Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

 

Dreaming Big Dreams

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

Kayleen and her daughterSelfless and driven, twenty-year-old Kayleen has big plans for the future, plans that involve putting the needs of others before her own.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had one dream, to foster and adopt children,” Kayleen begins with a smile, pushing long brunette tresses away from her pretty face. “I remember, growing up, my sister and I played a game. We called it Big Momma’s Orphanage.” Kayleen laughs. “We had a giant, blue stuffed animal dog with a hole in her belly—that was Big Momma—and she adopted all the other stuffed animals. They were her kids. We’d take the stuffing out of her belly and put them in there, and she’d take her kids on field trips and vacations. We never wanted any of the stuffed animals to feel left out, so we set up a rotation system to make sure they got played with equally.”

When she was eleven or so, Kayleen became a church volunteer and began working with children. Still concerned with making sure everyone was included and happy, Kayleen found herself drawn to children with special needs. The affinity was mutual.

“I spent a lot of time with two kids, in particular,” Kayleen says, “one with Down Syndrome and another with autism. I hadn’t really dealt with anyone with special needs before, but those two kids attached themselves to me and followed me everywhere. I didn’t think it was unusual until the mother of one of the kids came to pick her daughter up. I handed her a picture her daughter had colored, and she freaked out. Apparently, her daughter wasn’t supposed to be able to do that. She called her husband and doctor and thanked me. After she left, I thought, ‘Oh my…! I had something to do with that!’ It was a great feeling.”

Over the next several years, Kayleen continued to work with children. She found joy in coaxing children to overcome challenges and soothing children no one else could soothe. These experiences would eventually lead her to consider a career in occupational therapy. When Kayleen turned fourteen, however, things changed. In her words, “life hit hard,” and for a while, it looked as if her dreams of helping children might never come true. By sixteen, Kayleen had a child of her own and was stuck in an abusive relationship.

“I felt like a statistic,” Kayleen recounts. “No dreams. No future. I never knew from day to day what was going to happen. I went to bed every night hoping Sally wouldn’t wake up and cry and make her dad mad. I didn’t want her getting yelled at or hit.”

Finally, Kayleen had had enough. Just before turning eighteen, she moved in with her brother and sister-in-law, who had five children of their own, and began looking for another place to live.

“I heard about OBHC, but it sounded too good to be true,” Kayleen admits. “Then I came here, and it really was perfect. All I remember about that first week is an overwhelming feeling of safety and happiness. I wasn’t afraid anymore. I was able to sleep knowing my baby and I would be fine all night long.”

With the encouragement of her associate houseparents, the Mooreheads, Kayleen began to dream again. “I remember they would stay up until midnight with me talking about life and what I wanted to do with mine,” Kayleen says. “They got me thinking. I enrolled in school and set financial and family goals.”

Now that Kayleen’s daughter Sally is a little older, the two dream big dreams together. All their dreams involve fostering and/or adopting children and none are contingent upon Kayleen’s being married. “I don’t know if that’s in my future or not,” Kayleen says, “but that’s not what I’m working toward. Sally and I want a family. We talk about the brothers and sisters she’ll have someday and the fun things we’ll do, ordinary things like getting groceries together, eating ice-cream, and watching movies. We’ll be happy just being together.”

Although Kayleen believes in God, she has yet to process His role in her life and how she intends to respond to Him. “When I was a kid, it was easy to love God,” she says. “I was a little Bible-thumper, but I have a lot of hurt to work through now. I haven’t reached the point of giving it all to Him yet, but I do want Sally to grow up in a Christian home. I want that for both of us, actually.”

To those who support OBHC financially and have given her room to dream big dreams, Kayleen offers her heartfelt thanks. “Without you, I wouldn’t have finished school,” Kayleen says. “I’d probably still be on government assistance, eating stale bread and peanut butter every day. I’d be a statistic, working a minimum wage job and just trying to survive, never having time to enjoy life or plan for the future. That’s no kind of life. I know how you’ve blessed me. I just hope you do!”

July 2017



For privacy and safety reasons, some residents' names and/or photos have been changed.

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