Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

Someone You've Helped - through your support for Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children
Kim Whiteley

Kim Whiteley lived with her brother and sisters at the Baptist Children's Home from 1975-1980. She is now the Principal at McAuliffe Elementary School in the Union district. Kim shared her story at the 2007 Owasso Style Show. The following is an excerpt from that story.

I was three years old when my parents divorced and I have no memories of them being married.  It was a time when it didn't really matter what kind of parent you were; as the mother, you got the children regardless.  There were four of us, my sisters Kelli and Kira, me, and my younger brother Michael.  My father fought so desperately to get us back but never won.  When my mom remarried and moved the four of us to California my father was heartbroken.  During the three and half years we lived there he did everything he could do to get us.  

Hell is the best way I can describe those years in California.  We lived through a lot of things kids should not have to live through.  Both my mom and step-dad were alcoholics, and I suspect now as an adult that they were both drug users, although I can't be sure.  We were the house on the block where the police always came.  Their fights would get so bad that police would be called. 

Many times my mother would leave for days and my oldest sister Kelli would use her own babysitting money to walk to the grocery store and buy us food.  We were closer than most kids because of what we were living through; we grew to become very dependent upon each other. 

In 1975 my mom got a divorce and decided to call our dad in Oklahoma.  She said she needed some help taking care of us for awhile.  My dad, of course, jumped at the opportunity.  He had never missed a birthday or holiday and called us all the time when we were in California.  He began to try to figure out a way to keep us in Oklahoma with him.  But he knew it would be hard; He was a single man living in a one-bedroom apartment.  He knew he could not financially support a family of five.

It was the happiest day of my life when I stepped off the Greyhound bus and standing there was my dad.  I spent the best night of my life on a pallet in his apartment; I did not even care where I was sleeping, I was with my dad.  He woke us up the next morning and sat all four of us down on the couch and said "You aren't going to get to stay.  I 'we got to keep you in Oklahoma, but I can't keep you.  I can't send you back to your mother, but I can't take care of you."

My father found a place to help us, and we moved into the Children's Home.  My earliest memory of the Children's Home is security.  I felt safe and secure because there was an adult in the house twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  There was always someone to make breakfast, there were snacks after school, and someone to cook dinner every night.  That was not something we had experienced in a long time. 

Along with that, some of my earliest memories are of our immediate spiritual influence.  It seems as if we were in church as soon as we got there.  We were there whenever the doors were open.  We also had devotionals in our cottage.  During the time we lived there, all four of us became Christians.  We had never before had a spiritual influence in our life.  Had we not gone to the Baptist Children's Home, it isn't certain we would have had that exposure.  For the first time in our lives, we felt secure and safe and had a spiritual influence. 

I don't ever remember a time being discouraged to be involved in any activity.  In fact, they encouraged us.  If we ever came home and said we wanted to try something, the provisions were made to do so.  I remember coming home after school in the fifth grade wanting to play in the band.  I specifically wanted to play the flute.  Soon after, they got me a flute and I started. 

Later I came and said I wanted to play the piano.  Before I knew it a piano appeared.  I got signed up for lessons, and started playing.  Michael, Kira and Kelli all played sports.  And it was all because of people that financially supported the Children's Home that will probably never meet us.  I an so grateful that there are people out there who would do things like that so children might get those opportunities.

During this time Dad desperately wanted to have us at home, but had to meet some requirements in order to get us.  Luckily, I had the kind of father that moved to and bought a house so that when we eventually got to come home we would stay in Owasso schools.  We had visitations every Sunday from two to four and he never missed one.  I can remember feeling kind of bad because my dad was always there.  There were lots of kids that would stand at the door or window every Sunday waiting for someone to come and they never came.  Our dad never missed; he was there every week.

He never missed a football game, or a band concert, or basketball game.  So we saw him more than most kids got to see their parents because he was in the same city staying involved in our lives.  Nevertheless, when you don't live with your parents, you know it.  I'm forty-two, and I still remember the pain of putting my arms around his neck when he would take me back to the campus, and I would say "Daddy take me home, take me home."  He would look at me, I don't know how he did, and he could say, "You are home."  And it was my home, for five years.  The Children's Home took care of us.  At the end of five years my dad had met the requirements to let us come home.  That was the best day of my life.  Although it was exciting and fun, I was scared because I had felt so safe and secure in the Children's Home, and I was again starting something totally unfamiliar.

Our association with the Children's Home did not stop when we left.  I can remember right before my junior year of high school, Mike Nomura called me at home and all I heard him say was "Kim, we have a little girl here who wants to play the flute."  I froze.  I had taken my flute with me.  All I could think was that I was going to have to quit band.  I had been playing for seven years, and I was the drum major for the high school band.  I couldn't imagine giving up my flute, I didn't want to quit. 

I know my dad probably could not afford a new flute.  My head was spinning and my heart was dropping.  In my panic I had not heard Mike say they were going to give me another flute.  I wasn't expecting that.  He got me the top-of-the-line, best flute.  They went above and beyond.  I still have my flute to this day.  The Children's Home was still taking care of me.  They were still investing in my future.

Right before I left for college, Mike Nomura called me again.  He told me that they would like to send me some spending money since I was trying to pay for college.  He told me to give him my address and look for a check every month.  During the four years that I worked on my bachelor's degree, I got a check from the Baptist Children's Home for $75 every month.  It doesn't sound like much now, but in 1983 and to someone who was working every semester and every summer to pay for college, $75 was a lot of money to me.  I had not live there in three years, and I couldn't not believe that they were still taking care of us.

When many of us hear the works "mission" and "missionary," our mind recall places like Africa or Guatemala or maybe even inner city of New York or Los Angeles.  But I wonder if any of us see a campus.  I see the Baptist Children's Home in Owasso.  The people who work there have given their lives to take care of kids like us.  They take us in, love us, and care for us.  God is doing His work at that campus; it is a mission field, and they are missionaries.

Children who have been abused and neglected show up at their doorstep.  Nobody but the Baptist Children's Home wants these kids.  They take them and buy their school clothes and books and pay for their cheerleading outfits, if that is what they want to do.  They are able to do this because people that may never meet the children support these efforts.  Kids can grow up like me one day, fulfilling dreams far beyond their imagination.

Kim Whiteley is the mother of two beautiful children, Gannon is fifteen and a freshman.  Sayre is ten and in fourth grade.  Along with Kim, both Kelli and Kira are public school administrators.  Kelli is the Assistant Principal at North Intermediate High School in Broken Arrow.  Kira is the Sixth Grade principal in Owasso.  Kira has the opportunity to work with sixth graders living at the Children's Home.  Michael was in the Air Force for six years and is now a mechanic at American Airlines.

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