"I Have Seen Jesus in the Faces of These Children."

Like most couples, Scott and Renee thought they would one day be able to parent biological children. “We'd talk about ‘maybe they'll be musical like my family’ or, all of Scott's family, they all have big smiles, maybe we'll have a son with a big smile,” says Renee. “For probably two years I had a re-occurring dream that I had a fair-haired baby girl.  It was vague because it was a dream, but I knew it was a girl and she was blonde and I loved her.”

For over a decade, the Welsches tried to conceive. “We were busy, involved in ministry, an active life. Finding out that we weren't likely to every become parents the traditional way was heartbreaking because it's a loss and it's a grief,” she says. “At times it was harder to deal with than others, and yet we never doubted that God's plan was for us to be parents.”

For a brief period, they considered in vitro fertilization.  Renee recalls, “I wasn’t sure that I had the heart to go there. I was a little bit nervous and scared. And my husband said to me, ‘There are kids out there waiting for parents, and we're parents waiting for kids. Let's just go find our babies.’”

In 2004, the two attended an adoption fair. “I had the information from every agency that was represented, and I stayed up all night,” Renee says. “I read every word of every page. Some of the profiles were written by the children themselves expressing why they hoped that somebody would want them. And, somewhere before dawn, I knew that we were called to foster. I knelt by my bed and I nudged my husband who was sound asleep and I aid, ‘I think that God is calling us to be foster parents.’ And he sat up and he said, ‘Yeah, I know. I knew that last night,’ and went right back to sleep.”

The Welshes then began the arduous process of becoming certified foster parents. “We took classes for six weeks. Once we finished the home study, the next day we got a call, and we took a placement of three children.”

Over the next several years the couple fostered 20 children. “This is what Scott and I decided from the beginning: that we would be willing to absorb the pain so that a traumatized child would have a safe place to land,” she says. “It's what Christ did for us.  He volunteered to go down a road knowing in the end, he too would be crushed so that I, you, everybody would have a safe place to land in the palm of his hand. Even though it's heartbreaking and the grief of letting go is huge, watching kids who are traumatized, watching them blossom, watching them start to achieve, begin to learn to trust, was so worth it. “

At one point, the Welshes decided to take a break from fostering and made plans to take a vacation to Florida. But the night before they were to leave, they got a call.

“I answered the phone and it was for a baby girl and they were ready to release her and they needed to identify a foster home for her to go to,” Renee says. “She had been born early. As soon as they told me her story, I knew that I wanted her.”

The couple cancelled their vacation and headed for the Cleveland clinic. “We walked all the way across the NICU. We passed rows and rows of babies and they all had parents, and other siblings, Renee says. “They had balloons above their beds, stuffed animals, pictures of family all around their beds, and our baby was in the farthest corner just hooked up to machines and it was heartbreaking. When they started to put her in my arms, I looked around and thought, ‘Where did my husband go?’ Ten minutes later he came back from the hospital gift shop and he had a balloon that said, ‘Congratulations!  It's a girl!’”

Through a series of circumstances, baby Angelina eventually came available for adoption. “Not long after the adoption we were in the car, she and I, It was a beautiful day, and I looked at her in the rear view mirror," Renee recalls. “She had gone from being a fragile, tiny baby, fighting to live, to being a happy, healthy, giggling, funny, beautiful toddler. And at just that moment it dawned on me, ‘This is the child of my dreams!’ And I sat there in my car and thought about that scripture. ‘Commit your ways to the Lord and He'll give you the desires of your heart’ and He did!”  

Since then, Scott and Renee have also adopted Angelina’s biological sister, Melissa. They are also very passionate in their mission to encourage Christians to foster and adopt.

 “There are, in the United States right now, approximately 104,000 children who are legally free and waiting to be adopted, hoping to find a forever home,” Renee says. “It’s possible if just the church community stepped up in this country, there wouldn't be one child left waiting. I have literally seen Jesus in the faces of these children.”  

“I have come to-to know and love Christ in a way I never have in any other endeavor,” she adds, “and I've walked with the Lord all of my life. Jesus said, ‘I was hungry and you fed me, I was naked and you clothed me.  I was a stranger and you took me in.’ And this is what foster parents do.”

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