The Hogue Family:
Parents Steve and Sandra with Adopted Children Silas, Stephen, Seth and Selah
Adoption always appealed to Steve and Sandra Hogue. Before they ever married, they discussed adoption as a way of expanding their family. Not long after their wedding, the couple discovered they were infertile and realized adoption was their only option if they were to have a family.
"We prayed for a family and in 15 months we had four kids," said Sandra. Sandra and Steve adopted Silas as an infant - fostered and eventually adopted brothers Stephen and Seth, and finally adopted Selah.
"We never had any worries about parenting. We were on the same page about that," explained Sandra. "We did wonder if the boys would feel fulfilled once we adopted them and if they would ever feel like we were their family. We didn't want them to experience any loss or emptiness."
The Hogue's have had the love and support of their church through the entire process. Steve is the children's minister and the family has been able to use their adoptions as a platform for increasing awareness and educating the congregation about the needs of Florida's children in care.
As Sandra tells it, "Being adoptive parents has given us a better understanding of our relationship with God and love. It's given us a better understanding of our faith. Our congregation has watched the process and it's given us a way of walking the talk and practicing what we preach."
The Hogue's desire to see adoption more widespread prompted an invitation for a state licensing team to visit the church and explain the adoption process. More than 50 families have signed up for MAPP training and are in the process of becoming licensed to foster and adopt.
"We really want to encourage others to put themselves in the shoes of these children. Children need a permanent home and the impact we make on society through them is beyond measure," said Sandra. "Prospective adoptive parents really need to take time to get through the initial hurdles because these children come with issues and baggage."
"When you adopt older children you have to be understanding and empathetic. These youngsters come from a different environment. As mature adults, we need to be patient and help them heal, walk them through the issues, mistrust, bad memories, breaking bad habits, re-teach them things about life and character, always encouraging, never giving up."
Although there were some adjustments, Sandra says life with her two older boys is awesome. Within six months of the adoption, things started to gel. The boys finally felt secure and safe.
"Our children have given us a greater understanding of unconditional love," Sandra says with a smile. "They have taught us about forgiveness because they have had to forgive so many horrible things in their lives."
The Hogue's prayed that God would grant them as many children as they could handle; they received four in 15 months. They have no idea how many more children their family will include, but they are patiently awaiting the answer.