First there were two, now there are four.
The head count at Michael and Angie Fleming’s house doubled back in August. Their oldest son Ben is 13 and in the seventh grade. Their youngest son Luke is 10 and in the fourth grade. Just before the start of the school year in 2016 two more children became part of the mix and they came with hair bows.
The Flemings came to First Assembly of God Church in Whitehouse about 11 years ago. The life of a pastor’s family is as hectic as anyone’s, likely even crazier. Between all of the church obligations, they still have to make time for their family, to go to ball games and track meets. Who would gladly take on even more responsibility?
The thought of adoption came to their minds from Michael listening to a podcast entitled Adopted for Life.
“The pastor was relating a physical adoption to our spiritual adoption,” Michael said. “He made a statement about the greatest example of The Great Commission being adoption; taking a child from a hopeless situation and introducing them to Christ in on only an earthly home but an eternal home. That just struck me. I had never considered adoption.”
He began to read that book and others and pray more about what he thought God might be telling him.
“I began to talk about it with Angie,” he said. “She said no way. We have our boys. What more could we want? I asked her to just read the book. I shared things with her as I found more articles and all that kept my mind on adoption.”
The idea of adoption just didn’t make sense to Angie at first. She struggled with the thought of it for a while.
“I think I had just watched a few too many Lifetime movies,” Angie said. “All I could think about were the horror stories of adoption.”
Michael was persistent and Angie could now feel the tug at her heart that was pulling Michael along this path. They were now at least on the road together.
“We were very uneducated on the cost,” Angie said. “I kept saying there is no way we can afford the process. We knew nothing about adopting through the Foster Care system. The more we read the more we learned.”
It was much different than they had expected.
“Adoption through the Foster Care system involves no cost,” Michael said. “The lawyer, everything is provided. There is so much available to adoptive parents through the system; legal, counseling, state college tuition provided for the children through the state, insurance to age 18 and more.”
Two lovely little girls were living with a foster family. They, along with four siblings, were wards of the state living in temporary homes in twos. They were searching for a normal home life and as best it could be, was being provided by their foster parents.
After a serious time of prayer, research and more prayer, the Flemings took the first step on the road to adoption. The process was not easy but it was not as overwhelming as they expected.
The Flemings worked through Arrow Family Ministries. They offer training and support for the entire family in the foster/adoptive process. It can be a daunting process.
“We started by meeting the girls for a weekend,” Angie said. “Then they came and visited for a couple of weekends with them here. The process was pushed to get the girls here before school started and it all happened.”
Allie, who is nine and in fourth grade and Emily, a kindergartener, now have two big brothers and loving parents who cannot stop smiling.
While the girls came to live with the Flemings back in August, everyone is given a three month period together to assure that everything is going to work out.
On March 7, in a Smith County court room, the legal process of adoption was complete. The Flemings are now a household of six.
“Bringing the girls in has been three-fold,” Angie said. “We have been prepared as parents, but it has been just as difficult on your children. We included our boys all along the way. They are sharing their home, their parents and their friends. The boys have dealt with a lot of change and there is still more to come over the years.”
Through this entire process God was leading not only the Flemings to a place of ministry to orphans but also an entire church body.
“We began to see a heart for this in our church,” Angie said. “We had a call from someone who knew of two children who were about to be removed from their home and they were looking for someone who was willing to foster them. After just a few calls we had families saying yes. A few months later we had a similar situation and within 30 minutes we had a family offering to foster her.”
Orphan ministry has taken off at Whitehouse First Assembly. A clothes closet is stocked with items to help out when a family is in immediate need with a foster child. They now have a support group for those in the foster/adoption process or those who just want to know more. They meet the first Wednesday night of the month and child care is provided.
“We found this was in the DNA of our church,” Michael said. “It was something we had never preached on, never taught, but it really is part of us and everyone can help with the process. You can foster, you can adopt or you can support a family who does with meals, beds, clothing, even babysitting.”
Life goes on at the Fleming house, actually will continue in a new house soon. The need for more space has brought about the sale of their house and the purchase of a bigger one. Wherever they call home, God will be at the heart of it all.
“Helping these children is the heart of God,” Angie said. “When you are doing what is his heart, he will provide what you need. Everybody can do something.”