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The Toughest Job You Will Ever Love

Robert and Raine Wilson and their son Derrick recently attended the Prince William Department of Social Services 35th-annual Foster Care Parent Appreciation Dinner.

Foster parents often have a host of reasons for fostering, but in the end it comes down to helping children.

Linda and John Badie have been foster parents for about two years and recently adopted three of the children they once fostered, in addition to fostering 27 others. “We love kids, and we always keep a house full of kids,” John Badie said.

Linda Badie said that looking after the children and helping them through their trials is important. “It’s all about parenting the children.”

Catherine L. Annand, a social worker with the Prince William County Department of Social Services, said foster parents are integral to the work the department does. “They take care of children with a wide range of ages and problems, and they do a great job. Family foster care is one of the ways children can stay in a safe, nurturing, family-like setting while their family gets services and counseling.”

The department recently held its 35th-annual Foster Care Parent Appreciation Dinner to recognize the work foster parents contribute to children in need of homes. The department hosts the dinner every May, which is National Foster Care Month.

Robert and Raine Wilson, who have adopted one child and are currently fostering another, attended the dinner and said they started fostering in March of 2013. Robert Wilson, who grew up in foster care, said it was a “privilege and an honor” to be a foster parent and that it was something he and his wife thought they should do. “We’re in a position to be able to provide for children who have gone through some of the issues I went through.”

Annand said foster children, who have often lived with trauma — including poverty, homelessness, neglect or even abuse — still need to remain in the area to maintain “ongoing relationships” with their birth families.

Foster parents make the relationships possible, Annand said. “You can imagine how hard it would be for birth parents that may have transportation problems, who may have to work all day long and can’t get to another locality easily, to be able to visit with their children. Without Prince William County foster parents, we couldn’t keep the children in this community or keep them in a family-like setting. They would have to be in a group home setting, or they would have to go outside Prince William County.”

Foster Parent Patty Tonan, who has adopted two children and fostered six, said that after adopting two children, she saw a need for foster parents and thought it was something she should do. “Being a foster parent means that there’s a way I can help. I’ve been blessed to adopt two children; and early on in that process, I realized there’s a huge need for support in adoption and in foster care. Over the years, I just started to feel that it was the right thing to do.”

Annand said people who think they might be interested in fostering a child can call 703-792-7500 and ask for the Foster Parent Program or visit the county website for more information.

“It is probably the toughest job you’ll ever love,” Annand said.

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