December 18, 20200

Dona and Marcus Thomas had been fostering for a long, long time before coming to Arrow’s Waco office in 2012. Even though Marcus is 75 years-old, and Dona is 68 years-old, they’ve never let their age get in the way of loving on kids who need them.

Just a few weeks ago, Dona and Marcus welcomed their 100th foster child into their home. During the placement, Dona demonstrated her baby whispering skills when she was able to quickly calm down the newly arrived baby, while another child in her care lay contentedly on a cozy blanket nearby. As Dona snuggled her newest arrival in her arms, she shared with Arrow staff, “We are so honored to love on all of the babies!

With the stress the pandemic is causing, there are more and more children, of all ages, entering foster care. The system is overwhelmed and there just are not enough new families to help give each child a home. The most challenging, is finding homes for foster teens and sibling groups. Please share this email with anyone you know who might consider fostering. We have regular, live information webinars that share basic info about foster care and answer any questions. Details are online at www.arrow.org/meeting.


July 24, 20200

The Orokawa Foundation has been a long-time supporter of Tangram, our Maryland school for students with autism. They’ve provided funds to: build a wonderful playground, upgrade the school’s technology, and make a variety of enhancements over the past several years. Like other foundations, they provide funds to many non-profit organizations who apply for grants. But recently, The Orokawa Foundation reversed the process when they reached out to Tangram. Knowing it’s been very difficult on students, their families, and Tangram staff not to be together at school, they wanted to encourage everybody. The staff at the foundation wanted to surprise Tangram families with boxes filled with fun things for the students and items for the whole family, including gift cards to the local restaurants (Orokawa also wanted to support local businesses at the same time).

The Tangram staff were tasked to ask their families about needs, likes, preferences without letting on about the surprise to come. Items were purchased, boxes were filled with items specifically chosen for each family. On the outside of the boxes, Tangram staff wrote message to students. Then Tangram staff delivered the boxes! The impact was incredible, and the families were so appreciative.

Parent Jennifer Bishop shares how her son Nate was impacted, “Nate looked at his box this morning. He was so excited by it!!! He went for the ball first, and threw it all around the house before returning to look at the other stuff. Each time he took something out, he played with it for a long time, so he only got halfway through the box today before his speech therapy by zoom. He showed several things to Christina on zoom. He will open the rest tomorrow. He was absolutely delighted with everything he saw and it gave me so much joy to see! I was also grateful for the gift card and touched by all the messages written on the box.”


July 23, 20200

Susanna and Doug knew they wanted to adopt a child who needed a family “someday.” But after going through fertility treatment, two unsuccessful pregnancies, and Susanna being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, “someday” quickly became “right now.”

They began by reviewing the children listed on the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE) website, which has profiles of nearly 1,000 children in foster care who are available for adoption.

“We actually fell in love with a sibling group of three,” said Susanna. “That’s when we decided we definitely wanted a sibling group. We thought it was going to be a perfect match. We took it as a sign that this is what we were supposed to do. So, we started the adoption process with these three kids in mind.”

They didn’t realize the investment of time and effort it was going to take. Six months later, on the very day they became certified, Doug and Susanna received word that the three children they thought were their perfect match, were matched with another family.

“We were too late,” Susanna explained. “I was devastated. I thought, ‘but there was a sign! They were supposed to be with us!’ So, we had to take a step back. But we realized it’s not just about us, it’s about kids who need a family and how we can help.”

Their next challenge would soon present itself. They were asked if they would consider a “legal risk” adoption. Which meant there was a possibility that the birth parents could get their children back.

“That was something we really had to pray about,” Susanna shared. We’ve had friends who fostered, and it was very difficult on them when their foster kids returned home. But we agreed to consider a legal risk adoption.”

Susanna is a 34-year-old high school assistant principal and Doug is a 37-year-old former Marine turned software manager, so they were prepared for, and opened to, any age, any group, any ethnicity. They even “put in” for a set of 17-year-old twins!

“During the year long process, it was heartbreaking to see all the emails, week after week, of all the kids that really needed a family,” explained Susanna. “So, we just put our name out there for a lot of different kids and sibling groups, all ages and ethnicities.”

They were eventually matched with an infant, and were told they were in the “final staffing.” The decision had been narrowed down between them and one other couple. They excitedly bought a crib and got everything ready, just in case.

