Through my daughter’s volunteer work with overseas missions, I learned that the goal of some countries is to have no children without a loving family. That ideal is far from being reached, but many leaders of third-world countries and the charities in those countries try to rehabilitate families so children can be returned to their family of origin. It is important for children to be raised in a permanent family situation.

Our own Alabama Baptist Children’s Home (ABCH) in Oxford exists primarily to care for children in transition until their family can be rehabilitated, regardless of the issues that cause separation. If that cannot happen, ABCH tries to find a child or children a permanent home through adoption.

Recently, I watched one of the CBS holiday programs hosted by singer Josh Groban. Called “A Home for the Holidays,” it featured wholesome love songs intertwined with real-life stories of children who had been adopted.

One story was told by a sister with a younger brother. Both lived with addicted parents who abused and neglected them. They were sent to live at another relative’s house where they were also abused. Then, loving parents welcomed them into their home and adopted them. The parents also told their story of the love these two children have returned to them.

Another surrogate father told of his discovery of a boy tied to a chair after a beating by a parent. The father, an off-duty policeman who responded to the house call was so moved by what he saw that he adopted the boy and the boy’s sibling who was born later while the mother was in jail. Again, the story was moving There were other songs and stories, and all touched my heart. This was the 19th year of the special, and I wish I could see the other 18. I don’t know how I missed them. (To learn more about the family’s feature on the program, visit the Broadway World website. Each story is inspiring.)

I am a huge Josh Groban fan and appreciate his participation in the show. We should applaud all of the celebrities who shed light on the needs of children in our nation and around the world.

Kelly Clarkson was also one of the featured singers on the holiday show. She has a story of her own that was not mentioned; but it is well known that, as a youngster, her father left her, her sister, and her mother. However, he took with him Clarkson’s brother. I remember once when she first released the song “Piece by Piece” about her father. Her performance moved singer Keith Urban and others to tears. She later said the song was written out of her mindset to forgive and understand.

As I recently interviewed Piedmont residents, Micah and Brandi Harbison, for a story in the Piedmont Journal, I thought about how they are touched by the love that their daughter Dannie Rae gives them. Such love is causing them to consider adopting a second child. During their inquiry at the ABCH, they discovered the need for foster parenting. They hosted a class sponsored by ABCH at the Piedmont First Baptist Church, where he is one of the ministers. The class yielded more than nine new potential foster homes for children. Those who work not only at that home but also at the many agencies throughout our state should be thanked for assisting in the placement of children.

I know from my own experience as a daughter and mother that raising children is hard work. Many families do not manage to avoid separation, which leads to hard decisions about how to raise a child or children. Sometimes parents are even forced to give up their offspring in order to allow them to be raised in a safe and nurturing home.

The point of this column is to say that we all need to work together in 2018, to support parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, staff members in the field, and children in need of a home. We can offer them prayers, financial support, and the ultimate gift of all, a home for those whose lifestyles can accommodate a child. After all, every child needs a loving home in which to grow. With that example of parenting, those children should become adults who will provide loving homes. Wouldn’t that be a great way to “pay it forward”?

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