Foster Children Find Hope from Anna's House
By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A metro family is fighting for children in the state and for changes in Oklahoma's foster care system.
Greg and Elizabeth Harkins started Anna's House in hopes curving the high number of Oklahoma children who are passed from house to house in the foster care system. The Harkins have eight children to look after these days, four biological children, one adopted and three foster children.
"Five years ago, I was one of the most reluctant foster parents that you would meet. When Beth approached me with the idea I thought she was crazy, and now I can't imagine doing anything else with my life," said Greg Harkins, father and founder of Anna's House.
But when the Harkins began fostering Anna, their focused changed once they got to know the short but already tragic life story of their future adopted daughter.
"Our case worker called and she said we have this infant. She's laying here. She said, she's probably going to die, but we can't give up on her. And the doctors seem to think she might make some improvement if we can get her in and bond with a mother," said Elizabeth Harkins, mother and founder of Anna's House.
Anna was born in a jail cell to a homeless prostitute. She developed Chlamydia in the birth canal, one of her lungs has partially collapsed, she has a heart murmur, and neurological and gastrointestinal issues. But now, she also has a committed family.
"We really felt a call on our lives to do what we could to make a difference in the lives of these infants and toddlers. To give them a stable home environment. To provide for them what our children get to have," Elizabeth Harkins said.
The Department of Human Services reported the number of Oklahoma children placed in foster care is nearly twice the national average. The Anna's House foundation, created in the Harkin's little girl's name, wants to stop the high number of moves many children make their first year in the system, which is sometimes five or six moves before their first birthday.
Through the local Christian community, Anna's House trains, supports, and provides for families committed to raising a foster child until they are permanently adopted or placed back with their biological family.
"This is the pride of Oklahoma. These are our children. We have this wonderful state, MAPS for kids, brand new basketball team. We have a beautiful downtown. But we have this ugly black stain on our state that no one wants to talk about,and that's the foster care system," Elizabeth Harkins said.
Anna's House is a fairly new foundation. So far, there are 15 sets of committed parents and many more getting in line to become foster families.
A silent auction to support Anna's House has been set up for this Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Express Center Ballroom on Northwest Expressway. The event is $25 per person with dinner from Iguana Grill included.