“We were not chosen,” said Susanna. “Again, we were heartbroken. Just devastated. Doug and I talked about it…is this for us, this never-ending cycle of heartbreak? Gregory (their Arrow adoption coordinator) told us, ‘Look, when it’s right, you wouldn’t have imagined it any other way.’ My mom told me, ‘I don’t know why, but God is telling me that you don’t know the whole story.’”

Doug and Susanna took a break to allow for their own emotional healing, but after about six months they decided, “No, this is what we really want to do.” So, they “put their name in” on a set of six-month-old twin baby boys…it was a “legal risk” adoption.

“We mostly looked at sibling groups of three or four,” said Susanna. “We just wanted to help some kids and we wanted to have a family. We didn’t have any expectations of matching or not matching.”

It came as a complete surprise when three weeks later, Gregory called to let Doug and Susanna know that they were in the “final staffing” for the twins. The day the decision was being made between Doug and Susanna and the other family, Susanna was at her school giving a presentation to a group of 20 teachers. Her phone rang. She excused herself to take the call, but by the time she reached the hallway to answer her phone, the caller had hung up. Susanna decided to finish her presentation while she was still composed, and then return the call in case it wasn’t good news again.

“I wasn’t able to get a hold of anybody,” Susanna explained. “I finally called Doug and he asked if I had talked with Gregory. I told him ‘no’. But apparently after they couldn’t reach me, they had called Doug. He said, “We got them.” When I realized the twins were ours, I screamed, I was dancing in the parking lot at school. I was crying and the teachers started coming out to see what was going on.”

Despite all the excitement, there was still the possibility the twins could be reunited with their birth parents if they fulfilled the court’s orders, which included overcoming their drug addiction.

Doug and Susanna made 11 trips total between their location and three hours away, where the twins were being fostered, to begin the bonding process. Their first trip to be with the twins was a four-hour visit, then eight hours, then an “overnighter,” then weekends, and a whole week.

The boy’s foster parents had some concerns about the Susanna and Doug having pets at home since the twins had respiratory issues after being born premature. So, during one of their trips to see the boys, they drove the them to two hours to another large city to see an allergist and a respiratory specialist, and paid out of their pockets to have the twins tested for allergies. Everything came back negative, so the pets weren’t a concern.

Now came the most significant threat to the adoption being consummated. The birth parents decided they were going to fight for custody. A court date was set for a permanency hearing.

The day before the hearing, the call came that nobody was expecting. The birth parents had looked through the Susana and Doug’s life book, realized what awesome parents they were and what kind of life they could give the boys…and they relinquished their rights!

“We just broke down of course,” said Susanna. “Lots of tears, and just realizing, we only had to wait six more months and these two beautiful boys would be ours!”

They made the three hour trip to where the boys lived for the adoption. It was the last day the court would be open for two months because of the pandemic, and Susanna and Doug were scheduled to be the last court case of the day.

“Our lawyer asked which of us would respond to her questions when we go before the judge,” said Susanna. “Of course, it’s me. I’m quite the talker. So, we walked into the court room, and immediately I started bawling. I was incapacitated. I couldn’t say one word. It was tears of joy and relief, knowing they’re finally going to be our boys. It was healing. I cannot imagine our lives without these boys. They’re perfect for us, and we’re perfect for them…and it’s…it’s amazing! Gregory was right, I could not imagine it any other way.

“When we saw the picture of our boys in an email broadcast, we took a chance and leap of faith to love more and believe in something bigger. We never imagined our life where it is right now. Our house is chaotic and cluttered with toys. We have two of everything. We are exhausted (lol). But…we got to experience our boys first steps, the first time they said mama, their first teeth (that was rough times two).

“This week Jacob ran up to me and held my hand as I was walking out to get the mail, and I just about burst. I live for these “small” moments now. Our hearts and our arms are so full. This whole experience brought both of our extended families together, and Doug and I as well, in such an amazing way. Bradley and Jacob have completely stolen their papa’s and gramma’s hearts.

“Originally when we started this process, we thought we may not be chosen because of our demanding careers. But now I’d tell anybody, you can have both. You can love your job and love your kids. I am so glad we said ‘yes,’ because although, in a way, foster parents save kids’ lives…in reality, it’s more like they save ours.”


