June God Story: The Bethards Family

Working and being around vulnerable kids for many years helped me see the difference that it makes for kids to have unconditional love, and I always felt that God had given me so much love to share. God had placed foster care and adoption on my heart.  My heart has always been broken for the orphans, so giving a loving home and parents to a child in need was not a question of if, but a question of when. Andrew took a little more convincing on the fostering part of things, but he has a little sister who was adopted from China so it’s been on his heart for about 10 years too.

We decided to go through The CALL because of the faith-based aspect to all of the trainings. It was very important to us to surround ourselves with praying people as we began the journey of fostering because we knew that we would be leaning into God more throughout, so starting out with Him as the firm foundation was important to us.

The CALL helped us immensely by walking us through all of the paperwork and helping us get opened in a short amount of time. It’s been great as an open home to have the support of The CALL from knowing people to call for help to the ability to “shop” donations at The CALL Mall when we get new placements. The CALL also helped us tremendously when we got a placement who was on a formula not covered by WIC; they rallied our church family behind us and together we ended up with over six months of formula purchased and delivered to us, it was such a relief!

Shortly after we opened as a foster home, we started to try to have a biological child, but God had other plans. Through the pain of infertility, we closed our home to fostering for a time. In 2015, God put it back on our hearts that even though we had been unable to conceive a child ourselves there were children around us who needed us, so we reopened our home. Not long after that we got a call for a placement for an 8 month old.

Caroline Bethards on her Adoption Day!

Two weeks later we got a call for a two week old who was going through withdrawals. With both my husband and I working full time we didn’t think we could take a placement that young. I called my mom, who is retired but lives out of state, to see how quickly she could come and help. She was able to drop everything and come so we could accept our baby girl in to our home. It was amazing and definitely God’s grace and provision that allowed it all to happen so seamlessly!  That little baby eventually became our adopted daughter, Caroline.  In about a month we went from a broken, hurting place to a joyful and full home.

This experience can only be described as a roller coaster. There is only a certain amount of normal that can be achieved when kids are in and out of your home. It’s emotional. Most of the time it takes a good amount of effort. But it’s SO worth it. All of it. It has brought us closer to each other as a couple and closer to God.

By Sarah Bethards.

Hope and a future

With over 5,000 children in foster care and less than 2,000 foster homes, Arkansas is in a crisis. Since 2014, the number of children in foster care has steadily increased. The State of Arkansas is scratching its head, trying to figure out what to do about the problem.

James 1:27 states, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”

Since 2007, The CALL has gone into churches to challenge people to do one of two things: Foster or support those who are able to foster. Little by little, The CALL breaks down the barriers that have kept people from fostering for so long. Over the past 10 years, The CALL has answered the hard questions for numerous families. Once those questions were answered, many families were ready to start the foster care/adoption process.

The Bible tells us the church is the answer, so that is where The CALL starts. We go into churches and host recruitments. We share our hearts and the need for foster families and challenge people to support foster families. Then, it is up to the churches. We host an informational meeting for interested couples to hear more about becoming a foster or adoption family.

Potential families have to complete a massive amount of paperwork, 30 hours of training, CPR, and more in order to open up as a foster or adoption home. Without The CALL, these families would be left to navigate the process by themselves. Many families who do this on their own quit or take longer to open because of the lack of support. The CALL guides families through this process, answering any questions and helping iron out wrinkles.

Once a foster family is open, The CALL becomes a part of their village. The CALL Mall helps families with clothes, baby furniture, diapers, and other necessities at no cost. The CALL stays in touch with these families to ensure they have what they need physically, emotionally, and spiritually to be great foster parents.

In the past 10 years, The CALL has helped open over 1,161 foster homes and 369 adoption homes. Over 501 children have been adopted by families supported by The CALL.

When you become a foster parent or volunteer with The CALL or donate to The CALL, you are making a difference locally. You can see the fruits of your labor because the foster children you pour your life into will grow up to be contributing members of your community.
There is a great need for foster families, but we understand that not every is called or able to foster. Even if you cannot foster, there’s still something you can do. If it takes a village to raise a family, it takes an entire church to support a foster family. The CALL needs people willing to donate their time, talent, and resources to help us eliminate the crisis in Arkansas. Do you have an extra hour a week? Can you help out a few hours a month or maybe more? If so, check out the volunteer page to find out where you can get plugged in. The CALL has a place for you.

Can’t foster or volunteer? Donate. The CALL is a non-profit organization and we cannot do anything to support these families without the financial support of generous individuals and churches.

We are not all meant to do the same thing, but we are all supposed to do something.

May God Story – The Turners

Pictured from Left to Right: Cameron, Tim, Kalen, Timothy Jr., Tameka & Kennedy

We were introduced to foster adoption through family and friends who had already answered “the call” to serve.  Although open to adoption, one thing was certain:  we would never foster because it would be too hard to give them back.

In 2008, we attended Project Zero’s Disney Extravaganza with our minds set finding a child between the ages of 2-3.  Then, this little girl who was five ran up to us and gave us a big hug.  But, she wasn’t the one for us, she was too old. When we went to a Christian camp that next week, neither one of us could stop thinking about her. God was clearly speaking to us, so we inquired about her. She came to our home in July and never left. Our daughter, Kennedy, has been such a tremendous joy in our family.

God had more plans for us!  Our oldest son left for the military in 2014, and we wanted to give back and be a blessing. We decided to go through The CALL because of our Christian values and we had heard such great things about the organization. What really stood out to us was that if one family from every church fostered a child, there would not be a child without a place to call home.  It took us a year to ultimately say yes to God.

