Odessa pastor and wife confirm fostering is difficult but rewarding

January 6th, 2021 / By: Karen L. Willoughby | TEXAN Correspondent / comments

Odessa pastor and wife confirm fostering is difficult but rewarding

Del and Charmaine Traffanstedt stand with their family: (l-r) Mary, Connie, Seth and Tyson, in front of a Christmas tree at Mission Dorado Baptist Church. Firstborn Taylor is married, living elsewhere with her husband. Photo Provided

ODESSA The first foster child who came to their home was there because of the brutal death of an older sibling. 

Despite that emotional distress, Del and Charmaine Traffanstedt went on to provide care for 10 foster children over a three-year period. 

Del, pastor of Mission Dorado Baptist Church in Odessa, and Charmaine, agree that adoption and fostering are something every church should encourage.

The steps to becoming a foster parent? “It’s hard. It’s long. It’s full of paperwork, meetings, home studies,” Del Traffanstedt told the TEXAN. “It’s a good process meant to protect the child. but it took a long time.

“What was good about it was working with Texas Baptist Home for Children [a related ministry of the SBTC],” he continued.  “They have someone walk through the process with you all the time, and to counsel you and pray with you.”

TBHC.org explains the purpose of the home is “to protect the sanctity of human life and promote the preservation of the family.” This includes biological, fostering and adopting families. “This purpose manifests itself in preventive, rehabilitative and specialized services to children, youth, adults and families.”

The Traffanstedts’ oldest biological child, Taylor, was 15 when her parents determined to open their home to care for foster children.

“It’s really hard but incredibly rewarding,” Traffanstedt said. “These children need help. They are the biblical definition of ‘the least of these,’ which is why the church must step in to care for them.

“For Christians, bringing foster children into our homes is exactly what our Lord wants us to do,” Traffanstedt continued. “Most people, they’re willing to do the easy stuff, but this is the nitty gritty ministry Christians are called to.”

The Traffanstedts adopted the last three of their foster children, which put their 1,300-square-foot home at maximum occupancy, according to state guidelines. Since then they have added their “bonus baby” and biological son, Seth. 

“We fell in love with our kids,” their dad said. “When a child lives in your home for two years, that’s your kid.” Besides, he added, “We felt called to adopt. Our goal from the outset was to foster kids who needed to be adopted.”

His advice to fostering and adopting: 

  • Find a good Christian agency in your area to work with.
  • Engage your church family. You cannot to this alone.
  • Pray about your willingness to do this, your motivation for doing this, and “You need to prepare your heart for the brokenness you’re going to encounter.”

Taffanstedt has been pastor of Mission Dorado for five years. Pre-COVID, about 150 people gathered for Sunday worship.

One of the church’s staff members is given paid time from the church to be a court-appointed (yet volunteer) special advocate for children in foster care. “Through her, we get access throughout the year to some of these kids, to know how to pray for them and to provide some of the material things they need, clothes, backpacks and the like,” Taffanstedt said. 

Mission Dorado Baptist also participates throughout the year in Angel Tree, a ministry to prison inmates’ children. This includes a big Christmas party with a meal, gifts and the Christmas story, and contact year-round.

Traffanstedt mentors and coaches other fostering and adopting families. The ministry involves recruiting new families, mentoring, counseling and coaching them as they foster and adopt.

“Every church should be engaged in foster care, orphan care ministry,” Traffanstedt said. “I would encourage every pastor to investigate the need in their area and how they can engage with children in need of God’s love and care.”