September 25, 2013
Advocating for Pet Adoption
Liberty, Mo., children’s advocate branches out to support pet adoption with children’s book
by Teresa J. Herbic
Then, all of the sudden, I plummeted into a ghastly mud hole. I jolted up and ran straight home covered in filth. My daddy saw me and lifted me into his brawny arms. He gave me a soapy bath and I felt brand new. This reminded me life can be messy, but it's what we make of it that matters.
That really happened. I told the story through the eyes of our rescued cat, Dakota, in my children's book "Cat Tales." Dakota is one of many cats in the book who share their stories of abandonment, hope, and adoption. Part of Dakota's tale is that life is an adventure, and often our greatest joys come from the compassion we share with family, friends, and God's precious creatures.
Caring for orphaned animals—entertaining angels
Abandoned animals often wondered onto the rural acreage where I grew up. When this happened, I always thought of the scripture, "Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!" (Hebrews 13:2). I felt that any time an orphan animal presented itself, it came as a gift from God.
I nursed a baby bird who had fallen from a nest, and when the mother didn't appear, I knew something had happened to her. As I researched how to care for the baby, I realized how incredibly loyal momma birds are, feeding their babies several times hourly each day. I learned early on the labors of motherhood. I set my alarm to get up and feed this baby bird as frequently as possible.
A privilege to care
Although it seemed overwhelming, I considered it a privilege to nurture a precious being who needed me. God had placed me in the baby bird's path to care for the creature. As the Lord says in Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them."
Orphan care became very near and dear to my heart. I thoroughly enjoyed watching over many cats, dogs, pigs, and even mice. I realized years later that God had been igniting a calling for my life.
From orphan care to adoption
One night as my husband and I discussed having our first child, the television played PBS's exposé of hundreds of orphan children living in China. Our choice became clear: God intended for our family to adopt a child rather than to pursue having one biologically.
Divine intervention led us to our remarkable daughter Meyana, who brightened our lives and inspired our hearts. We had such an incredible experience that we felt led to yet another adoption, our son Braxten, a handsome and adorable boy from Kazakhstan.
God cares for His orphans—through us
Friends at our church proposed co-leading a community adoption and foster-care support group. We felt the call of Jesus as we embarked upon a journey of helping hundreds of families adopt and foster children.
One particular moving experience came after meeting with a Cambodian missionary who ran an orphanage in the village of Kom Pong Thom. She asked us to come up with money to furnish dormitories for orphans on the streets.
Within two to three weeks the children in our congregation had tithed all but $500 of the needed funds. A parent contributed that, but families kept contributing. Together, we had enough not only to furnish the dormitories but also to provide school uniforms and shoes. To top it off, the church's quilting ladies made quilts for all the orphans. Now, that's God in action! It is just one example of how God cares for His orphans.
Next mission: Adopting animals
God has now prompted us to support animal adoption. From early childhood until now, adoption, faith, and animals remain at the very heart of our family. We have taken in a number of phenomenal cats, dogs, and other loving animals over the years. Nine of the cats we adopted are featured in "Cat Tales." Dogs will have their turn in my next book.
Why write these books? To teach children about compassion and the joys special pets bring to our lives.
We look forward to helping The Humane Society of the United States in its pet adoption efforts, including The Shelter Pet Project. God continues to drive our hopes, care, and prayers for all orphans each day.
May He inspire you to examine your heart for your next great effort for orphans, too! Adoption—of children or pets—changes lives all for His Glory.
Teresa J. Herbic is an advocate for orphans and adoption. She is the director of Family Groups and Families for Adoption, an international and domestic adoption, foster, and orphan care network at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty Mo., launched in 2005. Her many published works include the children's book "Cat Tales."