JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kelly Rosati of Manoa, with two of her children, Anna, 4, left, and Daniel, 6, heads a Christian adoption agency that has helped find homes with Christian families for "difficult-to-place" children. The agency provides training and support in the adoption process.
Christians are tapped to adopt children with few other chances to find a "forever family"
WANTED: Church-going foster families for children nobody wants.
Kelly Rosati, president of HOPE INC (in the Name of Christ) adoption agency, has taken an active role in finding homes for abused and neglected children among church-goers.
On any given day, there are at least 2,500 children in the state welfare system who don't have a "forever family to call their own" Rosati said.
The program began in January, focusing on "difficult-to-place keiki," not the babies or cute, chubby toddlers people generally are attracted to, she said. They are older and usually have substance-abuse addictions, disruptive behavior problems or special needs; some include groups of siblings that they try to keep together.
The program, Families for Waiting Keiki, is a joint effort between HOPE and Hawaii Family Forum, of which Rosati is also executive director. HOPE is one of several organizations contracted by the state, but one of the few that is faith-based.
So far the program has presented appeals to 17 churches in the state, and hopes to speak to dozens more -- "a previously untapped source" of foster families, Rosati said. The results: 13 families are in the process of being trained to adopt children, and five children are going "home forever," she said.
The families are being trained by Randy and Deanna Wallace, founders of HOPE, who have 11 adopted children of their own. They also provide the crucial follow-up support after the adoption has been completed, to make sure the new relationship thrives.
Rosati's "passion for this project is (also) born out of personal experience," she said.
Five years ago, she and her husband, John, adopted their first child, then a second a year later. They are in the process of adopting their third, a 3-year-old boy.
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Daniel Rosati, 6, and his sister Anna, 4, play with a bug they nicknamed Red on the back porch of their Manoa home. The two have welcomed three adoptive siblings into their family. At right is Gisele Ferreira, recruitment coordinator for the Families for Waiting Keiki program.
"We've always been right-to-life advocates," she said, and always wanted to adopt children instead of giving birth.
"It seems like so many social ills could be dramatically reduced if every kid had parents who loved them and spent time with them," said Rosati, who frequently covers her children with hugs and kisses.
The most often asked question has been how the presence of a foster child will affect the family's birth children. Rosati said her children, Daniel, 6, and Anna, 4, have been "the most inspirational -- they've been the greatest big brother and sister. They are so full of love, it's beautiful."
"Nothing is better for kids than to learn what it is to reach out (to someone else) and learn to become a family," she added.
In her presentation to the Calvary Chapel Central in Mililani on Aug. 6, Rosati said she understood the "trepidation and fear" that comes with adopting a child. She admitted that that's the way she and her husband felt when they were first asked to adopt a third, because "we were perfectly happy the way we were ... and not in any way itching to grow."
"We were so depressed (once they brought him home), and thought, 'Yikes, what have we done.' It felt like there was a stranger in our midst. But it reminded me of a scripture (Matthew 25:35), which says: 'I was a stranger and you took me in.'
"It doesn't say, 'if it is your passion' to do so. There are no ifs and or buts about it. God's heart and methods are clear. There will never be a perfect time to welcome one of these children into your home. If people in the churches do not, the truth is, then no one will," she said.
"I am not a saint," Rosati said later. Her openness encouraged a woman to sign up for training, saying, "I never felt like being a mom before, but I realized it didn't matter." As an obedient Christian, she felt compelled to do her part, Rosati said.
But the HOPE staff "won't take a family that says, 'We will try.' It's like marriage: When feelings wax and wane, (couples stay faithful because) they have given their unconditional commitment."
Likewise, foster parents have to be fully committed, she said, because "these kids have already been so hurt and rejected so many times. Sometimes their bad behavior is just a test to see if they (adults) really mean it, or if they'll bail like every grown-up in their lives has."