"Liesel observed... her foster Father's eyes. They were made of kindness, and silver. Like soft silver, melting. Liesel, upon seeing those eyes, understood that her father was worth a lot."
A few months ago I read those words in a story by Markus Zusak, The Book Thief.
This week, I sit across from a foster mother named Ann, and I saw it for myself. I see it in her eyes too. The kindness, the shining... when she talks about those kids.
In addition to her two biological children, Ann and her husband have adopted 4 children, and recently opened their home to two new foster children. "I love everything about foster care. It really is a good match for our family," She says with a smile, "When our home was closed I missed it. All of our children love it, they missed it. They understand what we're doing. They know that these children have a mom and a dad, and maybe they can't live with them right now. But they're living with us and we're taking care of them, and we're helping to support their parents as we transition them back home. They get it and I love seeing that in their little lives."
I see the conviction in her eyes as she shares her heart and I know... this is worth a lot. "It's not easy," she adds,"but I think it's important to know that for some families this really is a great fit! It's such a beautiful way to represent Christ to some people who are hurting and broken."
Ann is also the Benton and Washington county coordinator for The Call, an organization whose mission is to recruit, train, and provide ongoing support for local foster families.
One of the most important ways you can support foster families and children is through prayer. Ann explains, "What I've found in doing this for the last 3 years is that there are never any significant victories that aren't rooted and grounded in prayer first. That makes all the difference to every bit of this ministry, making sure we're covering this in prayer first before we act."
Right now in Northwest Arkansas, there are 430 children in Foster Care, 500 adoptable children in the state of Arkansas, with just over 160 foster homes available. Ann shares a few specific things you can pray for each of these groups:
"For the children whose parental rights have been terminated, and they are waiting to be matched with a forever family, I think it's key to pray for their hearts. That when that family is identified, they are ready to move in and bond with them. Pray for that family to be identified and to step forward. And, because there's going to be rough spots in grafting together this family and this child who was raised outside of that family, pray for smooth transitions. Pray for the hearts of the children to be ready, and understand fully what adoption really means for them."
There are several available opportunities to connect directly with The Call, to find out if this ministry might be a good fit for you family. There will be an Initial Inquiry meeting, Monday June 2nd at 6:00 pm, at the First Presbyterian Church in Springdale. Ann explains, "This is the first step to opening your home to foster care, to adoption through the state, or just finding out more about being a volunteer with The Call. Our partners at DCFS join us to talk about the requirements for opening your home. We have Call parents on hand to talk about their experiences, and we have the paperwork there that night so you can begin the process of opening your home if you're interested."
You can register for the event or find more information online, at www.thecallinarkansas.org.