August 16, 20190

When Aurora and Michael met 10 years ago, it didn’t take long for the conversation to include plans for a potential future family. In fact, they had only known each other for about four hours when Aurora said, “You know, I’ve always seen myself adopting…but older kids. I don’t mind having bio children, but I’ve always had a heart for older kids, older teenagers.”

Aurora had been a motivational speaker for students. She was one of the female youth directors at the church she attended while in seminary.  Even as a teenager, she worked with teenagers in a leadership role in high school. So wanting to adopt teens was just a progression of where her heart was.

The fact that Michael didn’t flinch at the idea of adopting teenagers, and instead indicated that he would “love that,” pretty much sealed the deal, and they were married in November 2009.

Around that same time, two sisters and their younger brother were placed into their first foster home. The three Hispanic siblings, ages 7-10, would be placed in five more foster homes over the next eight years and wind up living in a group facility before becoming available for adoption. But God had a plan for Brenda, Gracie, and Gerson, which started with the siblings never being separated during their entire ordeal in the foster care system. A miracle in itself.

As Aurora and Michael began their life together, they weren’t in a hurry to have their own children or adopt. They agreed to wait until they felt like it was the right time to add to their family. About six years later, the time to adopt seemed to arrive.

Aurora and Michael are both half Hispanic and have family and friends in Mexico. One of those friends, who was finishing college in the US, was in town. When Aurora answered the knock on the door, her friend was visibly upset and crying. She said her sister was pregnant, and they were desperately searching for a home for the baby when it arrived. Aurora was asked if she would take the baby.

Aurora immediately thought, “Wait, we wanted teenagers, what happened?”  Aurora told her friend she would talk to Michael about it, but they had lots of friends who would love to have a baby.

When she told Michael, his response was somewhat in jest, “Someone offered you a baby and you didn’t take it!” Aurora wasn’t against adopting a baby, she had just prepared herself for teenagers. So, she called her friend to accept the baby into their family.

They immediately began preparing. Aurora left the photography business, they cleared their calendars for the next six months, Michael took maternity leave at work, and they were getting all the baby things ready. Then their world came crashing down. With six days left during the period when the birth mother could change her mind…she did.

Devastated, Aurora said, “The baby was gone. We were just standing in the house and thinking, what do we do now?”

The Bradfords got on with their lives. But at that point, they were not going to consider adoption again.

After about a year, out of the blue, Michael asked Aurora if she would like to attend a CPS meeting about adoption. She nonchalantly said, sure. Aurora had a girlfriend who was a foster mom that was looking for more respite providers, so she thought, “we’ll just do respite now and get our feet wet.” But then she heard about the need for more foster families at the meeting.

“I remember sitting at that table, and we were told there was like 13,000 kids in foster care and Texas was in the middle of a crisis,” said Aurora. “At that time, there was a newspaper article about children sleeping on floors in the CPS offices, and how there was a desperate need for homes for these kids.”

Suddenly, adoption was back on the table!

At the meeting, they were presented with a list of potential agencies and the Bradfords emailed Arrow and two other agencies. With Aurora’s driven nature to get things done, she decided whichever agency had the next available class to attend, that’s who they would go with. As the greater plan continued to unfold, Arrow’s staff emailed Aurora with info on a class that was being held the very next day. Of the two other agencies, one never contacted the Bradfords and the other one responded long after the Bradfords already had children in their home.

After being licensed, the Bradfords submitted their interest on several different sibling groups. Then they received information on a sibling group of three: Brenda, Gracie and Gerson. Aurora hesitated because the youngest was 12.  “Oh, I don’t know,” Aurora said. “They’ll probably find somebody to adopt them. I really want older kids that are harder to place.”

The Bradfords actually passed on the opportunity to submit their interest in adopting the trio. Later, Aurora had a change of heart, but the deadline had already passed. Arrow staff told Aurora, “Oh it doesn’t hurt. We can go ahead and submit. The worst they can say is ‘no.’”

As the plan progressed, the Bradfords were chosen by the adoption selection committee. “In our minds, they were already our kids,” Michael proclaimed.  Aurora added, “We just had to wait on the paperwork from CPS so we could read their history and sign the papers saying we would take them with their background.”

