Arick Graham’s parents fostered. He had adopted siblings. When he and Rachel met, it was natural for Arick to ask Rachel if she’d ever want to adopt. Back then, Rachel didn’t think her heart would ever have the capacity for that. After they were married, the Grahams felt God speaking to them about adoption, but they had no idea what that would look like. With three young daughters, Olivia, Claire and Kate, Rachel did know she had underestimated her capacity to love. Rachel loved Kate just as much as her older sisters.
In 2013, at a Life and Justice conference, the Grahams learned about the many kids in foster care who needed a family and sensed God moving them to foster. December 8, 2015, Arick and Rachel attended a Project 1.27 Info Night. That night, they started praying for the kids that would someday come into their home. Little did they know that Evelyn had been born just one week earlier and Ben, at just a year old, was already going through some tough experiences.
The Graham’s have made, “We want to be a family that says, yes!” their family motto. Starting the training and certification were the hardest part of the journey because, like many families, they really wanted to know what their foster care destination would look like. Surrendering to an unknown destination, trusting God to do what he will, that’s scary, especially when considering their three young daughters. With “Yes!” signs posted throughout the house, Arick and Rachel decided to keep saying yes with each new step. Guiding their journey was Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
When Ben and Evelyn joined the family in September of 2016, Rachel describes the experience as “uninformed optimism”. The girls were excited, chasing Ben, 2 around the table as he giggled. Evelyn was so little and had a cold. The siblings had family in the area and their dad was a likely candidate for reunification. The Grahams committed to being cheerleaders for the parents to succeed and again parent these young children.
Over time, neither parent was able to successfully create a safe home for the siblings. Arick describes the hearing for Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) as “the hardest day, the worst day of all. Knowing this mom and dad you’ve cheered for and prayed for are losing their rights to parent is sobering”.
Throughout their journey, Arick and Rachel have been surprised to see God’s goodness written all over the children’s story, even the hard parts. It is hard. And God is good. God is still redeeming and rewriting the story. For all seven of the Grahams.
After just putting one foot in front of the other for so long, there was almost a pinch me feeling about Adoption Day. Going in, it still felt like “are we really doing this?” Ben (4 ½) and Evelyn (3 ½) had felt like ours for a long time, but at court, I really could say, “you are mine”. Looking at Ben and Evelyn, it took my breath away. God, you did this. You designed our family like this.
Adoption Day was so much fun. On the day, we had a huge crowd with us, balloons, fancy clothes and a photographer for family photos. We prayed together out in the courtroom lobby. The following Saturday, we had a big adoption party. Our theme was Turtlelly Awesome because it took so long to get to this point. After 1,050 days, Ben and Evelyn were worth the wait.
Now that Ben and Evelyn’s adoption is final, the family is praying every night that their family will glorify God and point others to him. Arick shares- We’ve now become a family of “Yes, And!” Yes, we’re the Grahams, AND what else does God have for us? I want my kids to know God, to serve others, to see Rachel and I taking steps of faith.
Arick and Rachel support Project 1.27’s vision of “a family waiting for every child” in many ways. When talking about their foster care journey, they describe Project 1.27’s faith-based approach as “our first, best choice; a ministry which shares that in this world of broken families, Christians need to serve these families, these children. The Grahams encourage others to attend an Info Night, serve as parent panelists, drop off coffee or lunch for Project 1.27 staff during busy Novembers (we love that!), sponsor fundraising events and invite friends to join them in making the vision of a family waiting for every child a reality.
Arick and Rachel Graham share this advice for those considering getting involved with foster care and adoption:
If you’re waiting until you’re ready, you’ll never be completely ready. If you’re waiting until your strong enough, you’ll never be strong enough. In the meantime, there are kids who need us now. We are Plan A. Pray how you can help. Move from being an observer to be a helper. Kids and families involved in the foster system need the love of Jesus.
How can you pray for the Grahams and other adoptive families? Pray for wisdom on top of wisdom. Often at an adoption, someone will be heard saying, “It’s all wrapped up. They are finally yours!” Those that have adopted know it is not all wrapped up. Adoption provides security and permanence, but healing from abuse and neglect doesn’t happen when the judge pounds the gavel. Pray that adoptive families will continue to be dependent on God’s Spirit to empower them to be a light, to continue the ministry of reconciliation.
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