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About LSA

Lutheran Services in America (LSA) is a network of more than 300 social ministry organizations that collectively touch the lives of 1 in 50 people in the U.S. each year. LSA is aligned with the ELCA and Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

The LSA network works to address the challenges faced by young adults who are at a high risk of leaving the foster care system without having permanent family connections. When they become adults, they can face obstacles as they try to continue their education or find housing and jobs. LSA staff say there is a significant need for foster parents and families.

Bob and Kelly Higgs with their two youngest sons, Justin (left) and Christian, whom they adopted through a Lutheran social service organization.

Aſter Andrew’s adoption in 2003, his father asked

him, “Do you want a brother?” He said yes, so Higgs again worked through the New Jersey agency to adopt a second child. A year later, Higgs adopted Justin, 11, which made

him think, “Maybe these boys need a mother. I was ready too.” Trough an online dating service, Higgs met and

married Kelly. She had always wanted children so she adopted both boys, calling the decision “a no-brainer.” “God blessed me with this woman to marry and

adopt two kids and be their mom,” Higgs said. In 2009, the Higgs

‘Although this was the craziest thing we had ever done, we were certain it was right.’

adopted Christian, a 9-year-old who had been in foster care for four years in Delaware. Meanwhile the Park-

ers, now with four chil- dren, received an email

sent to all the agency’s foster parents seeking three days of respite care over Tanksgiving for four siblings. Te couple responded, but the children arrived a week early and stayed for 14 days, not three. “Holidays are really hard,” Parker said. “Tere are so

many emotions and memories and expectations.” A year later the couple adopted the four children

and their family grew to eight children and two adults. “Although this was the craziest thing we had ever done, we were certain it was right,” she said.

Thinking of adopting? “If you expect a perfect Brady Bunch experience, that’s not going to happen,” Higgs said of adopting older kids. Statistically half of such adoptions don’t work out.

For more information about becoming a foster parent or adopting, visit (click on “Our Members” and “Search for a Member Organization”).

Especially rare is that Andrew finished high school and Justin finished college. Parker agrees. “I don’t want anyone to think this is

easy,” she said. “Te trauma my children have experi- enced still rears its ugly head and tries to derail us.” Blending families is rarely easy, and when inevitable

problems occur, the Lutheran social service organiza- tions stand ready to help. For the Higgs family, it was Lutheran Services in

Pennsylvania and Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey. “I was impressed with both of them—their care, compassion, openness to handling unusual situations,” he said. Parker said, “We are so grateful for the support from

Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains. I felt so much frustration and was oſten overwhelmed. But my caseworker never judged me. I had moments when I was losing it. She saw me as a human being and sup- ported me.” Te first night she collected the four siblings in a

parking lot, everyone cried. “Tey felt scared, alone, lost and unsure,” Parker said. “Tey wondered why they had been sent away from yet another home.” Te oldest child noticed Parker’s tears and asked

warily, “Do you always cry when other people cry?” “I told her that when my people cry, I cry,” she said.

“Today my children will tell you that in that moment, they knew I cared for them more than anyone else ever had.” 

Author bio: Hensel is a freelance writer living in Park Ridge, Ill. She is a former employee of the ELCA churchwide organization and Lutheran Child and Family Services in River Forest, Ill.

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