Baptist churches in North Carolina that provide financial assistance to adoptive families can now apply for a new grant through the North Carolina Baptist Convention that would provide more assistance to those families.
As part of the new NC Baptist Adoption Assistance Grant, the Baptist state agreement will match funds from the cooperating church at a 2:1 ratio to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses for adoptive families, up to a maximum of $2,000 per foster child.
In addition, families who adopt through Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina or Christian Adoption Services will also be eligible for additional compensation at a 1:1 ratio, up to $1,000 for each adopted child.
Under the terms of the program, churches apply for grant compensation on behalf of adoptive families within their congregations. Cooperative Baptist churches in NC are eligible to apply for grants online at ncbaptist.org/adoptiongrant.
The scholarship application includes questions about the church, the adoptive family, how the church has served the family, and a place to upload documents to verify that church funds are used for adoption expenses.
For example, if a church contributed $1,000 toward the family’s adoption expenses, that money would qualify to match the $2,000 according to the state agreement. This scholarship money will be sent to the church for disbursement to the adoptive family. If the adoption is finalized through Baptist Children’s Homes or Christian Adoption Services, the church will also be eligible for an additional $1,000 compensation grant.
In November 2021, the Baptist State Convention and Baptist Children’s Homes partnered together to announce the “Every Child” adoption and adoption ministry. The ministry works with local churches on various aspects of foster care and adoption with the goal of seeing all 16,000 children in North Carolina’s foster care system find a permanent home.
NC Baptist officials said the new scholarship will go a long way toward achieving this goal with a “mission together.”
“Our ‘On a Mission Together’ partnerships mean local churches get to arms through state convention and Baptist Children’s Homes to help ensure as many children as possible can put their heads on a pillow at night in a safe and loving home,” said NC Baptist Executive Director and Treasurer Todd Unzicker.
The NC Baptist Board of Directors approved the adoption grant initiative during the board’s regularly scheduled fall meeting held this past September. The measure was brought to the board by then-state conference president Michelle Pardo, pastor of First Eckard Baptist Church in Connelly Springs, NC
Pardo said his proposal was a way to strengthen the partnership between the state convention and Baptist children’s homes with the help of the Every Child initiative.
“It seemed good to me to encourage us as Baptists in North Carolina to have a program specifically geared to helping adoptive families,” said Pardo, who he and his wife, Rachel, are adoptive parents. “There are thousands of children across our state who do not have a forever family to call themselves. We as North Carolina Baptists have an amazing opportunity to help provide these children with a stable family, and this fund is a small mechanism we can use to help facilitate adoptions across our state.” .
Pardew has also said that adoption is an image of the gospel.
“Adoption is rooted in the DNA of what it means to be a believer,” Pardew said. “We were outside of God’s family, and Christ planted us in his family through adoption. What a wonderful way to show the world an essential impact of the gospel when we adopt those who were outside of our family and call them ours. We give them a new name and a new family just as Christ did for us.”
The initial money for the adoption grant program came from a reallocation of $100,000 from the state convention’s emergency reserve account. Churches, organizations, foundations, and individuals may make contributions to the principal balance of the fund through the North Carolina Baptist State Convention.
Those interested in making contributions may contact the State Convention Convention Relations Office at (919) 467-5100 or (800) 395-5102 for more information. General questions about the adoption assistance grant can also be directed to the Convention Relations Office.
(Editor’s note – This article originally appeared in the January 2023 issue of Bible Recorder magazine.)