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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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August 8, 2017

 

 

The medical staff at the hospital said the newborn wouldn’t live for more than a couple of weeks. But they hadn’t met the tenacious Tiffany Ross yet.

Tony and Tiffany Ross had married very young, but they stuck together through the struggles, and reached the point where they were content and happy with their lives. Tony had a good job, they had a nice house, and Tiffany was a stay-at-home mom raising their three kids.

In obedience to God’s calling to foster children in need, Tony and Tiffany have fostered about 25 kids over the years. “We both agreed, we don’t need a bigger family, we don’t want a bigger family,” said Tiffany. “We are fostering. That’s our ministry. That’s what God has called us to do.”

They understood their role was to take in broken children with various limitations, do what was necessary to see them healed and whole, and transition them to their forever adoptive home. But through a series of signs they couldn’t ignore, God changed their ministry to include adoption.

Tony and Tiffany have since adopted Joshua now four years-old, and Gracelyn now 3 years-old. Because of state regulations, another adoption would close their home to foster care. Since they wanted to continue fostering, Tony and Tiffany weren’t planning to adopt again. Not until a series of miracles indicated there was one more child who desperately needed them.

Tiffany was convinced that God wanted them to foster a child who had been diagnosed with a terminal condition. On a Friday, while driving to a couple’s retreat, she called Arrow’s State Director of Health Care Services Sharon Kiely to ask if there was a need for a foster home like that. Sharon told her there wasn’t that need right now, but if God was speaking to her heart, He was preparing her. Since Tony had not received the same message, Tiffany asked Sharon to pray for them as they considered taking in a child and loving on them during their last days.

The very next day, a little boy who was scheduled to be adopted was born in Amarillo, Texas, but because of a defect, the doctors didn’t expect Braylen to live more than a couple of weeks. Of course, the adoption agency backed out of the planned adoption. And two days later, Braylen’s mother abandoned him at the hospital.

The very next day, 650 miles away in Beaumont, Texas, Tony lets Tiffany know he also has heard from God, and they need to prepare to minister to a terminally ill child.

The very next day, Child Protective Services calls Sharon at Arrow asking about a possible home for Braylen. Sharon immediately called Tiffany. Tiffany responded, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

The very next day, the medical staff, social services staff, along with Tiffany and Tony conferred on Braylen’s condition. It was decided that Tiffany would fly to Amarillo to bring Braylen back to Beaumont.

The very next day, exactly one week after calling to ask about the need for families to foster terminal children, the CPS supervisor and case worker picked up Tiffany at the Amarillo airport, and took her directly to the hospital. Shortly after arriving, Tiffany shared contact information for the Texas Children’s Comprehensive Care Clinic in Houston. The nurse called the clinic to schedule an appointment for Braylen when they were back home. Normally, an appointment wouldn’t be available for weeks to months, but the clinic was able to see Braylen as soon as they returned, first thing Monday morning at 9:00 am.

Tiffany spent the night with Braylen, and it couldn’t have gone better. Braylen had not been able to finish a full bottle of formula and was being fed through an NG tube. But through the night, and into the next morning, Tiffany was able to get Braylen to take four full bottles. The doctors ordered the NG tube removed.

The very next day, Tiffany and Braylen spent time cuddling and getting to know each other. The connection was instantaneous, Tiffany completely fell in love with this little miracle. Before they left the hospital, the doctor told Tiffany that even though they initially thought Braylen would not be able to survive for more than a couple of weeks at the most, now they really weren’t sure because of his incredible response to Tiffany.

Later that day, when Tiffany arrived at the airport, she noticed things seemed strangely quiet, especially since it was the Christmas season. No people coming or going. The airport seemed almost deserted. As she walked down the hallway with Braylen in her arms, she began to hear singing. She turned and looked into a glass room, and there she saw the back of a choir on risers. They were singing about the newborn Christ-child, “Away in a Manger.”

At the ticket counter, the agent mentioned how precious and tiny Braylen was, and Tiffany responded by telling the agent she was concerned that the flight might be painful for Braylen. The agent assured her that he would be fine. Prior to take off, the pilot and another crew member came back to Tiffany’s seat to talk with her. They understood Braylen had just come from the hospital and that she was concerned about the effects of altitude pressure. The pilot explained that he found a lower altitude that they were cleared for, so he would be able to fly at a level that would have the least possible impact on Braylen. Then the pilot escorted Tiffany and Braylen to first class.

