ARKANSAS (KFSM) -- The need for foster homes in the Natural State continues to grow, with more than 900 kids looking for a forever family in our area.
Michelle and Dustin Jones knew from the beginning of their marriage that they would try to adopt children. They first opened their home to foster kids, but then they eventually decided to adopt.
The family of five grew in 2011 when the Jones's adopted a sibling group of six kids. The family is now happier than ever.
"We couldn't separate a sibling group, so we kept them all together," Michelle said. "There were six of them, then we have three of our own biological children."
The kids ages range from 6 to 12.
"At first, we thought that nine kids was too much and we couldn't handle it. So we started letting them go to another foster home for visits so the sibling group could all be together," Michelle said. "But there was alleged abuse in that home, and at that point we decided that was God telling us that they were our kids and they needed to be back in our house."
In the family's free time, they love fishing and traveling to Branson for vacations.
Michelle and Dustin both agree that there's a big need in our area for kids that need homes and loving, forever families. "You always think 'I'm not ready', but these kids weren't ready to be put into foster care either," said Michelle. "That's the thing. You can't wait until you're ready, because you'll never be ready," she added.
"There's so many kids out there that need a family that they don't have. They're in shelters around the area, and I just see the need to help," Dustin said.
The Jones's said the process to adopt was tedious, but worth it.
According to the Arkansas Department of Human Services, the adoption process from start to finish takes about a year to finalize.
If your family is interested in adopting or fostering, a background check will first be completed. Then comes an in-home meeting with the family to do a brief walk through assessment of the home. Training classes are then conducted for the family to learn more about the adoption process. The safe home study is the final step.
If you're interested in opening your home to foster children, DHS is always on the lookout to place kids in temporary homes until they can reunite with their families.
To learn more about adopting or fostering a child, CLICK HERE.