Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia couple fostered 11 children and encourages others to do the same

Margaret Minnicks
Generic Picture of a Big FamilyPhoto byJosue MichelonUnsplash

The month of May was National Foster Care Month. A couple in Virginia Beach, Virginia took the opportunity to urge other families to foster children as well. John and Johanna Schafer have fostered 11 children over the years in addition to raising their own three biological children.

Johanna said she has the means and mindset to make a difference.

"I thought about foster care because there's a need, I have the space, and I love kids."

Johanna and John treat foster kids like a member of the family.

Johanna said:

"We do call them 'foster friends' at first because some kids don't want to be a foster brother or foster sister because they have brothers or they have sisters. We let the foster kids decide how they want to be referenced."

Johanna urges others to take in foster kids

Johanna said the adjustment period when a foster child first moves in is not as scary as some people may think.

Johanna explains:

"We tell the kids that being okay in foster care doesn't mean that you love your parents or your family any less. There's also no obligation that they are going to love us, and that's okay. Our goal, our point, is that we get to love on them."

Foster care statistics

The United States has more than 391,000 children in foster care. In Virginia, the state has nearly 5,400 children in the system. More than 700 foster children in Virginia are ready to be adopted, according to DSS.Virginia.Gov.

The average stay of a child in foster care is about 21 months. After that time, the children will either go back to their parents or go to a forever home.

Johanna said:

"We've seen three kiddos go from our home to a forever home. We've seen kids go back to their first family. We've had some who have turned 18 and moved on and done their own thing."

Reasons a child might go to foster care

Mary Davies is a foster care social worker for UMFS who visits the Schafers every other week to see how things are going. Davies says there are various reasons why a child might go into foster care.

Davies said:

"A lot of times, it is an issue of abuse or neglect. So, that could be physical abuse or a neglectful situation where the biological parent or family member is not able to provide proper supervision for a child."

The Virginia Beach couple say the hardest part of being a foster parent is building a bond and then saying goodbye. John and Johanna Schafer also admit that foster caring is a challenge, but is rewarding to open your home and your heart out to a child who needs both.

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I love pop culture, movies, television, and entertainment. I keep up to date on the latest movies and television shows. I like sharing news about them. I also like sharing information about different foods and their health benefits. I have been a high school teacher and a college professor for over 50 years and an online writer for over 30 years. I have three degrees: BA in English and Literature, MA in Christian Education, and MDiv in Theology. Get to know me through my writing.

Richmond, VA

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