Adoption and foster care are linked to what James 1:27 says is “pure and undefiled religion … to look after orphans and widows in their distress”, and they may be the clearest testimony of the goodness of God to a watching world. Memphis has numerous families who have answered God’s call to adopt or foster children. Many, if not most, of these families need specialized services, such as counseling, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Until recently, families had to find these services piecemeal, sometimes resulting in their needs not being fully addressed.
Several years ago, adoptive parents Mark and Tona Ottinger (Mark is a pastor at Fellowship Memphis Church) had a vision for a center where most of these services could be offered in one place. In August of 2016, that vision became a reality as the Memphis Family Connection Center (MFCC) opened as a nonprofit clinic. In partnership with Agape Christian Services, multiple churches, several businesses, and individual donors, MFCC has been able to offer multiple services to families in a wonderful 10,000 square-foot space on the Harding Academy campus in Cordova.
Earlier this year, Living Hope began supporting the center financially, enabling me to work there four to five hours per week counseling individuals, couples, and families, and providing supervision to other counselors on the staff. In addition, my wife, Laurel, and I have had the privilege of co-teaching a 9-week parenting class of up to 16 couples. We are truly blessed to be part of something so unique and special, one of the gems of our city. We feel doubly blessed that Living Hope has a heart for adoption and foster care. Four years ago, we brought our daughter Marin home from China.
Our Living Hope family has been there for us and with us throughout our journey, helping us with adoption expenses and medical expenses. Thank you, Living Hope, for your heart for adoption which originates with our Heavenly Father, who has adopted us as sons (Galatians 4:5).
Matt Smith is a psychologist and ordained minister. He and his wife, Laurel, have four children by adoption and have been members of Living Hope for 11 years.