Forever Family Friday

The Rogers Family

 

“We were told once, if you ever want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans! When we adopted our first child, we were so happy and proud to be parents. It wasn’t long before we realized that there were so many other children waiting that needed forever homes. We could not sit idly by. We were led to a sibling group of two, and led again to a sibling group of three which included two teenagers. We said yes! Our home now is filled with joyful chaos, laughter, and family time. God strategically placed our family together through adoption. We are so blessed! We are so grateful!” — Bri Rogers

 

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In the middle of the battle, we need to focus on God’s goodness! If you haven’t seen this short film featuring the Rodgers familly, you need to!

 

Forever Family Friday

Luck had nothing to do with it… God formed the Lozada family!

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It was 2014 and our family of 5 seemed to be “enough”. Having 3 children and bustling through life, we were not looking to expand our family. However, when Isaac’s availability was brought to our attention, it was all we could do to fight for him.

We spent several hours a week at our local athletic club where Isaac also had a membership. My first interaction with Isaac, he introduced himself with, “You know I am up for adoption.” Tears rolled down my cheeks and luckily he couldn’t see them from my large sunglasses. In my mind I thought we could never adopt a teen as our oldest was 9 at the time. Tucking that piece of information in my heart, I moved on. Isaac became popular among the regular members and we found ourselves engaging in his world. At one point I remember him running to several of us during a class, squealing with excitement that he was going to be adopted. A few short weeks later, Jason and I learned that his adoption failed. It was heart-breaking to watch Isaac return to the club knowing his hopes had been shattered. It was then that God spoke to both of us by providing assurance that we had the ability to love Isaac and accept him in our family.

Christie Erwin with Project Zero was the first person I contacted not having a clue what to do. We began the paper-trail and training through The Call and DHS. Six months later, Isaac was having his first visit one Friday evening. The following Tuesday was his first over-night visit. He has never left our home since then. We were called “mom” and “dad” days after his move-in. After fulfilling the required 6 month stay, Isaac became a Lozada on January 26, 2015 spending 1001 days in foster care. {While this time might seem frustrating and rigorous to you current waiting families, KEEP FIGHTING. Don’t stop the process and be patient with the people that are working behind the scenes for you. Not to say don’t be assertive, because it does take a strong desire and willingness to push forward. Hiccups can cause our spirit to feel defeated while emotions are running high.}

Before his initial visit with us, we met with the director of the boys’ home that Isaac was living in. This man’s first priority was to protect Isaac and he wanted to make sure we were not going to run after hearing troublesome news of Isaac’s previous and current behavior. I remember walking away from that meeting feeling worry, some panic, heart-ache, and hope. You honestly wonder if this child will do the same things once he moves in and will this be a mistake for all involved. After Jason and I worked through those emotions, confirmation still stood to move forward. Only God can provide that peace and affirmation in a situation like this.

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Adoption for us is trying to provide a child with a stable environment, a place to call home, a family that allows mistakes and doesn’t give up, and hoping the resources we give him will help the healing process. There are challenges with anything we do in life……parenting, marriage, work issues. Adoption comes with challenges too as one is trying to mesh a child within their current living situation. Siblings might deal with jealousy, parents require extra communication to see eye-to-eye, or a momma might have to give more hugs than she thinks she is capable. It’s not necessarily dreamy but it is doable. And the only way to make it doable for us is with God’s guidance. There have been times where we wonder ‘what have we done’ and ‘will we survive’?! You will because God promises we have inherited his greatness with the same power that raised Christ from the dead. He gives us the spirit of wisdom and the heart to persevere (Ephesians 1).

Loving Isaac steadily grows each day. While it wasn’t God’s desire for him to be removed from his biological mother, it was His plan for us to be Isaac’s forever family.

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Walk for the Waiting and The CALL in Pulaski County

What God is doing through His churches for children in foster care is unparalleled!  The CALL in Pulaski County partners with churches and Arkansas DHS to mobilize the Body of Christ to provide the needed foster and adoptive families for the children in the foster system in our county.  Since The CALL began in Pulaski County, the percentage of children who are placed in foster homes outside of our county due to a lack of homes has decreased from 67% to 22%!  Also, The CALL has recruited and trained 172 (or 58%) of the open foster families now serving in Pulaski County!  Every year, HUNDREDS of children are being welcomed into CALL-recruited families through foster care and adoption in our county alone, and we’re growing significantly every year.  God is on the move!