As they flew home through the dark, Tiffany looked down at the clouds and watched a beautiful glowing light below the clouds that led them on their way home.
At Braylen’s Monday morning doctor’s appointment, the prognosis was the same. Braylen had Hydranencephaly and was still considered terminal, with no prediction on how long he might survive.

Within the first month, Braylen’s head started growing exponentially. It surpassed the second and third percentile, and continued to grow until it was no longer measurable for his age category.

Braylen desperately needed surgery to relieve the building pressure in his head, but the earliest the surgeon would attempt it would be at the age of six to nine months. Braylen was 1 month old.

“Braylen was in such pain, he would scream day and night,” Tiffany said. “I stayed with him during the day until Tony came home at 5:00 or 6:00 and I would sleep until midnight. Then I’d stay up all night with Braylen while Tony slept. Tony would go to work in the morning and we’d do the same thing all over again.”

The situation finally escalated to the point where Tony and Tiffany had to take Braylen to the emergency room. While they were waiting for all the consults, Braylen started sundowning. Changes in his condition were changing so rapidly, the hospital admitted them.

The surgeon and two teams examined Braylen and came to the conclusion that Braylen’s discomfort wasn’t from increased intracranial pressure, but was just acid reflux. They put him on Tylenol around the clock and anti-reflux medication. Tiffany wasn’t buying it. She told them, “We’re not going home until we have a happy baby.”

After Tony and Tiffany spoke with another doctor, and after getting patient advocates involved, the surgeon finally agreed to put in a shunt to relieve the intracranial pressure.

When the doctor came out of surgery to let Tiffany and Tony know how the surgery went, he told them that when they pierced the membrane in Braylen’s head, there was quite a bit of pressure that was released. Tiffany thanked him for acknowledging and confirming her diagnosis.

“Braylen was a completely different kid,” said Tiffany. “He was happy. His head growth reverted to a normal growth rate. But even though the procedure brought relief, Braylen still had the looming ‘terminal’ label.”

At their next follow up visit with the surgeon, Tony and Tiffany meet with a palliative care team, who would help keep Braylen comfortable as the end of life came near. They also encourage Tony and Tiffany to prearrange funeral services, which they did. And then they consulted with the Gift of Life team about organ donation.

But Tiffany wasn’t ready to give up. She had been researching online, and found a place in Philadelphia that worked with brain injured kids. On the website, she read family testimonials, she watched videos that demonstrated the progress achieved by patients. Encouraged, Tiffany reached out to them, but never heard back.

While making funeral arrangements, Tiffany was asked if she wanted a burial or cremation. Fighting back the tears, she said she just couldn’t make that decision right then. Then her cell phone rang.

The caller ID on her phone said Philadelphia. Tiffany thought to herself, “Is this somebody calling about my student loans again, or is this actually what I pray it could be?”

After everyone left, she ran outside to a quiet spot and returned the call. It was the team at the Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential. Tiffany knew right at that very moment, God was saying, “Don’t give up hope yet.”

Tiffany explained Braylen’s condition, and the response was “That’s great! Let me tell you how we can help and you can see if that works for you.”

Tiffany breathed a prayer, “God, you didn’t give me a kid that was hopeless, you gave me a kid that I could fix. I just didn’t know it at the time.”

The Philadelphia team is currently overseeing Braylen’s intensive treatment program and working with the doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital, but it’s Tony and Tiffany who are administering Braylen’s daily therapy. They send the team videos of Braylen’s progress so adjustments in therapy can be made if necessary. And right now, Braylen is doing remarkably well.

Tony and Tiffany had a big decision to make. Do they continue to foster Braylen, or adopt Braylen giving him a forever family, but at the same time creating a “full house” which closes their home to fostering any more kids.

They had come too far with Braylen. He was already their son. Now they just needed to make it official. So on June 1st, the family celebrated the consummation of Braylen’s adoption. Their new son joined his other five siblings in completing the Ross family. Tony and Tiffany expressed their appreciation to everyone that helped them on their journey in the following note:

“We want to take a moment to say a HUGE thank you to everyone for their help, thoughts, and prayers! Today was a landmark day in Baby Braylen’s Journey as he was “officially” adopted into our family! A day, early on, we weren’t sure he’d live to see, but God clearly has big plans for our little man!

