Steve Brawner wrote a moving article about when foster kids turn 18 and a way to help them. That caused me to post this today. My wife Jill is always bringing home this magazine called “Soiree” and I wanted to share this article about the organization “The Call.”
Amy Smith: Fostering an Understanding
Amy Smith: “DCFS is made up of amazing people, from investigators and case workers, to adoption specialists…
The only failure in the system is the lack of enough foster and adoptive homes to serve these children.”
There are approximately 7,000 children in Arkansas foster care within a year, but less than 1,000 foster parents available to care for those children. Plus, there are more than 500 children and teens available for adoption through Arkansas foster care. The numbers are staggering and unacceptable.
Even more heartbreaking is the fact that these children are removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect or other safety concerns within the home, all situations completely out of their control. That’s where The C.A.L.L comes in.
Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime (The C.A.L.L.) is a multi-denominational Christian organization created to answer the profound and desperate need for more foster, adoptive and respite care homes for foster children living in the state. Mary Carol Pederson, executive director, spearheaded the creation of the organization in 2006, and along with a team of dedicated people, incorporated The C.A.L.L. in 2007.
Through a partnership with Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS), The C.A.L.L.’s mission is to “educate, equip and encourage the Christian community to provide a future and a hope for the children in foster care.” The C.A.L.L. provides prospective foster and adoptive parents the opportunity to complete state-approved training within a church setting and within a more convenient timeframe.
One of the primary means of sharing the organization’s message is through informational meetings, in which a video is typically shown and prospective foster and adoptive parents can begin the paperwork process.
Amy Smith and her husband, Jason, first saw this video about four years ago when The C.A.L.L. visited their church. At the time, the Smith’s three biological sons, Luke, Landon and Clay were four, two and 12 months.
“The day the video played, we had no idea how drastically our lives were about to change,” said Amy. “Once we were informed of the need for foster parents in Pulaski County, there was no turning back.”
Amy—an occupational therapist for Pediatrics Plus, and Jason, an ear, nose and throat otolaryngologist for Arkansas Otolaryngology Center (AOC) in North Little Rock—completed their training to become foster parents in March 2006. “The training is the same for respite, foster and adoptive parents,” said Amy. “Respite care is short-term, just a couple of days, allowing another foster family a break.”
As trained and certified foster parents, the Smiths took in a newborn in August of that year. “Conner was born on August 6th, and we brought him home from the hospital on the 10th. At the time, we were not looking to adopt, only desiring to foster. Conner was not an easy baby, and life was not easy with four boys under four. My husband was always the one who kept us focused on our purpose. We wanted to not only touch a life for someone else, but we wanted our boys to learn this life is about helping others by sacrificing along the way.”
After Conner’s first birthday, his birth parents’ rights were terminated and the Smiths adopted him. “He was our son long before that,” said Amy. “Our boys have never been jealous or felt anything but love toward their little brother. They’re the biggest blessing God has ever given us. All four are ‘all boys’—loud, rambunctious and always hungry.”
Amy is now a board member for The C.A.L.L. Pulaski County and is quick to point out that DCFS does the best job they can, under the circumstances. “It is not the system that is broken, but our society,” she said. “DCFS is made up of amazing people, from investigators and case workers, to adoption specialists. Everyone I’ve met along the way loves these children and wants the best for them. The only failure in the system is the lack of enough foster and adoptive homes to serve these children.”
The C.A.L.L. currently has programs in 18 Arkansas counties, in addition to Pulaski. But, according to Pederson, 68-percent of children who come into foster care have to be placed outside of the county, hindering biological parent visitation and forcing the child to switch schools. To help remedy the situation, The C.A.L.L. needs more foster and adoptive parents, as well as funding. “The goal of DCFS,” said Pederson, “is to obtain 1,000 more foster parents statewide.”
Those who want to help, but are unable to foster or adopt could consider becoming a “founding family.” For $65 a month, founding families help place one child with a caring family.
For more information about fostering or adopting, volunteering or donating to The C.A.L.L., contact Mary Carol Pederson, 425-4735, or visit TheCallInArkansas.org.
Of course, being a Christian is the first step in bringing hope.
Discovering Your Purpose In Life
Like most people, you may have wondered why you are here on Earth. Do you think your existence is an accident or are you here for a reason? Is there some purpose for your life? According to the Bible, you are not a mistake and you were created by God for a reason.
Created For A Reason
The main reason God created you is to make you part of His eternal plan (Romans 8:28-29). God wants us to be in Heaven with Him and to tell people about Him. His plan is for every person to be saved from their sin and Hell and to spend eternity with Him (2 Peter 3:9). Unfortunately, some people choose to live their own way and abandon God’s plan for their life (Proverbs 14:12).
What Are You Living For?
Most people seem to believe that the main purpose of life is enjoyment and personal fulfillment. Are you living for things such as money, fame, success, fun, possessions and power? The wise King Solomon accomplished many great things and had all that anyone could desire, yet described it all as meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:2). How about you? Are you more consumed with the pleasures of life than what happens to your soul when you die? The Bible says “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul” (Mark 8:36)?
Life Is Short Compared To Eternity
Hopefully, you would agree that what happens to you eternally is far more important than what happens to you on Earth. Think about the word eternity. That is far beyond trillions and trillions times longer than our earthly life. It is so hard to even comprehend that concept because it never ends. You may have a great life or a terrible life on Earth, but either way it will come to an end someday. Then, you will spend everlasting life in either Heaven or Hell (Matthew 25:46). Please think carefully about where you will go after you die as it can happen any day.
Too many people assume they will go to Heaven when they die based on their own concept of God. The reason why everybody can’t spend eternity in Heaven is because sin separates people from God (Isaiah 59:2). You have rebelled against God and committed a sin every time you broke one of God’s commandments by stealing something, telling a lie, hating somebody, disobeying your parents, having a lustful thought, or countless other things. God hates sin and will severely judge each and every one of your sins. Just being a good person or believing in God won’t erase your sin either. The Bible says that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
The Good News
The good news is that no matter how severe your sins are, God made a way for you to be forgiven and be declared innocent on judgment day. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Being a good person or being religious won’t rescue you from your sin. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) The word grace means “undeserved favor”. Your sin separated you from a perfect and sinless God, but Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins and later rose back to life (Matthew 28:5-6) so you can have everlasting life in Heaven. Even though none of us deserve Heaven, God was kind enough to make a way for us.
It is not enough to just believe that Jesus died for your sins. You must personally trust in Jesus to save you from the penalty of your sin (Romans 8:1-4). You must also be willing to repent (turn from) your sin (Luke 13:5) and follow Jesus as Lord of your life (Romans 10:9-10). Doing this mends your broken relationship with God and allows you access into Heaven.
Live For God
You were created to know God and to live for Him. That is why you exist. Only then does your life have the meaning and purpose God intended for you. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). To live your life for the glory of God means that you will love, obey, worship, please, and trust Him. This should not be a burden, but a pleasure because of what He means to you.
The Choice Is Yours
You never know how much time you have left on this Earth and nothing is more important than where you spend eternity. Hopefully, you will decide to follow Jesus so your life can be used to glorify God. Please make this choice right away, because after you die it will be too late.