During the four months the Bradfords waited for the CPS paperwork, they passed on two other sibling groups. The “sales pitch” on one of the groups was, even though there are five children, they’re all younger and would be easier than adopting three teens.

“That’s not why I’m here,” Arora declared. “They thought we couldn’t have our own bio kids. We were very capable of having our own, but I wanted to be the solution to a problem instead of hoping someone else would do it.”

The Bradfords were more determined than ever to “fight” for Brenda, Gracie, and Gerson. So when the 4,086 pages of background information on the kids finally arrived, Aurora and Michael split the stack of paper and pulled an “all-nighter” reading every single page.

“I was looking for examples of sneaking out, or drinking, and things like that,” Aurora said. “I was so perplexed. Everything in the report was just regular teen stuff that all kids do. There was nothing bad in the report.  So we signed on the dotted line.”

The kids were living in a shelter in the Houston area, and the Bradfords lived in Dallas. After meeting the kids, Brenda, the oldest, let the Bradfords know she didn’t want to leave in the middle of the school semester, so it was decided the kids would stay in the shelter until the end of school.

Before the kids came for their first visit, Aurora went to great lengths to prepare their bedrooms so it would feel like “home” to them. She painted the walls, hung an old, fun chandelier in the girls’ room and embroidered the girls’ names on their pillowcases. “I wanted their room to have the feel of a five-star hotel…glamorous and beautiful,” said Aurora.  “For Gerson’s room, I put a big “G” on the wall and since he as a big reader, we gave him three bookshelves in his room, each eight feet long.”

On their first trip to Dallas, the girls gasped when they saw their room and their names embroidered on the pillows. When Aurora saw Gerson struggling with his big, heavy bag and a backpack, she pointed out that his sisters were sharing one backpack and she asked him what he was bringing for the weekend. Gerson told her, “They’re my books. I’m moving in.”

“Michael and would I drive down to Houston every other weekend and bring the kids back to Dallas,” Aurora explained. “We’d leave after work on Friday, and have the kids to our home around midnight. We’d have a great time together on Saturday, then leave about 4:00 Sunday afternoon, drop them off and be home by 1:00 in the morning.”

The Bradfords made the round trip to Houston twice a month from January until May. Many times, they would make multiple trips in a week to attend all of the kids’ events, like the other parents did. Then school finally ended and Aurora, Michael, and the kids made their last trip from the shelter to Dallas.

Brenda, Gracie, and Gerson officially became Bradfords on the November 3, 2017, National Adoption Day.  Since then all three kids have just blossomed.

Brenda, now 18 years old, will be attending Texas State University. She’s not sure what she wants to study, but she’s considering social work as her major.

Gracie (16) and Gerson (15) are taking dual college credit classes from the local community college while being homeschooled. When they both graduate in December 2019, they’ll each start college with 27 hours of college credit.

Gerson was invited to take a private tour of the College of Engineering at the University of North Texas. As the Department Head and one of the professors were giving Gerson and Aurora the tour, they sat in on a class where Gerson raised a question that demonstrated his grasp of the topic. Later Aurora asked Gerson if he understood what they were talking about, and he replied, “I understood what they were doing, but I just didn’t understand how they got to that point.” Gerson has his eye on computer science.

Gracie has shown the greatest transformation of the three kids. As the one who rarely spoke up and complied with others, she stunned Aurora and Michael when she came bounding down the stairs to tell her them she needed to buy a dress because she had been accepted for an interview to enter the Miss Teen Texas, which is part of the National American Miss organization. Gracie had taken the initiative to apply online, and was about to embark on an incredible journey.

The day of the pageant, Aurora shares the scope of Gracie’s transformation, “When we met this girl she said a handful of words a day. Last year, she was almost in tears at the idea of speaking to a crowd of people. Today she is not only giving speeches to large audiences, she is presenting herself to people as a role model for other girls. Winning the crown would be exciting, but what all the people in that room tonight don’t know is, this little girl had all the odds against her just a couple years ago. She told me once that she stopped dreaming about her future because she knew it would never happen. Now, all she talks about is what she wants to do and what part of the world she wants to see next. She represents 68 of the bravest girls in Texas. Little Gracie has become a completely different girl. She is Gracie Bradford and she is our winner!”