“It was so beautiful to see everyone who came out to support us today! What an emotional experience… adoption is a little like the birth experience in the sense that emotions are high and the love for your baby is overwhelming! But it’s also a bit like a wedding, where everyone is there to witness as you vow before God and the court to raise that child as if he were born from our own bodies. The magnitude of that responsibility is so great, yet it’s such an easy thing to commit to!

“Braylen is such a huge part of our lives and the love we have for him has taken over our hearts so much that it really feels like he was born from my body…adoption is definitely a God thing! And we’re so blessed and honored He chose us to be Baby Braylen’s mom and dad!!!”

Tony & Tiffany Ross


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May 16, 2017

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None of the treatments were working. According to the doctors, there was no medical reason why they couldn’t get pregnant. But Valarie and Evan Maier were trusting in God’s plan and His timing.

“We never prayed for a baby,” said Valarie. “We prayed and prayed for a family.”

The Maiers began looking into adoption but quickly discovered that the cost of a traditional adoption was prohibitive for them. Then a friend, who was a foster parent, explained how inexpensive it was to adopt a foster child and how the state even pays for the child’s support while they are in foster care.

“We decided that while we were waiting to see if the Lord would give us our own bio child…we could give one of His kids a home,” said Valarie.

Valarie and Evan were attending a CPS meeting where they heard about a lot of different foster care agencies, but Arrow’s foundational scripture resonated with them. Psalms 127:3-4 says “Children are a gift of the Lord…like arrows in the hands of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” For them, confirmation they found the right agency was when they met the Arrow staff. Valarie said, “We just loved the people. They were wonderful!”

The Maiers desire was to foster one child who was 6-years-old or younger. So when their first Arrow fostering experience turned out to be providing respite care for two African-American sisters, one of which was 8-years-old, the Maiers realized their vision was too narrow.

“It didn’t make any sense,” said Valarie. “Why are we putting parameters on what God can do? So we said we’re just going to be open.”

Valarie and Evan grew to love the young sisters, so much so that they tried to adopt them twice. Even though they were being considered, ultimately another family was chosen. Their trust in God’s plan and His timing remained strong.

The first foster child to be placed into their care was Vaughn, a newborn whose drug addicted mother was going into rehab for several months, and his father became incarcerated.

Ironically, just days before Mother’s Day 2013, Vaughn’s parents relinquished their rights. Vaughn’s mother told a case worker that she didn’t think she could make it on her own with him. She also expressed how thankful she was for the good care that Vaugh was receiving, and how she wanted him to stay with the Maiers. During a court proceeding, when Valarie and Evan just happened to be in the room, Vaugh’s father told the judge he couldn’t take care of himself, how could he care for a child.

Adopt VFinally, through Vaughn’s adoption at 15 months old, this loving couple had become what they prayed for…a loving family. But the Maiers were about to experience Ephesians 3:20 which says that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”

Less than two weeks after Vaughn’s adoption, Valarie received a call from Arrow asking if they would be open to another placement, a 6-month-old boy named Jace. Valarie and Evan enjoyed plenty of bonding time with Vaughn before his adoption, so the answer was “yes.” But Valarie had the same questions she had asked when they took Vaughn into their home, “What’s the situation with the bio mom…is this a long-term placement or do we have any idea?”

The answer shocked her. Jace’s mom was 14-year-old Ashlyn, whose mother was living with a possible sexual predator accused of raping one of Ashlyn’s school friends, and he was on the run from police. But Ashlyn wasn’t being removed because there wasn’t a group home who could take her. Valarie asked if they were actively looking for a home for her, the surprising answer was “Not at this time.”

Valarie wanted to take Ashlyn and her son Jace, but their license wasn’t adequate. The Arrow staff helped Valarie and Evan get everything taken care of in less than a week so they could open their home to Ashlyn and Jace.

Valarie called Ashlyn and asked if she was planning on raising Jace, or if she thought it might be too much for her to handle. Ashlyn was emphatic that Jace was her son and she was going to raise him. She said, “This is not my fault. I don’t have a job, and I can’t get a job because I just had a baby.” At this point, Ashlyn was an 8th-grade dropout with a six-month-old baby to raise.

After the state placed Ashlyn and Jace with the Maiers, it wasn’t long before Valarie was able to get Ashlyn back in school, partly because of a wonderful teen mom program the school offered. The school bus would pick up Ashlyn and Jace, take them to Jace’s daycare where Ashlyn would check him in every day, then the bus would take her on to school. After school, Ashlyn rode the bus back to pick up Jace before going home.

