By Leah Sander
WARSAW — Tobe Forshtay has a heart for the number of children needing to be adopted.
It’s why he helped start the Sons and Daughters Festival.
The festival returns for the third year from 5:30-9:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24, at First Christian Church, 115 Park Ridge Drive, Warsaw. The event seeks to raise awareness for adoption and supports local nonprofits helping children who need homes.
Though Forshtay helped found the nonprofit Raise the Dough, which helps raise funds for people wanting to adopt, he and others wanted to help with all aspects of adoption. That led to the festival.
“God started moving in our hearts to just begin a movement and that movement started taking shape in the summer of 2019,” he said.
“And we started knocking on some doors of some local nonprofits and just asking questions about the level of care that they provided and tried to figure out how to do we piece this group together that provides holistic orphan care where Raise the Dough can be one of those spokes, right, but there are others, there are meals and there’s housing and there’s education and there are all sorts of needs that everyone in that circle has and that’s from birth parents to adoptive parents to those providing support in the foster care space and so we’re trying to get our arms wrapped around that and so we just started this movement by calling everyone together at the same time and place and tried to give almost an invitation to Kosciusko County to be a part of orphan care,” he said.
“There are a lot of amazing churches, there’s a lot of church groups, there’s a lot of nonprofits – each are doing their work and that’s wonderful – but I still feel like we were missing kind of that hub that could encourage and promote and point people in those directions and that’s what Sons and Daughters has become over the last three years,” he said.
Forshtay said organizers are working with Combined Community Services to bring in related organizations. Those coming include North Central Indiana Right to Life, Heartline Pregnancy Center, Lost Sparrows, Fellowship Missions, Adoptions of Indiana, All Blessings International, CASA, Village to Village, Baker Youth Club, Boomerang Backpacks,
Spoonful of Imagination, Turner Valentine and the Kosciusko County Department of Child Services.
He said Raise the Dough is giving each organization (aside from the last two) a $1,000 donation for being at the event.
“One of the unique things we’ve done is you know there’s a model for trade shows where you give the call and you open the door for invitation to organizations to join you, but typically they have to pay a fee to be there and they’re trying to hopefully maybe break even. Well, we flipped that and we thought, why would we ask these nonprofits to come be with us and then charge them to do so? So we’re actually paying every nonprofit a gift for coming and to be with us as part of this network and we didn’t want there to be a financial burden on them,” he said.
As a result, festival organizers are asking that attendees donate to Raise the Dough. Visitors are asked to have tickets for the event, which are technically free but come with a suggested donation of $20 for adults. Those are available ahead of time at sonsanddaughtersfestival.com or at the festival the day of. Parking for the festival will be at Warsaw Community Church next door, 1855 S. County Farm Road, Warsaw, and people should bring lawn chairs or blankets.
The event includes music and speakers.
“(First Christian Church) Pastor Matthew (Rogers) is going to speak to our theme this year, which is ‘One Church: One Adoption,'” said Forshtay.
“So this year we have recognized there’s about 400,000 churches in the United States and there’s about 400,000 kids in the foster care system at this time,” he said. “The United States … they don’t have orphanages anymore, but they’ve leaned on for about the last 60 years foster care as being the salve for orphaned children in the United States, but it’s not working well. And so our call is that if every church would come around one family and help that one family adopt one child, our orphan crisis here in the United States would be alleviated.”
“Pastor Jim Brown is going to come down from … Goshen Grace Community Church and he has a heart for fathers and husbands to be leaders in their homes and so … he’s going to call us to kind of step up and begin to lead in this way, so that we can be about solution rather than assuming someone else is taking care of this crisis,” said Forshtay.
Christian music artist Mark Schultz, who has a “personal adoption story,” will perform, said Forshtay, as well as worship teams from First Christian and Warsaw Community Church, Grace College students and Lakeland Christian Academy students.
There will be food available to purchase from food trucks and there will be some children’s activities.
Forshtay said he’d like to see people embrace a “we mentality” regarding adoption.
“We might be an encourager, we might be a caretaker, we might be a meal-maker, we might be a financial supporter, we might open our own home, there’s something that we all must do and to care holistically for orphan care,” he said. “I do believe that it’s God’s heart for us as a people and I think that it’s our responsibility to respond that way.”
To get tickets or learn more information about the festival, people should go to sonsanddaughtersfestival.com. People can also sign up to volunteer at the festival by going to the website.