CHINO, Calif. It's a familiar story: a high school girl finds out she's pregnant.
"I'm not having this child," one declared.
Her parents and boyfriend supported her decision. Her friends agreed that abortion was the answer. But, after receiving Adopt: The Option training, one boy talked with her about a different possibility.
He gave his pregnant friend a card provided by Adopt: The Option. On the cover it said, "Because you are loved ... your friend gave you this card." Inside, it reminded the girl that she was not alone, saying that "there are good options for you and your unborn child; there are people who understand what you are feeling."
On the back was a phone number where she could find people who wouldn't judge her but could answer her questions.
According to Jeff Slack, author of Adopt: The Option curriculum, stories like this one started coming in right away after the trainings began.
About four years ago, Slack's extensive background as a youth pastor drew a request to become a general board member for Night Light Christian Adoptions, an international adoption agency in Anaheim. They wanted a representative of student ministries. Despite having no personal background with adoption, Slack accepted. Over time, he said he began to realize "there's nobody telling this story to students in the churchwhat adoption is, how it works and how they might be advocates for the idea if their friends get pregnant."
Within student ministries there are fairly common misconceptions, said Slack, an associate pastor with Inland Hills Church in Chino. Too often it's believed that the kids are abstinent and that they don't hang out with anyone who's not. Yet, "reality shows those of us who have worked around kids, that our kidswhether in public or private school or even home-schooled there's a good chance they are going to know someone who gets pregnant, or they will become pregnant themselves. It's happened in my ministry and to others I know."
Support is critical
Slack said the reality is that a 14-year-old kid with no circle of support is going to have a really tough time. With the odds stacked against them and the child, there's a good chance that the baby will grow up to repeat the cycle.
When it comes to options, Slack said that most kids think "they can either keep the baby or have an abortion or, oh yeah, they can place the baby for adoption." That's usually the third choice because young people don't know how adoption works or aren't aware of its benefits. Plus, there's a stigma frequently attached to this adoption solution.
These problems, said Slack, motivated him to partner with Night Light, which offered help with financing the ministry. Night Light also provides a phone number that students can call to receive counseling and discuss the reality of various options. Manned by a Christian counselor 24 hours a day, the call line is a place where students can get straight answers.
Slack said he wants the curriculum to be used by as many churches as possible so young people can learn about the biblical perspective.
"God even uses adoption to describe his relationship, including us, in his family," Slack said. "He has special consideration for orphans, those who don't have parents."
According to Slack, the two-hour DVD curriculum includes everything a youth pastor needs to put together an impactful event like the ones already presented in more than 500 churches. There are two biblically based lessons on adoption, a student guide, templates for student commitment and hand-out cards, and advertising. In addition, the DVD contains ice-breaker games, PowerPoint slides, usable artwork and a parent information letter.
Dreams of expansion
While Slack said he appreciates the attention that Adopt: The Option has received, he'd like to "see it in at least 10,000 churches!" Modeled after the international True Love Waits effort that promotes sexual abstinence, Slack said, "Adopt: The Option is not just a curriculum resource; it's geared toward youth group students to create a whole movement of a new paradigm. Most kids don't know about adoption, so we want to break that and help them understand it in a positive way, not only where they just understand it, but where they'll also support it."
U.S. Rep. Gary Miller, R-Brea, recently validated Slack's efforts to bring about increased public awareness of adoption by choosing him to receive the Angels in Adoption award. Presented by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Slack said the three-day festivities in Washington, D.C., involved opportunities to interact with 120 other district honorees, congressmen and dignitaries who work with family welfare and adoption issues.
With November set as National Adoption Awareness month, Slack said he is already receiving requests to speak on the option that encourages life for unplanned babiesand brings joy to so many families.
For more information on Adopt: The Option visit www.adopttheoption.com or email Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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