fostering love
Mississippi Magazine|May - June 2020
Foster parents fill their homes with joy while filling a great need for Mississippi’s children.
KELLI BOZEMAN

Melanie Gates and her husband Adam had only been licensed as foster parents for two weeks when they got the mid-morning phone call. Could they take in a four-month-old baby boy whose birth mother had just been kicked out of rehab? The couple hadn’t expected to be asked to care for an infant and were definitely not feeling ready. But with a few more calls, they had lined up daycare and were gathering supplies. And by 3:30 that afternoon, little Henry was home.

Accepting the placement of this baby was the latest unlikely “yes” for the Madison couple, who earlier had been surprised to find themselves considering becoming foster parents despite the fact that they already had four children, age 10 and under. It all started when they were taking part in an adoption fundraiser for another couple. “During that time, I felt the Lord stirring on my heart,” Gates says. “I thought, we have four kids. That would be insane. But He was very, very persistent.”

She began seeing mentions of foster parenting everywhere—in school communications, on the radio, in magazines. It was as if God was speaking directly to her. “I prayed and said, If this is what you want, I’m open to it.”

Her husband soon felt a similar stirring through his work as an attorney. “We just kind of started talking about it,” she says. “We are both big planners. We needed to have answers. And every time we had a question, within a day, He would answer. Finally, we said, OK, God, we hear you loud and clear. Little things all added up to let us know he was guiding us.”

After completing a foster parent application with the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services (MDCPS), the couple started taking required classes and began meeting with a social worker. At the same time, Gates came to realize just how dire the need for foster homes was—not only in her home county but also around the state. “Madison County is one of the wealthiest counties in Mississippi, and it broke my heart to find out this county doesn’t have many foster families,” Gates says. “I believe there are many people who have lots of love to give a child.”

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