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.

January God Story — The Bradshaws

Sarah and Brad Bradshaw said they didn’t want to “do” foster care and they didn’t want to “do“ adoption, but now say it has been the GREATEST blessing for their family.

The Bradshaws had been working with a private adoption agency and foster care was mentioned, so a simple Google search led them to The CALL’s website.  Sarah says, “I remember listening to Mary Carol (The CALL Pulaski County Coordinator) speak at the Info Meeting and simultaneously arguing with God. ‘Please don’t make us do THIS.

Please don’t ask us to bring all of that baggage and mess into our home…with our children.’ God answered those pleas as only He can. ‘Sarah, first of all, they are not YOUR children, they’re Mine. And secondly, why are ‘your’ children any more important than the rest of My children?’ As I began to sob in the meeting, I knew that we would not be able to unhear or unsee anything that night.”

As they began the process to become foster parents, Sarah shares that The CALL “streamlined the process of certification and made things flow much more efficiently. They were there to answer questions, provide materials, and aid us in finding CPR trainings and support groups. It wasn’t until we received our first placement that the CALL MALL served as an invaluable resource.”

When asked about how they have seen God through serving as foster and adoptive parents, Sarah says that there have been so many ways God has shown that He is faithful to journey every step with them and assures them of His provision. From a friend offering a twin box spring and crib before they even mentioned needing those exact two items, to the days when the weight of their journey is overwhelming, and an encouraging card will come in the mail, when a new child is arriving to their home and the last thing they’ve had time to think about is dinner, and a pizza is delivered. Their most significant “God Wink” involves a precious 7 year old living in their home. After 13 months of loving and caring for this sweet girl, they let her go to be reunited with a sibling. Unfortunately, the placement did not work out, and she returned to their home. That first night she was home, Sarah remembers feeling like her sheep had returned. She shares, “God gently nudged my heart and whispered, ‘I brought her to you once, and you let her go. I’m bringing her home to you once again.’ A week later, we committed to being her home forever.”

“God’s plans for our family were nothing that we had in mind. They were far better.   As our journey is far from over, we are discovering daily that when we delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart. Desires we never knew we had.”

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!

In 2014, God did amazing things right here in Pulaski County!

On behalf of our board and staff, and the children, I want to thank you for your financial support providing Christian families for kids who need one. We are very grateful for your willingness to partner with us in our efforts toward “no waiting children”!

To recap the incredible success of 2014, God did amazing things right here in Pulaski County!

  • 84 local churches of various Christian denominations and ethnicity developed new or enhanced partnerships with The CALL in Pulaski County to mobilize their church on behalf of the local “orphans” in the foster system.
  • 209 families from churches attended a CALL Info Meeting last year to hear more about ways to help children in the foster system.
  • 118 of those families began the process to foster or adopt.
  • 65 new Christian foster and adoptive families were approved and open to welcome in children and teens in crisis who need a family
  • 113 open and available foster families are serving who were recruited, trained, and supported through The CALL and partner churches! That is more than ½ of the total available foster families in our county!
  • Plus, 37 children and teens experienced the finalization of their adoption into Christian CALL-recruited forever families this year.
  • In just the past 7 years since The CALL in Pulaski County began, our records show that we have been a part of 182 children and teens adopted locally into Christian forever families — and those are just the ones we know about! Plus, over a thousand have been welcomed into these families through foster care!

This brings tears to my eyes. God is on the move!

However, we must always remember that each of these numbers is a life that has been given a future and a hope. A child or teen who has been shown the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father!

Here is just one of the God stories of a teenager who was adopted locally this year, a God story that your investment has made happen…

My name is Corbin Taylor (17 years old). I got put into foster care when I was 13. I’ve seen a lot of kids age out of the foster care system. Most of them who don’t have a home to go to, they go to friends’ houses to stay, or they just stay on the streets, and never actually have a home. Some of them get put into jail. I didn’t want that to be me.

I met (my adoptive parents) at a Christmas party. We just talked about what we liked and what we did for fun. I found out that I was going to be adopted by them one day at school. Their DHS worker came to get me from school. I was really excited that they were going to adopt me because that’s who I wanted to be with. It just made me happy and joyful. Joy that I haven’t had in the years that I’ve been in care. I’ve been in group homes most of the time that I’ve been in foster care. So, coming into a home and having my own bedroom, just having a family, it was very weird for me at first. I can actually just be a teenager and don’t have to worry about having (too) much responsibility. I have responsibilities, but not like I did when I was in care. To call them Mom and Dad is very normal now. I feel very comfortable saying that. Saying I love you is kind of in the middle – sometimes it’s hard to say it and other times I feel good about it.

The one thing that has surprised me is the support that we have gotten from family and friends and people from our church that just came forward and supported us from the very beginning through now. It was just really shocking to me about how many people prayed for us, and prayed for me to be a part of this family.

I had challenges when I first came here, and we’re still working through them. But it can be worked out. I am really excited to be a part of this family. This is my forever family now.

Thank you for being a part of allowing children and teens to be welcomed into Christian foster and adoptive families.

I am available at any time to answer your questions, so please do not hesitate to call or email me. We greatly appreciate your partnership in this ministry and look forward to what God will do through The CALL in the year to come!

Until no child is waiting,
Mary Carol Pederson signature