DOTHAN, Ala. – When she was a child, a family took Charla Beauchamp in, adopting her as one of their own. Now Charla has adopted three children of her own. Charla and Larry Beauchamp’s 12-year-old daughter, Lauren, says one day she hopes to adopt a child too, carrying on the family tradition.
The couple’s journey to becoming parents and adopting children challenged their faith, their finances and marriage. But through perseverance, continued faith and God’s timing, the couple adopted three children through quite different but successful ways.
“Adoption is one of the strongest tangible actions we can make to show love for children,” Larry Beauchamp said. “Adoption demonstrates how family is more than flesh and blood.” For Charla, she simply answered the calling on her life.
“I think it’s about being called,” Charla said. “It’s either your calling to adopt or it’s not.”
In the beginning Larry and Charla learned they had to turn the desire to have children over to God. “We had conceived and miscarried twice through fertility treatments. We decided that was too emotionally draining,” Charla said. “I felt like I was the one in control. It was my timing and not God’s timing. We gave it over to God.”
They went through the last miscarriage in 1999, about two years before their first child, Lauren, came home. For Charla, making the decision to adopt was the easy part, but then came the more difficult part of choosing which route to take.
The couple has now adopted three children. They are 12-year-old Lauren, 8-year-old Emma and Caleb, who is just over 3 years old.
“We’ve got one of all three,” Charla said. “We’ve got an open adoption, closed and semi-open.”
After adopting Lauren they decided they wanted to try and adopt again, and completed some classes through the Department of Human Resources.
“We got a phone call one day from our social worker asking would we be interested in a two-and-a-half year old,” Charla recalled. “We said absolutely.”
The adoption through DHR was a completely closed adoption with no contact from any of the child’s birth family. But they do know Emma was from north Alabama.
“She was in foster care for two-and-a-half years,” Charla said. “She went by Emma and we added Grace to make Emma Grace.” Larry and Charla have met Caleb’s mother and got to be there at his birth, at which time he immediately became their responsibility. They continue to have semi-regular contact with her, along with Caleb’s aunts.
Charla called open mindedness and flexibility quite important as people consider adopting children. Their son, Caleb, is nearly completely deaf.
“He does hear sound, and he recognizes his name now,” Charla said. “I thought I wasn’t cut from the right cloth to be a special needs mom. But I’m a special needs mom now.”
Charla recognized through their adoptions you had to be willing to research all the different avenues available. Charla encouraged people to foster a child or children before adopting. Fostering typically requires the completion of some classes, which she said were quite beneficial for them.
“You don’t just go into an agency and say I want to adopt,” Charla said. “It’s not as expensive as people make it out to be. You can adopt domestically for less than $10,000.”
Larry can remember questioning God as he watched young women give birth to children while he taught at Dothan High School several years ago.
“He (God) said when I learned to be a father to them I’d be ready,” Larry said. Larry, who now works as a local counselor, recalled how he later found himself helping and talking to those new mothers he came in contact with.
“My situation didn’t change, but God changed my attitude,” Larry said. “It was every bit a spiritual journey as anything else.” As the journey toward parenthood reached completion Charla and Larry both recognized God’s perfect timing in how each adoption occurred. The couple later found out their daughter, Lauren, was conceived right around the same time their first adoption fell through in November 2000.
“Had it not been for our faith we could not have done this. I don’t think I could’ve survived emotionally, physically or spiritually,” Charla said. “It was just perfect timing.”
They again had two other adoptions fall through in the same week before they adopted their son, Caleb. Larry said for an adoption of a child you have to be able to work outside your comfort zone.
“We did not understand at the time, and it was hard on the marriage. We really had to support each other,” Larry said. “It’ll challenge your faith, your marriage and your finances, too.”