By Avery Walts | Photo by Tony Bennett
JOSH SUITER wears many hats. As the director of signature events and special programs for One Southern Indiana, the chamber of commerce and economic development for Clark and Floyd counties, Suiter plans and oversees events, including the One Awards, advocacy programs, sponsorships and trade agreements. When he’s not working, Josh shares his Christian faith in local jails and teaches Junior Achievement at New Albany and Floyd Central high schools. But the role the Sellersburg resident treasures the most ¬– the one of father – was earned after years of struggle and sacrifice. We asked Suiter to take a few moments out of his incredibly busy schedule to talk with us about fatherhood, philanthropy and what it takes to serve as an example to others.
EXTOL MAGAZINE: You and your wife, Lizzie, have a beautiful 5-year-old daughter named Faith, whom you adopted. What was the process you went through? Were there any unexpected hurdles?
JOSH SUITER: After two previously failed adoptions, we kept praying for God to provide us with the child He intended us to have. Then one night while we were having dinner with friends, my father-in-law calls. He begins to tell us about this young couple that is related to a couple he knew in Pensacola, Fla. The couple was young and already had one son who was being raised by his grandparents and they had another baby, a little girl. Long story short, he says the family heard our story and wanted us to adopt her. Within days, we are getting in a car and driving 10 hours to meet the birth family. We had a great visit, but the weekend ended and we had to come home. (We left) that sweet baby girl in Florida. Within a week, we get a call from our attorney saying he needed us back down there to sign the papers. We drove 10 hours and made it to Florida safely. After a weekend of the family taking some time to prepare themselves to the sign the papers, we adopted Faith on Sept. 27, 2010. She was 2 months old. Within hours of adopting her, I boarded a plane back to Indiana and Lizzie and Faith stayed behind two weeks awaiting guardianship. The adoption wasn’t finalized until the week of Christmas. We are very fortunate that we have an open adoption, so we see the birth family when we go to Florida to see my in-laws and have a great relationship with them.
EXTOL: What does fatherhood mean to you?
SUITER: I say this often, but being a dad is the best title I have ever had. I truly feel God knew Faith was destined to be ours, and I am constantly humbled that he chose me to be her dad. Being a dad is fun, challenging, stressful, a daily comedy routine and one of the best things to ever happen to me. I can’t imagine my life without Faith in it.
EXTOL: How do you serve as an example to your daughter?
SUITER: Above anything else, I try to teach Faith to love others. We are all created in God’s image and we are His workmanship. I truly try to live my life by the golden rule. I also want Faith to see the value in serving others. We place an emphasis on that with Faith and encourage her to be a good friend, to help others and to comfort and encourage her friends when they need it.
EXTOL: What’s your relationship like with your own father?
SUITER: I was adopted by my then step-dad ¬ but he has honestly always been my dad – when I was little. My dad was there to help me with homework, prepare for spelling tests and to teach me how to do things around the house. As I have gotten older, we continue to talk often and he lives around the corner from me. My daughter adores him, and even when I thought we might lose him to illness a few years ago, I had the opportunity to serve him by getting a prayer blanket from our church for him and to pray over it. My dad is still here and I am blessed to have him.
EXTOL: What kind of role does God play in your life?
SUITER: I am a Christian and strive to live my life to glorify Him. I truly believe I am a dad today because God ordained it and made it happen. Lizzie and I weren’t able to have children on our own, but God knew we would be parents. I’m blessed to be surrounded by a wonderful church family, Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in Floyds Knobs, who has been a part of my faith journey and prayed for Lizzie and I as we adopted Faith. They also helped fill our nursery with things we needed, which meant a lot when we only had two weeks to get ready.
EXTOL: In what ways do you give back to the community and why?
SUITER: My mom instilled in me early the importance of serving others, and when I became a Christian that was re-emphasized to me. I feel a strong calling to serve in my community and church. I teach fourth and fifth grade Sunday school and feel so blessed to mentor and encourage these students. They bless me every time I walk in that room. I also serve in the nursery and have helped others with our church’s capital campaigns.
EXTOL: How can others serve as an example in the community like you?
SUITER: I don’t feel like I am anybody special. We all have our strengths and interests, but if we do our part to make an impact on the community, we will see a difference in our community. I am just an ordinary guy fulfilling God’s call on his life. It just takes seeing a need and using your gifts, times and talents to serve.