LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - In our THV Extra, there is a new twist to our "A Place to Call Home" adoption series.
For many months now, through our partnership with the Arkansas Department of Human Services, we've been featuring Arkansas foster children up for adoption.
THV's Dawn Scott is featuring prominent Arkansans, who don't necessarily talk about it, but who, themselves, have been adopted.
And this week, she begins with Arkansas' First Lady, Ginger Beebe.
Mrs. Beebe works tirelessly for women and children in Arkansas, evident in her devotion to many causes in our state, including domestic violence, literacy, and good mental and physical health.
Turns out, her passion comes from her own trying circumstances as a child. She reveals she was given up for adoption at the age of four.
These days Ginger Beebe is used to the spotlight.
Nearly everywhere she goes, her every move is recorded. Her photo is snapped at each appearance, where she leaves her unique mark.
Her husband, Mike Beebe, is the 45th governor of Arkansas, which of course means Ginger's life is a part of our state's history
But it was a very different start for Ginger Beebe. Born September 3, 1949, her early personal history book is nearly empty.
"That's the first picture I have of me," she says, showing a photo of herself at age 4.
"I was born in Little Rock, and then adopted at age 4 by a family in Searcy," says Mrs. Beebe. "I really don't know the circumstances of why I was put up for adoption at that age. One of those things I'll never know."
She will also never know details like how much she weighed at birth, or even what she looked like.
"You have no baby pictures at all?" THV's Dawn Scott asks. "No, no baby pictures, and that was the first house I lived in, (wearing) my blue jeans and saddle oxfords!"
But no-less with a smile, she describes what she can remember. And also tells of the time, after living in foster homes, her life truly began.
"The first memory I have, really, is the first day I met my adoptive parents and who would be my sister," recalls Mrs. Beebe. "I remember being in the room, seeing her, she had freckles all over her face, and obviously, I'd never seen anybody because I was enthralled with her freckles! And the mom and dad... It's a very short memory but it's a good memory."
Pointing to another picture, she describes her adoptive family. "This is me, probably when I was four, my dad, my mom, my aunt, my uncle, and my sister."
Ginger, in fact, was the name given to her by her then-12 year old sister, who was also adopted.
She says she always knew she was adopted, but insists she never felt different in any way.
"I really had a wonderful family who made me feel a part of their family," she says. "Even though I knew I was not their biological child, I was their child. And they never made me feel like a special child because I was adopted. I was just their child. I just came to them by different means and we were a good family."
That is her focus today: the gratitude she has for the family who took her in. Giving that back, always with a positive attitude, to the causes she champions as first lady of Arkansas.
Still, at times she admits, she wonders... as questions linger about her biological parents.
"I've never met them," she says. "I know their names, and I always had this dream of finding them. Two reasons: one is, I'd like to know that they had a good life after they gave me up for adoption. And just to see who they were, what kind of life they had. And to say thank you, because whatever their circumstances were that caused them to put me up for adoption, gave me the opportunity to have a wonderful life, with a good family."
Mrs. Beebe says she agreed to share her story in hopes that other Arkansans seek out children in foster care, reminding that in her case, adoption changed lives for the better.
"Children add so much to your own life," she says. "You'll be providing them with a home and a good life, and they would be, in return, such a blessing to you, so I would encourage anyone to let their heart lead them."
She also has a word of wisdom for foster children out there.
"Don't give up," she says. "But also remember, the biggest part of their life is going to be outside the foster care system. So get your education, be of good character, and when you're out of foster care, you can have the best life, the life you dream of."
If you'd like to learn more about adoption in Arkansas, click on the Department of Human Services adoption website.