RICHARDSON (CBSDFW.COM) – At the Heights Baptist Church in Richardson, empty tables in the gym are being transformed: a favorite toy, a future dream. All portrait pieces, if you will, of children in foster care looking to connect with potential parents.
“Every single one of these items, someone went and shopped for that,” said Denise Kendrick, executive director of Embrace Texas. “Someone purchased that item, thinking ‘this could be the thing that triggers something in someone’s heart and makes me feel like this is my child.'”
And Kendrick should know. Leading the non-profit that supports children in foster care while helping to connect them with permanent families isn’t just her profession — it’s her life’s calling. She is also an adoptive mom.
“I see a little bit of my kids in each one of these little kiddos’ faces… and know that the beautiful family that God has brought together in my home would not have been possible without the loss and heartache that’s a part of my kids journey,” sais Kendrick, “And I’m so grateful for each and every one of my children, and I want that for each of these kids.”
Embrace Texas, a McKinney-based non-profit, grew out of ministry efforts in the faith community to focus on foster care. And Kendrick says the organization relies heavily on support from church volunteers to pull off the match events such as the one Monday evening at The Heights. She says there is a way for everyone to get involved in the effort to find homes for the roughly 3,700 children in Texas growing up in foster care.
“Today, right now, they’re waiting in foster care and their family could be out there somewhere. We believe their family is out there and we just have to connect the two,” said Kendrick.
The children available for adoption are not at the match events. They are represented, instead, by elaborate displays with pictures, videos and glimpses of their interests and personalities. CASA volunteers and caseworkers are also available to answer questions — without subjecting the children to rejection if they’re not chosen. And supporters know the process works: just ask a volunteer we’ll call Kirsten.
“I was done,” said the mother of two. “I was emptying the nest, he was going off to college, I was about to start traveling and playing tennis the rest of my life.”
But, a curious thing happened on the way to the tennis courts. As she helped to arrange tables and set up for a match event, she looked at the displays. And a teenage boy named John kept returning to her thoughts.
“I was really impressed by the resilience of this boy,” said Kirsten. “I could kind of see his heart through his eyes and I just really felt there was a connection there.”
She says she thought her husband would “talk some sense” into her. But, to her surprise, he was all in. And so were her children. So, now the family is working toward adopting the 15-year-old boy.
“No matter what a great job the caseworkers and the agencies and the foster parents are doing,” said Kendrick, “nothing replaces having a family to call your own. And that’s our dream for every one of these kids.”