As parents of six girls, Cullen and Pat Beard felt they had a handle on the parenting thing. And while most might decide a home of six kids is full enough, the Beards knew in their hearts that God had more in store for them. However, due to some medical complications in their last pregnancy, doctors had advised them not to have another child. That’s when the Lord began to lead Cullen and Pat down the path of fostering and adoption. Soon, the Lord showed them that they would need to take everything they thought they knew about parenting and throw it out the window.
“When we first began looking into adoption,” Pat shared, “We went to an adoption conference and found out about the Department of Child Services (DCS) and the number of kids in our own city who needed a home. We knew right away this was where God was leading us.”
In the summer of 2005, the Beards went through a class to be trained in fostering to adopt. By December of that year, they were approved. However, it wasn’t until May of 2007 that they found out they had been selected–and when they got the call, they just had to laugh. With a home full of six girls, DCS let them know a two-year-old boy was headed their way. On Mother’s Day weekend, they welcomed Jeremiah into their home.
Prior to coming into the Beard home, Jeremiah had been in one other foster home. He had entered the DCS system at just 10 months old. As an infant, Jeremiah had endured early trauma and entered the system severely malnourished.
“He went through very difficult trauma at a very early age,” Pat shared. “Since he came to us at such a young age, we thought, ‚ÄòHe will never remember what he went through then. That shouldn’t cause any issues once he’s older.’–We couldn’t have been more wrong.”
As the Beards began to learn more about early trauma and the deep emotional scars this can create, it changed everything about the way they needed to parent this precious boy.
“We entered into a season of a lot of learning and a lot of self-reflection on how to parent. We took 30 years of parenting and threw it out the window. We began reading books, listening to podcasts, going to conferences–anything we could get our hands on about brain science and attachment.”
Jeremiah is now 17 years old, and while this trauma is something he will always carry, he is part of a family who loves him and desires to walk through those difficulties with him. He has also been part of God’s plan to reach many families who are on the same journey. By learning alongside Jeremiah, Cullen and Pat have followed the Lord down an all-new path of ministry to families who are fostering or adopting.
“This journey has opened up a whole new ministry for us,” Pat said. “We have been trained in classes like Empowered to Connect and Cultivating Connections so that we can teach here at Bellevue. We are teaching parents who are on this journey and don’t know what to do–families who are fostering or adopting and think they are alone.”
The Beards have the desire to extend hope to families by sharing their experiences–to equip and encourage families on the foster and adoption journey. If God is calling you to take steps toward this type of ministry, you are not alone. Families like the Beards are waiting to talk with you, encourage you, and show you that you are a part of a village.
Fostering and adopting is not the only way to offer hope to families in need. Through Bellevue’s WRAP Ministry, you can serve other foster families through Words of Encouragement, Respite care, Acts of service, and Prayer. These simple, but powerful, actions make a big difference.
“If these children are in a hard place, they need to be in a place where they can find the love of Jesus and learn truth,” Pat shared. “You learn more about yourself and who God is when you are caring for these kids. It will take you places you never expected to go, and your obedience pleases the Lord.”
There are currently more than 1,100 children in the Shelby County DCS system (Source: Porter Leath, 2021). Nationally, statistics show that 90% of children in foster care experience severe trauma (forothers.com). The Church must be the ones to step in and care for orphans.
Bellevue’s 2022 Love Offering is For Life. Learn more about this initiative and how you can get involved at bellevue.org/love-offering.