In 2006, a handful of passionate volunteers in McKinney, TX gathered to brainstorm ways the local church could lead the charge in caring for vulnerable children in the community. The team developed a strategy to improve outcomes for neglected and abused children by recruiting foster and adoptive families, and providing wrap-around care for these families. The ministry rallied volunteers to meet practical needs for children and deliver meals to families. Embrace’s support group provided valuable training and fellowship to families opening their homes to care for kids. As Embrace interacted with more families, new needs were uncovered. Services expanded to include church-based respite care nights, ongoing training opportunities, accessible family events, and a moms retreat.
By partnering with Child Protective Services and local child placing agencies to host informational meetings and foster parent training, Embrace began to positively impact not only the quantity of foster parents in Collin County, but the health and retention rates for these families as well. At a time when few resources existed for churches wanting to serve vulnerable children, Embrace began to connect with churches from across the State of Texas to help launch similar efforts in other areas of the state. The mission and scope of Embrace’s services quickly outgrew the capacity of its dedicated volunteers. With the support of the ministry’s Board, co-founders Denise and Bruce Kendrick took the leap to become Embrace’s first full-time staff members. The ministry left the umbrella of the local church and became a 501c3 nonprofit, “Embrace Waiting Children, Inc.”.
In 2012, Embrace’s founders were honored as Child Advocates of the Year by the North American Council on Adoptable Children in Washington, DC. Embrace was invited to join the Texas Child Protection Roundtable and the Texas Supreme Court Children’s Commission in 2013 as a voice for the Church to advocate for children and families. In 2014, Embrace secured a unique Memorandum of Understanding with Child Protective Services to become an advocate for children lingering in foster care, waiting for adoption. This collaborative effort united local congregations with the goal of a home and family for every child in Collin County. Child to Family Connection events brought together caseworkers and prospective adoptive parents to find possible adoption “matches” for waiting children. Children and teens represented through this groundbreaking effort spend less time languishing without permanency and are less likely to “age-out” of foster care.
In 2015 and 2016 members of the Embrace staff were honored as Angels in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute in Washington, DC by Congressman Sam Johnson. The Embrace Church Network was launched in 2016 to provide a platform to connect churches, community groups, and volunteers with the needs of local children and families.
Today, Embrace continues to innovate foster care and adoption ministry efforts by incubating programs in Collin County through local churches and multiplying those efforts to other areas of Texas and the rest of the country. The Embrace office is located on the Historic Square of McKinney, Texas, and you will find the Embrace Staff hard at work connecting willing hands with opportunities to serve children in foster, adoptive and kinship care.