 

But, those are just numbers.  We are not working for numbers, but precious children created by God for good things, who have been abused or neglected, and are now temporary “orphans” in the foster care system.  These children are experiencing God’s unconditional love as CALL-recruited foster and adoptive parents are serving as “Jesus with skin on” to them and welcoming them into their homes in their greatest moment of need. Children like Joel, Virginia and Linda, whose lives are being transformed.  See their powerful story by clicking the link below.

 

The Gould Family

Thank you for joining us for Walk for the Waiting to help us move toward “no more waiting children” in the foster care system!

 

Until no child is waiting,

Mary Carol Pederson

Co-Founder/Pulaski County Coordinator

The CALL

TheCALLinArkansas.org

Forever Family Friday

The Blankenship Family

“As parents we take on so many roles: story-teller, boo-boo kisser, listener, friend, disciplinarian, teacher, student, transporter, nurse, and one I have found myself in a lot lately – being their voice. I have been their voice to advocate for their needs, and to help others understand where they are coming from or why they might be behaving the way they are. I’ve been their voice to help them express how they are feeling when they just couldn’t do it anymore. I’ve been the voice to answer their questions – even the really tough questions that broke my heart. I’ve been the voice to tell their story – because it’s a God-sized story that should be told. I’ve been their voice because they don’t have a voice of their own yet. Sometimes it’s a fun job, sometimes it’s not. But it always involves me looking beyond myself to what is best for the little people God blessed me with.

That’s what Walk for the Waiting gives us an opportunity to do – we can be their voice. But not just the voice for our own kids but we can be the voice for all the kids in Arkansas who are waiting. We can shine a light on the orphan crisis happening in our state and bring a voice to the issue. Walks, rallies, protests are all successful because a large group of people come together to say one thing. They unite their voices behind one cause and dare others to do the same. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s not. But it’s not about us. It’s about looking beyond ourselves to the fatherless and the voiceless and telling the world that we refuse to let their story end like this. It’s about speaking up – loudly if necessary – for people who the world tends to ignore. It’s about leveraging what you have on behalf of someone who has nothing. And the one thing we all have that we can use today on behalf of waiting kids in Arkansas is our voice.” – Carrie Blankenship

God truly does set the lonely in families. Sometimes we are so weighed down by the sheer numbers of kids in foster care and those waiting to be adopted, that we forget the ‘one’. The Blankenship’s story is a story of hope, of redemption and restoration, of faith and unconditional love; it’s a beautiful story written by a heavenly Father to whom no detail is too small, no obstacle too big. God writes the best stories and we are honored to have the privilege to tell this one.

Watch their video by clicking the link below:

 

What’s New? 5th Annual Walk for the Waiting

When planning for our 5th year of Walk for the Waiting we had several new ideas & wanted to make this year the best ever! Here are some of the new ways we are doing that:

1. Introducing our first ever 5K RACE!!! The 5k will start at 7:45, before the typical family fun walk. This way runners can finish their run & join the walkers on the field for our opening ceremony. Then they are welcome to walk with everyone as a cool-down during our family fun walk. As usual the family fun walk will be just under one mile so it isn’t too difficult for little kids. Registration for the walk & 5k are both FREE!!! We just encourage people to become sponsored walkers/runners and help raise money for our cause. And as usual by raising $250 they get a free t-shirt. (See our website for separate 5k registration & event information). We also encourage families to run or walk together! You can also have both walkers and runners on your team.

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2. Thursday, May 4th is National Day of Prayer. Please join us from noon – 1 at War Memorial or on your own to pray for the Walk, weather, waiting kids in Arkansas and for God to stir & move hearts to action on behalf of the over 500 waiting kids who need forever families.

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3. Friday, May 5th is Pre-Registration Packet Pick up! Get your t-shirts & runners bibs early & turn in any off-line donations during designated times at War Memorial. This will help cut down on wait time during registration on Saturday morning. More details to come.

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4.In celebration of our 5th year we are inviting many food trucks to park outside War Memorial Stadium for our 5th Year Food Truck Fellowship! We know after the walk & 5k your family will be hungry and looking for somewhere to eat lunch. So outside the stadium, near Gate 11 a variety of food trucks will be set up from 11am – 2pm for you to purchase lunch or snacks. So bring your card or cash, picnic blanket or lawn chair and hang out after the Walk with us! More details to come.food-trucks

Goals of Walk for the Waiting

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Registration is now open for our 5th annual Walk for the Waiting to be held on May 6th at War Memorial Stadium!

