When you meet an Angels’ Arms foster parent, you begin to understand that these are very special people. People who love and care for children, and are willing to sacrifice more than you can imagine to give them the life they deserve.
One of our newer parents joined Angels’ Arms in the middle of the covid pandemic. After a year as an Angels’ Arms foster parent, we checked in with Lawreene Hall to learn more about her and what this past year has been like.
Room in our home, room in our hearts
Although Lawreene and her husband Will Hall joined Angels’ Arms as a foster parents in July 2021, they began fostering in 2013. Lawreene watched her own mother foster children for 18 years. It made a big impact on her, and she felt that “God placed it on my heart to become a foster mom. We had room in our home and our hearts.”
She watched former foster children return to her mother and say, “I don’t know where I would be if you didn’t course correct me. In the midst of fostering, they may not have understood or appreciated what was going on, but it made a difference that changed their lives.”
Lawreene’s three biological sons and Will’s son and daughter were grown and had homes of their own, which left them with “room in their home.” Now they care for six foster children, and they also enjoy nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, with another grandchild on the way. But even with their own children out of the house, the Hall’s realized that their 3-bedroom home and small backyard were not ideal for raising a big group of boys.
Much needed support
With Angels’ Arms, everything changed. Lawreene explained that at first, “the biggest change was our location, a totally different school district which we love. And more space. We now have four bedrooms, and a huge back yard. The boys having more outdoor space was just fantastic.”
But for Lawreene and her family, it’s the extras that come with being an Angels’ Arms home that makes a huge difference. “We are just able to do so much more for the boys. They definitely see and feel the difference. Something as simple as an extra bowl of cereal is huge. When you raise boys, they are always hungry. The word of the summer is ‘snack,’ and I constantly hear, ‘When is it time to eat again?’ The extra groceries and the gift cards – those are just a godsend.
“And there are so many other things, things I never thought about. We were going on a weekend trip, and Angels’ Arms supplied us with sunscreen, beach towels, life jackets, water shoes, everything the boys needed to have a special get-away. Not having to shop at a thrift store or look for hand-me-downs, that makes them feel good, too. It really ups their self-esteem. They can really blend in at school or wherever they go. Used clothes are great, but it feels good to get them brand new things sometimes, just like all the other kids they are with.”
Another real plus for Lawreene is the other Angels’ Arms parents. “I have a support system with Angels’ Arms, this core group of parents I can talk to. That extra support really helps.”
Navigating a year in covid
Lawreene didn’t know exactly what the future would hold when she came to Angels’ Arms last July in the middle of the pandemic. When the world shut down, Lawreene was still caring for six children. The resources that Angels’ Arms provided, from extra laptops and a printer to help with school work, were critical to helping the family get through the school year. “My hats go off to teachers. I couldn’t do it — but I had to do it for 2020. Covid was tough emotionally. You had the worry of keeping everyone healthy. I needed to stay healthy for them because they had underlying fears – ‘Miss Lawreene what will happen to us if you or Mr. Will get covid?’ That was extra stress for them.”
Homeschooling was difficult because the children are all at different levels. “They may be the same age, but they are not on the same playing field school wise. Imagine you are in kindergarten, and your first experience with school is on a zoom – that stinks. They needed the socialization with their peers. That was the roughest part of covid for us, and everyone was relieved when they got to go back to the classroom, even a few days a week.”
On the positive side, “2020 was a slow-down moment. We are always so go, go, go. We learned that things that we thought mattered, really didn’t matter. Things that we thought we couldn’t survive without were not as important as we thought. The health and safety of those around us was really the most important thing. I think God just told us to slow down. Breathe. Look up. I felt like the birds were chirping more. I wondered if they had always been there chirping in the morning. And it seemed like the grass was greener, the sun was brighter. I don’t know if it really was, or if we just slowed down and were able to see it and hear it for the first time.”