February 2, 20240


We had the privilege of partnering with Target and the Harris County Precinct 4 Constables office to make the Christmas of some of our children in foster care just a little more special. Thank you Target and thank you to the heroes who helped our kids feel important!

Sign up for an info session or let us know you’re interested in foster care here. If you’re not ready to foster, but still want to make a difference in the lives of kids, you can volunteer or donate here.

March 30, 20230


TYLER, Texas (KLTV) – One of the biggest changes to the foster care system in East Texas is underway: privatization.

“This transition does create challenges, and there’s lots of need in our community,” said Smith County 321st District Court Judge Robert Wilson during the 4Kids4Families kickoff event at South Spring Baptist Church in Tyler.

Wilson has a deep understanding of the state of foster care. For years, he’s seen many East Texas families on their best and worst days in court. He also doesn’t shy away from the painstaking reality of what it’s like to be in Texas state care in 2023.

“We’ve had as many as 130 kids statewide without placement,” said Wilson. “That means that we have kids sleeping on the floors of CPS offices, in hotel rooms, or in rented spaces … or on gym floors. It’s not any easy solution to fix, but it’s not an acceptable solution at all.”

Read more at: CLICK HERE!

November 15, 20210

Children of all ages come into the foster care system, but the children who wait for adoption the longest are:

  • Children from minority racial groups
  • Children over 10 years old
  • Children in sibling groups
  • Children with physical or emotional disabilities

Arrow is committed to finding these children permanent, loving homes. It can seem frightening to consider adopting an older or disabled child, or a sibling group of three or more. These children require a high level of commitment, patience, and understanding – but many of these children will thrive in a loving home. They have the scars of past abuse and neglect, and sometimes the trauma of multiple foster care moves, but once they become part of a “forever family,” they can begin to heal and blossom into the children and young adults God meant for them to become. Please contact your local office and let them know of your interest to adopt these special kids.

The Vaughn Family finalized the adoption of Dominic Wyatt Vaughn on 10/22/21 after many years in care and over 6 months in their home. We are so excited for them and want to celebrate their wonderful news! Dominic is pictured in the middle in the black shirt and jeans. He was so excited to see himself on the Adoption Zoom that he accidentally muted Mrs. Vaughn answering a question for the Judge.



Each month, there are several interactive, live streaming webinars to learn more about foster care and what it takes to become a foster parent. In each webinar, you’ll get an overview of all of Arrow’s foster care programs. And because the webinars are interactive, you can have all your questions answered.


The McCarty Family finalized the adoption for Josie Leigh McCarty on 10/26/21 after close to two years of having her placed in their home. The McCarty’s extended family was in attendance as well as their coworkers were able to watch via Zoom. Josie is pictured on the right.

The Williams Family finalized the adoption for siblings, Willow and Hunter on 11/01/221! Willow the young lady on the left has been in the Williams home three years, and her younger brother Hunter, the young man on the left has been here since birth, last week was his 2nd birthday. The family was so excited and nothing could stop them from celebrating. Willow and Hunter were both so very happy to celebrate with friends and family and to be in their forever home.


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.


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.


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


May 16, 2017

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.