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2003 PE Report

Americans find comfort in ‘nesting,’ but connecting is another matter (December 22, 2002)

Viewer discretion advised: Reality-based programs stoop to new low (December 15, 2002)

A/G among fastest growing faith groups (December 8, 2002)

Christians play crucial role in foster care (November 24, 2002)

A/G churches remember with outreaches (November 17, 2002)

Elderly face added woes from credit card debt (November 10, 2002)

PE Kidz News from BGMC (October 27, 2002)

Cyber-evangelists find innovative ways to share gospel (October 20, 2002)

Risks, stigma accompany wearing of tattoos (October 13, 2002)

Women lead on-campus ministries (September 29, 2002)

Tobacco, alcohol, gambling industries find underage Internet client base (September 22, 2002)

Marijuana, cocaine have abusive company: Ecstasy, meth and prescription painkillers (September 15, 2002)

September 11: A day that changed American Christians forever (September 8, 2002)

Congress, courts clash over Internet filtering issue (August 25, 2002)

People with disabilities bless churches (August 18, 2002)

Short-term youth binges can result in long-term habit (August 11, 2002)

Christians aim to preserve traditional marriage (July 28, 2002)

Payback time: Christian volunteers motivated to give back to community (July 21, 2002)

Urban training centers minister
to ever-growing population
(July 14, 2002)

E-mail rumors dupe multitudes, hurt credibility (June 30, 2002)

Not so innocent: PG-13 films increasingly push sex, language limits (June 23, 2002)

Skipping church: Why are some Americans staying home on Sunday? (June 16, 2002)

Fudge fellowship: Pastor's wife treats tavern clientele (June 9, 2002)

Persevering nomadic church finally reaches promised land (May 26, 2002)

Tragedy brings A/G church, community closer to God (May 19, 2002)

Couples find God's calling in adopting, raising children (May 12, 2002)

A/G chaplain ministers to women in maximum-security prison (April 28, 2002)

Youth center offers alternative to teens (April 21, 2002)

A week without television (April 14, 2002)

Technological know-how aids San Jose church outreach (March 31, 2002)

Cincinnati racial reconciliation brings inner peace to inner city (March 24, 2002)

District's fund-raising efforts aid pastors planting churches (March 17, 2002)

GED program an effective ministry (March 10, 2002)

Building relationshipis at heart of women's ministries outreach (February 24, 2002)

Single-minded devotion: Unmarried ranks offer ministry opportunities (February 17, 2002)

Bethany College honors black minister pioneer (February 10, 2002)

A/G quarterback wins Unitas Award (January 27, 2002)

Camp Melody plants song of love in boys' hearts (January 20, 2002)

Pastor breaks giving record after 10 days atop billboard (January 13, 2002)

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories

Couples find God’s calling in adopting, raising children

(May 12, 2002)

The fact that Jeff and Liz McClelland believe children should be seen and heard rather than relegated to an obscure corner of the basement is evident upon entering their home’s front door. Individual 16- by 20-inch pictures of 8-year-old J.R. and 4-year-old Shannon line the living room walls. J.R.’s elaborate train set is in the basement family room. Shannon’s play area has taken over a section of the living room. Their bedrooms have a plethora of gadgets and toys as well.

Playtime: Shannon (with doll) and J.R. McClelland have a recreation area in a corner of the family living room.


Even larger images of the children are displayed along the hallway. Liz, a stay-at-home mother, explains that J.R. and Shannon are models for a portrait studio. But this home is full of something more meaningful than pictures and playthings: love.

"We both felt very strongly that we were supposed to be parents," Liz says. "As parents, we agreed that we wanted kids to be the center of our lives and they are."

The McClellands married in 1987. Eventually they learned they could not bear children of their own. Jeff and Liz without hesitation turned to the Kansas City, Mo.-based Highlands Child Placement Services, which is under the auspices of the Assemblies of God Benevolences Department. The McClellands long had supported the maternity home financially before they thought they might use its services.

Highlands has facilitated more than 700 adoptions since its inception in 1966. The agency gives priority to couples between ages 21 and 40 who have been married at least three years, are active in an Assemblies of God church, and who have no children or only one child. Parents must have medical evidence of infertility. Couples are told to expect a wait of at least three years.

In 1992, the McClellands began the application process. "We knew it could be a long wait," says Liz, 37. "When you’re unable to have children, you are willing to wait however long it takes. You’re in a place where God wants to have you – on your knees a lot."

Nevertheless, the wait can be emotionally wrenching. "I can’t tell you how many times Highlands staff members prayed with us on the phone," Liz says.

Many adoptions are completed within three weeks of the birth, with the newborn in the care of foster parents in the interim. However, the McClellands didn’t receive J.R. for three months. He had pyloric stenosis, a medical digestive disorder.

The foster parents proved to be instrumental in J.R.’s healing process. They took the baby to a church altar for healing after doctors said the boy would need multiple surgeries in order to have a shot at a healthy life.

J.R. has never needed surgery.

Immediately after receiving J.R. into their home, the McClellands applied to Highlands again because they felt their new son should have a sister. Highlands explained that the wait could be much longer because of specifying a girl, but the McClellands pressed ahead, even though Jeff had reached his early 40s. It turned out that Shannon arrived only 26 months later, in September 1997.

Today, the children live active lives. J.R. is an analytical thinker who likes to build train sets, draw pictures, play piano and fish with his grandparents, all four of whom live in the same city. Shannon is a petite, cute girl who enjoys dancing, swimming, playing piano, singing in the children’s church choir and playing board games.

Their busy schedules are a blessing to their parents. "You really do not understand the meaning of life until children come into your life," says Jeff, 48, a computer operator.

Troy and Judy Highfill married in 1985. Seven years later they applied to Highlands, figuring they had a lengthy wait ahead before becoming parents. The Highfills brought the infant B.J. home in April 1994, less than two years after applying to Highlands.

Unlike many adoption agencies, Highlands allows the mother to choose the couple who will raise the child. She selects the couple from a submitted profile that includes their photo and a description of their goals as parents. Highlands first priority is to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the person giving up her infant.

Highlands is a residential maternity home that covers the housing, clothing and food costs of expectant mothers for up to eight months.

The dozen staff members ensure that the expectant girls and women have the proper medical care and legal services for the adoption.

Highlands works with prospective parents on how much, if any, contact they want with the birth mother. For most adoptions, Highlands acts as a mediator, with the birth mother and adoptive couple never actually meeting.

For the first five years, the Highfills sent a newsy letter and photo of B.J. to the birth mother every quarter, with Highlands screening the communication to keep their whereabouts concealed. Now the exchanges happen annually.

It is apparent that B.J. loves his parents and that he is the focus of their life. This would be a much different-looking home without B.J. No room devoted to homeschool activities. No sprawling den filled with toys. No backyard full of playground equipment.

Math is B.J.’s favorite school subject and his mechanical abilities show in the contraptions he has built. The talkative 8-year-old says he wants to become a race car driver and "earn billions" of dollars.

"Having a child has changed our whole purpose," says Judy, 38. "Being a mom has become the most important thing in my life. I’m constantly reminded that it’s a privilege to be an adoptive parent. Before, I didn’t realize how it changes desires."

Troy, 41, a grocery store produce manager, now views his Heavenly Father differently.

"As Christians, God has adopted us and taken us in," he says as B.J. crawls into his lap. "Having a child makes you focus on what’s really important in life."

— John W. Kennedy

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