“She got him dressed every day, she fed him every day, and we did our very best to make sure she understood the difficulties she was facing as such a young mom,” said Valarie. “Their placement in our home came with the condition that we supervise her parenting efforts. But if she wanted to parent, we were going to allow her to be a parent.”

The unique situation of Ashlyn raising 6-month-old Jace while Valarie was raising 16-month-old Vaughn allowed for many practical teaching moments to reinforce Ashlyn’s growing parenting skills.

Ashlyn had been to church a few times in her life and had even accepted Christ as a child, but she never really understood what it meant to be a follower of Christ. Through Valarie and Evan’s strong faith example, and Ashlyn being able to attend church on a regular basis, it wasn’t long before she developed a true relationship with Jesus, even if it did start out a little rough. At the beginning, she begrudgingly attended church, assuming everyone would be judgmental and condemning. Instead, she was embraced and loved by everybody. They even started a single moms group to minister to Ashlyn. One of the focal points of the ministry is called Embrace Grace, which is a combination baby shower and “princess day.” Older ladies in the church cook food for the event, and bring baby gifts, while the young moms get all dressed up so they can see themselves as the Lord sees them – pure and whole, and completely spotless.

After about a year with the Maiers, Ashlyn’s parents relinquished their rights, which presented Ashlyn with multiple options. But because she didn’t have a job and couldn’t support herself, emancipation wasn’t one of them. She could continue in foster care with the Maiers, or they could adopt her. Or she could move to a group home that would take teen moms. Ashlyn said, “I want Jace and me to be a family. And I need a family because I need help.” Ashlyn chose adoption.

Ashlyn AdoptionIn December 2014, Ashlyn’s adoption was finalized, and the state dropped Jace’s case since he and his mom were now in a stable home environment. Not only did Valarie and Evan have Ashlyn as a new daughter, but they also had Jace as a new grandson. But the biggest surprise of all happened just three months earlier when Valarie gave birth to their newest daughter, Meridian. With three kids under three-years-old, “It was a party at our house all the time,” said Valarie.

Having experienced the placement of two babies in their home, and having to scramble to purchase all the baby things they needed, Valarie and Evan decided to start FAM (Foster & Adopt Ministry) to provide the things foster families need for an infant placement. They maintain a clothing closet with prepacked bags of clothes for all different children’s age groups and sizes, plus they provide things like baby beds, bouncers, and walkers. Valarie explains, “Our goal is to fill the gap between the phone call for placement and the child arriving. We bring the practical things the family needs so they can have time to bond and not have to run to the store on day one.”

Valarie’s passion for helping foster kids also led her to train to be a CASA volunteer to advocate for foster children in court. And she continues to encourage others to foster, “Many times I’ve shared with people, anytime you sit at the dinner table and there’s an empty chair, or you walk down the hallway, and there’s a bedroom with no one sleeping in it, that’s an opportunity that’s being missed to witness to and love a child. And they haven’t done anything wrong. It’s the parent’s fault this kid needs help, so help the kid!”

Family outdoorToday, Ashlyn is a high school graduate, she is employed, and Jace is in school, and they have their own apartment. The desire of Ashlyn’s heart is to help other kids who go through the same type of turmoil she has overcome, so she is currently considering her college options in order to pursue a career in counseling.

Ashlyn and Valarie have a fairly typical mother-daughter relationship. “She probably calls me five times a day,” says Valarie. “It’s great! She’s my daughter…it’s just how it is!”

Once again the evidence is undeniable…God’s plan and His timing are perfect.


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December 21, 2016

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At six years old, Raven was often left alone to take care of her baby brother Benji and her four year-old brother Gavin, while their drug and alcohol addicted mother would party with her friends. There were even times when their mother would drag the three children with her while she got wasted.

Neighbors took notice of the children’s situation and called CPS, but when the knock came at the door, their mother told the kids to hide and be quiet. It wasn’t until Raven showed up at school wearing her mother’s clothes that raised a red flag, and school officials intervened.

Their mother was allowed to have a final meal with the children at a McDonald’s before CPS took Raven and her brothers away. For the kids, it was just normal day playing on the McDonald’s playground equipment. Then their mother called them over and began crying as she told the kids they were going to be taken away from her, and she couldn’t do anything about it. The kids started crying and didn’t understand what was happening to them. Emotionally exhausted, Raven fell asleep on the long drive to their new foster parent’s house.

“We were in that home for about two years,” explains Raven, now 19 years old. “But those foster parents only wanted to adopt my baby brother, they didn’t want us older kids.”

