Bubbus #ForeverFamilyFriday

Our amazing presenting sponsor David’s Burgers isn’t just investing in Walk for the Waiting because they are a super-family friendly restaurant with 10 locations in Central Arkansas. Nope. They are supporting The CALL, Immerse & Project Zero because they are literally walking the walk as former foster parents & adoptive parents too. If you don’t know their amazing God story please read it here in Inviting Arkansas.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 4.58.30 PM.png

Follow their lead! Is God calling you to foster? To adopt? To walk? To give in amazing ways? We are so honored the Bubbus family answered the callings God put on their hearts & that they help us advocate for the waiting children of Arkansas!

Advertisements

Foster & Adoptive Sister “Why I Walk!”

59422398_10215818871197960_3035034220197052416_n.jpg

Why I walk:

When I was 2 years old my parents started my family and I on a journey that would change all of our lives! We opened up as a foster home. Over the next 20 years we would have over 50 children come in and out of our home (well 2 stayed😊), some went into incredible situations some we weren’t sure about, but trusting the Lord. Some babies came for less than 24 hours while others stayed for years. But the whole time we loved them as our own! For whatever amount of time they were with us they were my brother or sister. We often get the question/concern about fostering/adopting when you have biological children in the home, and how it’ll affect them, and as one of those bio children I can tell you: DO IT!! Is it always easy? No. Do you have to share your parents? Yes. But the reward is so much greater! Not only did I get to love on kiddos all the time, but I learned something much deeper, I learned compassion, I learned to love others no matter what, it prepared me for having my own baby one day, and so much more. But one of the most important things is that as a believer it gave me a real picture of Christ, of God adopting us into His family. How we have brokenness, with a lot of baggage but He always has His arms wide open! This world became my life, and I couldn’t imagine life without fostering and adopting. It’s something I hope/plan to step into for myself and my family in the future.

I’ve been so blessed to be apart of this world and continuing in it working with Project Zero, working to find forever families for the 363 kids waiting to be adopted in the state of Arkansas. I see first hand how much these sweet kids want a forever home, permanency, love, their people being there for them, and so much more.

So I’m asking would you please donate to Walk for the Waiting? It’s this Saturday May 4 at War Memorial. All the money donated goes to Project Zero, The Call, and Immerse to help them continue fighting the fight for these Waiting kids and foster and adoptive families! We can’t do what we do without your help! So please consider donating any amount, and if you can/want register as a sponsor walker yourself! We may not all be able to foster or adopt but we can all walk and give! Thank you so much friends! #wecanalldosomething #donate #teamtatertot #nomorewaiting#oneteamonedream

Donate here:
https://www.walkforthewaiting.org/donate

Here are just a few of those sweet kids we had the privilege to love on over the years…

How WFTW impacts Immerse Arkansas

These are our kids, and we love them a ton!

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 2.30.34 PM.png

What about kids who don’t have parents, or whose parents can’t care for them. Whose kids are they?

Who loves them? Who dreams of their future? Who fervently prays that God will guide and protect them.

Whose kids are they?

They’re OUR kids. You and me, those of us of privilege, and especially those of us that take Jesus seriously.

It’s this conviction that led Kara and I to start Immerse Arkansas. We kept meeting kids in foster care that were falling through the cracks. Kids that really needed someone to latch onto them. To love them. To pursue them. To not give up on them. And to give them a path toward overcoming.

Today at Immerse, that’s what we’re all about. Our goal is to transform youth from crisis into Overcomers. We do this through direct programs for older youth, combined with support for foster and adoptive families. Here’s what that looked like in 2018.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 12.09.09 PM.png

Our prayer is that a spirit of overcoming would break out over all youth from crisis, all foster and adoptive families, all mentors, all donors, all Sponsored Walkers, and over each person fighting for kids waiting for families.

The conviction that these are OUR kids is the same conviction that makes us passionate about Walk for the Waiting. It’s a great to way to raise funds to support Immerse Arkansas, Immerse Families, and our partners at The CALL, and Project Zero.

