RICHMOND, Mo. (BP) — It’s strange for Cara Peoples to consider what her life would have been like if she hadn’t been adopted through the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home back in 1965.
“I wouldn’t have grown up in Richmond, Missouri; I would not have met my husband Claude and had our two girls and grandsons; and I would not be able to give back [to MBCH] as a board member,” said Peoples, a member of First Baptist Church in Richmond.
Adopted when she was just 10 days old by David and Ramona Leathers, she grew up on a farm in Richmond with an older brother and younger sister, both of whom also were adopted through the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home (MBCH).
Peoples said she has always felt blessed to have the parents God gave her. “We had everything we needed and most of what we wanted,” she said. “I knew I was adopted all along and I remember being teased some, and I just said, ‘Hey, my parents picked me and yours are stuck with you.’ I was proud of it.”
Though many MBCH board members are adoptive parents, Peoples is the first to have been adopted through the children’s home.
“My pastor recommended me for the board because he thought I would bring a different viewpoint to the table,” she said.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it at first, but we had a missionary come to our church and it felt like he was talking right to me. He said God gives you experiences that can be used for His glory and, though you may not know exactly how things will work out, that will only cause you to lean more on Him.”
She’s since served 10 years and currently chairs the board of trustees for the LIGHT House, an MBCH-affiliated full-service adoption agency and maternity home. The LIGHT House ministry is very special to Peoples because her birth mother stayed in a similar Kansas City maternity home while she was pregnant with her.
“I have learned so much about MBCH’s many programs,” Peoples said. “Back in ’65 when my scared teenage biological mother found out she was pregnant she went to the Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers in Kansas City but said she was staying with a friend in Lincoln, Neb., as an alibi.
“Her choices were limited. Now we have maternity care, fostering programs and therapeutic foster homes, transitional living programs for young adults who are phasing out of foster care, and human trafficking rescue programs. For those who need the extra help, we show them how to get a job, how to meal plan and how to be a parent.”
Peoples’ adoptive father passed away in 1989; her adoptive mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1996 and lived until her death in 2006. Meanwhile in November 1999, Peoples received a phone call that would give her a whole new group of people to cherish.
“When the lady called me she asked my name and birthdate,” Peoples recounted. “I asked, ‘Why?’ She said she respected my birth mother and wanted to know if I was interested in talking to her.”
At Christmas that year Peoples met her biological mother, her grandmother and many other new relatives at her birth mother’s home in Jacksonville, Fla. She started talking to her birth father a few months later and met him for the first time at his home in Phoenix, Ariz., in the fall of 2000.
“My birth mother and I have known each other for 17 years now and we’ve become really good friends,” Peoples said. “I’m blessed to have been adopted into a great family and I’m blessed to connect and learn about my biological family.
“The truth is, in each story we hear about we really only see a portion of the impact that the MBCH has on children and families across Missouri. One thing I do know is that we need to continue to work together to meet this vital need.”