Possum Trot Families Open Hearts and Homes

And while that's very satisfying to the pastor, it's not enough. It's not even enough that the dozens of children adopted by the other families of his congregation are doing well and thriving. Or that more of Bennett Chapel's members are getting ready to adopt.

No, W.C. Martin wants America to look at what his modest, hardworking, hard-pressed and sometimes overwhelmed little congregation has done --- and he wants thousands, if not tens of thousands, of American families to do the same thing.

And he's not kidding.

"I have a problem with this. I really do. We have so many children who need a place to stay," he said, the preacher in him quickly emerging when the subject of adoption comes up in an interview. The cadence of his voice shifts to that of the pulpit, his words appealing to the best in every person.

"In every state of the union, there's tens of thousands of children who need a home, who need a refuge, who need a place where they can call 'Mommy' and know they have a home and a mother and father."

He wants families in America to consider what many might think impossible: to have faith that bringing children out of the foster care system and into their families can work, if they are determined to make it work.

"There's no reason in the world why no child, no child should be in the foster care system. The system right now ought to be out looking for a job," he said with emotion.

Even in a tough economy, he is convinced that Americans have more than enough to reach out and take children in. "As much as God has given us, and as much as we have, there are so many wealthy churches," he admonished. "What are they doing to become part of the solution?"

When people congratulate Martin for all he and his wife and the Bennett Chapel congregation have done, he takes no time to bask in the praise. Instead, he usually issues a challenge.

"There's people right now who may look at us and say, 'Oh, they are doing such a good job down there with all them little children and it's a wonderful thing.' Well, yes, it is. But it can be an even greater thing," he said. "If all of us start working with one another, we can take this whole problem and remedy it null and void."

He has many convinced that Possum Trot is an example for the nation. Among the convinced is Joyce James, the assistant commissioner for Children's Protective Services in the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

"When you look at the concentration of families in this small community as we have, people wonder a lot about how it could happen," James said, noting that most of the families live paycheck to paycheck, and many already had children of their own when they adopted. "But it is possible. And I think they're a living example of it. And I think what has happened here is because they're so close knit, and because they worship together and live close together. They have a special bonding."

Donna Martin believes that her community's closeness, their willingness to work together to overcome the challenges and hurdles, are the keys to it all. She hopes that if people take nothing else from the Possum Trot example, they at least understand that the one ingredient that can make it work anywhere is love -- real, gritty, tenacious, forgiving, sacrificing, patient and enduring love.

The kind of love, she says, that operates on faith. "You have to love enough to not think about 'What I can't do', but love enough to say, 'What can I do'?"

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