Sisters Ready to Adopt Four Siblings
“I can go back and get along with my aunt because of what I’ve learned from you,” the 8-year-old told Autumn and Trinity Tinsley. The young girl had spent two weeks with the Tinsley sisters. She was the first child the sisters had kept as foster “parents.” “You can make a difference in the lives of these children in a short time,” said Autumn.
Because of their dedication to and love for children, Autumn and Trinity are in the process of adopting four sisters, ages 2-8, who have been living with them.
“People probably think we are crazy, but the Lord has spoken clearly to both Autumn and me at different times and in different ways, that this is what He wants us to do,” said Trinity, who serves as children’s minister at Prague, First.
Autumn, 30, and Trinity, 28, were certified for foster care through the Oklahoma Department of Human Services two years ago. Since that time, they have had 11 children in their care, some for just 24 hours, some for two years.
They have had the children they are adopting, the 8-year-old for two years, the 6-year-old for 18 months, the 4-year-old for one year and the 2-year-old for three months.
“We said from the beginning we were not going to adopt,” said Autumn, who works at a Youth and Family Resource Center. “The goal of DHS is reunification, but the parental rights of these children have been terminated.”
The sisters, both graduates of Oklahoma Baptist University, and the granddaughters of retired Falls Creek Manager Harry Dodd, said the scariest thing is they can’t adopt the children together.
“We are attempting to adopt two each,” said Autumn. “If we get married, we honestly don’t know what we will do. Our plans, even if that happens, is to stay close to each other.”
The girls pointed out that all marriages have the potential for divorce, and maybe the likelihood of them getting married is the same.
“We’ve been concerned that we will be raising these children in a home without a male, but so many families today have only one parent because of death or divorce,” Autumn said. The Tinsley sisters lost their mother through an accident when they were 15 and 13, so they know something about one-parent families.
A third sister, Bethany, is married to the youth minister at Prague, First, and both she and her husband, Jarrod, take an active part in the lives of the young girls living with Autumn and Trinity.
The Tinsley sisters said the four young sisters come with a lot of baggage.
“The 4-year-old will act out that she has been abused, but the older girls can tell you how they were abused,” said Trinity.
They also said the girls have a fear they are going to be left somewhere. Autumn and Trinity took them for a weekend in a hotel and to a waterpark last summer, and when they pulled into the hotel parking lot, one of the girls started screaming, thinking it was a shelter, and she was going to be left there.
“We can’t erase the first years of their lives,” said Autumn. “We have to build on them.”
Neglect is the number one reason children are in foster care, and the second is abuse, said Rebecca Boston, a foster care recruiter for DHS and former IMB missionary in Chile. In 2006, 84.85 percent of confirmed cases were due to neglect, and 15.15 percent were due to sexual, mental and physical abuse, according to DHS statistics.
“Kids love their parents no matter what the neglect or abuse,” said Boston. “Foster parents have to assure the kids they are loved and will not be neglected.”
Of the 11 children who have been in the Tinsley home, two have accepted Christ.
“And every child has left our home praying,” said Trinity. “We gather them around to pray, and they don’t want to at first, but eventually, all have prayed on their own. And there are 11 children we pray for every day.”
Trinity said the thing that bugs her most is people who say they can’t be foster care givers because they can’t say good-bye to the kids.
“That is a sorry excuse,” she declared. “These kids have to say good-bye all the time. If the Lord is calling you to do it, you can deal with saying good-bye. Knowing from the beginning these kids are not your own, you can embrace them and love them in a totally different way.”
“You don’t have to keep them,” agreed Autumn. “But while you have them, you can mentor them and train them in the way of the Lord.”