KAREN deVILLE, Poet & Author
Inspired by all of the Children cared for by PCHAS
If I could turn back the hands of time
I would turn corners
jump through the magical loops of mystery
just to find the words to make you feel alright.
If I could bend time
I would squeeze through trees
tumble across the Serengeti
lap, sip, and drink the Atlantic
all to show you the depths of my love
that runs deeper than surface to crust.
The voided crater you were unfortunately given at birth is not yours to own.
If I could bend time
I would store up filled wishes, kisses
many ways to let you know you’re missed when away
and spin them all into a woven baby’s blanket
waiting for you
when you made your entry
through womb to mother’s earth.
I’ll wrap it over, under, and beside you
to shield the ills, chills
and lack you grew to embrace
as your heart home.
If I could bend time
I would fold back to the day
you laughed instead of cried
the day you accepted crumbs for love
to the day when you heard said,
you weren’t good enough
would never be anything
and scoop you up to lollipop your ears
to hear the sweetness and softness
of your developing heart.
If I could bend time
I would bend it
with only you in mind
to let you feel love
entering through your first breath
to your last heartbeat.
I’ll love you forever
even when time is not on our side
I’ll bend it with only you in mind
If I could bend time…..
Cutting Through the Noise
Inspired by “Lisa’s Story”
Cutting through the noise
Drowning my emotions
Numbing my feelings
Cut by cut
My expression of choice
To erase my reality
Empowering my center
An escape of my lonely world
Hoping for something I never knew
Lower I go to reach the floor of my stability
Only to find it loved me cold
But snatched was I from my brutal plan
And help I found from those special hands
Who understood my rejected-ness
And helped me see my respectfulness
Step by step I entered a journey of love through the hope of angels
For when my angels appeared their feathers became my shield
Turning C’s and D’s to A’s and B’s
Learning who I am and finding what I can
To progress my way to uncover my gifts
I am the most valuable player
I can excel in math and science
I do sit on the honor roll
They showed me a better plan
And helped my need
To kill the emotions
To embrace the thrill
Of their devotion
I am gifted
I am lifted
I can live
For they showed me how to heal my ills
And turned my dark days into a plan of love
I dare not imagine my life without them
They rescued me from my pit
And now I sit in my fit
As an 11-year-old, Lisa was sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend, and was removed from her home by Child Protective Services. She was placed in a foster home, but because she’d been cutting herself, her foster parents and the psychiatrist she was seeing at the time were concerned for her safety. Lisa was placed in a residential treatment center, whose staff has special expertise with children who cut themselves. Lisa had a hard time regulating, expressing or understanding her emotions. The center’s psychiatrist said that Lisa was feeling worthless, lonely and rejected.
After her time in the treatment center Lisa was welcomed into in a PCHAS foster home. Her foster parents were concerned because Lisa was withdrawn and suffered from bouts of deep depression, but they provided her structure, stability and love. When they were called to become Lisa’s foster parents, their case manager knew them well. She assured them that she would be with them every step of this journey of love. And she was.
Over the course of her first year, Lisa made significant progress. She joined the basketball team, and won the “most valuable player” award. Her foster parents attended all her basketball games, and the night that she won the award, they were so proud! A naturally gifted student who especially enjoys math and science, Lisa eventually brought her grades up from C’s and D’s to A’s and B’s. She was on the honor roll! She knew her foster parents would be thrilled with her progress in school and she beamed when she showed them her report card.
Lisa still has scars from her days as a “cutter.” She also has nightmares from the years of sexual abuse she suffered in the past. She is grateful to her PCHAS foster parents, who provided love, hope and healing during one of the darkest times of her life. Once so fragile, Lisa exceeded all their expectations. She cannot imagine what her life would have been like without them.
Without you, our supporters, we would not be able to do the work that we do. Our clients and our hardworking staff members thank you from the bottom of their hearts. You allow us to extend compassion and hope to a child in need. Your support will enable PCHAS to connect more children like Lisa with loving foster parents. Thank you!