When we first began fostering, we said we would never take an infant or toddler. Surely, we could have learned by now never to say never!  We received a call about a 17 month old who had been in three different homes in five months.  Our hearts broke for that little boy.  He screamed all the time and had health issues, which had caused him to be moved around so many times.  Amazingly, as soon as he came into our home, he stopped crying!  God has really blessed this little boy’s life. We’ve been able to get his health issues resolved and we’ve connected with the birth mom to encourage her, send pictures, and to let her know that God loves her so much.  We are thankful that God has let our family take care of her baby. That little boy is forever a part of our family even after he returns to his mother.

We now LOVE being the middle parents – helping the birth parents and bringing them peace and love. We’ve had three children in our home since opening as a foster family, and there has been such a peace that radiates God’s love.

Yes, fostering was a gigantic leap of faith for us to take — but it has been an exciting journey and we do not regret it.  It’s a JOY being a servant of Christ.  Serving Him is what keeps us focused through the highs and lows, mountains and valleys. The goal is reunification with the birth parents, and if we can offer a little love, safety and comfort for these children as they face a very difficult situation, that is the least we can do. We know the Lord has called us to do this. Yes, we are busy. Yes, we have responsibilities at church. Yes, we have three teenagers who have their own set of wants, needs, and challenges. Yes, we are married and still have to find time for each other. God always provides along the way.

For those considering fostering, if you say yes to the call of God to open your home and heart, He will work through it all and give you the grace, wisdom and resolve to influence a child’s life forever. The love and innocence you receive just for obeying, watching the positive outcome unfold, all the good, and helping a family in their time of need…that is what it’s all about.

April God Story – Learning to Love the Bio Mom

God had put a desire in my heart to minister to orphans since I was a child because my dad was orphaned at age 2.  However, I didn’t know what that ministry would look like.  Then, God started moving my heart to foster children.  It seemed like several Sundays in a row our church focused on caring for orphans! I was like, “Okay, God, I get it.” The Sunday that it finally hit me was Orphan Sunday. God made it very clear, so my husband and I surrendered our YES to God.

We chose The CALL because it is a Christian organization looking for Christian homes to love and disciple these little people. It went right along with what God was leading us to do. The CALL made the process to foster through the state look “doable” and not so scary and overwhelming.

Along this journey, I have had the opportunity to mentor the biological mother of one of the children in foster care in our home.  I never sought out to mentor. In fact during certification, I told my husband I wanted to strictly deal with the children and not have to deal with the parent. Well….God had other plans. I saw a mom that was broken just like me. She deserved all the respect anyone else did. In God’s eyes, “sin is sin”. It certainly wasn’t easy to make the choice to mentor this mom. God is the only way I’m capable of doing it. I have given her the “Jesus Calling” book, and at Christmas I gave her the “12 Step to Recovery” Bible.  I’ve met with her on several occasions mainly just encouraging her to not give up and to make the right decisions. One thing I learned through this is that these bio moms just need someone to listen to them without passing judgement on them. They know they’ve screwed up and don’t need to be preached at. These moms typically don’t have anyone to speak Truth into their lives, so they’re lost, hopeless, and have hit rock bottom. What better time in a person’s life to speak of a loving God who forgives you and loves you no matter what you’ve done!

God has absolutely blessed us during this journey! We have always tried to teach our girls to be in the world but not of it. We want them to understand that it takes guts to be different and stand out in a world that is focused on only ourselves! We’ve watched them love the babies that we’ve had whole heartedly. We’ve observed our teenagers sacrifice what they desire in order to help out with the babies we’ve had. As a family, we have been taught a lot from these little people. As hard as the journey of fostering can be, there’s also much joy that comes with being obedient to God.

By Jenny Davis, Foster Mom through The CALL in Pulaski County

God Story — The Bracketts

We first heard about The CALL shortly after moving into our home over four years ago. Our neighbors, David and Caryl Watson, invited us over for dinner, and that night our lives were forever changed. We witnessed the love in their home, and everywhere we looked God was pulling us to this ministry. We didn’t feel that this was a calling, but rather one of the main reasons that God put us on this earth – saying no was a direct disobedience to God and just wasn’t an option. We have been beyond blessed for listening to God and following the purpose He has set forth for our lives.

When you are fostering there are times when you are on top of a mountain, like when your child pulls their first tooth, makes an A on their first spelling test, or is dropped off at your house for the first time.  You are there to experience it with them and love them in person while you can, and remotely when you can’t.  Does it hurt when they leave?  Of course…..if it didn’t you aren’t doing it right.  These children need every ounce of love you can give them and more.  When they return home, or are transferred, or whatever other circumstances arise that you don’t understand, you will experience a hurt like you have never experienced before…but, you will know that you have made a huge impact in their lives.  That is what it is about – unconditional love through the ups and downs.

It is an emotional rollercoaster, but it has been amazing to watch God work.  There is a lot of uncertainty, but one thing is absolutely certain:  the smile on their faces when you pick them up from school, the times you tuck them in at night and they kiss you and say, “I love you”, the times when they truly trust you and can tell that you will never do anything to hurt them.  Those times make all of the uncertainty, turmoil, and heartache worth it!

When the girls were placed in our home, we were fostering a little boy that was waiting to go back home.  We were not approved for 4, so we could only take the twins until our foster child went home.  The Watsons opened up their home and fostered our youngest for 6 weeks until we could have all of the girls together.  We have seen God take three hurt and scared little girls with very broken lives and build a new family full of hopes and dreams.  Nothing can replace the day that the judge said, “Congratulations, you are the proud parents of 3 beautiful angels!”

In foster care and adoption, if you just pause and look, you will see God working miracles every day.  God will rain showers of blessing on you, if you let Him.