August 13, 20190

Residents at Freedom Place helped plan a red carpet themed banquet to celebrate the successful end of their school year. The original idea came from one of the residents who mentioned the wish to a staff member. The promise was made that it could be done and it was going to take a group of dedicated staff and volunteers to try and pull it off. Everyone knew the importance of following through to help build healthy relationships with the residents. They couldn’t let her down or the other residents!

It was time to get to work, the resident had shared her ideas on a storyboard outlining the entire event, down to every detail, including the theme and color scheme. Staff and volunteers started asking for donations. The volunteers from Golden Shears Salon in Spring, Texas heard about the idea. The stylists were so moved by the resident’s initiative and creativity, they decided to collaborate and get in on the planning and even volunteered to provide hairstyling and makeup for attendees on the night of the event.

That was just one of the items on the list that could be checked off. The biggest cost would be finding gowns to fit each of the residents. Golden Shears salon referred staff to a non-profit formal dress shopping program, called Ashley’s Cinderella Closet. Ashley, a local high school student, started it after Hurricane Harvey for students to attend their end of school year events and collected dresses from across the US. The need was still evident after the initial endeavor and Ashley continues to collect the gowns from donors and passes on the kindness by sharing them with those who need them for special events. Freedom Place’s event fit the need she would want to fill. When Ashley was contacted she readily agreed to help find the residents formal dresses. She provided multiple fittings and stylings of gowns for the residents to find their perfect dress, at no cost to Freedom Place. Ashley’s Cinderella Closet didn’t stop with providing the dresses in fact the whole family got involved. They provided beautiful decorations and paid to have a meal catered on the night of the event from a nearby Italian restaurant.

The night of the Oscar-worthy event was memorable! All of the residents looked and felt amazing in their gowns. The residents received special awards prepared by their staff and beautiful gift bags from a volunteer, Camy. Each of the residents was celebrated and had their picture taken, by volunteers, Amy and Becky, to commemorate the special day! And it turned out to be a very special time for the residents, staff, and volunteers. Everyone’s passion to see a resident’s wish granted turned into a very fun and formal evening that made great memories for them all!


August 30, 20180

At the age of 30, Chris and Stephanie Johnson had their first child. Three years later they wanted to grow their family, but they soon discovered adoption was the only way it could happen. They didn’t have the $30,000 to $60,000 it would take for a private adoption, so they put it in God’s hands, and for nearly a decade they just went on with their lives. That is until last year, when God used a truck in need of repairs and the flooding of Hurricane Harvey to fulfill Chris and Stephanie’s greatest desire.

In March of 2017, Stephanie began feeling the pull to complete her family. Even though Chris thought after 10 years they had waited too long, Stephanie hopefully said, “No, let’s just pray about it.”

“Okay, God is going to show a sign,” Stephanie told Chris. “God is going to start opening the doors. When he does, are you ready?” Chris was onboard, but neither of them dreamed it would be just three months later when doors would start opening.

Chris was at the car dealership in Winne, Texas where he was the service manager, when Gregory Wysingle, an adoption coordinator for Arrow came in for truck repairs. Gregory had been on his way to court to participate in a case to have parental rights terminated when he realized he had pushed his luck too far with his truck. It had to be repaired now, even though he was far from home.
During their conversation, Gregory shared that he facilitates adoptions for children in the foster care system. And Chris shared that he and Stephanie had been praying that God would provide a way for them to adopt.

“When Chris came home, he laid Gregory’s business card on the counter,” said Stephanie. “I was in the middle of dinner. Dylan (their 15 year-old son) wasn’t having a good day. And when Chris told me he had a visitor today, I sarcastically told him…you have visitors every day. He said it was a special visitor, and I told him, yeah, I really don’t want to hear about it right now.”

So Chris just left the business card on the counter and went to change clothes. Stephanie looked at the card and saw Gregory’s title.

“So here I go chasing Chris through the house,” said Stephanie. “He told me about Gregory and that he was willing to come to the house to give us more information.”

When Gregory explained all the subsidies adoptable foster children qualified for, and the minimal cost to the adoptive parents, Chris and Stephanie were ready. But then Stephanie described the child she wanted to adopt, and Gregory explained it didn’t work like that. Stephanie needed time to process the idea that she wouldn’t be able to get the child she had longed for over the past 10 years.

