Lisa Wheeler and her husband, Timothy, struggled through the heartbreaking journey of infertility for 15 years. Then, a random announcement at Mass one Sunday inspired them to become foster parents.
Now their once empty home is full of children. So far, the Wheelers have fostered 20 children and adopted five, according to the National Catholic Register.
“Each child that has been part of our family, whether for a short period of time or for the children that are now part of our family forever, we approach them in the love and care that reflects their own journey,” Lisa told the newspaper.
Wheeler is well-known for her Catholic and pro-life public relations work with Carmel Communications. She arranges interviews with Christian actors like Mark Wahlberg, Jonathan Roumie and Jim Caviezel, and even appeared briefly in the film “Instant Family,” a heartwarming comedy about adoption, according to the report.
In an interview with the Register, Lisa said she volunteered with foster children in college, but she did not think about becoming a foster parent herself until years later after she and her husband suffered through a long struggle with infertility.
“I was grateful for my marriage and my husband, but I longed for that feeling of wholeness that comes when you are part of a family with many parts,” she said. “There was this period of 15 years where I lived in that longing. I think children who are languishing in the foster-care system with no permanency experience that same longing. They ultimately want to love and be loved by a safe and forever family.”
One day at Mass, Lisa said an announcement was made about a foster care informational meeting for prospective families, and it led to her and her husband becoming an approved foster home.
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Currently, more than 100,000 children are available for adoption through foster care in the United States. While many foster children return home to their parents or are adopted by relatives, others “are just sort of waiting — waiting for a home and a family to call their own,” she continued.
Now that Roe v. Wade is gone, Wheeler said it’s more important than ever that pro-lifers reach out to help foster children and families – both biological parents and foster/adoptive parents.
“I think both foster care and adoption take on this stigma of difficulty because we don’t talk enough about it,” she told the Register. “Talking about it in the context of pro-life, it’s one of the things that I think has been most frustrating to me in being a foster parent: the way that we don’t incorporate discussion in our churches within the context of the pro-life discourse as much as we should, especially in the situation that we’re living in right now, where we have Roe v. Wade overturned.”
She envisions a new movement to create “care communities” within churches, groups similar to pro-life committees and women’s ministries that “wrap themselves around a foster child in their community.” That could mean mentoring a child, setting up a resource center with clothing and toys, and supporting and encouraging foster parents.
“A care community really enables a parish, to dive deep into that aspect of loving through a whole life mentality, rather than focusing one aspect the pro-life commitment and call,” she said.
Wheeler reminded Christians of the biblical call to care for the most vulnerable. She pointed to James 1:27, which says “true religion is one that cares for the ‘widow and the orphan.’”
She continued: “I think, at the heart of adoption, is really a reflection of our Father’s love for us. I mean, we hear biblically, quite frequently, that we are the adopted sons and daughters of the Father. And so the idea of adoption is very much part of our spiritual core. To know that we have the capacity to love and be loved by someone that is not biologically related to us, that’s really a very beautiful thing.”
Being pro-life means more than just speaking about the value of unborn babies, Wheeler said; it also means taking action to protect the most vulnerable children, born and unborn.
“I just think that there’s really a disconnect that we have got to try to figure out how to solve,” she said. “So that just as easy as it is for us to talk about protecting life in the womb, protecting the lives of these young people that are already here — and that we have a duty to do that. In whatever way, God’s calling us to stand in the gap.”