Friday, September 11, 2015

Resist Apathy

One week ago today, we launched CAFO of the Midlands as a local movement of Christians from the Midlands collaborating on behalf of South Carolina children in foster care and orphans globally. A group of seven believers met in a coffee shop early in the morning and prayed with power and conviction for God himself to work a miracle in our broken foster care system. I was energized by the enthusiasm and determination of the others in that prayer circle. I was filled with hope and convinced that the Lord was moving in a mighty way.

And then I went back to the office, to the daily grind, to the complaints and frustrations of a red tape system that seems to hinder the well-being of those it is meant to protect. I found myself neck deep in the complications of scheduling inspections, arranging trainings, and filing seemingly redundant paperwork. I found myself griping and groaning and wanting to give up. I actually threatened to flush my own head in the toilet out of sheer exasperation. The forecast for the future of foster care seemed utterly hopeless.

Oh, how small is my faith? Jesus said in John 14:12-14,Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

So then, I must choose to resist the apathy that is threatening to extinguish my flickering belief in the power of prayer. I must hold fast to the promise that Jesus will do miracles through me as I pray in line with his will.

To learn more about the mission of CAFO visit and

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Darkness to Light

Before I begin this blog, I want to clearly state that all suspicion of child abuse or neglect should be reported to the authorities on every occasion. If you don't know the local child abuse hotline number for where you live, please call 911 and report to law enforcement.

First of all, let me clarify that this post is not primarily about Josh Duggar, his parents, or his alleged victims. This post is primarily about families who have been affected by sexual abuse, and we are everywhere you look. Yes, we are everywhere you look. I do not intend to give specifics to the public regarding the sexual abuse within my family, but I will say that it has affected me personally both as a child and a mother. It has also affected those in my extended family, many close friends, and my church. Beyond that, I have professionally investigated over a hundred claims of sexual abuse of children and worked with at least twenty families affected by interfamilial child on child sexual abuse. In my present job, I advocate for adults to open their homes to children who have experienced sexual abuse both as victims and perpetrators. So let me make this very clear: sexual abuse within families is not rare!

When you fill my news feed with your personal opinions, they affect me personally. They affect so many of the people you love and respect personally. I have been silent on this public outrage regarding the Duggar family's experience, carefully considering how to respond. Many will remain silent on this topic, fearing your judgment on their private struggle. You have no idea which of your co-workers, friends, or even family members are silently grieving the public ruin of this family. Out of respect for those whom they love; who they wouldn't dare expose to the public their very private experience of sexual abuse. Blaming the parents for the actions of a child, who clearly acted outside of the moral guidance they provided, is absurd. Accusing them of failing their daughters is appalling.

According to the police report which has been released, the allegations of child sexual abuse were handled by trained professionals who followed the policies, procedures, and laws related to child abuse. Each family member was personally interviewed regarding the incidents, and a conclusion was made by law enforcement and child protection professionals. When you proclaim that these parents should have their children removed from their custody, you are speaking out of ignorance. Unless you personally investigated these claims and gathered evidence firsthand to make this conclusion based on professional training, you are not qualified to make that judgment call.

These are the facts. A child fondled his siblings on multiple occasions. In each instance, both children were fully clothed, and the offended child was unaware of the incident, whether asleep or too young to recognize the inappropriate nature of the touch. The conclusion was made that these incidents did not constitute the legal definition of sexual abuse. In addition, based on the evidence, the parents were not found to be neglectful in their response to the sexual behavior. As a professional in this field, I have made the same conclusion given similar circumstances on multiple occasions. The parents created a safety plan, including strict supervision of the offending child, yet the behavior somehow continued. Upon learning this information, the parents separated the offending child from the family for a period of time to receive correction and counseling from a trusted person who shared their values regarding healthy sexuality. The parents took appropriate steps to protect the other children in the house. Since the children who had been violated did not recall the incidents, professional counseling for them would not have been recommended or even appropriate.

I am sure that my opinion that Josh Duggar is not a child molester will not be popular. As a child, he displayed sexually maladaptive behavior, which was identified and corrected. There is no reason why he should not have a successful career due to his past, nor is there reason to believe that his children are in danger because of it. In addition, there is no reason to believe that his sisters, who were offended by Josh's actions, are brainwashed or crazy for forgiving him. I am thankful that my own inappropriate and even illegal teenage behavior is not held against me as an adult. Although I participated in underage drinking, pot smoking, and teen sex before legal age of consent, I have become a social worker, foster parent, and pastor's wife. I dare to say that my own past has made me a more passionate advocate for families and children. My God has turned the darkness into light.

    If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
    even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:11-12)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

We choose to share our family story both as a testimony to God's faithfulness and a call to others to take a risk to foster and adopt. Many thanks to Joe Congleton and Rebecca Congleton of theSurrenduring for permission to use their original song that so perfectly fits how we felt on our foster and adoption journey. Watch our video story at the link below.
Risk It All (Cooper Family Story)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Winning Parenting Battles

Last night I trained other parents on therapeutic discipline techniques for children from hard places by Dr. Karyn Purvis. This morning I battled my six year old over taking cough medicine, brushing teeth, brushing hair, and putting shoes on. These seem like simple requests, but she panicked about taking medicine which escalated into a full blown power struggle.

After dropping her off at school, I felt the nudge to read some verses in my Bible app on my phone. I read the verses that popped on the screen.

Philippians 2:3-4
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others."