Chris and Stephanie discussed the adoption opportunity during a long driving trip all the way to and from Florida. They agreed to hit the ground running as soon as they got back. They completed their foster parent training in just four weeks, and a month later they were licensed foster parents. Thinking they had several months to prepare for their first foster child, they were surprised when in just a matter of days they got the phone call.

“She asked me if we would take a respite,” said Stephanie. “I told her I must have slept through that part of the class, and I asked, what is a respite?”

Stephanie was told there was a foster family that had a 4 year-old girl named Destany, who just needed a temporary place to stay for five days. Even though everyone in southeast Texas, including the Johnsons, were getting ready for Hurricane Harvey, Stephanie agreed to take Destany…for five days.

Destany’s foster mom called Stephanie to arrange the transfer. She explained that Destany’s brother had medical issues, which meant lots of doctor visits. And because of all the attention her brother was needing, Destany would act-out with self-inflicted scratches, and self-inflicted head wounds. The mom would continue to foster Destany’s brother (and later adopt him), but Destany was just too much for her to handle.

“When I got off the phone, I thought, oh my dear lord, what have I gotten myself into,” said Stephanie. “Then when I went to pick up Destany, the foster mom brought more than just a few changes of clothes. She brought all of Destany’s belongings.”

When Stephanie called the Arrow Beaumont office for clarification, she was told that the foster mom couldn’t handle the children by herself anymore and they wouldn’t be going back. Arrow explained they were hoping to find a placement for Destany during the five days she would be with the Johnsons, but that the foster mom had been specifically told not to bring all the child’s belongings.

That night, the flooding of Hurricane Harvey started. The next morning Stephanie and Chris were having a cup of coffee and watching the hurricane updates when they heard the pitter patter of little feet coming down the hallway. Destany turned the corner, threw up her hands and exclaimed, “Momma, I’m home!”

Stephanie looked at Chris and said, “What do we do? She’s not home. She’s only here for five days!”

They attempted to discourage her, but Destany wasn’t buying it. And when Stephanie told her their first names, Destany said, “No. Mommy. Daddy.” And after introducing their 15 year-old son Dylan, Destany instead, called him “bubba.” Destany was very emphatic and could not be swayed.

Then five days turned into 10, then 15. This was Destany’s fifth placement since entering foster care at 16 months-old, and Stephanie told Chris that something had to be done.

“Are you ready to let her go,” asked Chris.

“No, that’s the problem,” said Stephanie. “She’s forming a bond with us. And if they don’t move her, it’s only going to hurt her more, and it’s going to devastate me.”

Once all the flooding receded, a CPS caseworker came to do a home visit so Destany could stay, but she wanted Stephanie and Chris to also take Destany’s younger brother. But Stephanie explained that Destany had not once acted out or hurt herself since being away from her brother, and they weren’t going to disrupt Destany’s progress by bringing her brother into their home. The caseworker went back to her office and explained to her supervisor the remarkable change in Destany. They decided to arrange a conference call between the CPS staff and Arrow staff to decide if the siblings should be separated.

“On the day of the conference call I was on pins and needles,” said Stephanie. “I was just watching the clock and praying. Then the phone rang. They said I could tell Destany she was home. So when she woke up, I told her she was home, that she wasn’t going to have to move anymore, and that this was her home forever. She looked at me with the biggest grin, and said, ‘I know that.’ Then turned around and walked off.”

After delaying the adoption because of Chris’ mother being ill, the adoption was consummated on June 28, 2018, Destany’s fifth birthday. Along with her new family, she now has a new name, Alivia Joy, who on day one with the Johnsons, prophetically proclaimed…“Momma, I’m home!”


March 19, 20180

Jeannie Dye has fostered 45 children over the course of nearly 11 years with Arrow, including several sibling groups, but her current situation is turning into something she’s never experienced before.

Just like all the other kids Jeannie has fostered, the one, two and three-year-old siblings in her home are being loved on as if they were her own, but for the first time, she feels called by God to do more…not for the kids, but for their 23-year-old mom.

“I’d been fighting it for a couple of months,” explained Jeannie. “But God kept saying, ‘Jeannie, you’ve just got to help this mom.’ I didn’t realize why God was telling me this, but I finally said, ‘Okay God, if this is what you’re telling me, then I’m going to help this mom.’”

