Twenty-two year old Sarah Edgmon from Fort Smith, Arkansas speaks out about her experience with foster care and adoption as National Foster Care Awareness month approaches in May.
“It has been a blessing for me. My life could have been a lot different if my parents would not have adopted me out of foster care,” said Edgmon.
Area two, which encompasses Sebastian and surrounding counties in Arkansas, occupies the largest number of foster kids than any other area in the state. On average, there are more than 900 children in the foster care system in Area two alone. However, there are not enough homes open in that area to place every child in the foster care system, so children are moved to homes across the state.
Because of the lack of homes open to foster care, DHS is forced at times to separate siblings and place them in different homes and families. According to Psychotherapist Laura Caldwell, many times children in foster care develop a condition called, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). RAD occurs when a child’s basic needs for comfort, affection, and nurturing are not met and a loving, stable environment is not established.
Edgmon’s parents took her into their home at birth, and adopted her into their family when she was three years old. After the adoption, Edgmon’s parents opened their home to more than 30 more children in foster care for more than 15 years.
“I never really knew any different. My parents brought kids into our home, and they tried to help as many of them as possible,” stated Edgmon.
She recalled one specific pair of siblings who came to live with her family, “I knew they had a lot of issues, but I didn’t find out until later that they came from an abusive home.”
The process of switching homes for children in foster care creates undue emotional stress on the child, foster families, and DHS workers. Although DHS and The Call work hand in hand to open new homes and keep current homes open, there remains a large deficit and need in Arkansas’ Area two.
Caldwell expressed, “There’s always going to be the need for new foster homes. There’s always going to be the need for people to step and provide resources for these children that come into care.”