Sitting in his Macon office, Stephen Story is surrounded by photographs and drawings of and by children. And, he said, surrounded by memories.
Talking about Covenant Care Adoption Services and its ministry to birthmothers, adoptive families and children, he explains the organization focuses on being an alternative to abortion and presenting adoption as a positive choice some women and families don’t initially consider.
Years prior to Story becoming executive director at Covenant Care, he said the office was where he and his wife, Dottie, first met their oldest son, making some of the memories and kid’s drawings his own. All of the Story family’s three children are adopted, two of them through Covenant Care.
“Yeah, it holds a lot of memories for me and a lot of other people,” he said. “There’s been a huge number of families who’ve met a child coming into their home for the first time right here. It’s more than an office. I know what it all means.”
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Story then repeats Covenant Care’s touch-phrase, not as route but with heart: “Our first priority at Covenant Care is the birth mother and her baby. We find a family for a child in need rather than find a child for a family. We never pressure mothers into choosing adoption over parenting, but are here to help them in what is sometimes a very difficult situation.”
Story said since its start in 1989 by a group of concerned Macon women, most of them part of First Presbyterian Church, Covenant Care has found families for 576 children.
“One of the neat things about adoption is it’s a win for everybody,” he said. “For the birth mother — the birth parents, really, because birth fathers have been ignored so much in the past — but it’s a win for birth parents, adoptive families and the child. Adoption is a positive, healthy solution. We come alongside them with care and services throughout the pregnancy, while choosing an adoptive family and then seeing their child flourish in the family they chose. It’s the perfect choice if the birth parents feel they can’t keep their child. Especially if the alternative is abortion. Certainly there’s no win there for the child.”
Despite success and knowing the outcome of many pregnancies, Story said many who come for services — with no strings attached — come then go without Covenant Care knowing the outcome. He knows some choose to keep their child and some choose abortion. A whiteboard in the ministry’s board room has the figure 82:1. Story explained there are 82 abortions in Georgia to every one adoption. He said he sees no reason the ratio shouldn’t change dramatically. He said that’s what he and Covenant Care counselors, case workers, partner churches and volunteers work for daily.
“Adoption is such an underutilized resource,” he said. “The one adoption to 82 abortions figure blows my mind. You usually hear such big numbers on the national level that you can’t comprehend them. But 82:1. I can imagine 82. I can picture them. And I can see the joy in the one being adopted. I know there are families that want and would love those children. I mean 82 to one? There have to be more women out there who would happily choose adoption if knew it was an option.”
Story said he realizes adoption isn’t the only response to abortion, that adoption isn’t always a woman’s best choice, and that adoption through Covenant Care isn’t the only means to adoption. He said there are many others working to similar ends, but Covenant Care is there for those who need it. Story also spoke of the changing face of adoption and the services Covenant Care offers.
“It’s not a matter of ‘take the kid, take the money and run,’ like some people may have come to think,” he said. “Hearing our clients talk about adoption after the fact they almost always talk about the initial negative thoughts they have along the lines of ‘I could never give up my baby,’ to seeing it as one of the most wonderful things ever. That’s after they’ve seen the love and care they get, how their babies are cared for, how we don’t take the baby and run, but how we’re there to support them, the child and adoptive families through programs and services before during and after. Many have said, and there are many, many testimonies anyone can watch on our website, but many have said what they went through wasn’t something they survived but something that became wonderful.”
As far as taking the money and the baby and running, Story said Covenant Care goes the opposite direction. A big part of the ministry involves raising funds so services can be provided free and families can be helped with adoption legal costs.
Story said as a 28-eight-year-old state-licensed, Christian, non-profit, domestic adoption and counseling agency, Covenant Care has gained a good reputation with its staff birth-mother caseworkers in Atlanta, Athens, Augusta, Savannah, Valdosta and at the state office in Macon. He said he hears again and again judges say they’re glad Covenant Care is involved in an adoption because, as Story reports their words, “they do things right.”
“We serve these towns and travel to others to meet clients,” he said. “We go through every legal step carefully and we go through our own processes carefully selecting Christian families for birthmothers to choose from for their babies. By serving birthmothers and adoptive families well, we serve the child. We do it because of God’s love for them all. We know he cares for the hurting and he especially cares for children and women in difficult need. That’s our motivation. His heart. We honor everyone in their journey whether they choose adoption or parenting.”
Story said Covenant Care’s concern for women, children and families, is wide ranging and long lasting.
“For example, we just had a retreat for birth moms, a three-day weekend in Savannah where they could relax, relate to others and make new friends among women with similar experiences,” he said. “There’s also group counseling and we do this kind of thing every year. Some who come placed a child years ago and some placed a child through other agencies. We’re happy to serve them, too. The retreat is a highlight of our year. We even provide transportation. The thing is, we work very hard to help women and families. To help children as we do. We work hard to do it at no cost to them. We have to raise funds, of course. We don’t get rich, but what we do has a more lasting and eternal benefit. You can’t argue with people’s stories. God is making a way and changing lives, even through adoption. Jesus calls his people to love and care for others and the Bible often presents the depth of his love through pictures of adoption. That sustains and energizes us.”
Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Covenant Care Adoption Services
Address: 3950 Ridge Ave., Macon, Ga. 31210
Phone: 478-292-6060, 24-Hour Toll-Free Crisis Line 1-866-813-8655
Leadership: Stephen P. Story, Executive Director