It takes special people to adopt children and take care of them if they are not biological offspring. Some don’t get to choose whether they become a parent or not. Adoptive and foster parents choose to love a child and give them every benefit a stable home provides.
Alexander City’s Lenny and Mary Arnold are two such people.
The Arnolds have served as foster parents to 101 children during the last 27 years, ranging from a 3-month-old baby to a 17-year-old girl. The children have been biracial, African-American, Hispanic and white.
Mary Arnold had a particular motivation to be a foster parent. An orphan at the age of 5 and the youngest of five siblings, she said she was passed over repeatedly to be adopted.
“I got to where I refused to come out of my room because I knew I wasn’t going to be picked,” she said. “I hated adults, didn’t trust adults, and pointed out that they were mean, hateful and lied. My family was ripped apart in front of me.”
She went from foster home to foster home until she was 18, when she met and married Lenny; they had two biological children and adopted another child.
Lenny Arnold said fostering wayward, needy children was an easy decision for his wife.
“When he asked me to marry him, I told him to never forget that I have a mission,” she said. “I said, ‘We are going to have foster kids.’ I had felt the call all my life.”
That call has led to a lifeline of support for 101 kids, most of whom have stayed in touch and gone on to enjoy good lives thanks to the Arnolds. God bless them, those like them and those they helped raise.