It was Leesa Hoskins’ 48th birthday when she knelt in her bathroom and cried out in prayer, “Use me, Lord.” She had in mind she would be asked to do something like Meals on Wheels or visiting shut-ins.
But, she said, “God had something totally different.”
That “something different” brought changes in the lives of Leesa and Charlie Hoskins and took them in directions and in ways they had never imagined.
She had just obtained her dream job. The Hoskins’ daughter Andrea, who was born in August 1981, was grown and married. It was a time, she said, to give thanks for God’s protection of them throughout their married life.
Before the Hoskinses married, Charlie was in the Sevierville Orphanage for a while and Leesa was “raised” in First Baptist Church of Cleveland. After they married, the couple stayed in Cleveland and are now members of Smyrna Baptist Church in Ocoee.
Three days after that prayer on her birthday, God introduced the “something different” into their lives. In May 2008, the Hoskinses were asked by a desperate mother whom they were not acquainted with to take care of her 8-year-old son.
The little boy weighed only 45 pounds, his front teeth had been out two years and, because of poor nutrition, had not come back in and although he had been in first grade twice, he couldn’t read. The mother realized her son needed more than she could give in her situation.
Leesa said, “Jesus spoke to us and said, ‘This is what I have for you.’”
Cody was picked up from a bug-infested motel room and brought with him a bag holding a “Spiderman” blanket and a few clothes.
After his mother was released from a mental health facility, she contacted the Hoskinses to see if they would keep him permanently with the approval of Children’s Services.
It was a slow process and Leesa and Charlie faced “naysayers,” who discouraged them from going through with the custody procedures, asking, “Are you that good or just crazy?”
But, Leesa said, “God is in charge and He is writing this story.”
On Sept. 2, 2008, the custody was finalized. Then the devastating news came. On Sept. 4, she was fired from her “dream job.”
The family had to sell almost everything they had — car and furniture even. They were about to lose their home. “The Lord was teaching us,” Leesa confided. “It’s not about what we have, but who we know — Jesus.”
They said they didn’t understand why they were chosen, “but we chose to be obedient.” They didn’t know this was only half of the precious gift God had for them.
Six months went by and one day, Cody revealed a startling discovery. He had a baby sister who was with family members in Dayton. He had not seen her for two years. They told Cody to pray that God would put his sister in a safe home. But Cody had a different request — his prayer was: “Sweet Jesus, please let my sister come live with me.”
“I knew Jesus would hear that prayer,” Leesa said, “and I knew Megan was coming to our home.”
By the end of May, a court order was given to pick up Megan. Just 385 days since Cody became part of the Hoskins’ family, he saw his 4-year-old sister.
Leesa described the scene. “Megan immediately recognized Cody and reached for his hand. She said, ‘You waited a long time, brother,’ and held his hand all the way home. Their devotion and adoration for each other was apparent.
The core personalities of both children, Leesa, said, had been protected by God so they are not damaged by their early years of pain and suffering. “They have the opportunity,” she added, “to be children.”
Megan’s adoption was finalized on Jan. 11 and Cody’s on July 23.
Cody was enrolled at Arnold and with the help of “an amazing teacher,” Mrs. Leslie Melton, was soon reading and doing other schoolwork. Megan was signed up for the 3-year-old class at North Cleveland vacation Bible School directed by Amanda Holder and then was admitted to the daycare program.
Without a doubt, Leesa acknowledges, “God has had His hand on Cody and Megan and we know He has a calling on their lives. We may not know what it is, but that doesn’t matter. This is God’s story and we rest in His abiding love, grace and mercy.”
“I have always tried to do the right thing by helping others as best I could,” Leesa confided. “All my life I asked God why He gave me this tender heart. It always gets broken, torn, stepped on, when I am trying to care for or help someone.”
She said she had griped and complained about the hurt that comes from that and It wasn’t until we had Cody and Megan that God finally answered her question.
He said, “You have this heart so you can love another woman’s children. Now, I understand ... now,” Leesa said.
“I do not try to hide my caring and concern for others. I know it is a ‘gift’ from God and I use it for His glory.”
The Hoskinses may not have a mandate, they said, but “we are willing — with His guidance and provisions — to build a home large enough to care for these children who so desperately need care and love.”
The fact is, Leesa said, there are other children out there who only want to be loved and to have a family who is there every day and every night.
“They want to be fed and have clean clothes that fit them. Somebody needs to save the children and we can make a difference.”
The mother’s cry:
Save my son from my life,
Help me to break the cycle for my family;
Hold out your hands,
Catch my child.