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Statewide Homegrown 0



More than a dozen children will enter foster care in Arkansas today. Sadly, there are not enough open foster homes for these children. It’s the vision of The CALL (Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime) to place each one of them in a loving, Christian home. The CALL started in Pulaski County in 2007 followed by Lonoke County. Currently, The CALL is in 35 Arkansas counties, and seven more will launch in 2016.

Angels in Adoption

Isaac and Rachelle Wardell of El Dorado do God’s work here on earth. Last year, they were chosen to be 2015 Angels in Adoption™ awardees for outstanding advocacy of adoption and foster care issues. The Wardells became foster parents through an organization called The CALL. In an effort to help demystify the fostering process, Rachelle shared some of their story with OnlyinArk.

How many foster and adoptive children do you have now?

As I write this, our two adopted sons are asleep in their room. Our foster room can sleep two, but there’s only one child asleep in there now. That’s because, for the first time in a long time, our county has enough beds for each child coming into care. The CALL recruited 13 new foster families here in Union county in 2015. That’s almost unbelievable, because at the beginning of 2015, Union county had just three foster homes.

Why did you decide to become a foster parent?

I have known I wanted to help children who had been through trauma since I was a child myself. My career plan at age 10 was to be a cottage parent at a group home. Isaac definitely married into my dream, but he’s owned it!

Why do you think more people don’t foster?

We think that people don’t know –

  1. You are supposed to get attached. When you offer your home to a child in foster care, you assume that you will love them and they will one day leave you. Even when you take an adoptive placement, you take on the risk of real pain. Love is always risky. And messy. And painful. But you know what? You never know how loving this child will change you! It’s not just the child who needs attachment. You may find that keeping a child safe and loved until they can go home is the most fulfilling thing you have ever done.
  2. Adoption through foster care is free. You do not incur the expensive fees that you do with international adoptions. It’s an affordable option for those with lots of love and a slimmer budget.
  3. Kids in foster care are not “bad” kids. Many children in care do have behavioral issues, but they are a result of trauma: abuse, neglect and fear. Most of the time, a stable loving environment will make all the difference. I’m not going to tell you it won’t be hard. It will be hard. But, with training and a determination to fight for this child, you could teach them that they are safe.
  4. You don’t have to be a stay at home parent. You don’t have to be married. You don’t have to have six hours of free time a day. You just have to be willing to make this child a priority in the life you have now.

Wardell Family

Describe a touching moment that makes all the struggles worth it.

We have had 26 children spend time in our home, so I can’t limit it to one moment! We have seen a child who couldn’t talk due to neglect become one who freely expresses his philosophical depths. We have seen a child who was malnourished go from eating 2-3 bites per meal to eating almost a full meal every chance she gets. We have seen a child who was self-harming recover. We have seen a child who once ate his own flip-flop learn to make healthy choices about his helpings at mealtime. We have seen a child who grieved for her father, and that grief moved him to become the man she needed. We have seen a family reconciled, after they had been apart for a year. We have seen 26 children safe.

The CALL county map

To bring The CALL to your county, visit their website for more information.

Meet the

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Arkansas Women Blogger member Stacey Valley is a wife, mom of four girls (two by marriage and two by adoption), and public health professional. She adores her interracial, real-life modern family, and is thankful that her husband Anthony loves her kind of crazy. Cooking is her therapy. She dreams of moving to Italy one day, so you can often find her binging on House Hunters International. Stacey’s life motto is "Live big. Love deep." which is also the name of her blog.

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