Embracing the emotional challenges and hardships coupled with foster-parenting, J.R. and Angie Smith believe they are called to help children whose families are broken. They began their journey in 2010 to open their home to children who have experienced severe physical or sexual abuse; children born to parents who abuse drugs and alcohol; or children who are victims of neglect.
After having raised three children of their own, the Smiths felt as though God was leading them to fulfill a desperate need in Crawford and Sebastian counties in Arkansas. Area two in Western Arkansas, which covers seven counties, averages more than 900 children in the foster care system. Because there are not enough homes open within the seven county area, DHS transports children to open homes across the state.
“For us, it’s been a real struggle with that because there’s so many hurting kids. For us, this is a natural fit,” stated J. Smith.
The Smiths have generously shared their home with more than 30 different children since 2011. Throughout that time, they shared a bond with many of them, but said they were blessed to adopt three of those children. Ty, Taylor, and Kinzie now have a permanent home and family with the Smiths.
Long-time friend of the Smiths, Psychotherapist Laura Caldwell, serves as a certified trainer for a Christian organization known as the Call. As a volunteer, Caldwell recruits and trains families from multiple denominations and churches in the local communities to become certified to open their homes for children within the foster care system.
In addition to volunteering for the Call, Caldwell founded a non-profit organization, New Start for Children and Families, which focuses on building a children’s home that will offer therapeutic services to the children and families, as well as provide a long term solution for children to remain within Arkansas’ Area two.
“New Start is working to provide a permanent stay for these children until the court decides whether they are going back home or they can be adopted.”
Although the Smiths have adopted three children, their home is still open to more children as the need arises.
J. Smith said, “We will keep our home open until we believe we have fulfilled God’s mission for our lives. We love children and want to give children with no hope, a chance to feel loved.”