RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Just mention children and foster parent Mary Gresham beams with pride.
"I fostered 16 children in the last five years," said Gresham.
Gresham is just one of many parents opening their hearts and homes to children in need.
"I had a nice home, good job, all the resources, time and energy, nurturing, and love, so it was something I really wanted to do," she said.
The Department of Social Services is looking for more good parents like Greshman. Social worker Karyn Thornhill says becoming a foster parent may not be for everyone -- that's why potential parents are thoroughly screened.
"We do national criminal checks, we do child protective checks, and basically make sure they have not committed any violent acts or crimes against children. We check DMV records, and fire inspections of the home," said Thornhill.
Thornhill says it's rare but bad things can happen. The agency wouldn't comment on the recent allegations that 18 year old Arturo Lopez raped his foster mother in Henrico. Thornhill says all potential parents go through a nine week training session and once they become foster parents, they continue training on a monthly basis.
Gray Hall: "If children have a history of violence would parents be privy to that?"
Karyn Thornhill: "Yes, we give them information about the children as much as we are aware so they won't go in blind."
The Department of Social Services says everyday there is a child in need of a good foster home and they say you can help. If you have the time, commitment, and heart they want to hear from you.
If you are still in limbo about becoming a foster parent just talk to Mary Gresham.
"As a parent and a foster parent I just would like to say truly when you are blessed you should pass it on...that's the way I feel about it," Gresham said.
Tonight's foster orientation starts at 6 p.m. at the Department of Social Services in the downtown office at 900 East Marshall Street. For more information about becoming a foster parent you can call them at 804-646-5437.