River Cities Church promotes adoption, foster help
HUNTINGTON — No other state has more children in foster care per capita than West Virginia with now nearly 7,000 children in the state system — roughly equivalent to the populations of Milton and Barboursville combined. Globally, an estimated 153 million children are living as orphans.
While the worldwide crisis is exacerbated locally by the regional opioid epidemic, River Cities Community Church in Huntington raised the call for its congregation and the community to meet the needs of countless underserved children here and abroad as it hosted its Foster/Adoption Sunday services at the church off U.S. 60.
“We believe that it’s the church’s role to be the leader in this, to step up and to love and provide a home for these kids,” said Charlie Hagley, foster adoption advocate at River Cities. “What we want to do is to create that culture of adoption here not just for the members of River Cities, but for the members of this community.”
Around a dozen families at River Cites have already fostered or adopted children, including Hagley and his wife, who adopted now 10-year-old Xander to join their three biological children. The services encouraged not only those who can foster or adopt to consider doing so, but also promoting the ways the church can support those adoptive families.
Adoption has its roots in Scripture, Hagley added, both in a Christian’s personal dedication to Christ and in physically caring for society’s most vulnerable.
“As Christians, Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and He wants us to be a part of his family,” he continued. “That was the ultimate example of adoption.”
An estimated 90 percent of Child Protective Service cases in Cabell County are related to the opioid epidemic, added Melia Adkins, a Huntington attorney who served as a Cabell County assistant prosecutor from 2009 to 2013.
In these cases, CPS typically first tries to place a child taken from a disrupted home with a suitable relative. If none are available, they are moved to foster care. If the child cannot find a foster home, children may be simply left to wait with state Department of Health and Human Resources or placed in a group home.
“Children need love,” Adkins said. “They can’t help where they are in life, and they certainly can’t help that they don’t have parents, so we need people to step up.”
Jason and Patrina Singleton took to leap to foster a young boy and girl through NECCO of Huntington after working with children through a camp sponsored by River Cities. That experience put faces to the existing ideas of what a foster child is, Patrina said, and helped shake away any hesitation the couple had.
“These are kids that are more than the bad stories that we had heard,” she said. “They’re just really small people who needed somebody to love them, and we’ve got that for days.”
Eventually, it lead the Singletons to fully adopt both.
“Don’t let that fear stop you,” she continued. “Think that this is a little person who needs somewhere safe. If you can be the safe place, then step up.”
River Cities Community Church is located at 4385 U.S. 60 East in Huntington. For more information, call 304-736-8197.
Follow reporter Bishop Nash on Twitter at @BishopNash.