The Right of Whitney
Inspired by Whitney’s Story
Home to home
With no place to roam
No place to lay my dreams
Allow my thoughts to scale
Tall building in a single bounce
No place to ease my body
To rest my developmental self
Taken by advances
Raped by monsters
Bitten by the truth
Manipulated to hide my youth
Full of hate
You dared not to claim the mistake
Full of hurt
Yet your words be so curt
You took me in
And wanted me to win
As long as my past felt pins
Didn’t stick to your only kin
But later for all that
The PCHAS pack accepted me back
Believed in me when I said
Comforted me where I laid my head
Protected me to stand
Pushed me to understand
I can have dignity
I can live a life of brilliancy
That will lead me to my liberty
To help another and take their hand
To work through their misery
For I stand despite what you did to me
And today I stand and fight
For my right in Victory!
It would take a lifetime to explain what Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services means to me, but I would like to share my story in hopes that I can convey the impact they have had on my life. PCHAS saved my life. PCHAS gave me choices, dignity, and a safe haven. PCHAS gave me a home where I wouldn’t be exploited, where I could pick up the fragile pieces of my existence and try to make something of myself.
I was born into a sexually, verbally and emotionally abusive family. When my sister was young she quit school to stay home and help protect me. Later that year my uncle called Child Protective Services to report my parents. My mother left and my father became incarcerated. My sister and I entered foster care. After several years in care we found out there was a family who wanted to adopt us. We were so excited and quickly became part of a family.
We did all the normal things a family would enjoy like vacations and holidays. We found our place. It was a dream, until one day when it shattered. The day where I was standing outside with my adopted uncle and he began to sexually abuse me.
I was horrified but I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t want to be moved again. But my parents found out anyway; and instead of protecting me and fighting for me, I woke up one morning to find myself being sent away. They said that I was lying and they didn’t want me anymore.
The foster care social worker couldn’t find a place to put me for a while but PCHAS took a chance on me. The PCHAS staff sat me down away from my adoptive parents, asked me what happened and told me that I could live in a PCHAS Group Home if I wanted to. The staff never doubted my word; they never said I was lying. I arrived terrified, manipulative, full of hate and full of hurt, but the staff made a difference by listening to me.
The next five years of my life were amazing. I finally found a place to belong, to call my own. I finally knew who I was and who I wanted to be. PCHAS did so much more than clothe me, feed me and send me to school. The PCHAS staff helped me discover myself.
Inspired By Sarah's Story
Odds would say
I’m down for the college count
But the Green’s of love
Stabilized my walk
And taught me to persevere
Through their love and attention
I became a child of mention
No matter my years of cycling homes
I found one to cling to
And one to bring
My sister Nora’s things to
Perseverance is my name
With several scholarships as my gain
I stand tall for I’ve been giving
The walk of a godly figure
To model my future days
Counter to my starting ways
Onward and upward
To be the proud the true
Enabled by the Green’s
I am so other youth
Can walk as I be the proof
A foster of love
Can dispel the truth of a fallen child
Who’s been passed from boot to boot
Destined not to shoot for a college boost
Let’s raise the statistic
So they can become the realistic
Graduates of truth
Sarah is 17 years old and heading to college. Typical? Not at all. Why? Sarah has been in the foster care system since she was three years old. During this time, she was bounced from one foster home to another. Sarah has been in more than 12 homes during her young life.
Research shows that each time a child is moved from one home to another, it compounds the emotional trauma they’ve been through, and the child falls six months behind in school. No wonder only 46% of the children in foster care graduate from high school. The odds were certainly stacked against Sarah.
That is until she was placed with new foster parents, the Greens. Since being placed with the Greens, Sarah has stabilized, caught up academically and has received several scholarships to attend college! Sarah has been so happy in the Greens’ home that she has asked if her younger sister, Nora, who has also lived in many different foster homes over the years, could also be placed with the Greens. “I want my sister to see how great it is to actually have a mom and dad after all these years,” said Sarah.
Sarah’s name should be in the dictionary under the word “perseverance,” which has two meanings:
1) Steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
Theology. Continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.
