The Gilead Home 140 Kids & Counting

It started off as the classic love story. Boy meets girl. A simple sweet wedding. Then, children playing in the yard. But this is where Troy and Beverly Meacham’s love story changes to something extraordinary. When they said their “I do’s,” they didn’t know that they were destined to be the parents to more than a hundred children. One hundred forty to date, and counting. They are the proud and dedicated foster parents at the Gilead Home for Children in Long Beach.
Troy met Beverly at a Diamondhead restaurant where he was the chef and she was a waitress. Beverly had a love for quiche, “so I made quiche for her every chance I got,” Troy said. Then when he thought their romance was going strong, Beverly took a job on the Mississippi Queen. Troy said he got lonely and decided he’d leave town and follow the steamboat to be closer to his lady. The night before he was to leave, he got a call from Beverly. “She proposed to me on February 14th, Valentine’s Day. It snowed that day… yeah in Mississippi!” Troy said with a twinkle in his eye. He saw the snow as a sign that their union would be something special. It took them three tries to get married after that. A judge friend offered to officiate at the restaurant where they met. “I had to cater my own wedding,” Troy said matter of factly. Then the judge realized that she had no jurisdiction in that county. So Troy and Beverly had their celebration at the restaurant, then went across the county line to see the judge and discovered he had forgotten the marriage license. Finally, two weeks later, the couple tied the knot at the courthouse.
Over the following years, Troy and Beverly discovered they could not have children of their own. Troy was raised by a large extended family. His grandmother raised him and several cousins. The house was always full of kids. “My grandmother had a big heart,” Troy recounts. “She would cry over UNICEF commercials on TV.” She sent money often to children’s charities. “She was full of life,” he said. Beverly wanted to be a mother, so they pursued an adoption. “Our son was handed to us from the birthing room,” the proud father declared. Of course, they were nervous because the law allows a woman three days to decide if she wants to release her baby to an adopting couple. On the third day after his birth, Beverly took the baby boy to his biological mother to hold and say good-bye. The young woman didn’t change her mind. She knew the baby would have a good life with Troy and Beverly, so he was adopted soon after.
In 2005, Troy and Beverly were living in Waveland when Hurricane Katrina struck. “We were at ground zero,” Troy explained, and there was no place to live, so they moved to Baton Rouge. Shortly after their arrival in Louisiana, Troy discovered his job at a gaming company was ending, and they were looking for another opportunity. Then Beverly saw an ad for a foster care job that came with a house in Hancock County. They weren’t sure if they would get the job, but they applied. A few days later at church, a woman approached Beverly. “You know, I don’t do this normally,” the woman began, “but I know you and Troy will be mother and father to many.” A few days later, Beverly came home from shopping and told Troy that a woman she had never met just walked up to her and said, “Go take care of the kids.” The couple knew then that God wanted them to take the foster care job. It came as no surprise when they discovered they were the only applicants, and they were offered the position. Beverly told Troy, “We don’t have a choice because God gave us this job.” They were elated.
In May of 2006, the Gilead Home for Children was opened to care for Mississippi’s foster children. The storm caused a lot of confusion and the state struggled to keep track of the children in their charge. “Many of the kids needed emergency placement, and that’s what we provided,” Troy said. Since then, the Meachams have, as predicted, been mother and father to many. “DHS [MS Department of Human Services] has given us ‘difficult placements’,” explained Troy. “We are not what you call a ‘therapeutic home’, but we have seen kids get emotional healing in our home.” He said the process is often frustrating. The state lacks the resources to be fully staffed to care for the nearly 4,000 children in foster homes across the state. The couple often makes phone calls on behalf of the children, especially those who have been in system for several years. They go to bat for each of the kids to make sure their future is brighter than their past. “The brightest point in the Gulf Coast foster care system,” declared Troy, “is the judges. They are wonderful. And we go to every hearing.”
The Meacham home currently has three children as of this writing. “Just last week, we had six,” Troy said. The make-up of their family is constantly changing. “Some over-nighters end up staying for 19 months,” he said. The longest stay was five years. They take in children from newborns to 18 years of age. “We’ve seen seemingly hopeless situations.” The loving foster parents instill the love of God in their children and help build their faith for the future. “Some of the kids have prayed to God for their parents’ healing,” and it happens, the children are able to return to their natural parents.
Troy and Beverly usually hear from any number of their 140 kids during the Holidays. “Some called me on my birthday this year,” Troy said. “My heart soared.” He said they hope that churches would step up to establish orphan ministries. The need is great. The Meachams have also located the perfect building in Long Beach to open as a resource center for foster families. With proper funding, the building could house two foster families at a time, and also support counseling services, supervised visitations, foster-care training and respite care. Troy said that they and two other foster families are in the process of creating a network of resources to make sure each child in Mississippi has a chance to one day recount their own classic love story.
To learn how you can support the Gilead Home for Children and its future success, visit their website at http://www.shofarcall.org.

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