Photo above by Michael Gomez.


by REBECCA GRACE | AFA Journal Staff Writer

As an adopted child herself, actress and former model Chelsea Noble has a passion for adoption and a love for motherhood.

"I love being a mother," Chelsea told the AFA Journal over tea at Padri’s Italian Cuisine in Agoura Hills, California. "It’s the most fulfilling thing."

But it was not too long ago that the aspiring young actress made a free-spirited move from the East Coast to Hollywood in an attempt to make a go of her acting career. More than a year passed, and she was preparing to move back to New York when she landed an audition for a role on the family sitcom Growing Pains.

After reading for a role for which she considered herself to be completely wrong, the producers called Chelsea back for another part and cast her as Kate MacDonald, the onscreen girlfriend of the mischievous Mike Seaver.

It was only a matter of time before her life took an unexpected turn as she fell in love with actor and co-star Kirk Cameron, both on and off the screen.

Kirk is quick to admit that he was crazy about Chelsea from the beginning of their friendship that developed on the set after they both found each other to be Christians – something rare in Hollywood.

"…He swept me off of my feet, basically!" Chelsea said.

Now 14 years and six children later, Kirk and Chelsea Cameron are still no strangers to the camera having starred in two Left Behind movies and the recent ABC reunion movie titled Growing Pains: Return of the Seavers (2004). In addition, they just finished filming the soon-to-be-released movie Left Behind – World War III.

Both on and off the set, it’s obvious that the Camerons are prime examples of Christ’s love as they seek to penetrate Hollywood with the light of the Gospel and a pro-family message of adoption.

Deciding to adopt
Sharing a strong love for children, Kirk and Chelsea decided "we would want to adopt our first ones so they would always know they were our first choice – that they were our first babies," Chelsea explained.

"My feeling was that I wanted to be a dad, and the kids didn’t need to have my genes and my DNA," Kirk added.

So the couple began the process by contacting an adoption agency. The agency later closed, but through it, the couple met a social worker who ended up playing a significant role in their multiple adoptions.

"She just came to us each year with children from similar backgrounds and just thought about us," Chelsea said of their social worker.

"We had no reason to believe we couldn’t have children. It was just [that] we decided to adopt our first two, and then the third one came along and then the fourth one came along," Chelsea added.

"…For four years we kept getting offered more kids to adopt, and so we did," Kirk explained.

"I mean, look in the Scriptures where it talks about [how] true religion is taking care of widows and orphans," he added. "As Christians anyone who is truly a Christian wasn’t born into the Christian family. You were adopted in through faith in Christ."

"We just felt like this was the way God wanted to build our family," Chelsea added.

In fact, the couple was considering a fifth adoption when Chelsea became pregnant with their first biological child. One year later, Chelsea was expecting their second biological child for a total of six children – Jack, Isabella, Anha, Luke, Olivia and James – all are eight years old and younger.

"It just kind of turned into a big family," Kirk admitted. "Now we’re just trying to throw on the breaks and say…six [children]…that’s enough!"

Recognizing the need
However, when asked if he would be willing to adopt again, Kirk said, "You know, I would say I would like for us to be finished, but at the same time, if a situation comes up and the Lord presents something where a little baby needs a home, and it [the situation] is just perfect, then I’m not going to turn him away…."

According to an informational packet released by FamilyLife’s Hope for Orphans, an educational ministry founded by Dennis and Barbara Rainey and dedicated to helping the fatherless, millions of children worldwide are longing to be adopted.

FamilyLife’s information says, "There are 5.5 million orphans in Africa, 3.5 million orphans in Asia, 1.5 million orphans in Eastern Europe, 400,000 orphans in Latin America, and 135,000 children available for adoption in the U. S. foster care system."

Although children are available, both Kirk and Chelsea encourage couples to make sure they are ready to adopt.

"There is a miracle in adoption that people don’t realize until they do it," Chelsea explained. "[But]…I don’t know that I would advise everyone to adopt…. [just like] I wouldn’t advise everyone to be parents…or to have babies," she continued.

"I don’t think that everyone is made for that…. I think that having a child needs to be a passion for you," she added. "It has to be something you are fully committed to and excited about whether you’re adopting or having kids."

Committing to each other
The Camerons were committed to parenthood from the beginning as evident from their adoption of four children who are of mixed races.

When it comes to adoption, Chelsea says it is important to realize that the child does not have to look like the adoptive parents.

"You…[have] to be open to any child that the Lord would bring to you because every child is truly a blessing, and you will fall in love with that baby," Chelsea explained. "If you want to adopt a baby, be open and let God bring you the right baby."

"I’ve always said to Chelsea if I were to have a million kids lined up and to handpick six of them, I couldn’t have chosen more beautiful and wonderful kids than these six," Kirk said. "So I see God’s hand in bringing our whole family together."