From all of us at Immerse, we appreciate you. Thanks for joining us in claiming responsibility for some wonderful kids that need us!

 

Eric Gilmore

Executive Director, Immerse Arkansas

 

How WFTW impacts Project Zero

I don’t know about you, but I love having fun! I love keeping things light, engaging people in a cause, and thinking outside the box. Walk for the Waiting is no exception. From the very beginning, I was on the front lines trying to find fun ways to help people take ownership of the walk; kissing pigs, taking pies to the face, kissing kangaroos, dying hair blue. Anything for the sake of waiting kids.

WFTW2018_144-erwins.jpg

I feel the same way this year, but with a twist. My heart is heavier than ever before and that heaviness has settled over me like a dark cloud. It is a heaviness filled with the faces of children/teens waiting to be adopted, children who have no voice but ours, no hope unless someone intervenes, and no chance at the future they were destined for, without the world understanding what is at stake. 

I believe with all my heart that ‘zero’ is possible. But I also know that zero won’t come with a tiny remnant of people taking up the cause. It’s going to take an army of warriors who will not rest until every single waiting child under our watch is home. Every single one. 

The funds raised from Walk for the Waiting have had a profound impact on the ministry and outcomes of Project Zero. Those funds have allowed us to pour into the lives of the waiting kids in our state with excellence, enthusiasm and grace. We have the honor of encouraging them, building hope in them and fighting for their futures. Would you join us in the fight? You can make a difference. You can help change lives. You can help us win this battle…and you might have some fun in the process!  

Love & Blessings,

Christie Erwin, Executive Director of Project Zero

 

How WFTW impacts The CALL in Pulaski County

Since WFTW 2018, The CALL in Pulaski County has been hard at work leveraging the funds raised to their maximum impact. Since last year’s Walk, The CALL in Pulaski County has helped 65 families open their homes to foster children in our community, with another 46 homes currently in process and so very close to being an official open home. That’s just the new homes! 

The CALL works in partnership with DCFS to recruit foster families through the local church. We train those families to provide a home that is safe, nurturing, and that promotes reunification. The CALL helps these families navigate the lengthy process to become an official open home through the state. And we support these homes through support groups, tangible resources such as clothing, bedding, toys, toiletries (the list really does go on and on), and through continuing education opportunities to keep our homes as equipped and healthy as possible. These families, like the Phifers who are highlighted below, are self-lessly serving the 8,000+ children and their families who are affected by foster care each year.

 

 

These new families, along with our families who opened before last year’s Walk, cared for hundreds of children who were able to return to their biological families and finalized over 45 adoptions in this one calendar year alone.

It is just shy of impossible to explain the impact a foster home, like the Phifer’s, has on the children in their care, the biological families of those children, and the greater community.

We will continue to recruit, train, and support foster families to be a safe place for children in foster care until they can be reunited with their biological families.  

Thank you for your support of our mission financially to have No Waiting Children in Pulaski County. With your continued support, we can truly make a difference in the lives of these families for generations to come!

Joe Snyder,

County Coordinator, The CALL in Pulaski County

unnamed-1

 

Meeks #ForeverFamilyFriday

The Call has been an incredible asset to us throughout the past 4 1/2 years. The training is streamlined, the support is unmatched, and the friendships we have formed will not be forgotten. Our family has been forever changed for the absolute best!

My husband and I became a foster home through The Call in the fall of 2014, after years of infertility and a failed private adoption. We initially wanted to adopt only, but after sitting through the informational meeting, we knew we wanted to foster and adopt sibling groups. The thought of siblings being placed in different homes from each other after being separated from their parents absolutely broke me. Our first placement was the day we were officially opened and was a sibling set of 3 brothers ages 1, 2, and 3 years. We fostered them for 15 months before adopting them November of 2015.

We knew that we were not done with our journey and stayed open as a foster home. We fostered 13 more children before deciding to open as an adoptive home only. We texted our caseworkers to let them know of our desire to change our status, and they were very supportive of our decision. One of our caseworkers texted an hour later and said that she had another case headed towards termination.

