We did not start out to do anything other than build our own family.

We had married with the dream of adopting children. We have no idea where that dream came from…except God. We certainly NEVER dreamed we would be where we are today. We cannot give you a clear cut “How To” start an adoption ministry. We can only tell you our story and how God took our church in this direction.

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This is our family today. After having one biological child, we adopted Christine. She was a healthy, white infant. We felt incapable of parenting a child who did not look like she could be our biological child. In 1973 Roe v Wade stopped us in our tracks. We had 2 healthy children. Agencies were not willing to work with us. I could have no more children. Our dream of a big family died and something within me died too. I began a downward spiral that led me to Jesus and to Mt. Zion where our journey picks up speed.

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Long story, but the Lord took us into foster care with Bethany Christian Services. In two years, we fostered 7 infants from birth to adoption. During this time we involved the congregation by letting them know what was happening to the babies, by asking for help with needs at Bethany, by allowing our church to feel part of the fostering ministry. One of our foster babies, Nathanael won our hearts totally and the Lord began to speak to us about adopting him. As we prayed through this decision and the process, we were very transparent with the church as you would be with family. When the Lord gave him to us, the church gave us a huge baby shower. We started an organization called Rainbow Families for Caucasian couples who adopted minority children. We met at our church. This drew more adoptive families to Mt. Zion because they saw the support we were given.

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Joshua…one of our miracle children! He was our first full black child. His adoption took 10 days from the day we mailed our application until placement and all the legalities had been done. Our son had just started Messiah college, we were living off a teacher’s salary, Joshua was number 5. Financially we were so stretched. We could afford no fee. We had a brand new pastor at Mt. Zion, but we told him what was happening and he appealed to the church to help us. Within the week, the body had given the full fee plus $7. The body was already invested in Joshua, when at 5 months he nearly died of a rare virus and they rejoiced when God gave him life, against all odds. Somewhere between 1 and 2 Joshua developed late onset autism, though we had no idea what was happening. The body prayed for us and for him as we sought answers and healing. It has been a long difficult journey and our church has walked it with us. Joshua’s multiple diagnoses include autism, mild mr, severe bipolar disorder and crohn’s disease. But those labels tell us only what is wrong with Joshua, not what is right nor anything about his purpose in life.

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Along our journey, Joshua became violent and we needed help. God did not see fit to take the violence away, as we asked him to do. But give us help. Joshua is here with his aids. We have had in-home help with him since he was 11…a dozen years ago. His aids stand with him as he proclaims his faith in Jesus.

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Joshua is baptized with Scott, Jeff and Ben at his side.

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At that same service Joshua is confirmed along with three of his sisters, Sarah, Rachel and Janee. There was not a dry eye in the house. What a beautiful Mother’s Day I had!

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Through Joshua, both Jeff and Scott made professions of faith in Jesus. Through Joshua, we were led to adopt other special needs children. Through Joshua, the body saw the love of Christ in action. Through Joshua we were led into a world we did not want to be in…the world of the handicapped. Once we got there we found new purpose and direction. God used us to light a path for Mt. Zion. More about that in a bit.

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What God was doing in our family made no sense to the world, but God had a plan. And the body was seeing it. As Joshua got into his teens we found Young Life Capernaum Project and were part of that for 7 years. Now, as part of the youth ministry, I have founded Beyond Capernaum, a ministry for handicapped young adults. We generally have about 20 young adults who attend. Five of those were adopted into their families and have found Jesus.

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When Janee, our 7th child, who is now 20, was under a year old, my dear husband said, “Terri, the Lord does not need one family to take 100 children, but 100 families to take one child.” Jim felt the Lord was directing us to pray for Mt. Zion to have a heart for adoption. Several months after that we were invited to speak at a Bethany banquet and we invited several couples from church to accompany us. One couple, Benedict and Kathleen Schwartz, were quickly moved to adopt. They had 4 biological children but adopted a biracial infant from Bethany within the year. Later, they would adopt a teen who came from the same village in Ghana as our daughter Rachel…pictured here holding her niece from China.

