The Journey to their future...
OUR HISTORY & OUR STORY
Early in our journey in the work of child welfare in Texas, God spoke to me and made clear that our part in the system was on the termination side of the process. That means, we as an organization are to focus on the issues for children that arise after parental rights have been terminated and the children have no hope of being returned to their biological parents.
As Executive Director of an agency with an adoption services contract with the state of Texas since 2012, I have been plagued by the number of children that “got past us” throughout the years! These are the children who become adults with no family to call their own. They are sent into the world with very few life skills. By all practical purposes, we as a system have failed these children. We took them from their parents and never provided the stability they needed to become equipped for adult life. The are several barriers for teens in our system. As such, they typically move from placement to placement until they either run away or reach the magical age of 18 where the world says they are an adult. After that, they get to face that same world all on their own.
According to the Texas DFPS Data Book, there have been 1,964 children who turned 18 with no adoption since Addy’s Hope started the They Wait program in 2012. That means nearly 2,000 emerging adults entered the world with little to no support or skills necessary to survive much less thrive! There were 232 who turned 18 with no home in 2020. According to the same resource, Texas “prepared” 8,866 youth (ages 14-17) for adulthood in 2020 alone. However, the State makes a horrible parent and the “preparation” is clinical and not real-life in nature. Those are the numbers that told me something more had to be done!
During a time when many non-profits were shutting their doors, Addy’s Hope was blessed with funds to sow well! We decided to use the funds purchase an office space. This would be the best use of the funds, right? We would gain an asset and provide our agency with a permanent space. Well…God had much grander plans!
As I began to look for office space, God planted the idea of buying property that do more than just host our office. He was showing me a plan to house and equip young men who were aging out of foster care.
Having come through some very difficult times personally, I did not feel that pouring into emerging young men was the best plan! I spent some time arguing with God over why I was not the person, and this was not the organization to fill this void. I was in my car driving one day, thinking about what we needed for office space when the thought of the home for young men came to mind again. I quickly told God that I was not going to follow that path because he could most certainly find someone better to fulfill that plan of his! What I have come to know of God in my years following him is that he is a perfect gentleman – he never pushes his way on us. And then that still small voice that I hear in my mind and have come to recognize as the Holy Spirit guiding me went something like this – You are right. You do not have to build this home for young men. But what about the young men I have already destined to come through this program? What will happen to them because the help and support they need to be successful will not be there?
And with that, Future Hope was born! In that moment I knew I could not walk away from the very youth who we have failed to provide adoptive homes and sentence them to enter adulthood with no support system and little to no life skills training.
Over the next few weeks, we would look at properties knowing our budget and what we needed. Some called us crazy, and most probably doubted we would find it. But God promises to supply all we need for every good work that he calls us to do. And he was faithful to provide the perfect location that allowed us to move into offices immediately and have space to build a 14-apartment complex that will house the young men God has already destined for our program!
Future Hope is about so much more than a roof over their head and a meal on their table. We are committed to equipping these young men physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the life God is calling them to live in their future! We are partnering with the businesses and residents of Wise County and surrounding areas to bring to these men what we failed to give them as children. We welcome your support for this task!
We have completed the architectural renderings of the facility, and the program design is in the works. We will be a contracted Supported Independent Living facility working in partnership with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Our desire is to offer young men a few more years of teaching, mentoring, and scaffolding before they launch into adulthood – and we will ensure every young man leaves here connected to a village cheering him on and continuing to walk with him into his future.
-HollyAnn Petree, Executive Director
Addy's Hope Adoption Agency