It was a sibling group of 5, and something sounded familiar about them. After more inquiries, we discovered that these children used to ride our church bus on Sundays and I had several of them in my Sunday School nursery class. We did our best to keep up with them while they were in foster care but lost track of them after a year or so. The following week, we attended a birthday party where we ran into them. The two oldest ones remembered us and gave us the biggest hugs. We knew then that we would do what we could to get these kids and leave the rest up to God.

A few weeks later we heard that we were approved as an adoptive home for them. They moved in during Christmas break, and we were able to spend Christmas together as a family of 10. We officially adopted them on July 3rd, and we are so happy. Life with 8 children between the ages of 2-8 years is crazy, loud, and fun but we wouldn’t have it any other way!Meeks-1024x683.jpg

Veitz #ForeverFamilyFriday

24E7F039-7040-496B-9109-8F89576F6152.jpeg

    Our foster care journey started out-ironically enough-by my initial rejection of the idea.  I had been working in residential life for a few years, and I knew what the system was like.  I didn’t want any part of it.  I wanted an “easy” way (in my eyes, that looked like domestic adoption).  

But, as I prayed and sought counsel over a few months time, my heart changed.  I realized that the community of kids I was working with was the same community that needed foster parents.  And, most adoptive parents know, no adoption path is easy.  Not by a long shot.

Let me back up to the start of our journey.   After we reached the decision to move forward with fostering, we signed up for classes, had our home study, and became an open home.  We had a few calls at the start that we had to say no to, for one reason or another.  It was heartbreaking.  And then came “the call”.  The call that would change our lives forever.

“Hello, we have a 3 week old baby girl, currently in the NICU, that is ready to go to a foster home.  Would you be interested?”

My heart started racing.  This was it; we were about to meet our first foster placement.  I was nervous, excited, worried, anxious-you name it, I was feeling it.  As we talked to more workers and heard more about her situation, we would learn that she had been exposed to substances in utero, and that there had been no prenatal care.  We didn’t know it then, but this would equal hours of doctors appointments, therapies, evaluations, and more for the next few years.

The first few weeks were hard.  We had appointment after appointment, social worker visits, court, and visitation with bio parents. On top of all the crazy scheduling, our daughter cried a lot.  Basically anytime she was awake, she was crying.  She also didn’t like to be held, but she didn’t like to be put down.  She threw up a lot.  I started to wonder if we’d made a mistake.  Was it supposed to be this hard?  Was I capable of handling this level of care?  Was I capable of loving a child this hard, one who wouldn’t attach and most times seemed like she wanted nothing to do with me?

At the same time I was having that internal struggle, we started visits with her biological parents.  I was so nervous during the first one.  But as we sat and talked with them during those four months of visits, we learned of their horrible childhood upbringing, of their struggles, of their pain.  My heart broke for them.  Although I still disagreed with everything about their life choices, I felt empathy for them.  They knew they were losing their daughter because of their decisions, and it broke their heart as much as it did mine.  I would encourage anyone having kids going to biological parental visitation to try and get to know the people that created their child.  It gives context to the child’s story.  I am so grateful for the time we had with them.

A few months after taking our daughter in, visits stopped due to bio parent’s lack of follow through on their plan.  TPR (termination of parental rights) happened at 18 months.  Adoption happened just shy of her second birthday.  When it was all said and done, she was in foster care for 687 days.  The journey to adoption felt like it took forever, and then in a matter of minutes, it was finalized.

I had a lot of self-doubt that first year.  You may having them too.  I wondered if I was going to be able to do this.  But I will never forget the sweet words of truth a friend spoke to me one morning. They have stuck with me ever since, and I hope they bless you as much as they did me.  She said, “You may not feel like you love her, or that she loves you, but you’re feeding her.  You’re changing her.  You’re holding her when she’s crying.  You’re singing to her, reading to her, playing with her.  You ARE loving her, even when it doesn’t feel like it.  Part of real love is sacrificial action.”

