When Jason and Mistie Stephens met 3-year-old Emma while volunteering in a special needs classroom at their church, they knew God was calling them to adopt her.
Emma was removed from her biological family with non-accidental trauma and malnutrition, which also left her blind. When the Stephens met her, she was being cared for by another Arrow foster family, but the Stephens instantly connected with her.
“She’s just amazing,” said Mistie Stephens. “We fell in love with her the first day we met her. We thought God had sent her, and we were supposed to adopt her. We didn’t know if she was even available for adoption, and we didn’t know anything about adoption agencies, but that was what God was calling us to do.”
The Stephens trained through Arrow in the hopes that they may one day be able to adopt Emma, and became a respite care provider for her foster family. Even though she was unavailable for adoption at the time, the Stephens were sure Emma was meant to be part of their family.
Over the next two and half years, the Stephens grew closer to Emma. Eventually they became her foster parents, and in time Emma’s birth parents parental rights were terminated. Emma officially became a Stephens on August 7, 2013.
“We just had faith in God that this was God’s will for our life, and we were dependent on him every step of the way,” Mistie said.
Mistie says Emma’s blindness is hardly an issue. She’s always quick to adapt and excels in school. She’s reading braille two grade levels above where she should be, and was added to the school’s Gifted and Talented program this year.
But most of all, she’s just a normal 6-year-old girl.
“She’s so friendly and so happy and bubbly and jumpy,” Mistie said. “She loves princesses and girly things, and bows in her hair, and having her nails painted, and she’s just got a big personality and a love for the Lord,” Mistie said. “She talks about the Lord and about Jesus all the time. She’s just wonderful.”
Emma even inspired the Stephens to become champions for adoption. Before she was even placed with them, they started a foster/adoption ministry at their church, and held a mini-conference where Christian agencies, including Arrow, could give out information on orphan care.
Additionally, they’ll soon begin working with a local children’s home that has 18 foster children placed in its care.
“We’re just doing what God was calling us to do,” Mistie said. “We’re blessed he put this desire in our hearts.”