We wanted to share a quick reminder of our purpose… a family & a future for every child. To do this, Walk for the Waiting focuses on what we call the “Five E’s”:

  1. Eternal Father – Giving God the glory for all that He does. Our purpose is to pull back the curtain and expose the good things that come from fostering, adopting and mentoring the fatherless.
  2. Exposure to issues and needs of orphans – The statistics are always changing and the orphans in our community are in a deepening crisis that is too big for the state or any non-profit to fix. There are over 6,000 churches in Arkansas and over 500 children waiting to be adopted. The math is simple and shows that this is a fixable problem. But we all must get involved!
  3. Ear money / Fundraise – The CALL, Immerse and Project Zero do so much to care for orphans in our community, but their efforts and successes do not  come freely. It takes money to house homeless teens. Funds to train and recruit foster families all over the state. Finances to host hope building events for waiting kids.
  4. Exciting & easy event for families – We want Walk for the Waiting to be something your family gets passionate about each year. An event that is fun for all ages & not a hassle for families to attend.
  5. Embracing Unity as we serve kids together – We long to see the Church work together to serve waiting kids. We believe waiting kids will be best served through the unified efforts of the Church, church-based efforts and the State an all who desire to make sure every child in Arkansas has a family.

My Walk with Walk for the Waiting

I first heard about Walk for the Waiting in the spring of 2013.  I was finishing up my senior year of college at Mizzou and a friend called me one day to tell me about this awesome new event she was going to back home.

“Walk for the Waiting,” she said.
“Walk for who?” I asked in return.  Waiting… who is waiting for what and why do we care?
“For kids that are waiting for families.  Orphans.”

Orphans.

I was struck by her usage of the word, but also deeply moved by the truth of it.  Orphans in our very own backyard.  At home.

I moved back to Little Rock that August, and when Walk for the Waiting got fired up again, I immediately registered.  I started getting the regular email blasts from Eric in the weeks and days leading up to the walk, and one in particular inspired me to respond.  It was a simple question:

Why are you walking?

That question struck a match in my heart.  Why wouldn’t I be walking?!
Later that afternoon, in between phone calls at work, I processed the question and wrote my reply.

My husband (then fiancé) and I went to our first Walk for the Waiting together.

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We loved the event!  It was the first time I met waiting kids face to face.  The first time I saw the beauty of foster families.  The first time I learned that I really could make a difference even if we’re not fostering or adopting right now.  It’s not a cause for parents, it’s a cause for the church.  The crisis became much more personal for me.

I got plugged in with the planning committee to help plan Walk for the Waiting 2015 and stepped into the role of event coordinator.

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2015: A new Cisar tradition

 

God decided to use me a little bit more that year.  Eric asked if I wouldn’t mind being part of the promotional video.  My dad even got involved, and did the audio for why he’s walking.  It was so meaningful to see my family’s involvement with the Walk in such an intimate way.  Home videos from my childhood flashed across the screen while my dad’s voice is in the background, explaining why walking means so much to our family.  If it weren’t for adoption, those home videos wouldn’t exist.

Doesn’t every child deserve home videos with their family?  Doesn’t every child deserve a childhood?

Our family’s involvement with the promotional video made me want to stand up and advocate for childhoods even more.  It made the number 4,600 come to life.  It was a harsh reality, and I had to do more.

At our Walk debrief meeting a few days later, I was appointed Walk Chair.  And here we are after months of prayer and planning, getting ready to welcome walkers tomorrow morning!

It’s been a great experience of chairing this event.  We’ve been blessed with more registered walkers and donors than ever before, and have had a lot of great exposure with media outlets getting behind the mission.  We are reaching members of the community that may not have ever heard of the foster care crisis, or the need for adoptive families.  We have educated kids and youth about foster care and what they can do to make a difference for their peers.  We are determined to mobilize the church and reach our goal of NO MORE WAITING KIDS!

The weatherman is calling for rain tomorrow, but that’s not dampening anyone’s spirits!  God’s people are rising to face the challenge.  Kids don’t stop waiting for families when the sun is shining, so we’re not going to stop walking because of a little bit of rain!  When it rains, I’ll see God painting his canvas sky with the picture of His restorative grace.

Walk for the Waiting 2016 is going to be pretty different from what you’ve seen in previous years, as we’ll be in a covered area at War Memorial Stadium.  It’ll have a whole new feel and more fun surprises than before!  We’ve got The CALL, Project Zero or Immerse Arkansas board members getting ready to kiss a pig!  We’ve got an awesome program of worship and fellowship to kick off the Walk, a photo booth for families and friends to document their fun, tattoos and grab bags for kids to enjoy, and a colorful surprise at the end!  There’s plenty of room for everyone, don’t let the rain keep you away!

I can’t wait to meet you tomorrow morning!

 

Until no more are waiting,

Robyn Cisar