Unpacking The Rep’s “The Call”

When the subject of adoption comes up, especially in a community-wide context, we get excited and pay close attention. We are The CALL, and our objective is to mobilize the Church in Arkansas to love foster children with the extravagant love of Christ.

That’s why we’re excited the Arkansas Repertory Theatre (The Rep) is presenting Tanya Barfield’s thought-provoking play “The Call” through February 11, 2018. Since our organization shares the same name as Barfield’s play and the production centers on the topic of adoption, we thought it would be helpful to our partners, friends, and families to know our thoughts on the production to help shape the conversations that may come your way about the play. We hope to accomplish that without providing too many spoilers.

The primary characters of the play, a Caucasian couple in their mid-30’s (Annie and Peter), have decided to adopt a baby from Africa. The actors in this production are very talented and believable, and the script does a tremendous job of capturing the anxiety and doubt that comes with adoption. Their closest friends are a well-traveled, African-American, lesbian couple who’ve just married. Their exchanges provide a backdrop of middle-class, suburban sensibilities and bring forward some of the preconceived notions about multi-ethnic and cross-cultural life in modern-day America. There is also an exploration of the things that make a family a family.

The play demonstrates the influence of friends and family on the decision to move into adoption. It also realistically portrays the indecision and difficulty that come when things do not go as planned. Our experience is that every foster and adoption situation is unique. In our work, we help families understand the process and, in essence, submit it to God and pray to see His work. The play also brings front and center the trappings of our consumeristic culture that assumes it’s possible to select a child to adopt the same way we would pick out a home or a car. Sometimes, hopes and dreams become a set of demands and result in unrealistic expectations.

The play also touches on an aspect of adoption some call the “Hero Complex.” It’s when an affluent couple hastily decides to adopt because of guilt resulting from seeing a child’s helpless state. These feelings, combined with a lack of understanding of the sacrifice associated with adoption, often summon problems which can lead to disruption. At The CALL, we help couples navigate this phase and assist them with the tools they need to process their motivations. The characters in the play seemed to prioritize their needs over the needs of the child. Their needs were specific and numerous. The child just needed a bedroom.

An important distinction could be made by simply explaining the meaning behind the play’s name “The Call” and our organization’s name “The CALL.”

The play seems to gather its name from the suspense and tension that comes as the couple waits for the phone to ring with the news – any news – about the child with whom they may be matched. That call from a social worker or agency is certainly a poignant moment in the life of every adoptive parent.

The name of the organization “The CALL” is just as specific but in a different way. To be clear, “The CALL” is named to point to God’s call on the lives of Christians to minister to the modern day orphans in foster care in our community. Through no fault of their own, these children have suffered the trauma of abuse or neglect and have been removed from everything they perceived stable in their life. We believe every Christian is called to be a steward who creates or supports a safe, nurturing environment where children can experience the extravagant love of Christ. That is “the call.”

Finally, we should say that while the play mentions God and faith briefly, it does not offer a biblical worldview of adoption. There were a few instances of profanity expressed in moments of frustration. The emotions expressed by the cast are raw and authentic. The Rep gives “The Call” a PG-13 rating. However, we would not recommend this production for children under the age of 18.

Overall, we found “The Call” to be a genuine and compelling way to bring the subject of cross-cultural adoption to our community.


Lauri Currier, Executive Director, The CALL

Mike Clowers, Development Coordinator, The CALL in Pulaski County

Earning your trust

I’ve always told my children that trust is rarely granted. Instead it is earned. The next question they asked was “How do I earn your trust?” I told them that trust is earned with consistent behavior over time.

It is that simple and, unfortunately, there are no shortcuts.

One of the things we are serious about at The CALL is earning your trust. As an organization that depends on the generosity of people like you, we believe a sacred trust is the foundation of each financial gift you give.

One way we are consistent in our behavior over time is to be members of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). The ECFA provides financial supporters assurance that members are accountable. They examine seven areas of The CALL’s ministry:

  1. Doctrine – Does the Bible inform our belief and practice as an organization?
  2. Governance – Is there appropriate, independent board oversight?
  3. Financial Oversight – Are our finances audited and managed to rigorous accounting standards?
  4. Use of Resources and Compliance with Laws – Are management controls in place?
  5. Transparency – Are we active and open with our financial reporting?
  6. Compensation-Setting – Do we follow ECFA’s Compensation policies and recommendations?
  7. Stewardship of Charitable Gifts – Do we act in the best interest of our donors?

The ECFA describes their standards as simple but not simplistic. Each standard has significant implications for its members. As an ECFA member, The CALL must follow all these standards. You can review the standards in detail at ecfa.org. We encourage any organization you support to join this ECFA as well. It’s a high bar that helps you know we strive for integrity, honesty and competency in handling the dollars you give.

Here at The CALL, we want you to feel confident when giving your financial support. Being members of the ECFA is one way to build trust as we fulfill the mission of no waiting children in foster care.

Thank you for trusting us to mobilize the Church in Arkansas to love foster children with the extravagant love of Christ!

Mike ClowersBy Mike Clowers, Development Coordinator, The CALL in Pulaski County

Mobilizing the Church in Pulaski County to care for children in foster care with the extravagant love of Christ.

“Religion that God our Father considers pure and undefiled is this:  to care for orphans…in their distress…” James 1:27

There is a critical need in our community for foster and adoptive parents for children who have been abused or neglected and are in the foster system.  For Christians, there is a biblical mandate to care for the local fatherless, the orphan, and the least of these.  The CALL educates, equips, and encourages the Church to fulfill its calling in meeting the needs of these children, and is a key support for those who come forward to serve.

Our vision:  No waiting children in foster care in Pulaski County – having more than enough Christian foster and adoptive families for the children who need them.

Pulaski County Stats:

  • Children in Foster System: 550
  • Open Foster Families: 298
  • Needed Additional Foster Families: 202
  • Children Available for Adoption: 100

But, there are 600 churches in Pulaski County — MORE THAN ENOUGH to provide the needed families for these precious children.  Are you being CALLED to do something?

 

What God Has Done So Far Through The CALL in Pulaski County:

  • Number of children being placed outside of our county due to a lack of foster homes has been drastically reduced from 67% to 22%.
  • Over half of the currently serving foster families (183) for our county were recruited and trained through The CALL.
  • Thousands of local children have been welcomed into Christian, CALL-recruited foster and adoptive families.
  • Over 250 children have been adopted out of foster care by local CALL-recruited families
  • 60 churches in Pulaski County have partnered with The CALL in foster care ministry
  • Three CALL Malls provide free, consignment-quality clothing and needed items for children in foster care.
  • Four support groups are held each month for foster and adoptive families.

Will YOU join with us in caring for our local children in crisis?

Click on Events to sign up for an upcoming CALL Info Meeting to find out more about fostering, adoption, respite care, mentoring, or volunteering in other ways!

 

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.

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.