Celebration of Foster Families
February 13, 2023
By: Rev. Rebekah Ralph
In 2018, Rebekah and Robert Ralph began becoming foster parents. They began with the required 30-hour course. This class was an eye-opening experience about childhood trauma and the long-lasting effects that an individual can take with them into adulthood. Hearing the numerous stories of children in foster care, it became clear that becoming parents to children with trauma was their calling. The Ralphs were licensed in March of 2019 and called into the Department of Human Services office within days to discuss the placement of two brothers and possibly a third. In this meeting, the background of children was discussed as the permanency planning details, which are the plans for either reunification or adoption. The boys arrived on June 6, 2019, and the third brother joined the family by the end of June. These boys are on the path to being adopted by the Ralphs, hopefully in the next year.
To complete her Doctorate of Ministry degree at Duke Divinity, Rebekah was challenged to create a capstone project that joined with the local community in mission. The asset-based leadership development of the Rural Church Cohort created a space to connect the rural church mission networks and foster care parents. From this, the Celebration of Foster Families and Resource Fair was born. This event celebrated foster families by giving time and resources available to them to make their families healthier and happier through healing and connection to others. The day was full of excitement as four foster families spent time creating life books, which are scrapbooks specially designed for foster children. Mrs. Donna Foster, a retired North Carolina social worker, spoke to the parents about the importance of creating life books. Her book: Shelby and Me: Our Journey through Life Books, was given to every child, and they were allowed to begin working and crafting. The children enjoyed the time so immensely that they raided the craft table at the end, asking to take most of the supplies home. Rebekah gave them whatever they wanted.
The Yadkin Mission Network Churches supported the event: Mitchell’s Chapel UMC, First UMC-Yadkinville, Hanes Grove-Longtown UMCs, St. Paul-Mountain Grove UMCs, Center UMC, and Boonville UMC. New Bethel Pentecostal Holiness also supported it through the giving of salty snacks. Each church was given a different assignment of donations, such as salty snacks, sweet snacks, etc. Some churches gave labor, and First UMC-Yadkinville gave the use of their Family Life Center for the event. Garden Route Coffee in Yadkinville donated coffee. Financially the event was sponsored by the Duke Endowment and the Yadkin Valley District Vitality Team. Rebekah would like to thank all who were involved in making this event possible and successful! Rebekah’s goal is to take this event’s model, make improvements, and do it again, even in other districts!