Inspiring True Story About Adopting Difficult-to-Place Foster Kids Hits Big Screen July 4

Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot tells how two dozen families adopted 77 kids.

By Nancy Flory Published on June 28, 2024

The United States should not have a foster care crisis. With approximately 350,000 churches nationwide and more than 100,000 kids in the foster system waiting for placement, this is an area where people of faith could make a big difference.

And some of them have.

A new family-friendly film, Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot is based on the true story of a church whose parishioners adopted 77 of the most difficult kids their community’s foster care system had to offer. The movie tells the story of Bishop W.C. Martin and his wife, Donna, pastors of Bennett Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Possum Trot, Texas, from 1998 to 2000.

Director Joshua Weigel cowrote the film with his wife, Rebekah. They tell the Martins’ story about their two biological children, their four adopted children, and the strain adopting the kids placed on the whole family. 

“Our prayer and our hope is that this film turns the hearts of people towards children, and they start to step in and care for vulnerable children and do what the Martins did. They courageously set the example of what it looks like to step in and do hard things through faith, through community and seeing the results of it. I think we can do the same if people will follow their example.”

The Power of the Story

The Martin family’s story resonated with the filmmakers because they adopted two of their five children in 2013.

“That started our passion around this issue of foster and adopt,” Rebekah told The Stream.

Having witnessed the trauma their adopted children experienced and knowing that it’s common, they wanted to recruit more foster families for kids in the system. “I started working with different churches and leaders across the city to get more churches involved in the foster crisis,” she said. 

That’s how Rebekah came across Bishop Martin’s story. She then invited him to speak at a pastors’ luncheon she was hosting.

“When he shared his story, so many of the churches and leaders just started getting involved,” she said. “I saw the power of the story to move people to action and to move people to get involved. So that’s what really drove us to start producing the film.”

The Power of Faith and Community

The Martins’ story started with a natural — and then a supernatural — event.

After her mother passed away 25 years ago, Donna Martin struggled with depression. During that period, however, God told her she could begin to adopt and foster children in need.

Over the next three years, Donna and Bishop Martin adopted four children. (They have two biological children as well.)

Then the Martins encouraged the parishioners in their rural church to adopt children from the foster care system.

“That’s the incredible part of the story,” said Rebekah. “Twenty-two families took in 77 of the hardest to place children in the Texas child welfare system. And they did it through the power of faith and community, and did it together.”

An Authentic Expression of Faith

The story of the Martins and their church is largely intact within Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot.

“We did have to take some artistic liberty with some of it,” Rebekah said, such as making some composite characters out of multiple people. “But it’s accurate to what happened.”

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The church folks were intricately involved with the production, and some participated in the filming.

“Just bringing the little church out for the filming was really critical to making this really authentic,” Rebekah said. Most of the time, when Hollywood includes a church scene in a film, the people in the pews are actors, not actual parishioners. “We really worked diligently to get an authentic expression of faith. And one of the ways we did that was by bringing the church out to set and having them worship, dance and pray with our actors.”

Some of the parishioners were so moved by the worship that they didn’t want to stop for lunch. “They wanted to just keep going. They were really having church!”

Redemption Through Adoption

The Martins’ story details the challenges of adoption, particularly for hard-to-place kids in the system. Rebekah said it was important for her and her husband not to sugarcoat that aspect of the issue.

“We didn’t make it look easy, because foster care adoption is not easy,” she said. “It isn’t easy on the biological family that ends up losing their children into the foster system. There’s so much pain and trauma the kids experience. Then when the kids come into a new family, there’s a lot of disruption that happens for that family. Although adoption is a beautiful thing and it’s really important, it’s also very difficult. We wanted to show that, but also show the redemption that can happen through adoption as well.”

Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot will release to theaters nationwide July 4.

Watch the trailer:

 

Nancy Flory, Ph.D., is a senior editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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