Advocating for Children in Foster Care
by Kelsey Madas
Arthur C. Woods, a graduate of Lancaster Bible College, shared with us about his own heartbreak after an adoption that fell through, becoming a foster parent an advocate for children in foster care and so much more. You can learn more about Arthur’s work by visiting his website, arthurcwoods.com
Arthur, Tell us a bit about yourself. To those who attended the Lancaster campus of Lancaster Bible College, my name might sound familiar. I am the son of Dr. Art Woods who has been a professor at LBC in the Bible department for many years. If you received an undergraduate Bible degree from LBC in the past 20 years, chances are good that you took one of my dad’s courses. Additionally, my brother, Dr. Andrew Woods also teaches at LBC. It’s kind of a family thing I guess. My wife Elizabeth and I live in Lancaster County and are pre-adoptive parents to our two adorable foster girls. We have a beautiful Siberian Husky named Jadis, and a cute little cat named Epi. I consider myself an advocate for orphaned and vulnerable children and teenagers and I regularly speak, teach and write about issues related to orphan care, adoption and foster care. Because my wife and I come from a student ministry background, much of our specific focus is on helping vulnerable teenagers. What degree did you earn from LBC? I received a Bachelor of Science in Youth Ministry in 2002 and then returned to LBC | Capital to earn a master’s degree in Student & Family Ministry in 2014. When did you first discover your passion for orphans and advocating for children in foster care? About 5 years ago, my wife and I began the lengthy process of international adoption. We became aware of two young ladies, who lived in the country of Kyrgyzstan, that were in need of a forever family. The girls were flown over to the United States to temporarily live with us for 5 weeks. At the end of that time period, we had to put them back on a plane to their home country. We were able to host them two more times over the next couple of years as the adoption paperwork was being completed and processed. As you can imagine, we fell in love with these two kids and were so excited about adopting them. Things progressed slowly, but surely, and in January of 2018 we flew to Kyrgyzstan to spend 3 weeks with the girls in their home country. After we returned to the United States, everything began to fall apart with the adoption. We had no idea what to do. Our adoption workers were baffled, as they watched problem after problem after problem surface with our adoption process. Eventually, it became clear that for whatever reason, God had closed the door. We were not going to be able to adopt these two kids that we had fallen in love with — who desperately needed the love of a family. It was heartbreaking! But through that journey, God began developing in me a passion for orphaned and vulnerable kids. I realized that there were kids right here in the United States that desperately needed support. We began to pursue foster care. I signed on to become a CASA. I accepted a volunteer position with Orphan Sunday. I wrote a curriculum for parents of adopted and foster teenagers and I began to speak and teach and write on issues related to orphan care, adoption and foster care. God’s heart is for the orphan and he has been developing in me that same heart for these vulnerable children. What is a Court Appointed Special Advocate? Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) are volunteer men and women who have made a commitment to advocate for the needs of a specific child or teenager in the foster care system. At this point, there are over 80,000 active CASAs in this country who have been specifically appointed by the court to represent the needs of a vulnerable young person. I currently serve as a CASA and am in the process of developing a really good relationship with the child that has been assigned to me. It’s an opportunity for me (or any CASA) to really focus on only 1 or 2 kids that need someone to be their voice. As we get to know the child, their case, their family and their caseworkers, we begin to develop informed opinions about their permanency goals and other key aspects of their case. Those opinions are compiled into a formal report that we submit to the court. Typically, at least once every six months we stand before a judge in court and express our recommendations for the child. It’s a very rewarding experience, and it is such a valuable resource for the child or teenager. If you would like more information, visit: casaforchildren.org Tell me about the curriculum you developed for adopted and foster teenagers. What did that stem from? Trusting The God of the Gospel is an 8-session discipleship video series I developed to help adoptive and foster parents talk to their teenagers about God. Being a youth pastor for 10 years I had the opportunity to work with many middle school and high school students who had been adopted or were living in foster care. I realized over time that in many cases there were similar “barriers to the Gospel” that they shared due to their traumatic backgrounds. I wanted to create something that would keep this in mind, to help parents and youth workers have those important spiritual conversations with their adopted and foster teens. The curriculum is available at trustingthegodofthegospel.com
What is Orphan Sunday and what is your role with it? The annual Orphan Sunday event is an initiative of the Christian Alliance For Orphans and is recognized by thousands of churches and organizations throughout the world. It is an opportunity to pause and remember the millions of orphaned and vulnerable children on this planet who desperately need help. I have the privilege of serving as a regional coordinator for Orphan Sunday this year. Anyone interested in more information can visit orphansunday.com. How did your education at LBC shape what you’re doing with your life today? I am grateful for my time at Lancaster Bible College — both as a graduate and undergraduate student. LBC is a premier college with a highly impressive faculty, program and campus. My time at LBC gave me the foundational tools I needed to grow in my faith, in my leadership and in my ministry. It provided me with the training I needed to serve as a youth pastor for 10 years. I am blessed to have been able to attend.
Need Help Talking To Your Adopted or Foster Teenager About God? Check out the latest video & discussion series by Arthur C Woods, called Trusting The God of The Gospel. This 8-Session course will help you as a parent or youth worker walk through the Gospel message with your teenager, in light of their past. Available at: www.TrustingTheGodOfTheGospel.com