During a Bethany Christian Services (BCS) orientation meeting in Charlotte a few years ago, an anonymous birth mother said, “I did not give my child up because I did not love him; instead, I gave him up because I loved him so much.”
This statement was really profound for both Kelly and Lindsey Bullard. As they listened to this mother, Kelly said God began to work in their hearts to seriously consider adoption.
“We always knew God called [Lindsey and I] to be parents,” said Kelly, senior pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Fayetteville.
“And like most young, married couples … when the time comes, we’ll start a family like everyone else does. After a few years, that wasn’t happening for us.”
The Bullards sought medical guidance and were diagnosed with infertility.
“Immediately our hearts and minds went to adoption. … It was in God’s providence that He chose to bring our family together,” said Kelly.
Kelly and Lindsey Bullard pursued adoption after attending an adoption agency’s seminar. Kelly is senior pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Fayetteville. They adopted Caleb in 2013.
After looking at several different agencies, the Bullards spoke with friends about the adoption process. Along the way, they came across Bethany Christian Services, a global nonprofit family preservation and child welfare organization that cares for orphans and children on five continents.
Founded in 1944, BCS tries to demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting and enhancing the lives of children and families around the world.
In January 2012, BCS approved the Bullards for adoption placement.
How BCS works, said Kelly, is that each family creates a “memory album.” It’s a picture of one’s life that includes hobbies, activities, family and friends, and in the front of that book, Lindsey wrote a letter to birth mothers.
“Bethany Services takes the book and tries to match the adoptive family with what the birth mother is looking for.
“I had been telling Kelly and my mom for months that we’re going to have a baby by Christmas , and they all thought I was crazy,” said Lindsey.
On a Friday during the Holly Day Fair in Fayetteville, Lindsey and her mother noticed a green, argyle burp and bib cloth set.
Lindsey asked her mother, “Mom, I want this, but it looks too boy-ish. What if we get a girl?”
“Little did we know that the reason I was having the urge to buy it is because this was the day Caleb was being born. I don’t feel that is pure coincidence. I feel that is God in my heart stirring it,” Lindsey said.
“The name ‘Caleb’ means ‘faithful.’ And I thought, ‘There is no better name for our son than what we’ve always called this journey,’” she said.
“God laid it on our heart[s] to call him ‘Caleb’ even before we knew the meaning.”
Kelly and Lindsey brought Caleb home in early December 2012, and the adoption was finalized in April 2013.
When the Bullards received the final decree of adoption from the state of North Carolina, they were drawn to the way it was worded:
“Now therefore, it is hereby ordered, judged and decreed by the court that from the date of the entry of this Decree herein, the said minor is declared adopted for life by the petitioner(s) and that said child shall henceforth be known by the name of Caleb Mark Bullard. That the Decree of Adoption establishes the relationship of parent and child, together with all the rights, responsibilities and duties between each petitioner and the individual being adopted.”
Kelly said, “I think [the decree] is so profound and it is just another reminder of the gospel implications of adoption, … [that] we too have been adopted in Christ.
“We didn’t do anything to earn that. Caleb did not choose us, we chose him. And that’s a wonderful reminder that we’ve been chosen by God before time, … and we’re known as His children, as His sons and daughters – that we too have the same rights and privileges and responsibilities as He does.”
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said as Christians reflect on their adoption in Christ, “we realize that we should see that adoption makes a ‘real’ family; not an artificial one.
“When we are adopted into the household of God, we become ‘real’ offspring of Abraham (Galatians 3:15-16, 29), ‘real’ heirs of the inheritance promised to Christ.”
The Bullards received much-needed encouragement from their family and church. She said, “Some [immediate family members] had known friends that adopted, but no one in the family had previously adopted. … One of the things Bethany said is that adoption is not for the faint of heart. It has some highs and some very low lows, but at the end of it, it’s one of the most beautiful things you could possibly imagine.”
With adoption being very expensive, Kelly encouraged individuals interested in adoption to remember that God is bigger than the expense.
He said, “I tell folks to not let [finances] be something that prevents them from following God and the path of adoption; because He will bless it, and He’ll make a way because He is faithful.”
He added, “Everything’s a celebration to us. … Everything we’re experiencing we never thought we would. We’re thankful to God for every moment we have.
“You always wonder, ‘Am I going to be able to love a child we didn’t give birth to?’ It’s amazing how God knits your hearts together.”
Every night, Kelly and Lindsey take turns putting Caleb to bed, and like any family they have a routine. Kelly said that each night “we read a few books, sing some silly songs, say his prayers and when I put him in his crib, I tell him the same thing: ‘Mommy and daddy love him very much and we thank God for him every day, and that he is God’s greatest blessing to his mommy and me.’
“I want him to know each day of his life how much we love him, but more so, how much God loves him and has a purpose for his life.”