The children’s Arrow Ambassador Family Specialist would not consider splitting up the siblings. She told the foster parents it was an all or nothing situation. So Raven and her brothers were taken to the home of Frank and Pam Rogers.

The Rogers had just previously fostered two other children they were hoping to adopt. But they were devastated when the judge granted custody of the children to their biological grandmother. Frank and Pam decided they just couldn’t go through that kind of heart break again. But Mala Ganapati, Arrow’s regional adoption coordinator, contacted the Rogers, and explained how much these three children needed them.

“My first impression of them was that they were very nice,” said Raven. “It’s funny, but they gave us presents the first night we got there, and of course, as a young kid, you’re automatically going to like those people. They were really good at making us feel welcome and making sure all of our needs were met. They always made sure we were doing something fun.”

As wonderful as the Rogers were to Raven and her brothers, Raven still had a lot to overcome from the years of neglect she suffered.

“I suffer from mild depression,” shares Raven. “I used to have to check all doors and windows to make sure they were locked. I also have a mild eating disorder, and once had to have food close to me constantly. I guess I was afraid I might not get any more.

“It hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies. We definitely have had our problems, but we work it out. I’m very fortunate to have the parents I have now. I think if I were still with my birth mom now, I’d probably be pregnant, or on drugs. I may not even be alive.”

With Frank and Pam’s love and support, Raven is discovering her purpose in life. Which in many ways began when Frank and Pam were blessed to witness Raven’s baptism in 2014. Then this past semester at the University of Dallas, Raven began to get a clearer picture of what she wanted to do with her life. Even though Raven loved playing basketball for the school, which gave her a higher self-esteem, taught her discipline, and challenged her through competition, something in her heart was changing.

“I felt something much stronger pulling at me, kind of calling out to me to do something different,” said Raven. “I felt a much stronger need to start my future with social work and helping others, sooner rather than later. I really want to help other kids who have experienced the same things I did growing up.”

To follow Raven’s “calling,” she is transferring to a community college near her home, and she is switching majors from psychology to social work. She also contacted the local Arrow office to inquire about an internship or volunteering opportunities.

“I feel like I broke the cycle,” said Raven. “I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but I think I’m a pretty good person. I work hard. I am very caring. I’m a strong Christian. I don’t drink or do drugs. I make good grades, and I will be the first person in my family to graduate from college with a degree. I think I turned out well.”

We think so too!

There are many ways to help a child who has suffered abuse or neglect. Of course, by becoming a foster parent, you’ll have the opportunity to make a direct and eternal impact, just like the Rogers had in Raven’s life. Learn more about fostering by attending one of our monthly information meetings. Details are available at www.arrow.org/meeting.



August 22, 2016

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Stephen and Jandy Brentlinger, Arrow foster parents with our Beaumont, Texas office, are very committed to their faith. They are just as committed to the foster children who come into their home. So when Stephen saw our recent Facebook post showing the great need for more foster families, he was compelled to write his own Facebook post to encourage others to consider fostering.
Below is Stephen’s impassioned post…

Fostering can be hard. It can be an emotional roller coaster. It’s a family decision that affects everyone in your household. It can test your patience, love, kindness, faith, and many other things. Sometimes it seems like it might even be too much to handle. People will comment that they don’t know how you could do it, or ask how you could love a child then watch them leave your home. There are days when you might even consider quitting and running away. We have.

But then you realize that everything is totally worth it. You realize that all the risk, all the heartache, all the tears, and all the possible pain are totally worth it. Why? Because it’s never about us in the first place. Our life should be about loving and serving others, and considering everyone else higher than ourselves. Our call to foster is about loving kids that are in desperate situations that they had no control over. It’s about putting the well-being of a child far above yours. It’s about extending love and grace to someone that desperately needs it, but is hopeless to receive it apart from you. Literally, you can affect a child’s life forever. Even if they leave your home, by your plan or the states plan.

You can’t know how it will turn out, and sometimes you won’t be happy with situations. But you CAN be love and grace to a child that so desperately wants to be loved. So desperately wants to be held, fed, and cared for. A child that was not loved enough to know how special and wonderful they are. The fear of the unknown could stop you in your tracks and keep you from fostering. Or maybe, your love for others could compel you to becoming a foster parent. You could realize that literally everyday children need foster homes, and you could stand up for the hopeless and needy, and love them with all your heart! Love them how they deserve to be loved, even if it hurts later. But you know what? They also could end up being your forever child! The only way to find out, is to foster. I beg you, think and pray about fostering.

