Our CALL Malls are always in need of donations and helping hands. This is such a huge resource for our families whenever they get placements. Here is a list of things that are the biggest need right now and information on where to donate!
- Boys Shirts (Long sleeve and warm for winter!) – Size 5-8
- Everyday/tennis shoes boy and girls size youth 1-6Items that need to be new. Please no used items
- Underwear, panties, socks, pajamas, diapers, wipes, pull-ups, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hairbrushes, soap.
- And volunteers to come help sort and organize!!!
Sunshine and Rainbows
From guest blogger Tamra Norman, a foster/adoptive mom. Find more stories from the Norman family visiting their blog.
On my last blog post about adopting, I made a comment about this journey not being all sunshine and rainbows. But then I filled your Facebook feed yesterday with picture perfect pictures and smiling faces of a little baby who was adopted as an infant and came to us from the hospital. So I have felt this burden to make sure as an advocate for these kids, I clear up a few things.
- We will begin our 7th year of fostering in May and out of 20+ kids there have been 5 total that have gone up for adoption. Our girls, Henry, and 2 others. 5. Let that number sink in.
- In 6 years of fostering we have only brought 2 babies straight home from the hospital at birth. Henry, and one who only spent one night with us. Our first placement was 4 weeks old. Still a newborn but not straight from the hospital.
- The majority of our kids have reunified with family members or parents.
- Henry is number 7 and there’s been one born recently. He has a half sister who went to live with her father, 5 half siblings (these 5 have the same mom and dad) who are in an adoptive placement, and 1 born in December who is currently in the care of birth family.
- Henry was on track to leave us and go with his birth dad. His case was kept completely separate because termination had already happened on the others and reunification with his father was the plan. I had actually built a good relationship with dad so I could help out after he left.
- I couldn’t send him to daycare for the first 8-9 months. Like it was court and doctor ordered because he was too fragile. This meant I worked, had 4 other kids, and had to work out his schedule as well.
- Henry was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. FAS is currently a leading diagnosis only behind autism. So I decided instead of keeping this as some dark and dirty secret, awareness is key.
- Because bringing a newborn home from the hospital and adopting them a year later is not the norm.
- Because if you foster to eventually adopt a newborn, you may get tired of waiting. I would’ve waited for almost 7 years and let me tell you something…when you are fostering just to hopefully get a newborn you can keep, you won’t make it 7 years.
- Because sometimes all we get are the pretty pictures on Facebook and we don’t get the real picture behind them.
When The CALL started a mentoring program for foster teens it was an easy call for Jason Pederson to get involved. “I love The CALL, I love kids and I loved the idea of giving foster teens an advantage over their peers since so often during their tumultuous lives they have been at a disadvantage.”
When Darian Green’s caseworker recommended that he sign up for a mentor, he was not as sold on the idea. “I had a lot going on in my life at that time. I wasn’t sure I wanted to add one more thing. I’m glad I did.”
After a year of getting to know one another by going out to eat, going to sporting events and talking on the phone, Pederson admits he started wondering if his pairing with Darian was really making much of a difference.
“Then Darian got in some trouble at school. It’s all been resolved and is all behind him now, but it was fairly serious. I was in a perfect position to advocate for him and make sure that the people in authority making decisions about his future knew the young man that I had gotten to know. Darian has a plan for his life that includes college, military service and possibly political office and I didn’t want that plan to be derailed by one bad day.”
Many foster teens have a greater potential for “one bad day” because of the pent-up anger and frustrations that their journeys can produce. Darian and his sister were together during their elementary school years. Then a summer in Florida was followed by a return to Arkansas…and homelessness…which is when DHS stepped in and placed them in foster care.
“My sister and I were split up. I have had three different foster families and attended four different schools since 6th grade. When placements disrupted it was usually my fault. I consider the family I am with now my true family. I call my foster parents Mom and Dad. They are a big reason why I am ready to launch into adulthood.”
Darian says a good mentor needs to be consistent, patient, smart (both book-smart and life-smart), kind-hearted, open-minded and funny. “A lot of foster teens live under a lot of restrictions. We need a break. Mentors can become a lot more, but in the beginning…getting something to eat and visiting with my mentor was a welcome break from everything else I had going on in my life.”
“Mr. Pederson was an advocate, and that means a lot to me. Other people…caseworkers, attorneys, even family…have to help. He wanted to help. Meeting with him every month was like a living diary. I could open up and share things. He listened and offered good advice and guidance.”
Darian will be a freshman at UA-PB this fall and he is also a member of the Arkansas National Guard. He says his mentor helped him settle on a college choice and helped make sure his plans for military service stayed on track.
Long before the Bradshaws became involved in foster care, they would tell you, “We don’t do that”. God, in His unsearchable grace and mercy, changed that for them. God entered in and spoke to Sarah at an information meeting a few years ago. She would tell you that she couldn’t unhear the things God had told her that night. She knew that the only way forward was to care for these children, and walk towards God, or to reject these children and backaway from God. Sarah knew this would be too much for her, but God encouraged her heart, “I will care for these children!”. Since the Bradshaws stepped out in obedience, they have had the opportunity to love many children, children they call their own. In January 2017, they had the opportunity to provide a forever home for a young girl who had come back to their home. that girl is now officially their daughter. Read about God’s great love, grace, and mercy below!
In August 2017, our daughter officially became a “Bradshaw”. Despite being in our home for over two years, we felt this official document would grant us a fresh start. It would prove to be a new beginning for us and a new beginning for her. Until we realized that wasn’t the case at all. You see, a “new beginning” meant that her previous story was over…null and void. Yet, the characters in her story remained unchanged and the previous pages could never be erased. So, we began praying. We sought God’s direction on how we could honor her story and all those within it. And we found that God led us to bring her mother back into our daughter’s life.
We knew that God was leading us back to her, so in January 2018, we reached out to our daughter’s mother. It was with fear and trepidation that I dialed her phone number and choked out the words, “She is my daughter, too.” Completely unsure of how that phone call would end, we stepped out in faith to carry out what God was clearly instructing. He was faithful, just as He is always is. We ended the phone call in tears and with a mutual understanding that “our” girl was worthy of both of our loves.
Our daughter now has two mothers. One didn’t replace the other and whether we liked it or not, both held the title “Momma”. We realized that there was a place at our table for anyone who loved our daughter. Our daughter was worth that and so much more. So, we began talking with her and explained that although a new chapter had begun, we never wanted to erase or rewrite her history. Our daughter immediately took a deep breath and began to confide in us all of her fears and heartache. She missed her mother. She longed to return to the life she once knew. Yet, she never wanted to leave us. No child should ever have that struggle, and we never wanted her to have to choose.
Since that phone call, our daughter has reconnected with her mother. Healthy boundaries were established and understood, and we continue charting the unknown waters before us. Our family hardly looks like what I envisioned five years ago. It’s complicated and messy. It’s hard and often confusing. It’s chaotic and many times, uncomfortable.
But, it’s full of grace and love, full of healing and trust, both for our daughter, her mother, and us! It’s a beautiful song of forgiveness and redemption. And we have no better example to follow than the grace-filled love our Father lavishes on us.
“We love because He first loved us.” I John 4:19