Foster parents say "inner drive" made them want to help children

INDIANAPOLIS -- A child will spend an average of 363 days in foster care in Indiana, according to The Villages Child and Family Services Agency.

That is why there is a need for people like Weston and Karen Young. The Youngs have three children: A biological daughter and two sons they adopted after foster care.

"We both had that inner drive to do something," said Weston Young, foster parent.

"I realized at a really young age that this concept of not everyone can live with their biological parents and people are needed to fill that void," said Karen Young, foster parent.

For five years, the Youngs opened their home and hearts to foster children.

"The point is reunification. And so often times placements would be with us for... you know, kids in limbo land, and just needing a safe and stable place," said Karen.

Right now, only about one in three children will be reunited with their parents, in part, because of the parent's ongoing battle with addiction.

The Young's oldest son A.J. doesn't remember much about being in foster care.  They adopted him when he was 4. But he did research for a school project and was upset by what he found.

"They actually didn't have enough parents," said A.J.

A.J. took action. He speaks out about the need for foster parents, and raises money for items to meet the needs of the rapidly growing number of foster children.

"It really angers me. It makes me look at myself and then compare it to them. And knowing that I went through it. That now I have a family that can support me... that I can definitely help those children," said A.J.

Foster parents need support too. The Villages makes sure parents aren't left to figure it out on their own.

"All of us in the organization, myself included, social workers, clinical directors, regional directors, are all on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year, literally to support and team with all foster parents," said Sharon Pierce, President and CEO, The Villages.

"That you're not in it alone is a really great thing and really remembering that and to use the resources that are there... that was invaluable," said Karen.

The Youngs say fostering takes a network of support, lots of patience, and a big heart for children.

"It's rewarding, it's challenging, but that's how our family came together," said Weston.

If you're considering becoming a foster parent, it's important to have a support network including family and friends who will accept and welcome the child.

Respite parents are also needed... people who provide needed breaks for foster parents... and they must go through the same licensing process.

MORE | Foster parents desperately needed for Hoosier children

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