Possum Trot: How One Texas Church Adopted 77 Children

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Possum Trot: How One Texas Church Adopted 77 Children

If you put Possum Trot, Texas into your preferred map app, chances are it won’t show up. Much of Possum Trot consists of dirt roads and a country landscape. Located in Shelby County, about as far east as you can go before hitting Louisiana, most residents come from working-class families. Yet this tiny town made waves in 1996 for their incredible act of love. One local church, Bennett Chapel Missionary Baptist, decided to adopt as many of the hardest-to-place children in Texas as possible. Their congregation was small, but they knew no child should be without a home. What followed was an incredible journey that changed the lives of 77 kids, one that we hope will repeat many times over. You’re never too small to make a difference, and one little church in Possum Trot, Texas proved it.

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Action

In 1996, Donna Martin was in the middle of mourning for her late mother when she felt called to adopt. Though she had two biological children, her mother’s limitless love inspired Donna to love that way, too. When she attended an informational meeting about adoption, however, her heart broke for what she saw. Many of the children available for adoption suffered abuse, neglect, trauma, and unsafe living situations. And while they desperately needed homes, few were willing to take in children with such complex histories. Many adoptions failed, and the children ended up right back in the foster care system.

Donna discussed what she learned with her husband, W.C., who served as the Bishop of Bennett Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. They knew they couldn’t sit by, so the Martins adopted four children: Mercedes, Tyler, Joshua, and Terri.

The Martins decided to share what was happening to children in state care with their congregation. What they said sparked a fire in the hearts of the church members. In all, 22 families decided they wanted to join the Martins and take action. Over time, these families adopted 77 of the hardest-to-place children in Texas, giving these children safe and loving homes.

Surrounded in Support

Adopting 77 children, many with challenging behaviors and unhealed trauma, wouldn’t be easy for anyone. Some of the families were stretched thin on finances, and parents found themselves overwhelmed with all the care required for each child. Some felt exhausted, others burnt out.

But where the church may not be wealthy, they were rich in faith and love. The church surrounded the members who adopted with support and encouragement. Some brought meals and helped with household chores. Others shared extra resources and funds. Together, they grew together as one church family, and each child they adopted was able to stay. Eventually, no more children were left for them to adopt in their area. One tiny church did that.

Many of the families and adopted children of Possum Trot reside nearby and attend Bennett Chapel Missionary Baptist Church to this day. W.C. and Donna still serve as Bishop and First Lady. The children have grown to graduate college, pursue their careers, and start families of their own.

Imagine what we could do if all churches in America stepped up in a similar way. There would be no child welfare crisis, no child without a home, and no family left to struggle alone.

On July 4, 2024, the story of Possum Trot comes to the big screen. The film shares the heartbreak, healing, and hope of this incredible church and how God used their love to change 77 lives. We’re honored and excited to have partnered with the Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot production team and CarePortal to help bring this powerful story to the world. We hope it inspires a movement in our nation and lights a fire in our hearts for the vulnerable, hurting kids without homes. Be sure to get your tickets to witness this amazing story, available now!

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