Conviction hit me like a bag of bricks. At the heart of this battle was my selfishness. I wanted my way and I won the battle of wills. But what did I really win? Certainly not my daughter's heart. I didn't help her calmly comply with my requests. I used force. And at the end of the discipline neither of us felt content or connected.

So I confessed out loud in the car to God. I messed up. I need Him to help me look to my daughter's best interest when I discipline her. I want to win the battles for my daughter not against her. Through connection and correction, we can both feel victorious against bad behavior.

#winning #adoption #badmoments #goodmomma

Dr. Karyn Purvis IDEAL Response Video

Monday, October 20, 2014

We Have An Orphan Crisis

This post may not be politically correct, but I don't care. America has an orphan crisis. We call it foster care, but the truth is this: American children are growing up in institutions. And South Carolina, the place I call home, has the most staggering statistics of any state in the union. I will not be silent. Will you?

What is the need?

There is an urgent need for foster families in the USA. We have over 3,000 children in the foster care system in South Carolina alone. Statistically, one in four children does not have access to a foster home, which means they are placed in residential facilities and group homes. In fact, South Carolina has the highest percentage of youth under age 12 in residential care of any state in the USA at 23%. This is a shame and a tragedy.

Why do children come into foster care?

Children come into care through no fault of their own due to abuse or neglect or the inability of the parent to care for the child's needs. All children in foster care have experienced trauma and loss, often resulting in difficulty adjusting to these changes. These children need caring adults to help them work through the traumatic experiences and develop healthy ways of coping. Through therapeutic parenting, the healthy attachment between a child and foster parent can be the primary means by which children heal.

Who can become a foster parent?

The idea of a perfect foster family is a myth. The foster care system needs diverse families because children have diverse needs. Foster parents can be single or married, working, retired, or stay-at-home parents. Foster families can rent an apartment, own their own home, or live in a trailer in the country. What matters most is the safety and stability of the home and family environment and the parent’s willingness to commit to a child for whatever length of time the child needs care.

To become a South Carolina foster parent, you must to be:
•At least 21 years of age
•High School Diploma or GED
•Capable of financially supporting yourself
•Have adequate bedroom space for a child
•Pass criminal and child-abuse background checks
•Willing to submit to a reference check
•Willing to attend training sessions

What will you do with what you know?

Children need mommies and daddies, not paid staff to care for them. As Christians, we have a mandate from God to care for orphans. Often times we sponsor orphan ministry overseas, yet we fail to care for those children in our own neighborhood who are separated from their parents due to foster care.

Pray about how you can be part of the solution. Consider becoming a foster parent or adopting a child from the foster care system. If you are unable to foster or adopt, speak up for those who have no voice and help recruit families. Raise awareness of the need in your state! You can also raise awareness on social media by liking and sharing pages that advocate for children. Christian Alliance for Orphans, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Empowered to Connect, and SAFY of South Carolina are just a few.

Each child deserves to have a safe and loving family. I truly believe that most people agree. But there is work to be done to see this belief become a reality in our nation. We must persist in this work until every child is home.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Paradox of Perspective

There are blessings in the midst of life's difficulties.
There are difficulties in the midst of life's blessings.

In this paradox of perspective, which one is true?

We get to choose. We have a saying in our family that goes like this: "Perhaps you should see things differently." This statement was made by some wise pastor in a message we heard a long time ago, but I can't recall who. There is so much power in this statement, though, so I wish I could give the credit where it is due. The bottom line is clear; though, we choose our attitude.

Proverbs 15:15 in The Message puts it like this:
"A miserable heart means a miserable life;
 A cheerful heart fills the day with song."

There is so much power in perspective. We choose whether to be critical and harsh or forgiving and patient. We choose whether to be anxious and fearful or calm and peaceful. We choose whether to be passive and lazy or proactive and helpful.

We have a choice to make: focus on the blessing or dwell on the difficulty.  When we choose to dwell on the difficulty, we lose sight of the blessing. But when we zoom in on the blessings, God's goodness is magnified in our lives.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Who is Amie, Adoptive Mom?

Amie Cooper is passionate about foster care and adoption. As a college student, Amie spent a summer as a missionary doing orphan ministry in Zambia, Africa. After graduating with her Bachelor of Science in Family and Child Development from Liberty University, Amie pursued a full-time career in social work. Before having children, she worked as a case manager for the Department of Child Services in Indiana, investigating child abuse and neglect, placing children in foster homes, and facilitating adoptions when family reunification was not in a child’s best interest.

Overwhelmed by the lack of foster and adoptive families within their community, Amie and her husband Zach made a decision to become foster parents themselves. Nevaeh came to live with them at 2 ½ months old, followed by Christina at age 15 just six months later. Another six months after that, Mackenzee and Braydyn were placed in their home, and a year later they found out they were pregnant! That’s right, the Coopers went from 0 to 5 children in just 2 ½ years! In fact, they finalized four adoptions and welcomed baby Levi all in a year’s span!

After filling up her own home, Amie began recruiting other families to foster and adopt, which has recently led her family to South Carolina with SAFY as the statewide recruiter. Amie’s heart’s desire is to encourage families to pursue foster care and adoption, which spills over from her home life to her full-time career and her writing. You can read more from Amie Cooper on her personal blog, Adoptive Mom Amie, in an upcoming devotional, and a book in the works with her husband on pursuing God’s path as a family.