Foster parents needed in Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Foster parents needed in Georgia

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May 27, 2005

Clyattville - Juan Alicea is a typical teenager.  "I do chores, and get an allowance," said Alicea.

He's spent the past five years in foster care and has never really had a stable home. That is until he met Donald and Rhonda Richardson. "We've been getting closer and closer and I felt like I needed a mother and father again," said Alicea.

In just their first year as foster parents, the Richardsons have helped raise about 20 kids. They formed a special bond with Juan, and wanted to give him the stable family he'd always wanted, but never really had. "We've always thought of Juan as our own child," said Rhonda Richardson.

Juan's adoption will be final in just a few months. But thousands of other kids in Georgia aren't so lucky. Just in Lowndes County, there are more than 300 children in foster care, and not nearly enough famlilies to place them with. "There's about 100 out of 300 that's being placed outside of Lowndes County because there's not enough foster people to take care of Lowndes County kids," said Donald.

It takes a special person to be a foster parent.  It can often be challenging, and bittersweet when the kids are reunited with their parents. "We had a young girl for 10 months and she actually became my daughter so its extremely hard to let the children go back," said Donald.

But the satisfaction of providing a temporary, or in Juan's case, a permanent loving environment far outweighs the hard times. "There's a lot of children out there who need help and need a home to go to," said Rhonda.

And because of their dedication, many children will find that home. It's just one of the reasons the Richardson's are Lowndes County's Foster Parents of the Year.

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