Opinion

The power of ĎPossum Trotí

"The whole town. The whole town wants kids now!"

The caseworker with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services was giddy with a mixture of elation and disbelief. A pastor and his wife were in her office explaining that 22 families were ready to foster some of the most difficult children in the surrounding area. The pastor emphasized the point: There are more couples than babies available to adopt.

This scene occurs in the new movie "Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot."

It tells the true story of a small Baptist church in Possum Trot, Texas, helmed by Bishop W.C. Martin and his wife, Donna, whose brave and selfless desire to foster and adopt children inspired the denizens of their small town.

The movie is a rallying cry for the most vulnerable children among us, who have suffered because of the pain adults canít deal with and thus inflict with impunity on the innocents they donít know how to love.

I have a godson whose mother smothered him nearly to death a month into his life. He had no vital signs in the emergency room. He was an emaciated infant when he came to the attention of the family that would eventually adopt him after a long fostering relationship. His mother couldnít raise him. And yet her choices -- or her inability to make them -- indelibly marked his life.

The reality must be acknowledged: Fostering children is hard, daunting work. Most families who get certified to foster do it once and find it too hard to continue. The emotional toll it will take on a marriage is not talked about enough. "Possum Trot" doesnít sugarcoat these facts. It tells the hard truth, while acknowledging the rewards and benefits of sacrifice. Mark Walbergís 2018 comedy "Instant Family" also acknowledged that fostering and adopting are not always happier-ever-after stories. They are callings. And while not everyone is called to them, we all have a role to play: babysitting for date nights. Spiritual support. Gifts. Real community.

Christianity in many ways has been bureaucratized. Financial contributions are made and so are assumptions. Someone must be meeting human needs. Do we even know who the foster families are around us? Do we know if there is a group home in our area? How many older children are adoptable nearby? These are questions we may think we are too busy to ask. That child who gains a family because you made the time will have a transformational life. These are the questions of "social justice" and "pro-life" and even "pro-choice." We disagree on seemingly everything, but how about that a child deserves a family? Put all matters of ideology aside. "Possum Trot" bears witness to how we can transform society one child -- and one sibling set, another important lesson that "Possum Trot" reminds us of -- at a time.

Foster care and adoption often get in the news only because of scandals and crimes. "Possum Trot" shows the power of raw, authentic love. See the movie. Talk about it. Change lives.

I was on the set of "Possum Trot" on one of the days when real families from the church played extras. They knew love anew because of those precious children they brought into their hearts. Thereís hope for us in their example.

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