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Chris and Arlene Barber

How long have you been connected with David’s Refuge?
We believe we have been with David’s Refuge since 2018.

Please explain any diagnosis your child has, and you have experience with.
Biologically we have 2 typical sons that are both grown and out of the house. Arlene always wanted to have a daughter but biologically that was never going to happen. We did foster care for several years, looking to bless our family with a daughter. At one point we had 4 foster sons (all brothers) and the oldest son (13) was autistic. He gave us the belief that we could provide a good family to 2 girls, at that time, needed a good home and also had autism. I knew that Audrey was meant to be our daughter when the first time we met here at her foster home she ran up to my wife and asked her if she would be her mommy. My wife’s heart melted. So we have 2 daughters with autism, Audrey (then 4 now 21) and Autumn (then 11 months now 17). Autumn is more functioning and despite her challenges, should be able to grow up and live on her own with minimal supervision. Audrey has many more struggles. She had fetal alcohol syndrome, schizophrenia, and many mental issues. Her phycologist said that the front part of her brain never developed. She had separation and trust issues from being in so many foster homes and pre-adaptive family placements. We stopped doing foster care for a while and then just as needed. We were then asked to take in a 3 year old and her baby sister who were struggling to get along with the other children in their foster home. Temporarily until they went back to their parents. Then their parents became pregnant with twin boys. One behavior, by the parents, led to another, by their parents, and we ended up adopting these 4 children as well. The twins have oppositional defiant disorder and resentment for being removed from their biological parents. They are all boy and very much a handful! We have great stories! So, in total we have 8 children and 2 god daughters that we had as babies when they were little in foster care. This is our family.

What is your favorite part of being a host?
We came in late to David’s Refuge, our daughter was 15 already, but so glad that we did. We have learned so much from the other couples about agencies, issues, relationships, and solutions. We found a place where people were like us. They loved their children but sometimes found it so difficult and frustrating to get them the services they needed and deserved. We found people who really understood what we were saying, what we were going through, and what we were feeling. It really helped us to communicate with each other and others. It gave us something to look forward to on the rough days and even our good days. We had some wonderful hosts especially our very first ones. They were so sincere, caring, and nice. They seemed to know just what we needed with their kindness, they were just there for when we needed them, if we wanted to talk. They gave us time for when we needed to talk. Much like the David’s Refuge way of being there when we need it but not not intrusive. Supportive yet in the background, as part of a community that provides hope, love, and trust to those who are doing so much for others that often forget to take a little time for themselves or each other. So to answer the question, to see the transformation in the couples from from Friday to Sunday and knowing that in a just some small way we may have contributed of that happiness in some small way.

What is something you want your guests to know about you?
We are not perfect. We too have struggles. Some days are better then others. We have learned to enjoy the small wins when we have them. We try to learn from our struggles and through others experiences. We have big hearts and just want them to have a wonderful experience on their respite weekend! We believe in David’s Refuge and the community that we all belong to.

What is a piece of advice you have found invaluable as a family with experience in special needs or a medically fragile diagnosis?
Enjoy the small moments and victories. Sometimes we focus so much on the end goal or what we don’t have, that we forget to cherish the special connections and moments that occur along the way.

Which partner location is your favorite and why?
We absolutely love River Spring Lodge. It is just perfect. The Innkeeper Carolyn and Chief David are just wonderful people. There is so much kindness and love there. Arlene loves their dog Cuddles very much too. It is so peaceful and perfect.

A genie grants you the ability to have infinite amount of one item. What is it?
Happiness and family. But we believe these go hand in hand.

What book changed your life?
For Chris anything from Patrick McManus- he finds humor important and shared these books with his grandfather. Arlene loves Amish books and books on overcoming childhood adversities.

What is a question you wish people would ask you less?
Dad where is your wallet? Just kidding (not really) Do you regret having such a big family?

Are there any additional Questions and Answers you would like included?
Arlene has sacrificed her career to raise our children and to do daycare at home. She enjoys nature, animals, and taking wildlife photos. She has the biggest heart. She loves babies of any type.

Chris has worked at a lumber mill for 30 years. He now teaches there. He enjoys woodworking, football, baseball, and cooking with the kids. He loves his wife and seeing her and the kids happy!