Jeannie hadn’t met the kids’ mom or dad. All she knew was the information CPS had shared with her. But like she does with all the parents of her foster kids, as soon as she knows they’re really trying to get their kids back, Jeannie let’s CPS know it’s okay for the parents to join her for doctor appointments and be part of other similar parenting responsibilities. Jeannie feels if the parents are going to get their children back, they need to have these types of hands-on parenting experiences.

“After a little bit, the kids’ mom started coming to the doctor visits,” said Jeannie. “We could tell she really, really enjoyed being part of it. And she couldn’t understand why somebody was actually letting her come. She was very thankful. And she never asked for anything.”

The children’s mother had no idea that God was about to use Jeannie to help her meet the CPS requirements for her apartment to be considered ready, so she could take her kids back home.

“She works at a fast food restaurant,” said Jeannie. “That’s not a lot of money for her to be able to get her three kids back. And I started thinking, ‘she’s being set up to fail!’ She’s going to have to have daycare. She doesn’t have a car. How is she going to take care of these kids?”

Jeannie was determined that before the three toddlers went back home, their mom was going to have everything she needed, and more, to successfully keep them from ever returning to foster care. So she sent out the word, and help started coming in.

Some people, like Jeannie’s cousin and a foster mom in another city sent cash, others like her own parents purchased and donated needed items. But they all wanted to be part of “lovin’ on this mom.” Jeannie was able to collect a triple stroller, a car seat, high chair, three months of diapers and pullups, summer clothing, enough sheets, and blankets for three beds so the mom would only need to wash sheets once a week. And Jeannie gathered enough food to stock the young mother’s pantry to show CPS that she was ready to get her kids back.

“We all just wanted to be an encouragement to this mom,” said Jeannie. “So I got a card, put everybody’s first name in it, and put it in a Bible to give to her, along with everything we’ve collected. And I’ll tell her, when you’re feeling down or like you can’t to it, or that nobody loves you, I want you to take out this card and see that…’Ms Jeannie loves me…Ms Brenda loves me…Ms Brenda doesn’t even know me, but she loves me and my kids. James and Carol, who are they? I have no idea, but they love me and my kids, and they want to see me succeed!’”

On Monday, February 26th, Jeannie surprised the kids’ mom with all the donated items during a CPS visit. Jeannie said she was very surprised and very thankful. But the encouragement kept coming.

When the next step of overnight and weekend visits come, Jeannie told the children’s mom to send all the kids’ dirty clothes and sheets back to her, and Jennie would have everything washed when she returned to get the kids. When Jeannie presented the idea to CPS to get their okay, they said, “Sure! Nobody’s asked that before.”

“God is involved with every day,” said Jeannie. “From the moment we wake up until we go to sleep and the time in between. I’m praying for God to continue making a difference in this mom’s life as she’s about to get these three kiddos back, because I don’t want to see her kids come back into care. Hopefully I get to continue lovin’ on these babies and encouraging their mom after the kids leave, if not, I’ve got to just put it in God’s hands and continue praying for them.”

Jeannie is a single mom fostering with Arrow’s Arlington office. She currently has five children in her home, including her own eight-year-old son. But you wouldn’t be able to tell which child is hers by the way she spreads a thick layer of love on all the kids in her home. As she puts it, “They’re ALL my kids. Oh my gosh. They are all my kids!”


December 12, 20170

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Hank Whitman presented Jon Mark McMullen, VP of Arrow Health Solutions, and a three-man DPS flight crew with the prestigious Commissioner’s Award of Excellence for their heroic efforts to deliver life-saving formula to a foster family trapped by hurricane Harvey flooding. This is the first time this award has been presented to someone outside of the TDFPS. As the commissioner indicated, the only reason TDPFS had zero fatalities during Harvey was because of Jon Mark’s determination, his persistence, and his heart to serve. Read his incredible story below.


The 30 day supply of doctor prescribed formula should have been delivered two days earlier to Arrow foster parent, Tammy Leger in Lumberton, Texas but flooding from Harvey made any shipments impossible. The special formula is for children with impaired GI function, and Tammy’s boys were running out. If she didn’t get the formula soon, her children would not survive.

