A life-altering decision

Published 12:08 pm Friday, March 21, 2014

Every child deserves to grow up in a home full of love and support. Sadly though, in our fallen society, where parents might be imprisoned, addicted to drugs or abusive, many children are denied even those most basic needs.

In such situations, the state might attempt to arrange foster care while working, to whatever extent possible, to alleviate the situations that put children in physical or emotional danger.

Foster parenting is not easy, and foster parents can find their rewards even more fleeting — and their trials more bitter — than natural parents. But longtime foster parents generally agree that the trials are worthwhile. Many describe relationships with foster children who think of them with as much love and respect as one would expect from natural parents and children.

The Up Center is working to give more foster children — and more adults — the opportunity to experience those sorts of relationships. The organization has begun a push to expand its foster care program to Western Tidewater, where few adoption and foster agencies currently exist.

The agency provides training for families to handle difficult cases, such as children with mental issues. It also specializes in older children and larger sibling groups, which can be difficult to place in loving homes through the Social Services departments.

“We are always looking for families,” Ronnie Gehring, director of placement services for the Up Center, said this week. “We continue to turn kids away from foster care programs, because we don’t have enough homes, so they go to other agencies or the Department of Social Services.”

The agency plans a special, free informational session on becoming a foster or adoptive family from noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Virginia Diner in Wakefield. Registration is requested, but walk-ins are welcome. To register, call 965-8649 or email heather.watkins@theupcenter.org. The session is for adults 25 and older. If you are married, both spouses should attend.

For those children fortunate enough to be placed in loving homes, the difference can be life-altering. So, too, for the foster parents who take them in.