July 21, 2017

‘God had other plans’

Couple provide home for five children as they embrace adoption as pro-life calling

Josh Bach leads his family in a prayer before the meal in their home in Indianapolis on July 10. He and his wife, Cara, members of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis, have adopted the three girls seated in the chairs—Amelia, left, and Frances, both 6, and Victoria, 12. They hope to finalize soon the adoption of the two girls seated on the bench, who for legal reasons must remain anonymous until their adoption is complete. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Josh Bach leads his family in a prayer before the meal in their home in Indianapolis on July 10. He and his wife, Cara, members of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis, have adopted the three girls seated in the chairs—Amelia, left, and Frances, both 6, and Victoria, 12. They hope to finalize soon the adoption of the two girls seated on the bench, who for legal reasons must remain anonymous until their adoption is complete. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

The cheery bungalow home on Indianapolis’ near-east side is teeming with energy.

The five children who live there, ranging in age from 6-12, sprinkle their happy laughter inside and out: one jumping on a trampoline in the backyard, two playing with dolls in their bedroom, while the oldest indulgently plays the “patient” to a younger sister’s “nurse.”

The scene is much as Josh and Cara Bach, both 42 and members of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis, imagined when they started dating as freshmen in college 23 years ago.

“We had talked about, ‘Well, we’ll have a few biological [children], and then we’ll adopt one,’ ” says Cara. “We talked about China, because that was really big back then.”

But, she says, “God had different plans,” a mantra she and Josh have come to adopt, along with their three—soon-to-be five—daughters.

This is a story of one couple’s journey of opening their home and their hearts through foster parenting and adoption, and their desire to see more couples and expectant mothers embrace this loving, pro-life alternative.

‘At the end of this road is a baby’

Cara and Josh married in 2000. But despite their college dreams, they were unable to conceive a child.

“You think you know what life is going to look like—you go to college, you get a job, you get married, and then you start having children,” says Cara. “We went through a mourning process.”

The Bachs explored “some simple medical things” to investigate their infertility issue, she says, but “didn’t travel down the medical road very far. We said, ‘Well, we can either go down this [medical] road, or I know at the end of this road is a baby.’ ”

That second road was adoption, and as Josh points out, the couple had “wanted to go down that road anyway.”

It was a decision made simpler by the fact that Cara was then a social worker for KidsFirst Adoption Services in Indianapolis. Through KidsFirst, the couple adopted then-10-month-old Victoria, who is now 12.

After a few years, a friend encouraged Cara to look into adoption through the foster care system. The Bachs attended lessons and became certified to be foster parents.

“Shortly after that, we got the call about the twins,” says Josh. “They were just a couple days old.”

Enter Amelia and Frances, African‑American twins now 6-years‑old. Their birth parents had terminated their parental rights, so the infants were immediately up for adoption. Within 13 months, Amelia and Frances were officially “Bachs.”

After about two-and-half years, the couple decided they “wanted to give back” to the foster care system.

‘We hope we made a good impact’

“Someone had fostered our little girls [for a few days], so we decided we would do that for one, maybe two [children],” says Cara.

They fostered one girl for about a week, and then another girl for about nine months.

“That was a hard one,” Cara admits of the second experience. “We just fell in love with her. Our girls fell in love with her. She wasn’t available for adoption, but the [social worker] thought the case was headed in that direction.”

When the case went before the court, however, the judge ruled to return the girl to her birth parents.

“That was heartbreaking for us,” says Cara. “Josh was just like, ‘God has a plan, and we just have to trust in that,’ but I was mad, because she didn’t go back to a safe place.”

Despite the heartache, says Cara, “We felt like we gave her a really good, loving, stable home, and we hope we made a good impact. We loved her with all our might, and now we’re just her prayer warriors. At least she has that.”

The Bachs next became foster parents to a boy for a few months, then decided they “were done.”

But just in case the girl they fostered for nine months came back into the system, they kept themselves on the available list for one more year.

‘He had other plans’

Then they received an e-mail about another little girl who was available for adoption.

“I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, throw our hat in the ring,’ ” Cara recalls. “And we actually got a call back.

“And then they said, ‘Oh, by the way, she’s got a sister.’ We looked at each other like, ‘That would be five! Five girls!’ ”

The Bachs met with the case management team. Within the week, they received a call that they were accepted as foster parents on the adoption track.

All five girls “get along fabulously,” Cara says. “They fight and tattle-tell just like any other siblings, but they’re protective of each other. I just can’t imagine them not all being together.

“We look back on it, and it’s so funny how God kept making sure we had that door open. And we never would have done five, but he had other plans.”

The Bach’s newest daughters, who must remain anonymous until the adoption is complete, have been with the family for more than a year. They provide a fourth ethnicity to the Bach household.

‘Let’s help out, right in our backyards’

And that is why St. Joan of Arc is such a wonderful parish for them, says Cara.

“The parish is so diverse,” she comments. “We had the twins, and we didn’t want to be the one family that walked into church and everyone was looking at us. When we walked into St. Joan of Arc, Victoria whispered, ‘Mom! There’s people that look like us!’ ”

Cara notes that the school is the same way, with “a lot of adoptive families, and a lot of foster families, too.”

Such support is not surprising, given the Church’s pro-life stance and adoption’s pivotal role as a pro-life option for women considering abortion.

Yet Cara and Josh envision a Church that does even more to promote adoption as a pro-life cause.

“It seems like there’s only two choices [for women in an unplanned pregnancy]: ‘I can either have an abortion, or I can parent this child,’ ” says Cara. “Put in that other ‘A’ word: ‘adoption!’ Adoption is a wonderful, loving choice.”

Josh agrees, wishing to see “some of that anti-abortion energy” geared toward “helping with adoption education and support.”

According to www.adoptuskids.org, a project of the U.S. Children’s Bureau that provides assistance to help child welfare systems connect foster care children with families, there are currently about 9,300 children in foster care in Indiana, many of whom are waiting for adoptive families.

“Right now, our case worker tells us that, because of the [recent opioid] drug problem, they have more children in the foster care system than they’ve ever had in their history,” says Cara. “And there’s not enough homes, so they’re sleeping in cots at the DCS [Department of Child Services] Office. They’re so desperate for homes.”

But while Cara says this “breaks my heart,” she also sees an opportunity.

“I think this is where the Catholic community can really step up,” she says. “Either you can adopt, or foster, or be a CASA [Court-Appointed Child Advocate], or spread the word about adoption and fostering and programs that support them.

“I feel like we have a calling to help, especially being such a big, pro-life community. Let’s help out, right here in our backyards.”

In fact, the Bachs frequently do just that, by hosting backyard summer gatherings of families who have either fostered and adopted children, or are in the process of or considering doing so. The gatherings are part of a ministry Cara and Josh started—St. Joan of Arc Adoption and Fostering Support Group, which meets monthly during the school year and intermittently during the summer.

‘I could not imagine taking on this … without God’

The Bachs are quick to acknowledge that challenges are inherent with fostering and adopting: dealing with children upset from nightmares; working through bonding issues with children who were not properly cared for as infants; “unpacking” the memories of older children who remember their lives before adoption; and just navigating the overburdened foster care system.

That’s where their faith comes in, says Josh.

“I could not imagine taking on this endeavor, the responsibility, without God in our life, period,” he states.

Through their heartache in not being able to conceive, in their discernment about whether to foster and adopt, and in the different struggles as foster- and adoptive parents, “We always had faith that God would provide,” he says.

“The love that we have in our family is massive. Blood or no blood, it’s there, and nothing is going to take that away.” †

Related story: St. Joan of Arc couple offers support group for adoption and fostering parents

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