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If Failure—or Money—Weren’t an Issue

Orphan Outreach adds Joseph’s DreamCoat, an adoption financial assistance ministry, to its services.

by Julie Cramer
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Life was running smoothly for Jay and Jennifer Kassing. Both from the Midwest, they had settled in Dallas, Texas—known as “Big D”—and were raising a big family under big open skies. So the thought of making their family any bigger had gone long flown the coop.

But then a never-before-asked question—What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?—sparked an immediately clear response in Jennifer.

“My answer was almost as easy to say as, ‘What do you want to have for dinner?’ Instantly, I wrote down that I would rescue a child from another country. Jay and I had never talked about adoption. I didn’t know anybody who had adopted. It was obviously something that the Lord planted,” she said. “We were so busy that we didn’t talk about it. Then the two of us were in a restaurant one night and I couldn’t shake it. We decided to look into it. That night we got on the computer and typed in adoption agencies and countries. Guatemala was clearly the right country [for reasons ranging from proximity to country-specific laws]. Everybody thought we were insane, not because we wanted to adopt, but because of the age of our children.”

The four in their brood were:

·       Jack, 5;

·       Emily, 3; and

·       Audrey and Ella, 20-month-old twins who had been born 7 weeks early.

Yet “it didn’t take long for me to gain peace about what we were supposed to do,” Jay said. “The process ran about as smoothly as an adoption can go. It wasn’t without stress or concern that we might never get this child that we’d been connected to, but in the end, God’s time is perfect. So you wait and trust that he will make this thing in your heart happen.”

As they waited, Jay ran the family business, Marquis, which assists banks and credit unions with marketing and sales as well as compliance in lending fairly in markets the banks serve. And Jennifer tended to their energetic little ones.

Then, on December 18, 2003, they got the call.

Joseph Edgar Thomas (Jet), 7 months, was cleared to leave his birth country for his new home. The Kassings boarded the next-available flight to Guatemala, and soon were waiting in the hotel for Jet’s foster mother to arrive.

“I will never forget the moment she walked into the room,” Jennifer said. “He was beautiful, perfect, lively. It was magic. The foster mother was brokenhearted to let him go. We were so grateful for how much she cared for him until we could get there.

“He adapted beautifully. Our other kids were tiny and exuberant to meet him. When we took him to meet our extended families, and he went from one set of arms, to another set of arms, to another set of arms. He has been a delightful little boy.”

The ages of the five in the Kassings’ brood are now:

·       Jack, 18;

·       Emily, 16;

·       Audrey and Ella, 14;

·       and Jet, 13

In the fall, Jack will go off to college—a reality Jay believes will be most difficult for Jet.

“Even though they are five years apart, they have all these girls in between them, so they are thick as thieves,” he said.

•••

The back porch conversation that changed everything

Adopting Jet changed Jennifer’s worldview, and it was not long before she told Jay one night as they sat on their back porch that she wanted to adopt again.

“But Jay—being the voice of reason—said, ‘We have enough.’ That was the starting point for Joseph’s DreamCoat,” Jennifer said of what grew to become the couple’s ministry for the past 10 years. “When we adopted Jet, we didn’t have to sell a car or downsize to do it. It didn’t change the way we lived. We just had the money to do it, by God’s grace. But we knew others might not be able to, and that is not okay.”

“It started by us helping a couple of people we knew that were looking to adopt but knew there was just no way,” Jay said. “What started off as helping one or two couples a year, grew to two or three, then three or four, then, eventually 35 applications per year. So we are letting God’s plan become bigger by partnering with Orphan Outreach. In as much as we can participate, we want to,” Jay said. “But again, the ministry isn’t ours. We have to listen to God. It’s his call for us to turn it over with an organization that will shepherd it well. Orphan Outreach will be able to do more with this than the two of us ever could.”

“Our two board members—Jeff Kassing and Brian Welch—have been faithful, trusted, and godly men who have prayed for the mission of Joseph’s DreamCoat and given countless hours of their time,” Jennifer added. “They have huge hearts and are true servants of the gospel. We would not have been here without them.”

Indeed, Joseph’s DreamCoat has—like its namesake—had a journey of its own. Its new home is under the roof of Orphan Outreach.  

“I met the Kassings when Jennifer heard about Women for Orphans Worldwide (WOW) and wanted to know more about what she could do to get her family involved with helping Guatemala,” Tiffany Taylor, director of marketing and development, said. “As an adoptive mom from Guatemala, Jennifer went on a Guatemala mission trip and quickly got involved with helping WOW raise money for orphans.”

When Jennifer approached Tiffany several months ago for ideas on how she and Jay could garner help for Joseph’s DreamCoat, she was “blown away” by Tiffany’s suggestion.

“The ministry had grown to a point that it was hard for them to manage,” Tiffany said. “Children in orphanages we serve are not available for adoption and we will not be offering adoption. Instead we will be offering grants to people who are working through licensed adoption agencies to adopt both internationally and domestically. Offering adoption grants is a logical extension of our ministry to help children along the continuum of care from adoption and foster care to residential and family preservation programs.”

“A lot of us in this ministry have adopted children, and we thought it would be a good way to add to the services we offer our constituents,” said Executive Director Rey Diaz. “Orphan Outreach has become a leading voice in the global orphan care movement for best practices, evidence-based research, and trauma-informed care,” he said.

“Our family has been changed by Jet’s life,” Jennifer said. “Jay and I want to stay involved as much as possible with Joseph’s DreamCoat, but we also just want to get out of the way. We are amazed at what God hatched in our backyard. I could not bring home every child in Jet’s family, but I want him to understand one day that we did everything we could to bring home a fatherless or lost child through this ministry.”

Her job now, she said, is to love her “five disciples in Dallas and point them to the gospel. We have much to do and much to accomplish. Our kids are teenagers and it’s hard and messy, but we’re parents and we’re lucky.”

“It’s been magic to watch,” Jay added. “It’s amazing to be a small part of these adoptive families’ stories. God has so much more in store.”

 


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