits. Alex’s DCS caseworker, his CFC youth advocate, and the Strong family broke the news via phone conference to Alex in March. That’s when Alex spoke up about wanting to go live with the Strongs. The team acted quickly to have a judge sign off on Alex’s request, and by April 1st, Alex was officially a member of
the Strong household.
It’s been only a few months since Alex went to live with the Strongs, and his transformation is remarkable. Annie homeschools Alex and he’s starting to catch up academically. The one-on-one help and attention Annie’s given him has strengthened their relationship and allowed Alex to grasp the curriculum better.
A Committed, Loving Family Makes all the Difference
Alex’s prior family would tell him he’d never amount to anything, but Mike and Annie know better. They know Alex will do great things in this lifetime and they always remind him of that. Now, Alex has even tossed career ideas around like becoming a pharmacist or learning how to build musical instruments.
Another huge shift for Alex has been his interest in studying the Bible. In just thirty days, Alex went from being argumentative about biblical values to asking for his own Bible to study. Every night, Mike reads passages of scripture and Alex continually surprises Mike with his contributions to the conversation.
The Future is Bright
With just a few years left until Alex leaves the house to pursue post-secondary education and a life of independence, the Strongs appreciate every moment they have with him. Mike knows these next years are critical in helping Alex become a successful adult and a godly man.
With thousands of children in foster care in Arizona, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of vulnerable children who need our help. That’s why we are so thankful for families like the Strongs, ministry partners, and donors who are walking in God’s calling alongside Christian Family Care to make a difference, one child at a time.
Click here to see how you too can make a difference in a child’s life.