Have you ever showed up to church on a Sunday morning thinking it just was a regular Sunday, but God had other plans? Have you ever answered a call that sounds so crazy to your mind but your heart is plunging you into it? God has a way of placing us in the right place, at the right time, with the right amount of faith to say, “YES.” This is exactly what He did for one woman and her church community in September, 2009.
Levonne Leuenberger’s heart sank as she sat in her seat listening to Billy Humphrey, the Director of the International House of Prayer Atlanta, excitedly announce their desire to start an adoption agency. IHOP-ATL was already intensely praying for an increase of adoptions, but they desired to lessen the financial burden.
As you may know, depending on the agency that one chooses to adopt through, an average adoption in the United States can cost on average $30,000-$40,000. The IHOP-ATL community had a vision to provide adoption for a fraction of this cost. This was a radical goal, but it was one they knew they could reach with the right person to steer their efforts.
After Levonne offered to help IHOP-ATL find the right person to direct the adoption agency, she quickly realized the right person was her. Without any adoption work experience, she said, “I’ll do it.” She spent the next year taking classes to learn how to run a non-profit, assembling her board members, and getting the paper work started. Her hard work paid off. Soon after this, IHOP-ATL launched what is now Embracing Life Adoption Agency.
Embracing Life Adoption Agency currently serves birth mothers in Georgia and partners with prospective adoptive couples throughout the United States. Because IHOP-ATL provides the agency with a free office space, practically assists with fundraising, provides volunteers, and covers them in prayer, Embracing Life is able to offer their adoption services for only $8,500 per adoption.
Their vision is to partner with the churches and other organizations in Atlanta to not only provide adoption at a fraction of the price of other agencies but to also care for the birth mothers and place typical “unwanted” babies into loving homes, such a baby with a disability or drug addiction. Levonne says they also miraculously have a waiting list of couples ready to adopt African American baby boys, which is an extremely uncommon request in other agencies.
When I asked Levonne why she thinks her agency has such unique requests, she boldly stated that she believes God is preparing couples to be the answer for women and children when abortion is restricted or ends. The agency’s staff are getting their ducks in a row to be ready for an influx of babies and home studies. She says this is something she has noticed other adoption agencies doing as well. She is full of hope and faith as she sees couples coming from all parts of the United States answering God’s call to adopt.
I asked Levonne, “What is a piece of advice you would offer to someone thinking about adopting?”
Levonne said, “First Pray. You also need to do research on what you can and can not handle. For example, you need to understand the challenges of raising a child with a disability or a baby addicted to drugs. Don’t judge yourself or others on what you can and can’t handle. Be honest with yourself. It is also important to consider the needs of other children you may have.”
Adopting is a big step of faith. Not everyone will be able to adopt or feels led to do so; nevertheless, the scriptures clearly instruct the Church, even from its first days in the book of Acts, to care for the widow and the orphan.
Levonne shared that there are many ways people can answer this call even when they can not adopt. She has worked with a ministry in Kansas City that actually encourages their members to become foster parents with the promise that they will provide a volunteer babysitter to help.
Other church communities provide practical needs for mothers such as car seats, diapers, etc. when needed. It is extremely helpful when others provide adoptive families with meals or purchase gifts for birth mothers. Levonne also pointed out the need for mentors for 18 year olds who age out of foster care never getting adopted. Many of them need a tremendous amount of help, direction, and practical assistance. The list goes on. There are so many creative ways to get involved.
I am extremely encouraged and challenged by Embracing Life’s story. I had the pleasure of serving on the first Board of Directors for the agency when it was still in its infancy stage. I am amazed by the way it has grown. It is meeting a huge need in a very practical way. The work of this agency is making an eternal impact!
I pray you will also be encouraged and have the faith to say “Yes. I’ll do it.” the next time you see or hear a need. The next time you sit down in your seat at Church on a regular Sunday morning might just be the day you are called to change someone’s life.
Be blessed. Be brave.
This post is a part of a blog series to give you practical ideas and encouragement to “Become the Answer” in your community. Please also check out my newly released book, Created to Live: Becoming the Answer For an Abortion-Free Community.