SALEM, Va. (WDBJ7) The first step in becoming a foster parent, is a willingness to open your home to a child.
At an orientation session in Salem, potential foster parents are asking questions about fostering from those who know best. Teresa Carpentieri remembers very vividly the night her foster daughter arrived.
"Most of these kids come into your home with nothing. My daughter came into our home with a toothbrush and a notebook," Carpentieri said.
Carpentieri ended up adopting her foster daughter. Before taking her in, Carpentieri took the nine-week pride training classes though Roanoke County, one of many requirements for fostering.
"One of the public misconceptions sometimes is that you can just call up and say 'I want to be a foster parent and my house is good for kids' and that's a great thing and a great place to start, but the agency has to know that you're really ready for that," Thayer Walker, a DSS foster care program volunteer, said.
Among the requirements are a background check, medical exam and a home assessment. Carpentieri says you also have to be prepared for the emotional baggage these children often bring with them.
"They come into your home. they're scared. They've just been torn away from everything that they know. They have no idea who you are," Carpentieri said.
There's also the time commitment for foster parents, such as committing to taking the child to see their birth parents once a week.
Plus, there's also the financial commitment. While you do receive a monthly stipend, Carpentieri says to be prepared to spend your own money at first.
"It takes a while for paper work to go through, for you to be reimbursed for the expenses. So, think about the time commitment. Think about the financial piece. But then think about what that child needs when they come into your home,"
Since she's raising her daughter and has custody of her grandson, Carpentieri says her plate is full. Still, she understands why her daughter is encouraging her to bring another foster child into their home.
"It's all about love and safety and security and stability, and she wants us to be able to share that with other children," Carpentieri said.