EAST TEXAS (KYTX) -- May is National Foster Care Awareness Month. It focuses on the 400,000 children in the foster care system in this country, including hundreds right here in East Texas. It's purpose is to raise awareness about the lack of foster homes. One local family says becoming foster parents changed their lives.
"It's overwhelming at times, but it's amazing because these little guys just want love. They want someone to put their arms around them and say, 'It's going to be OK,'" said Lisa, who doesn't want us to reveal her last name to protect the children.
As foster parents, Lisa and David have seen the heart-breaking reasons why children end up in foster care. "Two of our foster children had pretty much been in a dog cage just since birth or shortly after. They were eating dog food. Neither one of them could walk up-right when we got them," explained David.
But three years later, these boys are running and playing just like the other children thanks to a lot of love and patience.
Seeing the transformation is just one of the rewards of helping children. David said, "With each [child] it never failed they'd say, 'Can I call you mom? Can I call you dad?' To have that happen you just fall in love with them."
But Lisa and David knew, as foster parents, their role in these children's lives may be temporary.
"The first ones we had to let go, I'm not going to lie, was difficult," said Lisa. I think you have to go into it with the attitude that God loves these kids more than I do and if the system says they need to go back then you have to be OK with that.
David added, "I want the parents to get their act together and then be able to get their children back but if they don't, I"ll keep you forever."
Lisa and David kept their promise, adopting five of their foster children.
I asked one of their adopted children, 8-year-old Elizabeth, what it's been like now that Lisa and David are her forever family. She said, Wonderful! They're really nice to me. I love them."
Rebekah Happel, with the Bair Foundation said, "It's not a job, it's a ministry and a calling." She hopes more families will heed the call.
Right now there are 900 East Texas children in foster care. With a shortage of foster homes, 30 of those children are waiting in emergency shelters.
"So specifically with our younger kids, if they are 3 and in a shelter and have a new staff member come in and care for them everyday that is traumatizing for them," explained Happel.
Happel believes more people don't step forward to become foster parents because they don't know how to help. "We really give our foster parents the skills. So you don't have to have the skills to be foster parents you develop them. God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called."
David and Lisa say they didn't have a lot to offer monetarily, but they were rich with love and it was returned. With three biological children and now five adopted children, this family of 10 couldn't be happier!