If you’re still reading this, I’ll share in a couple of sentences how we handle fostering. To sum it up, we don’t handle it. Yep, we are selfish and not capable of handling it personally. We instinctively run from tough situations. But the good news for (my foster child), is that we serve and love a God that provides all we need. We serve a God that is much bigger than anything in the world, and can provide peace, patience, strength, energy, love, and everything else needed to foster. In short for us, God gives us the strength.

I once was lost, hopeless, and in desperate need of help. I was longing to be loved and cared for in ways I didn’t even understand. I had emptiness in my life and needed to be cared for in a way that I didn’t even know how to ask about. Then God ran. He ran to me in that moment and showed me the love, grace, and mercy I so desperately needed! When I was lost, God found me. I was empty, but God filled me. I didn’t even know what I needed, but God did. Fostering/Adoption is a perfect picture of what God has done for us.

Please call/message me if you want to talk about fostering or anything.

Would you consider fostering?

Beautifully said Stephen. Thank you Stephen and Jandy, for your caring hearts and your unselfish service to kids in need!

For information on the next information meeting in your area visit www.arrow.org/meeting

 



June 14, 2016

Over 100 volunteers from Convergint Technologies, along with several family members and vendor partners, recently provided a full day of service at Freedom Place, our recovery program for victims of child sex trafficking. The annual event held on the day of the company’s founding, called Convergint Day, is Convergint Technologies’ way of giving back to the community by providing thousands of volunteer hours to non-profit organizations in cities where they have offices.

Convergint general manager of Houston, Brad Williams said, “We chose Freedom Place because of all the good they do in our community, and helping people turn their lives around.”

The volunteers were enthusiastic, eager to accomplish their given tasks, and downright amazing! Each of the projects below were significant undertakings that took a lot of individual effort from each member of the team assigned to a project. On top of all the hours of donated labor, the value of the equipment and materials Convergint donated was about $75,000! Here is just an overview of what was given and accomplished:

  • Donated and installed a new security system with 14 cameras
  • Donated and installed a new electronic entry system
  • Cleaned up the horse arena
  • Installed a power line across the horse arena for an electric fence
  • Removed old carpeting from the caretakers cottage
  • Demolished and removed an old fire place in the caretakers cottage
  • Primed walls for painting in the caretaker cottage
  • Installed handrails on the second floor of the maintenance barn
  • Installed plumbing in the maintenance barn
  • Organized the contents of the maintenance barn
  • Painted the outside of the maintenance barn
  • Moved four therapy offices and one large room from the front upstairs to the back upstairs
  • Donated a golf cart and constructed a new covered port for it
  • Installed a paver walk path to the administration building
  • Painted the outside of the K-9 barn

We are so grateful to Brad Williams and the entire Convergint Technologies team. It is only through generous supporters like you that we are able to continue providing a path to freedom for victims of child sex trafficking.

Convergint Technologies is a global company that designs and installs systems to provide electronic security, physical security, fire and life safety, and communications. They employ over 2000 professionals in locations throughout North America, Asia Pacific and the UK, and were recently recognized by SDM Magazine as the 4th largest systems integrator in North America.



April 29, 2016

Angela HumphriesWith few homes available for foster children over 12 years old, especially older foster teens, the future holds little promise of the type of future most 18 year-olds look forward to according to the results of the 2011 Midwest Study from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.

The seven-year study indicates that when youth at the age of 18 become too old to remain in foster care, and find themselves struggling on their own without the support of a family, the odds of them successfully launching into adulthood are minimal. According to the study, 23% of them do not have a high school diploma or a GED by age 21. Half are unemployed, and those that are employed have a median annual income of $5,450. And nearly 30% are homeless by the age of 24.

Unfortunately, teenagers are typically the hardest foster children to place with a family. The majority of families that seek information on foster care are interested in fostering toward the goal of adoption. And a teenager is not who they’re looking to add to their family.

Carolyn Bishop, Vice President of Texas Programs for Arrow Child & Family Ministries explains the need: “A lot of the openings we have are with families that want to work with babies to toddler age. We have a huge shortage of openings for older foster teens, and so it’s making it hard for us to help CPS find appropriate placements for those kids.”

Granted, raising any teenager has it challenges, but Scott Lundy, CEO of Arrow Child & Family Ministries, who is raising three adopted teens himself, says there are three important components to successfully fostering a teenager.

