By Sarah Thompson, columnist
Enid News and Eagle
My mom came across some old scrapbooks of mine while doing some cleaning last week. They are full of sports articles and pictures of me that my grandmother has collected over the years.
My daughter was looking through them and found an article from the News & Eagle about my mission trip to Panama my freshman year in college. We went to Central America to put on sports camps and share the Gospel. In the article, I talked about my faith and my love for basketball. I had plans to be a missionary when I graduated from Northwestern Oklahoma State University, and felt it was God’s calling on my life.
When I thought of becoming a missionary, I imagined myself in some remote village on the other side of the world feeding hungry children; little did I know that my mission field would be right here in northwest Oklahoma.
My journey started with an application to become an OKDHS foster parent. I attended the required 27 hours of training, completed a home study, and background checks. It seemed like the process was taking forever.
Finally, on April 14, 2006, I received a call that would change my life forever. It was the foster care specialist calling to let me know there was a 4-year-old girl in need of a placement. We agreed I would pick her up at 3 p.m. I remember hanging up the phone and totally panicking.
“What am I doing?” I thought. “They are letting me take care of a child? I can’t even take care of a plant. Maybe this was a bad idea.”
Luckily, my co-workers convinced me this was what I was supposed to do. Then I had to figure out what a 4-year-old girl would need. I made a list and ran to Walmart. When I arrived to pick her up, I had no idea what God had in store. I was either totally naïve or full of faith. Maybe it was a little of both.
When I walked into the room, there, on an old couch, sat a tiny little girl with crooked pigtails. She was holding a teddy bear and a small bag with two sets of dirty clothes three sizes too small. By the time we backed out of the parking lot, I already knew she hated green beans, had stepped on a screw once, and her favorite color was green. She talked the whole way home.
I was thankful I didn’t have to do much of the talking. That day turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. During that time something was happening inside me; a little girl with big green eyes and a dirty face was stealing my heart.
When it came time to find her a permanent home, I knew without a doubt we were meant to be together. The adoption was finalized in April 2008 and we became a forever family. Today, she is a beautiful 11-year-old with the biggest heart you’ve ever seen.
You don’t have to go to another country to serve as a missionary. There are thousands of foster children right here in Oklahoma who need families just like yours. You don’t have to be a perfect parent, you just have to be able to love children who are scared, and alone, and who will want to push you away.
But, when they push you away, that will be when they need you the most. Becoming a foster or adoptive parent is not for everyone. But, there are many other ways you can help.
Some ways you can help are by offering to cook a meal for a foster family, providing much needed respite care, or becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). CASA volunteers work with the court and the foster homes to make sure children are not lost in the system and their needs and wants are heard.
To find more about how to become a foster parent, go to OKDHS.org or call the New Foster Care & Adoption Families Recruiting Hotline at (866) 612-2565. To learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer, call 242-1153.
God has called everyone to the mission field. Maybe yours is not as far away as you think.
Follow Sarah Thompson, who is a social worker in the Enid area, at mysemi-dysfunctionallife.blogspot.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.