Alena’s third daughter, Jamie, was born with both ears infected. When she was a few weeks old, her eardrums ruptured. This was the start of a period of hospitalizations that lasted the span of 12 years and included well over 100 surgeries Several times she was not expected to live.
During her first few weeks at Children’s Hospital there was a little girl her daughter’s age that had been abandoned by her parents due to her severe medical needs. She was born a twin and the parents took the healthy twin home and left her there. She had never been outside the walls of the hospital. Every time my daughter was admitted, the nurses made sure that Jamie and this little girl were roommates. They celebrated their first birthday in the hospital together; they went trick or treating down the hospital halls on Halloween together, and spent hours in the playroom together.
When the girls were about 18 months old the nurses told her that the line into her that kept her nutrition pumping into her was no longer good and she had used all of the other sites for IVs that were a possibility to continue her liquid nutrition. The prognosis was not good. It was that evening that God spoke to Alena’s heart and told her to take the baby girl home with her. She knew God must have made a mistake. She had a sick child in the hospital herself and two other daughters under age 5 at home. She went back and forth with God trying to convince Him of His error. He patiently and repeatedly told her to take her home. She finally told Him that she needed more proof that he was really asking her to do this. It seemed impossible for her to be able to do what He was asking of her. Her Bible was lying on her daughter’s hospital bed. She picked it up and asked God to show her in writing if she was hearing Him correctly. She randomly opened up her Bible and after reading a few verses, she came to James 1:27 that says, “Religion that God accepts as faultless is to take care of widows and orphans in their need.” After trying desperately to think of a widow that might be in need, she quickly came to realization that God was truly calling her to take this little girl home for as long as she had to live.
It took about 2 months to learn off of her medical care and learn what to do with all of the tubes and wires. After two months, and 18 months old she was able to leave the hospital for the first time in her life. Her family was able to enjoy her and show her God’s love until shortly after she was 3.
After she had left Alena’s families’ care, the phone began ringing from different hospitals asking her to take other children in similar situations. Looking back, in the whirlwind of events she had been experiencing, she hadn’t realized that she had gotten foster license in the process. That was when she began to realize that what God called her to was not to care for this one little girl. It would be a calling on her life.
While all of the kids that went through her house had different medical stories, they all needed to know that God loved them and that this life was not the end for them.
After about four years, she moved from taking terminal children, to children that had been permanently damaged from abuse; kids that no one wanted: the blind, deaf, brain damaged, etc. She not only took care of them, but made sure their abusers were properly prosecuted.
To date, she has had over 160 kids. She has 3 biological daughters, 8 children with disabilities from the abuse they suffered that are now a permanent part of our family through either adoption or legal guardianship and 3 foster children.
She prays that God will allow her to continue to take more children until she is called home to be with Him.
Alena has been recognized for her dedication and service to foster children with many different accolades including People Magazines, Heroes among Us, an article that details a person who is making a difference in their community. Alena was filmed in a cable channel documentary called "Everyday Heros" that was nominated for an Emmy in 2001 . She was also featured in a Bestselling novel by Matthew Barnett, The Cause within You; Finding the One Great Thing You Were Created To Do in This World. In it, Barnett details her story and boasts of Alena, “One of the most moving examples of someone grasping her cause and trusting God to handle more than she could possible manage without Him is Alena Strickland.”
Outside of Alena’s care for the hundreds of children to come through her home, she has also serves on the County of Orange Social Services Agency’s Child Protective Services Advisory Board, and sits on three of their Advisory Boards as well. In addition, she co-trains PRIDE classes, the classes required for potential foster and adoptive families, speaks at local churches and conferences, and has received certificates of commendation from both LA and Orange County for her outstanding service and dedication to their families. She also serves as a national spokesperson for Adopt Us Kids.