“First, you’ve got to have a love for, and a proclivity to work with teenagers, because teens are different. Second, you have to be willing to connect with the child, because everything is about relationship. You can’t just let them do their thing in their room, and assume everything must be okay as long as they’re not doing stupid stuff. You have to take the time to check in with them on a regular basis, and not accept “fine” and “good” when you ask them about school and their friends. You’ve got to go deeper than that. And third, you need to be able give the child an appropriate level of autonomy while maintaining boundaries.

“These kids are going to mess up just like we did, and they’re probably going to mess up more than we did, because we had a stable upbringing all the way through our life that got us through adolescence, and they did not. These kids are going to push back more than normal, and part of this is based on the pattern they’ve experienced in being removed from their home, and then being moved from place to place. But what each of these kids desperately need is a family that will commit to helping them work through this tough period in their life so they can prepare for adulthood.”

Angela Humphrey, a foster parent with Arrow Child & Family Ministries, is one of those few foster parents who not only opens her home to foster teens, but specializes in fostering teenage boys. She says the most difficult aspect of fostering a teenager is gaining their trust, because so many people in their lives have let them down.

“Don’t expect a kid to be thankful and loving just because you’ve opened your home,” said Humphrey. “That comes with gaining their trust, and that takes time. Making it work takes love and patience with a lot of understanding and forgiveness.

“We lose so many of our young men to the streets and jail. I like knowing we lose some to education, jobs and becoming great parents. Watching some of my boys graduate from high school, go to college, become productive citizens, and then receiving phone calls from some just to say ‘I didn’t get it then, but I do now,’ that’s the most beautiful thing of all.”

To learn more about the need and how you can help, attend the next information meeting at the Arrow office near you. Details are available at www.arrow.org/meeting.

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March 24, 2016

TCAS-Check-PresentationArrow’s Freedom Place, a residential facility in the Houston area for underage female victims of sex trafficking, is pleased to have been the recipient of a donation from the Theta Charity Antiques Show (TCAS).

Each year, TCAS honors selected nonprofits as beneficiaries with funds collected solely through Show underwriting, admission tickets and catalogue advertising sales. In 2015, Freedom Place was honored to be among a handful chosen by this long-standing philanthropic endeavor.

One of only seven facilities of its kind in the U.S., Freedom Place’s mission is to offer a successful path to freedom for girls who have suffered as victims of sexual exploitation.

Pictured are Theta Show Chairman Lois Wright, Arrow Child & Family Ministries National Relations Officer Debi Tengler and Co-Founder of Freedom Place Nikki Richnow at a March check presentation coffee.

To help further this Houston tradition and continue to support worthy nonprofits such as Freedom Place, please make plans to attend this year’s Show at the Bayou City Events Center, November 11-13.

Freedom Place is a program of Arrow Child & Family Ministries. Through foster care and adoption, Arrow impacts over 4,000 children, teens and families each year. Since 1992, Arrow has been fighting the effects of child abuse by helping kids heal from the past and strengthening families to break the cycle of abuse and neglect.

Founded in 1952 as a cause driven effort, the Theta Charity Antiques Show has distributed over seven million dollars to Houston’s charitable organizations that support educational endeavors, medical research, community assistance and cultural arts.



March 23, 2016

shutterstock_336280856Our children are our future and a gift from God. In light of National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, we’ve gathered some information on the signs of child abuse, what to do if a child comes to you, how to report child abuse, and ways to prevent child abuse.

Signs of Child Abuse

Note: This list is not exhaustive. Trust your gut instinct if you suspect abuse and report it.

  • Unexplained injuries – visible signs of abuse in the form of unexplained bruises or burns, sometimes in the shape of objects; child may have unconvincing explanation of the injury
  • Changes in behavior – scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn, aggressive
  • Returning to earlier childhood behaviors – fear of the dark or strangers, thumb-sucking, bed-wetting
  • Changes in eating – the stress caused by abuse can lead to weight gain or loss
  • Fear of going home – kids may express anxiety/apprehension about leaving school or going places with the abuser
  • Changes in sleeping – frequent nightmares or difficulty falling asleep, thereby seeming tired or fatigued
  • Changes in school performance/attendance – difficulty concentrating in class, or excessive absences, especially if adults are trying to conceal injuries
  • Poor personal care/hygiene – appearing uncared for, consistently dirty or have severe body odor, lack proper clothing for the weather
  • Risky behavior – kids abused may participate in risk-taking behavior such as drug use or carrying a weapon
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviors – demonstrates unusual sexual knowledge or explicit sexual language

If a Child Comes to You

Should a child come to you and report he or she is being abused, it’s important to remember the following tips.

