Her knowledge and experiences in the adoption process give her valuable insight in her role as Bartow Family Resources’ Adoption Support coordinator through the Relationship Center.
Mother to biological daughter Rylee, 10, Barkley said she experienced unexplained secondary infertility.
“That was a difficult time for me, but adoption had always been something my husband and I talked about. So we began exploring different options,” she said. “At the time we had little knowledge of how to adopt and felt overwhelmed by the process.”
Since then the stay-at-home mom, who was an elementary school teacher previously, and her husband, Scott, have adopted three children — Jackson, 6; Brycen, 3; and Charlotte, 2.
“Our two sons were domestic infant adoptions and our daughter was adopted from China,” Barkley said, adding that the couple also has two adopted nephews and two foster nieces.
Beginning with Bartow Family Resources, a faith-based nonprofit, in 2005 through efforts with her church, First Baptist of Cartersville, Barkley volunteered at the center teaching the adoption discovery class, which works to inform and support potential adoptive parents, following the adoptions of her two sons.
“Adoption is so important — to children who need a loving, stable family and to families who long to love a child,” she said. “But the road to adoption can be lonely. The process of adoption can be long and difficult. Friends and family may not know how to offer support. And many times once the child comes home, especially if he or she is not a newborn, people aren’t sure how to respond.
“Adoptive parents can feel isolated. Supporting those parents and their children in the years following adoption is crucial.”
Through the Relationship Center, which opened Jan. 7, Barkley will work with the adoption community, focusing her efforts on three main areas of ministry.
“The first is education, encouragement and support for families considering adoption,” Barkley explained. “I want to be a resource for families who are possibly as overwhelmed as I was by the ‘unknowns’ of adoption.
“I felt like beginning the adoption process was like standing at the bottom of a mountain wearing a blindfold. I knew I had to climb it to get to my future child, but I didn’t know which direction to go or how long it would take to get there. I am honored to have the opportunity to help families navigate the road to adoption through the adoption discovery class.”
She also will center attention on establishing a community of adoptive and foster families in Bartow County, coordinating opportunities for fellowship, as well as resources and classes to help adoptive parents. The first adoptive family fellowship will be held at Cartersville First Baptist on Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Lastly, Barkley said she wants to focus on ministering to children who are awaiting families. Bartow Family Resources will be partnering with Faithbridge Foster Care, an organization that provides foster care through the local church. Those interested in getting involved are invited to attend an orientation on Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Relationship Center, 20 Douglas St. Email email@example.com for more information.
By increasing adoption support efforts, Barkley said the Relationship Center’s support on the community will be expanded.
“Until now, we mostly focused on education for families considering adoption. I am thrilled to expand that to include support for adoptive families in all stages,” she said. “I think feeling supported in the adoption process will encourage more families to consider adoption because they know they will not be alone.”
Relationship Center Director Cindy Smith agreed, adding that Barkley’s own experience made her “perfect to educate and support our families.”
“Adoption is a beautiful way to build families. The child gets a forever family and the family gets a unique individual to fill a spot that can only be filled by him or her,” Smith said. “The Relationship Center sees a need in our community to educate those who are interested in adopting as well as support those who have already adopted. ... We feel this is a great start to providing the resources our community needs to be encouraged in the area of adoption.”
Looking ahead, Barkley said she hopes to see the agency begin offering group classes and eventually she hopes to broaden the scope of her work.
“I would love to see small group studies being led by other adoptive parents, waiting family support groups, adoptee, birth mother and adoptive parent counseling, and support groups. I envision a network of adoptive families who offer encouragement and support to each other as well as those considering adoption,” she said. “I would love to see our community rally around foster children by supporting and ministering to their foster families and their birth families. I would eventually love to organize mission trips to work in orphanages overseas.”
Calling her position as Adoption Support coordinator “a dream come true,” Barkley said ultimately, she wants to help others looking to climb the same mountain she faced.
“I feel that the way God formed my family — through adoption — was miraculous, and [I] want to help others who feel God leading them to adopt.”
Bartow Family Resources is open Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.bartowbabies.org, call 770-382-7224 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.