Carlton Weathers, pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Anniston, addressed the Jacksonville Exchange Club on Thursday to spread the word about his congregation’s adoption ministry, Micah’s Hope.
In 2006, the church rallied behind a family in its congregation whose son was born with a congenital illness and raised $100,000 for his care. Micah Fleming died after 10 months, but the remaining $75,000 set aside for him became the foundation for the ministry that lives on in his name.
Grace Fellowship has partnered with an organization called Lifesong for Orphans, which administers adoption grant and loan funds to Christian families who need financial assistance with the expensive adoption process.
“The problem is astounding,” Weathers said. “One of the barriers we need to overcome is finances.” The pastor explained that international adoptions cost between $18,000 and $36,000, depending on the country. Domestic adoption through a private agency, he said, generally costs about $24,000.
“I don’t want to whitewash adoption and make it seem like it’s easy; it’s not,” he said. “It takes time and work and money.”
Weathers should know. Three years ago, he and his wife, Aimee, adopted their daughter Lily from China when she was 3 years old. Lily had grown up in an orphanage originally built for 200 children, but which housed 480.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, an estimated 2 million or more children are in institutional care around the world, a number that is likely underestimated due to under-reporting and lack of reliable data. UNICEF also estimates that in 2007, more than 82 million children in South Asia and East Asia had lost one or both parents.
Weathers said estimates for the number of orphans worldwide range from 167 million to more than 200 million, but data is often unreliable because of overcrowded orphanages, among other reasons.
Although the governments of the world recognize it as a problem and know there’s a solution, it’s not always easy because there’s a missing component, and that’s families willing to adopt children. That’s where Micha’s Hope comes in. Since the organization was founded, more than 30 families have adopted 37 children at least partly due to scholarships from Micah’s Hope.
“There is hope for orphans, and the church should be working to connect them with families,” Weathers said.
Part of Micah’s Hope’s ministry is to raise awareness and funds about the problem. The 501(c)3 nonprofit continually accepts donations for the adoption grant and loan funds.
“Every dime that goes to Micah’s Hope goes toward an orphan being adopted,” Weathers said. Donations, noted for Micah’s Hope, can be made to Grace Fellowship at 860 Summerall Gate Road, Anniston, Ala. 36205.
“You make a difference when you care for children,” Weathers said.
Star staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.