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Employee heeds call to foster, adoptDate: 07/18/2016
When Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education Assistant Director Laura Webb was in college, one of her close friends told Laura she had “aged out” of foster care without ever finding a forever family. Her friend’s experience stuck with Laura for years. In 2010, while still single, Laura decided to become a foster parent after seeing the traveling “Heart gallery” photos of children who are available for adoption through Arkansas’s foster care system. She received her first placement the day her home opened.
“I have fostered more than a dozen children as a single parent,” she said. “I have done a lot of crying since I began fostering. This is not for the faint of heart. I had a baby for 15 months when she was returned to her mom. I cried for days. I even had to take time off from work because it hurt so badly.”
Laura, who began working for DHS in April 2014, followed the advice of the foster care trainers – she made all the children she fostered part of her family. She attended every court hearing and doctor’s appointment and took the children on vacation. “I met my husband while I was a single foster parent. I told him I would only date him if he would agree to become involved in this ministry with me. He did,” she said.
She was fostering an infant boy when she and Roger married. They were eventually able to adopt him. A year later, they adopted another baby boy. The boys, Joshua and Christian, are now 4 and 3.
After a lot of soul-searching and prayer, Laura and her husband decided to close their home to fostering last month so that they could focus on their boys.
“I cried. It was a very difficult decision. Although I already have a lot on my plate, I felt as though I was failing the children,” she acknowledged. “I had to convince myself that I cannot do it all.”
But Laura still does so much for children in foster care. She serves on the board of The CALL, which is a non-profit that recruits foster families. She also participates in foster and adoption support groups. She wants to find the right homes for the more than 4,900 children in foster care in Arkansas.
“People tell me all the time that they could not do it -- they would get too attached to the children. Then I tell them, you are exactly who we are looking for to foster. We want people who will love the children as if they are their own and cry when they leave because they will miss them so much. I have experienced every emotion possible- joy, pain, anger, frustration, anxiety, disbelief. I have had to remind myself that it is not about me; it is about the children.”