Sarah embodies both meanings of perseverance. However, it also can’t be understated how the Greens have literally been a Christ figure to Sarah -- loving and supporting her to provide hope and healing and become all that God intends.
“We’ve seen her happiness and have been so happy for her. We’re really proud of what Sarah has accomplished with her life, and, to tell the truth, we are proud of ourselves, too,” said the Greens at Sarah’s high school graduation.
The Mix of 6
Inspired by 6 kids find their “forever home”
Six kids someone must take
Altogether they make
A happy escape
To the family ties of a stranger
Bonded over time
Into a magical line of love
And culture to shine
The light of a lost
Which began in their plight
From the rays of the sun
To brighten the tenderness of a bystander
Who took a stand and said
Not in this land
Should this pack of six be melt
Like a Popsicle stick
Trapped in a box
Dejected by their mix
For no matter the mix
All was designed
With a greater purpose in mind
To shape this pack of six
To foster the development
Of a multiple of
6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 6
Into the 46 of thousands
To bond family ties of this mix
Into a wonderful predicate.
6 kids find their “forever home” Story
Six children came into care after being left in a hot car for hours as their care taker was in a bar drinking in the middle of the day. No one foster family can take in six children so they were split up into different foster homes. Despite the children having their fair share of disappointments and transitions over the past few years, the kids are still so optimistic and full of life.
They range in ages from 3 to 14. They are your typical kids who love gymnastics, sports, and trying fun new activities. They have an incredible sense of humor and have been remarkably resilient throughout their time is foster care. The past several years for these children have been quite the rollercoaster. They have experienced the raw reality of foster care and the beauty of finding a new beginning just recently when a local family stepped up to bring unimaginable hope to these children in the darkest of times this July.
We were able to find an adoptive home to take all siblings together. This adoptive family is a rare find. It is very difficult to find an adoptive home willing to take all of the siblings in care, but especially a family that matches their ethnic identity. As a case worker we take into account the cultural identity of a child and the impact that will have on them throughout their development and into their adult life. This was a long and time consuming process seeking the best fit for the children involved. It was all worth it though! When asking the kids about the favorite part of their new adoptive home, "I like seeing my brothers and sisters every day!”
We were so blessed to find a home that had the same view to keep the siblings together and assist in helping them retain their cultural identity. They are a large family with a lot of love to give and will be an incredible presence in the lives of these six children. Through one turn of fate, and years of being in temporary foster care, these children will now have a sense of permanency, a new loving family, a forever family.
Embracing the Bag
Inspired by three children one garbage bag
has befallen the children
has left them holding the bag
Fear based and love starved
Took a toll of time
To accept the caring nature of another
As one they could cling to
And relax to bring their cares and things to
For their bag held more than things
But scars and tears
Mended only by patience and a weave of a thread
They could hold no matter where they were led
To blossom this three
Into an awesome memory
Wiping the tears
And holding the fears
As scars of their time
Faded deep in the way
To their smiles by day
And sweet dreams
In their stay
Three children, one garbage bag
PCHAS received a call from a school principal, who was very concerned about three children, ages 9, 8 and 6. She knew that something was very wrong; this was clear, she said, from their sullen behavior and disheveled appearance. Their mother had been arrested on drug charges and the children were living with a family friend. The family friend, who was also addicted to drugs, neglected the children.
The children came into our care holding a garbage bag, their “suitcase” that carried what little clothes they had.
Our Child and Family specialist worked with PCHAS’ dedicated foster care and adoption team, who placed them with caring PCHAS foster parents. The foster parents loved the children unconditionally, something the children had never experienced before.
It took six months for the children to learn to trust the foster parents. But once they did, the children blossomed in their care.
