Sides family

The Sides family seamlessly supports adoption and considers it a matter of faith for them. Top to bottom: James, Steve, Matthew, Joseph, John, Martha, Sara, Mary, Chrystal, Robert and Enoch.

COURTESY

What do the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Art Linkletter, Scott Hamilton, Lee Majors, Marilyn Monroe and Jack Nicholson have in common? In addition to their obvious name recognition, less apparently, all were adopted as are some 135,000 children annually in the United States.

Famous folks who have adopted include Julie Andrews, Sheryl Crow, Hugh Jackman, Meg Ryan and Sandra Bullock.

Two years ago, Bullock opened up to People Magazine where she is quoted as saying, “There are so many kids out there who so badly want to have families” and “What’s heartbreaking is that some of these kids don’t get love.”

On the most recent National Adoption Day, one local family sat down with Our Faith to explain that adopting can be an exercise of faith and that it can be done within a tight budget given certain circumstances.

Steve Sides serves as an elder at his church in downtown League City. He has also worked for a contractor at the NASA Johnson Space Center for many years. His family includes nine children, four of whom are adopted.

“When we were first married, my wife Martha and I were praying, asking God what our future family should look like,” Sides said. “Martha’s vision was once to work in an orphanage, but it worked out that we became missionaries where we were by adopting kids and doing the jobs God gave us. It’s been a blessing, though there has always been challenges.”

The adoption process involves a good deal of paperwork, attorneys, home studies and more, often taking up to one year to complete. Martha Sides suggested that prospective adopters consult with someone who’s been through the process and can provide both cautions and encouragement.

“It is a rollercoaster ride,” she said. “But God’s going with you because he has told us to take care of the orphans. I find it is a blessing to know that God is walking through this with me. You need to realize you don’t need to be a miracle worker. God accepted us into his family so we felt we needed to accept these children into our family.”

Private adoption remains pricey, but Texas offers financial help for those willing to adopt from the foster care system.

“We adopted through the state of Texas and it was not expensive,” she said. “They provide law students and monthly financial support for certain expenses like education and college. That was a real blessing.”

Crystal Sides Serrano is one of their adopted children. She came into the Sides clan at about age 7. She said that although she has no plans to adopt for her own family, that the spirit of adoption has helped with her blended family.

The Roman concept of adoption was quite different from ours, so the transforming of the practice cited repeatedly in the New Testament to today’s modern one may seem a stretch, but pastors insist that God’s acceptance of us can be mirrored as families gracefully assimilate children in need.

“Being adopted has helped me,” said Serrano. “We have four children and I learned from my adoptive mom that we don’t think of ourselves as adopted, but as one big family, so I’ve kind of adopted my husband’s previous children. It’s helped me be their mom, too.”

There are many resources for those interested in adoption. One place to start is with advice and a list of adoptable kids from the state of Texas. Visit www.dfps.state.tx.us and click on the adoption link.

Next week in Our Faith: Why Hanukkah matters.

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