Infectious smiles and glowing personalities aren’t foster parent prerequisites, but you might think otherwise after spending a little time with Katrina Samuels and David Sanders.
The upbeat New York natives and their biological son relocated to Richmond a little more than 10 years ago. David said leaving behind family — he has 12 brothers and sisters — was one of the most challenging aspects of the transition. But good schools and a slower pace helped balance things out.
“Work was going really well for us when we moved here,” Katrina said. A short time later, the high-school sweethearts purchased a home in the Richmond suburb of Henrico and found they had a lot of extra space. They were motivated to share their good fortune with others, and it was about that time that they saw a news story about foster children. Katrina remembered turning to her husband and asking, ‘Why don’t we do something like this?”
Katrina spoke fondly of her first foster placement, a teenage girl. “We’re still close,” she said with a grin.
Katrina and David’s first few placements were through a county agency. They have since fostered eight more teenagers, all boys, through UMFS.
“We just love UMFS,” Katrina said. “We adore the support they give the kids.” Training opportunities at UMFS are ongoing and thorough, she added, and the system that’s in place to promote success and safety is unparalleled.
“Before a kid can spiral out of control, the social workers are really on top of it.”
Fully invested foster parents like Katrina and David play an integral role in UMFS’ mission as unwavering champions for high-risk children. They’re committed to UMFS’ vision of empowering all children to contribute to society as engaged citizens.
“You have to have your heart in it or it’s going to fail,” Katrina said of fostering. “Don’t have one foot in and one foot out.”
Katrina and David radiate compassion, love and respect. They offer unconditional support to each of the children they foster and make a point to prepare them for the future. A majority of the boys they’ve fostered had little to no trade skills, Katrina said. David, on the other hand, has a number of talents. From landscaping to auto repair to cooking (especially pasta), he’s offered to pass his knowledge on to each of the boys they’ve fostered.
“We really welcome them in,” Katrina said. “It’s never a differentiator between biological son and foster son. They’re our sons across the board.”
Visit umfs.org to learn more about becoming a foster parent.