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As the number of adoptions increased in the church, the atmosphere became obviously adoption friendly. Pictured here are a young man, Zhenya, with his adoptive parents and their biological daughters and granddaughter. Zhenya was adopted at age 16 from an orphanage in Kazakhstan. He had spent his life there. His parents met him on a mission trip. He was the first child ever to be adopted from this orphanage. The Wettigs had to fight a major legal battle to get him but since they broke down the walls several other children have been placed. Zhenya has many special needs and it is doubtful he will ever live independently but is dearly loved by our body.

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This is our newest adoptee and her new mom. She was born just two weeks ago to a drug addict, Chris and Leigh have chosen to parent her. They know the road ahead will probably be rough, but they are willing because they know that is what Jesus would have them do. Our church has opened its collective arms to individuals with autism, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, mental retardation, and those who have been impacted by the prenatal use of drugs and alcohol. We have a ministry called the Hiding Place which is run by a nurse. It is a place for special needs children to be cared for and to learn about Jesus during our church services.

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When our children’s choir sings, it looks like a United Nations. The children’s choir has children adopted from Russia, Kazakhstan, Haiti, China, and the US. We so rejoice in the beauty of the different faces.

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Benedict and Kathleen Schwartz, the couple I mentioned a few moment ago, found an even bigger vision. Benedict, along with a board from our church, founded the Children of Zion Village in Namibia, Africa. Benedict then went on to found the Village of Hope in Zambia.

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Sandy Harrison, one of the youth from Mt. Zion, is playing cards with some of our sweet children at COZV.

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The Children of Zion Village is supported totally by contributions from individuals. No children are allowed to be adopted by families out of the country. We are raising the children to know Christ and to be able to lead in their country. Volunteers from this country help care for the children. There are also native staff and paid house parents chosen by the board of COZV. Here two volunteers love on our kids.

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God used Jim and me to light the path for Sean and Jill. We get our families together to give all the children a sense of God’s great plan and that they are not alone though their families are unique. Helping adoptive families not to feel like freaks is imperative.

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We took both families on a hike when we were together the last time. Both sets of parents try to model being unself-conscious for our children. If we are comfortable in our own skin, they will be also.

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Stephen another of our miracle children. He is now 18 and part of our local fire company. He is pictured here when he was chosen as the outstanding young firefighter in our town. Quite an honor!

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My first year as youth director at Mt. Zion, we took 40 to Mexico for a mission. Here we love on Isabella. We all would have liked to put her in our suitcases

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Lisa and Drew had two beautiful children, Garrett and Brielle. They had no problems with infertility or pregnancies. Lisa just felt a tremendous pull to adopt. Drew did not share the call. Lisa prayed for several years, before Drew decided that the family should go to China on a mission trip.

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God presented them with Giana first. A beautiful child, as long and lean as her family. She presents many challenges.

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Allie was a special needs adoption. Lisa met her on a mission trip to China and fell in love with this little girl with a clef pallet. When Lisa left her she promised she would come back for her. With the help of friends Allie was located on a special needs list. They had to fight to get her, but Allie is all theirs. The body at Mt. Zion walked through the process with them and prayed all along the way.

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Augustine is one of three individuals who have come to us from the same village in Ghana, West Africa. Our daughter, Rachel, is another. Augustine was born with spina bifita. He is doing amazingly well. The other person is a young adult who found a dear Christian man also a native of Ghana. They married two years ago and have a son. She had polio as a child and walks with a limp. All three were outcasts in Ghana, a country where handicaps are not tolerated.

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Rachel blesses everyone everywhere she goes. She faces the world with confidence and Christ’s beauty shines through her.

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We have two children who have been adopted that first came through the summer Kid Save Program. Daniella was brought by another family who had no intention of adopting, they just felt that the Lord wanted them to host her. That family has hosted several children, all of who have been adopted.

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