His 1st Love Party
Inspired by The Birthday Cake Story
Walking to the cake
My fear is out
I’m developing like the ninja
Sweet icing to eat
And even more to be
A Ninja Turtle for today
In my temporary home
I found those to love me
Those to bridge my journey
With agape healing love
Get on board the 1st Love Party
Leaving the station
6 years in his life journey
We love him as God loves
We worry not
For this is a step of his healing
We do our part
For we know our hearts
Be it a story
A lesson to ride
A trip to experience delight
We stand to meet our call
Enriching his body, soul and spirit
To prepare his way
To live in love each day
For we are the family that fosters
From the hard places to a loving space
And today we stand in celebration
With his 1st cake of love to lead his way.
Birthday Cake Story
“Miss Leah, have you ever had birthday cake? IT IS SO GOOD! I had one with Ninja Turtles and it had icing and it turned my mouth bright green! It was AWESOME!”
As a social worker, you prepare yourself to hear things that should never happen to children. I have heard a lot of horrifying things in the time that I have been an advocate for children from hard places. When this sweet 6 year old boy told me all about his birthday cake, all my training went out the window and the façade was cracked. I cried. And I cried hard.
I cried because he was so amazed at receiving a birthday cake—the first birthday cake he had ever had—something we all take for granted.
I cried because his foster parents, whom he had only known a short time, threw him a birthday party—and understood why such a small thing is monumental in his world. And took into consideration that Ninja Turtles are his favorite.
I cried because the birthday cake was only a small stepping stone in his journey of hope and healing.
I cried because this amazing child, God’s child, was safe. Not only did he have a foster family to meet his basic needs, he had a foster family that met his needs body, soul and spirit. A family that read him bedtime stories, talked to him about Jesus, took him on family trips, showed him how to ride a bike and most importantly, loved him as if he were born to them.
Lastly, I cried because there were people out there that loved this sweet boy as if he were born to them knowing that in the end, he may not stay in their home forever. Not only was their love powerful, it was healing. The fear of caring for children from hard places was driven out by love. And it all started with cake.
Inspired by Baby Isaac Story
There I lay
Naked and alone
Born into this world
Who can they call?
Who would be prepared?
But you were there
Perfect just for me
You were there
To hold me
To soothe all the pains
I felt inside
For my situation
Conceived from a need
A need of want
A need of lack
A need for a fix
Carried was I
For nine months
As an imposition
An after thought
Although I have
No conceivable idea
Of the magnitude
Of my situation
Or that which
Will bring me to
A healthier place
You are here
To love me
Care for me
And that’s what I
Am waiting for
You are ready
No matter the cost
No matter my struggle
Fighting to survive
For the entry to this world
The hardest thing for me
For I am yet
And I am here
Because you care
And if I could
Could speak a word
It would be two
Baby Isaac’s Story
Loving foster parents like Andy and Donna can literally make the difference between life and death. Andy and Donna feel as though they are called by God to care for the most fragile of the children in need. Some of the most fragile children are newborn babies with health problems. Having adopted an older child with health problems, Andy and Donna developed a reputation with PCHAS foster care specialists for taking some of the most difficult cases, so the specialists knew even before they called them that Andy and Donna were likely up for the challenge.
Andy and Donna met Baby Isaac in the neo-natal intensive care unit at a nearby hospital. Isaac had been exposed to drugs in utero and was suffering from withdrawal. He cried a lot and acted irritable and jittery. Andy and Donna’s hearts went out to this tiny, innocent baby who was suffering so. Isaac was hospitalized for a month before Andy and Donna could take him home. Isaac was being weaned off of the drug he became addicted to in utero. Isaac was kept in a very quiet, darkened room in the hospital since bright lights and noise irritated him while he was undergoing withdrawal.
The doctors also recommended a lot of tender, loving care for Isaac, which Andy and Donna were more than happy to provide. Day after day, they wrapped Isaac tight in his blanket, which made him feel more secure, and rocked him gently for hours. Isaac’s cry was louder and more insistent than most babies’ cries, and it broke Andy and Donna’s hearts to hear these cries. They could only imagine what Isaac was going through.
After a month of visits from Andy and Donna, Isaac was released from the hospital and they could finally take him home. Isaac’s pitiful cries continued, but Andy and Donna continued to rock him and hold him tight until he calmed down. Andy and Donna are a Godsend to Isaac, and Isaac has responded well to their loving touch.
