LONGVIEW, Wash. (BP)–Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come unto me,” spring to life when Gene and Carol Anglin relate some of the 178 stories of their 16-year ministry as foster parents.
They felt called in 1978 to share their love and home with children in crisis. Their oldest child, Paul, was a senior in high school; middle son Rick was a junior; and the youngest, daughter Amy, was in eighth grade.
They requested boys from the foster home agency because their home had more room available for boys, but soon their family was increased by a set of twin girls. Placing two 5-year-old girls in their daughter’s small room was no small adjustment.
The twin girls hold some of the fondest memories for the Anglins. While enjoying lunch at a local cafe, one of the twins asked if they were going to pray out loud in this public place with so many people around. Gene Anglin promptly answered, “Yes, that is what we do.”
The girls hung their heads in embarrassment, but the next time that situation presented itself, the same twin asked loudly if she could be the one to say the blessing. When she was finished praying, she promptly reprimanded the people at the next table saying, “Aren’t you going to pray for your food?”
Some months later, the Anglins had the privilege of seeing the twins and their mother reunited and come to know the Lord.
All the stories are not as happy. Numerous times they would be awakened in the wee hours of the morning to be handed small children. One Saturday at 2 a.m., two children with lice-filled hair were turned over to them.
Another time they were quickly and unceremoniously told, “Here are two girls and a boy.” As they proceeded to bathe the children, they discovered two boys and a girl. The children had to be removed from their situation so hastily no one knew.
One 3-year-old asked to smoke; some suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome; some were so defiant the Anglins had to ask for them to be reassigned; many had emotional problems; and some had physical handicaps.
At one point in their ministry, the Anglins had 11 children under the age of 11. They were licensed for three.
One special handicapped child was placed in their home as a baby. They were told, “He has spina bifida, which means he has a hole in his back.” They had no idea what that meant. They handled him like he might break at any moment. Later they were told, “He is already broken. You cannot do any more damage.” When the child was to be adopted from their home, Carol’s heart cried. Some of the paperwork had been changed; a new name had been recorded. They thought it was final. Three months later the family gave him back. Carol and Gene Anglin decided to adopt him. Tom is still living with them today. The Anglins adopted two others: Dawn and her half brother Dennis, now adults.
Children were taught to do chores depending on their age. Picking up clothes, making beds and doing dishes were all part of the daily routine. All children were expected to attend church. Only one teenage girl ever objected.
One of the highest points of the ministry, Gene Anglin said, was getting involved with people you wouldn’t meet in church.
A child asking for their own Bible or getting excited about going through the clothes box to choose clothes to wear on Sunday were some of the highlights of foster care for Carol. She also enjoyed the training she received to be fully licensed to care for children.
They continued caring for children until 1994, when they realized their adopted son Tom’s handicaps were requiring all their time.
The Anglins, members of Columbia Heights Baptist Church, Longview, Wash., encourage people to seek God’s guidance in becoming foster parents. “It is not an easy ministry,” Gene Anglin said. “But it is rewarding.”
Lerma is a correspondent for the Northwest Baptist Witness newsjournal.