LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — With abortions outlawed with only one exception in the natural state, expectant mothers are in a tough spot if they feel unready for a child.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, over 31 hundred induced abortions happened in our state last year. The top reasons mothers gave were either they “did not want pregnancy at the time” or “economic reasons”.

Less access to abortion could result in more children in our state and perhaps more kids in foster care or up for adoption, and our station spoke to people at the forefront of that discussion.

The Kennedy family is one of several in Arkansas who has adopted and fostered children who as they say needed love, and they gave their encouragement to other parents who may be taking on an unexpected baby as they did.

“We just want to say do it,” encouraged adoptive and foster parent, Dr. Josh Kennedy,

When Josh and Marci Kennedy decided they wanted to adopt, they expected a year-long process, but they got a call from the hospital days after they filled out their paperwork.

“We were freaking out because we didn’t have anything,” Marci recalled.

They came home that day with their adopted son, Paul. He was followed by a brother Ross and a sister Emma who came through the foster care system.

“Every child is different and when they don’t share your genes it’s even harder sometimes to figure out what they need,” Josh said. “But typically, it’s the same every time, and that’s every kid needs love.”

With pregnancies in the state of Arkansas unable to be aborted unless a mother’s life is at risk, more kids are on the way, and non-profits like Project Zero are asking what do they need to do?

“We already need more foster homes. We already need more adoptive homes, and so that could or could not intensify? We do not know,” expressed Christie Erwin, Executive Director of Project Zero.

According to the Department of Human Services data from 2021, the number of kids in Arkansas in foster care or ready for adoption is 15% greater than 10 years ago. To alleviate further growth, Christie Erwin says those who care should help moms with unplanned pregnancies, help them parent, and show them the resources available if they would prefer adoption. In her words, “Being ready and willing to do whatever it takes to make a difference.”

“We have to get honest all of us with ourselves in our lifestyles what are we willing to give up?” urged Erwin who has also adopted and fostered many children.

For the last 10 years, over 90% of children exiting the foster care system have been either adopted or reunited with families according to DHS data.

That statistic includes one girl and her daughter that the Kennedys took into their home. As Dr. Kennedy recalled that new mother was only 13 when she decided to keep her baby.

“Just making that decision for life was hard, and it didn’t make a lot of sense at the time,” Josh said.

Both in the foster care system, mother and daughter were eventually reunited, and according to the Kennedys, they are now thriving.

“She had to learn everything because you know she was so young, but she also kept her baby which is beautiful,” Marci concluded. “That’s kind of our posterchild story for not choosing abortion and hopefully circumstances allowing you to be successful with an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy.”