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God Story — The James Family

God had put the desire to adopt in Amy early on in life.  When Amy and I married, it became contagious. We saw a promotional video from The CALL at our church, Fellowship North, in the summer of 2007 and were very moved and inspired.  At that time, we had a 1 year old son Eli and were expecting a new baby, Lucy, in just a few weeks.  It did not quite seem like the right time to jump into fostering and adoption.  Another CALL promotional video was played at church a little over a year later — we were at the informational meeting the following Monday.  The adventure had begun!

When we signed up to start fostering with 2 small children already, we weren’t really considering kids with special needs.  Ellie, our now adopted 6 year old, came to us as a foster placement at 2 days old.  Amy started taking her to the weekly visits with Ellie’s biological parents and met Ellie’s 2 year old sister, Olivia, who has Down Syndrome and was in a separate foster home.  I remember Amy telling me that she felt like we needed to pray for Olivia.  She didn’t know why, but she felt very inspired to pray for her.

“I remember Amy telling me that…we needed to pray for Olivia.”

A few weeks later, our case worker called us to say that Olivia’s foster home was going to stop fostering.  She asked if we would consider taking her as a foster placement. If Olivia had been just an unknown child with special needs, we may have easily looked at our situation and said adding another child, one with Down Syndrome, would be too much.  If Amy had not already been moved to pray for her without knowing why, we may have said that this just couldn’t work.  God cared for Olivia enough to prepare a place for her gently and slowly in our home.  He worked out the details.  Although there have been challenges and difficult times, it is such a blessing to have Olivia as a daughter.  She has taught us so much and expanded our perspective.

This has been an adventure.  We could have strived to become financially wealthy.  We could have strived to be popular.  We could have strived to be well traveled, climb mountains, write books, or have a well groomed yard (sorry neighbors, it just may never happen).  We chose the adventure of reaching out to kids in need; to building character and expanded perspective in our family.  And it has been a better adventure than we could have imagined.

James family on trampoline

One of the treasures of fostering has been how it has expanded our perspective.  One example of this occurred when we accidentally started to get to know the biological parents to our foster children.  It is so easy to look from the outside and be in shock and awe at how parents can do things that cause their children to be taken by the state.  “How could parents do that?”  “What horrible people.”  We thought many things.  By accidentally getting to know these parents and finding out about their lives, we saw a vicious cycle of victims.  Our new perspective has allowed us to see biological parents of foster children as valuable children of God.

Another benefit of fostering is it strengthens character.  Of course, it isn’t difficult to see how choosing to take on the hardship of caring for hurting children can build the character of foster parents.  However, it was an unexpected bonus to see how this adventure has strengthened the character of our children, both biological and adopted.

“The Walk for the Waiting is an amazing outlet and expression of our adventure.”

The Walk for the Waiting is an amazing outlet and expression of our adventure.  The fact that it supports The CALL, Project Zero, and Immerse Arkansas makes it easy to go all in, raising awareness and funds.  These three organizations support kids waiting for families at all ages and various situations.

We love the fact that we can get our kids involved.  That they can participate; that they now say “No More Waiting” almost every time a video camera is pointed in their direction; and that we can, as a family, do things to show God’s heart for the orphan makes the Walk for the Waiting our favorite event of the year.

Here are a few videos where our kids are getting involved:  

Join us for this year’s Walk for the Waiting — and bring the family!

Senator Cotton Honors Isaac and Rachelle Wardell as Angels in Adoption To Be Recognized at National Event in Washington, D.C.

El Dorado, AR – 08/20/2015 – Senator Tom Cotton has selected Isaac and Rachelle Wardell as 2015 Angels in Adoption™ awardees for their outstanding advocacy of adoption and foster care issues. Since 2012, the Wardells have opened their hearts and home to twenty-three children in state custody. They have proven that they are determined to make a difference for Arkansas’ children. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), which orchestrates the Angels in Adoption™ Program, will honor the Wardells at an awards ceremony on October 6 and gala on October 7 in Washington, D.C.

The Angels in Adoption™ Program is CCAI’s signature public awareness campaign and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans in the United States and abroad. This year, more than 150 “Angels” are being honored through the Angels in Adoption™ program.

“The Angels in Adoption™ Program is a unique annual opportunity in the nation’s Capital to shine a well-deserved spotlight on the power of adoption and the unspoken heroes who have made the dream of a family a reality for children. Since the program’s inception, over 2,200 Angels have come to Washington to share their firsthand adoption experiences with Members of Congress, highlighting its joys, as well as the barriers encountered in the process,” said Becky Weichhand, Executive Director at CCAI. “Members of Congress are then able to use their new experiential understanding of these issues to create policy improvements that better support these children and the families that open their hearts and homes to them.”

In addition to the more than 150 Angels from around the country, National Angels in Adoption™ honorees will be recognized at the gala for their dedication and commitment nationally and internationally to child welfare on a grand scale. This year’s National Angels in Adoption™ honoree is singer Rachel Crow. Former National Angels include Korie and Willie Robertson, Deborra-Lee Furness Jackman, First Lady Laura Bush, Patti LaBelle, Jane Seymour, Muhammad Ali, the late Dave Thomas, Steven Curtis Chapman, Bruce Willis, Alonzo Mourning, Rhea Perlman and Kristin Chenoweth.

CCAI is a 501(c)3 nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the tens of thousands of orphans and foster children in the United States and the millions of orphans around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes through adoption.

CCAI was created in 2001 by the active co-chairs of the bicameral, bipartisan Congressional Coalition on Adoption, one of Congress’ premiere caucuses. The goal of the caucus is to eliminate policy barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family and more effectively raise Congressional and public awareness about adoption.

The Angels in Adoption™ Program was established in 1999 as a Congressional press conference to honor outstanding individuals. Since then, the program has developed into a yearlong public awareness campaign, culminating in an extraordinary awards gala and celebration in Washington, D.C.

CCAI does not receive any government funding and relies on the generous support of foundations, corporations, and individuals to accomplish this mission. For more information, visit www.ccainstitute.org or www.angelsinadoption.org.