Oh how I needed to hear that.  Maybe you do too.  Foster care is hard.  The kids are coming to us from broken, dark places.  But they are so deserving of love, of compassion, of every good thing we can give them.  I can say now, a year post adoption, that is so worth it.  I am so thankful we took that call.  I’m so thankful my daughter is ours forever.  She still suffers with some effects from her in utero distress.  We are still working through that. But taking care of vulnerable kids isn’t supposed to be easy.  We don’t do it because of how it makes us feel, we do it to save these kids lives.  If you are having a hard time like I was, I would love to connect and encourage you.  I had so many people surrounding me and encouraging me, and I know I wouldn’t have made it without them.  The old saying is so true: It takes a village to raise kids.     

893A45F2-E81E-42EA-B9D4-02B3FE3891E0.jpeg

Kircher #ForeverFamilyFriday

In a recent a sermon the pastor said “There is a paradox when we follow Jesus. It is the most joyful and difficult life.” No truer words have ever been spoken to this foster/adoptive mom. 
Our journey started like a lot of families who foster and/or adopt. I had a stirring in my heart that God wouldn’t let go of. I ignored it. I tried to rationalize with God that He meant for me and my family to do something else other than fostering. When I finally released control of what I selfishly wanted, God made it abundantly clear and opened the doors for the path HE wanted me to follow.
IMG_3875.jpg
My husband Patrick and I were married 7 years before starting a family. Our family grew rather quickly after the birth of our first son, Jackson. Jackson became an older brother to Anderson when he was 16 months old. Anderson soon became the middle child at 20 months old when we welcomed our daughter Chandler. Needless to say life was busy with three babies three and under. So, when God started tugging at my heart for something HE needed me and my family to do, adoption and fostering was not what I expected.
I would love to say I ran with open arms and a willing spirit to God’s calling. I wish I could tell you I didn’t wrestle with God or second guess Him every step of the way.  No, I was more like Gideon in Judges 6:38-40 setting out fleece. I couldn’t believe God would call or want me to take this journey.  But, HE persisted. HE continued to let me lay out my “fleece” of self-doubt, fear and selfishness and HE continually was faithful to provide scripture, support and love to me.
IMG_2214.jpg
We answered God’s calling to foster/adopt 5 years ago. It has been a journey I could not ever imagined. We’ve had over 20 foster children in our home during that time and have also adopted two children, Otis and Violet. I can’t even begin to think what my life would be if I had said no!  Matthew 10:39 says “Whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  Believe me, it’s true. I wouldn’t dare tell you it’s always easy but I will tell you it’s all worth it.
God has called us all into action. It may be through prayer, mentoring, volunteering or adoption. But no doubt, HE has called us all. God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things for HIS glory!
IMG_0542.jpg

Watson #ForeverFamilyFriday

David and I were married in May, 1990. We had our first baby, Hannah, 10 1/2 months later in March of 1991!! Our son, Jacob, and another daughter, Ella, would soon follow! I loved being a momma to my sweet crew. I longed for more children and didn’t feel like my family was complete.
The year I prepared to send Ella to kindergarten, I learned from a friend, about foster care. I immediately knew this was what I was meant to do! It took David a little longer to see the light, but God moved in his heart and in 2002 we started fostering through a private non-profit in town.
46773959_10218008933114213_1376141400340430848_n.jpg
In 2005 we were burdened by the overwhelming need for foster families for DCFS so we went through the process of opening with the State. Our first placement with DCFS was a beautiful 8 day old baby girl, Mariah. And though adoption had not been our plan, it WAS God’s amazing plan- Mariah became our daughter forever, 2 1/2 years later!!
We continued to foster and in January, 2011, God placed it on both our hearts the desire to adopt again- in March of 2011, a beautiful 6 1/2 year old girl, Makayla, moved into our hearts and home forever!!
We are currently in our 17th year of fostering and have had the privilege of loving and caring for over 50 children.
Adoption and foster care have been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, but it has not been without its share of difficulties and heartache.
Foster care and adoption have impacted and changed me and my family in ways that nothing else could have. I am forever grateful that God chose us for this journey!
19756407_10155504495608792_1598149638647919803_n.jpg

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