West metro church network reaches goal to adopt or foster 50 children

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A west metro church community is celebrating a major milestone. The Aspen Grove Network, which has three church locations, set a goal to adopt or foster 50 children in five years.

They’ve been able to achieve it in only four years.

“It’s remarkable to see,” said Pastor Aaron Sorenson, pastor of Crow River Church in Delano.

He and his wife Kristen adopted both of their children. Their son Jonas will be four years old in May, while their daughter Lany will be two years old in July.

It was through their own adoption journey that Sorenson realized there were others within the church network who were considering adoption or foster care, including two other pastors. 

“It was pretty apparent that this was something that was stirring,” he said. “We wanted to help people who were thinking of fostering or adopting so we created a support group really that would help people at different stages.”

And they challenged families within the network to start adopting or fostering children. 

“Quickly we saw people come forward after we shared this dream,” said Sorenson. “We've had people who probably never thought they would do foster care or adoption who have indeed done that. We've had a lot of people who have just made meals for families, been supportive as friends.”

He said they provided notary nights to help with paperwork and some parishioners stepped forward to help financially with adoptions.

“Unless somebody or people step up and say we're willing to do something, nothing changes,” said Sorenson. “We wish there wasn't a foster care or adoption problem. We wish all kids had homes and families and safe places to grow up but that's unfortunately not the case. We feel like the church should be part of the solution.”

In 2017, Mark and Abigael Lee joined the church network. They said the challenge is one of the reasons they chose it, after feeling a calling to adopt.

“We’re really just thankful that our church network heard this calling and jumped into it,” said Abigael Lee. “We knew there were kids right now, who needed help right now.”

They became licensed and provided respite care for the first year. Foster children would stay with them for a weekend, to help foster parents if they had a weekend obligation or needed a break from the stresses of parenting. 

In 2018, the couple began accepting full-time placements and became parents to two young brothers.

“They were just the most incredible kids imaginable,” said Abigael Lee. “They were hilarious and sweet and they'd been through so much but they were so ready to love and to be loved.”

For Mark Lee, “Once the kids were in our home, they were our kids and there wasn't anything we wouldn't do for our kids.”

They cared for the brothers for 10 months until they were placed with a family member in the fall.  

“For us it's totally been worth it and we are so willing and ready and excited to do it again,” said Mark Lee. “I mean the impact you could make on just one or two children that you can provide a safe and stable and loving home for, for however long time as they need it. I mean I don’t know how we could say no to that.”

They told us fostering isn’t easy but this challenge has created a network of support, helping them navigate the ups and downs.

“This is now a part of who we are as a church,” said Sorenson. “The more churches we could get doing things like this and being fostering and adopting churches, we really have a chance to see to see this problem eliminated.”