"There’s so much love in our family we tend to just gravitate towards our likeness and really just love our differences," Chelsea added.

Just as there are children of all sizes, shapes, and colors waiting to be adopted, FamilyLife’s Hope for Orphans notes that there are also various ways to adopt including the following three basic types of adoption:

U. S. Foster Care adoption
International adoption
Domestic adoption

According to the ministry, adopting a child can range in cost from zero to $30,000. However, the cost should not be a sole deterrent since financial assistance is often available through grants, tax credits, employment funding programs and churches.

Knowing there are different approaches, Chelsea believes it is very important to pray about the decision to adopt as well as explore the various options that are out there.

"I don’t know the best way to do it," she admitted.

Being godly parents

But for Kirk and Chelsea, it simply means following the lead of their Heavenly Father – not just through the adoption process but throughout their tenure as parents. They realize the great responsibilities that come with parenting, which is why they seek God’s wisdom on a daily basis.

"I’ve made a commitment to read the Word every day without fail – not in a legalistic way," Kirk said. "I also try to have a good book that I’m reading on some Christian-living subject."

One such book that Kirk and Chelsea use as a parenting tool second to the Bible is titled Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp.

"It lifts the wisdom of parenting out of the Bible and is the most amazing tool about godly parenting, godly discipline, getting to the heart of a child and not the behavior, [and] teaching the heart of your child….," Chelsea explained. "I want a child whose heart understands their need for God and understands God’s ways."

Therefore, she and Kirk run a tight ship when it comes to the structure and function of their family. But this tight ship sails on a sea of unconditional love as seen through prayer time, family devotions, family hikes, beach trips, free-for-alls in the yard, times of jubilant worship through dancing and singing, and Sunday visits with Grandma.

When it comes to school, Chelsea makes three trips a day.

For transportation, she drives a 15-passenger van.

When it’s time to grocery shop, Chelsea takes on the role of a football coach who calls the play expecting her children to snap the ball of obedience.

As far as household items, she goes through an immeasurable number of paper towels.

And when it comes to a babysitter, she calls for a staff of four or five – which is only on rare occasions.

"I am always with them, so I want to get to the heart of my kids," Chelsea said while recognizing and valuing the leadership Kirk provides as a father and a husband.

"Having a dad that leads the way he does makes my job as a mom so much more wonderful because I can rely on him to lead," she said.

But that doesn’t lessen her role as mother.

"The gift of motherhood is so huge….," Chelsea said. "I want to know what it means to be a mom," which is the reason the Camerons do not have nannies to help with the children.

"I want to be in the trenches," she added. "I want to know that I’ve been there, and I’ve experienced all aspects of being a mom. There’s just nothing like it!

"I remember the moment every single one of my six kids was put in my arms, and it was that same feeling of this is my child, and I’m going to get to be their mother, and I am the most blessed girl that ever lived. I felt that six times over," she continued.

"It’s the gift of parenthood. It’s the gift of being a mom."

SIDEBAR and RESOURCES

HOW CHELSEA TOLD HER EIGHT-YEARR-OLD SON ABOUT ADOPTION

Mommy, was I in your tummy?
How Chelsea told her eight-year-old son about adoption
Jack: Mommy, was I in your tummy?
Chelsea: No, honey.
Jack: What about Bella?
Chelsea: No.
Jack: What about Anha?
Chelsea: No.
Jack: What about Luke?
Chelsea: No.
Jack: Well, who’s tummy was I in?
Chelsea: Well, sweetheart, I don’t know her name. But you were in an amazingly, special, incredible woman’s tummy, and she took care of you in her tummy for nine months. And when the time came for you to be born, she felt God talking to her heart and telling her that Mommy and Daddy were meant to be your mommy and daddy. And because she loved you, she took care of you for nine months. And, Jack, she did the most amazing thing. She listened to God. She wanted you to be where you were supposed to be – where God wanted you to be. And then, Jack…God uses people like angels – not angels with wings – but anyone who does God’s work is like an angel…. The minute she [our social worker] brought you to me, I started crying because I had been praying for a little boy with green eyes like Daddy and curly hair. I looked at you, and I knew that you came straight from heaven, that God brought you to our family and you were the baby I had been praying for.

Adoption resources
FamilyLife’s Hope for Orphans
1-800-FL-TODAY
www.familylife.com/hopefororphans/

Bethany Christian Services
1-800-BETHANY
www.bethany.org

America World Adoption Association (AWAA)
1-888-ONE-CHILD
www.awaa.org

Kirk Cameron’s Web site

A new study shows that, out of 573 sexually-active high schoolers, 288 were linked together in an intricate network of relationships. According to Time magazine, the chart (left) is "the first to map the sexual geography of a U.S. high school." Each circle represents a teen male (blue) or teen female (pink) involved in a sexual encounter (represented by the connecting line). The researchers said the network had grave implications for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among teens.