AL needs more foster parents for 5,000 children in foster care s - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

AL needs more foster parents for 5,000 children in foster care system

Patrick Lee was in the foster care system for 13 years. Source: WBRC video Patrick Lee was in the foster care system for 13 years. Source: WBRC video
Harolyn Owens has fostered 50 children over 10 years. Source: WBRC video Harolyn Owens has fostered 50 children over 10 years. Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Five thousand children are currently in the Alabama foster care system.

It's a startling number to think about as we're in the midst of national foster care month. It’s a number that doesn’t surprise 24-year-old Patrick Lee.

He spent 13 years in the foster care system, which included two foster families and three group homes.

"The toughest part was being in the group homes because, basically I was under the supervision of staff, you know there wasn't any kind of parent situation going on. There wasn't anybody to tell you hey, I love you, stay strong, I'm there for you when you need it. It wasn't that kind of support," Lee said. 

A representative with the State Department of Human Resources said some children are in group homes because they may require special attention. The homes aren't supposed to be a permanent situations.

The goal is for every child to be permanently placed. Alabama averages about 500 adoptions a year, with a majority of children adopted by their foster parents.

“Don’t look down on foster kids. They're human beings, they deserve the same treatment and same care that you would treat your own kids with. They definitely need that support system,” Lee continued.

Harolyn Owens echoed what so many have said, “There are not enough foster parents.”

She wants to help with the problem. Owens have fostered 50 children over 10 years. She said if people would give it a chance, they'll see it's
worth it.

“It’s something that you can give back to a child that needs the nourishment and the shelter of safety and knowing what love is," Owens said.

Owens plans to continue her role as foster mom, while Lee plans to continue college in June. He’s a student at the University of North Alabama.

He’s also  taking his life experiences and putting it to paper. Lee is writing a book about his life in the foster care system titled, “Story of a Lifetime."

“It’s made me stronger, it made me independent. It, made me realize I don’t need to rely on anyone. It made me realize I can rely on myself. Overall I’m
a much stronger person,” continued Lee.

Each Wednesday, we feature a child who is in foster care during WBRC FOX6 News at Noon. You can read and watch their stories on our Heart Gallery Alabama page and learn more about foster care and adoption by visiting www.heartgalleryalabama.com

Copyright 2016 WBRC. All rights reserved. 

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