Tammy, like many Arrow foster parents, receives her medical supplies through Arrow Health Solutions, which donates all proceeds to the programs and services of Arrow Child & Family Ministries. The vice president of Arrow Health Solutions, Jon Mark McMullen was contacted by Tammy’s insurance company Superior Health Plan to devise a plan for getting the desperately needed formula to Tammy.

Jon Mark immediately began calling all hospitals, emergency medical facilities, pharmacies, durable medical equipment companies, and other retail vendors in the Lumberton area to find any formula that Tammy could access. But there were no local facilities that stocked or could even acquire the Peptamen Jr 1.5 formula, and even facilities in Houston were not able to help.

Then after contacting a registered dietician to look for an alternative equivalent formula that could be used for a few days until the prescribed formula could arrive, Jon Mark obtained a verbal prescription order from a doctor for the alternative formula. Then the search began for a local supply of that formula. The results were the same. None was available.

The only thing left to do was for Jon Mark to obtain a supply of the formula in Austin, Texas where he lived, and personally drive it to Lumberton just north of Beaumont. But when he arrived, the bridge he needed to cross to get to Lumberton had collapsed, and the Department of Public Safety had the road to the bridge blocked. After speaking with DPS troopers, he got permission to proceed to a staging area where boats were being used to ferry people and supplies. But the current of the rushing water had increased so much that the rescue boats were capsizing and authorities halted all the boating efforts.

Jon Mark was not dissuaded. He immediately began calling helicopter touring companies in the area, but they were all being used by FEMA to medivac patients from Beaumont. So
he obtained alternate driving routes from DPS troopers, and for six hours he attempted to find a way through to get the formula to Tammy and her kids. But flood waters had shut down all access to Lumberton.

About 8:00 Friday night, Jon Mark contacted Arrow’s CEO, Scott Lundy and let him know that all efforts to deliver the formula had been exhausted, and they needed to use Scott’s contacts to get access to a helicopter. Scott called TDFPS Commissioner Hank Whitman, who is also the former chief of the Texas Rangers, and within minutes DPS Air Command called Jon Mark. He would have his helicopter.

After coordinating a pickup location with DPS Air Command, and arranging for a landing zone with the Lumberton Fire Department, Jon Mark personally delivered the box of formula to Tammy’s waiting child.

Tammy posted on her Facebook page, “(Jon Mark) somehow managed to coordinate with a DPS helicopter and the Lumberton Fire Department to hand deliver the boys formula to us at the fire station. I am amazed! I am so indescribably thankful for everything everyone did to bring this scary situation to an end. Jon Mark you went above and beyond!!!


October 17, 20170

Anita Eggerson never dreamed she would be able to own a four-bedroom home with 2,600 square feet, on a half-acre of land. But she knew in her heart, her new home was a blessing directly from the Lord.

“There is no way a single woman should be able to do what I did,” explained Anita. “Standing on my deck, I asked God, ‘I know you gave this to me for a reason. I’m thanking you, but what am I supposed to do with all this. It’s big!’”

The very next day at church, Anita was doing what she always does, engaging the kids in the youth program. By the laughter and interaction, it was evident Anita has a natural ability to connect with teens.

She caught the attention of fellow church member Amy Anderson, Arrow’s program director over foster care in Amarillo. Amy complimented Anita on being “really good” with kids and suggested she check out Arrow’s foster care program. She invited Anita to one of their meetings just to hear what they had to say.

“I went, and of course I enjoyed it,” said Anita. “I loved what I saw and just how much energy they had, and how much passion they had for the kids. And I was like, ‘I want to be part of that!’”

Since becoming an Arrow foster parent, Anita has brought into her big home six teenagers and two preschoolers. But as Anita shares, “I feel my knack is with teenagers. I can reach them.”

Matthew was one of her greatest challenges, which became one of her greatest blessings.

Matthew came into foster care with his sister in 2010. The following year, the two were separated and Matthew’s sister was adopted. After losing contact with his sister, Matthew was devastated and begin to have social difficulties. He didn’t have many friends, his school worked suffered, and he frequently skipped classes.

The number of foster homes and shelters Matthew had been placed in over the years are too numerous to count. In 2016, Matthew became one of those kids who had to sleep in a CPS office because there was no place for him to go. An emergency statewide placement request went out to find a place for Matthew, and Arrow’s residential program in Amarillo had an opening for Matthew. But his downward spiral continued.

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