Fast forward one year: Isaac is thriving! He has not hit all the developmental milestones that normal one-year-olds achieve at one year of age, but the doctors think that he will soon catch up to other children. He has bonded with his foster parents and smiles and laughs easily. Andy and Donna couldn’t be happier. They feel that Isaac is a gift from God.
One More Time
Inspired by Allen’s Story
Over and done
I thought at 9
I had won
But it turned out like
The kind of abuse
That I had grew
Because I knew
Removed at 4
Then at 5
Medicated for this
And that, yep too
What more can they
Put on me?
Maybe a tour of DDLD
Developed – delayed
Learning – disabled
Not yet done
Here are more guns
Impulse – erratic
Trust – destroyed
I reached eleven
But then one kind
Took her time
To see that I
Had no development feathers
But these rather
I like football
And soccer too
Nothing I speak
To unglue my rule
I may not listen
I dare not trust
With the lack of love
What shape can they
Expect me be?
So when the next
That’s Emma and Joe
Signed to put me
In their tow
Nervous and disheveled
One big step
I took and left
My hometown place
We took our time
Worked with this one
And that one too
Until my doubts
Turned to be
A forever family
Allen was five years old when the police removed him from his birth family. Because his mother was mentally ill and physically abusive, and his father was using drugs, Allen entered the foster care system.
For five years, as he moved between foster homes, he had trouble with impulse control. He showed signs of developmental delays and a learning disability. The little boy was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and medicated for ADHD. When he was adopted at age nine, he hoped his problems were over.
Within two years, Allen’s teachers accused the adoptive parents of abuse, and he re-entered the system. He spent his middle-school years living with foster parents.
A Foster Care Case Manager for PCHAS met Allen when he was 15. “Allen does not have behavior problems,” she points out. “He is a good kid who likes football, soccer and video games. He might come across as immature, and might resist authority sometimes, but he shows up every morning at school and gets through the day without becoming unglued. We knew he was a good candidate for adoption, if we could find the right fit.”
Allen had always lived in Texas and has a biological sister in the area. About a year ago he took a big step: He left his hometown. He agreed to stay with a couple, Ron and Amy almost a two-hour drive away from his hometown. “He avoided discussing adoption at first,” our case manager explained. “He had to test Ron and Amy before he could trust them. Then when Ron and Amy started fostering a toddler, Allen was nervous about being replaced. It took us a while to work through his fear of rejection.” PCHAS provided moral support and practical advice to Ron and Amy while they fostered Allen. Knowing that an adoption would end PCHAS involvement, the couple asked for family therapy. PCHAS assisted them with finding a therapist to help the new family through their transition.
Last fall Ron, Amy and Allen agreed to be a “forever family.” They completed adoption proceedings in the Spring.
Inspired by Carly's story
I’m dancing to my special groove
I’ve overcome the odds
I’ve jumped in and flowed
High School, college, working, all this
Maintaining my 3+ GPA
Not just an easy move
But I’m stepping in the sports medicine tune baby
No matter the decade plus in foster care
I’ve stepped out the tough life ‘til I’m bare
I’m dancing to my special groove
Day by day
Rejoicing all the way!
Carly has been in foster care since the early 2000’s due to concerns of abuse and neglect for Carly and her much younger siblings.
While still in foster care, Carly’s biological mother passed away leaving her with no one to help care for her. Despite the many obstacles Carly has had to work through and overcome, she has never lost sight of the importance of education.
She is currently enrolled in college studying sports medicine. Carly has maintained a 3+ GPA while working full time and living on her own. She plans to transfer in the fall and continue her studies in Sports Medicine.
These are HUGE accomplishments for any child in foster care. And, in addition to her being a dedicated student, Carly has proven to be motivated, responsible, resourceful, passionate, and a strong self-advocate. She always rises to any challenge and will accomplish anything she sets her mind to achieve.
