The Mingling of Collegiate Ministry and Adoption

By Bekah Ross

My current season of life looks like a constant juggling act of parenting a toddler; managing our household; keeping up with friends, family, and our local church; investing in young women on campus, and more. Perhaps this sounds similar to your life! Some days are frustrating and defeating; while other days I feel immense joy and purpose in the “Holy mundane.” When I feel overwhelmed, God often reminds my heart of the months and years I begged Him for what he has given us now. Defeat is replaced with gratitude and praise for all the Father has done for us. My empty arms are now filled with a child who calls me mommy. 

When Nate and I got married as 19 year old college students, we both knew we had a desire to go into vocational ministry after graduating college. We didn’t have a specific vision for this, but my heart felt strongly pulled towards orphan care and adoption. Even as a child I daydreamed about what it would be like to adopt or work in an orphanage overseas. 

Yet as Nate approached graduation, he felt God was calling him to join EDGE Corps. Initially, I was frustrated that God was pulling our hearts in two different ministry directions.Through much prayer, I eventually felt a strong peace about joining Nav staff - trusting that God would open doors to minister to children in his timing. 

In 2014, during my senior year of college and my husband’s first year of EDGE Corps, we actively began trying to get pregnant - but to no avail. Later that year, we got an official infertility diagnosis. Though fertility treatments were presented to us, we both felt strongly called to begin pursuing adoption right away. We were heartbroken, but we were more so excited for what was to come. It wasn’t a secret that we wanted to adopt someday - we just always assumed we would get pregnant first. 

When you are at the starting line of adoption, it can feel like you are trying to run a marathon with no race route. The options of where to start can be overwhelming! From raising the funds to choosing between adoption agencies or deciding to foster, there are so many decisions to navigate. 

In the beginning I doubted God’s ability to raise the required funds needed for most adoptions - especially since we were already raising our own salary. We also had exposure to foster care (both sets of our parents were active foster families at the time), and we felt at peace about the idea of becoming foster parents with the hope to adopt. However, we didn’t understand at the time that the goal of foster care is always reunification with the bio family. We went into our training naively thinking we would foster an infant and adopt them a year later - all while not needing to bug our supporters for more money. Win-win!

The last four years of pursuing foster care and adoption has been a long and complex journey. Nine months after making the decision to foster, we welcomed a 12 week old baby boy into our home. Shortly after that, a newborn boy made us temporarily a family of four. They both returned home eventually and opened our eyes to the beautiful heartbreak that comes with foster care. Along with our first two foster care placements, we have had two disrupted adoptions through an agency we unexpectedly began working with, received the surprise of a lifetime when Lyla came to us after a family friend connected us to her birth mom, and we recently watched our third foster placement be reunited with her mom after living with us for 13 months. God has humbled us and tested us through this journey more than anything else in our lives.

Through it all, the students in our ministry have had a front row seat into our personal lives. Though frustrating to balance at times, we found it a joy to be able to “marry” collegiate ministry with adoption and foster care. 

I can recall driving to our Regional Fall Conference the day after making the decision to foster and sharing this information with the student in the car. This was the first time I was honest with a student about our struggles with infertility, our fears, and our hopeful anticipation about the path God was leading us down. I found that my vulnerability not only encouraged her, but it brought healing to my soul as I began to see purpose in my pain. God spoke Psalm 40:1-3 over me during 2014. Verse 3 says “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.” As I saw God being glorified through my temporary suffering, it spurred me on to joyfully embrace our journey - knowing that God was sovereignly orchestrating it so that His glory may be made known to the world. 

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of collegiate ministry while in the thick of adoption and foster care is watching students rally around our family and celebrate with us every child that has come into our home. We make it a point to let them enter into our family, even during the chaotic seasons. For example, rather than canceling my scheduled 1-1 the day after our foster daughter joined our family, I instead brought this student with me as I frantically shopped for shoes our little girl desperately needed. This same student recently shared with me that saying goodbye to that same foster daughter was the hardest part of her week. Often times students are the first people to come meet the new children who have entered our home, and they are the last people to say goodbye as they leave. Many have told me that the Lord has awakened in them a desire to foster or adopt in the future after watching our family. 

Even if these students never pursue adoption or foster care, I pray that they would be on the front lines of advocating and praying for the least of these. My prayer for you, NavMoms, is the same thing! Would you consider the next step you can take in loving the vulnerable families and children in your community? This will not look the same for everybody, but I believe that God has gifted each of us to serve in some capacity. I would love to continue this conversation as God leads. May he be made famous through us as we seek to love those that he loves!

Bekah and her husband Nate have been married for nearly seven years and serve on staff at Oregon State University. After both spending all of their lives in Iowa, God called them to the Pacific Northwest in 2016 for Staff in Training. Though a challenge at times, Bekah has enjoyed learning what it looks like to disciple women with a toddler close by. Bekah is a wanna-be reader, organization lover, and a homebody. Lyla will be two in April and keeps them laughing with her constant singing and independent spirit.

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