It has been a little more than three years since John and Pat Howard used the adoption services of the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes to provide a caring and Christ-centered home for Julia, Tiana, and Marissa.
The Howards invited the girls to live with them as foster children in August 2004 and the adoption was finalized in April 2005. “We both wanted to do something for those less fortunate than ourselves,” Pat said. “I always wanted to have a daughter and the Lord used that desire to lead us to adoption.”
The Howard’s admit that they knew very little about how to begin the adoption process but the Children’s Homes “made the path straight for this journey.” “They did our home study, helped us with all the paperwork, provided us with proper training and helped us to be licensed foster parents and adoption certified,” Pat said.
The Howards were both pleasantly surprised by how accommodating the Children’s Homes was throughout the adoption process. “One staff member even drove six hours with me to pick up the girls for a visit so I wouldn’t have to drive and could spend time with the kids. She suggested the idea, and it was such a blessing!” Pat said.
Pat explains that the Children’s Homes also put together adoption books for the girls that included photos from their past and present so they could remember their past and embrace their future. “These are still one of their most treasured possessions,” Pat said.
“Even after the adoption the Children’s Homes continued to stay in touch with us. They called and came by regularly to check on us and make sure that we were all doing well,” Pat said.
John and Pat Howard have come up with words of advice for all those that may be considering adoption. “Be strong in your faith and conviction that this is what God is calling you to. Waves of doubt and discouragement will come and you will need to be planted firmly on the Rock so that you can stand strong,” John Howard said.
“You also have to have a great support system,” Pat said. “You will need to lift each other up when you are weary and be sensitive to the needs of your biological family members.” The Howard’s recognize that they are just temporary care-givers to their children. “We have to remind ourselves that we are just stewards of these children because they really belong to God,” John said.
The Howard family lives in Tallahassee, Florida where they attend Four Oaks Community Church.
They have five biological children, Aaron (24), Josh (22), Jacob (20), Zac (16) and Jonathan (10). Their adopted children are Julia (11), Tiana (9), and Marissa (8).
There are currently 4,100 orphaned children in the state of Florida that are available for adoption. If you feel God leading your family into adoption or if you would like more information please contact Charlie Cox, vice president of programs at the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes at 863-687-8811 (ext. 215)