A Test of Love Artist
Inspired by Hannah’s story
As the sun rises so does my love for you
As you kick and scream
Fighting to be supreme
So will my love for you
Daily I wait for you to test it
So I can show you how deep my love flows
Soon you will see and there I will be
Up to the rising sun
Singing my love for you
Hannah was a young 4 year old girl who had suffered horrific abuse. She had been through a series of 12 foster homes in a year as a result of her negative behavior or acting out.
PCHAS foster parents the Stacey’s got the call that if anyone could get through to her it was them and would they be willing to take this little girl into their home, they accepted. When Hannah arrived she promptly tested their love for her by breaking out a van window. Hannah defiantly said “Well are you going to send me to another home now”. She was determined to not allow another person to hurt her first. Pat responded that as determined as she was to hate him she had met her match and he was going to love her harder than she could hate him.
It wasn’t an easy road there were times when Hannah would have outbursts that would last for hours or she would threaten to run away and Pat would have to sleep outside her bedroom door in the hallway to make sure she was safe. Slowly after a few months of her testing their love and seeing they weren’t going anywhere her behavior began to improve. She was finally at the point where she could be reunited with her Uncle who was fostering her two younger siblings. As the Stacy’s prepared her to leave they didn’t want Hannah to feel like she was being sent away, so on their last day together they woke up to watch the sunrise together. As the sun peaked out of it’s hiding place her Pat told her “every time you wake up and see the sun know that I am seeing that same sun and looking up, saying your name and telling you I love you and I want you to do the same”
A few short months went by and Pat got a phone call, on the other line was Hannah’s aunt. She said Hannah wanted to speak to Pat and he said of course put her on. Hannah’s sweet voice came on the line and said “Daddy Pat are you still looking up at the sun every day and thinking about me?” and he said absolutely.
Living In My Memories
Inspired by Ann’s Story
Downtrodden and out
No one to hold my hand
No one to understand
A tear, a scream, the horrid dreams
I was living in my memory
I went once
I went twice
To settle in a home
I thought could be my own
To my dismay
All wasn’t in a way
Where I could grow and become the one
I lived to dream that day in my scene
So once again
I’m living in my memories
Until that day the invite came my way
And in it I found
A troop, my group
To make and shape new memories
For through this love
The PCHAS bug
Bit me and became
My new hope and claim
So today I shine
I found a new start
A new part in my heart
Can you see me in the art?
Living in my memories
Still I do
For through them I am
The magnificent with all of you
For truly one day
I hope to hear you say
You can see me in your memory
Ann is not one to let a difficult past define her.
When she was a toddler, she was placed with her older sister in foster care. At age 6, she was adopted by one of her foster care families, but physical abuse soon drove Ann and her sister from their adoptive home. The girls were then placed in a group home on the campus of the Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services in Waxahachie.
Ann found role models and a supportive, healing environment within the staff at PCHAS and at church. “A lot of kids don’t bond with adults outside the group home. At church is where I got a lot of my support. I have had mentors along the way,” Ann said. “Probably one of the biggest things in my life, though, is God. I’ve always prayed and asked for help.”
Ann said she exceled at school because she received positive adult attention and feedback.
“I needed to know I was doing a good job,” Ann said. “I needed to hear that from teachers, because I didn’t have parents to tell me that. That’s when I started to do really well.”
In her junior year, Ann transferred from her local high school to a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) academy. By the time Ann graduated, she also had earned an associate degree in general science — graduating magna cum laude from a local community college.
Knowing she wanted a four-year degree, her church awarded her a scholarship to help with college expenses. This scholarship helped seal the deal for her to attend the University of her choice.
Higher education tuition in Texas is waived for students coming out of the foster care system, but not many young people take advantage of that break. Citing national studies just 13 percent of foster care children attend college with only 3 percent graduating.
Ann’s goal is to work in animation. “I was always an artist, ever since I could pick up a pencil. I love seeing things come to life, taking things that are only in your mind and making them real,” Ann said.
“I always tell people, ‘Don’t ever let your past be a reason you can’t do something,’” Ann said. “I always wanted things to be better, but you can learn from the bad decisions of others and make it different for yourself.”