  • Keep calm and just listen. Try to remain as neutral as possible as the child speaks to you about the abuse. Do not display disgust or shock, as the child might think it has to do with them and not about what has happened to them.
  • Don’t promise not to tell. Instead, say you’ll promise only to tell people who need to know and that you’ll let the child know beforehand.
  • Reassure the child they did the right thing by telling you.
  • Write down everything while it’s fresh in your mind.
  • Report the abuse. You have the power to help a child who is hurting and in danger. You can report anonymously should you so choose.

“Don’t let fear of getting involved prevent you from reporting concerns. It’s our responsibility as a community to prevent abuse,” says Andrea Requenes, Regional Director at Arrow Child and Family Ministries.

How to Report Child Abuse

To report cases of child abuse, contact your local Department of Family and Protective Services. In the state of Texas, this number is 1-800-252-5400. Nationally, you may contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).

Ways to Prevent Child Abuse

Scott Lundy, President and CEO of Arrow Child & Family Ministries (Arrow) and President of the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services, declares, “There needs to be a revolution at the taxpayer level to reach out to our elected officials to demand that more funding be allocated to child abuse prevention services. We have to be able to begin to slow the rate at which children are being abused at home.  It takes the right prevention services to make this happen.”

In order to strengthen parents and families and prevent the cycle of child abuse from occurring, it’s important that parents and caregivers feel they have a support system in place and resources readily available to them. Here’s how you can help.

  • Be willing to be a support system for your neighbors and their kids and grandkids
  • Volunteer in the community by becoming a mentor to kids, or donating time or resources to community organizations
  • Help a family under stress. For example: babysitting, running errands, or helping with chores
  • Get involved in a local school by attending their events (plays, sports games, performances), join the parent-teacher organization, or even start a neighborhood watch

Additionally, make sure to check out the Safe Families for Children program. Safe Families provides breathing room and support for parents in crisis who may need help caring for their children until they can get back on their feet. Volunteers in this program aim to reduce the risk factors for child abuse by coming alongside parents before a situation escalates.

New Program Coming Soon

Arrow Child and Family Ministries in partnership with several area agencies in Houston is excited to announce a new program coming soon called ParentingHelp. Preparing to launch in April, the program will offer resources such as in-home training and support services for families at risk for abuse. For many, these resources couldn’t come at a better time. Those looking to take advantage of the program can expect to receive parenting and discipline techniques as just some of the many benefits through ParentingHelp.

Want to know more? Attend an informational meeting to learn ways you can be involved in a child’s life.

Source: https://www.childwelfare.gov/



March 1, 2016


Baileys2Recently Misty and Randy Bailey adopted Hagen after fostering him for nearly three years. During their journey, the Baileys faced every possible emotional and physical challenge any home could possibly take.

Misty and Randy Bailey started fostering with Arrow at the beginning of 2013, and one-year old Hagen was their first placement. At the time, the CPS worker indicated Hagen would most likely be adoptable since there was no family member currently taking any of the necessary steps to get him back.

Nearly a year later, Hagen’s birth mother showed up. Since she was pregnant again, she decided to start complying with CPS to get her life in order, and possibly have Hagen returned to her.

Misty had never asked Hagen to call her mom, but during his time with the Baileys, Hagen naturally began doing just that. But during Hagen’s family visits with his birth mother, she told him that Misty “isn’t your mother…I am!” At just two years old,  Hagen was confused and distressed. For Hagen, Misty and Randy Bailey were his mom and dad.

The emotional upheaval took its toll on Hagen. His bathroom training regressed, and he starting hiding soiled clothing around the house just to have some kind of control in his life. Then Hagen was hit with another devastating blow when his birth mother passed away a few weeks after a tragic accident.

Misty and Randy struggled with continuing to foster due to the extreme emotional turmoil Hagen was going through, but they never gave up. They believed this little boy’s life was in God’s hands, and through His providence Hagen would eventually be where God wanted him to be. After nearly three years of struggling, growing and loving together, prayers were answered recently when Hagen’s adoption was consummated. And yes, Hagen Wesley Bailey is exactly where God wants him to be…at home with his real mommy and daddy, Misty and Randy.


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